BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

SHINYTRINKET

NOTHIN' IN THE 'VERSE - PART I: Chapter 16
Monday, September 18, 2006

Takes place after "War Stories". Mal is having trouble sleeping after being tortured. A passenger aboard Serenity discovers an old friend - and makes a new one.-------CHAPTER 16: Alex shares with Mal; who finally shares something in return.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1387    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Disclaimers: Everything belongs to Joss, except for one character of my creation.

**Mousing over the Chinese should reveal the English translations on most browsers. If not, translations follow the story.

***This installment rated a little stronger for the inclusion of some, um, carnal knowledge. Nothing explicit, probably R-rated at best, but...just know going in!*** ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- “To Inara!” Mal said, raising his wine glass. “For gettin’ us a decent job that’ll keep us flyin’ for awhile!” The others raised their glasses in the toast, and a chorus of “to Inara” rang out around the table. “’Course, since ‘Nara ain’t here, somebody has to drink her wine!” Jayne said, pouring a second glass and downing it before anyone had a chance to object. Supper actually consisted of some real food and fresh produce, since they had gotten paid and paid well. As it turned out, the drop had gone flawlessly, and, now, with fresh food, supplies and fuel on board, they were once again en route to Zargon. “Inara ‘waved a while ago,” Wash said. “Just wanted to know things went all right.” “You thanked her profusely, I hope, and told her things was shiny?” Mal asked. “I did, indeed.” Wash took a large swallow of his wine. “Everything going well for her?” Mal pressed further. “She said everything’s great, but she misses us.” Mal shook his head and grinned. “Every time I think I should stop dealin’ with her and anyone she knows, she ends up surprising me again. I really thought this job might go south...” he glanced across at Alex as he spoke “...but here we are eatin’ fresh fruit and sittin’ on a big pile of coin.” Mal looked happier and more relaxed than the crew had seen him in quite awhile. No one was sure if it was the successful job or the sleep he had gotten, but it was a welcome change. Simon elbowed Alex and leaned close. “Maybe we should toast you for dopin’ him last night,” he said in a whisper. Alex smirked and elbowed him back. The meal was lighthearted and fun, and a much-needed reprieve for everyone. After supper, Zoë and Wash headed off to their bunk for a little lighthearted fun of their own. Everyone else moved to the lounge, where the wine continued to flow. “Gonna tell anyone else what you discovered today?” Simon quietly asked Alex as he went around the lounge topping off glasses. He, Kaylee and River were playing a board game on the center table. Book was reading, Jayne was cleaning some weapons at the dining table, and Mal was occupied with the all-important task of counting and dividing up the proceeds of the job. Simon had loaned Alex a medical text so she could brush up on things before starting work at the prison, and she had curled up in a corner chair to look it over. “I’m not sure—probably,” she smiled. “I think it’s too good of a coincidence not to be shared, don’t you?” Simon nodded his agreement as he poured wine into her glass. “Sure looks a lot homier now than it did then,” she remarked, letting her eyes travel about the lounge. “You wouldn’t have recognized it. No flowers on the walls, that’s for sure.” “Hey Simon,” Kaylee piped up from across the room. “Whaddya doin’; you’re about to miss your turn.” “Be right there, ladies,” he called back. “Don’t make a move without me.” Alex wasn’t sure about telling the whole crew, but she wanted to share it with the captain. She realized her discovery of the notes would be the perfect opening to get him into the infirmary again. She was certain his unease at being in there had to do with the torture he went through. From working with torture victims during the war, she knew they often developed aversion to clinical environments and exam tables because of similarity to torture chambers. Alex's find was not only astounding for her; it could very well be the key to unlocking the captain's misery. Surely, as much as he loved his ship, he would be interested in her history. So, after scrutinizing the notes, she had put them back in the cubby as she devised her plan. Meanwhile, River, who had been raptly studying the game, and appeared not to have been paying any attention to the talk around her suddenly spoke up. “Alex is back home,” she said conversationally. “She came back this morning.” She intently picked up and studied the game pieces one at a time as she spoke. “Looked under the bed and found the pieces she’d been missing.” “Huh?” Jayne looked up from his mini-arsenal, the usual sneer he reserved for River playing at his face. “What’s she babblin’ about this time?” Simon and Alex exchanged glances, but Alex said nothing. Simon returned to his place at the game board. “C’mon River, let’s play,” he encouraged. River smiled, the same vacuous smile Alex had seen earlier in the common