BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

CASTIRONJACK

Honest Run: Dilemma
Sunday, October 8, 2006

Honest Run?!? He's still writing this?!?!


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2535    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Honest Run: Derelict
Honest Run: Door
Honest Run: Distraction
Honest Run: Delusions
Honest Run: Deal
Honest Run: Din
Honest Run: Detail
Honest Run: Detachment
Honest Run: Diagnosis
Honest Run: Dance
Honest Run: Dignity
Honest Run



Simon’s strength had almost been fanatical when he first attacked Mal. The confrontation had been quick and took the captain by surprise. Mal didn’t understand much of what the doctor was saying; he was to busy getting pinned to a tree. It had something to do with the doctor’s sister, River. That wasn’t unexpected, Simon hadn’t mentioned much in the way of his sister since they began this adventure of theirs, but Mal couldn’t imagine even with the doctor’s recent hardships, that she was far from his mind. If anything, it was probably that very responsibility that kept him going. Simon’s elbow had landed with snap across Mal’s chin, and a dribble of blood escaped the captain’s mouth from the earlier scrap at the bar. The captain wasn’t sure that Simon even meant to do it that way, but it had stunned him beyond the reflex that would have otherwise sent the doctor sprawling. As it went, Mal could only stare into eyes that were angry beyond measure but wide and distorted. The doc’s hands were white-knuckle where he gripped the captain’s borrowed and alcohol stenched coat. And then, Mal had spoke but a single phrase ending the episode abruptly. Simon released him. The doc’s eyes tightened their focus and he stumbled away, tripping over his own feet. There was shock there, embarrassment, certainly, “Captain?” he stammered. Trissa stared at the pair, “I thought you two were over this.” Simon shot her a confused look, “What?!?” he gasped. Mal ignored her and hunched down, “Figures that someone in there,” he pointed at Simon’s head, “Would have a stone or two to throw at me.” He tried to keep his tone light, but Mal could see that the damage was done. If possible, Simon seemed to mentally retreat from him, as if he could find some way of becoming smaller, “I’m… sorry… Captain…” the doctor replied, “There was no intention of…” “Throttling me?” Mal asked bluntly. He knelt down. Simon shrank, “Of course… not…” “You mean never… ever?” Mal asked him, “Then the Preacher should know that there’s some kind of saint in the works here,” he shook his head, “And I had such high hopes for you, doc. Life of crime. Thick as thieves. Stealing Jayne’s hat…” “You stole Jayne’s hat?” Simon asked suddenly. “Well, no…” Mal faltered, “I was thinking that could be our next little caper…” “Why would we…” Simon started, “Why would we steal Jayne’s hat? I mean, which one would we…. appropriate?” Mal smiled, “You know the one.” “I see.” Although it was clear that Simon did nothing of the sort. “But I was just sayin’ that there no sense in being ashamed of…” Mal flicked his hand, “Never mind,” he grabbed Simon’s own to pull the doctor up, “We’re all a little crazy doc, just ‘cause you’re letting yours out for a change…” Now up, Simon’s color faded, as if the high noon sun made him look even sicklier. A pang of guilt made Mal twitch. “If only I were letting it out,” Simon stammered. “Like you would,” Mal replied. Simon swung his head up tightly at the jibe. “What?” Mal asked, “Right. Sympathetic moment,” he said off the tongue, “Got it.” There were some incredibly manual facial tics that Mal went through to emulate a serious and sympathetic look. The anger passed from Simon into what Mal could see was mild annoyance, “Are you done?” the doctor asked after a moment. Mal shrugged, “Yeah,” he turned to the observing Trissa, “Are we there yet?” “Dentons’ claim most of this land here and abouts,” she replied, “But their canyon’s just ahead.” The lay of the land was getting drier with the trees fewer and twisted from drought. There was a redness peaking though the prairie grass. “That’s good then,” Mal pulled Simon standing, “Sooner we get there the better.” Trissa gave him a significant look, “This is going to be a little more involved than a bar brawl, Malcolm. Not many folks get this close at all to the Dentons’ place if they can help it…” “Thought you said they were of the bullying stripe,” Mal recalled, “Not much for nasty…” “But plenty for mean,” Trissa shot back, “Bobby’s crew is the one they let out the most. The others…” “Homebodies?” Mal asked tritely. “Hardly.” “Good,” he said, “I’d hate to break up a hillbilly cross-stitching match,” he turned to Simon, “Though them be the ones that we might have a good lot to revisit upon. I fancy that they’re the boys that did mine wrong. You up for it, Doc?” The address startled the young man, “Captain?” “If you wouldn’t mind doing some recruiting for us, we could use all the crazies you can muster.” Simon sighed, “I’m glad my condition is an opportunity for levity.” “Keep those educated phrases handy, doc,” Mal told him, “Don’t make me ask where your fun stick is…” “And innuendo…” Mal clapped an arm around Simon, “We do like to deliver the whole package.” Surprisingly, the doctor didn’t flinch from Mal’s grasp, “Keeping me aggravated?” Simon asked him. “Yeah,” Mal confessed closely. “Conventional wisdom would be against goading the crazy man,” Simon stated. “My only other option is to get ‘touchy-feely’,” Mal said. Simon’s eyes traced over to Mal’s hand on his far shoulder, “Ah.” “You see my dilemma.” “With frightening clarity,” Simon told him, “Goad away…” “S’not much longer, doc…” Mal reassured him. “Of that,” Simon said solemnly, “I’m sure.” That statement sent a cool shiver down Mal’s spine.



