BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

AMDOBELL

DUPLICITY Series: 21. "Acts of Grace"
Friday, July 18, 2008

"Daniel Hunt arrives at the Guild House and throws the Companions into disarray. Simon gets surgical help with the Captain. For the first time in his life Badger finds himself joining forces with his formidable mother."


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1999    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

TITLE: "ACTS OF GRACE" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: Zoe/Wash. Kaylee/Simon. RATING: G. STATUS: Sequel to "ACTS OF GOD". ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: AlisonMDobell@aol.com WEBSITE: None. All Firefly stories archived at Fireflyfans.net

SUMMARY: "Daniel Hunt arrives at the Guild House and throws the Companions into disarray. Simon gets surgical help with the Captain. For the first time in his life Badger finds himself joining forces with his formidable mother." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.

"ACTS OF GRACE"

"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

It hurt, it really did, but just thinking about what he was going to do helped to shore up his flagging resolve. Only when it had gone quiet and the evening had drawn in enough to thin the crowds to occasional couples did he consider the time was right. Daniel tried to straighten his clothes but they were full of years of creases, washed but poorly cared for. A lot like himself. Approaching the building filled him with trepidation but also a freeing sense of euphoria that soon his nightmare would be over. There was no electronic device to announce his presence just an ornate and old fashioned brass bell pull. The rounded toll of the bell as the old clapper rang against the side of the bell was pleasing to the ear. He smiled. Nothing could be a better euphanism for what went on within these old venerated walls.

When the door opened he was met by a matronly looking lady made beautiful by her elegance and exotic manner of dress. Her hair was carefully coiffered and the lines that should have been on her face were absent making aging her impossible. Rather than a smile she greeted him with polite but not unkindly enquiry.

"*Wo neng wei ni zuo dianr shenme shi ma*?"

"*Qu*, I need to see the House Mistress."

The beautifully crafted tranquility of her face clouded for a brief moment. Though she recovered from her surprise quickly he could easily discern the curiosity and suspicion in her eyes. "I am afraid she is not at home."

Before the door could be politely shut in his face, Daniel took a step forward. Instinctively the Companion took a step back. It was enough for him to cross the threshold making closing the door next to impossible unless they both gave ground. Daniel smiled and tried to hide the shakes that were beginning to cause little tremors in his body. If he didn't sit down soon they would increase until he fell in an ungainly and highly embarrassing heap on the floor.

"*Fang xin*, I did not mean to alarm you fair lady." Her eyebrow rose at the rather antiquated term of address. It piqued her interest enough not to press the alarm. "But it is *jinli, dong ma*? I beg that I be permitted to wait."

Her sharp eyes noticed his body was in some distress. Though the boy had made some attempt to groom his appearance it was obvious he did not come from one of the monied classes but neither did she deem him a ruffian or tatterdemalion. Yet he had come here, to House Madrassa, asking for the House Mistress and her alone. Could it be that Mistress Barbette knew him? "Perhaps I can be of assistance, Mr...?"

"Mr Hunt. Daniel James Hunt."

"And you needed to see the Mistress about?"

"A matter of utmost importance." His voice shook on the last word.

The Companion's eyes widened a little in alarm. The man looked as if he was about to collapse at any moment. The compassionate and nuturing side of Annalise's Guild training took over. "*Qing, ni mei shi ba*?"

"If I could just...sit..."

The woman flushed at her lack of hospitality and instead of ringing the emergency button rang the one calling for aid. As she stepped forward to guide him in another Companion appeared and got on the other side. Between them they managed to help Daniel into the corridor beyond the foyer and to a well padded chair. As they got him seated he closed his eyes and had to breathe more shallowly than he would have liked, his lungs not allowing a full inhalation to inflate them. It was a limit he had learnt to live with but its' daily constraint constantly frustrated and pained him. Marta gave Annalise a worried look, all anxiety and youthful distress. She was a Companion-in-Training but close enough to qualifying to be treated as one of them. It both flattered and flustered her.

"Annalise, *shenme shi*?"

Before she could reply, Daniel's eyes fluttered open. His gaze fixed on Annalise as she carefully took his pulse. "Annalise? How blessed I am to know the angel that tends me."

The Companion flushed then turned her head as a giggle escaped Marta's lips. Seeing Annalise scowling at her the girl had the sense to pull herself together. "*Duibuqi*, what shall we do?"

"We need to contact the Hospitaller. *Mashang* Marta before your dawdling kills him."

