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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”
- Measure for Measure
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 742 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Mal’s return to consciousness was hard and fast. One moment he was blissfully unaware of anything at all and the next, a bright light was staring him directly in the face, making his eyes burn. A sharp, heavy pain in his chest followed shortly after. His breathing quickly became labored as he struggled not to scream out his agony.
It seemed to take his eyes forever to adjust. Mal moved them back and forth rapidly and blinked, trying to get something, anything to come into focus…but all he could see was the light, and all he could feel was the pain searing straight through him. For a moment, while he was raging against the invasion of his senses, Mal thought he heard someone speaking. It sounded close, like they were talking directly into his ear, but the sound was fuzzy. He thought it said “stay here,” but he didn’t have time to listen again before the light finally, mercifully went out.
The second time he woke up was a far calmer experience. Mal felt something cool trickle from his forehead down the side of his face, wetting his hair. He kept his eyes closed as his consciousness returned, focusing on the sensation against his burning skin. Wherever he was, it was far too hot to be comfortable. Reluctantly, he stirred and opened his eyes.
He was in the infirmary, but everything seemed a little fuzzy around the edges. Mal couldn’t seem to get anything he looked at to come into sharp focus. Something seemed off. Colors didn’t look how he remembered; everything seemed brighter, like the objects in the room were radiating light from within. His eyes roamed over the counter with the medical supplies, the empty doorway, the chair in the corner. Something moved in his field of vision and he struggled to focus.
Kaylee was leaning over him, pressing a wet cloth to his forehead. Her other hand was in his hair, stroking his head comfortingly. When his eyes met hers, she immediately looked ready to cry. Mal’s instincts cried out for him to reach his arms up and comfort her, but the instructions from his brain didn’t seem to get the signal to the rest of his body. Moving was a definite problem. It took as much effort as he could muster to reach one hand clumsily up to her face to swipe at a tear that was trailing its way down her face.
Visibly worried, Kaylee grabbed his hand and returned it to rest at his side “Shouldn’t be moving much. Simon’s orders.”
Mal accepted her words at face value, mostly because he thought that if he tried anything like that again his second bout of consciousness wouldn’t last much longer than the first. Looking at her through half-closed eyes, he took in her appearance. Kaylee’s hair was perfectly done; a fancy updo complete with two decorative chopsticks crossed through her bun. It was beyond him how, amidst all the chaos, her hair managed to remain in pristine condition. She was still wearing her fancy pink dress, but instead of a tiny red laser dot, her front was marred with blood. The red of it seemed impossibly vivid.
His eyes widened immediately and, not thinking, he tried to raise himself up. “Kaylee, ni meí shì bà -?”
A beeping noise in the room increased in intensity and Kaylee stood up to calm him down. “Ain’t mine Cap’n. I’m fine. Blood ain’t mine. It’s yours.”
Mal tried to relax. It didn’t matter that it was his, long as it wasn’t hers. Plus, despite not being able to move much, he didn’t feel so bad any more. The pain that ravaged him earlier seemed to be gone, replaced with…nothing. Mal looked down at the parts of him he could see, but his limited viewpoint didn’t tell him much except that he was naked to the waist and swathed in white medical gauze from mid-chest to his navel.
“Job went bad,” Kaylee said quietly. “Zoe and Jayne got into some trouble upstairs ‘n no one realized all them bandits weren’t taken care of. When that one was holding a gun on both of us, ‘nother one burst in and…”
She trailed off and looked away. One of Mal’s hands was resting next to her arm, so he strained to touch a couple fingers to Kaylee’s wrist to get her to look at him again. When she returned her gaze to his face Mal tried to look reassuring. It probably came out more like a grimace, but she didn’t seem to notice.
“That piece of niufen shot you, Cap’n. Just stormed right in and buried two in your middle without never breakin’ stride. The two of ‘em grabbed the engine and the plans and just left. Tried to catch you before you fell but I wasn’t fast enough and you were just layin’ there with your eyes closed and…I’m sorry Captain. I’m sorry.” Kaylee set her jaw and tried to be strong, but she couldn’t keep from crying again. Swiping a hand across her face, she took the wet cloth from his forehead and replaced it with another one.
