BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

GUILDSISTER

Blue Sun Job, Part 26: Interactions
Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The big damn plot twist. And... Inara and Mal take to bed together???


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 3407    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Blue Sun Job, Part 26: Interactions

Sequel to the
Truthsome series (link is to part 1)
Blue Sun Job, Part 1: Plans and Schemes
Blue Sun Job, Part 2: Into the Lion’s Den
Blue Sun Job, Part 3: Going Smooth
Blue Sun Job, Part 4: Return to the Core
Blue Sun Job, Part 5: Life That Was
Blue Sun Job, Part 6: More Life That Was
Blue Sun Job, Part 7: ...and Robberies That Were
Blue Sun Job, Part 8: Zoe’s Tale
Blue Sun Job, Part 9: More of Zoe’s Tale
Blue Sun Job, Part 10: Going In
Blue Sun Job, Part 11: Home Again...
Blue Sun Job, Part 12: Waiting
Blue Sun Job, Part 13: Bushwhacked Revisited
Blue Sun Job, Part 14: Two By Two
Blue Sun Job, Part 15: Give the Devil His Due
Blue Sun Job, Part 16: The Edge
Blue Sun Job, Part 17: Going Through the Motions
Blue Sun Job, Part 18: Never Leave
Blue Sun Job, Part 19: The Bottom
Blue Sun Job, Part 20: Countdown
Blue Sun Job, Part 21: PS1467
Blue Sun Job, Part 22: X1823
Blue Sun Job, Part 23: Fallout
Blue Sun Job, Part 24: The Wrong Side of Normal
Blue Sun Job, Part 25: In Trouble

Chinese:

No critical dialog using actual Chinese characters, just exclamatory expressions

他妈的 = ta ma duh = f*ck (used for all variations)
狗屎= go-se = crap
懂吗? = dong ma? = do you understand?


Blue Sun Job, Part 26: Interactions
靑日 Job: Interactions

“No,” Simon said again to Zoe. “But...”

Mal stirred, cutting him off. “Well, I heard him wrong, then. Or imagined it,” he said to Zoe.

“Or Harken was lying,” Zoe said. “A trump card to play on all of us? To break us? Or Wash?”

“But he didn’t... it was right at the end. Don’t see how he had a percentage in saying such a thing just then,” Mal said. Simon saw him rub his head, obviously struggling with elusive memories. “Didn’t actually say your name, just said ‘she’.”

Their eyes met for a moment then in unison turned to Simon. “Kaylee?” Mal and Zoe shot the question like a bullet at Simon.

“Uh... no... Not Kaylee.” Simon stumbled. “Let me finish. Please.”

They both stared at him, waiting.

Simon realized he’d never had to tell a woman such a thing. It was completely beyond his realm of medical expertise. It was so much easier to extract bullets and stitch up wounds than to...

“I’m sorry, Zoe. There was... you were... It’s... umm...” Simon fumbled for the kindest way to say this.

Zoe scrutinized him with one of her emotionless soldier-expressions, but it was the captain who said, clearly issuing an order, “Just say your piece plainly, doctor.”

“All indications are that there was--however briefly, no more than a week--an... embryo.” Gads, don’t get either of them thinking of it as a ‘baby’, Simon thought with sudden alarm. This entire situation was already laden with too much volatility without introducing that concept.

Zoe blinked but her expression didn’t vary even a millimeter--stone cold and controlled. “You’re saying I was pregnant but now I’m not? That it?”

Mal wore what Simon thought of as his ‘backing down Jayne’ expression. Simon found it every bit as unnerving as Jayne did.

Simon suppressed moan. “Yes and no. I’m sorry,” he repeated. “This is something that normally you would never have even known had taken place, and it’s far more common than is generally realized. It takes the most sophisticated of internal scans to detect an embryo in the early days of its formation...”

“Scans like the Alliance might do on a female prisoner,” Zoe said, glancing at Mal. “They ran me over good. Didn’t say a word, though.”

“他妈的. Gorram sumbitches,” the captain said.

“Why would a military cruiser have...?” Simon began.

