What Is Human?

I don't own Firefly characters, just Ayme, Gavon, Ted, Roy. Oh and thanx for reading! PLEASE REVIEW! REVIEWS ARE EVER SO NICE! THANK YOU TO LeaMarie, Irresistibly desired, avaleighfitzgerald, mistymixwolf aka Perch, Skychaser, me (whomever you might be:)), eli/Zandora now, charlotte temples, PseudonymA1, roguebutterfly, mercurybard, miss jasadin, smokydays, redbrick, M for Mystery, Happy Camper, AIkia, dragon raptor, blueeyedbridadier, UKchana, gopherfool, DrewAllen, SmileyMare1810, drew allen, writingcritter and angw for giving me reviews! I LOVE YOU PPL! If you didn't review then I would've thrown this story out the window lol.

Chapter 25---Newhall

Serenity set down slowly at the edge of the landing dock. Desert surrounded the planet like air. In the middle of the shifting sands there was something unnatural, something man-made. The building was only one story but spread out farther and farther towards the horizon than any could have thought possible. He had made a facility on this planet, enclosed and protected from the terra-formed nature around them. A long tube jutted out from the complex and connected to Serenity.

Ted was going to get what he wanted after all.

The doors inside the tube slid open slowly, a gust of air blowing out into the now hallway as hollow footsteps traveled forward and echoed towards the entrance. He wore a black suite, a round collar around its top as his black shoes shown clean and reflective. His face was paler than most, but not ghostly, his features somewhat similar to Gavon but sharper. His eyes were darker than Gavon's but his hair was lighter and sandy colored, giving him the strange countenance of a businessman rather than a doctor.

Inside Serenity the extra guest room was empty, the crew had gathered in the cargo bay along with their guests. Gavon and Wash placed the large metal crate on the trailer of the mule as Froggy had clung to Gavon's shoulder. Kaylee stood next to Ayme as River was on the other side of her, Ayme dressed once again in all black with her cloak and the hood covering her face. She looked as if she were dressed to go to her own funeral.

Shepherd Book stood somewhat behind the scenes along with Jayne who was slowly cleaning Vira and pretending not to be paying attention.

"You better get that look off your face," Mal said as he walked slowly down the stairs from the head of Serenity. Ayme sighed heavily as she looked towards him, trying to fake a smile. Inara followed down the stairs a small time after Mal had reached the bottom, gracefully standing in front of Ayme and trying to catch her eyes.

"He's right," Inara said lightly. Ayme's eyes looked up, shifting to such a blue that Inara felt the cold and fear in them.

Gavon strapped the crate tightly, jumping down from the trailer and nodding his head at Wash. Wash hit his shoulder like a real brother would, squeezing it to give Gavon some comfort.

Inara hugged Ayme, still wondering why Ayme was giving up her freedom to Ted even though Gavon was the one she wanted to be with, but there was no turning back now.

"Ted's outside, waitin'," Zoe stated from a top the railing.

"Ted waited two years for her, I'm sure he can wait another thirty seconds," Inara stated as Gavon stepped from Wash's shoulder. River and Kaylee backed away as Gavon stepped in front of Ayme, handing Froggy to River for the time being. Ayme's face still hid under the cloak but Gavon's fingers grasped its edges and exposed her to him, her silver-white hair falling in her face. He tilted her head up by her chin, her eyes closing painfully and unable to look into his.

"I don't want to," she whispered to him, her eyes still held shut as she felt the tears weld up inside them. Gavon glided his fingers through her hair gently, her throat swallowing the sadness inside.

"I know," he whispered back, leaning his mouth against her lips and kissing her deeply, letting her lips return the kiss before pulling back. "But we have to. We've got to say goodbye, Ayme."

Ayme's mouth tightened and her eyes opened.

"No," she replied. Gavon smiled but shook his head and kissed her again.

Simon came from below quickly, slowing his pace down once he reached the cargo hold, hoping he hadn't missed the passenger's departure.

Mal stood close to the doorway, waiting patiently as Wash started the mule up and Gavon and Ayme let go of one another. Their stare was more than enough to tell anyone that they wanted to be together but the stare was all they could hold anymore. He pushed the button, the doors unlocking and a flood of fresh air entered the stale surroundings of Serenity.

