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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
The fifth installment in the Operative Series. The title says it all.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1241 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
As always everything belongs to Joss. All of these are written in chronological order, but can be read as stand alones (only vague references to other installments). Ratings are shiny, comments are shinier!
**Rated NC-17 for one wee four letter word that isn't even in English (but if you're curious there's a translation at the end). Better safe than sorry!**
When he thought on it, he wasn't sure why Kaylee had been gone for the first few days after surviving the Alliance and the Reavers in a single battle. Everything was hazy at first. It made sense - he was healing from a serious gunshot wound to the abdomen, not to mention serious shock to be alive enough to actually heal. But he remembered sometimes opening his eyes. There would be only a window to indicate if it was day or night. And River’s face, her eyes were always filled with tears and hurt. But it wasn't the look on her face that made him feel a cold blend of fear and disappointment. Was she hurt? Was she gone... was she really gone? Was that why River was always crying? Was that why she wasn't here? Only a few precious moments of consciousness and the pattern was always the same – hope when he rose to the surface, fear when he opened his eyes, dread as he sank into dreamless sleep. And it was only when he hoped could he think her name. “Kaylee.”
Then, as his requirement for sedation dropped, so did the fog that was in his mind. He couldn't say how many times he opened his eyes during those first few days. How many times he hoped for a glimmer of her smile and was found wanting. He could, however, recount in exacting detail the first time he saw her face. Even as a doctor he would never be able to explain how he physically felt the loosening of fear and dread in his gut. He could actually feel the knot unbind itself. With her there he could focus on healing. With her there he could acknowledge that it was over, really and truly over. With her there he could actually look forward to the future - something that had been gone for far too long in his life.
Of the remaining two months he spent there, he spent none of his time alone. Kaylee's near constant presence was a constant buoy to his spirits and gave him the much needed motivation to be free of the tubes and pills. The rare times she wasn't there being his strength, it was River or Inara who sat with him, talked to him and filled him in on how things outside his room were progressing.
Even Mal came by with his brief message: "You need to be getting yourself up and out of bed. Can't have my mechanic in here when there's work to be done." A thick gruffness grew in his voice than another person would mistake, "'Sides, it don't do to have my medic being the most injured. Makes a captain look bad and I don't take well to that."
He had been trained in grief counseling and had to tell more than one person that a loved one was forever gone. So, he couldn't fault Zoe for not coming by so much... though there were times late at night, when Kaylee's form was a mere shadow protectively near him when he would admit that he was rather glad. He knew he was on borrowed time when it came to Wash and Book's death. The room protected him from the elements and provided every medical assistance the Alliance could provide on this backwater moon. But it was the same room that kept him isolated from the time when he would have to confront the fact that it wasn't a patient of his that died - but people who defined the meaning of "friend."
So it was two months of difficult therapy and hard convalescence that Simon moved from the safety of his room in the MedCen to the comfort of his room on Serenity.
The Scene -
"Knew I'd find you here." Simon looked up at the familiar voice and smiled. He had been growing pleasantly surprised with each passing day how much River had changed, how much River seemed unchanged from her days before the Academy. She actually seemed comfortable in the infirmary. Her face clouded over. "Still altered. Just able to define things myself. Able to define myself. It's easier with you and Kaylee. Balance," saying the last word with particular emphasis.
She smiled when she saw him blush. "Yes, well... “ His voice failed him, unsure if she was trying to broach the subject of sex or just the fact that they were a couple.
"It's needed... the joy. Balances the tides when it’s dark."
Simon lowered his head and nodded. Darkness... He saw this as his own opportunity to ask River for forgiveness. "Mei mei.. I..."
"No," she said her voice soothing, "don't have to."
"Please, let me say this." She tilted her head, wearing a soft tender smile. Taking a deep breath he continued. "I'm sorry. I don't remember it all... I don't remember most of it. You were there with me and I was so scared she was hurt, scared that she was gone. And I...I..." Swallowing thickly he knew couldn't say it. How, in those first few days, the sadness River saw in his eyes wasn’t because he was hurt, but because he was disappointed to see River’s face and not Kaylee’s. How he knew River must have known that and that he never wanted to hurt her. How he betrayed her anyway in that drug and pain inducing haze. How he didn't help her enough when she was hurt, didn't save her sooner before she was broken. How he seemed to always come up short, how he was never quite enough when it was needed. Even now he wasn’t enough to just say the words.