Mal cut him off. “Those ships are huge, doctor,” he said in a flat tone. “They even have nurseries in them. They’d have any such-like high-tech gadgets as they’d care to use.” He looked off away from them a moment and Simon was surprised to see it was the captain who seemed to be trying to regather control while Zoe still appeared chillingly serene. What was going on with these two?

“What happened?” Mal asked. “Why... And how do you know? And did they do something to... to make it not go right?”

There was no mistaking the definition of ‘they’ the way the captain used it. “No. No,” Simon said hastily. “Nothing that was done to Zoe, not the treatment, however harsh it may have been, nor the sedative she was injected with, could have caused the embryo to fail. I examined her thoroughly on your arrival back on Serenity so I ask you to believe me on this.” The idea that they might just turn the ship around and launch an attack on an Alliance cruiser flitting suddenly through his mind. The captain had a look just that deadly in his eyes. “You see, in the earliest of stages, there’s simply a collection of undifferentiated cells. It’s not a truly viable embryo until it reaches the stage called ‘blastocyst’ which is on about the fourth day after conception, when the embryo reaches the uterus. Barring a reproductive clinic’s resources, this is, with our current best technology employed, the earliest such an embryo could be detected.”

“Be about the day we were arrested, if what the doc says is right,” Zoe said softly to Mal. “It would have been conceived the day we went down to Beta.”

Mal let out a low groan. “That’s what the bastard meant by ‘interesting timing’. 他妈的. Trump card and he just didn’t play it. Maybe you were right about him.”

Hesitantly, Simon went on, “About the sixth day, implantation takes place and certain hormones are generated… and....”

Simon swallowed hard as he took in the two cold, dark expressions boring into him. “It simply failed to successfully pass that stage. It’s not something I’d have found even on a routine exam... it’s just that you asked me to specifically look.” He turned to his equipment to escape the stares. “I.. I did a blood test on you while you were sedated,” he said to Zoe, “and it did show a slightly elevated level of hCG, though not distinctive enough to cause note, and now the level is decreased even more. With the internal scan I did…” He looked back and forth at them, feeling more and more uneasy about his explanation of the delicate subject, and their reactions, or lack thereof. “It truly wasn’t anything that was done to you, not even the stress of the situation. It was simply a natural event gone awry. Nothing you did or didn’t do caused it. It was just...”

“Not meant to be,” Zoe whispered so softly Simon almost didn’t hear her.

“God’s will…” Mal said, equally low.

“One of those things. Really for the best.” Zoe again. Both wore thousand light year distant stares.

“Doesn’t mean a damned thing.” Mal, barely audible.

Simon looked back and forth between them wondering why they sounded like they were reciting lines from an old script.

“I, uh, can go over the methodology I used to determine...” Simon began.

“Not just now, doctor,” Mal said low, not looking up.

Then he did glance up, giving Simon a ‘back off’ with a flick of his eyes. Simon snatched up a few item of his equipment to give himself an excuse to move away. Crossing to the farthest corner of the infirmary, he fidgeted with the equipment, watching the captain and Zoe out of the corner of his eye. He tried not to listen even as he strained to hear what they were saying to each other.

They whispered low and intensely. Simon almost turned and openly gawked when Mal suddenly clasped Zoe’s hand. He had never seen them do that, but this whole night was buffeting him with ‘nevers’. He heard Wash’s name invoked and it sounded as though it was the captain who was saying it and saying it in an insistent tone. What…? Simon didn’t like to think it, but he couldn’t help but wonder whose this brief flicker of life--um… this barely differentiated cluster of cells--had been? The captain and Zoe doing… that. It was a disturbingly dissonant thought. Hadn’t they said they had never

Then the intonations escalated into what was clearly an argument, though still held in voices so low that Simon could only make out scattered words. “…not until…” “…own damned business…” “…you swear…” The captain and Zoe arguing? Did that happen? In the time he’d been on Serenity Simon could not recall a single outright argument between the two--at least not in public. As this night made so vividly clear, what took place in private might be an entirely different matter.

Finally, Simon saw the captain raise his hands in the universal gesture of surrender and step back away from Zoe. She jerked on her clothes and dashed toward the door.

