Down the Rabbit Hole - Chapter Eight
Friday, January 12, 2007

Mal and Simon on the run from Feds. Not slash. This chapter: "Oh God, no, oh God,wo de tien, a, oh God..." More fun if you've read the previous chapters, or at least the last one.Chapter One, Chapter Seven. Thanks!


Not even Book could dispute the veracity of his aim this time. Simon watched, horrified, as the man dropped to the ground with a surprised gasp.

Which gave way to an explosion of cursing in Mandarin.

Oh God.

Oh no.

Oh no.

Oh God, no, oh God, wo de tien, a, oh God... Simon scrambled across the yard and fought down a wave of nausea as he knelt beside his victim.

Ni ta ma de! Tian xia suo you de ren! Dou gai si! You shot me! I can’t believe you gorram shot me!”

“I’m sorry…I’m… tzao gao…I’m sorry!” Simon pried Mal’s right hand away from where it clutched the wound, the instinct to assess overriding his own shock.

Gun shot to extreme upper left quadrant, involving chest and shoulder.

tian a, they’d almost - no, he’d almost - hit the neck…
Significant bleeding…not spurting or pulsing… no major blood vessels... no exit wound…

But there was something else…his fingers found the damage as Mal yelped: bone was pushing up under misshapen skin. Simon winced. That was going to cause problems.

Mal chose that moment to confirm the prognosis, digging his fingers into Simon’s shoulder with a sharp intake of breath as he jerked himself into a sitting position. “Son of a bitch,” he ground out.

“I’m sorry!” Simon caught Mal’s good elbow to steady him, cursing himself in four languages. “I didn’t know it was you.”

“That’s a---ah,” Mal’s voice hitched as he tried to get his feet under him --- “that’s a comfort. We got to get inside.”

“But where’s the other---”

“Dead.” Mal shifted, using Simon for leverage. “Come on. We gotta --- gotta move.”

“First let me stabilize this.” Simon reached for the arm Mal had cradled against his side, noting the unnatural slump of his shoulder. He’d seen a badly broken clavicle lay larger men low, and that was without the added bonus of bullet damage. “I could find something…”

“No time. We’re like to have company. Gotta move now.”

Company. God, it never ends.

“Can you?”

“Got to. Help me up.”

“Wait.” Simon grasped Mal’s left arm, and, ignoring the hiss of pain, deftly slid the hand and wrist inside the captain’s shirt, letting the buttons and fabric form a temporary support.

Cao!” Mal snapped when he got his breath back. “Zu zhou ni men de hai zi neng mei guo ge mi!

Simon could think of nothing more to say than another apology. There was no way around the pain, but this route could offer some small measure of protection for the bone.

Slinging Mal’s right arm around his shoulders, Simon pushed himself to standing, staggering as he hoisted the captain to his feet. He was surprised when Mal stumbled, nearly pulling them both to the ground, until he remembered what he had witnessed from the house.

“Where else?”

“Leg,” Mal grunted.

Oh, zhen dao mei. He was going to have work to do.

They shuffled warily toward the house without speaking, stopping every few yards to let Mal steady himself. Simon supported the captain as best he could; still their progress across the open ground was painfully slow. It seemed they’d measured out half the night in inches before Mal was finally seated on the filthy kitchen floor, invoking a new nightmare of sepsis and fever that Simon forced to the back of his mind. He had enough on his plate with the here and now.

Mal was bleeding freely roughly six inches above his left knee. Simon wedged the flashlight under his chin, using both hands to try to find and evaluate the wound, but his view was impeded by fabric and blood. “Do you have a knife?”

Mal shook his head.

