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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Post-BDM; Reg Crew; OCs; Inara/Mal, Kaylee/Simon: Set in the 'Verse that is Four. Directly after I Can Take, Simon has a full day...
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1887 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Set smack dab between parts 2 & 3 of the fic Four
As well as generally follows and progresses on the events of-
He's Fightin' the War Right Now
I Like Drawing Cephalopods
The med Job
I Can Take
As Simon sits and monitors Hannah during their last break before the finale procedure of the day, the two are asleep. Hannah’s curled into River, grateful for added body heat and a figure to feel safe against. One of her hands clutches the fabric of his sister’s dress as she nuzzles against a shoulder.
Simon would normally be confused about the entire picture, possibly slightly worried to boot. Many words have been used to describe River, however snuggly has never been one of them. Ever since she was little, he’s watched her live life in a perpetual state of verve and movement. So for her to rest, and want to be so close to someone, is unusual to say they least.
Yet he isn’t going to do anything about it, because he has them both hooked up to monitors and River’s indicated she is doing something even more peculiar.
He turns as his heart withers and shatters simultaneously.
Kaylee hefts the small crate, and crosses into the infirmary. The purple coveralls he got her for her birthday, the ones she thinks are the ‘purtiest’, are smudged with Serenity’s grease. That, with her messy ponytail and smear of grime on her cheek, would normally be enough for him to want to kiss her due to cuteness. Her eyes look deep with pain, yet she keeps her chin up and her lips tight. It’s clear the tension makes her want to turn and go back to her own sanctuary, yet she ventures further in. “I’m just here ta drop off some books and movies.” She says quickly, eyeballing a spot on the counter. “Nara said they didn’t have too much interest in the Cosmos Girl or Vanity Universe’, figured Hannah could try my novels and I got River a red pen and book on engine physics.”
“That’s... very nice.” He says in a hush way, watching her out of the corner of his eye as she sets the crate down.
Pausing, gazing at the two petite figures in the bed she made, her voice cracks. “They alright?”
“We’re taking a break from Hannah’s treatment.” hearing a gurgle he glances down at Lila, who’s seated on his leg with her back propped against his stomach, gnawing awkwardly on her own fingers. She’s got hair on her head now, bright red wisps that are starting to curl. “Inara will be back soon, I’m on watch as well as baby entertainment.” He fiddles with one of Lila’s bootie covered feet, trying to get her to smile. She’s such a serious baby.
“Why are you studyin’ River, something wrong with her?” She pries in concern for her unofficial mèimei. The young reader’s color looks off as she takes a step closer, curious yet feeling the need to alleviate the tension by leaving at the same time.
“It’s hard to say what’s going on with her.” He admits, slipping into what feels natural, what feels safe. “However, she’s in her REM cycle of sleep. Which, is a substantial improvement...” Simon’s voice trails off, showing his amazement. “To my knowledge, she wasn’t getting enough because of her night terrors.”
“So the REM’s good?”
“It’s very good.” He pauses, letting a beat pass before addressing the giant pink elephant looming over both of them. “We need to talk later.”
“An actual talk. Not me sputtering and then retreating to the couch.” he says firmly, forcing himself to be firm. It’s difficult for him to be so with her. “Later though, after I’m done with this.”
Kaylee’s eyes fall to her boots, she breathes deep. “Simon,” her voice quavers “I just want you to know that really do I love you.”
The doctor keeps his eyes locked on the girls, not making eye contact with her, not showing her how red and tear filled they are. “Please don’t say that right now.” He responds, gruff and wounded in his inflection. “And please leave. Wǒ bǎo-liú wǒ-de quán-lì chè-tuì zhè-lǐ, rú wǒ zhī-dào nín zěn-me zài jī cāng zuò zhù.”
She leaves, wordlessly.
Yet he’s glad she does, hearing her voice makes the pain surface, and he can’t deal with it. The girls are a welcome distraction that require all of his focus. Lifting Lila up into his arms, he snuggles her against his chest. She’s such a shy baby she tends to get fussy when someone unknown holds her. However he’s handled her enough for her to cuddle back and try to chew on a bit of his vest. Gingerly, he kisses her head before giving her a hand to play with. She coos back, big blue eyes focused on his wiggling fingers.
Hearing River, he looks up to find her wide eyes watching him, understanding him.
“You wanted the Happily Ever After.”