As Marta rushed to do as she was bid, Annalise turned her attention back to Daniel Hunt. The man was unconscious now, his breathing eratic and sticky as if something in his chest was not working right. Gently she laid him the rest of the way down upon the plush deep carpet, her hands expertly checking him for any injuries to explain his distress. What she found troubled her deeply, the bones in one foot so malformed as to cause her to marvel that he had made it upright to their door. The right leg was no better than the left with the hip joint twisted and bulging where the neck of the bone had been broken and never healed correctly. As she took keener notice and checked him over a second time it slowly became clear that this poor man had at one time or another had virtually every bone in his body broken and by her reckoning not one of the injuries he sported had received proper medical attention.

Tears pricked her eyes and a feeling of protectiveness rose up in her. Yet while she waited for Marta to contact the Abbey of St Peter and St Paul for their Hospitaller to attend them a deep seated anger simmered and burned against those who had done this to him.

* * * * *

The Operative was pleased that things were going according to plan but he was not so naive as to assume it would remain that way. Circumstances had a habit of unravelling at the most inopportune times and he had been cautioned not to arouse too much attention. Yet how could so many people be taken out of the equation without anyone making troublesome connections? Not that many would do so. The Alliance was nothing if not inventive in their choice of lies and someone like Londinium's little self styled king pin would not be missed. Already he knew that others of Badger's ilk were scrambling to fill the gap left by the missing man.

With a small amused smile on his lips, the Operative removed himself from the room where he had been waiting for the Chairman of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee to speak to him. A previous problem it seemed had raised its' ugly head. He wondered why he had not been called in two years ago but it seemed that Blue Sun had been almost pathological in their efforts to keep their loss in house and deal with it themselves. Inwardly he was gratified, a little smug even, while outwardly he kept his composure. None of his feelings conveyed by a look or non verbal cues. A blank slate he gave nothing away just listened as the whole sorry tale unravelled. Two years! It amazed him the Parliament had not acted sooner but Blue Sun was a powerful organisation and its' agents were seeded throughout every known corridor of power the Alliance had. Even Parliament knew when to step with care. Hence his presence.

"How many subjects are we talking about?"

The Chairman pursed his lips and tried not to look as unsettled as he felt. "Sixteen."

The Operative's eyebrows rose but he remained as unreadable as ever. The Chairman found it unnerving.

"Five were neutralised by field agents before they could be returned to the facility."

"And the others?"

"We don't know where they are but it is believed they have scattered."

"Two years and this is the first I have heard about it."

There was no trace of accusation, the comment was not phrased as a question but a statement of fact. Chairmen Wey Tsung felt uneasy. Operatives were as deadly as they were fanatically loyal to the cause. For them grey areas did not exist and failure was a fairy tale told to anyone foolish enough to be on the wrong side of their blade. "Even some in the Parliament knew nothing about this until recently. The information has been," he paused "limited."

"You have names?"

Tsung nodded. By the time the Operative left he had a new objective. To find the Traitor within who had set it up. A man who had been deemed the first successful subject integrating advanced psychic abilities into normal brain chemistry without causing psychological and mental problems. No schizophrenic episodes, no bizarre behaviour traits, no violent episodes. Unlike the Readers being trained as assassins he at least was stable. Then something had happened, something unforseen. The most promising subjects had been broken out of the facility and seemingly disappeared. One way or another the Operative would find the traitor. Extract every last bit of information he could about what he had done and where the subjects had gone to ground, then he would execute him. If the man had even a remnant of loyalty left he would thank him for the courtesy. Once that had been accomplished he would turn his attention to the other missing subjects and one by one hunt them down.

* * * * *

The whole crew was more than a little impressed. From the outside the hospital in the grounds of the Tam Estate had been built to be sympathetic to the rest of the buildings. Same brickwork and design features. It was a large single story building, easily masked by the pentiful trees, fruit gardens and scented arbours dotted around the estate. Lying on the stretcher Mal noticed something even Zoe hadn't spotted. "That a landin' pad, Simon?"

Simon blinked. Book and Jayne paused with the stretcher, wondering what the good gorram he was talking about. "Um yes, how did you know?"

A hint of smugness tinged the Captain's voice. "Hard to miss lyin' on my gorram back."

Book looked up and realised that while the hospital building had a low gable end either side the main central part of the roof was flat. Not that flat rooves were rare but they were often avoided even as cheap options because they required more maintenance to keep them water tight. Now that he was looking the Shepherd noticed the way the guttering around the top of the building incorporated run offs from the roof. Good idea. Obviously there must be some kind of gentle camber carrying any water away from the roof and into the gutters. So. A well thought out design. Expensive. And that was just on the outside. He did not miss the discreet security system nor the integral alarm. Book glanced at Jayne and noticed the big man had spotted them as well. Neither man thought it would be a good idea for any of them to be recorded on surveillance footage even if Simon's parents were on their side.

