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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: 891 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Someone was still pressing a wet cloth to his forehead, Mal thought as he woke up again. Kaylee. The fact that she was still in the room with him, when for all he knew he'd been asleep for an entire day, infused him with a sense of serenity that didn't really befit a recent gunshot victim. Eyes still closed, he pictured her – fresh-faced after taking a shower, back in her mechanic's overalls, hair cascading down her back – and he smiled on the inside.
Considering the picture he was painting, Mal was understandably surprised by what greeted him when he opened his eyes. Simon stared back down at him, one hand on the compress on his forehead and the other digging into his surgical apron for…something. Mal couldn't tell what. The doctor started speaking to him, but Mal couldn't seem to focus enough to hear what he was saying.
His head was fuzzy. All of his limbs felt heavy, and…why was he still so hot? All the gunshot wounds he'd seen and treated during the war, his fever should have broken already. More than that, Mal really didn't care much for Simon playing nursemaid as well as doctor. He reached up an arm to move the doctor away…or at least, he thought he did. Mal's arm never moved.
That troubled him a great deal. Before he fell asleep, moving around wasn't an issue any more. The doctor's medication saw to that. Was he paralyzed? Panicking slightly, Mal drummed up every ounce of strength he had left and tried to urge motion out of any one of his limbs. It didn't matter so much which one, just as long as it moved.
"Mal. Mal!" Watching the heart rate monitor climb to a dangerous level, Simon interrupted his own diagnosis. "You've been heavily sedated and anesthetized. I need you to stop trying to move around. You're still running a fever and one of those bullets barely missed hitting your heart. Just…calm down. I can only lift the effects of the sedation when the body is in a resting state."
Why was the doctor repeating himself? Simon told him the same damn thing last time he was conscious. Before Mal could think on the matter any further, Simon moved away to prepare his medication, revealing Kaylee sitting on a chair in the corner of the infirmary. She looked like she'd been worrying herself to death: her face was tracked with tears and her hair was an absolute mess. When he met her eyes she let out a sob and stood up, showing off her pink kimono dress, stained liberally with blood. Why hadn't she changed? When he went to sleep he'd been fine, things were fine…she still looked like she thought he'd keel over any second.
"Cap'n," she breathed in relief, grabbing one of his hands. "We was so worried about ya. I thought…well I thought you were gonna-" Kaylee trailed off and looked away as a tear slipped down her cheek.
Mal was beyond confused and it was really starting to irk him some. Simon returned with a syringe and administered the medication into a vein on Mal's arm. "Mobility should return to your extremities fairly quickly, but try to stay as still as you can. And get some rest. I'll be back to check on you in awhile. Oh and Captain? I'm glad you're okay."
He watched, mouth slightly agape, as Simon swept out of the room. Already he felt his body returning to him, and with it, his tongue. "What the tain xiode is going on? Why's everyone goin' around repeating themselves? I woke up well enough once already, why is everyone acting like it's some shiny new development?"
Kaylee looked slightly taken aback by his vehemence. "Shenme, Cap'n? I mean, you did wake up once, but it was only for a minute and you were in a bad way. Simon had to sedate you so you didn't go crazy from the pain. Didn't even think you'd remember it."
Mal brought his hands to his face and rubbed vigorously, trying to shake off his mounting confusion. "How long have you been here, mèimei?"
"'Bout a day, give or take. Didn't want to leave you. After Simon put you to sleep you were mumbling a lot in your sleep. Kept trying to move around and a couple times the machine tracking your heart went all funny and got us real worried. Didn't want to leave you because I was…afraid of what would happen." When she finished explaining, Kaylee released his hand to pull the chair she'd been sitting in closer to his bed. Sitting back down, she took his hand back and held it in both of hers.
"So, you 'n me didn't have…a conversation before, while I was lyin' here?" Mal asked, dreading the answer.
"No, Cap'n. 'Less you're talking 'bout the one we're having right now." Kaylee's words slammed into him, leaving him feeling like he'd just been sucker punched.
"O zhe zhen shi ge kuaile dejkinzhan," he said sarcastically. None of it was real. Kaylee, the touching…the kissing. It was his treacherous mind, fueled with fever and wonder drugs, messing around with his reality. " Tama de!"
Mal wasn't entirely sure why he was cursing. He was angry at being fooled…by himself, no less. He was upset at his own weakness, allowing himself to believe for even a moment that something like that could actually happen. And if he was really honest with himself – and that wasn't a state of being he was terribly familiar with – he was a twinge disappointed. Being plundered by Kaylee, even in his imagination, ranked high up there on his list of pleasurable encounters.
For her part, Kaylee looked all manner of confused about his sudden outburst. Mal tried to smooth things over without implicating himself. "Didn't mean to worry you none, little Kaylee. No need to fret. Couple a holes won't slow me down none. Takes more than that to get rid of me."