River took her brother’s clammy hand and pressed it against her cheek, “Simon.” As a point of fact, her brother had only ever rarely been ill. River had never considered that he would ever yet. But here he was, his body drenched in a feverish sweat and all the color drained from his youthful face. When it had started, River knew. But not before. That had been hours still before anyone else thought it was serious. Even Simon himself thought it little more than slight allergy. River knew it was not. She even told her parents that Simon was sick. They, of course, did not listen. They rarely did. Only when Simon collapsed, did they begin to call the doctors. As they called, River went to him with a cloth in hand to place on a raging and sudden fever. The expression on her face was serious, but never broken. As always, Simon tried to reassure her, but the sincerity wasn’t there. He was scared. And that should have put that fear into her, but it didn’t. As the doctors and the nurses arrived and took him to his room, she felt nothing but calm. A calm that she could not pass onto her parents, even if she had tried, in which she did not. There was a book in her father’s study. A book that was old and rare, even if its contents were a little more than trivial. It was a tome of poetry from Earth that Was, something that their mother would read from when they were much younger. Once, long ago, their mother had left the book out and both Simon and River read from it. There was a poem that Simon found that he and she memorized… Now, that he lay stricken, she could only repeat it to him as she laid that cool cloth upon his head. He smiled, of course. And recited it back to her as the doctors began their tests that were disturbingly short. In the hours that followed, more doctors came in, but all of them shook their heads despairingly. They thought nothing of the young girl that listened to their conversations. They naturally assumed that she wouldn’t understand. She did. Not only was Simon sick. He might die.

“Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black And the dark street winds and bends…”

A voice trumpeted near her father’s study just outside Simon’s room, “I don’t care how much it costs, I want you to fix my boy!” “It’s not a matter of money, Mr. Tam,” the family doctor, a young woman with a sharp voice and a penetrating mind, “It’s a matter of whether Simon will weather the symptoms…” “Weather the symptoms?!” Gabriel Tam rebuked the doctor, “These symptoms that you have described to me are unacceptable…” “Then call another doctor if you are unhappy with my services, Mr. Tam,” she replied.

Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,

“Don’t think that I haven’t had the best advice that can be bought, Doctor.” There was a quiet. “Then they have told you the same then,” she replied. “You know that they did,” there was a sigh, “This shouldn’t be happening…” “You’re right, of course,” she said sympathetically, “It shouldn’t be. But that’s the nature of vaccines, Mr. Tam. Sometimes, every once in a great while, they…” she paused, “Go astray…”

And watch where the chalk-white arrows go To the place where the sidewalk ends.”

“Astray?” came a choked cry, “Astray?!? Have you seen him…” “You know that I have.” “And what about River, my daughter? Will she get the same…. Symptoms?” There was a sharp intake of breath from their mother, who was also outside in the hall with both of the adults. “No,” the doctor replied easily, “River would have already had them. And the vaccine is immediate if there are no…” “Symptoms…” River’s mother offered unassuredly. “Yes.”

