Sign Up | Log In
BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1720 RATING: 8 SERIES: FIREFLY
Life’s Too Short- Part Seventeen
Author’s Note: The Big Damn Rescue, or, more aptly, the Big Damn Escape Followed By The Big Damn Rescue. M/I, S/K, R/J.
“Mal. Mal!” Inara shook him, barely able to control herself. She wanted to rattle his teeth out for scaring her like this. He had to wake up. Damn it, he had to! Mal groaned and opened his eyes, blearily staring up at her.
“Nara,” he mumbled. “You okay?” She nearly cried from relief.
“Yes, I’m- I’m all right. We have to get out of here, Mal. You have to get up.” Inara eased her cut and painful arm beneath his head and lifted him up, leaning him against the table he’d been bolted to. Mal coughed, and then winced as his abdomen burst into fiery agony at the movement. Inara didn’t hesitate: she tore off the rest of her top, ripping it in half. One half she wrapped around Mal’s stomach, the other half around her own.
“I, uh, I think I’m hurt,” Mal said weakly. Inara gave a little gasp-laugh, for the first time really seeing what had been done to him. Her multitude of cuts and the one lash with the cat-of-nine suddenly seemed minor in comparison. The vicious slash in his left cheek. The broken nose. The thirty-seven deep lacerations in his stomach and chest. The burns.
“Stop whining and get up. Come on, Mal, we have to leave!”
“At once, Your Magnificentness,” he grunted, and pushed himself up with his hand. She rolled her eyes. Even half-conscious, he stayed droll. Inara helped pull him to his feet, keeping an arm around his shoulders. He took her support, one hand on her shoulder, the other on the table. Then, Mal’s eyes cleared and he saw how weak she was beneath the façade. Mal muttered something unintelligible and moved his arm with a painful jerk to around her waist. Inara gratefully leaned into him and together, they shared strength.
After the brief moment of fragile peace, Mal and Inara hobbled over to the door. Mal leaned over with a pained grunt and picked up two knives lying on the slick floor. He looked from one to Inara, a strange mix of regret and pride in his eyes. Then, he held out the knife, keeping the other in his right hand. Inara took it, looking askance.
“I ain’t stupid, Nara,” Mal said, already reaching for the door. “You’re no china doll, and- ah!” He winced. “And I’m not gonna keep you from protectin’ yourself. Even if I don’t wanna see you have to kill.” Inara opened her mouth, then closed it again. She knew how much it had cost him to say that to her.
“Shh, Mal. Your cheek,” she murmured at last. “Besides,” Inara continued, joining her hand with his at the door, “as long as you’re here I’m not afraid.”
* * * * *
THREE HOURS AGO
“What’s the report from Lorry?” Jennings sat in his comfortable swivel chair, fingers steepled, elbows resting on his knees. The young man standing at attention before him swallowed.
“Report is positive. Intensive questioning will begin in approximately thirty minutes. As soon as the drugs wear off.”
“Good. You’re sure she understands what will happen if she doesn’t find out what we want?”
“Sir, we pulled Ellen Lorry from the bottom scum of Fadipé. Going back scares her even more than what we threatened her with originally.”
“Excellent. I’ve heard this… Reynolds, I’ve heard he has a strange way of wiggling out of all manner of bad situations. Escaped from Adelai Niska, did you know that? Twice.” The young officer nodded, not speaking. “So I want to make sure there is no chance of her succumbing to pity or bribes or anything of the sort.”
“I doubt she has pity, sir, and she’s too well scared to take a bribe.”
“Fine. Fine. Dismissed.” The man clicked his boots, spun on his heel, and left. Jennings swiveled his chair around to face the Cortex, sighing out a long breath. “What is it about these people? This ship. River Tam. Why is it no one can capture them for good,” he mused aloud. “Malcolm Reynolds shouldn’t be such a Houdini.”
* * * * * Kaylee was sitting on the couch, her legs drawn up to her chest. She was resting her chin on her knees, staring into space. Simon, who was pacing through the halls, saw her and coughed. She glanced at him, but otherwise didn’t move. Simon came and sat beside her, turning her so that her back was pressed against his chest. Reveling in his newfound ability to touch her, while still fully aware of the terrible thing that had happened (and was still happening), he rubbed her shoulders and pressed a kiss to the top of her head.
“It’s gonna be okay, bao bei. Zoe’ll find them. Well, River will find them and Zoe will keep Jayne under control.” His weak attempt to make her smile failed. He wasn’t all that surprised. “Probably nothing’s wrong. They just got… I don’t know, held up by something. Hey, maybe they cleared up their differences and-”
“Oh, Simon,” she interrupted tearfully, “I know somethin’s wrong! They wouldn’t just disappear without tellin’ anybody. And it ain’t just the Cap’n this time, it’s him and ‘Nara! What are they gonna do to her?”
“Shh, Mal would never let anyone hurt Inara. You know that. He always manages to come back, doesn’t he? He and whoever else is with him. I mean, they may not come as often as could be hoped, but he does have his moments.”
