The Last Spartan – Chapter Thirty-Two
Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Plans, more plans, and a little bit of attitude adjustment


The Last Spartan – Chapter Thirty-Two Just in case someone is just tuning in, I own no rights to Firefly, nor any of it’s associated characters. ******************** Word of Inara’s not quite awakening spread through the house like wildfire. Within minutes, the entire crew was assembled in the small waiting room, waiting for Simon to emerge with news. “Where’s Prim?” River asked. “I thought he would want to be here.” She ignored the pained look on Mal’s face. Though sorry for his discomfort, he’d have to get used to the idea soon enough. “He was with her when she woke up,” Kaylee told her, looking around. “Was him came and fetched Simon. Come to think on it, I ain’t seen him since then.” Worries about Prim’s whereabouts fell away as Simon emerged. “How is she, Simon?” Mal, Zoe, River and Kaylee all asked at once. “She’s awake, barely,” Simon told them, relief evident in his voice, and on his face. “She’s weak, and hurting of course, but she’s awake and alert. Her vitals aren’t great, but they are improving. I. . .I think she’s going to be fine, baring any other complications.” Muted squeals accompanied by Mal’s exclamation filled the room. “Can we see her?” Kaylee asked as the noise fell off. “She’s asking to see Prim, actually,” Simon told her, frowning as he looked around. “But since he doesn’t appear to be here, why don’t you all go in. But only for a few minutes, mind. I’ve given her something for the pain, and it may make her drowsy. And she needs the rest,” he added. The troop piled into the room, one behind the other. Inara smiled weakly as her friends entered. “Hey, ‘Nara!” Kaylee said cheerfully. “We was right worried over you!” “I’m sorry to have caused that, mei mei,” Inara said, her voice still shaky. “How are you feeling, Inara?” River asked quietly. “I’m feeling shot, actually,” Inara quipped, and they all laughed at that. “I’m not sure, honestly, how I’m feeling yet, River,” Inara admitted. “But Simon says that the fact that I’m feeling anything is a good sign.” “There for a time,” Zoe told her, “that wasn’t a sure thing, either.” “You should not have done it, Inara,” River told her gently, using a hand cloth to gently wipe Inara’s forehead. “But I am grateful.” “I didn’t think, River,” Inara admitted. “I saw the gun, and just reacted. It didn’t occur to me at the time that he probably couldn’t kill you.” “Well, he like to killed you,” Mal spoke for the first time. His smile was warm. “We was afraid he had, there for a bit.” Inara smiled at Mal in return. Her smile was warm as well, but it no longer held the same intensity as it once had. Mal didn’t grimace at that, though it was a struggle. “Well, Simon says I appear to be ‘out of the woods’, as he put it,” Inara assured him. “Though I admit that I am tired.” She looked around the room. “Where is Prim? I could have sworn I heard his voice earlier.” “You prob’ly did,” Kaylee told her. “He was sittin’ in here with ya when ya come around. He stepped out to check on something once we all got here,” Kaylee added, though she didn’t know why Prim wasn’t here. “I’m sure he has a great many things to see to,” Inara nodded, but the disappointment in her voice was plain. River hid a frown. She’d have words with Prim later. “Well, we ain’t ‘sposed to tucker you out any,” Mal told her, eyeing his crew. “‘Spect we best git for now. Doc says what he gave you will likely let you sleep, and you need to rest. So you get some sleep, hear?” “Yes, Captain,” Inara smiled, and the rest chuckled, Mal included. “We’ll be about when you wake up,” Mal assured her as they filed out. “Good.” ******************* Prim was seated outside in the rear garden. Inside the spiraling rows of shrubs and flowers was a small bench, a place where he often retreated to in order to clear his mind, and to think. And he desperately needed to do that. Hearing Inara call Mal’s name had almost broken him. It was his own fault, he knew. He had assumed that she was past her feelings for the Captain, but it seemed he might have erred in that. You had no right to assume such a thing, he chided himself. Nor to presume that a few conversations, and one dance, no matter how priceless to you, meant anything more to her than just that. Conversation. He swore bitterly under his breath, the words forming a small vapor cloud around his head. The new day had dawned clear and cold after the storm. The sky was a radiant blue above him. He leaned back, his eyes closed, and let the cold wrap around him, as if hoping the frigid air might numb him. “Here you are,” he heard, and opened his eyes to see River Tam standing before him. He started to rise, but River waved