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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Mal gits the whatsit slapped out of him!!!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 818 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
The Last Spartan – Chapter Twenty-Two
Author owns no rights to Firefly or any of it’s related characters, and makes no money for his efforts.
Malcolm Reynolds had worked all his life to show nonchalance at the wealth of others. He prided himself, in fact, on being underwhelmed, at least on the surface, of anything.
But Jayne’s home was overwhelming. As he wandered the estate grounds around the house, and then entered the house itself, he couldn’t help but stare a little. There were antiquities sitting nearly everywhere on the ground floor. Any one of which, Mal was sure, would fuel Serenity for a year, and leave money for any part that Kaylee could manage to find.
But more than that were the people scurrying about the place. Not haggard, frantic or worried servants, aware of their master’s return, but happy people. Mal realized that the servants were actually delighted that Jayne had returned, and where not trying to avoid his displeasure, but instead were working to please him. Not because they were afraid, but because they wanted to.
Trying to get his head around that took some doing. He just couldn’t see Jayne as anything but a money hungry mercenary.
“Hello, Mal,” Inara said quietly, and Mal turned to see her standing in the hallway.
“‘Nara,” he nodded, unsure of himself. “Nice place,” he commented.
“It’s immaculate,” Inara nodded. “I’ve never seen it’s like, anywhere.”
“Never?” Mal asked. He knew she’d been to some of the ritziest places in the ‘verse in her years as a Companion.
“Never,” she affirmed. “It’s breathtaking.”
“So it seems,” Mal agreed. He felt like something was coming, but he didn’t want to think on it. He had a sneaking suspicion already that he wasn’t going to like it.
“Mal, I need to tell you something,” Inara confirmed that feeling. “I don’t want you to find out. . .” She broke off as a maid appeared.
“Your pardon, my Lady Inara,” the maid said quietly. “Dinner is being set now.”
“Thank you, Alisa,” Inara nodded graciously. The maid curtsied, and departed.
“Lady Inara?” Mal asked, his stomach sinking.
“Yes,” Inara sighed softly. “Jayne has asked me to take over management of his household. I am to be house manager, in charge of the day to day operations of the house, staff, and any events held here.” She paused, looking at him carefully.
“I’ve already told him I accept.” She said it quickly, making the cut clean and swift. Mal didn’t know how to reply at first.
“I’da thought River would do all that,” he managed.
“As did I,” Inara replied. “But she isn’t interested, for one. And she has so much to learn. . .I made sure it was acceptable to her before accepting.”
“So I guess that leaves me and you at somewhat of an impasse,” Mal didn’t quite snarl. Inara looked at him, her gaze sorrowful, but determined.
“Not an impasse, Mal,” she corrected. “You and I, we aren’t cut out for one another. I couldn’t see it before. Wouldn’t see it. But it’s the truth, and you know it. You will never accept me as anything approaching an equal. And try as I might, I can’t live that way. I simply cannot.”
“I see,” Mal nodded, anger festering. “Jayne, he treats you as an equal, does he? I guess he can afford your rates, anyway.” Inara’s breath sucked in sharply, and Mal saw the pain in her eyes. He immediately felt ashamed, but his pain made him want to lash out at her.
“I should have expected that, I suppose,” Inara said, after she had regained her composure.
“Well, you’re one up on me, then,” Mal bit out. “I sure didn’t expect you to leave me for the like’s o’ Jayne Cobb.” Inara flushed in anger.
“You really are despicable, Malcolm Reynolds,” she retorted coldly. “I would never have left you for another man. Not ever. And if that’s all that you can think of me, then it seems I’ve made the right decision, after all.” Before he could reply, Inara gathered her skirts and walked away, leaving him looking after her.
“Your own fault,” he heard River’s voice floating down the hallway. He turned to look at her, and couldn’t hide the loathing he felt.
“My fault,” he laughed bitterly. “It’s all my fault, ain’t it Albatross. Jayne ain’t to blame for anything. How long do you think ‘fore she’s in his bed, ‘stead o’ you.”
The sound of River’s hand striking him was louder than she’d expected. Instead of his jaw reddening, and his head perhaps moving slightly, Mal was propelled several feet down the length of the hallway. He slammed into a column, and came to a stop, out like a light.
River gasped, all thoughts of anger forgotten as she rushed to him.
“Mal!” she cried, and one of the maids heard her, and came to investigate.
“Lady River?” she asked. River whirled to the woman.
“Get Simon!” she ordered. “Master Tam!” River clarified at the woman’s confusion. The maid nodded at that, and ran to the dinning room.
“Captain, wake up,” River said urgently, shaking him slightly, now afraid to touch him. Simon came running into the hallway, Kaylee sharp on his heels.
