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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
Serenity reaches Whitefall while Jayne and Simon continue to be at the Blue Hands "mercy".
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2735 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Disclaimer: Characters do not belong to me, they are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy and Fox.
Feedback is always welcome.
Takes place shortly after the series ended and about a month after the events in Delta Rain.
Thanks to Cassie E and Jebbypal for the beta's and b*tt-kicking. Thanks to everyone else for their patience. Especially Elfrenetico and the Boys From Brooklyn.
Chinese translations: Qingwa cao de liumang: frog humping sumbitch; tianna: Oh god
Jayne threw a warning glance at Simon over his shoulder, hopin' the Doc wouldn't do anything all stupid-like. As the door slid shut behind him he turned and allowed the Blue Hands to lead him down the hallway. He made sure to carefully note the direction they took and all the turns they made along the way. Wouldn't pay to get lost while they were trying to make a get-a-way, and the drugs had clouded his mind when they brought him to this part of the complex last night. He just hoped they were taking him to the same room as before so his mental map was complete. All these gorram white hallways looked the same.
He could just picture River's face if they tried to escape an' got caught cuz he couldn't find his way out. Her expression caught somewhere between disappointment and amusement. This was, of course, assuming that they did get out eventually so he could tell her 'bout it.
Gorramit, he thought as they lead him into the room, this one was bigger, darker, an' had no exam table, just some funky looking chair thing sitting next to a tall machine. Only part of it that looked normal was the light at the top of it. It had these odd tubes running down it an' something that stuck out towards the chair, looked to be 'bout head level. The Blue Hands led him over to it. Jayne could feel his panic rising just from looking at that unholy contraption.
He fought back the urge to make a break for it as they pushed him into the chair, did him no ruttin' good getting away without Simon. Even if Mal let him live then River sure as hell wasn't going ta. She'd made it pretty clear where her priorities lie in this matter when she'd screamed for Simon. He was just gonna have to suffer through whatever the hell they was planning on doing till he figured a way to get them both out alive.
The arms of the chair started humming as the dark haired Blue Hand touched a keypad. Jayne's control snapped hearing that humming, so like the noise the rods had made. But his muscles were frozen in place. The door slid open again and three Doctors entered the room. Least, he thought they was Doctors, all dressed in white lab coats. Couldn't see their faces though, each of them wore a mask over their face and heads, like he was contagious or something.
The Blue Hands left the room as one of the Doctors started tapping out a pattern on the keypad. Jayne could hear the soft shifting of gears before he caught sight of the needle tipped tubes extending towards his temples. As they started driving into his skull the first scream ripped out of his throat.
Book set the kettle on the stove to heat up water for his morning tea. It still felt odd to not see the Captain sitting at the table with a fresh pot of coffee when he entered the kitchen after Book got up, but he was starting to adjust. It was a routine that the Captain had followed far longer than Book had been aboard Serenity. But now, more often than not, he found himself awake before the younger man or at least in the mess before him. Book's lips twitched slightly in the amused knowledge that the Captain was very likely still the first one awake.
He never would have imagined when he left the Abby that this is where his path would take him. At first glance it had appeared that he had landed in the Lion's Den. Despite Kaylee's perception and he'd never try to change it, Book had found himself stuck on a near derelict transport with a bitter veteran of a war he himself had fought on the other side of. Nor had he ever believed that Mal would allow him to remain for so long. Even after he had learned some of Book's past he had not asked him to leave. Of course, he still did not know the full story.
Upon hearing soft giggles in the hallway, Book composed his thoughts back into their normal calm patterns. Kaylee and River entered the mess with their arms entwined. River held a rain stick in her other hand and Kaylee was making a joke about River playing with Jayne's stick that had Book's ears turning a bit red. At River's ribald reply he hastily cleared his throat.
"Good morning," he said, the words came out more stiffly than he'd meant them to. Both of the girls looked at him with embarrassed expressions.
"Mornin' Shepard," Kaylee chirped up at him, recovering first. "We was...um.... talkin’ 'bout the rain stick here."
"Yes, I'm sure you were," he said dryly as they dissolved into giggles again. "There's water for tea, or coffee if you prefer."
