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FRIENDS AND ENEMIES: 8. "Make and Mend"
Friday, April 4, 2008

"Inara rejoins the crew on Serenity. Jayne's recovery comes along in leaps and bounds while everyone worries about the Captain."


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1683    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

TITLE: "MAKE AND MEND" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: Mal. Jayne. Crew. RATING: PG-13. STATUS: Sequel to "ANOTHER NEEDLE" ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: AlisonMDobell@aol.com WEBSITE: None. All Firefly stories archived at Fireflyfans.net

SUMMARY: "Inara rejoins the crew on Serenity. Jayne's recovery comes along in leaps and bounds while everybody worries about the Captain." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.

"MAKE AND MEND"

"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

Inara couldn't believe it. She might have known that even in the mother of all storms Serenity and her crew would find trouble. Trying to project an air of calm she could not quite hide her worry as she quizzed Wash. The pilot's reluctance to go into too much detail only heightened her worry. "How bad is it?"

The pilot brightened. "*Hen hao*, well - now that we got them back."

Her heart missed a beat. "Back?"

Wash didn't want to have this conversation over an unencrypted line. "You comin' back, Inara? We've missed you."

Knowing she was being not so subtly redirected the Companion gave a nod. "*Qu*. The House Mistress wanted me to stay until morning but I'm ready to return now."

The pilot didn't smile and that struck Inara as wrong on so many counts. Before she could quiz him further, Wash glanced behind him then looked back at Inara. "Gotta go, sendin' you our co-ordinates now." He flashed an approximation of a smile. "See you soon."

For a minute Inara just sat staring at the cortex screen frustrated not by what Wash had told her but by the things he had not said. Rising to her feet she decided to forego the evening meal. The sooner she got packed and left the training house the quicker she could return to her adopted family. She might argue and pretend to the contrary but Serenity was more home to her than anywhere she had ever lived before. The people on that scruffy little Firefly closer to her than her own kith and kin. When that had happened she didn't know but from the moment she set foot on the ship it was like coming home. Now she felt she had been away too long, as if in some way her absence had been a kind of desertion. It was foolish and totally fanciful but Inara Serra knew she would not rest until she was back on Serenity.

* * * * *

Simon tried everything he could think of to keep Kaylee out of the infirmary but short of tying the mechanic up he was fighting a losing battle. No sooner would he coax her to leave than he would turn around to find she had crept back in. Her eyes large as saucers, face wet with tears and bottom lip trembling in a mix of fear and worry. He had to admit the Captain looked bad, most of his skin appeared to have been flayed with strips of skin left hanging in an obscene bloodied fringe. Only his face had not been cut and that was so bloated with swelling from numerous bruises he feared broken cheekbones to add to the litany of injuries covering the man's body. Kaylee could not look at him without crying and Simon did not dare to look away. The Captain's condition was not good and Simon would not promise miracles he might not be able to deliver. All he could do was tend the man night and day, catching what sleep he could snatch along the way.

By contrast, Jayne had come along in leaps and bounds. Although his face was still badly swollen and he was covered from head to foot in bruises miraculously none of his bones had been broken. A few ribs were bruised and the numerous cuts on his body had given Simon more worry about possible infection than the man bleeding to death. They were not as deep as they looked and appeared to have been inflicted more to cause pain and alarm that death. Simon knew Niska had simply been playing with Jayne until he used his favourite device to stop the man's heart. Unlike the Captain, the crime lord did not revive him but had dumped the mercenary's body over the cliff into the sea. That callous act had saved Jayne's life, the fall or rough and tumble of being swept against the rocks had somehow restarted his heart. It was the only explanation the doctor could think of for the fact that Jayne had been found breathing, albeit that he and Kaylee had thought he was surely dead.

As for the Captain death would have been more merciful than the living hell he was left to endure. Hardly sensate but always in pain there was only so much medication Simon dared give him. The boundary between life and death was too close to give him much leeway and he did not want to leave the man alone through the night because he feared Mal might die before he could reach him should his condition worsen. No one needed to ask the doctor how Malcolm Reynolds was doing, they could see it for themselves and that brought a subdued air of worry and depression to ship and crew.

"Kaylee," said Simon gently "you should sleep."

