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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Jayne attends the memorial service in the settlement, and Jim makes some headway.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 720 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Jayne stood in the mid-afternoon sun of Whittier, a small trickle of sweat running down the center of his back. The freshly dug graves stretched out to the ends of the church grounds, stark testament to how many families had lost loved ones in the horror of the mountain camp. Listening to the shepherd’s sermon, Jayne could not help but think of Shepherd Book and the way he would have comforted the survivors in the settlement.
In a burst of generosity, Jayne forgave the droning shepherd his boring manner and made sure to nod appreciatively at all the right spots in the lengthy sermon. Looking out at the row of graves, he was struck again by the waste before him. These people had done nothing but come out to this planet to start a new life, and their hopes had been crushed under the heels of a group of half-savage men with a perverted kind of religiosity. Somehow, it did not seem right that the only price those mountaineers had paid was their lives. It seemed to Jayne as if that hardly evened the score, when he looked into the faces of the mourners at the gravesides.
As if sensing his thoughts, Inara slipped her small hand into his much larger one and squeezed gently, offering her quiet support. Jayne smiled at her, thinking her altogether the most beautiful creature God had put together as a slight breeze lifted the thin fabric of her veil. She returned the smile before turning her attention back to the shepherd.
Looking at the crowd that had gathered, Jayne saw a few faces that looked vaguely familiar, and he realized with a start that they were some of the men who had been chained in the enclosure with him. One of the men caught his eye, and gave him a nod of recognition. Jayne returned the nod, amazed by how different the man looked when he was clean and, more importantly, free. Looking more closely, he saw others that he recognized, some still with the look of utter defeat that had clung to them even after they started back down the mountain as free men, and others who seemed to be regaining their equilibrium despite the somber occasion.
Mal and River stood a distance behind Jayne, their hands intertwined as they too looked at the gaping holes in the ground that would soon welcome the victims of the descendants of the first settlers of Whittier. Unlike Jayne, who had not read the journal River found in Cyrus’ cabin, Mal saw both sides of the tragedy and silently wondered at man’s unerring ability to cause pain and suffering to other men under the guise of divine revelation. Though River had said she had confidence in his ability to teach Adam the things he needed to know to be a decent man, Mal sometimes wondered if he truly did have such ability. Adam had seen so many horrors in his young life, things that would make a grown man question his belief system. And yet, for all that, Adam retained an innocence that shook Mal to his very roots. Shaking those thoughts out of his head, he turned his attention back to the preacher in time to see the man bow his head in a final prayer. Mal watched as the settlers followed suit, bowing their heads in prayer for their dead. And standing there in the slight breeze, he wondered if God would ultimately hear their pleas.
“Would be mighty obliged if you’d stay to supper with the congregation,” Shepherd Bennett said to the Captain. “If it hadn’t been for you and your folk, I shudder to think what would have happened. What did happen was bad enough, affecting nearly every family in the settlement one way or another, but if it had continued…” He shook his head, at a loss as he considered his grieving parishioners.
Glancing at River, Mal said, “We’d be more than glad to stay to supper, but we have two little ones at home who are probably gettin’ a mite antsy to see their parents.”
Bennett nodded. “As you like, Captain Reynolds, but rest assured that you’re welcome at our table any time.”
“’Preciate it, Shepherd,” Mal said, shaking the man’s hand and turning to go.
“But Mr. Cobb, surely you can stay with us for supper,” Shepherd Bennett pressed. “You and your….” He hesitated, not quite sure of what to call Inara. “Friend,” he finished.
Jayne glanced at Inara, who inclined her head almost imperceptibly. “Be glad to,” he answered.
Bennett clapped him on the back. “Some of the men that were in the camp have told me about your bravery, and the way you stood up to those vile men. I expect the Lord was fighting on your side.”
Jayne scratched his beard thoughtfully. “Don’t know about all that,” he said. “But I can tell you I’m more than glad to be outta’ that place.”
