A/N: This roughly follows "Serenity" Part one (the initial pilot episode for the TV show, not the BDM).
:-D Jelly Babies? I've got Jelly Babies for reviewers… Jelly Babies! Whooot. If you've read this far and not reviewed, well that's ok. I hope you enjoyed the ride. This ends on a cliffy, and you're just going to have to wait for the next STORY to find out what happened. Review and I might start the next one sooner (As soon as tomorrow even). Don't review and you might have to wait a week. If you've been reviewing (and you know who you are because I've been thanking you every chapter by name) I just want to tell you that this has been a blast and the Doctor is still there harping away. I'm going to try to get a chapter out of my other stories now. Maybe. Or not. Well, we'll see...
Delphine Pryde, nice to get some kind words, I thank you. Hope you stick around for Act Three.
OtherMeWriter, Yeah, ending the last chapter with the Doctor tossing out off-handed truths kind of fits with his character. Ol' Nine doesn't beat around the bush much. As for the Box – yes, the last elements of it are right there, but Mal's gonna be a tough one to convince. Maybe Inara will end up being the one to drag him into it? Or maybe Thete will discover that having someone who is as shattered as he is helps him open up a bit. See, Inara views the Doctor as the Red Guardian. He's as close of a thing as her people come to a God, but not because he's a Time Lord. And Mal… he needs something to put his faith in, and he just happens to choose Justice.
This is the Last Chapter of Ties that Bind. Stay tuned to this channel for the next Mutant Plot Bunny, Doctor Who and the Tangled Web, in which our Doctor actively falls in with petty criminals.
Oh, right, he already has…

Summary: The Doctor, reeling from the effects of the TimeWar as the last surviving TimeLord, stumbled into a situation he could not ignore when the TARDIS landed him inside a ship that was clearly in trouble. After the rescue, he's left with eight survivors that he must somehow get to safety. But the situation is not as cut and dry as he might like. His people may be gone, but the stamp he's made on the universe is still there, and he finds himself caught in a web spun of the choices he's made in his past…

Something in history has prompted humanity to explode out from their home world. Could the events of 2164 be responsible? Was Earth a myth or was it real? In fleeing Earth-that-Was, humanity scattered to the stars across the galactic arm. Initial survey teams targeted likely planets and systems for habitation and not all of them ended up on the same side of the sector. Blue Sun exists on one side, separated by a patch of 'wild space' filled with exotic binary and triple star systems, from the rest of civilized space. Few ships brave the route. But luck had it that one ship did. Risking a ghost run, the only contact that the two sides have, the Hunter-Gratzner crashed midway through the journey. Original Port of Departure: Eavesdown Docks, Persephone. Mixed Sino-Anglo culture. Original Port of Call: Tangiers-5. Darkside. Mixed Islamic-Anglo culture. Crew complement: Four. Passengers: Forty. Living 'Cargo': Two. Survivors: Eight plus One

So what happens in 2517 to Dr. Simon Tam, his brilliant but damaged sister, a convicted murder by the name of Richard B. Riddick, and Jack B. Badd now that they are on their way home? They end up slightly out of their own Time, on a ship filled with living sculptures and then a 'quiet' trip to 2005 London brings them face to face with living sculptures of another kind… And just how is this related to the TimeWar?

A Doctor Who / Firefly / Riddick crossover.

Features Doctor 9, companion Rose Tyler; The cast of Firefly; 'Jack B. Badd' and Richard B. Riddick…

Doctor Who and the Ties that Bind.

Part Thirty-Six

Mole

Malcolm Reynolds had rarely dealt with an individual so hard to read as he was dealing with now. At least not without them being a trained Companion. Somehow he didn't think that Dr. Jon Smythe, or whatever his real name turned out to be, was a trained Companion though. No, rather, the captain of Serenity suspected it was the 'alien' in the fellow peeking through the human veneer the gent wore. "You serious about any of that?"

"Perfectly," Jon tosses him an annoyingly charming, -no, downright knee-buckling, heart-melting, innocently dazzling- grin. Mal actually has to fight a responding smile of his own. He is less than successful. "Oi, don't look so pained about it, captain. I know what you've just seen, and you might be thinking that it can't be real, but I assure you, it is. Matter and Energy are just two states of the same thing, after all."

This he had to concede. He nodded. Maybe after some sleep he could come back and tackle this issue with a clearer head and a longer fuse on his temper. "So our collective problem is Dobson."