Mal stepped out first, knowing it would be better if he had punched Ted in the face rather than Gavon at that point, plus Mal knew that if he were first there was a much less chance of any punching, unless Mal was the one being punched.

He looked at Ted with a fake smile on his face, wondering why the man was dressed like a mortician. Ted stood straight and aware, watching Mal approach him slowly.

"Good morning, I'm Captain Malcolm Reynolds," Mal greeted and stuck out his hand towards Ted. "I take it you're Ayme's far away suitor."

"Ah, Captain," Ted greeted lightly extending his hand as well, it covered in a black, leather glove, was this man covered in black from head to toe? "I hope the trip wasn't too hazardous."

"Not at all," Mal said pleasantly.

"Do not take this the wrong way, Captain," Ted stated. "But I was assuming my brother would be the one greeting me."

"I insisted," Mal replied. "Is that a problem?"

"None at all," Ted answered. "I'm happy to meet the person who was taking such good care of my Ayme."

Footsteps echoed from behind Mal and Ted, stepping out of the dark hull was Gavon, his face stern as he wore his burgundy coat.

"Ah, Gavon, little brother," Ted said in such a happy tone Mal even wished to shoot his face off. "I was wondering where you happened to be."

"Just getting the last adjustments," Gavon growled slowly. "You got my pay?"

"Just as I thought," Ted stated. "Always to the point."

Gavon stepped passed Mal, he could feel the anger radiating off of Gavon like light from the sun.

Ted reached inside his strange top and pulled out a wad of cash, tossing it to Gavon as he grabbed it out of the air.

"Do I get to see her now?" Ted questioned lightly to his brother, he assumed the rest of the crew didn't know who she was or what had gone on between him and his brother.

Gavon's eyes were glaring openly, but he stepped out of the way. Ted bowed his head to Mal respectfully and swept passed the both of them as Ted made his way into the airlock of Serenity.

"You want me to shoot him or should I?" Mal joked, his mouth barely moving but Gavon heard the words. Gavon wasn't as amused as Mal would have liked.

River hung back with her brother and Kaylee, the revving of the mule with Wash beside them washing out the other noises. The others stood away from Ayme as well, Inara standing on the second story railing with Zoe, biting her lip nervously.

"This ain't right," Zoe whispered, when they heard the clunk and clank of feet inside the air lock. Ayme's eyes were on her own feet, swimming with tears being held back only by some small amount of pride she had been given by Gavon and the rest of the crew.

Ted's face came from the light of the airlock, everyone looking at him with strange looks but Ayme who wasn't paying attention to the noises anyway. Ted's eyes were solely on her, he could have cared less of all the frustration, the feeling that he wasn't supposed to be there coming from the other crew on board.

"Ayme," he said in a relieved tone, letting out air he had been holding in his chest. Ayme's face jerked up quickly, her face iridescent with the light flowing onto it, her eyes still the deep blue they had been before. Her mouth pulled a fake smile on her lips as her eyes were still filled with depression, but Ted didn't notice, nor care. What he saw was what he wanted to see. He hurried over the threshold of Serenity, the rest of the crew feeling as if he were presumptuous in being able to enter their ship. He embraced her around her shoulders, tightly holding her against him as her eyes threatened to cry, her tears threatening to fall from her eyes like the rain. She breathed in and out slowly as her eyes tapered, her arms grasping him and traveling him up his sides and onto his back.

"Hello, Ted," she said in a sort of quiet hysterical tone, trying to mask her unhappiness.

"Oh, Ayme," Ted said quietly in her ear, "You don't know how happy I am."

Gavon came through the door then, Ayme's eyes focusing on him and widening. That was when Gavon's mouth moved and no words came out. He mouthed, "I love you" towards her.

Ayme's tears fell hard; she buried her face in Ted's shoulder and cried. Ted's hand ran his fingers through her hair, trying to comfort her.

"It's alright, Ayme. We're together now," Ted said lightly.

Gavon wanted to shoot his brother so much, Swiss cheese would have looked solid. Ayme once again tried to pull herself together, stopping the tears from falling and blinked them back. Ted pulled back suddenly, Ayme looking confused before his mouth pressed against hers, her eyes wide.