him back down. “Oh, please,” she huffed. “It’s fine to carry on in front of others, if you must, but when we are alone, or among family, is it really necessary?” “It is to me,” Prim told her gently, and River nodded. “Very well,” she allowed. “But we have other things to discuss than protocols and customs.” She sat beside him, eyes resting on his. “Inara was asking after you, when we visited her,” she told him. “We lied to her, basically, telling her you had to leave to check on things. Why weren’t you there?” “I didn’t want to intrude,” Prim lied smoothly. “It was a time for family, as you say,” he continued. “I am not in that number, My Lady.” River scoffed. “Of course you are,” she told him. “Everyone thinks so. Well,” she added thoughtfully, “I don’t know about Mal.” Her grin made Prim chuckle. “Ah, yes, the infamous Captain Reynolds,” Prim replied, his voice tinged with bitterness. River’s eyebrows rose at that. “Is he the reason you weren’t there when she asked for you?” she asked. “I really don’t wish to discuss this, My Lady,” Prim told her stiffly, starting to rise. River stopped him with an outstretched hand. “That’s too bad,” River told him flatly, her voice unyielding. “You have been very proper, Prim,” she giggled at the word play, “but there is no hiding that you are quite taken with Inara. Yet when she awakes, asking for you, you are no where to be found. That requires an explanation of some kind, in my eyes.” Prim eyed her almost angrily for a moment, then sighed, his anger leaving him. He felt tired. Spent. “She. . .she asked for him,” he told her finally, the words spilling out. “It was so honest, so obvious that she expected him to be there. I. . .I felt that discretion was called for.” “She was coming out of a near coma, Prim,” River reminded him gently. Now that she knew what the problem was, her own anger departed. “Like as not, she doesn’t even remember it.” “Which makes it all the worse,” Prim told her bluntly. “She asked for him out of instinct, My Lady. She is in love with him. I haven’t the right to interfere.” “You might take note that when she was awake, and aware, it was you she asked for,” River pointed out. “And with Mal standing right there, I might add.” Prim looked at her. “Indeed?” “Indeed,” River nodded. “With him at her bedside, she asked for you. Now does that sound like she wanted him over you?” She let her words float gently across to him. “Well,” he admitted slowly, “no, not when you put it that way.” “Then I suggest that you stop sitting here feeling sorry for yourself, and go to the hospital. I have a feeling she is trying very hard to stay awake, hoping to see you before the medication Simon gave her makes her sleep.” ****************** “We will leave tonight,” Janos told Neera, standing over the rough sketch of the place Nettles had told them about. “I want Givens working on their computer systems now, however,” he ordered, and the Amazon nodded. “And have him see if he can find blueprints for this place. Might come in handy.” He looked at her closely. “I want this place to be a smoking crater when we leave,” he almost whispered, “and not a single person spared. There is to be no quarter for anyone. I want this entire operation erased. I wish it to be as if it never existed at all. This type of evil cannot be allowed to exist.” “And this ‘Director’ Nettles mentioned?” Neera asked. “According to the late Mister Nettles,” Janos replied, “the ‘Director’ rarely leaves the premises. I will see to him, personally.” The finality of that statement made her shiver, as did the savagery in his voice. This was the Janos she loved the most. The warrior king. “We shall be ready, My Lord.” ****************** “So it was Blue Sun?” Mal asked, after Janos had finished telling them what he had learned. “I don’t think it was Blue Sun itself,” Janos mused. “I think it was the people Blue Sun work for. This doesn’t sound like a typical operation, even for them. And Nettles didn’t claim to work for Blue Sun. He claimed to be an agent of the Parliament.” “An operative?” Zoe asked, concern in her voice. They all remembered the last time they’d faced an operative. “No, not an operative,” Janos shook his head. “Similar, but with different jobs. Nettles, and people like him, is totally different from our old friend the Operative. His job is more administrative in nature. He claims to belong to something called the ‘Special Projects’ division. Likely that is Blue Sun, but with Blue Sun acting as a front for the actual government agency responsible for things like the Academy.” “What are we gonna do?” Mal asked, for once in the unusual position of asking rather than telling. “We will do nothing,” Janos told him flatly. “But tonight, several of my people and I will pay this facility a visit. The sunrise