GENIUS SERIES: 1. "The Leaving"
Friday, January 6, 2006

"Simon decides it is time for himself and River to make a new life. One without the thieving, shooting and flying under Alliance radar."



SUMMARY: "Simon decides it is time for himself and River to make a new life. One without the thieving, shooting and flying under Alliance radar." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

He knew the day would come, they all did. The day when Simon would find a place he considered safer than Serenity for him and his sister. The Captain had never figured it would be this hard to simply let go. Not that he was holding on exactly. Just Simon and River had been with them so long. Crew now. Family even. Not that he would ever tell the doc that. Some things a man had a mind to keep private and he was not one for baring his gorram soul.

Simon made a point of saying goodbye to everyone individually not wanting some big showy send off with everyone staring at him and River as they stood waiting to disembark on Serenity's ramp though it hadn't quite worked out that way. He had wanted to avoid emotional displays as much as the discomfort and sadness that would surely follow. Kaylee had been predictably very tearful but eventually accepted that this was a decision they had to let the siblings make though part of her would never understand how anyone could possibly want to be anywhere but on Serenity. Zoe had been calm, accepting but sad. Wash had wanted to know if Simon was sure this was what he really wanted then had wished them both well. Inara had understood and hugged first Simon then River close, the words whispered as if that could mask the pain. "If you ever decide to come back we'll be waiting. You and River will always have a place here." River had cried and hugged Inara, not wanting to go. It had taken all Simon's reserves to stand by his decision. Shepherd Book had been sad but stoic, only his eyes telling Simon he was making a mistake. But the words never passed the Preacher's lips. Simon could never be sure whether or not that was a kindness. "Take care, Simon. You and River both."

Simon had nodded, thanked him and wished him well. River had raised up on tiptoe and kissed the Shepherd's cheek startling a brief look on joy on the sombre face. Even saying goodbye to Jayne was a lot harder than he expected. Then had come the moment he hated. Saying his farewell to the Captain. He wondered if it was an indication of some masochistic tendancy that he had left those words of parting to last. Still at least it was in private. No curious eyes or listening ears even if the Captain did raise his eyebrows when the doctor had followed him into the otherwise empty commons area.

The Captain stood patiently, so many emotions on that normally controlled face. Simon had more than a few conflicting emotions regarding this man but was finally able to admit, if only to himself, that a large part of his resentment towards the Captain was because of his own feelings of helplessness and lack of power. Having control over his life and that of his sister in the hands of a psychotic domineering Captain did all kinds of terrifying things to his peace of mind. Was it any wonder he had trouble trusting the man? And yet Mal had taken them in, protected them and given them a home. Shelter. Sanctuary. At times the incongruity of what he thought and what was gave him the kind of pain medication could not ease. And yet, unlike the Captain he at least knew it was all illusion. It was a game but the stakes were higher than even Malcolm Reynolds could imagine. Still, it would not hurt to hold the facade just a little while longer. So long as it suited his purpose. He did after all know so much more now than he had when he started out. The clinical part of his brain succumbed to the need to move on.


Mal gave him a nod, not wanting to make this more difficult for him. "Simon."

That word gave Simon pause. How long had it taken for the Captain to move from the formal address to his first name? How much longer had it taken him to grow comfortable with it? Therein lay the danger of staying too long. "I guess it's time."

The Captain could see the boy was nervous. Awkward even. Who wouldn't be? Yet he was a man now and making a man's decision. Simon had earned that right and whether Mal liked it or not he would not stand in his way. "Yep."

Simon was about to thank him and go get River when he realised this was the perfect time. Perhaps the only time he would get to ask the one question that had puzzled him since he had first come aboard. "Captain - Mal - I've been meaning to ask you. When I first came on board and you discovered who I was, who River was, why did you let us stay?"

The 'verse crushed in a little closer round Simon Tam, so tight now he could not only hear but feel the blood rushing and roaring through his ears and every cell of his body as he waited for his answer.

"Seemed the thing to do." Said the Captain slowly, voice neutral. Eyes asking a different question. *Why? Why now?*

Simon whet his lips. "Anybody else would have thrown us off the moment they realised the lie. Taking two Alliance fugitives would not have been an option and I know you don't like complications." He paused. "So why did you?"`

For a long moment the Captain said nothing. How could he? How could he tell Simon Tam that the moment his eyes had fastened on the contents of that cryo unit he had been lost? Seeing River curled up all helpless and insensate, so young, so innocent, oblivious to everything around her - how could he throw her out? Leave her unprotected? Wasn't that what the gorram Independents had been fighting for? Not just freedom for their own selves but for others? Not nobody should have his boot on another's neck. Not nobody should have to crawl and grovel for the right to live free. Had seen enough of the deprivations, the injustices and the dying. Enough blood on his own hands not to want to add that of innocents even if the brother had got under his skin from the get go. Boy was top three per cent but there were times when he just wasn't very bright. Academically smart but a huge chunk of common missing from his sense. But Simon had learnt. Not just from him but from all of them. Painful lessons necessary to round off an education so filled with the bias of Alliance propaganda that even now the line between friend and foe sometimes blurred in Simon's eyes.

"You needed a place. Wouldn't've lasted long planetside."

"I could have found somewhere. A lot of possibilities for a doctor to find work."