Inara kept from swearing, Zoe kept from shooting him and Mal waltzed in, trying to pretend he wasn't there.

Gavon watched in such pain and anger that he mentally tore his brother a part again and again and again until there was nothing left of his brother.

"See? Nothing to be crying about," Ted stated only to Ayme. Gavon shook off his stare and continued on into Serenity.

"We got the rest of Ayme's supplies," Gavon announced as he jumped on the trailer and sat up on the crate. "Can we take it in so we can go?"

Ted's attention was on his brother as Ayme's head went back to her feet.

"Of course," Ted answered. "And Captain."

"Hm?" Mal asked, turning to him and giving Ted his more innocent face.

"If you wish to fuel up, I wouldn't object. I know it is a long ways before the next fueling station or any civilized planets," Ted said, feeling like he needed to make sure his brother did not need to come back after they left.

"That's might generous of you," Mal said, nodding his head once and masking a smile on his face. "You think we need it Wash?"

"Yeah, definitely," Wash half laughed over the hum of the mule.

"Right, we'll take you up on that."

"Oh, anything for the people who brought her to me," Ted replied, looking back to Ayme's hidden face.

The ramp was lowered and Wash continued forward with Gavon on the crate. Ted held Ayme's arm graciously and helped her step out into the tunnel, but her steps were stronger than he would have ever thought she would be.

"If you shall enter and turn left immediately, there will be a large room to place the supplies," Ted called to Gavon as they sped forward through the large tunnel. Gavon saluted his brother and told his words to Wash in a much simpler tone.

Ted turned to the rest of the crew inside Serenity before looking to Mal.

"If you wish to start fueling," He stated, tapping the side of the tunnel once before from the grey metal floor a consol rose and stopped at hand level. "Just hit this panel, and it will begin for you."

"Well, thanks kindly," Mal said lightly.

Gavon and Wash waited as the sliding doors pulled back, another burst of air blowing passed them.

"It's left, right?" Wash stated. Gavon rolled his eyes.

"It's left."

"Right," Wash stated, pushing forward but turning left in the shining hallway but as they drove a small way in, a light shown on Gavon's chest and on the side of the mule, the guns were magnetically pulled to the ceiling, sliding backwards through the doorway and thrown back into Serenity over the Captain's head. Ted ignored the measure but when the Captain gave him a strange look he explained,

"I don't allow guns inside. Scientific research is delicate enough without being blown to bits, you see."

Gavon shooed Wash forward and they continued on.

"Would your crew like a tour of the facility?" Ted questioned to the captain, "I'm sure there will be some time to kill while your firefly is being fueled."

"If it's not too much trouble," Mal said. Simon stepped forward at the words as well as Zoe, Shepherd, River who let Froggy down and Kaylee. "You all wanna?"

They all answered with the similar answer of yes.

"Grand," Ted said in a pleasant voice. "I don't get all too many visitors here."

They stepped forward on the same path that the mule had taken, Mal taking off his guns and leaving them in the care of Inara, Ayme and Ted walking through the doorway first before the Captain stepped through, then the rest and all headed right. Ayme twisted her free hand strangely, making Mal wonder if something was wrong with her as they stepped through the facility.

"I shall show you your surprise, now if you like," Ted whispered to Ayme, keeping his face close to her head. She peered at him with small curiosity, mostly to appease him.

Another set of doors appeared to the left of them, Ted placing his hand on a light panel and letting the system scan and verify his identification.

"I see you got no security here," Mal stated as they stepped through.

"No, everything is automated through a single computer system," Ted answered as the room began to slowly light up, a large scientific laboratory before all of them as tall as Serenity's cargo hold but at least three times the length. "Isn't that right Nora?"

"Yes, Theodore," an automated voice called out over speakers along the wall.

"Nora, my computer system and the only assistant I'll need. I don't like working with people," Ted explained, leading them farther forward as the lights continued to click on. "They take up too much time, too much money, and they ask too many questions."

"I like 'em, only 'cause somethin' goes wrong with a computer, you gotta blame yourself, with people you can blame 'em for everythin'," Mal joked and laughed a little.

Simon grasped Kaylee's hand slowly and pulled her back a little farther from the rest of the group.