will reveal a new geographic feature on Londinium.” “We should. . .” Mal objected at once, but Janos cut him off. “No,” he said simply, and Mal fell quiet. “Trust me, Mal. You’ll only be in the way. The people going with me are all very special,” he added with emphasis, and Mal nodded in understanding. “I do have need of your services, however,” Janos surprised him. “I have a ship set aside for odd jobs such as this. She has a pilot, and crew, but no Captain. I want you and Zoe to fly us in.” Mal was stunned. “Why me? Us?” he amended when Zoe elbowed him. “Because I trust you,” Janos told him simply. “You are to lift off at the first sign of trouble, and not look back. Ditch the ship in the sea, and set off a beacon I’ll give you. You’ll be picked up and returned here.” “What about you?” Zoe asked, sitting up straighter. “That is not your concern,” Janos told her, though his voice was not unkind. “We will be fine. The important thing is that this facility and the people who operate it do not survive.” His eyes fairly glowed as he leaned forward. “And I assure you, they will not.” ******************** Prim stood hesitantly at the doorway to Inara’s hospital room. She lay on the bed, eyes closed, but her breathing told him she was not yet asleep. He pondered on whether he should go in, disturbing her, or wait. As he debated with himself, Inara solved the problem for him, opening her eyes as if she’d felt his upon her. “Hello,” she said weakly, and he smiled, walking to the side of the bed. “Hello, My Lady,” Prim didn’t quite whisper. “I am glad to see you awake.” “So glad that you left me as soon as my eyes opened?” she asked pointedly, and he winced. “I. . .I summoned the physician, and then your friends, My Lady,” he told her. “After that, I felt it better that they saw you first.” “I heard you,” Inara told him, changing the subject abruptly. She squeezed his hand lightly, looking directly into his eyes. “I heard you talking to me, when I was asleep.” “It was like I was lost,” she went on. “Then I heard your voice, and followed it.” “Then I am glad I was here to guide you home,” Prim smiled, a true smile this time, unforced. “Home,” Inara repeated, as if testing the word. “I need to know why you left, Prim,” she said suddenly. “I need to know before. . .before.” She couldn’t finish, but she didn’t need to. He understood what she meant. “As you awakened, you called for the Captain,” Prim answered honestly. “I. . .I had no wish to intrude. It had been my belief that you and he were no longer involved, but hearing you call for him. . .” Prim broke off, unable to find the words. Inara looked up at him, noting the wounded expression on his face. “I’m sorry I did that, Prim,” she said earnestly. “It’s habit, I suppose. Mal has always been in charge, maybe that’s why. But you are correct that Mal and I are no longer, ‘involved’, as you put it.” She squeezed his hand again, and he looked down into her eyes. Dark, seemingly bottomless eyes. Eyes that were growing heavy even as she tried to keep them open. “Perhaps we should speak of this later, Inara,” Prim said softly, stroking her forehead lightly. “After you have rested.” “Will you stay here with me?” she asked, surprising him. “I will do anything you ask of me, Inara Serra,” Prim said truthfully, and Inara smiled faintly, her face coloring. “Then please,” she asked him, “stay here with me. Watch over me.” Prim sat down beside the bed, still clasping her hand in his. As her eyes closed, he could see a faint smile still playing at her lips, and felt one forming on his own face. Yes, he would stay. He would do whatever she asked. ************* Janos found Prim like that some time later, looking for his trusted friend. Seeing him sleeping with his head on the bedside, while Inara slept as well, warmed the Spartan as few things ever had. Smiling, he turned quietly and departed. His business was not so pressing as that. He had intended to say good-bye to Prim, and leave a few last minute documents with him. But that could be handled by another. “Godspeed, brother,” he whispered softly, leaving the hospital behind him. Janos believed in fate, as he had said before. And his instincts told him that he and Lady Fate would meet, tonight. He wondered, idly, what the outcome would be.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007 4:22 PM


Just when I thought there was hope for Mal and Inara you shoot me down (((sigh)))

Tuesday, December 4, 2007 10:58 PM


Ah, but Prim still has to rationalise the fact that Inara is going to grow old and die at some point, and he isn't. Unless she asks him to ... but that's probably another story. As to this one, I want to know what the outcome of Janos v. Fate is going to be too!


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