"Coffee for me, thanks," Kaylee moved over to pour herself a cup. "I best be checkin' on Serenity. Can't be having her thinkin' I'm neglecting her." With a little wave of her hand, she wandered off to the engine room.
Book noted with amusement that River gave a slightly panicked glance at her friend's retreating back. He suspected that River had avoided being alone with him ever since her and Jayne had started their odd courtship. He noticed that her hair was back to its former disheveled state while he waited patiently for her to finish hovering inside the doorway. She'd been looking a lot less like a neglected waif the past month or so, ever since Jayne had taken to brushing her hair out each morning in the mess. The tender way the Mercenary had while interacting with the girl had actually gone a long way to assuaging his earlier reservations about the pairing. She definitely brought out the gentle side of him.
It was quite a change from the way she had brought out the vicious side of Jayne at first. Of course, Jayne had not brought out the best in River at first either. The way the couple had overcome their stormy beginning gave Book hope that no act was unforgivable if one chose to see past it.
"He can't forgive if he does not know," River said gently, her head tilting off to the side as she gazed at him. She moved gracefully the rest of the way into the room and sat down. "Perhaps it would be easier to seek it from him if you forgave yourself."
"Perhaps," he agreed softly. A little unnerved that he could still be caught off-guard by the girl's perceptiveness.
"But you did not wish to ask me about the Captain." He watched as her body tensed while she leveled her gaze at him.
"No child," he said softly, smiling reassuringly at her. "I wanted to ask you about Jayne. He is a fair bit older than you, are you sure this is what you want?"
River contemplated him for a moment, seeming to study his intent as much as his question. "Yes Preacher," she said softly, "this is what I want. Even if I did have a chance to meet a boy my age, what would we have in common? What would he understand of nightmares, of torture and having your soul shattered into a million pieces and the struggle to put oneself back together? And why is it everyone has had at least a moment of worry that I am being taken advantage of, but not one of you has ever wondered about my intentions to Jayne?"
"Do we have need to worry about your intentions?" he asked her gently.
"No, but so far he has not received any benefits from this," her brow creased in thought. "Just frustrated desire and a mental and emotional bond he never wanted. Whereas I have. I wanted and needed the bond. I sought it out, encouraged it to grow until it could not be denied." She looked at him with sad eyes.
"I was not entirely honest with him," her gaze dropped pensively to her teacup. "I did not tell him that the bond needed to be accepted to fully develop. Made it seem that it simply was. I knew that it made him uncomfortable, was afraid he would reject it. So I never told him that he could walk away from it, from me."
"But he did try to fight it and yet, in the end, he chose to accept it. Did he not?" Book reasoned with her. "Even though you did not tell him."
Book could tell that she didn't entirely believe him even though she was grateful for his words. He gave her hand a comforting pat and rose to get them some tea. The feeling of failing someone in your care through an act of negligence in giving them all the pertinent data was one he knew well. He sighed softly as he poured the hot water into the cups.
Some small sound behind him set his senses on edge. He saw River sitting frozen at the table as he turned, her eyes wide with horror. He quickly put down the tea pot and moved over to her. The effort to hold back the emotions threatening to overwhelm her showed clearly in the tense lines of her body.
“River?” he knelt down and gently took her hands. “River, is it Jayne? Can you tell what they are doing to him?” He silently cursed his un-thoughtful question. His moment of concern over Jayne’s safety was likely the last thing the girl needed right now.
She shook her head stiffly. There was something about the movement and the rigidness of her pose that reminded Book of a torture victim helplessly bound down to a chair. He could see she was holding back a scream as the tears welled up in her eyes.
“I’m right here River, stay with me,” he told her gently. Book desperately racked his brain for some words of comfort for the girl. It was obvious that something was happening to Jayne and that River could feel it despite what she had told the Captain about not sensing him. That gave him little insight into how to help her however.
If Jayne were here he would simply scoop the delicate girl up in his arms and block all this out. Of course, if Jayne were here there would be no need for it. He pushed his unproductive rumination away as she let out a gasp.
