Down the Rabbit Hole, Chapterette 14
Friday, January 11, 2008

Simon and Mal hiding from the Feds, awaiting rescue. Not slash. This chapter: Try not to faint, it's only a short chapter. Almost an interlude, but I couldn't cut it out. Still in the house, still not rescued. Thanks for reading.


Back to Chapter Thirteen --------------------------------------

Simon tapped his finger on the hover console. He had clambered up from beside the vehicle to scan, at Mal’s suggestion, for word on their manhunt. The news wasn’t encouraging.

“Flights have resumed, but we knew that. Ground searchers are being deployed, but it doesn’t give specifications. And it seems the highlight of our evening was attending a dog fight south of the port.” Simon grimaced. “That’s …philistine.”

“Don’ conjure we got… much time. Ready t’ move, need be?”

“We won’t need to,” Simon answered quickly. We won’t. “They’ll come.”

“I asked… ” Mal begain again, summoning his captain’s voice, “ ‘f you’re ready… t’move… ‘f need be.” Mal rested the gun Simon had restored to him on his stomach. “You’ll take the com… light…gun. Head for th’ woods. See if tha’ ol’ man… ha’ a shelter ou’ there.”


“Cave…dugout. Lean-to...”

“Mal, I won’t leave.”

“Doc, you got a sis …has nothin’ ‘tween this verse ’n’ her sanity…‘cept you. Now ‘m orderin’ you. Get rea’y.”

Simon stared unseeingly at the screen before him, the letters and numerals glowing obscenely. Mal’s delivery might have been halting, but his intention was clear.

It can’t have come to this. It can’t.

“There’s a chance.” The words rushed out as he tapped the screen again. “It’s only 4:30. There’s still time. There’s plenty of time.”

Mal coasted his thumb up and down the worn handle of his revolver, the small movement absorbing his full attention. “Ain’t talkin’ ‘bout the clock. Heat scan’s gonna bring… someone sooner.”

“You said that last night," Simon argued, "and they didn’t come!”

“Diff’rence ‘tween night…‘n day, Doc. Allll starts over… when th’ brass has their coffee. …Makes ‘em feel… mighty.


“So they’re gonna come…n’ you’re gonna leave. They don’ got my picture. I can…” Mal ghosted a smile, “ can charm my way out.”

You can’t. Not out of this.

“When they find that engineer, they’ll kill you.”

“Hope not. Shou’n’. Hell knows they shoul’… leave us ’lone.” Mal laughed, a harsh cough. “Gave both sides wha’ they wan’ed…didn’ I? Kill’d th’ engineer for the old man. Kill’d th’ old man for the Feds. Shou’ call it a draw… leave us go. But they won’t. They ain’t gonna.” He cleared his throat. “Wu hau ke shuo. Be a distraction, while ‘Nara gets you. You got the com?”

“I’m not going to leave, Mal. I won’t leave you here alone.”

“'n tha’ won’t help no one. Can’t worry on me. Been left t’ die plen’y a times. Plen’y.” His voice faltered. “Only worked but the once.” He gave another chilling cough of a laugh that shot through Simon.

“What are you talking about?” His voice came out edgier than he intended, but shàng dì bang zhù ta men Mal was veering again and that was not - they couldn’t have that now.

“Nue dài kuáng hun dan ying gai mó jù xin teng.”

“Mal?” Simon moved to crouch by Mal’s shoulder.

“Yeah?” Mal lolled his head toward Simon, revealing a small crooked smile.

“What are you talking about?” Bring him back, bring him back… “You haven’t died.”

“As’ River.”

“Ask River what?”

“Can’ keep secre’s from her. She knows.”

“Knows what? What does she know, Mal?”

“Who’s dead, who’s alive. Who’s dead even though… they’re alive. ‘cause there’s some… is like that.”

“You’re not making any sense. This is shock talking.” Simon scrambled for a pulse. Bù liáng. Bù liáng bù liáng bù liáng. “You can shake it off.”

“You g’head n’… believe that. She’ll know ‘bout you, too.”

“What does she know?”

“Wha’ no one else does. Wha’ he did. She says, ‘Huài nán hái, Adelai’.”

“Niska? Are you saying - Niska didn’t kill you, Mal. “Know that? Know wha’ happen’d?”

“Your ear. Electric shocks. Gouges.”

“Tha’s all?”

“You don’t know what you’re saying.” Simon was appalled at the shake in his own voice. “You’re confused.”

“Ravin’, yes. Your sis knows. Knows everythin’… happen’d there. Jus’ like she’ll know… wha’ happen’d today. Soon ’s she lays eyes on you.”

“You didn’t die, Mal. And you’re not going to die today.” He laid Mal's arm on a chest that was heaving with the effort of rapid breathing. The skin was mottled and cold to the touch, and Simon wished again that he had at least a blanket.

“Ain’t so bad," Mal said quietly. " As I recall."

“What’s that?”


“Death? Death isn’t so bad?”

"‘s quiet. Once it don’t hurt anymore.”

Simon felt goosebumps rise on his arms.

“Mal, no one died. No one’s dying.”

“I’d know, wou’n’t I? Know...better’n you think.”

“You didn’t die on the Skyplex, Mal. You’re here. We rescued you.”


“After what?”

“Broke his toy. Didn’t like that. Wanted to play more. So he fixed it.”

“Now you’re talking like River.”

“Hah. Mebbe she sai’ tha’. True, anyhow. Broke it, fixed it. See?”