area. “It's a secret,” she went on. "Wants to tell Daddy first." What the hell! Alex thought. She glanced around to see if anyone else was paying attention, and caught Mal looking her way. She quickly looked down at her book, but she could feel his eyes on her. River returned her attention to the game, and soon seemed engrossed enough that Alex relaxed again. She swallowed the remainder of the wine left in her glass to ensure the tranquility would last. As the hour grew late, the crew began to retire. Simon said goodnight and he and River headed down to their rooms, with Kaylee following behind; hopeful, it seemed, that the evening could continue for Simon and her a little longer. After a bit, she returned, looking far less hopeful, and retired to her own bunk. Jayne gathered up his arsenal and headed off toward his quarters, grabbing the not-quite-empty wine bottle on the way. Shepard Book retired not long after. Alex stayed where she was, perusing her book, waiting for Captain Reynolds to be alone. He was still working at the table. After everyone else had gone, Alex closed Simon's text and rose. She went to her room and retrieved the gun from under the mattress. She waited a beat and then headed back up. "Captain," she said as she approached him. "This belongs to you." She sat down beside him and laid the gun on the table. Mal looked up from counting money and picked up the gun. He checked the chamber before pocketing it. "You stayed on the ship," he said. "Good job." "Never even went to the window, just like you said." He smiled at her. “Thank you," he said sincerely. "Had a pretty interesting time while you all were gone, as a matter of fact," she continued, rising from her seat. "Oh yeah? How's that?" Mal asked, continuing to make piles of cash and coin. "I have something I'd like to show you, if you can spare a minute." He looked up at her again. “River seemed to think somethin’ was up with you.” Alex felt her face grow warm. “River’s a little...“ she let her voice trail off. “River’s load is short a brick or two, I’ll give you that, but she knows stuff,” Mal said. “If you can get past the crazy, she ain’t often wrong.” Alex shrugged her acquiescence. “Well, she is right this time; I made a discovery today.” Having divided the money to his satisfaction, Mal returned it, in separate stacks, to the box it had started out in; all but one pile. “Here.” He slid the stack toward Alex. Alex looked at it blankly. “What’s this?” “Your cut,” Mal said. “My cut of what?” “The job. You take part in the job, you get a cut. That’s how it works.” Alex didn’t know what to say. “I, uh…you didn’t exactly ask me to assist,” she finally said. “Anyway, have you forgotten I’m a paying passenger?” “Then I guess you reduced your fare some. Here.” He pushed the money at her again. “Take it before I change my mind.” Alex pocketed the cash with no further argument, and shook her head. A puzzle, he was. Mal slid his chair back and stood up. “Now what is it you want to show me?” “Down here,” she said, heading for the stairs. Mal followed her down the steps and through the common area, then stopped short when he realized they were headed for the infirmary. “Whoa. What’s the game?” “I’m sorry?” He gestured at the infirmary entrance. “You’re conspirin’ with someone to get me back in there for another checkup, ain’t you? Is it Kaylee again? Or Simon?” Alex folded her arms and turned to face him. “Just follow me.” Mal shook his head. “I’m fine,” he said. “The job went well, and, thanks to your devious ways, I even got me some sleep last night. So…no infirmary.” He turned and started back toward the stairs. He really is afraid, Alex thought, and it’s just getting worse. “Where’d you get this ship?” she called after his retreating form. He stopped and turned back. “What?” “Serenity. Where’d she come from?” Mal took a step toward her. “What—what does that have to do with anything?” “I’m just asking,” she said. “Where’d she come from?” Curiosity beginning to overcome his need to flee, Mal slowly approached her again. “Scrapyard on Boros, if you must know,” he said. “Why?” Alex remained facing him with arms folded. “Do you know any of her history?” Mal was frowning, his bewildered expression bordering on comical. “No,” he said. “’Cept she wasn’t runnin’ when I got her. Had to get her goin’. Again, why?” Alex took a deep breath. “Because I know.” Mal walked slowly back to her. She stood her ground, facing him. “You wanna know about Serenity before she was Serenity ?” Alex could tell he was struggling to keep his defenses intact, but she definitely had his attention. “What do you know about my ship? Or think you know about my ship?” he demanded. “Well...I can tell you she was a med ship during the war,” Alex began slowly. “I can tell you that this whole area—” she made a sweeping gesture around the common area and the infirmary, “—was modified from a cargo hold when she was converted. I can tell you that most Firefly-class ships don’t have infirmaries nearly this plush; unless they were wartime med ships. How’s that for starters?” Mal folded his arms. “Thanks for the history lesson.” “I can tell you that the shuttles were used as med evacs to transport wounded from the battlefield. We had