Kaylee sniffed as quietly as she could as she sat perched on a chair next to the Captain's bed, Her eyes were red rimmed and puffy. Carefully Simon kept a close eye on his patient, making sure his airway remained clear and administering small doses of painkiller when the man was in too much obvious distress. The doctor bathed the sutured wounds then air dried them so as not to apply any pressure to the over sensitised flesh. Jayne had been right. If they had left the rescue any later the Captain would have been little more than strips of flesh flayed from the bone. It made Simon boil inwardly with rage, glad that the monster Adelei Niska was finally dead but wishing they had ended him long before his evil hobby could get this far. He sighed and inwardly lamented that he could do little more. After hours of surgery sewing the man back together, blood transfusions and stopping some internal bleeding all he could do now was watch over his patient and ease his pain.

The biggest danger was from infection which was why Simon had insisted on allowing only one person to visit Mal at a time and only after they scrubbed their hands and faces and didn't sit too close to the Captain or touch him. Kaylee wanted to argue but one look at the state of her Captain and the words stuck in her throat, her airway constricting painfully as worry gripped her heart. Simon let her stay a few minutes then gently escorted her out. Kaylee just nodded, didn't speak or try to beg to stay longer.

When she stumbled into the commons room the others looked at her, all talk evaporating as if the hull had been breached. All eyes glued to her, begging for news but fearing what she might say. Kaylee swallowed painfully, tears brimming in her eyes as she bit her bottom lip to stop it trembling so bad she would not be able to speak. "He's still alive." Her voice broke and she shook, the movement spilling tears down her cheeks.

Shepherd Book went to her and put a steadying hand on her shoulder, the concern on his face making her want to sob her heart out but it was also a comfort. "Simon will pull him through, Kaylee."

"He just looks..." Kaylee broke off and gulped a breath. "I ain't ever seen him look that bad."

Zoe's expression was hard but her eyes were full of understanding, sympathy and barely contained anger. "Cap'n's tough. He'll pull through."

"If anyone can, Cap'n can." Wash added with forced brightness.

Silence fell and the pilot felt uncomfortable, as if even trying to put a positive spin on things had struck a wrong note. The Shepherd cleared his throat and looked at Wash. "Did you manage to reach Inara?"

The pilot's expression lightened a little. "Yeah, she's on her way back."

No one spoke again, the silence wrapping around them like a shroud. Kaylee sat at the table unaware she had moved. The others took their seats one by one, too stunned to know what to do but instinctively closing ranks. No one wanting to speak but needing to be together. River watched, the emotions too strong for her to filter, her own sorrow tossed on the same tide threatening to drown them all.

* * * * *

Londinium was much the same as the last time she had been there only Saffron was not going to the industrial district or the city's ugly underbelly. No, she had a very important appointment. The flyer she took to the estate on the outskirts was the newest model, the engine a quiet efficient hum whisking her to the area where those with both money and position led lives cushioned by wealth and privilege. She was dressed in fine silks, her hair done up in golden ringlets forming an elegant cluster on her head, jewellery glittering like little waterfalls of diamonds from her ears and neck. A servant met the flyer as the little craft landed on the manicured front lawn. Saffron waited until she was helped out of the craft and shown to the mansion, servants parting politely as she was shown into a tastefully furnished waiting room.

She sat on the edge of the richly upholstered chair and tried to wait patiently, her face highlighted with rouge but shining with barely concealed excitement. It seemed hardly a minute had passed before the servant returned and showed her into the study or inner sanctum. It had a heavy masculine feel to it, the deep red leather upholstery oozing strength while the heavy silk drapes and priceless antiques bespoke an obscenity of wealth that made Saffron almost dizzy with the scent of it. Heavy velvet curtains hung from rods of gold. A fine wine was opened and left to breathe in an ornate silver cradle. And sitting watching her from her mahogany armchair Lady Niska watched through sharp bright eyes that missed nothing. Neither spoke until the servant gave his mistress a polite bow and left the room, quietly closing the door behind him.

"If you are here I assume you were successful."

"Yeah, though I was surprised at the order to kill."

Lady Niska raised an elegant brow. Her high cheekbones and haughty manner speaking of old money and a history of family connections that probably disappeared back into the mists of time to Earth-that-was. Position didn't phase Saffron. Money didn't cow her. But power, power was like a drug addiction and she had to have her fix. Whatever the cost just so long as she was not the one having to pay. It was a game. Though not one for the faint hearted. Lady Niska gave a small shrug. "He was my favourite nephew."

Saffron watched the woman pour the wine, her long elegant fingers so finely kept and manicured that they did not belie her age. Her face though held the map of every journey she had travelled. Lady Niska handed Saffron a glass of wine then paused as she took a sip of her own, her eyes watching the young conwoman closely over the rim.

"I can always get another husband."

