Call the Man [11] repost
Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Recuperation, funeral, healing.


PART ELEVEN * Close the door Shut the world away All the fight's gone from this wounded heart Across the floor Dreams and shadows play Like wind blown refugees Needed in the chaos and confusion From the plains to city hall Needed where the proud who walk the wire are set to fall

Call the man Who deals in love beyond repair He can heal the world Of hearts in need of care Shine a light ahead When the next step is unclear Call the man He's needed here [Call the Man – Celine Dion]

Jayne grinned at Vera, “C'm'ere, you!” He steered her carefully past the I.V. in his left arm and kissed her slowly and thoroughly, “Mmm, best medicine in the whole 'verse!” Vera cupped his cheek, smiling, “Good to have you back.” “How long was I out?” “Two weeks, this last time. You came around a few times before, on the flight here.” Jayne frowned slightly, “Don't remember. Bin longer 'n that, gettin' here.” Vera nodded, “It's a month since you did for the Skyplex. Simon kept you asleep a lot of the time, so's you could be still and heal.” Jayne's hand went to the oxygen lines going up his nose, “Leave those; let Simon get them out.” “Ah'm all fuzzy below the waist.” Vera nodded again, “Simon had to do a major bowel...erm...resection? Something like that. You've got a catheter down there and a place which is still healing from where he temporarily made your bowel come out through your abdomen wall.” Jayne had a look, “Huh. Nuttin' but bandages down there and there's a tube coming outta my John Thomas!” Vera held his hand, “Don't even *think about pulling that out! You'd do damage to yourself! Plus, it would hurt worse than you can possibly imagine.” Jayne's lips twitched in humour, “Simon fill you in, huh?” “I've been helping him nurse you. River and Cliff as well.” Jayne scowled, “They've seen my bits?” Vera chuckled, “Almost everyone apart from Mal saw them on that moon!” “Forgot that. Got pins stickin' in me too.” “That's the acupuncture, helping you heal and providing extra pain relief. I'll let Simon explain.” Vera gave Jayne another kiss and carefully removed both Ares and his bed to another room, then she went to fetch Simon and their children, in that order. * Simon checked Jayne over, “You're lucky to be alive. Much longer and the blood loss would have been fatal.” “So, how bad is it, doc?” “You caught a fire dart. It's very slim and sharp and...” Jayne held up his hand, “I know what they are. Used 'em myself, dontcha know.” Simon nodded, not totally surprised, “Well the one that got you through a tiny gap in your Kevlar did some nasty things to your lower bowel and intestines. I had to...erm...” he struggled, trying to find easy non-medical terms, “Basically, I had to cut out a lot of damaged bits, stem the bleeding and sew other bits together. For three weeks, your lower bowel was coming out here.” Simon pointed to a spot in Jayne's abdomen wall. “Why d'ya do that?” “Needed to rest the system, give the part going down to your rectum time to heal a bit more. I tucked it back in and reconnected just over a week ago, but you've been on nothing but normal saline – that's this clear stuff – or blood products since. Haven't given the system a full test, you might say.” “Anything else?” “Removed about half a dozen regular bullets and dealt with other places where they'd grazed you. Got a black eye from where something hit your head not long before we picked you up. The belly wound was by far the worst of your injuries.” Jayne nodded, “Need to tell Mal what – and who - I saw. I'm gonna be okay, though?” “Let's get some regular food inside you and see what happens. Should be just fine. You'll need at least a fortnight recovering from the last surgery, even with the acupuncture I've given you.” Jayne frowned, “Them little bitty needles can do that?” Simon nodded, “Yes. Put in the right places on someone, they can do almost anything.” Jayne grinned wickedly, “Can you do summat about the size of my John Thomas?” Simon's lips twitched, despite his best efforts to remain professional, “You want it smaller?” “Hell, no! I want him bigger!” Jayne began, and then realised Simon was teasing, “An' some special private time with m'Vera, huh?” Simon looked at Jayne, “If you can possibly wait a little longer; you're still healing. Don't want your belly stitches ripping whilst making love. Very messy and you could damage something vital. Another week at least, please.” * They were interrupted by Junior, Melissa and Clarry bursting into the room, followed by Vera. “Gently, kids,” she began, “Your Pa's got a tender stomach.” Jayne lifted Junior onto his chest and held him first. Melissa and Clarry piled in on top, being careful of the I.V. line. There was a group cuddle for some time. Junior looked at his father, “You been asleep a long time. All better