He doesn’t deny it, gazing down at Lila. Her tiny hands reach out and grasp at his palm and thumb. Since she’s been on board, he’s been thinking about the prospect of fatherhood. For the longest time, it was his fever dream. Children on an outlaw ship? Absurd. Yet Inara is taking the leap right now, and Mal seems flexible enough...
“It’s not in her.” River whispers. “It’s not her way. Not yet. The oats are still wild.”
Simon doesn’t want to dwell on it. It’s not his first priority.
“It hurts less if you quit hiding.”
His brows knit together, and his pursed lips form a thin, frustrated scowl. “I’m not hiding.” He refutes, his volume low to keep from waking Hannah. “I’m simply busy, I have to take care of the girls today, all three of you.”
River blinks, her face neutral. “We can be your little ones.”
He’s... confused. Simon’s brow pulls into a furrow, and he slacks his jaw.
She looks at him like he’s as dense as Serenity’s hull, and makes him feel that dense. “Rescued me, helped fix me, raise me. Hannah and Lila need you now too.”
“They have Inara.”
“Takes a village, or a crew, many people many roles. Many mothers, few fathers, one dirty old uncle.”
The crackle of her humor makes his frown break, and the warmth of her words makes him kiss the little hand that has a strong grip on his thumb. “You sound more cogent.”
Lila squawks, mouthing and sucking on his fingers.
“Pain’s gone, mind’s clear.” She confirms, then lets out a yawn. “Hannah’s better.”
“I can see.” He says with a quick study on the monitors. Both girls read normal as he glances down and helps Lila find her thumb to suck. “I can’t help but ask though, she’s... making you better?” Not quite grasping the instruction, she winds up with most of her fingers awkwardly stuffed in her little maw.
He can tell her mind is working overtime. Processing his question, rifling through her cache of words to give an answer. It’s obvious she’s weaving something long and complex, a labyrinth made of words, however at the last minute her face flashes a look of realization, and she speaks. “Yes.”
Simplicity from River is like making the lame walk. Simon’s lips curl up into a pleased smile. “Alright.”
When Mal came in to pick up Lila, Simon had shut the doors and closed the blinds. Intimacy is needed, not that there was a crowd gathering, however he feels that the last leg of the treatment is the most grueling, and Hannah deserves some added guard.
“You made it.” He announces, detaching the pump from Hannah’s line. Moving away, he gives Inara the space, wanting her to have a moment with her daughter before he starts fussing over her. There’s plenty of equipment to clean and put away in the meantime.
“You win.” River’s voice is weak.
Inara is mum. She takes a seat on the corner of the bed as Hannah tearily reaches for her and River lets go. Gathering the tired daughter up, she holds her close and begins to rock her body. “Tā jié-shù yīng hái.” With a reassuring voice, she wipes away the tears that have streaking the thin face. She’s held her own for the last two hours, as the symptoms had worsened, and her normally uncomplaining child had begun to express her discomfort. Spindly arms wrap themselves around her, and she hums soothingly.
Simon looks over his shoulder to see River watching, her skin waxen and posture slumped. Turning, he makes a beeline for her, quickly taking a seat on the other side of the bed and looking her over. “mèimei...”
“No needles.” She still reads him well, even under the weather. Before he can hold her, she shoos him back. “Fine.” She reassures, shaking her head slightly.
“I beg to differ.” He knows better. Reaching out, he helps her to sit up, watching how the sharpness in her eyes fades out into a glassy stare. It’s obvious she’s slipping back, regressing as he checks her pulse. “You need to rest, same as Hannah.”
“Right as rain. Rain falls down and makes the River. That’s me.”
“You’re hot.” Her skin is tacky and warm to the touch, the monitors point out it’s a low grade fever. That’s not his true concern, she no longer looks like she’s among them. There’s a glassiness to her now, like she’s off floating in a universe of her own, like she can’t quite reach them. “River, River do you know where you are?”
“Don’t be stupid.” She huffs, greasy, messy hair hooding her face. “Stupid blue rock.” Hunched over, she sniffs and grimaces. “Perspiration excreting through the pores of the skin... must vanquish the shower monster.”
“IIIIIIIIII.... don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Don’t make that face.” Her lips curl up to snarl at him and suddenly she’s a wild thing, never to be kept by him.
“River, you don’t look well.”
“Momma, my head hurts.” Hannah’s breathing is labored, Simon can hear it.