Saffron's eyes widened, Lady Niska's candour surprising laughter from her lips. Lady Niska raised an eyebrow in query: Saffron had not touched her wine. She smiled knowingly at her host. "Business first."

Lady Niska gave a quick grin, flashing teeth like a shark. Her voice mild, melodic and polite. "*Dang ran*." Putting her glass in her left hand, Lady Niska tugged on a tapestry pull beside her chair with the right. Seconds later a servant appeared. "Fetch the casket."

The servant nodded and left. A minute or so later he returned with the object and placed it on the table before his mistress then gave a little bow and let himself out again. Lady Niska took a key from the folds of her robe and unlocked it, lifting the lid and turning the casket so that Saffron could see the platinum neatly stacked inside. Saffron's eyes glittered and a genuine self satisfied smile spread across her face. The two women locked gazes. "Million square job."

"Success should always be rewarded, yes?"

"Oh yeah, I couldn't agree more."

And Saffron. Master con artist and thief extraordinaire was nothing if not successful.

* * * * *

Inara's shuttle finally docked with Serenity, the worry niggling at her since speaking with Wash ran rampant as she stepped through the hatch. Tension throbbed in the air, the unnatural silence making her heart thud painfully in her chest. *Renci de Fozu*, what in the nine hells had happened? Shepherd Book met her, his eyes sorrowful and manner grave. With a nod of greeting he blocked the catwalk.

"Inara, I need to speak to you for a moment."

Her eyes widened. "*Shenme shi*?"

The Shepherd waved a hand back towards her shuttle. "Perhaps we should have this conversation in private."

Now a deep fear gripped her. With a nod she turned and went back into her shuttle, Shepherd Book following her and closing the hatch. Inara turned and faced him, a look of determination on her face. "Just tell me."

"You might want to sit down."

Inara felt a tremble go through her but refused to sit. Her nerves were on edge and she needed answers now. "*Bu qu*, just spit it out."

She was surprised to see Book hesitate. "The job was a set up. Jayne and the Captain were captured but the rest of us got away."

The Companion found herself sitting without realising it, her legs going weak. "Captured by who?"

"Niska."

She put a hand to her throat, eyes wide with alarm. "What happened?"

"They were tortured."

"Are they still...?"

He shook his head. "No, we managed to rescue them."

A surge of relief swept through her until she saw the look on the Shepherd's face.

"What aren't you telling me?"

"It was bad, Inara. I won't lie to you, we almost lost them."

"*Tianna*, what did that twisted *tamade hundan* do to them?"

"Best you not know."

The breath caught in her throat and for a moment Inara could not breathe. Shepherd Book reached out and touched her arm, a look of concern on his face.

"*Duibuqi*, I didn't mean to alarm you but you need to know before you see the others."

"Is anyone else hurt?"

Book shook his head. "No, thank goodness, but the Captain's in a bad way. Simon's doing all he can but I should warn you it may not be enough."

The shock hit her hard. For all the needle sharp sparring they did, Inara had a healthy respect and liking for Serenity's Captain. By turns attracted and repulsed by the man but drawn to him all the same. Now, hearing that there was a good chance he could die, Inara was overwhelmed with the need to go to him but she couldn't move. Slowly she reviewed everything the Shepherd had said, appreciating the way he simply waited patiently for her to take it in. "You said Jayne was injured as well?"

"*Qu*, there we have some good news at least. Although he was very poorly when Simon and Kaylee found him he's coming along in leaps and bounds. Neither he nor the Captain are pretty but Jayne isn't in any danger now. Simon is pleased with his progress."

For a moment neither spoke then Inara straightened in her chair, back stiffening, eyes fastening on the Preacher's. "Now, I want you to tell me everything that happened and don't leave anything out!"

* * * * *

Jayne Cobb didn't think there was the tiniest bit of his body that didn't hurt. Yet that didn't bother him none, it was the quiet weeping that was more unsettling. Every time he moved it halted as if whoever it was didn't want him to know. Irritation quickly gave way to intrigue. Not nobody had ever cried over him 'cept his ma when he got beat so bad the local doc had to reset the bones in his arms. It weren't a bad fight just the bully's friends turning up at the end of it before he could knock Billy Higgs into a cocked tin hat. He had been eight at the time, that was when he had decided he had to learn to fight. Not nobody was ever gonna get the drop on him again. Only this time someone had and that person was the sickest, nastiest, most perverted sumbitch in the whole 'verse.

That thought brought him fully awake. The noise stopped but he didn't notice, recent memories flooding his brain pan. Gorramit, what had happened to the Captain? Was he dead or still in that *liumang's* hands? He turned his head and caught a vague shadow shifting at his bedside but had to roll onto his side to see who it was, that being his still swollen right eye.

