BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

NOSADSEVEN

Dignity
Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Simon reassesses some assumptions during an awkward (huh, imagine that) conversation with Mal.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2401    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY


Thanks to Mal4Prez for beta and encouraging me to actually post, and to Guildsister for her inspirational fics. Also thanks to the various BSR authors and commenters that make this a place worth posting to!

Legally meaningless disclaimer: Firefly belongs to people not me, and this in no way represents any of them. Joss, however, has said on more than one occasion that he’s fine with fanfic, so my conscience is eased.


Dignity

“Is that what they taught you rich kids? …In them fancy core world schools?”

Mal’s question was at once incredulous and weary, with a sarcastic edge that threatened to devolve into raw anger. Simon had encountered Mal’s raw anger before, far more often than he had ever intended, and hoped to avoid another foray into that territory. Such trips ended painfully for him, more often than not.

“Well… I…” Simon struggled to clarify his initial assertion, without further raising the ire of the captain. He set the blue enameled cup of what was to have been a relaxing tea onto the counter behind him, the warmth of the steam stifling now more than soothing.

Simon marveled at his ability to place himself in these situations with this man. Never intentionally; well, not usually - and not now, at least. He had developed a better understanding of ‘their world’ - the captain’s world - this world which was now his own. His missteps were fewer, but still painfully common. There were certain things that Simon had reorganized in his brain during his time aboard Serenity, his impression of the Alliance being not the least of them. But still, some things had been so ingrained… He’d not had a chance to systematically trace through them all, to reframe them in the context of his current life. So inconsistencies continued to crop up and pop out at the most unexpected times. Things that, with just a moment of reflection, were easily identifiable as absurd, naïve, or even just…quaint.

“Yes,” he finally answered the captain, realization dawning. This time, it was about the war. Dangerous territory there, he knew. His experience of it was so vastly different than that of the captain - the former sergeant, the veteran, the loser. History is programmed by the victor, indeed, and Simon’s time spent with those from the losing side was helping him to work through the half-truths. But Simon also recognized that these former Independents’ experience of the war, of the Alliance, colored their own judgment of history, often easily blurring together acts of purposive brutality and cruelty with simple effects of bureaucracy and indifference.

“We were told that their policy – our policy - was to treat all prisoners of war, all of the Independent soldiers, humanely and with dignity,” he continued, “providing for their needs while necessarily keeping them… under observation.” Simon spoke carefully; the captain snorted derisively.

“I take it that wasn’t your experience in the aftermath of the war.”

“No, no, it was shiny!” Mal’s feigned cheerfulness bit into Simon. “All humane and…” Mal swallowed, “dignified.” The light facade all but disappeared by the last word, exposing the restless emotion beneath. It seemed to hold the captain for a moment, until he abruptly turned back to the pile of invoices he had been sorting, rifling though the papers now with an absent determination.

Simon wasn’t sure how to respond. He wanted to know more, but didn’t want to push the captain any further. Really, wasn’t that all he needed to know? Did the details even matter?

Simon’s assumption - that once the fighting had finished for good, the Independent soldiers had been justly and efficiently met with medical care and boarding, and… if not compassion, then at least propriety at the hands of the victorious Alliance…

His assumption was obviously naïve.

But still, Simon was a doctor, and understood the seriousness with which his colleagues undertook their oaths to heal. He could not believe that, in wartime or not, good-hearted MedAcad graduates would allow needless suffering. But then, the medical professionals weren’t necessarily the ones to create policy on the processing of former enemy soldiers, and the policy itself wasn’t necessarily adhered to by those enforcing it. The captain had firsthand experience with the de facto nature of the Alliance military hierarchy, and Simon had certainly learned to respect that. Whatever the well-intentioned, well-publicized policy may have been, it need not have had any bearing on what the unspoken actuality was.

A silence hung between the two men, punctuated only by the pronounced shuffling of papers, but Simon’s need to reconcile his pride in his profession with the hints of impropriety spurred him to push further.