Zoë raised an eyebrow at that exchange and looked over at Inara who had slipped the disk back around her neck. She knows the Companion wears the charm often aboard Serenity. And while she'd been curious about the strange symbols and design of the thing the first time she'd seen it, 'Nara had been with them for months now and she'd become used to seeing it around her neck, resting against her chest. The other woman raises her eyes and notices the gaze. Zoë smiles at her, reassuring that she's fine with this, and Inara smiles back gratefully. "How much does the Alliance know?" she asks as she turns to her husband.

He's fiddling with his tea, "I can't say." There's a shift across the group like a wave of alarm. He hurriedly adds, "I killed the message pretty quick, so they might just have had our position."

"Or they might have personal profiles on each and every one of us," Mal counters. " 'Til that fed wakes up, we won't know."

"So what do we do?" asks Jayne, "Somebody on this boat shot Kaylee, and I'm scratching my head as to why we ain't dealt with him."

" 'Dealt' as in 'Kill', Jayne? Can you think of a stupider thing to do?" Zoë says by way of trying to make the dense man see some reason.

"He can ID us all," he counters, looking Zoë in the eye.

"Killing a Merc on this side of wild space won't get you into much trouble," Richard says, "As long as the body is found after the papers expire."

"Can we maybe vote on the whole murdering people issue?" Wash asks.

Jon raises an eyebrow at the pilot, "Frankly, Dobson is lucky he's alive now."

Mal finishes his coffee, gets up and refills it, ignoring the looks of disbelief that he's drinking the stuff, "We don't vote on my ship because my ship is not the rutting town hall."

"Surely there are ways to solve this without taking his life," Inara offers.

The Doctor says, "What? Like – raping his brain, shattering his soul, or using drugs to turn him into a vegetable so that he can't ID anyone? Be very careful what you ask for, child." She gives him a disturbed look and glances away.

"Right no votes. Got that, Sir." Wash says, turning to look at Mal, "But -- come on, we're gonna talk this through, yeah?"

"I'll not sit by while there's killing here," Book says.

Jayne grins at the man; "Shepherd's got a mean streak. We'd best walk soft."

Mal pinches the bridge of his nose, "Nimen de bizui!" The group falls silent. He shakes his head at them, "Way it is, is the way it is. We got to deal with what's in front of us." He paces as he thinks. The Smythe troop has been honest with him. Maybe it's time to be honest with them as well. He's not talked this over with Zoë, Wash, or Jayne, and he imagines that of the three only Zoë will pitch a fit. Then he looks at Inara. She's got a hand on Jacob's back and the boy is asleep in Richard's arms. Mal makes his decision. "The job. We finish the job. I got word from Patience; she's waiting for us. We circle 'round to Whitefall, make the deal, get out. Keep flying."

"Not 'medical supplies' then," says the bronze man.

Mal's pacing again, "No." He takes a swig of the brew in his cup and wonders if he has any taste buds left at all to not find the black swill offensive.

"Sir--" Zoë starts.

He fixes her with a 'sergeant' expression; "They've been honest with us. Maybe they'll be wanting to get off on Whitefall and catch another boat after they hear the truth, Zoë." He looks at Book, "Shepherd, you might want to leave so you can claim innocence in these matters, should things come to that."

"I think – I'd prefer to stay."

"Your decision, padre."

"Hey, are you thinking about letting them in on the cut, Mal?" Jayne suddenly sits up and glares at the captain.

"Settle down Jayne. Does 'Nara get a cut? No. She pays to stay. They'll pay to stay. I might lessen their rent if they assist, but I doubt they need the credits, with Jon offering to pay a mil and a half to match the bounty sum." He looks over at Wash, "You suggested that we needed us a medic. I wanted a proper cook. We got the space; they need to keep on the move. Perfect fit."

Simon looks at Mal with a calculating look on his face, "What job is this, exactly? Is it gold? Drugs? Pirate treasure?"

"Whatever we can scrounge up, son. Some of it is a mite shady. Anything that needs doin' we'll do. Whatever it takes to survive and stay in the air," Mal says.

"So having River and I here isn't going to make things any more 'interesting' for you then? I mean, the Alliance catches us on your ship, you'll lose it."

Mal raises an eyebrow, "Already trading in government goods, Dr. Smythe. Hauling you and your sister won't change that. So Jon, the offer stands. You can stay and pitch in where we need help, or you and yours can get off at Whitefall."

John pulls out a bag of platinum, "How about I answer with this." He lets the money spill across the table. "We'd like to stay."

As much as Mal had protested about not wanting the man's money, he really can't say that he's that resistant to taking it. "Wash, while we're in the world, fuel her up, stock our supplies, and try to find the parts on Kaylee's list. Anything left over, split with Jayne and Kaylee. As a bonus. And don't you worry about the Fed, by the time we reach Boros his papers will be expired, we can dump him there, hog tied and weaponless for the Feds to find, hopefully with little to tell, even if I have to cut his tongue out to make it so."