now?” Jayne mussed his son's hair, “Gettin' there. Be up an' about soon.” Simon nodded. After hearing how Jayne was feeling about half a dozen times and smothering him in kisses, the younger children left, led by Clarry. Simon gave Jayne a local and carefully removed the catheter, the acupuncture needles and the I.V. “Can I get up?” “Take it nice and easy, now.” Jayne grinned, “I was okay after a year in that bath after we got burned.” Simon nodded, “Yes; but you haven't had quite the same muscle stimulation this time. Go steady.” Jayne got up, scratching his chest. He wobbled a bit as he stood up, then accepted a brown bathrobe from Vera. “I could eat a *horse!” Vera chuckled, “Maybe something lighter to start with. Omelette?” “Mmm, with some of Ma's home-cured bacon in it 'n lemonade 'n summat for afters.” “Well, we've plenty of apples and I whipped up a fruit cake yesterday. There *should be some of that left if the gannets haven't got it!” Jayne threw an arm around Vera, “Your fruit cake? Haven't had some of that in a gorram long time!” They proceeded downstairs, taking it carefully. * Jayne sat at the kitchen table, letting himself being fussed over by his mother for once. He got himself on the outside of the food, being watched by Junior, Melissa and Clarry as well as several others. Mal joined him once he'd finished eating and the younger ones had gone out to play. “So...” Jayne nodded, looking at Vera and then Mal, “Cuttin' straight to the chase, Saffron was on that Skyplex.” “Wuh de mah! How in the 'verse had she gotten there?” Jayne shrugged, “I'm thinkin' she was one of the Missus Niska 'n they sprung her from prison somehow.” “Knowin' her track record, might have married the hwoon dahn for real.” Jayne grinned, “Who ain't she married, 'part from me?!” “We've lodged the ex-prisoners in hospital or with the authorities here. Some of them needed help talking about what had happened to them. The dogs and Camulus are wandering round outside.” Jayne sighed, “Ares didn't make it. Gonna need help layin' him to rest with full honours. He saved my ruttin' ass.” Mal's lips curved, “Simon helped.” “Yeah, but Ares helped get me out of the rubble alive. He's been a gorram great dog; the best.” Mal nodded, “We can do that. Better do it soon, when you feel up to it.” Jayne stretched and put his arms behind his head, “Now's as good a time as any, huh?” “I'll dig the hole with Cliff.” Jayne gestured, “Over by my Christmas tree. Better tell the kids.” Jayne filled Mal in on the rest of what he could remember of the Skyplex, but left out the stuff about seeing the light. * Jayne had something of a surprise when he walked carefully and somewhat gingerly out onto the verandah. To the north, on the other side of the small river which largely defined the upper limits of Cobb land, a hamlet was springing up. There was a school, several houses, a trading post and the characteristic dome of a multi-faith worship space, set up ahead of specific buildings like churches, temples and the like. A new dirt road led up to Andersonville Halt plus overhead power lines. There tended to be good winds on the Newhall plains, so all the buildings sported their own wind turbine and solar panels. At the northern margins of the new hamlet, Jennings' carnival Fireflies were visible, placed in a circle around the rising structure of the carnival itself. Jayne grinned, “Wuh de mah!” His father was sitting nearby, “Surprise!” “The kids from Ben Nevis up there?” Hillary grinned back and nodded, “Guess what they're calling it?” Jayne shrugged. “Cobbtown!” “Ta ma duh! After us?” “Well, that *was Cobb land way back, plus the kids were real enthusiastic 'bout the way you found 'em and rescued 'em.” “I ain't a hero, Pa. Just a merc who got lucky.” “You saved their lives, son. Makes you a hero to them an' your Ma and I. Most of the Ben Nevis kids have taken the Cobb name at their own.” Hillary gestured to where Junior, Clarry and Melissa were currently playing tag with Jessop's younger siblings, “Your kids think you're a hero too.” Jayne looked towards River, “So that's what the Albatross meant. Kinda my kids and kinda not.” * Junior spotted his father and ran over. Jayne sat down so that Junior could sit on his knee. He was trying to be the big hard-ass, but his belly was starting to hurt and he knew he couldn't pick Junior up right at this moment. Mal and Cliff started digging a hole near the tree. “They're making a hole!” Jayne held his son a little closer, “I know. I'm afraid old Ares' bullet wounds proved too much for the old lad.” Junior turned and threw his arms around Jayne's neck, “Simon can't fix him?” Jayne sighed, “Sorry, son. Once you're dead, you're dead.” Mal and Vera carried out the body of Ares, wrapped in a sheet. Junior hopped down and clung to his mother's leg, “Can I see?” Vera looked down at her son, “He's really dead, darling nu*.” Junior looked