STOLEN MOMENTS: 7. "Recovery"
Tuesday, April 5, 2005

"Simon checks on Inara, Book jumps to the wrong conclusion and River makes a disturbing offer."



SUMMARY: "Simon checks on Inara, Book jumps to the wrong conclusion and River makes a disturbing offer." 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.


A "Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

Shepherd Book watched and listened in silence as slowly Inara Serra came to her senses. She refused to go with Simon to the infirmary but compromised by letting him examine her in the privacy of her shuttle. Book stepped out onto the walkway and stood there in thought for some time, his anger slowly building and boiling up inside him though little of it showed on his face. He knew the Captain could be a rough undisciplined kind of fellow but had never thought he would stoop this low. The man's opinion of Inara and her chosen profession was well known but Book had always hoped that genuine affection lay somewhere beneath the war weary and brittle facade. Now he knew it didn't and the knowledge sickened him. It was high time someone told their bully of a Captain what they thought of him. Obviously Inara was too much the lady to do it herself so the duty fell to him.

Not waiting for Simon to finish he made his way to the Captain's bunk. The ship was quiet as if the whole crew was holding its' breath. He knew the others were in the commons area probably talking and speculating on what had happened to Inara. He preferred to go to the seat of the problem. It was something of a surprise when he got to the Captain's hatch to find it was already open. He peered down expecting the room to be empty but what was that? He leaned a little further and recognised a foot hanging over the end of the bed. The foot was still attached to a shoe. So, he had worn himself out had he? His lips setting in a grim unforgiving line the Preacher descended the ladder and closed the hatch firmly behind him, taking a moment to lock it in place so they wouldn't be disturbed. This was not going to be pretty.

When he turned to face the room he noticed the Captain was lying face down on the top of his bed, fully clothed. He frowned and walked over the bed. "Captain, I think it's time we had a talk." No reaction.

Frowning he stepped closer and shook the man's shoulder. "Captain, it's Shepherd Book! Wake up, I need to talk to you." Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

The Shepherd's frown deepened. Perhaps the Captain had been drinking? He knew from his experience on Serenity that the man was a light sleeper yet repeatedly shaking him produced no reaction and he could smell no alcohol on him. A tendril of worry nagged at him. Carefully he rolled the Captain on to his back and gasped with alarm. A large sodden patch of red soaked the rusty shirt, the blood making his hand wet as he finished rolling the Captain over and saw the crimson stained bed. Book felt an immediate rush of shame for the uncharitable thoughts he had been entertaining. Quickly he felt for a pulse, weaker than he would have liked but at least it was there. Book hurried back up the ladder and unlocked the hatch, throwing it back so that it clanged loudly. Without stopping by the commons area he hurried to Inara's shuttle and entered without knocking. Inara and Simon turned in surprise, not used to the Shepherd just barging in. Simon immediately thought something must have happened to River and sprang to his feet, alarmed by the blood on the Shepherd's hands. Book shook his head.

"It's the Captain."

Simon looked nonplussed. "*Wo bu dong*."

"He's unconscious and I can't wake him. Judging by the amount of blood I'd say his wound has reopened and been bleeding for some time."

Simon turned to aplogise to Inara but she looked in shock, a hand over her mouth. When he went to speak she waved him away, insisting he go and see to the Captain. Only when both men had gone did Inara allow the tears to flow. Merciful Buddha, what had she done?

* * * * *

They passed a curious Kaylee on the catwalk, Simon only pausing long enough to ask her to go and sit with Inara. Puzzled and anxious she hesitated. "Simon, *shenme shi*?"

He did not like being overly dramatic but had no time to waste on being diplomatic. "It's the Captain, his wound has reopened and Book can't wake him."

Kaylee gasped, eyes wide and filling up with tears. First Inara, now the Captain. It felt as if the seams of her world were falling apart. Simon didn't have time to comfort her though his heart ached wishing he could. "Kaylee, I need you to sit with Inara, *dong ma*?"

It took a moment for the words to sink in then she nodded. Book called for Simon to hurry and in a couple of seconds they were gone only the ringing clamour of their fading boots echoing like some inescapable doom. Kaylee was unaware of Zoe, Wash, Jayne and River coming out of the commons area to see what all the ruckass was about. Zoe tried to get something coherent out of Kaylee but River knew. With a sad look in her eyes her words had a creepifying echo that made each of them shudder inside. "It's only blood but a body will die without it."

They looked at each other and for once no one wanted to ask her what the good gorram she meant.

* * * * *

Simon couldn't believe he was doing this again. What had the Captain been thinking of, reopening the wound? Were all his words of caution doomed to fall on stony ground? The man was nothing if not stubborn but usually sufficient common sense penetrated the thick skull to ensure enough of his advice was followed that he actually healed. But not this time. What in the nine hells could he have been doing to get himself in this state? His inner tirade petered out as he worked to be replaced by worry. The man really was not in good shape. Shepherd Book stayed in the infirmary with them silently handing Simon his instruments as he carefully cleaned the wound and painstakingly sewed it up again. As he was tying off the last stitch a commotion at the door made him look up. Wash and Zoe were entering the infirmary.

"I thought you might need some blood." Offered Wash, as if giving blood was an every day occurrence on Serenity.

