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Disclaimer: Firefly and all related elements, characters and indicia © Mutant Enemy Productions and 20th Century Fox Television, 2003. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situationssave those created by the authors for use solely on this websiteare copyright Mutant Enemy Productions and 20th Century Fox Television.
Author's Note: Thanks to JustJoan for the very helpful and quick beta.
Scraped Raw inside was what he felt like. Felt like ice was flowing through his veins but not quite ice, that wasn't the correct word and he always had to use the correct word. With this tearing in his gut, in his head, he could only think of frozen as being the closest thing. He knelt on the floor next to his toilet in case he threw up again. He knew it was real, that this was his life at this moment, but he wanted so badly for it not to be true as the Captain had looked at him with sad eyes and told him the truth. A truth that had left him dizzy and sick and running to his bathroom. He remembered when he first saw this room, how he'd raised his eyebrow and sneered at the size. Now he wondered if he could stay in here forever, the rest of the crew could come here for their needs and maybe it would be a little crowded but oh well... they'd get used to it. Like how he had to get used to what he was now feeling; dirty and stupid and like a zi. Even when his father had told him he was done with him, that if he got picked up again he would not come for him, he hadn't felt like this. Gorramit what was this?! As long as he could kneel here and try and diagnose this ache he wouldn't have to go back and face the Captain, wouldn't have to look at the rest of the crew and wonder if they knew what had happened.
He'd come back to his room, so happy, a pleasant throb running through his body. Plans for the future played themselves in his head and he'd laughed because he knew that the future would probably be nothing like he was planning but it didn't matter. It had been so long since he'd thought of the future as something to look forward to and not to dread. He could not remember the last time he had went to sleep without reviewing three or four contingency plans in his head. Plan A: If the Captain decides to turn us in I'll do this. Plan B: If the Captain tries to turn in just River, this is what I'll do. Plan C: If we come into contact with the Alliance on a planet this would be best. He even had a plan for what to do if he and River actually ended up on their way to the Academy. If those who ran that place succeeded in getting them both, well they wouldn't be successful for long. He didn't think about that plan a lot because he was a doctor. He wanted to preserve life not take it, especially his sisters. If it ever had to happen he knew he would do it but also knew he would be right behind her. He laughed and hiccuped. He called that plan his Final Plan.
He'd been humming when the Captain had walked in, so happy and full of plans that he hadn't realized the way the Captain was acting. When he'd asked very quietly where he'd been last night Simon had blushed and stuttered out an answer. The Captain already knew, just wanted it confirmed. Then with a quiet and serious voice the Captain had told him the truth. The man he'd just spent the night with was a liar. (He'd known that but he'd thought he was special) The man he'd given his body to, the man he'd kissed and babbled his growing love to, whose bruises he now carried with satisfaction had called the feds on him and his sister. He'd wondered hysterically if that meant he should activate Plan A. Seems the feds had betrayed him too so when he made his escape he'd helped Simon and his sister. The Captain assured him it would not happen again, that Jayne knew better what with the threat to blast him into vacuum. Simon didn't think he'd ever seen the Captain look so sad. He'd apologized, telling Simon he didn't think, didn't know that Simon would go to Jayne and that Jayne would take what the Doc had so freely offered. That's all Simon heard before he ran stumbling to the bathroom.
He knew the Captain was still out there, waiting to see if he'd be all right. He got up and washed his hands, not wanting to look at himself in the mirror. This was probably the second worst day of his life. Right behind the day he got River away from the Academy and realized that she wasn't the same girl, not his sister, something had taken over and swamped his sister. Now he had to dig beneath layers and get her back. Since he'd been so busy trying to empty accounts and get his sister and himself to safety that he'd been able to push down the guilt and self-hatred he'd felt. But now? Right at this moment? He raised his chin and looked at his face in the mirror. He looked different so he concentrated and began to recreate himself so anyone who looked at him would just see the medic, the doctor. Deep down what was he? He was Rivers' Brother, her protector. What Next? A Doctor, one of the best and he'd had his pick of any top Alliance hospitals. What else was he? No more answers came forth but suddenly a name for the feeling that had now spread through his body did. Numb. Good as word as any and with clinical detachment he wondered how long it would last. Until he walked into the next room? Until he went to the kitchen or when he saw a member of the crew and wondered if they were looking sideways at him? Until he saw Jayne? CRACK!
The pain ripping through his hand snapped him back and looking at the broken mirror made him sigh. Blood dripped slowly into his old sink. Most likely will stain. It might be awhile before they could get the mirror fixed. Or not, since the Captain would have abundant funds with the money that was going to come from those nice and expensive drugs. At the low muttered curse he looked at the Captain knowing that the sound of the mirror splintering had drawn him into the bathroom. He tried to speak and couldn't, tried again and must have made some sound because the Captain was looking at him eyebrow raised. He tried a third time and managed a shaky, "I'll be OK." Simon walked into the next room; the Captain followed but asked no questions which Simon greatly appreciated. Cleaned his cuts and started to put a weave on his hand to cover all the cuts. He looked up and was proud at how even and sane his voice sounded. "Thank you Captain. I appreciate you telling me what happened. I again regret all the trouble my sister and I have put you through." He waited for the Captain to reply and when he didn't Simon looked at him. Eye to eye he saw, for a brief glimpse, why Mal acted the way he did, saw that the need to protect was ingrained on Mal's soul. He knew the Captain, in return, saw the same in him. Simon smiled sadly as Mal nodded to him and asked him for his opinion on a plan he had for a job.
Arm over his eyes he lay in his bed and listened as the footsteps got closer. When a cough broke the silence he spoke. "Get out, I know what you did and I know the Captain punished you for it. The rest stays between us." No reply was made but Simon knew Jayne still stood in the doorway. Another cough and, "I'm sorry, I didn't think..."
"Yes I'm sure you didn't. But I accept your apology." Standing up he walked slowly up to the man he knew he had fallen for. But the price of trusting him was too high. "You ever, ever do anything to my sister and I will kill you. Not quickly like the Captain promised but painfully and very slowly. Now leave." He turned his back and lay on his bed, listened as the footsteps went away. Alone, with his sister asleep, Simon Tam began to review his contingency plans, adding one or two more.