He opened his mouth to say something, but before he could, Simon walked into the room with a syringe of honey-colored liquid.
“I’m glad to see you awake, Captain. You had me pretty worried for a day or two. One of those bullets missed your heart by less than an inch.” Simon spoke with the expert clinical detachment of a Core doctor, relating this information while prepping Mal’s arm for an injection. “I had to sedate you pretty heavily. You’re still running a fever from your body’s reaction to being shot, and I administered a local anesthetic to the chest to numb the pain. This injection will lift the effects of the sedation, but I still don’t want you moving around or talking any more than absolutely necessary.”
Mal stared at the ceiling as he listened to the doctor. He’d danced around death more times than he cared to count, but it wasn’t the kind of thing that got easier the more you did it. The more times he ended up on this table, the harder it felt to get up out of it. Getting run through sort of tore at a man’s soul, a little at a time. It made him doubt, for the briefest of moments, that everything they did out in the black was ultimately worth much of anything. Mal didn’t care for that particular feeling.
Simon’s injection cleared those thoughts from his head and returned a measure of control to Mal’s body. He was shocked at how quickly the medicine worked. In his experience, it usually took a good deal longer for a body to recover from sedation. It seemed a bit off, but Mal was too relieved as his returned mobility to give it much thought. He took a deep breath in and closed his eyes for the briefest of moments, pushing away the last of his doubts. All that lingered was a nothingness somewhere around his midsection, a result of the anesthetic.
“I’m going to leave you to rest now. I’ll let everyone else know how you’re doing, but no one can visit until tomorrow.” Simon was almost out the door by the time he finished speaking, but he caught himself at the doorway and turned around. “I’m glad you’re all right, Captain.”
“How come you get to visit?” Mal pushed the question out with less effort than before, and offered the tiniest of smiles to go with it.
“Never occurred to anyone to make me leave.” Kaylee shrugged. “Pulled you into a corner after the Grinters left and Wash and Simon picked us both up together when they took us back to Serenity ‘cause they didn’t want no one to jar you any.”
She started trailing small circles on his arm while she talked. Mal found it to be very distracting. Kaylee had managed to drag his dead weight all the way across the room, even while suffering under the effects of the sleeping gas. Mal raised his eyebrows at the thought. The adrenaline in her must have some magical qualities.
Tired of thinking so much, Mal focused on Kaylee’s fingers, the sensation of the light touch moving rhythmically up and down his arm. He stared at them instead of her, because something in her voice said she was about to say something uncomfortable.
Kaylee’s breath hitched a little before she continued, “Didn’t want you to wake up alone. I was scared that if I left that you’d…well, that you might not-“ She couldn’t bring herself to actually say it.
Mal reached across his body and grabbed her free hand firmly in his own. “Ain’t nothing more to worry about, bao bei. Everything’s gonna be shiny, I promise.”
“You can’t promise me that! Every time we go out now someone comes back bleedin’ or unconscious or worse. It ain’t right!” Kaylee was getting good and worked up over the matter. The tone of her voice took on a slightly hysterical lilt that Mal found more than mildly alarming.
“Shhh, Kaylee. No one’s dying. These are just a couple of nicks. They don’t bother me none. Be right as Jayne’s rainstick in a few days.” Mal knew the only reason he wasn’t still trying to bite back the agony in his middle was because of Simon’s wonder drugs, and he also knew that Kaylee wouldn’t be fooled either. Still, he had to make the effort because he was the captain. It was his job to keep folks calm.
“Ni juede wo hen ben ma? You died. I was holding onto ya and trying to stop the bleeding and your heart stopped. I didn’t know what to do. I sat there and screamed until Simon came and got it started again. I was so…scared.” The tears coursed down her face and she didn’t try to stop them this time.