He wondered why he hadn't learned anything from the stupid things his dream self had already said. "Almost slowed you forever," Kaylee whispered. "You died on me, Cap'n. I tried to help you…tried to stop the bleedin' and protect ya but you were so heavy and there was so much blood and then you weren't breathing no more."
She placed one of her hands over his heart and he could feel it shaking, but it warmed him all the same. Mal placed one of his hands over hers to steady it, but it wasn't enough to stop her from getting a mite hysterical.
"You died! 'N all I could do was scream and hope someone would hear me. Simon and Wash, they came in and got your heart beating again…I was so scared. I thought you were gonna leave me forever and I felt like dyin' too!" Mal found himself doing a familiar thing – he reached an arm around her and pulled her close to him, breathing calming words into her ear.
After a while, she lifted her head and stared right through him with those big brown eyes of hers. Their faces were inches apart, and Kaylee was looking at him with an unmasked look of hero worship. No one was talking; they were just making a connection. Trying to reassure one another that their world was steady again, living and breathing and strong.
He let a tiny part of him start to hope. It was a ridiculous notion, the more he thought on it. They thought the world of each other, and that brought on a whole lot of responsibility. So much room for disappointment; one tiny misstep and everything would come tumbling down. Kaylee was too good for him…hell, she was too good for most anyone, far as he was concerned. And while she wasn't innocent in the ways of the flesh, there was a beautiful naiveté about her that being with him would sully forever. It wasn't an issue of shipboard romances or what the crew would think. She was such a rare commodity and he was afraid his heaviness of mind and soul would crush her. But oh, did he want her.
Mal stared back at Kaylee. He watched her lips part ever-so-slightly, and his indecision was paralyzing. In reality, Kaylee wasn't really the type of girl to jump in without some sort of invitation, and even though Simon lifted his sedation, he still couldn't bring his body to move. He just wasn't sure. Normally, not being 100% certain was something he was used to and he plowed right on anyway, but this time…
Their stalemate broke, agonizing and slow. Kaylee shifted her weight slightly away from him. Her mouth closed, and her cheeks colored slightly. When she finally broke eye contact, turning her gaze to an indistinguishable spot on his chest, Mal knew it was over. The moment passed. He let it go by and now they were both quietly regaining their composure, recovering from an intimate moment that never was.
Kaylee straightened up, tucking a strand of hair behind her ears. "Guess I'm gonna go get cleaned up, now I know you're doing better."
Mal cleared his throat and gave a small nod. "You do that. I appreciate what you did, mèimei ." He never thought an endearment could hurt so much to deliver.
"Bú kè qì, Cap'n. Glad to have you back." Kaylee moved determinedly toward the exit.
She paused in the doorway and turned back to face him. Mal was pretending to rest, but he kept his eyes open just enough so that he could see her looking. Her emotions were usually plainly written on her face – Kaylee wasn't much for hiding – but he couldn't make a bit of sense out of the look she gave him before walking away.
He closed his eyes for real this time and took a deep breath. Nothing was really making much sense to him at the moment, and he wasn't sure whether to blame the fever, the drugs, or his own foolishness. After a few moments, he got an itch of sorts that told him someone else was in the room and opened his eyes.
River peered down at him, face nearly nose-to-nose with his own. His reaction didn't seem to startle her at all. "Girl, what the hell do you think you're doing?"
Grabbing her firmly by the forearms he pushed until a reasonable distance had been restored between them. "Knew you wouldn't listen to me, Thought maybe you'd listen to yourself, but you didn't. I was checking to see if you had any mental deficiencies I wasn't aware of. Couldn't find anything except the obvious."
"Uh…thanks." Mal offered up the only response that came to him, and he wasn't so sure he didn't insult himself in the process. "You mind leaving me in peace so I can recover from the two giant holes in my belly?"
River didn't answer, just looked at him with a touch of pity. She made no move to leave. "Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt. William Shakespeare."
She skipped out of the room, leaving Mal alone with her words and the emptiness left by a missed opportunity.
~*~ (END OF PART 5)
Chinese translations courtesy of living-impaired's journal.
tain xiode = name of all that's sacred (God knows what)
mèimei = little sister
o zhe zhen shi ge kuaile dejkinzhan = Oh, this is a happy development (sarcastic)
tama de = fuck me blind
mèimei = little sister
bú kè qì = don't mention it
Aiya! = damn!
END NOTE: I hope no one hates me for this ending. I had to follow Shakespeare's words where they led me, and it was a rather foreboding quote. That said, there was a bit of concern from one of my betas that the reader might feel cheated by the "dream as reality." I tried to go back and place several clues into part 4 that suggested Mal was hallucinating, but I'm not quite sure how well I succeeded. I'd love to know your honest opinions on the matter; I'm always open to constructive criticism (and, naturally, lavish praise).
Sunday, August 06, 2006 1:03 PM
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