“Zoe… please,” Simon called, as she unlatched the door and slid it open. “We need to discuss…”

The door slid back closed with a bang. “Later, perhaps,” Simon finished, looking over toward the captain.

Now what? Mal stood stock still by the exam table for several seconds, his expression utterly unreadable to Simon. Then, inexplicably, he turned to the cabinets on the far side of the infirmary and began rummaging through them.

“Can I help you find something, captain?” Simon tried to sound as distantly professional as possible while he idly wondered if he really ought to be working out a way to flood the entire ship with some sort of tranquilizing gas.

Mal stopped, facing away, with his hand on one of the cabinet doors. “I’m looking for something, doctor, that will put me out--asleep--for about eight hours,” he said coldly, adding, “With no dreams.”

“I see,” Simon said slowly and quietly. He understood. That’s what Mal and Zoe had been arguing about. She wouldn’t leave until he promised. Was that what this unusual interlude between them had been about? Not the improprieties that had been foremost on Simon’s mind, but a night of comfort between two old… what? Colleagues? Comrades? Simon found it oddly soothing to have another explanation for the night’s proceedings to cling onto. The idea that the captain and his first officer had been actively engaged in betraying the ship’s pilot just didn’t fit properly in the Serenity Simon thought he knew.

Pulling open a drawer nearby, Simon looked over his diminished stocks, selecting a small bottle. “Here,” he said, tossing it to the captain. “Half a one will just… take the edge off.” And you direly need it. “Two will put you asleep. Dreams are necessary to proper rest, but they should be,” he hunted for the best word, “unmemorable.”

Mal nodded tersely. Simon watched the captain closely as he paused, squeezing the bottle tightly, but apparently working on something else. He closed his eyes and let out a small sigh, then haltingly asked, “Doctor… how could…?”

“Are you asking how Zoe could have conceived… by accident? Which I assume it was,” Simon said. The captain didn’t meet his eyes, but nodded. “Captain… Mal… if it weren’t for ‘accidents’ ninety percent of the human race wouldn’t exist. It happens. Especially if she’s preparing to actually… intentionally…” The captain glanced up at him. Simon received a look that was purely enigmatic, but telling enough just from that.

“Uh… thank you, doctor,” the captain muttered, starting for the door.

Simon moved to intercept him. “Captain. Wait.” Mal stared at him. “Zoe hasn’t consulted me about any of these… matters. I need to… well, for one thing I need a medical history. A complete one.” He paused, then took the leap, emphasizing his words, “A truthful one.”

“Why?” Mal demanded.

Not letting the ‘backing Jayne down’ expression throw him, Simon met it steadily. The arrogant confidence of the captain against the arrogant confidence of a doctor? The match could have gone on a long time, but Simon broke it, saying, “I need to know if she has a history that suggests a pattern of such… incidents… If there is, I need to know so I can work with her to avoid a repeat of such situations. Can you tell me…”

“Why you askin’ me?” Mal cut him off.

“Because Zoe has obviously not been forthcoming with me,” Simon said. “And you’re not only her… well, you clearly know more about her than anyone else--” including her husband “--and, after whatever this was I witnessed tonight, I suspect you can answer, and, to be blunt, you’re the captain of the ship and I think it’s your responsibility just as it’s mine as ship’s medic” Simon regarded the captain coolly. “There are things a doctor can tell from doing an exam such as I just did. I know there’s been a previous...”

Mal gave a small, bitter laugh and looked away. “Always something coming back to bite you in the ass,” he muttered, to himself, not to Simon. He looked back up. “Yeah, I know. Heard something similar before, from one of our docs early on in the war. Don’t see how it makes no nevermind, though.” Before Simon could untangle the grammar in that sentence, the captain added, “It’s late and this ain’t the time to be dealing with this. I’ll see that she gets with you on this, but for now can we just say you’re right in the notion that she ain’t no heifer and leave it at that?”

He reached for the door handle, but Simon caught hold of it first. “No,” he said emphatically.

“Why?” The captain was barely containing his anger.

Simon scowled. “Because I have no idea what you just said.”