Thanking his medication, Mal let go of her hand and reached an arm around Kaylee, pulling her to his chest. Her tears were hot on his neck, a sharp contrast with the cold compress still on his forehead. He murmured comforting words into her ear and stroked her hair.
Kaylee calmed herself by listening to his heart, still beating strongly beneath his ribcage. She felt Mal’s chest vibrate as he spoke to her and her cheek warmed from the contact with his skin. “Don’t know what I’d do if you died. When I was alone in that room with you, I thought nothing would ever be right again, ever. You were only gone for maybe a minute, but my life didn’t feel right when you weren’t in it.”
Her confession made him feel lighter somehow. He and Kaylee, they had an effortless connection, made of affection and concern and a touch of healthy admiration. Feeling it now, as he tried to comfort her, it comforted him in turn. There wasn’t a really articulate way to explain it, but they took care of each other. There was a similarity to both of them that made everything easy and damn near impossible at the same time. After a few long moments of just being, Kaylee raised her head inches from her own and looked at him.
To Mal, she looked like she was searching for something in his face – maybe trying to see the truth in him through all of his grandstanding, maybe looking for something else. He didn’t know. Whatever it was, he looked back, waiting for her to find it.
When her lips met his, he thought for an instant that the anesthetic had worn off. Something seared through his body and it took a moment to realize that it didn’t hurt. Quite the opposite, in fact. Mal parted his lips and returned her soft kiss with an urgency that surprised him. The thought of him and Kaylee always seemed to hover around the edges of his mind, but he never allowed himself to give the idea any serious consideration.
As they kissed, Kaylee placed her palm on his chest and he cursed the fact that he could only feel half of her hand cooling his chest pleasantly because of the gorram anesthetic. Mal decided, sometime during the journey Kaylee’s hand took from his chest down just below the waist of his pants, that it had been incredibly stupid not to consider the idea of him, her and their respective lips. He also took a moment to thank whoever made his pants that they were designed to be so…unyielding.
Considering the things Mal was feeling (and what Kaylee’s hand was flirting with doing), this kiss was getting good and ready to lead to something more. As he pondered the potential hindrance that being shot might be on their current activities, Kaylee slipped her tongue into his mouth and he felt his heart quicken as she intensified their kiss.
Before they could go any further in thought or in action, the beeping of Mal’s heart monitor interrupted, growing louder and more insistent for the second time. Kaylee broke the kiss and straightened up, leaving an achingly cold space where her body had just been.
The noise from the machine was nearly deafening. He didn’t remember it being this loud before. It filled his ears and drowned out Kaylee’s heavy breathing and the sound of his own heart. When the sound became too unbearable, Mal put his hands over his ears and winced. He looked at Kaylee. She was staring at the empty doorway, making no move to suggest that the sound was bothering her at all.
Mal glanced back over at the monitor and willed it to slow down, but he knew that under the care of a doctor as attentive as Simon, it was already too late. Seconds later, Simon came hurrying through the doorway.
After a check of his vitals, an adjustment of the monitor (which stopped the intolerable beeping) and an examination of his wounds, Simon turned to face them both. “Mal, I’m worried about the fluctuation in your heart rate. You already have an elevated body temperature from the fever and I don’t want anything in this environment that could cause any undue stress on your body. I’m going to give you something to help you sleep, and I’m going to have to insist that you be left alone to rest.”
Kaylee looked for a moment like she was going to protest, but then she nodded in agreement. While Simon administered the medication, Kaylee grabbed Mal’s hand and gave it a squeeze. Looking at them both with cursory interest, Simon watched Kaylee smile at the captain reassuringly.
“This is a good thing. Don’t doubt it none,” Kaylee said, slightly bewildering Simon and sending Mal off into the darkness with a smile.
~*~ (END OF PART 4)
Chinese translations courtesy of living-impaired’s journal.
Ni meí shì bà? = are you okay?
niufen = cow shit
bao bei = sweetheart
ni juede wo hen ben ma? = do you think I’m an idiot?
Wednesday, August 02, 2006 2:43 PM
Friday, August 04, 2006 6:36 PM
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