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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Takes place after the events of the series and before the BDM, and a few months after "Nothin' In The 'Verse Part I".
The return of a former passenger to Serenity causes conflict among the crew - and creates a problem for Mal that he is unprepared to deal with.-------CHAPTER 33: Alex remembers, Simon puts his foot in his mouth, and Mal has a heart.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1086 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.
Mal woke later, still face down, to the quiet of the infirmary at night. He licked his parched lips, his tongue feeling like a dry lump of something foreign in his mouth. He lifted his head and looked around to shake off the sedative hangover, and, though the lights had been dimmed, saw Zoë sitting in the corner of the room. He tried to speak, but his mouth was too dry.
“Sir,” Zoë said, rising as she saw him stir.
“Unnh...” he managed to get out in return.
She brought him a cup of water she had at the ready. He sipped from it and rested his head on the pillow again.
“How long I been out?”
“Few hours. Doc kept you sedated awhile.”
Mal inhaled deeply and tried to stretch his stiff arms and legs. He grimaced as a jolt of pain from his left buttock reminded him why he was in the infirmary to begin with.
“Gorramn Badger...” he murmured. “Never again. I told that sorry little gun he wasn’t gonna—“
“We got the goods, sir,” Zoë said. Mal looked at her in surprise. “We went back while Doc was patchin’ you up—Jayne felt the need to, uh, remedy the situation of you bein’ shot in the backside.”
“Well...how’d he do that?”
“Shot somebody in the frontside.”
Mal sighed and couldn’t help cracking a faint smile.
“Just enough to hurt, I hope?”
Zoë nodded. “Just enough.”
Mal looked down at his right hand, which had an IV catheter and line taped to it. He shook his head.
“This is not where I’d hoped to find myself just as we’re about to get to Boros. I gotta take Alex to her mama, I don’t relish the thought of meetin’ her while favorin’ my pi gu ...” He narrowed his eyes. “So Jayne ‘felt the need’, huh? Wonder what he was feelin’ rueful of?”
“Badger knew we was here—and knew about Alex. I’m bettin’ you didn’t tell him.”
Zoë shook her head. “No sir.”
Mal was quiet a moment, thinking.
“But we got the cargo?”
He closed his eyes, feeling marginally better knowing they would at least get paid. Then something occurred to him and he opened them again.
“Alex was on the table when you brought me in—Doc said somethin’ about her passin’ out.”
“Simon said she started havin’ flashbacks ‘bout the prison—overwhelmed her, I guess.”
Mal frowned, feeling a twinge of apprehension. “Flashbacks of what?“
“Stuff she couldn’t remember before. Bein’ attacked. Bein’...raped. And how she got out.”
Mal sighed and licked his dry lips again. “Where is she now?”
“Her room. She helped Simon fix you up, and she was worn out after.”
She looked like she wanted to say more. Mal studied her face, knowing her too well.
“Zoë? What else?”
She looked away.
Zoë sighed. “Sir, she’s been cryin’. In her room, for hours. I sat with her a spell, and so did Kaylee, and Doc gave her a smoother, but ...she’s just—inconsolable. The memories keep comin’ now, and nothin’ seems to help.”
Mal felt an ache start behind his eyes. He clenched his jaw in frustration. “I gotta go in there.”
“Sir, you been shot.”
“Yes, thank you for the reminder...but just in the hind end, not in the heart, as you were quick to point out.”
“I know, sir, but you can’t be gettin’ up, yet. Simon says you gotta—“
“Simon can...” He took a deep breath and pulled himself up on his elbows. “It was pointed out to me that I maybe don’t use my heart near as much as I oughta...so what I need you to do, Zoë, is help me get my bullet-riddled ass off this table so I can put my shriveled-up little heart to use bein’ at least some consolation to that woman in there whom I’m responsible for. Dong ma ?”
Zoë pursed her lips. “Sir, I don’t think that’s a good—“
“It ain’t a request!”
Zoë looked at the lines running from Mal to the IV pump and the monitor, and shrugged in resignation. “I’ll get the doc to unhook you.”
She left and returned moments later with Simon in tow.
“Captain, I’ll keep watch over Alex, you need to—“
“You need to listen to the captain of this boat, both of you! Now get this stuff outta me and help me off this table!”