She came up, wrapping her arms around her brother’s shoulders. "Shhh. Simon.... No." He rested his head on her shoulder, only a tear breaking through the eyes he squeezed shut. Pulling back she peered up to look him in the eyes. "Enough, more than enough. Loved me enough to make up the love I couldn’t have for myself." She stepped back taking his hand in hers. "Not my secret to tell. She wasn't here and I couldn't reach her and everything seemed so...” River's eyes filled with tears as she recalled those first few days on the moon. “I couldn't reach anyone, didn't want to. Had to… but couldn’t.” She tilted her head as though hearing something far, far in the distance. “Needs to be done. Things have to be said that don’t want to be heard." A confused look passed over Simon’s face. She looked up to him pleading to him with her eyes. “Ask her.”
Simon nodded, then smiled to River. Giving her a hug of thanks he left to search out his bao bei. The most obvious place would be the engine room. Serenity was getting closer to being space worthy, but there were many repairs the mechanic would need to make before that would happen. He drew his eyebrows together when he didn't find her there. Walking to the common rooms and still not finding her, he assumed that she would be outside, fixing the many tears to the hull, the damage caused by the landing that was virtually a crash. Walking around the exterior of Serenity he noted Mal and Jayne on top, ratcheting screws loose to remove the cannon. There were a few Alliance engineers around, working on the landing gears, repairing the engines that had been ripped off.... but no Kaylee.
He looked up and down the length of Serenity, thinking of the possible places she could be. Thinking of the cafeteria attached to the MedCen, Simon thought it would be the next likely place to find her. It was, after all, the only place with food not made solely of protein and vitamin supplements. He walked as fast as possible, irritated that it was not nearly as fast as before his injury. His thoughts were wrapped between irritation between his slow pace and the twisting hope to find Kaylee soon that he nearly tripped when he heard his name called.
Turning he saw the Operative squatting in the shade of a rocky hill. Simon's jaw clenched, his hands tightened into fists. He struggled to maintain control over emotions that threatened to overtake him. It was awareness of his still healing wound that kept himself from physically attacking the man.
“You are a difficult man to find alone.”
While it seemed like his gut filled with ice, a small brushfire had been lit at the base of Simon’s spine and burned its way up over his skull settling in his throat.
“And why would you want me alone?”
“Because getting you to listen will be easier if there are no distractions.”
“Cao yi ni zi ji.” Simon replied with every ounce of venom he could inject into those words.
The Operative sighed. “Indeed.” He knew he needed something to shock Simon away from his anger, something to give him the precious moments needed to keep his attention. “Tell me Dr. Tam, what do you know about G23 Paxalon Hydrochlorate?”
“Well, aside of its uncanny ability to both make millions of people commit suicide while simultaneously reducing the survivors into animals… precious little. But even that little bit is too much.”
“And if I told you the Alliance didn’t stop its research into its abilities? If I told you that River, herself, was developed in response to what it does to people?”
“I’d say the Alliance better stay out of her way… and mine.”
“That is not something for you to fear now. I suspect that you will have time, more than you imagine and possibly not enough, before that becomes a viable possibility. But for the moment, I have bought you the time you may need.”
"And I suppose I should be grateful? After all, a good word from you and my sister and I aren't hunted fugitives."
"I don’t expect your gratitude and truthfully I have no use for it. I have other reasons for being here. Preventive measure.”
“You being here is preventing what exactly?”
”Allow me to share something that I've learned that may explain what I mean,” the Operative responded. “It may be of use to you in the future, but I am hoping that you consider this now: A barb planted in the skin is an offensive move to impair an enemy’s agility. As a doctor you can understand how metal hooks, even small ones, buried into skin and muscle will cause a person to loose strength, reflexes and motion. But occasionally the purpose in setting that barb can backfire. The metal may reflect killing blows, especially with weapons made of metal. Indeed, even the loss of strength and speed can be useful. An enemy may not take into account how you've slowed and so a bullet meant for you may pass harmlessly before you.”