"Is there a reason the Captain's being…nice to this guy?" Simon asked. Kaylee shrugged her shoulders.

"He is being nice to us," Kaylee replied. "Maybe that's why?"

"This whole facility, how was it built here?" Shepherd questioned, "You couldn't have built this by yourself."

"Oh, no of course not," Ted stated. "There used to be several workers here when it was being built, but they were dismissed."

Ted stalled his feet suddenly, the light stopping just over their heads before he lifted Ayme's chin towards the darkness.

"This is my surprise for you," Ted stated, the light flickering on before them. In front of them was a large tube, both ends covered in dozens of wires, electronics, and inside was thick, pink gel. Simon gasped a little but did so quietly to keep his curiosity down but Kaylee was enthralled as well, secretly, seeing the many parts that built the large machine. Shepherd and Mal were more or less confused but moderately interested. Ted watched Ayme's face as she stared up at it, her eyes shimmering to a strange purple. She stepped forward and touched the glass, feeling warm against her palm.

"An incubator," she whispered. "It looks…just like them."

"I did it as best I could," Ted replied quietly. "So you could really feel at home here, although I wasn't expecting you to be this strong."

Ayme's head fell and pressed her forehead against the glass tube.

"Are you tired?" Ted asked her suddenly, walking over to her and setting his hands on her shoulders.

"No, no I'm fine," she answered, looking up at him with a sugar sweet smile, "Thank you, thank you for this."

The tour of some of the facility continued, but not all of it. Most of it the crew didn't understand, but Ted didn't slow down one bit for any of them. Gavon and Wash traveled back into Serenity after unloading the crate into a large, dark holding room and he, mostly out of familiarity with the consol began to refuel Serenity. It would take a half an hour at the most for them to be completely filled, but by this time no one wanted to be there any longer. It felt like lingering over an old wound, knowing how it had looked when it had been sliced open, but there was nothing to do but wait and heal.

Gavon had taken refuge along the top railing, strumming his guitar as Froggy watched his fingers in a somewhat intense concentration, batting at his fingers every so often. There were fifteen minutes left or so Wash estimated to Mal as Mal headed out of the cockpit, Inara hovering around in her shuttle as her nerves were higher than usual. Mal cruised passed her and towards the seemingly calm Gavon, standing over him slightly as Gavon chose to ignore his presence.

Mal watched as Kaylee and River played jacks down below, both wanting to pass the time but neither looked happy about it, not like they usually did. Jayne had taken up space in the mess hall as Shepherd and Simon both sat as well, drinking tea in silence. Zoe for certain was fighting back unknown rage that erupted, hiding down below for the time being until she calmed herself down.

"There's still time, y'know," Mal said to Gavon suddenly. Gavon suddenly hit Mal hard in the leg, the money Ted had given him in his hand for Mal to take.

"For the ride back," Gavon explained. Mal took it slowly and Gavon went back to picking his strings, letting them quietly eddy around his head.

"You could go peel her out from under his nose, she won't fuss," Mal said in a light tone. "She don't deserve to be trapped in there like some animal."

Gavon still didn't say a word, letting Froggy bite his knuckle playfully.

"Hell, we'll go get her, all of us," Mal said in a more demanding tone. Gavon set his hand on Froggy's head, before setting his guitar down and standing slowly.

"Kiddo," he called down to River. River's head jerked towards him as she stood quickly, Gavon didn't say anything further but like he had River opened the air lock doors quickly.

"What…" Mal questioned but Gavon had already traveled down the stairs, River pulling Kaylee to her feet.


"Come on!" River ordered as Gavon walked closer, Kaylee following River's grip around her wrist into the wide tunnel. Gavon picked up his guns from the floor in the air lock, strapping them back to him as River began to busily hit the consol pad, Kaylee standing beside her confused.

"Got it kiddo?" Gavon questioned as he stepped into the tunnel and passed the girls. "She shoulda set it up for you."

River popped the top of the consol off, revealing the wires to the air before using the sharp corner of the consol top to cut a few wires and rewired them carefully. Gavon stepped closer to the doors and a spark flew from around them, both jerking open slowly.

River pushed Kaylee forward, Kaylee confused as ever as she tried to question what was going on.