“他妈的! Cattle on the ship three weeks...”

“Those were steers,” Simon snapped. “I know what steers are.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet you do,” the captain muttered. Simon frowned. Mal looked back up at him. “A heifer ain’t had a calf yet,” Mal said clearly, in his talking-to-an-idiot-child voice.

“I see,” Simon said slowly. “And you’re saying, in ‘heifer’ terms, Zoe...”

“Ain’t.”

* * *

Serenity’s controls could not be touched in any manner that Wash couldn’t tell. Though there’d been a hand at the panel, but they were still locked and the ship continued on course undisturbed. One down.

He glanced at the closed doorway to the captain’s bunk. No. Last resort. Wash just wanted to find his wife, not find things he didn’t want to find, and wasn’t really ready to believe he would find. Turning down the stairs to the cargo bay, he wondered where on earth... on the ship, his wife could have gone.

A nearly empty bottle of Kaylee’s moonshine sat on the catwalk. A trail...

Down into the cargo bay, Wash walked quietly, watching and listening. The infirmary was closed down. Oh... the doc sometimes did that when he was with River in one of her states. Maybe she’d been at the ship’s controls, having an episode. Yes, the door to Simon’s room was ajar.

An unusual beam of light caught Wash’s attention before he turned back toward the cargo bay. Down the other passenger corridor the door to one of the unused rooms stood open, light streaming out. Curiouser and curiouser...

Edging down the passageway, Wash peeked in. 他妈的. The big double-bed was rumpled. No... no... couldn’t be. Zoe wouldn’t. No. No. No. Well, to be fair, the bed wasn’t that rumpled. No way in the ‘verse his Zoe could manage a romp and keep the bed this tidy. My god, what was he thinking? Not his Zoe. Never. Nevernevernever. Stepping in, Wash picked up the player. Listening to something in here?

He hit ‘play’. Stopped. Backed it up and hit ‘play’ again. Then Wash sat down hard on the bed, staring stunned at the player. He recognized the voices on it.

“Did you sleep with her?” “Yes.” “And do you love her?” “No.” “He’s lying.”

Wash wondered if it was possible to suffocate while sitting perfectly still in a large, well-ventilated room. His hand shook as he ran the recording back and played the passage again. My god.

A small sound at the doorway caused Wash to look up. Mal stood in the opening staring at Wash with a scary-dark expression. Not angry--well, yes, angry but not in his about-to-pull-a-gun-and-blow-someone-to-kingdom-come sort of way--but also not apologetic.

“Coming back to get this?” Wash asked, amazed his voice was so steady.

Mal nodded. Then he crossed the room, taking the player from Wash’s hand while Wash just stared up in numb astonishment. Where were the denials? The reassurances? The ‘nothing was going on it was all innocent we were thinking of you the whole time’ blathering?

Instead Mal ran the recording forward, stopping to play fragments as he hunted for something. When he found the place he was seeking, he tossed the player back at Wash, saying, “You want to listen? Start there. Then go see your wife. She needs you.” Then he turned away, shutting the door behind him just a touch harder than necessary.

Wash stared at the door, just breathing until his trembling quieted enough that he could hit the ‘play’ button again. Then he began to tremble for a different reason.

“There’s an incident that’s not in those papers you got there in front of you, from way back in the first years of the war. You wonder why my first officer--Zoe--still flies around with me? And it ain’t love or screwing or any of the other 狗屎 you got in your demented mind. Do you know what your people did to her?”

“Tell me,” Harken said in a whisper.

“Fine,” Mal said. “I’ll tell you.”

This story told in chapter 9

* * *

“Mal.”

Inara had seen Mal have many reactions to her, from the most poorly concealed desire to angry contempt, but she had never seen him act less happy to see her than he did just now. She heard him groan “now what?” all the way across the cargo bay when he heard her call his name.

After a long pause and a deep breath, Mal looked up at her. “What do you want, Inara?” He managed to mix tired, defeated, pissed off, and scornful in one brief sentence.

“Come up to my shuttle,” she said shortly, turning back in before he could refuse.