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow, And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,

“What can we do?” the mother asked, “Obviously there are no medicines to give him or we would have done so. What can we do? There must be something…” Another sympathetic sigh, “As I told you before, Mrs. Tam, all you can do is wait for the fever to break.” “If,” Gabriel Tam interjected, “If it does.” “Gabriel.” “Unfortunately, Mrs. Tam,” the doctor said hesitantly, “He is quite right. The Quin malady is a very dangerous and debilitating illness, hence the vaccine. Usually, it’s something that affects soldiers returning from the border worlds…” “Deadly?” A quiet gasp. “Certainly.” “He was so healthy just days ago,” her mother recalled, “Not even hours ago, Gabriel… He had just passed his finals…” There was a sound that River could only suspect was her father crying softly. “I’m sorry.”

For the children, they mark, and the children, they know The place where the sidewalk ends.”

A few minutes passed before River heard the front doors slammed in the house, signaling the doctor’s exit. River could feel her mother’s silent gaze from the doorframe into Simon’s room. There was the creak of a mouth dry of words, a pause, and then quiet retreating footsteps. Before Simon’s door shut, River heard the study door close as well. She crawled into the sweat drenched bed. The calm that had held her finally relinquished and she felt the grief in her chest. River held his head to her breast, “One day, big brother, one day…” Tears ran down her face, her eyes seeing deeply into the distance, out a window that she had opened to let the cool night breeze in, “I can see it…” she pointed out to the stars, “There will be so much for us to see… Together…” The outer lights were off, and none were in the manicured garden below. The starlight twinkled, set off by a few fireflies passing in and out. “One day, one big day…” She said to him, “One of several that I’ll know but not share…”