“The one time I need it,” Simon muttered, standing and rifling through the drawers and cabinets in the vain hope that some stray instrument had been left behind. But the kitchen had been stripped bare. Simon stood for a moment, eyes darting around the ruined room, his frustration at the lack of tools and materials enough to eclipse the trauma of having shot his captain. I need to bind these. I need something… His peered into the hallway, mentally cataloging the front rooms, the staircase, the bedrooms. Yes. The curtains would do. They were dusty but not mildewed. The perfect weight, actually, for what he needed. And there was plenty of yardage. So I’m covered if he shoots me back, Simon thought, surprising himself with a choked laugh. He yanked the curtains from their rings and paused, confronted with the outside view. There, by the outline of the bushes, was the spot where he had shot the captain. Somewhere near the trees another man lay dead. Yet the moon paid no attention as it continued its progression, illuminating the yard in a deceptively peaceful glow.

Simon bowed his head and hurried back to the kitchen.

Mal was resting his head against the wall, eyes closed. “See anything outside?”

“No. Everything seems quiet.” Simon set about tearing the fabric into strips. “These are serviceable. And easier to tear than trousers.”

“Better not go tearin’ up my trousers. Already ruined my shirt.”

“Hey, blame the trouser damage on the man who shot you.”

“You are a man who shot me.”

Simon paused in mid-tear. “Right.” He brought the light in close to try again to look at the leg wound. “So,” he ventured, “who was out there? Alliance?”

“No. Weren’t Alliance. Was one fella.” Mal opened his eyes and looked soberly around the room. “Fella owned this house.”

“How do you know?”

“Yelled at me. Called me Alliance, comin’ to run him off his land. They flooded him out, poor bastard. Perfectly good farm, they flooded him out with their engineering project.”

“I imagine they offered recompense…” Simon tried not to think about the less-than-sterile status of the cloth he was using to wipe away blood.

“Recompense,” Mal scoffed. “More to it than that, Doc. Land. Land as has been in your family... land as has been your life…not something is easy---” Mal flinched as Simon pressed a cloth directly to the wound --- “not easy to put a price on.”

“We need water.” Simon twisted toward the sink.

“None there. Man said pipes were busted and well water contaminated.”

Zhe shi yi chang e meng.” Reluctantly Simon bound the wound without irrigating it. “How did you find all of this out?”

“After he started hollerin’, was easy enough to conjure what his problem was with us. Accused us of everything. Tried to talk to him. Convince him we weren’t Alliance. Tol’ him where I was from.”

Simon tied off the dressing. “He didn’t believe you?” How anyone could mistake the captain’s speech for anything other than Rim bred and born, Simon couldn’t fathom.

“Wasn’t goin’ to believe anyone, I don’t think.” An almost mournful tone in Mal’s voice made Simon look up. The captain had closed his eyes again. “Was past reason. Lost everything.”

“But he was still defending his home?” Simon shifted his attention to Mal’s shoulder, trying to determine where to begin. “He was hiding in the woods, shooting at anything that moved---”

“Something ain’t right.” Mal lifted his head, suddenly tense.

“Given the circumstances, I’d call that understatement.”

“No.” Mal pushed away Simon’s hand impatiently. He had shifted out of whatever melancholy had briefly visited and was back to captain mode. “Racket we made, someone should’ve been here by now.”

“Well, be glad they aren’t. I need to look at this.”

Mal gripped Simon’s wrist with his good hand. “Can’t do this now, Doc. Need you to go outside and fetch that hover. Someone ain’t come yet, means they’re coming soon. We need that Cortex screen.”

“This needs treatment,” Simon protested.

“When you come back. For now I can hold something over it. Ain’t bleeding overmuch. We gotta have that Cortex link.”

“What makes you think someone heard you? We’re in the middle of nowhere.”

“A nowhere that’s had sabotage activity, a high level bulletin for two fugitives, and automatic weapons fire. They may be slow, but even the dregs of the Alliance finest are bound to wander this way eventually.”

Simon tried to come up with a rebuttal. Tried to weigh in with his worries about Mal’s injuries, about his responsibilities as a physician. As he stammered silently, Mal leaned forward, a move Simon knew cost him.