Inara stood waiting while Mal climbed the stairs and entered her shuttle. Mal closed the shuttle door behind him but stopped just inside the entrance.

She gestured. “Please sit.” Turning quickly away before he could protest, she fussed with her tea set, pouring into the tiny cups.

He displayed absolutely no graciousness or patience as he collapsed down on her long sofa, just sheer annoyance. He fiddled with a small bottle, studying it, turning it over and around, shaking it. Anything but to have to look at her?

Inara didn’t suppress a hint of a tender smile. Jayne’s comment about what Mal went through on the Alliance cruiser hadn’t really surprised her--Jayne’s awareness had, but that was another matter. While she was light on the details, Harken’s aide had given her a summary of what Mal had been put through and, as Jayne had pointed out, just the extreme to which he’d been pushed said much.

Setting one of the cups in front of him, which he pointedly ignored, Inara said, “I hoped we might discuss some things that…”

“Inara,” he said tiredly, setting the small bottle down sharply next to the teacup, “I ain’t wanting no more... no more anything tonight. 懂吗? No fights. No damned drama. And sure as hell no more gorram confessions.”

“That’s not why I called you in here, Mal,” she said softly, letting her voice flow in a melodically soothing way. “When I saw you were up I decided it might be good to just talk. I sense you need it.”

Apparently her calculatedly soothing tone did not pass unnoticed for Mal chuckled sarcastically.

“Gone from ‘wiles’ to ‘techniques’? That it, ‘Nara? You been talkin’ to Zoe? Or Jayne?” he asked giving her an up-down strip-her-bare-with-his-eyes leer. Just as she was attempting to play him--yes, with her Companion techniques, just not the ones that fascinated Jayne--he promptly lobbed one of his jackass, nasty challenges back at her, trying to throw her.

And, damn him, if he couldn’t tweak her into annoyance just that quick. Inara knew from his smirk he’d seen the flash in her eyes.

“Neither,” she said, glancing away to regain her control, “and both.” She fixed her gaze upon him again, resting a melty, caring--but not sultry--look on him. “And I’ve been listening to, and watching, you. I can see you’re troubled, and I know you’ve been through a terribly hard time these past few days. Let me help,” she ended on a soft, imploring note, reaching ever so gently to touch his hand.

Mal stared at her for a long moment. Inara absolutely couldn’t read his reaction. Strangely, he said, sounding formally distant, “Could I have a glass of water, please?”

“Of course,” Inara answered, puzzled. Standing, she moved to fill a small tumbler. She handed it to him, watching as he opened the bottle and shook out a tablet. He snapped it in half and swallowed it, chasing it down with a gulp of the water.

I’ll be damned, Inara thought. Of one thing she was certain, Malcolm Reynolds didn’t do anything randomly, especially where she was concerned. Sitting back down, Inara picked up the still open pill bottle, glancing at the label, she shook it and looked inside. Mal sat placidly, watching her with no expression. Inara recognized what these little tablets were and knew he’d just told her, more clearly than if he’d used words, that he simply could not deal with her right now.

Inara quelled her smile. “How long since you’ve had a good night’s sleep?” she asked.

“Does unconscious count? And why are you still up?” He glanced pointedly over toward her still-made bed.

Trying to divert her again, Inara thought. “I got off ship’s time this last week,” she said, still holding the pill bottle.

“Busy with the wh…”

“Don’t,” she cut him off. Inara played her gaze over him, studying, probing. Mal sat quietly, giving her nothing back. No opening.

Taking his hand in hers, she turned it over. Mal didn’t resist her touch, just watched her with mild curiosity but no interest. Inara carefully shook two of the tablets out into his palm, guiding his hand up toward his mouth. With a ‘what the hell’ sort of shrug, he gulped them down. She handed him the tumbler of water.

“Come with me,” Inara said, whispery soft. She held out both hands toward him.

It took all of Inara’s control not to be amused by Mal’s expression. “You have been talkin’ to Jayne,” he said. He frowned. “Or Zoe?”

Inara could no longer repress a chuckle. “I know what that is you just took, Mal,” she said, laughing lightly. “Believe me, nothing is going to be happening here but sleeping.”