"An' your sister? What kinda work would River have found?" The Captain paused, watching Simon and waiting for his answer. When none was immediately forthcoming the Captain continued. "When you smuggled your sister on my boat you weren't exactly wordly wise. Anyone takin' a passin' glance could tell you was Core bred, not no way to hide an upbringin' like that in the Black. Attention like that brings Alliance entanglements an' you didn't strike me as bein' able to blend in with the likes of ordinary folk."

"So you took it on yourself to fill that role? I ask again Captain, why?"

The Captain just stared at him for a minute then crossed his arms over his chest, his back leaning against a kitchen cupboard. "Why so curious?"

Simon shrugged. "I couldn't afford to ask before. We needed a place too badly and as you said I wasn't exactly worldly wise."

"And you are now?"

The question was quietly spoken, the Captain's voice soft. It surprised Simon, caught him off guard. Was that true? Was he worldly wise now? Compared to back then, yes. And yet in many ways he was still the rich niave boy he had always been except now he knew too much of the seamier side of life. How close to alive and dead a body could be in the Black. That Malcolm Reynolds and his crew had survived so long and come through so many scrapes was a testament to something even more contrary than luck. As the Captain was wont to opine if you trusted to luck you ended up on the drift. Was that what his little exercise in freedom would buy? Was he gambling his and River's future for the need to strike out on their own?

"Maybe not so much but yes, I think we can make it. Not saying it'll be easy or that we won't miss everyone but it's a big 'verse and sometimes you just get tired of running."

For a moment neither man spoke then the Captain straightened. "Ain't gonna ask you to stay."

"*Wo zhidao*."

"Not gonna tell you we'll keep a place for you an' little sis...."

"I wasn't expecting you to. I understand."

"No, you really don't."

"Then perhaps you should explain."

The Captain paused, his eyes seeming darker than Simon could remember. A sure sign that the man was deadly serious. In that second it made him want to be worthy of the man's regard. To be found not wanting. Not petty. Yet so much of his relationship with this man had been petty. Reaction, the instinct born of uncertainty and panic. Reasoned analysis beyond the function of a brain simmering with resentment at being at the mercy of a man he barely knew. A man he had known capable of killing in cold blood. A man with a moral compass that was so out of sych with his own that forming even a meagre level of trust was something he had fought against for most of his time on Serenity. Everyone else he had let in. Let them see glimpses of who he was, what he could be, sharing that knowledge and forming friendships. Yet he had kept the Captain at arm's length, disturbed because his sister had accepted Mal's authority and protection without a second thought. Why had it been so hard for him to do the same? Even now when he wanted to thank the man for sheltering them the words were thorns sticking in his throat. Gratitude, a pill no amount of water would let him swallow. It disappointed him to realise he resented the man still. Or maybe he was just afraid if he stayed any longer he would become just like him. Hard, empty, world weary. A bitter husk of a man eeking out a living hand to mouth, reeling from one near death experience to another, all because of a war he could never put behind him and the legions of dead he could not save. No. This would not become Simon's life. Would not be River's. Even if it were the more honest option.

* * * * *

Kaylee watched, tears blinding her eyes not making any move to wipe them and clear her vision. Was bad enough seeing her friends leave in a blur. The crew were silent, assembled on Serenity's ramp as Simon and River took Wash up on the offer of a lift into town on the mule. Their meagre possessions piled on the back along with little gifts from those they were leaving behind. Inara put an arm around Kaylee's shoulder and comforting though it was it just made the mechanic feel that little bit closer to falling apart.

They watched until the mule was out of sight. Zoe turned and squinted in the harsh light, everyone slowly making their way back up the ramp. The Captain lingering long after the others had boarded and not to await Wash's return neither. He was thinking. Memories around the table, laughter and solid banter, wicked quips and sarcastic rejoiners. Hard words and soft smiles, food and companionship rubbing shoulder to shoulder. A family. Dysfunctional but something to be treasured. He wasn't a man for explaining his actions or airing his feelings but for a while things had been good. Couldn't even blame the boy for wanting to spread his wings and fly under his own power. Not really. But one thing he would find hard to forgive was breaking their little family. Not that he would ever confess his own self how much the leaving hurt him.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*wo zhidao* = I know


Friday, January 6, 2006 7:22 AM


Shiny and intriguing. I need to see where this is going. This is AU from your other series, yes?

Friday, January 6, 2006 7:28 AM


Simon, Simon, Simon. He really needs to get over this "leave the ship" thing. That was actually one of the things I found most hilarious about the movie. Simon tries to leave, River gets into a huge bar fight, and by the grace of Mal they're back on the ship. What are the first words out of Simon's mouth? "We'll get off." Right. Because that worked so well the first time.

On the other hand, I'm a touch confused here. Your last series had Simon married to Kaylee and River makin' out with Mal. I've noticed that you tend to have the same supporting characters running around throughout your fics, but does the storyline "reset" now and then? Or did I totally miss what's going on?

Friday, January 6, 2006 7:28 AM


Yes Cliomuse, it is. This is a totally different animal. To say more would be to say too much! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, January 6, 2006 7:33 AM


ManicGiraffe, this does not follow on from any of my other stories or series. This series picks up from the end of the tv series but before the movie. Confused? You will be but hopefully the payoff at the end will justify the journey. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, January 7, 2006 1:44 AM


Great start to an intriguing story.


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The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

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