Simon raised his eyebrows at Zoë, who shrugged helplessly.
“Okay,” Simon sighed. “You’re the boss.” He moved to Mal’s side and began undoing the tape on his hand.
“’Bout time you figured that out!” Mal grumbled. He held still while Simon freed him from the IV lines, then tried to sit up. He winced as pain shot through his hip and leg. This was going to be no fun at all.
“Here, let me support you,” Simon said, draping one of Mal’s arms over his shoulder. Zoë got on the other side, and they rose, bringing Mal to his feet. He swayed unsteadily for a moment, until he adjusted to the upright position. He realized he was wearing a pair of his drawstring sleep pants and nothing else.
“Do I at least have a shirt down here?”
“No sir,” was all Zoë said.
“Captain,” Simon said as they made their way slowly out and down the corridor, “I’ll need to bring you both some medicine in a little while, so...don’t...I mean... just don’t...” He let his voice trail off.
Mal raised an incredulous eyebrow at him. “Do I look like I’m in a position to be startin’ hanky panky?” he demanded. Zoë audibly huffed out a small laugh.
“No,” Simon said, “But...I’m just saying...”
“Do you think Alex is lookin’ for any her own self?”
“No,” Simon said, and saw the set of Mal’s jaw. “...Sir.”
Zoë laughed again and earned herself a dirty look
They arrived at Alex’s door and Simon knocked softly. There was no answer, but Mal could hear sniffling inside.
“Alex?” he called quietly.
There was a pause and then she said, thinly, “It’s open.”
Simon slid the door back, and Mal felt a tug at his too-small, underused heart as he saw her. The bed was small, but in the dim glow of the running lights along the wall, she still managed to look tiny and lost in it, wrapped and burrowed in the blankets with her face barely showing.
“I’ll take it from here,” Mal said, unwinding himself from Simon and Zoë and grasping the doorframe for support. He made his way in slowly, leaning on the wall and then easing himself gingerly down on the edge of the bed, perching on his good right butt cheek. Zoë closed the door behind him.
“What are you doing here?” Alex asked him, her voice small and shaky. “You shouldn’t be up.”
“And you shouldn’t be sitting in here all by yourself breakin’ down like this,” he said in return. “What’s goin’ on here, bao bei ?”
She swallowed hard and wiped at her tear-stained face. “I’m just tired. I was on my feet a long time helping Simon patch you up.”
He grasped her chin and tilted her face up so she was looking at him.
“Is that it?”
She dropped her eyes.
“I was scared,” she said. “When they brought you in, I—” A small sob escaped her.
“I’m sorry, I really am. That never shoulda happened, but...you were already on the table. What happened before I got there?”
She didn’t want to tell him, it was apparent. He waited a beat for her to answer, but she did not.
“Zoë said you’ve been rememberin’ stuff,” he continued quietly. “She said you’ve been havin’...flashbacks and such. Is that true?”
She pulled her face out of his grasp and looked down again, covering her eyes as she cried quietly. Then she nodded.
“I’m sorry,” he said softly.
She shook her head and gulped back the tears. “I wanted to remember...I was hoping I would...and now—now I wish I could forget again.”
Her shoulders shook as the silent sobs wracked her. He shifted, grimacing with the pain of movement, and put a steadying hand on her back; and felt her shrink away from his touch.
“Hey!” he said, more sharply than he intended. “Alex—I ain’t them. I’m not gonna hurt you. Nobody’s gonna hurt you. You’re safe here.”
He left his hand where it was, and she relaxed after a moment.
“I know,” she whispered.
“Doc knew right away,” he told her. “When you first came in, and he was lookin’ you over. He didn’t wanna say nothin’ to you—figured it would be better if you remembered on your own, when you were strong enough...but now I’m sorry we didn’t say somethin’ then, so you wouldn’t have to be goin’ through this now...this way.”
She looked up at him and tried to smile through the tears.
“It’s okay,” she said, “I just—“ She squeezed her eyes shut tight, as another tear slid down her cheek. “I feel so—so dirty...like I’ll never be clean again. I feel so...used.” She sniffed and wiped her eyes on the blanket.
“You ain’t any of that,” he said. He rubbed her shoulders reassuringly and moved closer to her. “What happened to you—it ain’t your fault, none of it.”