“Doc.” His words were calm and commanding. “They find that engineer’s hover in the woods, we don’t stand a chance getting out of here, dong ma? ‘S why you got to get to it first.”

Him. Up to him. This is what happens when you shoot your captain. When you’re a fugitive and you shoot your captain.

Nodding, Simon wadded up a strip of cloth and placed it gently over the entry wound, below the broken bone. “Hold this here. Don’t press hard.”

“Don’t need to tell me twice,” Mal grunted, settling back against the wall, hand over the cloth. “Hover’s where we left it. Keep your wits about you. I’ll be listening from here. Keep your gun out, now that we know it works.”

Simon ignored the dig and moved toward the door.

“And Doc...”

Simon paused, just able to make out Mal’s face.

“Stay low.”

To Chapter Nine.


Friday, January 12, 2007 9:27 AM


Silly Simon... I hope he gets a chance to redeem himself! And poor Mal. As if his simple day of shopping hasn't turned complicated enough already!

I can picture Nathan making this line funny:

"You shot me! I can’t believe you gorram shot me!"

I thought it was pretty funny. But I'm like that.

I sure you're working your tail off on Chapter 9, homespun! How many will there be total, do you know?

Friday, January 12, 2007 3:42 PM


What an awesome piece of work! I love Simon's reaction - so true to character and so easy to see shooting the gun as his only choice. Waiting patiently for the rest - I know it will be awesome too.

Friday, January 12, 2007 4:51 PM


I really love this. The banter between Simon and Mal is just perfect as is the sarcasm.

>“You are a man who shot me.”

I can see that coming out of Mal's mouth SO vividly. Teminds me of Simon's line in Objects in Space 'You 'are' talking to a doctor'.

Nicely done. Looking forward to the rest.

Friday, January 12, 2007 5:46 PM


This is so great - I've been reading it on and off since the beginning ... your characterizations of Simon and Mal are absolutely prefect!

My favorite line - Simon's reflection:

>Up to him. This is what happens when you shoot your captain.

Priceless! And I agree with Mal4Prez, Nathan would have a field day acting this as would Sean!

Keep it up - can't wait for more ...

Saturday, January 13, 2007 1:54 AM


I adored this! It was also another layer of sadness that the householder who shot Mal was only trying to defend the little he had left that the Alliance had taken/ruined. Mal would not have shot him if he could have got through to him hence the regret. And then the surprise of Simon shooting the Captain thinking he was doing his bit to keep their enemies at bay, the horror of realisation then the consequences of having an injured Captain and Simon now having to do things he would not ordinarily be doing. I sure hope he doesn't get nabbed getting that cortex link back. Absolutely priceless story with some of the best dialogue between Simon and Mal that I have read in a long time. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, January 13, 2007 4:16 AM


Ok, I can't add anything that hasn't already been said by the other commenters - but wonderful stuff, loving it.

Sunday, January 14, 2007 3:59 AM


Um, oops? Big gorram oops? That 'bout covers it. Interesting that Simon would go all Dick Cheney on his captain...

Rob O.

Monday, January 15, 2007 7:46 PM


Least Mal knows Simon can shot when the moment calls for it and can actually hit something;)

But yeah...not good. The situation I mean. Dialogue was Joss-level brilliant, homespun! Especially how you had Mal ramble on about what he had to do and hinting at what it's like to be in the dead man's shoes:(


Sunday, January 28, 2007 5:46 PM


Please, please continue this story!!! I really am enjoying this. The characterization is dead on, everything flows so perfectly and just I can't stand the idea of you not continuing. This was one main reason I joined this site to tell you how much I am loving this story so please, please continue. Great work!

Monday, January 29, 2007 2:08 AM


I apologize for the lack of update. I've hit some bumps in the narrative road and I am waiting for my muse to drop by and straighten them out. Evidently she keeps a schedule like a cable repair guy. Thanks for reading, I promise I will finish.


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