At the door a pair of nurses waited and held the double doors wide while Mr Tam stepped forward to introduce himself and show them inside. Book nodded his thanks and followed Gabriel Tam into the building, Simon moving to walk alongside his father as they hurried deeper into the facility ignoring several wards off to each side until they came to one which appeared to be more sophisticated. Book's eyes widened slightly as the room opened out into a large octagonal space with ward beds situated around it like the spokes of a wheel while in the middle a pristine surgery was situated, the glass sides fitted with light conducting glass so that at the flick of a switch a current could be sent through it turning the glass opaque or any gorram colour of the spectrum they wanted. In fact, it looked so state of the art it left him wondering if this was the experimental part of the hospital. Only there was no way for Book to ask without risking offence. He had to remind himself that the Tams were taking a considerable risk on their behalf and it behooved him to remember that.

The Captain was blinking in the blaze of light from on high, trying to see as much as he could but his view was limited to the ceiling and the the upper parts of those carrying his stretcher. It was rutting frustrating to say the least but he held his tongue. A mite light headed if he was any judge. Must be all the excitement and jostling. He blinked, surprised to find himself in a hospital bed, his clothes gone and some kind of split gown barely covering him. When the good gorram had that happened? He wanted to ask questions but the whole talking part was rapidly becoming beyond him. Above him faces hovered, unrecognisable from the growing blur making him feel more than a mite seasick. It was the last thing he remembered before someone thankfully turned the lights off.

"Is he under?"

Gabriel Tam nodded. "*Qu*. I wasn't expecting him to fade so fast, Simon. He has lost a lot of blood."

"*Wo zhidao, fuqin*. I've already given him a couple of blood transfusions but as you can see the damage is extensive."

For a moment father and son fell silent. Carefully removing the bandages from the left knee first, the ruin revealed in all its' gory detail caused Gabriel Tam to suck in a sharp intake of breath. Simon had been ready to staunch the fresh bleeding, a new transfusion already set up and filtering blood back into a body losing too much for his liking. Beside them a surgeon Simon did not recognise was leaning forward, peering intently and making soft clucking noises. It was annoying Simon but good manners prevented him from saying anything. At last the surgeon glanced up, his eyes on Simon.

"How did this happen?"

"Gunshot wound."

Dr Raymond Foss did not look surprised and it occurred to Simon that the man was possibly testing him. His eyes narrowed, not liking what that might mean. Foss however appeared only interested in what was best for the patient. The man nodded solemnly. "I thought as much. Judging by the extent of the trauma it looks to have been close range too."

There was a question there if Simon was of a mind to acknowledge it but he made no effort to enlighten Dr Foss further. They had probably aroused more interest than was good for them just bringing the Captain into the facility. His father had vouched for Foss and stated that he was an expert in this kind of surgery. When it became obvious that Simon was not going to say any more Dr Foss turned to Gabriel and explained that the operation would necessarily be one of several. First they needed to prevent further blood loss and stabilise their patient. Then they would need to reconstruct a replacement patella for both knees along with knee joints, arteries and veins. It would be a complicated process covering several days with breaks between to ensure the patient was given sufficient time to recover between bouts of surgery. Whether he expected Simon to excuse himself and leave them to begin without him was a moot point. The Captain was his patient and Simon had no intention of leaving him in any other hands but his own. Expert help he would gladly accept but abrogating the responsibility that went with it was unthinkable.

* * * * *

More disappointed than frustrated, she sighed and shook her head. "You always were a coward, Stephen. Why did I think you would grow a backbone now?"

Badger stiffened. "*Wei*, I ain't no coward, *dong ma*? Just a realist, is all."

"Semantics."

"*Shenme*?"

His mother gave another, heavier sigh. "Did you even go to school?"

Suddenly furious he wanted nothing more than to throw something at her. Wasn't his gorram fault that he found himself in this mess. But although a tirade was on the tip of his tongue Badger managed to bite back the words. A snarky comment would bring the kind of painful grief down on his head that he had spent the better part of twenty years running away from. Fat lot of good it had done him, too. Also, he remembered hearing somewhere that female spiders ate their young and he had no inclination to end up on anyone's gorram menu. Figuratively or otherwise his mother was scary enough without her turning cannibal on him.

"So what we gonna do?"

She raised an eyebrow. He huffed, but there was no strength behind it.