“I used ta think that, Simon, but what about Wash? And Book? And Mr. Universe? They didn’t come back.”
“There was nothing the Captain could have done about any of them.” Kaylee shook her head. She didn’t want to believe that there was something her Captain had absolutely no control over. Her faith in Mal was very strong.
“I know that. Really, I do. But… well, it just hurts, is all. After Miranda, the world spun about a little. And now Inara and the Cap’n are in big trouble. Simon,” Kaylee said suddenly, turning her head to look at him, “he loves her. He loves her a lot. That’ll mess up his thinking. He’ll take care of her, even if it kills him.” Simon wouldn’t admit that he was a little disturbed by how astute she sounded. This Kaylee wasn’t the same carefree girl he’d first fallen for. Though he still loved her, so much it was impossible to weigh, she wasn’t the same. After Wash and the others had died, something… broke in her; something fell away. The old Kaylee wouldn’t have understood fully how dangerous it was for Mal and Inara to be captured together, or why.
“They’ll be fine, Kaylee,” Simon whispered into her hair. They have to be. He closed his eyes and hoped he wasn’t lying.
* * * * Mal and Inara limped down the hall. It was empty, and dark. Mal stopped, leaning against the wall. He pressed his ear to the wood, hearing muted voices through the paneling. Holding a finger to his bloody lips, Mal cocked his head towards the corner ahead of them. Inara nodded, her eyes wide but controlled. He remembered her cool, unafraid voice telling the Operative, ‘And that’s not incense.’ Pretty lady had a spine of steel.
Together, they moved up the hallway. Mal peered carefully around the corner, seeing a man and a woman standing in front of a door on the right. They were talking in low, intent voices, and wore Alliance military uniforms. Mal mouthed a word that Inara, in all her experience as a woman and as a Companion, had never heard spoken. He sucked in a silent, but pained, breath as the movement of his mouth pulled at the cut in his left cheek.
Inara, taking her turn for a look, spotted something Mal had missed. It was a plain, white square in the left side wall, barely discernable. She caught his arm and pulled him back from the corner.
“Garbage chute,” Inara mouthed. Mal understood immediately, and grinned with half his mouth. Damn, he loved this woman. He peered around the corner again, saw that the two officers were still involved with their quiet discussion. The door they stood before was closed. The woman, facing towards Mal and Inara, took out a folder from under her arm and opened it. The man bent a little lower to look at it. Perfect.
Mal, his wounds for the moment forgotten, turned to Inara.
“I’ll take care of them,” he breathed into her ear. “You open the chute and jump. I’ll follow.”
“I can help. With the officers.”
“Your hands aren’t bloody. Better not to leave handprints pointing out where we went.” She conceded his point, and for the first time, Inara understood why he had such a reputation. Though she would never admit it.
Mal ripped off a button from his torn shirt and rummaged in his pocket. Pulling out a small, polished piece of metal with some kind of string wrapped around it, he unwound the string and revealed a small, shiny slingshot. Inara gaped at him. He shrugged, as if to say, ‘Why not?’ Inara shook her head. Always prepared. But honestly, why would he ever think he’d need a slingshot?
Mal ignored her headshake and loaded the button. Aiming for over the two officers’ head, he let fly. The button clinked against the ceiling and then clattered to the hard floor. The Alliance officers looked towards the sound, as he’d known they would. In the split-second of empty space, he darted up behind the man and wrapped an arm around his neck. The blade of Mal’s knife was pressed against the man’s throat.
“Make a sound and I’ll make sure you never make another one,” Mal said in a deadly whisper. The woman froze. The man clenched his fists, but didn’t move. “Come here.” The woman stepped reluctantly closer, obviously torn between trying for her weapon and keeping the man safe. “Give me your gun.” When she didn’t move, Mal dug his knife into the man’s throat. A trickle of blood made her jaw clench furiously, and she handed him her regulation pistol. Alliance fe hua, Mal thought grimly. Inara came up behind the woman and pulled the silencer for the gun from her belt. She jerked, but let Inara take the tube and screw it onto the gun in Mal’s hand.
“Step closer,” Inara told the woman. She met Mal’s eyes. One, two, three. She watched his mouth form the words. On three, he flipped the gun and held it by the silencer, the added three inches giving him a solid grip, and clubbed the woman in the temple. As he did so, Inara used the hilt of her knife to do the same to the man. Though she didn’t have the strength or heaviness of Mal’s weapon, her training meant she knew the exact place on the temple to knock a man out for at least several hours. Both officers dropped like stones.
Moving fast and silently as possible, Mal and Inara moved towards the garbage chute. Inara palmed it, and it slid open. She slipped through the two x two foot square without hesitation, and Mal followed with a swallowed gasp as his multitude of cuts were reopened. As he slid, Mal heard the chute seal closed again with a faint hiss of air. Then, he heard nothing but cloth rasping against steel.