“No.” Simon didn’t want to begin to see. There was something very dark that was trying to pass to him, and he didn’t want it. He wanted a rescue. He wanted a fight. He wanted the stubborn, infuriating, hell-with-the-odds Mal.

“She keeps tellin’ me you're smart and you’d unnerstand. That you’d put one an’ three together." He sighed. " ‘s better you ain’t. You ready to go?”

“One and three?” The phrase... Simon saw himself standing over Mal in the infirmary. Saw the wound in the center of Mal’s chest. The three punctures circling it.

“Something happened here, but it should have left him dead. These marks don’t add up.”

“Better that way.” River slid off the countertop and passed between Simon and Zoe, trailing her fingers along the medibed. “Sometimes putting one and three together breaks it. Here,” she touched the captain's chest, "and here," she whispered to the top of the unconscious head. “Breaks everything.”

“Mal. What happened with Niska?”

“Fig'r it out?”

“Whatever gave you those wounds…stopped your heart.”

“So I was tol’.”

“Then how -"

“Brough' me back. Luan hun dan. Plugg'd me in cause he weren’t done yet.”

“Brought you...yāo guài.” The air had left his lungs. We didn’t get there in time. Wasn't it only hours ago that he'd been lauding his role in saving the captain at the Skyplex. But it hadn't been in time. It was only due to the whims of a madman that there'd been someone to save. The rescue doesn’t always come. Simon sat down on the hover seat. The rescue doesn't always come, and Mal needed him to prepare for that. By running while he took the fall.

Mal was watching him, shadowed eyes all fatigue, hand resting again on his gun. No, damn it. This wasn't going to happen. He wasn't leaving Mal behind for the Alliance. And when he got back to Serenity, before they threw him off, he was going to let the crew know what had really happened on the Skyplex; just what Adelai Niska had done to their captain while they dragged their feet in freeing him, too slow. Just what happened when the rescue was late. What was happening to him now because tonight's heroics were taking too damn long. He realized too late that his intent was showing in his expression, in the tightness he now felt in his jaw.

“Simon.” A warning tone. "Don’ wan ‘em t’ know.”

“I think they should.”

“So’s they can feel guilty? Sorry?”

Horrified, Simon supplied mentally.

“Serves no-" Mal broke off with more coughing.

Dryness, Simon thought. Dehydration, insufficient oxygen, compromised respiration.

" - no purpose. Got the finest crew flyin'. Rather not be reminded I’m only here ’cause a warped son of a bitch had his say so." He stopped for breath, speaking taking an increased toll. "Story don’...bear repeatin’. We agreed?”

“Yes Captain, we’re agreed.”

“Now grab your gear. You gotta run.”

Simon exhaled a long breath as he reached for his gun. “I’m afraid it’s too late for that.”

On to Chapter Fifteen


Friday, January 11, 2008 4:13 PM


I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw a post so soon!

>“Broke his toy. Didn’t like that. Wanted to play more. So he fixed it.”

You fooled me! I read that and thought RIVER to the rescue!

This was actually a good length for this part. Very tender and touching. Those two are going to actually be friends, or at least understand one another better after this - provided they live!

Friday, January 11, 2008 6:27 PM


Awesome piec of writing here - every line was riveting. Simon's dedication was in full play and Mal couldn't have found a better way of getting through to him and preparing him than that story. Heartbreaking in its practicality and perfectly crafted. Wow. And what a terrible place to stop! This story was almost a contest of who has the bigger heart - Mal or Simon? So glad you didn't cut this chapterette out - it's one of the best parts!

Saturday, January 12, 2008 2:52 AM


Holy cow! Brilliant! I absolutely loved how the horror dawned on Simon when he realised what the Captain was saying actually happened on the Skyplex. And Simon's resolve not to leave Mal alone was both touching and typical of the man. It was also typical of the Captain that he didn't want Simon telling the crew because he didn't want them to feel guilty about something that was not their fault. I'm thinking Mal only mentioned that he had already died before so that Simon wouldn't feel so bad about leaving him this time, only like some of his other plans it backfired. Just hope rescue shakes its' lazy ass and gets their soon, especially as it sounds as if the bad guys had just shown up. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, January 12, 2008 2:54 AM


Ooops sorry, meant 'there' not 'their'. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, January 14, 2008 10:45 PM


Yes, Mal would never have told the others that he died on the Skyplex. It would seem like he'd lost, given in, despite it being nothing to do with him. Excellent part.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008 10:52 AM


I totally missed this post! Poor disoriented Mal, letting his secrets slip. I figured this was going to be an enlightening journey for Simon, but I didn't see it coming this way! And I never saw the Niska thing as a case of the rescue not being in time, but that is exactly what it was. That's a tough burden for any of them to bear!

I was a little confused by the end of this chapter. I mean, I understand what's happening, but I want to see or hear whatever it is that's got Simon reacting by reaching for his gun. Just a hint...

But now there's another chapter up, so I get to go see - weee!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009 5:16 PM


I almost don't know what to write. I've been gone a while, that goes without saying. But that's not the point. I wish, I really WISH that dialogue like this, that such attention to detail, existed in the movies, or on television. It's in the little things. Again, I'd do a disservice to repeat any one part, just suffice to say, I'm so sorry I've ignored this writing for so long.

Rob O.


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Simon and Mal hiding from the Feds, awaiting rescue. Not slash. This chapter: Try not to faint, it's only a short chapter. Almost an interlude, but I couldn't cut it out. Still in the house, still not rescued. Thanks for reading.

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