"Jayne? You okay?"

He recognised the hesitant but cautiously wary voice. Kaylee. Might have known the soft hearted girl had been the one to shed tears over him. "Yeah." He paused to clear his too dry throat, surprised when half a glass of water appeared in front of his face. He frowned at the glass straw and squinted up at Simon Tam. "Don't need to drink outta no gorram straw."

Simon smiled and exchanged a look with Kaylee. The mechanic grinned back. Jayne must be on the mend if he was up to insulting the man who had saved his life. Without Simon's intervention he would have died. Instead of removing the straw, Simon edged it up to the big man's lips and waited for him to open his mouth. As soon as Jayne went to speak the straw slid between his cracked and swollen lips and he found himself sucking automatically, his battered and bruised face softening into a less fiercesome grimace. Kaylee liked to think it was a smile. Jayne drained the glass too quickly and frowned at it, wondering why the good gorram it hadn't been full.

"Not too much too quickly, Jayne."

"Still thirsty." The mercenary croaked as if that was Simon's fault. Before Simon could tell him why it was a bad idea to drink too much Jayne asked after the Captain. "Where's Mal?"

Kaylee sniffed in the background but Jayne ignored her, his good eye fixed on Simon, knowing he could probably pick up more information from the doctor's reaction that the fancy words coming out of his mouth. Simon put the empty glass down with exaggerated care. "To tell you the truth he's not so good."

Jayne wanted to sit up but Simon didn't help him and he couldn't manage it on his own. Wasn't gonna ask for help, leastways not from the doc. He'd wait until the Shepherd came visiting. "He gonna live?"

A warning look flitted across Simon's face but Jayne ignored it. Trying to spare Kaylee's feelings was a waste of effort considering the state they must have been found in. "I had to put him through several hours of surgery just to treat the worst of his wounds. The cuts were all over his body, some almost to the bone."

"But he's gonna be fine, *dui*? Man's too *wangu* to die."

Simon Tam sighed softly and seeing the worry and sadness on the doctor's face made Jayne fall silent. He wouldn't admit it but in the time he had been on Serenity the place had become more than a place to stay as he went from job to job with the Captain and crew. It had become home and their crazy but oft' times noble Captain the nearest thing Jayne had to a friend in a long time. Sure, him and Book were friends, drawn together by a kind of mutual respect and liking but Mal was more like himself. Making the tough decisions others wouldn't or couldn't make and though they butted heads from time to time Jayne respected him. Didn't like the thought that he might be looking for a new employer soon. Didn't like to think of the gap that would leave whether he stayed with the rest of the crew or moved on. He was surprised by how much the notion actually hurt.

"We have to take one day at a time, Jayne. Once the Captain is strong enough I need to operate again."

"Huh? Thought ya said ya did surgery on him already?"

"Yes, I did, but he's lost a lot of blood and there is only so much I can take from Wash."

Kaylee moved up to Simon's side and looked at Jayne. "We all wanted to help but Wash is the only one with the Cap'n's blood type."

Jayne was about to say 'what about me' but Simon was already shaking his head, not that he would take blood from one bleeding to death patient to give to another. "You aren't a match, Jayne."

"Who ain't a match?"

Three startled faces turned to look at the only other occupant of the infirmary. Simon had put Mal over to the far side, away from the door, to give the man what little privacy he could. Propped up on pillows and looking like road kill, Serenity's Captain was obviously conscious though breathing had become something of an olympic sport. Simon was surprised but pleased to see him conscious and tried to put the oxygen mask back over his face but the Captain weakly pushed his hand away. Frustrated, Simon snapped at him. "Will you let me do my job? Just breathe as deeply as you can, that's it, nice and calm."

The Captain peered up at Simon through half glazed bloodshot eyes. "You're lucky I need a gorram doc..." he slurred.

"What you actually need," said Simon testily but without much heat "is a psychiatrist and a padded room. Unfortunately the infirmary is the nearest thing I could find now sit still, I need to take your blood pressure."

Winded by even that much effort the Captain's head sank back into the pillows. He wasn't really annoyed at Simon just didn't like being fussed over. On some level though he was grateful to the man and his shiny expertise. Not that it would be a good thing to say so, him being such a pain in the *pigu* when the notion took him. Another face loomed over the side of his infirmary bed, serious eyes sparkling with a hint of mischief as the pale moon of a face broke into a little smile. "Bad temper fading as memory returns. A good sign."

"River, I don't think the Captain is up to a visit."