River begins to breathe heavily. She blinks a few times and rocks forward, catching herself. Pushing Simon away she snaps “You took the air away.”
“River don’t....” Simon lunges for her, but she’s up on her feet. Clumsily tearing the monitor sensors off of her arms, she careens away. “River I think you need to lie down.”
“It’s really stuffy in here Momma.”
He turns to see Hannah, holding onto Inara, wearing the same far off look as River. Her lips are grey, and she’s struggling to sit up straight.
“Simon.” Inara’s tone is frightened.
The monitor screams as her blood pressure drops.
He looks from Hannah, to River, then back to Hannah. Leaping off the bed, he quickly steps toward his sibling. “Lay her down she’s going to...”
Hannah’s eyes roll back, she crumples in her mother’s arms.
River’s eyes do the same, she goes limp like a doll at the exact same time.
He catches her, saving her from a violent date with the floor.
Doctor and Companion exchange confused, stunned looks.
“Did...” Inara stumble. “Did... they just....”
“Yeah.... they did.” He’s breathless, his mind is swimming with a million questions.
“At the same time?”
The MedAcad had him pulling a shift at a hospice as a first year. First years were always given grunt work, to instill appreciation for all other levels of the medical profession. So they had shoved his class into nurse scrubs and for a week, he had been changing bedpans and sponge bathing withered up seniors. Hannah’s no different, and it’s not the first time he and Inara have done this dance. She was so ill in the beginning, in a coma, and needed hygienic care just like any other. At least this time around she’s awake, tired, weak, but awake.
They work well together with the girls. They’re both moved to small beds set up on the counters so the sheets are stripped and changed. Afterwards, Hannah is carefully undressed and washed first.
After they help Hannah into a set of pink flannel pajamas, he carries her back to the bed and makes sure her collections of leads, hoses and lines are untangled. Inara flanks the other side of the bed, stroking her daughter’s hair and reassuring her in gentle, sweet mandarin. Since adopting the girls, he constantly finds himself in admiration of her patience and caring ways. She treats River no different when they move to her. Holding his sister in a towel, he looks on as she throughly washes the sweat and grime out of her hair.
“It amazes me how long River goes without bathing.” She says softly, her eyes focused on the job.
“She’s afraid of the shower.” He explains, somewhat uncomfortable. The caretaker in him feels guilty. “The actual nozzle, and the water coming from the nozzle.”
“Evil.” River frowns. Her eyes are closed, and she’s far too tired to fight them off.
“That’s... kinda gross.” Hannah’s voice mutters from the bed.
“So you’ve conceded in getting her to bathe on a regular basis?” She sounds aghast at the thought, a polite form of aghast, but aghast none the less. Her fingers work the lather in the unruly hair.
“After the time she bolted out of the stall, naked, and then proceeded to dislocate my shoulder? Yes.” He can’t help but hitch his voice slightly.
“Where was I when that happened?”
“I think at the Companion Training House. I tried to get Kaylee to wash her hair at least, but that was a disaster. River’s scared of the hairbrush.”
“Teeth.” River mumbles.
“So I’ve had to compromise, she showers at least once a week, and in return she doesn’t run around nude, and she reports for all checkups.”
“Hm.” Inara turns on the faucet and rinses the shampoo out quickly. “She has such lovely hair.”
“I know, she just doesn’t want anyone to do anything with it.” He sighs in defeat, their parents were right to name her after a force of nature.
Turning the faucet off, Inara towel dries the mass of dark locks. “It’s a little frightening they’re this exhausted.”
He nods in agreement. “I knew the treatment would take a lot out of her, however I wasn’t expecting this. They’ll be alright though, they just need rest. Lots of rest.”
“That’s good to know.” She grabs another bottle and pours a handful of something into her palm.
Simon’s confused, and concerned the bath has gone on for too long. While she’s relaxed at the moment, she could tense up any minute now and become stressed, something he would like to avoid. Furrowing his brows his tone becomes troubled. “What’s...”
“A leave in conditioner, I just want to put it in.” She explains, working the creamy substance between her hands before running them through the mass of wild, black hair. Quick and efficient, she gives a head nod as she uses a spare towel to clean off her hands.
Hoisting her up in his arms, Simon walks River to the bed where Hannah waits. “Alright, I think it’s safe to say you two need to stick together for a little while.” They had already washed and dressed her in a nightgown before tackling the mass of tangled hair, so he eases her onto the bed next to her friend, and carefully dislodges the towel. “Let’s sleep.”