"Captain!" River called back. "We gotta loot the place!"

Mal ran down the railing at the word. What was Gavon planning? Alliance would be here if Ted got wind of them stealing his scientific crap…

He ran to the consol and communicator down next to the cargo hold door and clicked it on.

"Zoe, Jayne, we're gonna need a couple extra hands here," Mal replied, before making sure his own gun was strapped to him.

Kaylee and River headed towards the room they had seen the incubator in, Gavon walking down the hallway quickly passed the doors he knew to be more laboratories, River dismantling the gun sensor easily as well as the panel identification.

River pushed her farther and farther in until they reached the incubator, stopping there as Kaylee looked up at the large machine.

River looked at her strangely, before saying,

"Get to work."

"On that? You want me to work on that?"

"You can get it out, right?" River said with a smile on her face, before darting away from her and towards one of the large looking computers in the giant room. Her busy mind and fingers worked quickly.

Jayne and Zoe had come as fast as they could, Mal pointing at the Mule towards Jayne before Shepherd and Simon came out to see what the commotion was about.

"What're we doin' exactly, sir?" Zoe questioned as Jayne started the mule back up.

"Guess we gotta loot the place," Mal said with a smile on his face. "Think the kid's gonna get Ayme, we get our fair share of everythin' else."

"Ah, right," Zoe stated as both ran into the facility as well.

Gavon was close, he could feel it, he could feel her drawing him closer. He stood in front of the door, sure she was on the other side no doubt with his brother. He hit the panel easily, the override allowing him passage through, the doors sliding back. Ayme sat on a round couch as Ted sat across from her in a similar couch, his hand holding onto hers.

Gavon ran in without explanation, Ayme's face confused as her eyes shifted to a pale green.

"Gavon? How did you—"

Gavon didn't give him time to finish, before he was pulling Ayme to her feet and kissing her openly in front of Ted.

"Let's go," Gavon said simply to her.

"Gavon!" Ted tried to interrupt and stood as well.

"Alright," Ayme answered.

"Ayme?" Ted questioned as he glanced at her. "Gavon, you know your consequences and I will call the—"

From inside Gavon's coat his gun flew out, his finger on the trigger and its barrel pointed directly in Ted's face.

"How—did you—?" Ted stuttered.

"Don't think I wouldn't shoot my own brother, Ted," Gavon said in a pleasant tone, his eyes still on Ayme.

"It doesn't matter if you shoot me, someone will know I've gone missing, and the instant my vitals stop the files will be sent—"

"I didn't say I was gonna kill you Ted," Gavon stated, "Hey Kiddo, how y'doing?"

A voice echoed over the speakers.

"Deleted," River stated. "All of it."

"Nora? What is—"

"Nora no longer exists," River said simply. "She's been deleted, along with everything else."

"Sorry Ted," Gavon replied, slowly sinking his hand into Ayme's before aiming down and shooting Ted in the knee. "Told you I'd shoot you."

Ted screamed a little in pain and anger.

"Ayme…how could you…I gave you everything…"

"You did, you gave me Gavon," Ayme said lightly, before Gavon pulled her out and into the hallway.

"Will he be alright?" Ayme said lightly, pulling the doors shut with her mind and crunching them a little to make sure he couldn't open them right away.

"Sure, he's a smart guy, he'll figure it out," Gavon said smirking.

As they made their way back to Serenity, Zoe, Shepherd, Simon and Mal had armfuls of instruments, medications, and whatever else looked valuable.

"You got everything you want?" Gavon asked as Mal stepped lightly in front of him.

"You coulda said somethin' kid," Mal stated. "I'da listened harder to that doctor jabberin' on to see what we should take."

"Couldn't do that," Gavon stated as they both stepped into the cargo bay again, Ayme's smile, true smile returning before Jayne and Kaylee were examining a new large machine sitting almost as tall as Serenity.

"Why'd we hafta bring this giant piece of go se on board?" Jayne questioned angrily.

"It's not a piece of go se Jayne! It's a oxygenated vital feeding system, complete with its own filtration," Kaylee stated wisely.

"You—you're taking the incubator?" Gavon questioned as Ayme was in slight shock Kaylee knew so much about it.