Like Trissa had said, the trek to the Dentons’ wasn’t that much longer. Simon would speak to himself in hushed tones, but Mal didn’t dwell on it. Sure enough, a canyon opened up just ahead of them. The scene had a rustic quality to it. Its only blemish was the Dentons property. There were enough parts strewn around the landscape to make it seem like a salvage yard. Farm equipment, sure, but there were a few other interesting bits such as a war and time battered Alliance ground transport, a few gutted shuttles… And then a line of hull that Mal’s heart seized upon seeing. “Hey, doc,” Mal hunched behind some brush, “What’s that look like to you?” At the captain’s tug, Simon glanced over to where Mal was pointing. Trissa ducked over next to the captain, “What?” Simon didn’t see what Mal was talking about immediately. He stood there squinting his eyes against the bright sun, “Is that…” he began to ask. Mal pulled him down, “A lot of the how’s and why’s are beginning to come into place now,” the captain pointed to Trissa, “You said these country boys haven’t themselves a ship, right?” “I don’t understand,” Trissa glanced over to the Dentons’ salvage yard, “But yes, that’s what I said. What is it?” Mal twitched. He had a feeling that Zoe had been right all along. That this job went from an honest run to a bait and trap, “Gorramit, doc get down,” he pulled Simon close. “That’s not Serenity,” Simon supposed. “No it’s not,” Mal’s eyes went from tree to tree around them, “But I think were going to be done quick like.” “Done?” “Trissa,” Mal closed his eyes, “Does Captain Jenny ring familiar?” When her eyes flashed with recognition, Mal felt all that much worse. “That old bat Jenny?” Trissa replied, “No one round here doesn’t, why? Bobby just got back from Outrider Station on her boat,” Her face blanched when she said last part, “Damn.” Trissa never knew the contact’s name. Mal had never told her. He hadn’t even told Simon. But even in his state, Mal could see that Simon’s intellect hadn’t failed him yet. “But captain,” Simon interrupted, “If they have this other ship, why do they need ours?” “’Cause, unless I’m a chubby bunny, theirs don’t work,” Mal told him, “But I bet they’re thinking they can make up the difference for both of the ships if they get themselves a working model,” he shook his head, “Two for one is a hard deal to pass up…” “If the Dentons’ had themselves a working ship we’d know about it,” Trissa said, “You’re sure about this?” “Pretty sure,” Mal said. Simon put up an objecting finger, “If all they wanted was Serenity, and all that we have been is bait, then why didn’t they take us with the shuttle and the cargo?” he shook his head, “And ransom both?” “A ransom makes a plan solid. This Bobby Denton wanted to keep everything as fluid long as possible and on his terms,” Mal’s eyes swept around the quieted landscape, “A ransom gives the other side an opportunity to plan unpleasantness for the ransommers. As long as it was just about the shuttle and the cargo…” There was a very lurid line of Chinese that flew from his tongue just then. Trissa Brown looked sympathetic, but offered nothing. “So that I would use the Brown’s radio to call in Serenity without neither I nor the ship suspecting a thing…” Mal stared hatefully at ship beyond. Simon frowned, “How?” Mal stared at him, “I just laid it out for you, genius,” he said, “That’s the how.” “Captain, their plan is strung together improbably,” the doctor objected, “The initial crash of the shuttle would indicate…” “I wasn’t supposed to fly the shuttle,” Mal replied, “If Wash had been at the helm, then he would have put down easier than I,” he picked up an errant stick, “There would have been trouble, yes. This Bobby fellow probably smelled competent on Wash when Zoe brokered the deal with Jenny. That fuel regulator would have crippled the shuttle, sure, but crashed it? Not with Wash flying.” “Why didn’t Wash tell you about him?” Simon asked him, “Surely….” “Bobby’s smooth,” Trissa explained, “He can play the part or the person that he wants.” “Wash did suspect,” Mal scratched the dirt, “He did a full preflight after he left the deal with Jenny and right before we left,” the captain scowled at the red clay at his hunches, “That regulator held just long enough…” “How did he know to have a faulty regulator? How did he know that he would need it beforehand?” Simon asked, “If this Captain Jenny is as familiar with him as Trissa says, surely she wouldn’t trust him with any information about her business.” “Maybe it wasn’t faulty to begin with,” Mal said, “And maybe he didn’t switch it, either. He just fouled ours…” “And what about the other captain?” Simon asked, “How did she fit into this?” “She doesn’t,” Trissa said, “She going to be all kinds of angry with Bobby if she ever finds out that he used one of her jobs to draft an ill-gotten ship. Especially if she doesn’t get paid,” she shook her head, “Bobby came up with this on his own and that’s a fact. No one ever accused him of not being a quick thinker…” “Doc, you still got that screwy look on your face,” Mal looked around, “What about it?” “Did you come here with the intention of retrieving your shuttle?” Simon asked him. “With you half-dead and crazy as my back up?” Mal asked him, “How stupid do you think I am?” Before Simon could even reply, Mal answered himself, “Rather than dwell on that,” he said, “No, doc, I had no intention of going in there, guns ablazing, getting my own piece of righteous vengeance…” Trissa looked surprised at that, “What?” she asked, “Then why are we here?” “Reconnaissance,” Mal replied, “Gauge their defenses.” Both Simon and Trissa stared at one another. “What?” Mal looked at both of them, “You thought that I had a plan?” “Well…” Trissa said “Yes,” Simon finished for her. Mal shrugged, “What’s life without its little disappointments?” “And now?” Simon asked. “And now there’s nothing left to do but get caught,” Mal told him, “Because that’s just the way our luck runs, doc.” Simon’s eyes narrowed, “Caught?” he mouthed as he glanced around nervously, “I don’t understand.” “We stepped in it right fair a few minutes ago,” Mal’s teeth tightened. There was a rustling around the trio. As armed figures approached Mal stood with his hands up, “That’s the problem with not having a plan,” he said, “You are always at the mercy of someone that does.”

COMMENTS

Sunday, October 8, 2006 5:31 PM

CASTIRONJACK


Took awhile to remember how to do this... I'm flying without a beta, serves me right for dragging my feet for so long.

Keep flyin'

Monday, October 9, 2006 4:47 AM

NUTLUCK


glad to see your back writing, but it has been nearly a year. Think i will have to go back and reread it all to remember all the details. I still remember the gist of the story.

Monday, October 9, 2006 5:30 AM

LEIASKY


Huh. I hadn't read any of these. Pretty good. Of course, my hope is that Simon gets some help AND ends up with Kaylee. . .

I hope you don't wait a year before posting again :)

Monday, October 9, 2006 6:05 AM

RCHD


Wow, PLEASE finish this!

I only just read through the other parts a few days ago so I'm pretty thrilled right now.

Monday, October 9, 2006 10:07 AM

AMDOBELL


I had SO forgotten this story, kind of a jump start needed to get into the flow. Can't believe the Captain went in without a plan, he *always* has a plan even if it's a bad one. I really hope you don't keep us waiting another year for the next part. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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