“I’m back.” River tells her, scooting in. Hannah’s on her side and drapes an arm over her whilst giving her some room on the pillow. Taking the hand that’s holding her, she pulls it close to her chest and sighs. “You smell like berries.”
“You smell clean.” Hannah announces drowsily, her big brown eyes shut. “It’s nice.”
“You like me clean?” River yawns.
“Well, it’s not so great when you get in my bed you smell all... funky.”
“Try not to be funky anymore.”
“Less talking.” Simon pulls up the sheet, then adds quilts. He’s mindful to not layer them too much, lest they get warm. Making sure they’re comfortable, he looks on as Inara leans over the bed and kisses the top of Hannah’s head, then River’s.
She whispers something, her tones full of love and warmth, and from the bits of mandarin he collects it’s a prayer to Buddha. For sweet dreams and healing rest, among other things’s he’s certain he didn’t hear.
He follows her lead, minus the prayer as he’s never been one for religion. Stepping back, they stand and watch their respected wards. The girls are fast asleep, their monitors read normal.
“I’ll stay with them for awhile.” Inara finally speaks. “You’ve had a long day, Simon.”
“Hmn.” He nods, running a hand through his hair. It reminds him how much he needs to shower and shave. “Thank you, someone should probably be here for a little while at least...” His voice trails off as his mind wanders. Watching them, there’s so many thoughts racing, synapsis firing. River is already an enigma that defies most of his own logic, the two of them together... well. “I... I think River needs to stay here.” He clears his throat, trying to compose a more structured sentence. “With Hannah, until she can leave. I mean River can leave when she wants, but I think she needs to be allowed to stay here.”
She looks at him, not because it’s gorram obvious, because she wants to hear his reasoning. Because she’s still trying to find her own.
“I don’t know what... this... is.” They look angelic together, he can see their eyes moving under the shut lids. “All I know is that, I know, it’s beneficial for both of them. There’s no medical explanation, but whatever this is, it’s good.” He reaches out and gingerly rests his hand on the crown of his sister’s head. She doesn’t even shift. “They’re sleeping, both of them. Deep sleep, REM sleep. Without medication, River’s sleeping.”
“Hannah’s been improving.” Inara notes, she watches how his fingers delicately skim River’s damp hair. “She has color in her cheeks and she’s interested in things. All she ever did was sleep until River started visiting. She used to worry me so much.”
He nods his head in agreement, moving his hand to Hannah and resting it on her shoulder. She does have more color, she’s no longer grey in the lips. There’s an inquisitiveness to her too. “I don’t know if there are cons to this. But I think we need to let this happen. I’ll still work with them both, I’ll still try to figure this out, but whatever’s going on, I don’t want to force it to stop unless I can prove it’s harmful.”
“But you think it’s good?”
“I think it’s good.”
Inara lets a beat pass. “I know you’d like to hide here, and I don’t want to try to tell you what to do, but Simon...”
“I know.” His heart wrenches in its cage. Turning, he forces his feet to the door, towards what he’s been avoiding all day.
“Take a shower, gather your thoughts.” She suggests.
“You read my mind.” He smiles painfully, pulling the doors open. “I’ll make sure a plate of food gets down here for you.”
The first thing he sees when he leaves the infirmary is Mal. For a moment, it takes the pain away. Their big, fearless leader, sprawled on the couch in defeat with the tiniest of Serenity sleeping on his chest. Lila’s IV bag is hanging on a piece of metal artwork bolted to the wall, and her brick size portable monitor is perched at on the arm of the couch.
Simon stops to loom over Mal’s snoring face. Reaching down, he taps his shoulder.
“Hccckugh..?” The gruff captain frowns up drowsily.
“Hannah’s treatment is over.”
Mal slowly sits up, keeping Lila where she sleeps. “How’d it go?”
“Rough, but they’re doing alright now. They’re asleep, the girls. Inara’s going to watch them for a spell.” He gives a wry smile as they baby yawns and pouts her lips. “Do you need any help getting up or...?”
“I can handle this myself.” He grunts stubbornly, giving the doctor a withering glare.
“Suit yourself. Also Inara could use a plate of dinner.” He leaves before Mal can respond. Though their Captain and Companion have yet to announce it, it’s obvious to god and galaxy they’re over the moon with each other. The thought of them, happy, suddenly makes it all the more harder for him to enter his room, their room.