Mal shot out of the garbage chute and landed in a heap. He was surprised to find that, instead of being in a crate filled with refuse or a chamber that would be incinerated shortly, he and Inara were lying on top of a pile of garbage that appeared to be on the ground. It was surrounded by a wooden fence. Was it possible that his luck was on the mend?
“Nara?” She sat up, moaning.
“I’m okay. We have to get out of here.”
“Yeah.” Mal stood, woozily, and made it over to the fence. He waited for Inara, and then cupped his hands to make a step.
“No, Mal, you can’t-”
“Don’t argue, woman!” She rolled her eyes and climbed over, trying to put as little weight as possible on Mal. He then pulled himself over the fence, landing on the other side with a cry of pain. They stood and looked back at where they’d been held. It was a plain building that Mal recognized. They’d flown past it on their way in. So they weren’t far at all from where they’d landed! Numb with relief and agony, he grabbed Inara’s hand and they started to run. Keeping low to the ground, they kept pressed against the side of a nearby building. It was still night, but Mal wasn’t taking any chances. He heard the low hum of a mule, and caught his breath.
“Stay back,” he told Inara. “If they take me, run.”
“I won’t leave you.”
“Promise me you’ll run!”
“No!” Mal took her by the shoulders, staring into her eyes.
“Inara, I need to know you’re safe. I need to be able to know that you are out there somewhere, alive and well. Promise me.”
“Mal, I-” Before she could finish, the mule was in sight. It slowed, and stopped. Zoe’s tall, lean silhouette jumped from the mule.
“Sir!” There came the sudden loud siren of an alarm from the building. River leaped lightly off the mule and ran to Mal, ran to Inara, grabbed their hands. She pressed her lips to the backs of each of their hands, and then let them go. Mal and Inara ran for the mule as River covered them from behind and Zoe from the front. They climbed aboard, and Jayne met Mal’s eyes. The bigger man nodded without smiling, and Mal nodded back. Then, Zoe and River were on and they were away.
Inara rested her head against Mal’s shoulder. He let his head fall back, eyes closed. It wasn’t over. It was never over.
They reached Serenity in thirty minutes. Kaylee opened the airlock and the mule docked, Zoe helping Mal down, who helped Inara down. Jayne and River climbed down separately, River’s face solemn and terribly sad, but no one saw. No one save Jayne, and he had no way of comforting her.
Kaylee took one look at the Captain and the Companion, and burst into tears. Simon got them to the infirmary with that cool, collected doctor-efficiency of his, and got to work. He held his tongue, but inside he was screaming. He’d never seen savagery like this. Even when Mal and Wash had returned from their brush with Niska, the wounds had at least had some sort of… he didn’t know, some sort of method. These… these were nothing but violence barely leashed.
Kaylee hovered over them, the worry and fear in her eyes breaking Simon’s heart. Inara wanted to comfort her, but the sedative Simon had given her worked its magic within minutes. Mal resisted long enough to clasp Kaylee’s hand and give her a crooked smile, and then he too was asleep. Simon gritted his teeth against the thought of what the man and the woman lying in his infirmary had been through, and got to work.
* * * * River sat with her back against the door to Inara’s shuttle. They’d left the second one, figuring that it was safer to go back for it later if need be. She’d been sitting there since they’d rescued the Captain and Inara. Silent tears slid down her pale cheeks. She knew what she would have to do. This only confirmed it. She’d hoped, of course, that it wouldn’t come to this. But it had. She couldn’t allow anything like this to happen to the people she loved again. She had to do it. She had to swallow her fear and do it.
“River?” It was Jayne. He knelt beside her, taking her face in his hands. He was surprisingly gentle. “What’s wrong?”
“Will you kiss me?” River asked, meeting his eyes. Slowly, carefully, Jayne did something he’d promised never to do again. He brought her face up to his, and brushed his lips across hers. Whores. Greedy, passionate affairs. Anonymous nights.
And this, this soft, frightening kiss that touched him down to his soul. He knew right then that he was in love with her, somehow, this strange, ruined child who wasn’t a child. Who wasn’t completely ruined. He felt her tears on his face, and in a flash of rare intuition, Jayne Cobb knew something else.
She was leaving.
TBC: Next: River leaves, Mal gets mad, and more information is found out. By all parties…
Sunday, May 14, 2006 8:38 AM
Sunday, May 14, 2006 9:36 AM
Sunday, May 14, 2006 10:45 AM
Sunday, May 14, 2006 2:26 PM
Sunday, May 14, 2006 5:09 PM
Tuesday, May 16, 2006 7:51 PM
Wednesday, May 17, 2006 4:43 PM
You must log in to post comments.
OTHER FANFICS BY AUTHOR
All FIREFLY graphics and photos on this page are copyright 2002-2012 Mutant Enemy, Inc., Universal Pictures, and 20th Century Fox.
All other graphics and texts are copyright of the contributors to this website.
This website IS NOT affiliated with the Official Firefly Site, Mutant Enemy, Inc., or 20th Century Fox.