A House of Healing
Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A wartime story of tragedy in a Companion House, taken over by the Alliance as a hospital.


This was supposed to be a place of peace, a place of learning and practicing the ways of pleasure and companionship. This was not a hospital, not a place of pain of suffering... or.. it wasn’t, until the war came. It was supposed to pass us by, the fighting expected to occur on the main planet nearby, leaving us virtually unscathed. That was why we didn’t abandon the place and head to the core. It was supposed to be safe.

Najii closed the door behind her, leaning against it, chest heaving as she tried to catch her breath. The hands that pressed against the intricately carved and meticulously oiled door were wet and shiny with grisly red paint – fresh blood, dark and messy. Her eyes were squeezed shut, makeup smeared by tears. The cool night air greeted her, but she couldn’t quite shut out the noise from inside, the groans and moans and occasional screams of pain.

Her breathing slowed, and she opened her eyes, moving across the small walkway to the railing. The valley stretched out, far below, and at the furthest edge, she could see the flashes of light, hear the booms. People were fighting and dying only miles away. She dropped her eyes to her hands. He had been so young – younger even than she was, and she was quite young, herself. In the dim light, her eyes appeared nearly all white, like crystal. She stared at her hands, at the blood, but only saw the wreckage of the poor boy’s body. She’d been visiting with some of the boys, trying to bring some vague bit of comfort, when they’d brought the boy in, moaning and bleeding. The doctor, in a rush, had shouted at her, demanding she assist him.

There was no hope. She did what she could, feeling the life slip from his body and knowing she could do nothing. The doctor yelled at her throughout, blaming her for her uselessness. When the boy had finally died, he'd snarled at her to go, to get away and stay away from his patients. She’d gone, running headlong, crying silently. Now she went along the walkway, finding her way to her "room" – once a simple privacy alcove, now a tiny cell for her to sequester herself in. Her old room was full of dying wounded soldiers now.

She slipped inside, and rinsed her hands, removing her stained dress with jerky gestures. Naked, she washed herself furiously, crying silently the whole time. When no trace of blood remained, she slipped into a simple silk robe, kneeling on her pallet-like bed. The mattress was thick enough to be comfortable, but was barely wide enough for one, and lay directly on the bare wooden floor. She’d managed to fit one small rug and one of her trunks into the room. There was no room for more. She sat hugging her knees, trembling and trying to remember the boy’s name, when there was a scratching at her door.

"Come in..." she answered hesitantly.

Diwa, one of the older girls at the House, slipped inside, closing the door behind her. She knelt on the rug beside Najii’s bed, eyes wide and face tear-streaked. She reached out and took Najii’s hands, tears springing forth again, "Oh, Najii... the... the soldiers.. they caught Thana and I in the garden..." she pulled one hand away to wipe at her tears, and Najii twisted her legs underneath her, sitting forward to pull Diwa into a hug.

"Oh, Diwa, mei-mei... no..." She stroked the other girls long blonde hair, feeling her own tears flowing again. Some of the soldiers saw Companions as high-class whores, forgetting that these were the civilians and citizens they were supposed to be protecting. They’d been ordered to leave the girls alone, and most seemed able to. There’d been two other "encounters" and each time, the incident was quieted and ignored. Najii held Diwa, and prayed this would be over soon.

The Alliance.. she’d spent her whole life supporting the Alliance, believing it was all that was good and right. Now, she wasn’t so sure. The officials here.. what they were allowing.. the atrocities she saw brought in, the suffering....that they could allow.. even condone...


He was an Independent. They’d caught him, but he was hurt, bad. She stood half in the doorway, one hand along the doorframe, looking at him. This was the big threat out there? He looked little different from any of the other men here, aside from his coat. There was an alliance guard on the other side of the door, but he didn’t pay much attention to her. She was a familiar sight, sitting next to the wounded, holding hands when it she could, talking to them. He yawned a little as she slipped inside, not the least worried that the man was any danger.

Najii approached the pallet, and knelt carefully beside him. He appeared to be asleep, a bandage wrapped around his head, dirt and blood marking his cheek. He was covered in one of the thin grey blankets that all the wounded lay under. Najii frowned, hands clasped lightly in front of her. This was one of the idealistic, rebellious Independents, that were fighting so hard against the culture and protection of the Alliance.

His eyes blinked open, blue eyes that looked around in confusion, then latched onto her icy blue eyes, as he croaked out, "Where am I?"