up pleadingly, “Please?” Vera carefully and slowly unwrapped the sheet, “I'll stop if you tell me to, Junior.” Junior looked down at the corpse, “He's gone.” “Yes, Junior.” Junior gently stroked Ares' fur, “He won't run again?” “Only if there's something like heaven for dogs.” “Bye, Ares.” Vera swallowed a lump in her throat, “Time to let his body feed the earth.” Junior nodded, “He's chasing lady dogs in heaven.” Vera managed a chuckle, “Probably, knowing Ares.” Jayne gently clasped one of Vera's shoulders. “He...erm...” Jayne cleared his throat conspicuously, “He's learnin' some tough things, mi mei gui.” Vera covered his hand with her own, “I know, but he took it really well. Probably have hordes of questions later.” Hillary smiled, “Sounds like Jayne at just over the same age. Twenty questions a minute!” * A small crowd gathered around to say goodbye to Ares. The Serenity crew and children plus quite a few of the wider members of Jayne's Newhall family. A Buddhist monk came over from the new hamlet and helped facilitate the funeral. Words were spoken, songs were sung. The other dogs gave Ares' body one last sniff. Water and alcohol were drunk and sprinkled into the grave on top of Ares. Clarry and Melissa added flowers. Tears were shed. The Buddhist monk gave a blessing and the hole was filled in with earth. Everyone just stood for a while, then gradually dispersed. Jayne went back to sit and rest for his healing on the verandah in the afternoon sun. He picked up one of his guns and started methodically taking it apart and cleaning it. Vera, Junior and Melissa sat nearby and shelled peas. It was apparently Melissa's turn to ask difficult questions, this time directed to the Buddhist monk, who had stayed to have a cup of black tea and some cake. “What happens when you die?” The monk had heard *that one before, “It's a mystery, Melissa.” “Is that like a secret?” The monk held up his empty cup, “See this? Imagine this is a living creature, like me.” He filled the cup with plain water, and gestured for Melissa to follow him to the river nearby. “When something dies, as I will one day, this happens,” he poured the water into the river. “Now where have I gone?” Melissa pointed, “You're part of the river.” “But which part?” “The stuff going that way.” She pointed in the direction of the current. He nodded, “That's as much as anyone knows.” “And the cup?” “That's the bit left behind; we love that because it held someone or something – like Ares – who we knew and loved. We tend to treat it with reverence and dignity, because the physical appearance was important to us.” Melissa frowned, thinking it through, “So Ares is part of the river now?” “It's a picture; of his spirit, his essence, his Ares-ness, returning to the Source from which it came. He and the Source of life are one.” “Is that like God?” “Ah. If by 'God' you mean a figure seated on a throne and angels, Buddhists don't see the Source of All that way. It's much closer to the river picture I've just shown you.” “Grampa says that Yesu was God.” “Yes, He was and is; and so are you.” “Oh.” Melissa walked quietly back to her parents, deep in thought. * Jayne's recuperation and healing proceeded quickly. He and Vera had done a fair bit of fondling and heavy petting in the last two weeks and now he was more than antsy to get back in the saddle. With the children and Serenity crew running all over the place, finding peace and quiet hadn't been easy. Even at night, Junior had been fitful after Ares' death. He'd resumed pumping iron and going for walks and runs; he could feel his muscles had filled almost back to how they'd been before he hit the Skyplex. Now he just needed about three days in the sack with Vera. He could tell she felt the same by the whispers and hot glances they'd been exchanging. Now for the cunning plan to be alone, and soon, gorrammit. Maybe his sneaky Pa or Ma had picked something up, because suddenly there was a huge overnight camping event; come one, come all, big cook-out, the works. Almost before Jayne had time to blink, Junior had his little suitcase packed and Melissa was begging to be allowed to go. He stood on the verandah with Vera and waved everyone else goodbye. * They stumbled into the kitchen and knocked over a large basin with kiddies' smalls and unders soaking in soapy water. They went down with it, in the wet and soap. Wet clothes got slowly peeled off as they slid on the slick floor. Every move against the floor created more suds. They humped slowly and deliciously in the suds, sliding to and fro. The first time was fairly quickly followed by a second, then they lay in a bower of suds and bubbles, grinning. “Gorram! If'n I weren't re-coop-eratin' I could use me a cigar after that!” Vera grinned at him, “You're the man!” Jayne grinned right back, “Ain't that the truth!”

*nu = child



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