a pilot and crew that stayed where your crew quarters are now, and the medical personnel lived back here in your passenger rooms. We usually had one to two trauma doctors, a couple nurses and a tech or two at any one time.” Mal shifted edgily. “This is all very interesting, but—“ “She was based on Boros,” Alex continued, cutting him off. “That’s where I’m from, and that’s where I served. She was decommissioned after the war, and ended up where you eventually found her.” “This is all tremendously fascinatin’, but what makes you think this one in particular was your ship?” Mal asked her. “Not think, know,” Alex corrected. “That’s where you following me comes in. Care to come with me now?” Mal hesitated. Alex could see his he was struggling with whether or not to believe her. “Look, Captain,” she said, “I stayed on the ship when you asked, didn’t I? I returned the gun you gave me. I’ve played it really straight with you, and that’s not about to change.” She felt a twinge of guilt for stretching that bit of truth. “So, no game. No conspiracy with Simon, or Kaylee, or anyone else. Just me wanting to share something pretty incredible with you. Are you up for it?” Mal stood a moment longer, considering, then his expression softened and he shrugged and nodded his okay. “Then, come with me.” Alex headed into the infirmary. Mal followed her in. Alex released the stretcher from the wall. It fell to the table below, and she pried at the piece of paneling with a fingernail. “Hey!” Mal objected loudly. Alex put a finger to her lips, shushing him. “Don’t wake the others,” she admonished, gesturing toward the passenger rooms. Mal looked annoyed. “When we were triaging patients,” she said, working at the panel, “I used to make notes and stash them in this little cubby right here. Back then, every time we let the bed down, this would fall off the wall.” She popped the panel out and laid it on the countertop. “When I was discharged, I never retrieved them. I always was curious if the spot was just a broken panel on our ship, or was a deliberate design, so I decided to look and see if Serenity had the same little hiding place. That’s when I found them. Go ahead.” She stepped back and motioned for Mal to reach in. Mal gave her a doubtful look, but reached in anyway. His expression changed as his fingers found the papers and pulled them out. He laid them out on the countertop and began to study them. “Huh,” he eventually grunted. “Now let me guess what you’re thinking,” Alex said. “You think I made this whole thing up and planted those in there just to get you into the infirmary, and that, any second, Kaylee and Simon are going to come crashing through that door and we’re all going to gang up on you. Is that close?” Mal looked up at her, his brow furrowed. He was clearly absorbed, processing what he was seeing. “Huh?” “So, you believe me, then?” she asked him, hardly daring to hope that might be so. Mal went back to thumbing through the papers. After a beat he spoke. “’Looked under the bed and found the pieces she’d been missing’.” Now it was Alex’s turn. “What?” Mal arranged the notes into a neat pile and handed them to her. “Ain’t that what River said? Somethin’ about you ‘coming home’ and finding some missing pieces under the bed?” Alex’s eyes widened. “I told you, she ain’t often wrong.” Alex moved to his side, and they began looking through the notes together, she talking about her experiences, and Mal taking in the account of the ship before she was his. He asked questions along the way; she answered in as much detail as she could recall. As they talked, she could feel his distrustful edge begin to melt away. He plainly loved his ship, and wanted to drink in as much as he could about her past. When they reached the bottom of the pile at last, Mal backed up and sat down on the edge of the exam table. Any anxiety he may have felt at being in the infirmary appeared to be gone. He gazed around the room like he was seeing it for the first time as Alex gathered up the notes and tucked them back into the cubby. “Ain’t you gonna take ‘em with you?” he asked her, surprised, as she strapped the stretcher back up. Alex shrugged. “I think they belong right there, don’t you?” she replied with a slight smile. “Like a time capsule, y’know? A little bit of history.” Mal was quiet again, sitting with his arms folded. His sleeves were pushed up, and under the stark infirmary lights Alex could see red marks and chafing on his wrists. She had not noticed them before, even when he had been shirtless in Serenity’s lounge during their late-night talks. Must be from struggling against restraints, she thought. She nodded toward them. “I didn’t notice your wrists before. They look sore.” Mal examined his arms thoughtfully, not saying anything, though he suddenly looked as though he wanted to. “Are you okay?” Alex finally asked him. He didn’t answer right away, just continued to study his arms. When he finally spoke, Alex wasn’t sure she had heard him correctly. “I died,” he said. “What?” “I died.” He didn’t look at her, but looked down as if something interesting had appeared at his feet. “I—“ Alex began, her heart beating faster as she realized the breakthrough she had hoped for was finally beginning