“Needles…digging in…drilling for oil…” she whimpered in fear. “Opening the skull…digging out the unwanted bits…”
Book shuddered at the image she invoked. He wondered if this was connected to what they were doing to Jayne or a flashback to what had been done to her. He rubbed her hands between his own, hoping the firm contact would help her maintain some sense of his presence while he came up with a way to help her.
He smiled grimly at the insight that all his Shepard’s training was less effective than Jayne’s hulking presence. The firm, steady footsteps of the Captain heading toward the mess allowed Book a moment of relief. The girl seemed to be under her own control for the moment but it was best to have backup nearby when River was this close to the edge. And perhaps the Captain would have an idea on how to help her through this.
“Captain,” he said by way of greeting as the Captain and Inara entered. “It seems that our blue handed friends are rather fond of hurting Jayne.”
“Not the same,” River muttered softly, her head shaking slightly in negation. “Not the blue waves smashing the rock to bits…drilling this time…making holes and pulling out the insides…” Book watched helplessly as tears seeped out of the corners of her eyes. Her hands moved up to his temple where the tips of her fingers pressed in as if they were needles. Her next words came out in a whimper of pain. “Can feel them drilling the holes…but I can’t feel what they are drilling into…doesn’t want me there…doesn’t want me to feel…”
Her curled hands dropped down to grab his, digging into the back of his hands painfully like claws. He gently shifted his hands so they were over hers. Her eyes went wild as he pressed her fingers out flat between his palms. “If we dig deep enough we can pull the girl out…we can pull her through him and capture her in a bottle and keep her where she belongs.”
Book glanced up at the Captain in the hope that the other man had some insight into how to help the girl. Unfortunately the Captain looked as perplexed as he felt. He watched as Malcolm put a comforting hand on the girl’s shoulder, but she seemed unaware of the contact. There seemed to be someone else looking out at them through her eyes, someone malevolent and cold. The feeling that they were losing her was becoming overwhelming.
“Inara,” Mal said. “Can you go get one’a Simon’s smoothers?”
“Shouldn’t we try some of Jayne’s things?” she asked with a worried frown.
“I’m thinking now’s not a good time to deepen the contact,” the Captain glanced down at him for agreement. Book sighed and nodded. It would be a blessing to let the girl rest for a while.
He focused his attention back on River while Inara went to retrieve the smoother. He noted with concern that the girl’s quiet spell did not signal any measurable improvement. In fact, the beads of sweat now popping out on her forehead plainly told of the amount of control she was exerting to stay more or less lucid. Her eyes had lost the disturbing gleam they’d had a few moments earlier, however.
“River?” he asked, keeping his voice soothing. Her eyes focused slowly on his with a wordless plea for him to make this stop. “Inara will be back soon with a smoother.” She simply nodded at him.
Malcolm’s hand gently reached over to tucked a stand of hair behind her ear. Book realized with a slight shock that they had all become more comfortable with touching the girl in the past month. Yet another odd side effect of the relationship with Jayne. Was it that seeing how Jayne treated her had changed their perceptions of River or had it changed River herself?
“Jayne…” the girl whimpered in pain. Book felt her fingers twitch between his palms as her eyes lost their focus. He felt a knot of dread form in the pit of his stomach as he watched the young girl slump slightly in the chair.
“River,” he said urgently. “Stay with us child.”
Suddenly she convulsed, her body slamming back in the chair as if she had been punched. They watched in helpless horror as her mouth widened in a soundless scream. The Captain grabbed her at the same time as he did as they desperately tried to pin her in the chair while she wildly thrashed about. The sound finally came out of her throat in a long, low, anguished cry of distress.
With a feeling of relief he heard Inara’s soft footsteps enter the mess behind him.
The screams seemed to echo around the room, even though he knew his voice had given out long ago. The pain was like nothing he’d ever felt before. Every fiber of his being pulled apart for them to scrutinize, each thread of thought ripped out of his head for their examination.
And they hadn’t even started cutting anything out of his brain yet, he knew they hadn’t because he could hear them arguing about it. Trying to decide if he was worth working on or if they should just cut out the parts connected to River and let the rest die.