She put a hand on her stomach.
“What if they hurt the baby?” she whispered. “Those men there, none of ‘em were exactly...clean. What if I caught something? What if he—or she—did?”
Mal gave her what he hoped was an encouraging smile.
“Simon ran all manner’a tests,” he said. “And on that little one—everything looked shiny. And he gave you all kinds of medicine; enough, I’m thinkin’, to take care of about anything. So I wouldn’t worry on that if I were you.”
She said nothing as she tried once more to get herself under control.
“You’ll be home soon,” Mal said. “You’ll be back with your family, in a familiar place...things’ll be better then.”
“Will they? I’m not so sure.” She shook her head regretfully. “I don’t know what I’m gonna do...I didn’t have any money before I left, and I’ve got a lot less now. I can’t work—“
“Sure you can; lookit how helpful you were to Simon today.”
“And look how exhausted I am from that; I can’t even get out of bed now!”
“Alex, you need to heal from this,” he said. “It’s gonna take time; but you will.”
She tried to smile at him again, and couldn’t carry it off.
“Who in their right mind is gonna hire a pregnant girl with a bad leg and enough scars to scare the patients half to death?”
He sighed. She was finding a way around every encouraging thing he tried to say.
“I didn’t say it was gonna be easy...I just said you can do it. You know how I know that?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “Because you’re a survivor. You’ve proved that already. And you know what survivors do? They put one foot in front of the other, and they keep going; one step at a time.”
“It would be helpful if I could, you know, put one foot in front of the other,” she said.
He shrugged. “I ain’t talkin’ literally, you know that. Besides, you got options.” He smiled at her playfully.
“What do you mean?”
“Well...if somebody gets in your way, you just open that pretty mouth of yours and knock ‘em back with a stream of cursin’. And if that don’t work, just grab somebody’s gun and shoot ‘em! That I know you can do!”
She snorted a laugh, and he squeezed her to him.
“And you ain’t gonna do it alone,” he continued, growing serious again. “I’ll be there whenever you need me, all you gotta do is say so. Me and this whole motley bunch. We’re pretty handy when we put our minds to it.”
She leaned into him and closed her eyes. He wiped the remaining tears from her face.
“How ‘bout you?” she asked him. “I feel bad...here I am carrying on and you’re the one who got shot.”
He shrugged. “The truth? My left ass cheek burns like fire. But, as Zoë pointed out, it coulda been a lot worse, so I guess I got off lucky. Still...I ain’t gonna be sittin’ down with any amount of comfort any time soon.”
She smiled, more naturally this time. “Speaking as a nurse...you should be in the infirmary. Speaking as a hormonal, exhausted woman...I’m really glad you’re here.”
“I think I can get comfortable here if you don’t mind the company awhile,” he said.
She closed her eyes and leaned into him again.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Moving gingerly, and with much wincing and groaning, they both managed to lie down and get settled. Mal lay on his right side, facing her.
“Doc says I should stay on my belly, but this’ll have to do,” he said.
There was a knock at the door, and Simon rolled it open before they had a chance to respond.
“I hope you kids are behaving,” he said, stepping in and turning on the light.
“Go away,” Mal grumbled, blinking, but he was compliant as Simon checked vitals on both of them and gave them each a sedative. When he was finished, he spied Alex’s crutches beside the bed.
“Good thing we have two of those and you each have just one bad leg,” he cracked as he packed up his med kit.
“Good thing I can’t reach your pi gu with my good foot,” Mal groused, and Simon smiled as he shut off the light and left. “Don’t quit doctorin’ to be a comic!” Mal called after him, and Alex laughed softly against him. She touched his chest, tracing a path with her fingers along the scars left over from his torture at Niska’s hands several months before. The wounds had healed, but the scars remained.
“I got through that,” he said to her, “And you’re gonna get through this. You might have some war wounds to show for it, but you’ll come out the other side.”
She smiled, sleepily this time.
“Thanks,” she murmured, her voice beginning to fade with the effects of the sedative.
“For saving me yet again.”
gun = hump
pi gu = bottom/butt
Dong ma? = Understand?
bao bei = sweetheart
Go to Chapter 34.
Back to Chapter 32.
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