Glancing down at the Captain as he cut the thread it was certainly beginning to feel that way to Simon. "Yes, that's very thoughtful and just in time. Thanks Wash."

Zoe stood back a pace or two and watched her husband pull a chair closer to the bed where the doctor was working. His short sleeve shirt giving the doctor easy access to the vein in his inner elbow. Silently he swabbed the site then inserted the needle. Wash didn't look at what he was doing, his eyes fixed on the Captain's pale face. "Is he gonna be alright?"

"*Qu*, providing I can stop him reopening the wound. A couple of hours more and it wouldn't have made any difference."

Behind Simon, Zoe paled. Wash knew what she was thinking and much as he worried about the Captain he worried even more about how his fiercely loyal wife would cope if anything happened to Mal. He had long since lost his jealousy over their closeness but that did not mean he always understood how a friendship could be so deep it had no bottom.

* * * * *

It was the sound of Kaylee crying that brought Inara out of her numb stupor. "Kaylee? *Mei mei*, don't cry."

A look of relief glimmered in the glassy depths of the mechanic's eyes. "Oh 'nara, ya had me so scared."

Inara put an arm around Kaylee and began making soothing noises. At least now she was dressed and beginning to feel human again though it would take much longer until the guilt left her if it ever did. "*Fang xin* Kaylee, I'm going to be fine."

Kaylee sniffed and wiped the tears from her face. It felt good to know her friend was going to be alright but she was so rutting confused. "*Wo bu dong*, what happened?"

"It was just a nightmare."

Kaylee stiffened a little and Inara pulled back to see her face. "River said it had to do with why you left Sihnon. Something that happened."

All the colour drained out of the Companion's face. "That was a long time ago." "Wanna talk about it? My daddy says it helps if ya talk about what ails ya."

She hesitated. How could she tell an innocent like Kaylee that this was something no amount of talking could heal? In fact it would only raise unquiet ghosts and a pain so vivid the lustre of life would lose its' edge. She decided deflection was the order of the day. "What happened to the Captain?"

Now Kaylee looked even more worried, effectively side tracked and getting upset again. Inara held her close and tried to comfort her. "Simon says his wound reopened, don't know how, but he lost a lot of blood." She sniffed. "'Nara, why do bad things keep happenin' to us?"

"I don't know, *mei mei*, but we have to think positive."

Kaylee's voice lifted high in query, a slight tremble revealing just how uncertain she was feeling. "We do?"

"Yes, we do." Said Inara firmly. "At least we are still here. A little battered and worse for wear but still here."

"Still flyin'?"

For some reason the silly little phrase made her eyes prick with unshed tears. "Still Flyin'." She murmured into Kaylee's hair.

* * * * *

He awoke groggy and in pain. The infirmary lights had been dimmed and he was feeling cold. Not that he felt much of anything with the drugs and all. A slight movement off to one side caught his attention but it was hard to turn his head. In the end he waited for the movement to catch up with him. Slowly the blur solidified into a shape then the shape gently smiled. "More lives than a cat."

Huh. Might have known the crazy girl would find him. "What happened?"

It took him two goes to get the sentence out. River did not reply immediately but the smile hesitated on her face. "You nearly died."


"Body whole but mind in torment. Can't heal for the guilt." River sat next to his bed and watched him for a moment. Mal wished he could swallow properly but the inside of his mouth felt like cotton wool. Come to think of it so did his gorram head. "Not life threatening."

"Huh." He began to close his eyes when he remembered something and squinted up at her. "You said I was a Reader."

She nodded and brought her face close to his, so close that her eyes took up most of his field of vision and made him feel a mite dizzy. "Are too."

A tentative smile hovered on pained lips. Not enough to be a smile but he guessed making an effort was better than no effort at all and River would understand. "Then how come I didn't see this comin'?"

River smiled. A beautiful bow of lips that lit up her whole face like a glowing white pumpkin except this wasn't Halloween and pumpkins weren't white. She gently tapped the end of his nose with her forefinger as if lecturing him. "You're natural, untrained. Lack focus." She paused and leaned back a little enabling him to uncross his eyes. "I'm trained plus I'm a genius." She paused. "I can harness the power of the 'verse."

He might have known she'd have an answer for him. He almost succumbed to the pull of sleep when her next words jerked him wide awake again. As she spoke a smug look settled on her face matching the promise of mischief dancing in her eyes.

"But don't worry, Captain. I can teach you."

Shocked, Mal did not even register the light kiss she gave him before she left and sleep swallowed him like Jonah in the belly of the whale. Across the room another shape moved from the shadows as Simon Tam rose from his chair. More disturbed than he cared to admit by River's promise to the Captain.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*wo bu dong* = I don't understand *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *dong ma* = understand *qu* = yes (lit. go) *mei mei* = little sister *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart)


Wednesday, April 6, 2005 5:51 AM


Ooh, more good stuff. Inara going crazy with guilt while Book's suspicions are backwards. More!

- Soul

Wednesday, April 6, 2005 7:41 AM


Wow, great ending. I can't imagine what must be flowing through Simon's mind right now.

Great job! =o)

Thursday, April 7, 2005 4:30 AM


Woo ... River is one spooky little girl!


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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

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Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

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The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

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If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

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Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

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Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.