Oh God, River, he could feel her on the edge of his mind. Her pain washing over and mingling with his own. Why now, dear…tianna why now.
Their excited chatter scraped against his ears as the increased activity in his brain attracted them. He had to get her out, keep them from finding her. The probes shifted in his brain, trying to locate the area she was in.
With a burst of panic, Jayne shoved her back into her own mind. A scream ripped out to add another echo to the room, dimly he was aware that it was coming from him again.
Wash’s voice came over the intercom, interrupting the conversation he and Book were having about the events of the morning.
“Captain, we’re about to hit atmo.”
Mal rose quickly and cast a quick glance over to make sure the girl was still sleeping in the chair next to where he had been. Inara motioned to him that she’d stay with River while Zoe and Book stood to follow him up to the bridge.
He had made no effort to get a hold of Patience yet, he really hoped that the reason they were here had nothing to do with the crotchety old woman. Perhaps there was a Reaver ship nearby they could lure back to Persephone, problem with that being that the Reavers would also kill his crew along with all the blue handed creeps.
Wash was staring down at the scanner as he entered, the scowl on his face making Mal wonder for a second if that thought about Reavers hadn’t brought them down on them.
“Something wrong Wash,” he asked in concern.
“No,” Wash said slowly. “Just…not expected. There’s a ship leaving atmo, looks like Monty’s.”
“Well I’ll be…” Mal drawled, a little awed that the girl had known there would indeed be help at Whitefall. “Wash, send ‘em a wave, let’s see if we can set up a meet.”
Simon lay on his back staring up at the ceiling, it had been several hours since they had taken Jayne off, wherever, and pacing back and forth like a caged animal had finally worn him out. It was still not enough to fall asleep again, still not enough to quiet all the horrific little scenarios dancing around the edges of his mind.
He never had done well when left alone with only his own thoughts. It wasn’t so much the being alone part; it was the having nothing to occupy his mind but well, his mind part. He was used to always having something to concentrate on. Papers to write, journals to read, lives to save.
All through school he’d always done extra homework on the side; even after finishing his internship he’d continued studying like he was still in school during his off time. And then there had been River’s letters to figure out and needing to find a way to reach her and get her to safety. On Serenity his spare time had been filled with finding a way to treat her and figuring out what they had done to her. Or spending time with Kaylee, that was the closest he’d ever come to just hanging out like a normal person.
His classmates, even the ones he had considered friends, had never just hung out with him. It had always been in the context of studying for that big final, or discussing Professor Bracchio’s latest lecture in minute detail to squeeze all the possible levels of meaning out of it. He was never the one anyone called on to go have a drink and gossip idly about who was dating who this week.
The one notable exception being graduation night of course, but the sake had numbed all thought away.
Now he was stuck here with nothing to read or study and no one to talk to. Just him and his thoughts twisting into dark, narrow pathways he really did not want to go down. So he kept his mind focused on how little time he’d ever spent alone with his thoughts, he knew it was a by-product of his Father’s continual remarks about idle minds being a waste. He had learned at a young age that it was best to keep his mind active.
Only now he was stuck trying to find a way to keep his thoughts from wondering what they were doing to Jayne right now without access to any of the tools he was used to using. He desperately needed to find a way to block the images of River sitting alone in a room just like this waiting for them to come and get her for more tests. To keep his mind away from the images of needles and strange exam chairs and screaming.
And most of all away from the slight, totally irrational, jealousy that they found Jayne more interesting to study then him.
It was insane to want them to take him instead of Jayne, he knew that. And he really and truly did not wish to be in Jayne’s place right now. But there was still that small voice inside wondering what made him less interesting then a man ape gone wrong. He knew that the reason Jayne interested them was the bond with River, of course he knew that. And that knowledge started up another little voice in his head wondering why River would rather share her thoughts with a man ape gone wrong then with him.
He’d even seen that voice reflected in the Blue Hands eyes when he’d told them Jayne was bound to her; even they couldn’t figure out why she would choose Jayne over him. Not that that was any comfort right now.