to happen. Mal continued. “That day Simon had me in here givin’ me the checkup, and you was talkin’ about that—thing—Niska used on me, and you said you’d never seen nobody live through it before?” “Yeah,” Alex answered slowly. “Well, I didn’t,” he said simply, then fell silent again. “What do you mean?” Alex urged gently. He looked up at her. “I mean it killed me; I died. I couldn’t take it.” “So—“ “I’ve been through stuff in my day,” Mal continued. “I’ve been shot. I’ve been stabbed. I’ve been hit by shrapnel. I’ve been cut with a sword. I’ve slept on the ground in the cold with no food and no shelter for days on end. I’ve been poisoned. I’ve been on the pointy end of the spear more often’n I can tell you. I’ve lived through shit...but that...” His voice got small and husky. “...That I couldn’t take. It was...” His voice trailed off. Alex was silent. She watched him struggle, wanting to help, but knowing he needed to work through it. “All I remember is screamin’,” he said. “And it wouldn’t stop, and wouldn’t stop, and finally, the next thing I remember is gettin’ shocked awake on a table with the old man tellin’ me I’d died; and that he couldn’t let me die, because he wasn’t done with me yet.” After having such a hard time getting started, the story was pouring out of Mal in a flood. “I guess...” he said, “The worst part is...“ He pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingers, striving to find the words. “I ain’t a fool. I know, the life I lead and all, I ain’t rightly thinkin’ I’ll ever see a ripe old age. But I—if I gotta die, I guess I’m hopin’ to at least die makin’ a good stand. Dong ma ?” He looked to her then for consensus. “I don’t want some psycho lao buhn of the underworld decidin’ how I die. Especially not killin’ me, then bringin’ me back so he can kill me again for his amusement. That just don’t play.” “You can’t choose how you die, Captain. Unless, of course, you take your own life. Then I guess you can.” “I know,” Mal said. “Logically, I know that. But I’m havin’ trouble. I can’t wrap my brain around it. It just ain’t okay.” “I’m glad you’re talking about it,” she said encouragingly, if a bit clumsily. “It’s a good first step.” Mal shook his head, arms folded, and stared at his feet again. “Wash don’t seem to be havin’ this trouble,” he said. “Why’s he sleepin’ okay and doin’ all right?” “He didn’t die,” Alex said. “And he’s not the captain. He doesn’t have the need to be in control.” Mal shrugged again. “S’pose you’re right,” he conceded. “Sure I am,” she agreed. “You want to be the one who takes care of them. You don’t want them taking care of you. You feel like it reduces you somehow; lessens your ‘captainly authority’, if you will.” Alex smiled a little. “Also, Wash got out before you...and, he has Zoë. That makes a difference.” Mal considered that for a moment, then a hint of a smile crossed his features. “You’re a pretty good headshrinker for a nurse.” “Told you, I’ve had experience with this stuff. Anyhow, I’ll bet if you ask Wash he’s probably not doing as great as you think. In fact, it might not hurt for the two of you to chat about it. Might do you both good.” They were quiet for a time after that. A lot of pent-up emotion had been set free. Alex’s mind was buzzing, and her body felt like a live wire. She could only imagine how he felt. “Will you look at something for me?” he suddenly asked. “Sure. What?” To her surprise, Mal began unbuttoning his shirt. “I got a sore spot,” he said, pulling his shirttail from his pants and shrugging off his suspenders. “It was doin’ okay, but the last couple days it’s been smartin’ again. Think I mighta hurt it haulin’ cargo or somethin’.” He opened his shirt, revealing the roadmap of wounds, burns and red marks on his torso and stomach. He pointed to the place where Niska had attached his ‘special machine’. While the other marks were fading out, the central wound looked angry and red again. Alex moved in for a closer look. “This looks a little infected,” she said with a frown. “Did Simon put you on antibiotics?” “I dunno. He gave me a couple shots of somethin’.” “You could probably use another one,” she murmured. She touched the area gently with the back of her hand and felt heat radiating from it. “It’s hot,” she observed. She moved her hand around his chest and stomach, testing other areas for warmth. “Here, pull your shirt back some, I wanna see the rest of it.” Mal shrugged his shirt off and leaned back on the table. Alex was surprised by his compliance. As she moved her hand around, she felt him tremble a little. She turned her hand over and began feeling with her fingertips for swelling. As she ran her fingertips over his stomach, he suddenly sucked in his breath. She looked up at him. “Does that hurt?” she asked anxiously. He shook his head, staring into her eyes. His pupils were large and dark, even in the bright light of the infirmary. Alex felt her face grow warm, as she realized what was happening. She had only to glance downward to confirm the effect she was having on him. She slowly moved her hand away, at the same time she felt her own body respond. “I—“ she stammered, “I—I’m sorry, Captain, I—“ Mal glanced down, and his own face went crimson. “No, I uh, I’m—“ They stared at each other awkwardly for a moment. Then suddenly they were kissing, hungrily—later, neither one could have said who actually made the first move. Unleashed emotions fueled by the wine from earlier ignited in the small room. Mal stood, propelling her back until the counter stopped her momentum. He pressed against her, hands roaming up and down her back. Then he abruptly pulled away. “This can’t happen here,” he panted, voice low and husky. Alex nodded. “My room. But I’m next to the preacher; we’ll have to be quiet.” Even in her heated state, she snickered at the thought as they headed out, hand in hand, and crossed through the common area. Alex’s room was dark except for the running lights along the wall. Breathing hard and trembling with urgency, they crossed to the bed and fell upon it. Their mouths found each other and once again locked together. Groping hands traveled over each other, loosening clothing as they went. Mal impatiently unbuttoned Alex’s shirt, somehow resisting the urge to just rip it open. She shrugged out of it with his help, scrambling to undo his belt and unbutton his trousers as she did so. Finally, frustrated at the futility of trying to undress each other lying down, Alex pulled away from him and stood up. With one swift motion, she grabbed his pantlegs and pulled, yanking his trousers off and taking his underwear with it. She tossed the pants aside, and stepped out of her own while he lay watching her in the dim light. When they were both undressed, she moved to sit beside him; but in one move he grabbed her hand, pulled her roughly down atop him, then rolled over so he was covering her. “Sure this won’t hurt my wounds?” he asked in a thick murmur. She smiled up at him. “Best medicine I know.” He pressed his lips to hers again, and, knowing what they both needed, she fumbled with shaking hands to guide him where she wanted him to be. It was urgent and fast, and Alex reached her peak more quickly than she would ever have thought possible. It caught her by surprise, and she clutched him to her, gasping, riding the wave. As her body began to relax, trembling with aftershocks, she felt Mal quicken his pace, and knew he was close. He groaned loudly, and then, perhaps mindful of the preacher’s room next door, he buried his face against her neck to muffle any further vocalizations. She felt his mouth working against her shoulder. “ Wo de tian, a ,” he murmured into her skin. “Oh god—” His voice broke, then, as his body began to quake against her. Suddenly his teeth clamped down on her shoulder, hard enough to make her cry out in pained surprise. His breath came in hot, ragged grunts and gasps. The pent-up conflict, pain and exhaustion he had been carrying exited in one mighty release, and it went on longer than Alex would have thought possible. Every time she thought it was over, she felt another shudder run through him. Finally, he collapsed on her, heart thudding. Alex stroked his sweat-dampened hair until his breathing began to steady and he rolled over onto his back. He threw one arm over his head, the other still under her, and lay with his eyes closed until he was collected. Then he laughed quietly and turned to face her. “So...is this part of your usual nursin’ repertoire?” he asked her in a voice that didn’t sound quite steady. She shook her head. “Not exactly. But...should it be? Do you feel any better?” she asked him with a smile. “I think it’s a good start,” he murmured, kissing the side of her head. He rested his arm across her and tucked his head against her shoulder. Then he pulled back, looking suddenly anxious. “What’s this?” he asked, touching his own teeth marks. “You bit me a little,” Alex said. “I—what?” “Bit me. When you....” she let her voice trail off. Mal examined the marks, then looked up at her, mortified. “ Ai ya! ” he said softly. “Alex, I am so sorry. I—I guess I was tryin’ to keep quiet!” She wrapped her arms around him. “It’s okay,” she assured him. “I’ll take the bruise over wakin’ the preacher any day. I prefer my sermons when I’m fully clothed.” Mal snorted softly. “I prefer mine not at all. But that’s a story for another day.” They lay together in silence for a long while before he spoke again, this time in a drowsy murmur. “I should go...back to my bunk...can’t be comin’ outta here in the morning...” Alex nodded reluctantly. “...would...look really bad...” His voice was fading. “The crew...all manner’a awkward...” “S’pose you’re right.” She waited for him to move away; when he didn’t, she pulled back and saw that he was dead to the world, mouth open and slack. The arm that was draped across her was heavy and limp. She laughed out loud at the sight; he never stirred. “So this is the secret to making you sleep,” she murmured, more to herself than to him. She settled back on the pillow, nestling her face against his. “Maybe I should add this to my nursing repertoire after all!” She closed her eyes and listened to the sound of his breathing until she joined him in slumber. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- CHINESE: Dong ma? = Understand? lao buhn = big boss Wo de tian, a = Dear God in heaven Ai ya = damn ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Go to Chapter 17.