Najii began to stand, but he reached out, grabbing her hand. She winced away, and he frowned, "I’m not going to hurt you.. I just.. Where am I? Please?"

Najii couldn’t help the response in herself, to the plea he voiced. She settled, licking her lips nervously. "You’re at the Companion House on Emerald Hill. They’re using it as a hospital..."

He looked suspiscious, "Who.. the Alliance??" At her nod, he closed his eyes and fell back, releasing her hand. "Tama de..."

She gave him a sympathetic look, "They gave you the same care they give the other soldiers here... I think you’re going to recover..." He didn’t look happy about that news.

"So I live for what? To be tortured so they can find my friends, and kill them?" His voice was bitter.

Najii sighed, biting her lower lip, "I – I’m sorry..." she began to move again, "Maybe I shouldn’t be in here... I’m not really authorized..."

"No.. please... if I gotta be tortured," he gazed up at her face, his eyes roving over her features, drinking her in, "Be nice to have a few minutes worth of memories of a pretty face to get me through it."

Najii blushed, "You’d charm me into helping you? Make me your unwitting accomplice?" She smiled, reaching out to adjust his blanket. Under his coat, his shirt had been cut away, and he was bandaged across his chest, and more she couldn’t see, beneath the blanket. He was so lucky to still be alive.

He grinned, wincing slightly as he adjusted his own position, easing stiff muscles. "I wouldn’t want to get you in any trouble, baobei. It’s kind of you to stay a moment." He took a deep breath, grimacing slightly as his torso expanded with air. "Don’t seem right, pretty lady like you, in the middle of the hell of war." He looked back up at her, appearing tired and in pain.

Najii look away a moment, "It was a miscalculation. We would have evacuated, if we’d had the chance." She let her hands rest in her lap, "It doesn’t seem fair, either, you know, that we should be spared, when so many others have not." She looked down at her hands, quiet.

"Brave words... Still.. a lot of us are fighting for that reason alone – to spare others pain and suffering," he replied, closing his eyes and breathing out slowly.

Najii stood smoothly, retreating with a quiet, "Rest well," before she escaped the room.


She’d visited him several times, had grown to like him, respect him. He was kind, gallant, he flirted with her in courtly ways she’d not enjoyed since before the war. She genuinely liked him, and she feared for what would come next. He was growing stronger all the time. She’d overheard one of the Alliance officials talking... and they had plans to move him, off-planet.

He was sitting up when she came in, a tray of "food" on his lap. Najii dropped gracefully to her knees beside him, smiling. "You’re looking so well today!"

He grinned, "And you are a vision, a miracle of beauty, come to bless me with your radiant presence!" he caught her hand, and manage a half-decent kiss to the back of her fingers, before he released her, wincing. "Aiya... yuben de... " he looked up sheepishly, "Ain’t back to my old self quite yet." He looked genuinely regretful, eyes darting over her body and back to her eyes. "I am going to a very special hell...." he muttered, finishing his meal.

Najii blushed again, unable to help being charmed by him. She took the tray from his lap when he was done, but froze, tray still held in her hands, when a new voice cut through the room.

"What the guai do you think you’re doing in here, woman!?" The deep voice cut through the room like a buzzsaw.

Najii stood, stumbling in her rush. "I was only taking his tray," she said, moving to leave in a hurry.

The Alliance official grabbed her upper arm as she came close to him, catching her up short,. Her eyes looked up at him, wide with her nervousness. The man narrowed his eyes at her, "This man is a prisoner of war, stay out of here."

Najii nodded, and fled the moment he released her, her arm aching from his rough grip.


They couldn’t figure out how he managed to escape, and for three days, Najii slept blissful, smiling herself to sleep with her secret. She was the one that had made it possible, that had made the way for him to escape. She had found a way to save her friend, and she wondered if one day, long after the war was over, in whatever new world reigned then, would she meet him again.

On the fourth day, his body was brought in and laid out on the front veranda. The official verified his identity, and his body was removed for burial. Najii walked in a fog for a long while after that, a ghost of her former self. Only a few noticed the fugue state. Only Diwa ever heard the whole story.


Thursday, July 2, 2009 6:06 AM


So very sad. And very well-written.

Thursday, July 2, 2009 7:07 AM


Thank you so much!

Thursday, July 2, 2009 4:31 PM


I like this aspect of a Companion's role as a nurse (we saw a little bit of that in the unfilmed script "Dead or Alive" where Inara assists Simon and during the birth in HoG) Nice job.

I'm looking forward to more of your work.


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