“Great,” Mal murmured as she led him over to her bed. He sat down, looking up at her as she stood over him still holding his hands. “Finally get into your bed and you drug me outta the game.” He gave her a quick, mocking smirk. “But I ain’t sleeping yet,” he said suggestively.

Chuckling again, Inara could see the tranquilizer was already starting to affect him. “You also just took a twenty-five percent overdose,” she said. When he frowned, she hastened to add, “Don’t worry. It won’t hurt you.”

“Yeah… been hearing a lot of that lately,” he muttered. “Ain’t been true yet.”

“Lie back,” she ordered softly, pushing him down. He sank back, closing his eyes with a contented sigh. “Move over,” she said. He opened his eyes, looking at her curiously, but slid over to the middle, making room for her.

Inara curled up on the bed beside him, taking his hand in hers, she massaged it gently. His eyes drifted closed again. “This part of them Companion ‘techniques’?”

“Yes, it is,” she said, lightly working her way from his fingers to his palm.

Mal’s eyes snapped open, studying her sharply. “Uh…”

Smiling, Inara said, “Companions aren’t just… whores.” He scowled at her but listened closely. “We also are… companions,” she said, massaging her way down his hand to his wrist. “We offer support, comfort… whatever is needed to make the client feel good, happy, complete. Not just sex.” She encircled his wrist with her fingers.

“Mmmm…” He closed his eyes again. After a moment he murmured, “Don’t hold my wrist like that.”

Mal wasn’t pulling away. “There’s a pressure point, right here…” she pressed it, “that…”

Mal shook his head. “It’s not that,” he said, barely mumbling.

Inara glanced at his wrist. “Do the bruises hurt?” He shook his head slightly. “Oh,” Inara said, understanding. She moved her attention back to his hand, holding it very lightly, very cautiously. “It’s the feeling of restriction that’s bothering you, isn’t it?”

He nodded. “Just might make me react a little… strange,” he whispered.

“So, not much with the bondage games, I guess,” she said, pleased that got a genuine chuckle.

“Stop fighting it, Mal,” Inara murmured watching him closely. “Just relax and let it come.”

One eye quirked open, twinkling at her. “You’ll have to be a lot more naked for that,” he said.

“Oh, you!” Inara chuckled. She moved to stroking his arm in slow, soothing pets. “Just go to sleep.” She lowered her voice to a hypnotic murmur. “Let the dreams come, just hand them off to me. I’ll stay right here and take care of you.”

Mal sighed softly, almost gone. Inara sat still, automatically continuing her motions. She hoped to hell he hadn’t really just heard her say she’d stay.

Blue Sun Job, Part 27: Caught

COMMENTS

Tuesday, August 31, 2004 12:49 PM

AMDOBELL


Adore this story to itty bitty pieces and I just love the notion of Inara taking care of Mal, making sure he gets the rest he so desperately needs though I suspect she may be quietly questioning him while he is damn near asleep to get at the nightmares he hides from her. Good myth! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, August 31, 2004 2:46 PM

JEBBYPAL


well, wash's world is officially rocked...bit surprised was mal the one to do it...payback for the sleeping pills i guess.

Great as usual....can't wait to see wash's reaction...and what did mal whisper to Inara???:P

Tuesday, August 31, 2004 10:53 PM

NEROLI


Wonderful chapter, nice to know Wash is getting some of his answers. Even if they are not what he wants to here and not from who he wants to hear them from.

And lovely Inara/Mal interaction at the end. A little hint that the wounds can be healed, perhaps?

Thursday, September 2, 2004 4:15 AM

KISPEXI2


Every time I get to the end of a chapter of this glorious fic, it seems too soon. I am utterly engrossed from the very first word to the last. The emotions hit just as hard as any Joss put me through and the delights are just as delightful.

Poor Wash and poor, poor Zoe. I've often wondered whether Mal's sexual reticence is a result of things that happened/that he witnessed in the war, so I'm very interested to see where you're going with this particular thread.

And the Inara scene was so gentle, cute and loving.

You are officially banned from ever finishing this story.


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