Naturally the little Reader ignored him and drew up a chair. "Nearly lost you."

Mal raised an eyebrow and ignored how it tugged at the stitches over his eye. "That so?"

She nodded, Kaylee coming to stand alongside her. As the Captain shifted his gaze from one girl to the other the mechanic gave him her brightest smile. "Had us all worried."

The Captain would have replied but the mask was firmly back over his face and the need to suck in oxygen took precedence to being stubborn and passing out. He missed the little smile of satisfaction on Simon's face when he found himself too weak to struggle.

* * * * *

Even if Inara had suspected Book of exaggerating she would have jettisoned the idea the moment she set eyes on Zoe and Wash. The first mate looked pleased to see her, relieved almost and that was a little unsettling. They were friends but not really close, not like she was with River, Simon, and Book. Wash was a hard one to pin down which should have been a surprise given how outgoing and friendly he was. There was more depth to Serenity's pilot than a smiling face and kindly demeanour. Inara had found that out when they had stormed Niska's Skyplex.

"There's something else you should know before Simon lets you see the Cap'n."

Inara looked from face to face, not sure what she was getting herself into. Wasn't it bad enough that Niska had almost killed two of the crew? How much worse could things get? They went back into her shuttle only this time no one closed the hatch. Stunned, Inara listened while Zoe brought her up to speed. The Shepherd had told her about the job and how it had been a set up with the Captain and Jayne getting caught in the trap but the others slipping through the net. Heard all about the problems caused by the violent storm, Book's unsuccessful search for their missing crew in one of the old ruined mines. The snow making a bad situation worse as they were forced to wait until they could lift off in the shuttle, then the call from Serenity telling them Jayne had been found and the ship was coming to them.

The Companion listened in silence, eyes widening as the whole sorry adventure unfolded. Then Zoe told her about the wave.

"Saffron?" Inara frowned. "What does that little *pofu* have to do with this?"

Wash grimaced. "Actually if she hadn't waved an' told us where Niska was holdin' the Cap'n we wouldn't have found him in time."

"Saffron did go with River to help place explosive devices around Niska's ship." The Shepherd added helpfully. Used to playing the Devil's Advocate he ignored the disbelieving look on Inara's face.

Inara was confused. That didn't sound like the Saffron she knew and hated. "She did? Who was holding a gun to her head?"

A little smile quirked up the corner of Zoe's lips but it soon vanished. "Actually she wasn't bein' completely altruistic."

"Why am I not surprised?"

When no one answered, Inara narrowed her eyes. "What did she want in return?"

* * * * *

Kaylee Frye felt better than she had in a long while. Having Jayne awake and bitching, then the Captain waking up was like Christmas coming early. All the worry and fretting she had been doing was pushed to one side. No way the Captain would die now, not now he had regained consciousness. Between the man's stubborn nature and Simon's dedication and skill no power in the 'verse would stop him recovering. Might take a little while but what did that matter? Simon smiled at the sparkle in Kaylee's eyes, relieved to see the little mechanic looking so happy and hopeful again. She didn't even argue when Simon insisted she and River now go and let his patients rest.

As they stepped out on to the catwalk, Kaylee's head snapped round at the sound of Inara's voice raised in disbelief and barely contained anger. "You gave her WHAT?"

River rolled her eyes. "Cat's out of the bag." Confused, Kaylee stared at her friend. "It is?"

River nodded and grabbed Kaylee's hand then grinned, the two girls breaking into a run as they hurried towards Inara's shuttle.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*hen hao* = very good *qu* = yes (lit. go) *dang ran* = of course *Renci de Fozu* = merciful Buddha *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *tianna* = oh God! *tamade hundan* = fucking bastard *duibuqi* = sorry *liumang* = bastard/asshole/criminal/gangster *dui* = correct *wangu* = stubborn *pigu* = bottom *pofu* = bitch

COMMENTS

Saturday, April 5, 2008 5:01 AM

SLUMMING


Excellent tale! I'm glad to see your take on Mrs. Niska, as you know I have a fondness for the idea of her myself. :-) Anyway, I eagerly await more!

Sunday, April 6, 2008 1:23 PM

MISSJASADIN


oh my oh my!!
i read this chapter before the others and now i need to no more!!
update soon!

Monday, April 7, 2008 2:15 AM

JANE0904


At last they're all safe, and apparently on the med. The description of Mal's injuries was suitably gruesome, and Lady Niska? Great idea!

Monday, April 7, 2008 12:26 PM

NINAC


Sweet! Poor Cap'n...
Great chapter!
~


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