"Oh sure, I can hook this puppy up anywhere, just had to take a look under the paneling to see how t'do it," Kaylee smiled. "You plannin' on gettin' a ride back, right? Get a ship and I'll do it for ya."

Gavon's mouth hung open slightly.

"I gotta get me one of those," Gavon said mostly to himself but the Captain heard and knew he was referring to Kaylee.

"Sorry, she's one of a kind," Mal said to him sternly as he set more merchandise down. "So, how'd you figure out how to get the doors open?"

"We had inside help," Gavon said with a smirk, looking to Ayme. "She's got one hell of a mind."

"Ah, gotcha," Mal stated as River came back into Serenity, bringing with her something Ayme had forgotten.

"Here," River said happily, handing Ayme the rolled up piece of plastic. The rest of the crew gathered back inside, laughing, trying to figure out how to strap all their new cargo down and make sure it wouldn't get broken. Wash called over the intercom that they were fueled and ready to go, and with that, they left Ted to his own devices.

"So you had us all fooled, cept River," Zoe laughed at dinner that night. "Now what're you gonna do?"

Ayme sat close to Gavon as they had all gathered for dinner, the rest settling respectively around the table.

"We've paid to go back to Persephone," Gavon said lightly as Froggy curled himself on his lap. "We'll figure it out there."

"Here, here," Mal said with a goofy look on his face. "We might make a few side trips along the way, y'know get rid of some of that junk down below. Is that gonna be a problem?" He looked directly at Ayme whose eyes were shining with green and brown.

"None what-so ever, Captain," Ayme answered.

"I'm just glad someone had an idea to get you away from that hwoo-dahn doctor," Inara said lightly. "Unlike some."

Her eyes somehow congregated towards Mal who sat with his elbows on the table and his mouth hidden behind crossed fingers.

"You wanna pick this fight?" Mal questioned simply. Inara turned away slowly with a smile on her face, but just as she did Mal threw a piece of protein at her cheek, it sticking to her skin. Mal laughed lightly at first, until her face grew red and angered and when he saw this, all out cackle came from his mouth.

The food fight that ensued that night lasted longer than it should have, but no one was complaining.


"Nice doin' business with ya'," Mal said lightly. "Always good to do it with you."

"Ran smooth as silk," the man walking with him said lightly. A recent job had just been completed by Mal and his crew, now only the last chat between Mal and the other captain needed to be fulfilled.

"I gotta say, I'm impressed," the other captain said. "I hired other muscle just in case somethin' came into play."

"Now, now. Nothin' happened," Mal defended, "And I didn't see anyone else…what kinda muscle you hidin'?"

Mal felt a gun shove into his lower back, making him stand straight.

"Reach for the sky, Captain," A familiar voice said behind Mal. Mal whipped his body around rapidly and someone he hadn't seen or heard of for six months appeared in a burgundy coat and dark shirt.

"Captain Reynolds, this is Gavon Grey," the captain introduced.

"You're hired muscle now, kid?" Mal said with a wide smile on his face.

"Money in between," Gavon answered as Mal took his hand and shook it lightly.

"Where's the real muscle?" Mal asked.

"You two know each other…?" the captain asked.

A ship landed just a few yards from where they were standing, six wings along its outside with a nice sleek compartment. It landed on four spider-like legs.

"Here I am, Captain," Ayme said through the loud speaker on the ship, her pale face inside the cockpit window as she waved.

"You doin' good by her?" Mal asked Gavon again.

"Good as I can," Gavon answered. "Heard that a companion might've left the guild recently."

"Don't know nothin' 'bout that," Mal replied.

"Should we complete this…or…?" the other captain interrupted.

"Oh, sorry," Gavon stated, letting the captain pay him before shaking hard hands with him again.

"Sorry, Captain, but I gotta get goin'," Gavon said in a calmer voice. "She doesn't like it when I sit and chat, not without her anyway."

"I heard that," came over the loud speaker again, Froggy crawling onto Ayme's shoulder and nearly taking up most of it.

"See you in the 'verse," Gavon bid farewell, stepping backwards quickly and watching as his ship lowered a ramp underneath it, letting him aboard. Mal waved to Ayme as the door shut, she waiving back lightly before the ship took off into atmo.

End Chapter 25