“Oh!” the girl cried. “What happened?”
“I. . .I slapped him,” River whispered. “That’s all it was, I just slapped him.”
“Why?” Kaylee demanded.
“He said something awful about Inara,” River told her, still stunned at what she’d done. “I did it without thinking.”
“About Inara?” Kaylee’s anger switched abruptly from River to Mal.
“What’s the. . .what happened?” Jayne said as he entered the hallway. River immediately ran to him, crying.
“I slapped him, Jayne, and he. . .he flew down the hall, and I . . .” Jayne encircled her with his arm.
“It’s alright, meus era,” he whispered softly. “I told you there would be changes.”
“But I’ve hurt him!” she cried out.
“I doubt it,” Jayne smiled at her. “It’s his head, after all.” River smiled in spite of herself, and even Kaylee giggled. Simon wasn’t as amused.
“He’s got a concussion for sure,” he noted, standing. “We need to get him somewhere that I can. . .”
“Prim, have the Captain taken to the hospital at once. See to it that Doctor Tam has everything he needs.”
“At once, my Lord,” Prim acknowledged, but shot River a knowing grin as he reached for the radio on his belt.
River almost grinned back. Prim apparently wasn’t a member of the Malcolm Reynolds fan club. The number was dwindling rapidly, it seemed.
“You have your own hospital?” Simon asked, stunned by the revelation.
“It’s a big place,” Jayne said evasively. “I have many employees.”
In seconds two men appeared and lifted Mal onto a stretcher. With Simon following in their wake, they headed for the house infirmary.
“Well, he’s got a concussion, sure enough,” Simon told the assembled crew as he left the room Mal had been placed in.
Jayne did have his own hospital, and Simon was stunned when he entered. It was as modern and up-to-date as any core hospital, and just as well stocked. There were six patient rooms, an operating room, and two exam rooms.
“Will he be all right?” River asked quietly. She was still shaken by the fact that she had injured the Captain.
“Yes, he’ll be fine, mei mei,” Simon assured her. “He’s bruised a good bit, and will sport a big bruise on his jaw,” Simon had to work to keep the smirk from his face at that. “But I’m sure that Jayne’s kitchen staff can fix him some nice soup until he heals.” Jayne snorted, trying to keep from laughing.
“How long til he’s up and about?” Zoe asked, ignoring Jayne.
“He’ll need a week, probably, to rest and recover fully. It’s a fairly serious concussion, but there’s no bleeding, and no swelling. He’ll be fine.”
“Told you,” Jayne smiled at River, and she managed a weak smile in return. Jayne frowned slightly.
“Okay, I think the show’s over for now,” he turned to the others. “I’d like Simon and River to stay behind, but the rest of you should go and eat. We’ll be along in a bit.” He waited until they were alone, then turned to River and Simon.
“We need to talk,” he said quietly. River nodded, and walked the short distance between them. He took her hand, and led her and Simon to one of the exam rooms. Once they were seated, with River cradled in his lap, Jayne started talking.
“Simon, I wanted you to hear this, because of River. If you ever breathe a word of it, outside this room, it will not go well for you. This is the most closely guarded secret we have, and I do not exaggerate when I say that.”
Simon looked startled, but nodded his assent.
“Simon, do you know what a symbiotic parasite is?”
“Yes, it’s a living organism that lives on or within it’s host. There is a trade off between host and parasite. . .” Simon halted abruptly as understanding dawned.
“Yes, Simon,” Jayne nodded. “That’s what I’m saying. The source of our strength, our abilities, our longevity, lies within a tiny parasite that resides within us. That parasite is what drives the need for blood.”
“Wo de Mah,” Simon breathed. “I never even thought of. . .”
“No one else has either,” Jayne assured him. “The source of the parasite remains unknown, even now. In fact it was not until the late twentieth-century on Earth-that-was that anyone discovered it. Little is known about it, in truth, as the parasite resists all attempts at invasive study.”
“It is not sentient as we mean it,” Jayne continued, “but it does have a great deal of intelligence. In return for living inside the body of it’s host, and for occasional infusions of blood, it prevents sickness in the host. It heals injuries quickly, and prevents aging.”
“It also enhances the host’s strength, reaction time, agility, and so on. You can see, I presume, why this secret is so closely guarded.”
“Certainly!” Simon nodded. “The Alliance would never stop trying to control one, and take it’s secrets.”
“Exactly,” Jayne nodded. “Imagine an army of soldiers like me,” he said softly. “Almost impossible to kill, their longevity guaranteeing a seasoned and experienced military. The repercussions could be serious, to say the least.” He hesitated a moment, thinking about what he needed to say.