"Yes, Sir."

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

They've headed back to their rooms, Book having watched Mal place a lock on Dobson's door to keep Jayne out until the morning. Rose decides that River shouldn't be alone and pulls her blankets and pillow and heads into River's room with her. Simon comes in and sits with them until his sister falls asleep, "Thank you, Mei-Gui."

"It's not a problem, Simon. I didn't know what had happened, but I would've done this with her being upset even if nothing had." Rose kisses his cheek, "You should go check on your patient." He holds Rose's hand for a moment before getting up and turning off the light. He closes the door as he leaves. The blonde holds River tighter; "It's alright, Saritha. Verity and I have you. Everything's gonna work out." River burrows into Rose's side with a whimper. "Shush," she rocks the ebony haired teen until they both slip into a troubled doze.

Simon headed back to the infirmary. The Doctor was in there running his fingers over Kaylee's cheek. "Dad. Sleep. Now." Shortly thereafter Rich appears in the doorway to help him get the overtaxed Time Lord into his room. The Tam scion sighs after he knows Rich will put Jon to bed and keep him there.

"Still calling him 'dad'?" Mal asks from the seating area as Simon walks back into the blue room. He's been thinking about all the things he's been told, all he's seen. He reflects on the fact that Kaylee liked Jon, that Wash stood up for the man, that, frankly, he admired Jon on first impression. And he was hard to impress that way. Although he was sure that there was way more to learn about the man -alien?- fellow, than he'd revealed, Mal felt pretty confident about keeping him aboard Serenity.

"Yes. It's hard for me to picture him as what he really is, actually."

"Which would be what, exactly?"

Simon looks at him. "Sure you want to know?" Mal nods, "He is my and River's Great Grandfather, with eleven additional 'greats' tacked on."

"That would make him hundreds of years old. Two to five depending on the tightness of your family's generations, wouldn't it?"

"He's tossed around anything from nine to thirteen hundred, actually. Depending on his mood at the time. There's some biological tricks involved, of course, that are not human at all, but then he's not entirely human is he?"

"And neither are you and your sister, for all that goes. I can't help but to wonder if she wasn't targeted for the treatment she suffered because of that."

Simon got a thoughtful look, "I think Jon's afraid that she was chosen for exactly that reason."

Gorram Feds, Mal thinks, not getting away with trampling on these kids. The thought of what was done to River chills his blood. Then he thinks about the youngest, little honey haired Jacob, and that scares him. "What would they do to Jacob, as I assume he is Jon's boy."

"I don't even want to dwell on it."

No wonder Jon offered the money right off the bat. It's the only thing that would keep Jayne in line. With his loyalty bought it acquires his children, -grandchildren? Descendants?- a measure of protection. Mal's determined to give them that, no matter what. They certainly fit his 'yearns to be free' qualification. "Listen, Simon. You get some sleep; I'll sit up and watch over Kaylee. She's looking like she had a bite of the flu now, not a bullet to the belly anyhow. By the time we leave Whitefall we might be needing your services so you being well rested would be a good thing." The boy nods, checks on her himself and heads back to his bunk.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

Thete sleeps that night. He knows he needs to even though he doesn't want to. But he can't resist the soft murmur of Verity or the steady strong beat of Amadak's heart against his back so he drifts off into slumber with a vague feeling that something is going on he's not sure he wants to face yet.

Richard holds him for a long time, awake and listening to his extremely slow breathing. Jon's efficient lungs means he needs to breathe much slower that humans do anyhow, but him sleeping makes it slow even farther. The ex-ranger curls a hand over one of the Time Lord's wrists and focuses on the fluttering heartsbeat, and once he can feel it not just through the pulse point but Thete's entire form, Amadak slowly drifts to sleep as well.

Verity avoids the knots in Thete's mind, wanting him to rest. She shunts away his dreams of flight, nightmares of fire, and yearnings for an orange sky seen through silver leaves. But she can't stop his memories from surfacing, and when she sees that they are of Jamie she knows that Thete is loosening those knots as best he can.

He dreams. He dreams of reddish brown wavy hair and eyes that flash sometimes blue like the sky and other times with just a hint of green. He dreams of heather and clover, wool and rough hands that are shaped by years of pipe playing. He dreams of devotion and faith, honest trust that could be broken by nothing.