“You know, the purported purpose of the war, was to spread enlightenment…” Simon pressed. “Surely they - the Alliance doctors, I mean – surely they treated the wounded and the ill…”

“Sure, sure,” Mal granted. “They did treat for sicknesses… n’ patch up our hurts… At least, them as they weren’t causing.”

Causing… Simon pondered. “Well, I suppose it was a war… But, once the war had ended, things must have been fairly…stable.”

Mal looked at Simon doubtfully. “I thought you were a mite bit smarter than that, Doc.”

“So… even after the war had ended? After the hostilities had ceased? What cause could they have had to… I mean, there’s no…”

“It was what it was,” Mal cut him off. “No need to be a reason.”

Simon regarded the simple truth of the statement. “So you…? Zoë…?” Simon trailed off, shaking his head, uncomfortable with asking, but compelled by the realization. “They…?”

“I’d really rather not revisit that unpleasantness, just now, Doctor,” collecting together the irregular slips and forms, and standing up from the table, “if it’s all the same to you.”

“No, I mean… I… No.” Stammering. He does a lot of stammering these days. “I don’t mean to pry, I just…” Simon gave up. “I’m sorry.”

Mal turned to leave, tucking the last errant corners of paper into the well-worn file. “Yeah, well—” His voice grew tired. “—so am I.”

COMMENTS

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 12:09 PM

AMDOBELL


I can imagine this awkward dialogue between Simon and Mal, just wish we could see Simon find a way to get the Captain to open up a bit. Would be somewhat cathartic for them both I'm thinking. Nice to see this subject matter in a fic. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 3:28 PM

KATESFRIEND


Very creatively written and a perfect foil to have between Mal and Simon. You said a lot by not saying much at all about what really happened, and that made it all the more interesting. Really enjoyed your Mal voice in this, and your descriptions of Simon's mental gymnastics said a lot about how much he had to change for his new life.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 7:09 PM

SLUMMING


"The light facade all but disappeared by the last word, exposing the restless emotion beneath. It seemed to hold the captain for a moment, until he abruptly turned back to the pile of invoices he had been sorting, rifling though the papers now with an absent determination." That was an absolutely beautifully crafted two sentences! Very much enjoyed the rest of the story as well! :D

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 6:20 AM

HOMESPUN


Oh, yes. I find that Simon just cannot will himself to keep quiet when he really wants to know something. Even in a sincere effort to understand, his words never come out quite right.

"But Simon also recognized that these former Independents’ experience of the war, of the Alliance, colored their own judgment of history, often easily blurring together acts of purposive brutality and cruelty with simple effects of bureaucracy and indifference." This is very insightful, as Simon would see this flaw in Mal and Zoe even as he is trying to manage his own change of circumstance and opinion.

I like your Mal revisiting that past for a moment, then diving back to busy work with an "absent determination".

Nicely in character, please do give us more.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 6:46 AM

MAL4PREZ


I'm so glad you posted this! Now you're over that first-post hump and you'll start writing and posting more, right? Right? :)

Understatement is really powerful in this. You don't have to includes gut-wrenching, hair pulling, agonizing angst to get a point across. (Not that that isn't fun too from time to time LOL!) This ficlet has a realistic, human texture to it that suits Firefly, and the two characters. Not easy to achieve.

This kinda reminded me of Homespun's Rabbit Hole, in the sense that Simon's POV is so good for illuminating Mal's character. The two work together very well. And I don't mean in a slash sense!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 4:29 PM

TWILIGHTSEEKER


thanks for the note, advise and the welcome...yes my daughters often seem to know what is good for me..I fainally figured out the when the series came out originally I had no cable and was busy working three jobs putting the girls thru college...I am trying to make up for lost time now...having had the courage to post one ficlet I think I might summon the courage for another...thanks for this very believable exchange betweeb Mal and Simon

Friday, February 29, 2008 10:35 AM

NOSADSEVEN


Thanks for all of the thoughtful comments, guys! They mean a lot, as I am more accustomed to expressing myself in, uh... essay form. Fiction is so much fun, but it's a lot scarier for me!



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Dignity
Simon reassesses some assumptions during an awkward (huh, imagine that) conversation with Mal.