“Another thing the parasite often does,” he continued at last, “is enhance natural gifts already present in the host.” He let that statement hang in the air.
“Like me,” River said quietly, looking up at him. Jayne nodded.
“Like you,” he said, kissing her forehead softly. “Your ability to read will remain strong, despite the fact that the damage you suffered at the hands of the Alliance is now well on it’s way to being repaired.”
“What?” Simon almost yelled. “What do you mean?”
“The parasite cannot, or will not, we don’t know which, repair any damage done prior to it’s inhabiting the host, other than that which is necessary for survival,” Jayne told him. “But it can, and will, compensate for such things as the loss of the amygdal portion of the brain. Other parts of the brain will eventually be stimulated to replace the functions that the Alliance stripped from her. Her ability will remain, but be stronger. And she will eventually be able to control it fully.”
“Why didn’t you say something before?” Simon demanded, getting to his feet. His anger made River wince.
“Say what, exactly, Simon?” Jayne replied calmly, having anticipated this. “That my bite could infect your sister with a parasite that might eventually heal her completely, if it spared her life? And how might you have reacted to that?” Simon looked at him mutely, blinking at that information.
“I. . .”
“You would have thought me insane,” Jayne smiled sadly. “It was only when I thought. . .it was only as last resort that I would have tried it.”
“I wondered why I was getting so much better,” River smiled at him. “I thought it was you.”
“I only wish that were true,” he returned her smile warmly. “But there are other benefits to your new condition as well.”
“Such as?” River asked, curious. In answer, Jayne wrapped her in his arms, holding her tightly, and spoke quickly.
“Etta korrum nas mecht.” River had immediately began to struggle when she heard the phrase, and Simon had yelped.
“Jayne, what are you doing?” Simon cried, fearing the worst. Then he looked at River, who had stopped struggling.
River, who was still conscious, eyes wide with wonder. She looked at Jayne, shocked.
“Such as neutralizing the programming that the Alliance forced into you,” he smiled gently, kissing her. “I’m sorry if I frightened you, but I wanted you to see it for yourself.”
“You mean . . .?”
“You are free of the Alliance, meus rosa,” Jayne nodded. “No more triggers, no more safe words. They aren’t gone,” he added with a cautionary look, “but they have been neutralized. The parasite will not allow anything to be triggered that might harm it’s host, and thereby itself.”
“That’s great!” Simon suddenly yelled. “I could never figure out how to rid her of them, Jayne.” He stopped as a thought occurred to him. “What about her combat training? Is it gone, too?”
“No,” Jayne assured him. “If anything, it will be enhanced by her greater strength, speed and agility. As I said, the parasite is highly intelligent. If the host dies, it dies. Thus anything that makes the host stronger is considered good, therefore untouched. Anything it considers a threat is eliminated.”
“Jayne, that’s. . .”
“Incredible?” Jayne smiled at the befuddled doctor. “Yes, it is.”
“Mei-mei, I am so happy for you,” Simon was on the verge of tears as River left Jayne’s lap and went to embrace him. The two hugged each other tightly while Jayne looked on, smiling.
“I am fixed, Simon,” River said in a little voice. “All that you ever wanted is now done. You are free to live as you desire now.”
“I don’t care about that,” Simon told her. “All I’ve ever cared about was seeing you well.” He looked over her to Jayne, crying now.
“I will never be able. . .I thought I was in your debt before, but now.”
“There is no debt, Simon,” Jayne assured him.
“There is,” Simon argued. “I can’t ever begin to repay you, to thank you, I don’t. . .”
“Simon,” River said, stepping back. “I have already thanked him,” she grinned, plopping back into Jayne’s lap. Simon looked at her blank faced for a moment, then turned red.
“That’s entirely too much information for me to have in my head, River,” he stammered. River giggled brightly, clasping Jayne’s hand in hers.
“Boob,” she stuck her tongue out at him, and Simon laughed. His sister would be forever young now, he suddenly realized. Young and well. He couldn’t ask for anything better.
“Your road will not be an easy one,” Jayne cautioned. “The damage you sustained at the hands of Blue Sun will force the parasite to work rather hard over the months ahead, finding ways to compensate. You will experience bouts of nausea, dizziness, thirst, and likely some pain as well.”
“And it will take time to adjust to the fact that you are now stronger than any ten mortals you select from virtually any crowd. You will need to learn control the likes of which you cannot imagine merely to avoid injuring others unintentionally. But I will be by your side, every step of the way,” Jayne added, smiling gently.
“I am glad of that,” River smiled softly in return, her hand caressing his jaw. “Very glad indeed.”
Friday, November 30, 2007 6:43 AM
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