He dreams of their forbidden stolen moments, starting from the sudden realization that this primitive but brilliant human lad is beautiful when he wakes up from being knocked unconscious to the first time that those rough warm hands circled around his arms and pulled him back into the young man's form. From their first kiss to their last goodbye. A rapid succession of sensations stolen out of sight of the others, that neither of them ever mentioned later. But he knew that they had something unique, valuable, rare… because of the bond that sang between them even when they weren't together. A bond that just – happened – no cause, no thought, no reason. It sprang into being and they both accepted it like it had always been there.

He dreams of his plain cell, and his plain robes. Everything lacks any sense of color, any comfort at all. He's waiting to be told that his life is forfeit, that they are going to make him regenerate even though right now it will kill him for good. There were no windows, barely any indication of a door, no way to tell how much time was passing but for the changes quickening in him and his terror at being unable to stop any of it. He remembers the agony of knowing that he'd never have what was taken from him again, not just the psychic but the physical. He prayed to any higher power that might listen for some hope that he'd be shown mercy.

He dreams of long blond hair, a heart shaped face, compassionate deep eyes, and being told that she was sorry for this, so very sorry. It had to be this way, and someday he would understand. And maybe he'd even forgive her for it. He has the sensation of being in great pain; curled around himself, around – He forces himself to look at the distorted shape of his body, to imprint this, as close as he will ever get to Jamie again, as deep into his memories as he can. He must not forget it. It has been so long since he's seen his Jamie already and this one thing is the only reason he's forced himself to survive this long. He can't let them take this away. Why? Why are they doing this? Is what he's done really so horrible? Shouldn't it be something to rejoice over? Oh, Rassilon, how I curse thee. This is mine, how dare you steal it away

He wakes in the same fetal position, arms curled tight around his knees, silent tears coursing across his face. Richard was propped up on one arm looking down at him with his silvered eyes in the darkness, worry etched across his expression. Thete lets himself sob a single smothered pained sound. He'd forgotten, all this time and he'd believed them when they pointed out his pieced together memories that eradicated the entire span of time from him. He'd never questioned their glib lies about what happened. He feels that extra year now, like it just happened. And he wonders how much more was taken from him.

That was not a dream. He has to fight himself to keep from pushing Amadak away as the bronze man scoops him up and pulls him tight into an embrace.

His mind plays over the scenes again; fitting in senses, smell, taste, hearing, and more, that hadn't been there before, including the awareness that this woman knew him although he didn't know her at the time. What had Romana done? How and why did she do it? What impact did her actions have on the War? He can't even contact her to find out anymore because she's gone, like she never was, except for that faint signature that hovers around Jack. He slowly wraps his arms around Richard, seeking as much heat and comfort from him as he can get, trying to wash away the lingering traces of those just-revealed memories. Now he wishes he'd killed Paris himself.

There are no words, although the ex-ranger wants to know what has happened to make the Time Lord react this way. Instead he offers the silent support that is needed right now and waits for when Thete is ready to talk on his own.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

Mal woke on the couch outside the infirmary with Jayne and Book both looking at him. "I could hear Dobson moving around, so I'm guessing he's woken up," says Jayne.

"I believe that it is best you handle him soon, Captain Reynolds. I'll take you on your word that you won't kill him," Book adds.

He tries not to groan as he gets up. Sleeping on a sofa really reminds him of his true age. "All right. Lets get this done then, so I can get some breakfast." Mal leads Jayne back toward Dobson's cell and removes the lock. Then they enter the room. The merc has gotten himself sitting up, although his position is less than comfortable because of how Jayne taped his arms and legs together. Mal reaches over and yanks the duct tape off the man's stubble covered, bruised face. The Fed grunts in pain. "I'm in a tricky position, I guess you know." Mal says to get the man's attention, "Got me a boatload of terribly strange folk making my life a little more interesting than I generally like, chief among them an Alliance mole."

"That would be you, by the way," says the brawny man standing behind Mal.

Dobson's eyes flick to Jayne then back to Mal, "Likes to shoot at children when he's nervous. Now I got to know how close the Alliance is, exactly how much you told them before Wash scrambled your call. So... I've given Jayne here the job of finding out."

Jayne pulls out a big-ass knife. Playing with it he says, "He was non-specific as to how."

Mal turns to Jayne and whispers, "Now you only gotta scare him."

This makes the large, tall man flash a psychotic grin; "Pain is scary..."

"Just do it right," Mal says before he exits, leaving Jayne with Dobson.

The merc asks, "Do you have any idea how much trouble you're in?"

Jayne stares at him, then moves over to Book's stool and sits down, "Gee, I never been in trouble with the law before..."

"Not like this you haven't. Harboring a wanted serial killer. Smuggling. Kidnapping. Assault."