Back to Chapter 15.

COMMENTS

Monday, September 18, 2006 4:10 PM

HEWHOKICKSALOT


All righty then. Good breakthrough. Not too explicit. (Oh, my virgin eyes!)

Keep up the good work.


"But she was naked, and all... articulate!"


Rob O.

Monday, September 18, 2006 8:25 PM

BORNTOFLY


That, I did not see coming. It was obvious from a while back that there was tension there, but... That I did not see coming.

This is great stuff, I love this series.
More? Please?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006 2:21 AM

SHINYTRINKET


BornToFly, I'm happy to see your comment--that was the point, THEY didn't see it coming! I'm glad you got that.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006 3:05 PM

VAUGHN28


ahhh...finally the tension is broken.

I really like how you worked up to it and also how you got Alex to get Mal into the infirmary. Nice scene.

But I especially love the ending of the chapter. You have really captured the characters!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 4:46 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Finally! I am glad Mal's on his way to recovering from his experiences with Niska...and that the sexual tension between Mal and Alex has come to bear;)

Can't wait to see if Mal takes Alex's advice and starts chatting with Wash about their mutual horrorfest. Probably would do them more than some good:)

BEB

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 1:07 PM

AMDOBELL


Brilliant! I loved Alex finding the hidey hole with the papers she had hidden away in *her* old Firefly only to find Serenity was one and the same ship. Nice twist. Also love how she handles Mal, not forcing the pace of his recovery but allowing him to do it in his own time and being there every step of the way. Maybe she won't get getting off at that gorram prison planet after all (hope, hope). Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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