Bennett nodded sympathetically. “I would imagine so,” he said, herding Jayne and Inara toward a large table groaning under the weight of dishes that his parishioners had provided. “Dig in, Mr. Cobb. The Bible says that a workman is worthy of his wages.”
Grinning, Jayne picked up a plate.
“Let me do it,” Kaylee said, batting Zoe away from Jim’s bed with a smile. “You know you shouldn’t be pullin’ on things just yet.”
Zoe stepped back, struck by Kaylee’s common sense. Watching with delight as Kaylee took one arm and Simon took the other, she smiled at Jim as they pulled him into a sitting position. Though he had said nothing since awakening, she could see the light behind his eyes, the undefinable spark that was Jim at his very core. Propping him up on pillows, Simon and Kaylee stepped back to view their handiwork. Jim’s head wobbled slightly, as if he was fighting vertigo, and then he slumped to the side. Simon jumped forward, catching him before he fell off the bed.
“Doc?” Zoe asked, not needing to finish the question.
“It could be an effect of the meds,” Simon said. “Or perhaps just that he has lain on his back for so long. A patient can experience a certain amount of dizziness after a long period of unconsciousness.”
“Or?” Zoe asked, sensing that Simon was leaving something unspoken.
“Or it could be an effect of the trauma,” Simon answered. “The parietal lobe regulates a person’s orientation to the objects around him. It could be that Jim’s perception of distance and space is somewhat impaired. I’ll have to do some tests to determine which of those things it is.”
Zoe nodded, maintaining eye contact with Jim, who listed slowly to the other side of the bed until Kaylee propped him up with her body.
“Jim,” Simon said very slowly and distinctly, pulling him back toward the center of the bed and looking intently into his eyes. “I need to do some tests to see how I can help you. You’ve experienced a trauma, and I need to see how that affected your brain function. Do you understand?”
He waited, gazing intently at Jim for any sign of cognition. After a moment, Jim blinked slowly and moved his lips as if to respond. No sound came out, and a faint wrinkle appeared briefly on his brow before dissipating. Turning his eyes to Zoe, he blinked again.
“He understands, Simon,” Zoe said confidently. “Do the tests.”
Simon looked at her uneasily. “I think we might want to wait a bit before we proceed. It was a huge step for Jim to make to open his eyes and keep them open, much less sit up. I don’t want to tire him, and it would be altogether too easy to do just that.”
“So, what now?” Zoe asked.
“Now, we sit with Jim for awhile, talk to him, tell him what’s been going on since he’s been away,” Simon said, smiling encouragingly at his patient. “In fact, I would say that the more we talk to him, the greater the speed with which he will process the information becomes. From what I’ve been able to gather from my research, the goal here will be to enable him to make new synaptic connections to replace the ones that were apparently lost. Assuming that there is no mechanical problem with storing new information in his brain, the connections that were damaged can be repaired or simply bypassed in favor of new connections. So, we need to talk…..alot.”
Kaylee smiled, bouncing on her feet. “I can do that,” she said, squeezing Jim’s hand. “Talkin’s some of what I do best.”
Simon and Zoe laughed, and the lines around Jim’s eyes seemed to change a bit as Kaylee sat down on his bed and began her version of recent events. Waving Simon and Zoe away, she said, “We’re gonna be talkin’ for a bit. Might as well go on up to the galley and get somethin’ to eat.”
Simon looked at Zoe quizzically. “You up for walking the stairs to get there?”
“No problem,” Zoe replied blandly. “Assumin’ when we get there you’re gonna do the cookin’.”
Simon sighed. “All right,” he said, making a big show of acquiescing as Zoe leaned to kiss Jim’s cheek.
“Save some of the story for me to tell,” Zoe said to Kaylee.
Kaylee nodded, grinning at Jim before turning around to face Zoe. “I’ll leave the thrillin’ heroics part to you.”