"You're outta your mind, you know that. Richard Smythe has a paper trail going back six years. Ain't no way he's the serial killer you accuse him of being," Jayne leans forward, "And besides, our pilot fought in the Wailing Wars with Smythe and can place his whereabouts for a good portion of the decades before that. Your fingerprint was disproved by genetic evidence. We already ran the check using your stuff."

Dobson looks at the floor, then tries another angle, "What about the so-called 'twins', huh. Simeon? Saritha? Please. I'll tell you their real names. Simon and River--"

"Tam? Yeah I was told. Found your files, under the mess in your bunk. Sister's cute, too, but I don't think she's all there, y'know?" Jayne makes circular motion with the knife over one side of his head before giving the man a very dark, lecherous, smirk, " 'Course, not all of her has to be..."

"The Tam girl is a precious commodity. They'll come after her. Long after you bury me they'll be coming."

"Oh, I'm not gonna kill you, Dobson – what's your first name?"

Reluctantly the merc answers, "Laurence."

Jayne's getting the impression that the man is in Alliance space because he can't cut the thuggish competition over in his own turf, "Laurence." He nods, "No, I'm just gonna cut on ya' 'til you tell me how much they know."

At this the merc spills, but not in the way he thinks he's spilling, "They know everything. They know every name, every record -- they know how many nose hairs you've got." Every word of it is a lie. The man was cut off right after transmission started.

Jayne leaned back and stomped his foot, "Ah, see -- they don't know a damn thing." He looks honestly frustrated, "It's all over your face," he waves the knife around, "I ain't even... Was gonna get me a ear, too." He looks at the merc, "Aren't you an officer of the law?" Dobson just sits there in shock, trying to figure out how this crude, crass man was able to read him. "Well, don't they teach you how to withstand interrogation? Can't even tell a damn lie."

After a moment he says, "Okay. I can see you're not an idiot."

Rolling his eyes, Jayne replied, "Wish I could say the same, Laurence, but... this is disappointing as hell."

"Let me speak the language you will understand. Money." Dobson tries another tactic, "This girl is worth a lot of money. I mean a lot. You kill me, there's nothing. But if you help me out, you'll have enough to buy your own ship. A better one than this piece of crap."

Well, his thing about money might have swayed Jayne before Jon handed him the ten percent cut that morning and told him that he'd pay on every bounty increase brought to his attention too. Even more so is the fact that he knows Mal is keeping the Smythe family on as crew, but he wants a reason to shoot the man now, because he's insulted Serenity and Kaylee by extension. "Does helping you out mean turning on the Captain?"

"Yes, it does."

Jayne plays thoughtful for a moment, "I'll get back to you."

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

The proximity alarm went off and everyone heard it. Mal darts into the bridge, thinking that the Feds have caught up to them. When he gets there he sees the pilot, half-asleep still but focused on a screen with a very tense and anxious air. "How the Hell did they find us? I thought you said we could get around 'em."

"It's not Alliance."

Something in his tone chills Mal to the bone, "You're sure?"

"It's a smaller vessel."

Wash's snappish answers rub off, "Commercial?" Mal's feeling like he's got lead or ice or both settling in his gut.

"Uh, yeah," Wash says, "I read it as an older model Trans-U."

That leaden chill deepens further, "I didn't think Trans-U still operated."

Wash hits him with the single fact that threatens to knock him over with just a feather's touch, "They --don't."

Mal glances at the license listing and notices that there's not a single Trans-U still flying under Alliance banner, even private. He swallows, "Get me a visual."

"They're still too far out to--"

"Get me something!" Panic sets in and Mal grips the back of Wash's chair.

The pilot scrambles to follow the order, "I'm picking up a lot of radiation... they're operating without core containment." He says the first part matter-of-factly then pauses, "Well, that's -- kwong-juh duh -- that's suicide..." He glances over his shoulder at the panicked expression on Mal's face, understanding what this is even before Mal says a word.

Then Mal does, and Wash wishes he hadn't, "Reavers."

The visual image finally comes up as the ship reaches range of the scanners. It confirms the analysis. It's a nightmare ship, bristling with jagged edges, weapons, ripped holes in the hull, radiation leaking out the back, splashed with areas that are burnt looking or covered with salvaged metal that is blood-red. Mal stares at the screen, barely daring to breathe as if the monsters out there can sense them if he does it too deeply. "Oh god." Wash mumbles. Then he goes quiet for just a second too long, like he's choking, before finally saying, "Oh god, oh god, oh god..."

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

Far away, on Boros, two men wearing blue gloves are noticing that their contact is -- off course. Without a word they set off to intercept in their own ship.