"I'm guessin' you must have some kind'a gorram plan, *dui*?"

"If I knew what you were talking about I might be able to answer that non sequiter." When he looked blankly at her, his mother took a deep breath to keep her temper and impatience in check. After all it wasn't her son's fault that the apple hadn't fallen far from a certain unsavoury tree and she knew she had to share some of the blame for that. "You need to disappear for a while."

He blinked at her, genuinely shocked that she could be so clueless. "You think this is somethin' that's gonna blow away with the next high wind?"

His mother frowned. "Keep a civl tongue in your ungrateful head."

"*Wode ganji* but you have to see - this ain't a glitch, a hiccough. It's a gorram vendetta."

"What do you mean?"

"Them purplebellies. You said yourself it went higher up, Blue Sun." He paused, alarmed to see a slight shudder go through her. "You alright?"

"*Qu, wo bu xihuan*. It complicates things."

Badger stared. He didn't know whether to laugh or gorram cry. "An' it's gonna get worse."

"*Zenme*?"

"Who holds all the money an' power in this corner of No an' Where?" He watched her face and saw it harden. "Exactly. They got the kind o' resources that can scour every gorram world from here to the ruttin' Rim an' what've we got? Whatever cashy money we got on us an' no prospects."

"Speak for yourself."

"If you got somethin' up your sleeve just say."

"I can go one better. I can walk out of that door any time I care to."

For a moment he thought she was going to do just that. In fact the thought made his palms go sweaty with fear and how twisted was that? Wasn't like she had a maternal bone in her gorram body, yet. Here she was. Not leaving. He didn't want to think about what it might mean, him having a whole gorram life full of disappointments behind him. Didn't want to go jumping to no conclusions. "If we can't outrun 'em, we 'ave to outsmart 'em."

For a long moment she stared at her son. Really stared hard as if seeing him for the first time. "What do you have in mind?"

A flicker of something reminded her that her only son and heir had a cunning and devious mind of his own. Badger gave her a smug little smile, eyes glinting darkly then grinned. "I think it's time we turned the tables on 'em, don't you? Time for the hunters to become the gorram hunted."

"You do know," said his mother slowly "that there are only the two of us, Stephen?"

His grin actually widened. She had said 'we' not 'you'. That meant they were in it together, didn't it? "That's one more than I 'ad when this mess began."

* * * * *

"How is he?"

Annalise tried to control her anger, after all she was not mad at any of them. "Apart from being malnourished and having injuries on every part of his body the hospitaller says he is running a fever."

The other Companions were all gathered round anxious for news. It warmed Annalise's heart that though the man was a stranger not one spoke of turning him out. He had come to them for help and his dire circumstances had brought out the compassion in them, one and all.

"We must inform the House Mother," said Mary-Clare.

"Who would do such a thing?"

Kind, gentle hearted Naomi looked ready to cry. Annalise patted her arm. "*Fang xin, mei mei*, the hospitaller says he will stay until the fever breaks. In the meantime he has asked his Abbott to arrange contact with a doctor."

"Is that wise?"

"Why would it not be?" Asked Helena.

"We know nothing about him. He could be a criminal, a murderer even!"

Annalise snorted. "Louise, how did you ever learn to dress yourself without a hand book?" The girl glared at her. She softened her tone in an effort to encourage understanding. "He is no criminal, he is a soul in need and we are best placed to aid him. *Renci de Fozu*, it is the least we can do and still call ourselves Companions."

* * * * *

They had been warned that the Captain would be in surgery for hours. Simon wanted them to return to Serenity to wait but Zoe wouldn't leave the Captain. When Simon left them to decide for themselves, Zoe watched him go into the surgery and close the door behind him. The glass had been darkened and now they could not see inside. It was making her testy and ill at ease. Wash tried to comfort her but it was as if she had shut everything out including him. He hated it. Resented the reason even while he understood. It was the understanding that was the two edged sword. Jayne was pacing. Shepherd Book knew that talking to him would only make the man worse. He turned to Zoe.

"There is nothing we can do here for now," he said gently, his words deep and calm and soothing "I think we should return to Serenity."

Kaylee was twisting her hands. All her excitement about seeing where Simon and River had grown up was dampened by the circumstances. Suddenly it didn't seem so shiny after all and despite Simon's reassurance that the Captain was not dying it sure felt like it to her. Even when one of them was under the knife on Serenity they could see in through the infirmary windows, reassure themselves that their crew member was still with them and receiving the best possible care. Here it was as if that reassurance had been taken from them. She felt cut off and didn't like it. Jayne turned slowly, his eyes cautious and scanning the interior of the hospital like a mine sweeper. "Don't like it here."