With heavy feet, he does though. Doing his best to ignore the touches of Kaylee in the space, he finds a change of clothes, a towel and his caddy of hygiene products and makes a quick exit. The promise of a scalding shower to strip off nearly two days of grime and a transport vessel’s load of anguish makes his stride lengthen.
The hastily made sign on the door says in calligraphy ‘Hot water broken, cold only. Sorry!’
He’s surprised how it ended.
They both said things neither meant, he knows it, he’s rather certain she does too. Yet for the most part, it was civil. They discussed everything without resorting to yelling, or breaking down. It was painful for him, and he could tell it was no walk in the park for her either, but considering the other paths they could have taken, it went fairly well.
Regardless it went well, ending a relationship without a mass of grief, it still feels like someone’s ripped him to pieces. He doesn’t want to watch her take her things out of his room and return once and for all to her bunk. So he heads to the one place that feels like his territory.
The girls are still asleep when he gets there. They’ve changed positions though. He’s not quite sure which limbs belong to who, but they’re tangled, close and they look happy.
“At least they are.” He says to nobody, setting the plate of over warmed food and a mug on the small cart before heading over to retrieve a chair. Pulling it up to the bed, he stops to watch River’s soft, exhausted snoring.
Hannah grimaces, her nose twitches and her eyes open.
River’s eyes are quick to follow. She drowsily yawns and nuzzles Hannah’s shoulder. Only after a good sniff does she lift her cheek from her friend’s arm.
“S’that food?” The Serra girl asks, pawing her eyes sleepily with one hand while the other keeps River close.
Looking down at his plate, his empty stomach grumbles. Gazing back up though, he’s met with two sets of big, brown, hungry eyes. Like starving little puppies, but worse as their combined powers are crippling. “It is.”
“Our bellies are louder than yours.” River tells him as they untangle.
“I’m sure they are.” Simon sighs and rolls the table up close, then sits the back of the bed up. “Here, there’s plenty for you two to share.”
“What about you?” Hannah asks, sleep still hanging in her voice as River passes her a fork.
“I’ll be fine, I can get more later.” It’s white rice and previously frozen vegetables, nothing beyond Hannah’s restricted diet as he nudges his mug of water over to them.
He watches the two begin to eat, River picking chunks of vegetable up with her fingers, Hannah working the fork. “Nín shì-fēi cháng shòu-huān-yíng de. And please, call me Simon.” Walking away, he breathes deep and tells himself he’ll get another plate once he can take the one they’re eating clean to the sink.
Spotting something to the counter, he wanders over. It’s a box, an apple crate sitting next to Kaylee’s brightly painted purple milk crate. Looming over the box, Simon carefully sorts through its contents. Reading the spines of the books, he’s struck surprised. These aren't Kaylee’s reading material; glamor magazines and thick cheap books about young women falling in love with handsome pirates, forbidden upper crust soldiers or exotic aliens. He sees Shakespeare, Wells, Austin and Lovecraft amongst the titles. Picking up a Tolkien, he notes the flimsy cover and pages that show wear from being dog eared. He flips through it to look for the name of the owner, yet there is none. “Do... do you two know who’s books these are?”
The girls shakes their heads, mouths stuffed with dinner.
“Huh.” Simon tucks the book back in with the others, skimming the other titles. Finding an old favorite, he pulls Barrie’s classic out and walks back to his chair. Taking a seat, he opens the cover and starts reading.
“But,” River swallows her mouthful, a piece of rice caked to her lower lip “you’re the boy who always wanted to grow up.”
“I know mèimei.” He sighs, eyes glued to the page, seeking solace in the world he remembers reading about long ago. “But I work under Captain Hook now.”
mèimei: little sister
Wǒ bǎo-liú wǒ-de quán-lì chè-tuì zhè-lǐ, rú wǒ zhī-dào nín zěn-me zài jī cāng zuò zhù.: I reserve my right to retreat here, just like I know how you’re doing in the engine room.
Tā jié-shù yīng hái: It's ended baby
Tā māde: Shit (lit. his mother)
xie-xie: Thank you
Nín shì-fēi cháng shòu-huān-yíng de: You're very welcome
A/N: Honest Comments are always appreciated.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010 1:47 PM
Wednesday, July 7, 2010 2:19 PM
Wednesday, July 7, 2010 6:18 PM
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