Oh God, he hated being alone with his thoughts. What he wouldn’t give right now for them to bring Jayne back just so he could immerse himself in dealing with whatever medical treatment he might need from whatever they were doing to him. Not that he could effectively treat anything here. Nothing but cold, white walls, two bunks and the standard toiletries.
His mind drifted back to one of his earlier musings on why they had put the two of them in the same cell in the first place. The complex certainly appeared large enough to have more then the one cell. Were the other rooms all occupied by children like River? Were there others here being studied; broken and twisted to fit into whatever master plan these sick qingwa cao de liumang were working on?
With a sigh, he wished that his mind was better at losing itself in mindless daydreaming. He’d almost managed it for a bit when he first lay down. He’d let himself think about Kaylee, remembering the feel of her skin under his hands, the sound of her urgent moans, the way she had of making him feel like he was wrapped up in sunshine.
But then the image of her frozen in a chair with strange needles digging into her skull had inserted itself and he’d quickly pushed the disturbing thought to the back of his mind. Now he was scared to try and bring up any more images of Kaylee, afraid that they would become tainted, or that seeing that horrible image too many times might make it real.
Because he knew that image had meaning. Knew it was connected to what they had done to River, he wasn’t sure how he knew but he did. He almost suspected that the horrors that had been done, were probably still being done, in this building had seeped into the very walls.
There was just something about the place that brought every nightmare he had ever had creeping up to the surface. Or perhaps it was simply that he was alone with no one to talk to and no way to keep his mind occupied in a place where he knew bad men had cut into his sister’s brain. Or perhaps he was slowly going insane.
At last, he thought with relief as the door scraped open. He sat up as the men pushed Jayne into the room before shutting them back in without a word.
Simon quickly moved over to help the big man up onto the other bunk, taking silent note of the fact that he appeared unharmed except for the tiny trickles of blood running down his temple. The way the image blended with the one he’d had of Kaylee earlier was eerie; it also reminded him far to strongly of all the times he’d run to River’s room in the middle of the night to find her huddled crying in a corner with her hands pressed against her head as if she was trying to hold her brains inside skull.
“How do you feel?” he asked, cringing slightly at how inane the question was.
“Like crap,” Jayne muttered back harshly, but Simon was relieved to see the big man had enough energy left to scowl at him. Although the look in his eyes as he did so would likely haunt him for years.
Before Simon could stop the impulse, his arms had gone around the big man’s shoulders and pulled him close. His hand rubbing comforting circles on Jayne’s back. Jayne shuddered slightly and then Simon felt the tears damping his shirt.
There was something oddly disturbing about the fact that comforting Jayne felt so much like comforting River. Or perhaps not so odd. After all, right now his pain was probably far closer to what River endured then any of them could have ever foreseen.
So Simon found himself murmuring the same meaningless phrases he used with River after one of her nightmares and rocking the mercenary gently like a child. After a few moments the other man pulled away. Jayne drew a shuddering breath and leaned forward, elbows on his knees and his shoulders slumped. His breathing came in unsteady pants.
Simon looked around the cell in alarm. There was no way he could get Jayne to the toilet in time. He bolted over to the other cot and ripped the cover off, getting it under Jayne just in time as the mercenary lost what was left of the meager dinner rations they had received the night before.
After waiting to make sure that Jayne had gotten it all up, Simon bent and folded the blanket carefully before taking it over to the corner by the sink. He hoped they wouldn’t need it again, but it seemed foolish to put it in the waste shoot until he was sure.
The cot creaked softly behind him as Jayne stretched out; Simon moved back over with a cloth he’d dampened in the sink. The way the mercenary was staring blankly up at the ceiling made Simon pause for a moment before gently cleaning the dried blood off. Jayne’s eyes focused up at him briefly as he let out a harsh laugh.
“Found out what all them cut’s in her brain were from,” he said softly. “They got these needles. Stick ‘em in your head and probe about with them. Let’s them see what your brain is doing, but I think they can also use ‘em for scraping bits out. From what they said…think they can activate parts of your brain with them too. Sometimes it felt like the gorram things was sending shocks into my head.”