He paused to look around, maintaining his squatting position to seem innocuous and non-threatening. His eyes betrayed his ease as they continued to search the environment. “Should I tell you the truth of why I’m here, that very thing may be enough to loosen the barb. And some barbs are protection.”
The Operative stood, walking quickly to block Simon from heading towards the MedCen. Not giving him a chance to respond he brought his fist up, holding a data-stick in offering.
“I have been informed that all warrants have been canceled, all attempts to detain either of you are to cease. They probably believe they are being honest. But should they change their mind, they will know where to look. If that happens… when that happens…” He let the implication hang in the air.
Simon looked incredulous. “You really think I believe you want to help either of us?”
The Operative “Dr. Tam, this isn’t really about you… or River. I am merely planting a barb. You can use it to protect yourself. You can let it be a weakness. But then, I have never thought you to make a stupid decision when you had time to examine the options.”
Pushing the data-stick into Simon’s hand, the Operative turned leaving him to stare sullenly at the newly acquired object in his hand. Shoving it roughly in a pocket he turned, looking at Serenity in the distance. Seeing a familiar auburn haired woman his mind drifted to his original purpose. Putting the conversation to the back of his mind he walked slowly back to the ship.
Conclusion 1 –
“Honey… I’ve been here the whole time. Course I spent most of the day in the aft ventilator duct. But you coulda called… I woulda heard you. Didn’ have to walk all the way out to the MedCen by yourself.”
Simon could feel a twitch of irritation rise. “Kaylee I can walk to the MedCen on my own. I’m injured, not a child.”
“I know. I didn’t mean anything by it, just sorry that you went searching when ya didn’t have to. Heck, you coulda asked. Cap’n knew I would be in there most of the day, so’d River and Jayne.”
Simon suddenly felt a little disoriented. Looking down, eyebrows drew together as he tried to draw together a conversation…
“Simon? You feeling ok? You look a little pale.”
Looking back up, he feigned a smile. “Yeah, just a little worn out. Maybe I did push myself more than I should have.”
Wrapping an arm around his waist Kaylee once again offered him her strength. More concerned with his thoughts Simon allowed himself to be led to his room. When Kaylee had turned to pull a loose shirt for him to rest in, Simon carefully took the data-stick from his pocket. Placing it in a drawer next to the bed he lay back and stared at the ceiling.
Conclusion 2 -
River didn’t think she would ever be able to really share with someone those first illuminating moments when she reclaimed her mind as her own. She felt the crew fill with disgust, with shock and horror… and it filled her. She threw herself to the floor, her body revolting, vomiting on the ground. And then it happened – she felt grounded. And feeling grounded she felt happy, genuinely happy. It was deep in her, her own secret that not even Simon would understand… but she recognized something… she recognized herself. No one, not even Simon, would know what that moment meant to her.
As the days passed she grew accustomed to this new balance. She had her nightmares and they horrified her. But when she woke the images would disintegrate instead of track her down. River felt guilty. It didn’t seem right, to finally have herself back and not to get to share that with Wash or Book. She would smile, imagining what they would say, how Wash would tease, maybe even kiss the top of her head… how Book would look so genuinely happy for her. To finally explain that she understood how faith can fix things. To debate that faith can’t fix everything. She was finally getting to know herself again and she wanted them to be there, to get to know her too. Who knows? Maybe they were…
But with the happiness and the conflicting sorrow the one thing River felt that she didn’t expect to feel was trust. She was learning to trust herself. So when she stood in the shadows watching Kaylee help Simon into his room, watching the door slide shut she felt guilty at the deception, but she felt it was necessary. Had she been asked, she would have said that it was important that he go and that she trusted herself. It was enough for her, but she wasn’t foolish enough to believe that it would be enough for Simon. Watching the door for a few minutes she sighed then walked away through the shadowy halls of Serenity.
yi cao ni zi ji – go fuck yourself
Tuesday, April 24, 2007 3:28 PM
Tuesday, April 24, 2007 4:36 PM
Wednesday, April 25, 2007 5:51 AM
Wednesday, April 25, 2007 6:42 AM
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