“You do that,” Zoe tossed over her shoulder as she headed to the galley.
Jim listened to Kaylee, her words seemingly coming to him from a great distance. There seemed to be something unusual in the way she looked as well, as if she was one moment close enough to touch and the next down a long featureless corridor. He concentrated, trying to decipher exactly what she was talking about, but his mind seemed mired in molasses and he soon lost the thread of her conversation.
He noticed, too, that his body was behaving strangely. Try as he might to form words, his lips and tongue seemed to have a mind of their own, preventing any kind of coherent speech. And then there were his arms and legs, which seemed determined to lie dormant despite his concentrated effort to move them at least a little. Frustrated after a few minutes of the fruitless effort, he returned his attention to Kaylee, who was talking about something with her normal sunny disposition. He tried to lift his lips into a smile, but apparently they too were not cooperating, because Kaylee’s smile faded and she asked, “You okay, Jim?” She paused for a moment while he tried to figure out how to answer her. Apparently whatever he managed to do worked, because she smiled again and began prattling away about something else. Exhausted from the effort of trying to focus, Jim decided that just the sound of Kaylee’s voice was pleasant enough for right now.
“So, we’re gonna still get to do some real farmin’?” Adam asked, his eyes shining with excitement.
“If you want,” Mal answered, swinging Adam up into his arms. “Mr. Lambert says we can stay up at the farmhouse with him or stay here. Either way, we can start working bright and early tomorrow morning.”
Adam thought for a moment. “Think I want to stay here, if we can still be farmin’ without stayin’ with Mr. Lambert. Wouldn’t want to be too far away, case somethin’ should happen.”
Mal looked at his son carefully, a small pang of regret that Adam had to consider such things already crossing his mind. ‘He’ll be just fine,’ he heard River’s voice in his head say. Glancing up at her, he noticed her reassuring smile.
“You sure of that?” he said almost under his breath.
“Yes,” she said simply, touching Adam’s cheek. “I am.”
Adam looked from one parent to the other, trying to divine what they were discussing. “No reading private conversations between your Father and me,” River said firmly, fixing him with a mother stare.
Adam sighed. “All right, Mama.”
“Good boy,” Mal said, setting Adam back down on his sturdy legs. “So, tomorrow morning, when the sun comes up, you and me are gonna go down to the farm house, and see what chores need doing. Sound good?”
Adam nodded, fighting the impulse to hop up and down. “Gonna ride on the horse?” he asked.
“Course,” Mal said smiling. “Less you’d rather walk.”
Adam rolled his eyes and looked so much like his mother that Mal’s breath caught in his throat for a moment. “Gotta ride a horse,” he answered. “I can walk any old time.”
“Guess you’re right, when you put it that way,” Mal said. “But if we’re gettin’ up with the sun, we need to go to bed with the sun, too. Dong ma?”
“Aw, Daddy,” Adam said, with that pitch perfect whine all children seem to know instinctively. “You just got back and I wanted to show you all the stuff we did whilst you were gone.”
“Nice try,” Mal said dryly. “But it’ll have to wait. Run along and get your pajamas on. And,” he paused, his eyes twinkling. “If you do it real fast, there might be time for a little story ‘fore lights out.”
“A story about you when you were little on Grandma’s ranch?” Adam asked.
“Maybehaps,” Mal said. “But only if you wash behind your ears and brush your teeth too.”
Adam nodded eagerly and ran toward his room to get into his pajamas.
“You drive a hard bargain,” River said, smiling at Adam’s obvious enthusiasm for all things farm-related.
Mal shrugged, returning her smile. “Man’s gotta use what he’s got,” he said lightly.
To be continued
Sunday, June 22, 2008 11:52 AM
Sunday, June 22, 2008 2:50 PM
Sunday, June 22, 2008 5:26 PM
Sunday, June 22, 2008 6:29 PM
Monday, June 23, 2008 2:05 AM
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