At last Zoe responded, something in the mercenary's truculent tone getting through to her. "*Bi zui*, nobody says you have to like it."

"It's just a medical facility, Jayne." Reasoned the Shepherd, ever the tireless peacemaker.

"Nah, that ain't it. It's all them eyes."

Everyone looked at him. Wash looked torn between bafflement and laughter. "Eyes?"

Jayne looked up and nodded at the internal cameras, all neat and non intrusive but still watching their every gorram move. Now that he had pointed it out to them none of them felt very comfortable at the reminder that the whole place had state of the art surveillance. In their concern for the Captain it had been pushed to the backs of their minds.

"It's for security Jayne, you know that." Zoe spoke up, though she did not sound very happy about it her ownself.

"Yeah, well that all depends on who gets to watch, don't it?"

"This is Simon and River's home, Jayne." Kaylee tried to reassure him.

"No, it ain't. This is some new fangled medical wing set up in their grounds, Kaylee. What does that tell ya?"

Kaylee stared at Jayne trying to see where he was going with this. "That just means they're good folk. Wantin' to do good in the community."

He stared at her for a moment non plussed. Only Kaylee could put a positive spin on everything. With all the things the crew had seen, been through and endured nothing seemed to convince her that things were anything but shiny. "Ain't good deeds that built this."

Wash tried to shush him. The big man's voice was rising and it was beginning to turn the heads of the hospital staff. Shepherd Book smiled benignly at the staff and they smiled back then continued their duties. "Jayne, this isn't a discussion we should be having here, *dong ma*?"

The mercenary was about to argue when Book flicked his eyes towards the nearest camera without moving his head. Jayne got the message and shut up much to everyone'e relief. Moments later River came into the facility with her mother in tow, her face a wreath of smiles. Kaylee immediately brightened up at the sight of her friend and happily took up the invitation to go back to the house with them for something to eat and drink. Zoe followed them out of the facility and stopped in her tracks. Everyone paused. Before Mrs Tam could ask if something was wrong the first mate said what was on her mind. "No offence Mrs Tam but one of us should stay with the Cap'n."

Shepherd Book nodded solemnly. "*Wo tongyi*, I was about to ask if I might stay?"

The agreement was addressed to Zoe but the request to stay to Mrs Tam. The first mate's eyes narrowed slightly but she kept her tongue still. Mrs Tam nodded graciously, not really understanding why the whole crew had piled into the hospital in the first place but understanding that they must surely be concerned for their injured Captain. "*Dang ran*."

As the crew filed passed Book to follow Regan and River into the house, Zoe hung back and gave the Shepherd a nod of thanks. "I'll relieve you in a couple of hours."

"That really isn't necessary..." He trailed off at the implaccable look in her eyes and gave a nod instead realising it was a fight he would not win. "*Xie xie ni*, that will be shiny."

* * * * *

GLOSSARY - CHINESE (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*wo neng wei ni zuo dianr shenme shi ma?* = can I do anything for you? *qu* - yes (lit. go) *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *jinli* = urgent *dong ma* = understand? *qing* = please *ni mei shi ba* = are you okay? *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *duibuqi* = sorry *wo zhidao* * I know *mashang* = at once/on the double/immediately *fuqin* = father *wei* = hey! *shenme* = what *wode ganji* = I'm grateful *wo bu xihuan* = I don't like it *zenme* = how *mei mei* = little sister *Renci de Fozu* = merciful Buddha! *bi zui* = be quiet/shut up *wo tongyi* = I agree *dang ran* = of course *xie xie ni* = thank you

COMMENTS

Friday, July 18, 2008 4:37 PM

ANGELLEMARCS


I just love how you wirte these charcters. We have Simon's Dad and Badger's mom, and I just love the way you write them. Like they are exactly how I would picture them in my head.

Now, Be careful with our captain, dong ma?! :))

Monday, July 21, 2008 2:46 AM

JANE0904


So many different threads, I'm wondering how you're going to tie them all together! And now Mal is in surgery ... I'm really thinking Inara has to be told what happened, so she can come back and do some TLC on our captain.

Monday, July 21, 2008 2:54 AM

SLUMMING


Sorry I'm coming late to this little party, but I was very interested in this chapter. Still intrigued about what is to come! :D

Thursday, July 24, 2008 1:00 AM

WYTCHCROFT


great chapter! you think out the characters so well. (er, sorry that was meh as sentences go - but you know what i mean!)


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