Simon gently settled onto the cot next to him. Jayne was talking too softly to catch what he was saying from any distance, hardly surprising considering how hoarse the man‘s voice sounded. Simon knew he very much needed to hear this though, even though Jayne‘s perception of what had happened was obviously not entirely logical.
Between the image he’d had of Kaylee in the chair and Jayne’s descriptions, he had a sick feeling he was starting to get a very clear image of what they had done to River. And a much clearer understanding of how they had done it; although exactly why they had done it was still a mystery to him.
“They seem ta think that they can dig the bits out of my brain that are connected to River.” There was a quiet anguish in Jayne’s voice. “One’a them wants to alter me so they can use me to control her, the other two think they should just get rid’a the bond an’ find someone else to bind her too. Seems it’s common for them to need another to stabilize the main subject.”
“I don’t think they’ve perfected their technique yet,” Jayne added with another harsh bark of laughter.
“Any idea on what they are trying to accomplish?” Simon asked, half fearful that any interruption would end the flow of Jayne’s musings; but he needed to know if they had given any clues about it.
“Nothing yet,” Jayne replied softly. “But it does seem that bein’ a reader is part of it. Not just some unexpected side effect. They also seemed ta think River was special. Said something ‘bout being hopeful she wouldn‘t need bonding to be stable, kinda made it sound like she was the closest to a success they‘d had so far.”
“I felt her while they was working on me,” he continued after a moment. “They could tell when she was there. Those gorram probes…”
Simon looked down at the mercenary in concern, part of him wishing there was some way he could prevent Jayne from having to relive this. Jayne’s head turned slightly towards him.
“It’s alright, Doc,” he said softly, seeming to read his thoughts. “I need to talk it out almost as much as ya need to hear it.” Simon watched the mercenary silently while Jayne closed his eyes, only to open them again immediately; another tremor of reaction going through him.
“Think I know why I wasn’t able to feel her ‘fore.”
“Why?” Simon prompted him gently when he fell silent again.
“Was angry with her,” Jayne finally said with a sigh; his eyes glancing at him briefly before shifting back to the ceiling. “When she warned me, ‘bout Atherton, she was screaming your name. All concerned for your safety, only thing I was picking up from her was fear for you and that she wanted me to save ya. Didn‘t really hit me till this morning how much that bugged me; that she hadn‘t thought none on my safety, just yours. An‘ then when I felt her…during the thing…I shut her out. Knew as soon as I done it that I‘d done it before.”
“Jayne, I think we‘re both idiots,” Simon found himself chuckling darkly. “I’ve been sitting here being jealous that you can hear her thoughts and feelings and I can’t. We were so close as children, neither one of us made friends easily and our parents, well, let’s just say they were not the most expressive in their affections. And it’s not even that I want to be able to hear her thoughts or feel her feelings, it’s just that it hurt that she needs you more then she needs me.”
Simon stood up and moved back over to the sink to get the cloth damp again, he needed a bit of space after making his unplanned confession.
“But I think deep down inside you know that it was not that she doesn’t care for you,” he told Jayne as he moved back over to the cot. “More than likely it was simply a reaction to the fact that Atherton was focused on me; to him you were simply a hired hand, I was a bargaining chip.”
“If she ever had to make a choice between saving you or me…” Simon found he couldn’t finish that thought, in all honesty he thought a choice like that would kill River. Much as having to choose between saving River or Kaylee would kill him. He’d probably still save River if it came to it, but something inside him would be broken.
“She’d choose you,” Jayne said softly, but there was a note of acceptance in his voice now. “You’re her brother, you gave up everything to save her; an’ you need more looking after then I do.”
Simon glanced up quickly to catch the ghost of a smirk on Jayne’s face.
Friday, July 09, 2004 5:20 AM
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Saturday, July 10, 2004 3:05 AM
Monday, July 12, 2004 2:35 PM
Tuesday, July 13, 2004 11:10 AM
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Wednesday, October 06, 2004 5:53 AM
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Tuesday, December 28, 2004 11:31 PM
Monday, January 24, 2005 9:24 AM
Monday, March 14, 2005 3:39 PM
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