BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

AMDOBELL

TEMPTATION SERIES: 12. "Penance"
Monday, July 25, 2005

"Kaylee and Simon celebrate their anniversary. The Abbott tries to help the Captain in the only way he knows."


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2667    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

TITLE: "PENANCE" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: Zoe/Wash. Simon/Kaylee. Mal. Book. RATING: G. STATUS: SEQUEL to "GOOD INTENTIONS" ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: AlisonMDobell@aol.com WEBSITE: http://carlajane.50megs.com/Ali00.html

SUMMARY: "Kaylee and Simon celebrate their anniversay. The Abbott tries to help the Captain in the only way he knows." 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.

"PENANCE"

"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

It was so very shiny. Simon could not remember a time when he had ever felt so vibrant and alive. Happier than a mortal soul had any right to be. But no, even if he did not deserve this Kaylee did. He sighed. Kaylee. How had he lived so much of his life without her? Simon was sure that if he lost her now he would not survive. Didn't matter that River might still need him and that was a realisation that made him feel more than a mite guilty but he was in love and could not hide from the truth. Had the freeing feeling that he never wanted to hide from such a wonderful truth again. The days when he had lived his life in tiny increments of pleasure grasped from the jaws of fear and dispair were over. Life didn't get much better than this. He intended to savour every moment.

The warm body wrapped around his began to move. Slow, langorous movements. Flesh against flesh, delicious warm friction. A smile curved relaxed lips as they began to pleasure each other all over again. With a sigh, Simon realised the last thing he would be getting in the next 24 hours was sleep.

* * * * *

Numb. Vaguely he was sure pain was supposed to hurt more but right now he didn't give a good gorram. The instrument had looked like some kind of rutting joke to the Captain when the monk had brought it. Like some museum exhibit from Earth-That-Was. With a start he realised it was used by the monks for self flagellation, the supple strands of leather woven together at one end to form the handle. He could not believe this was happening nor that a seeming Man of God was abusing him this way. Words failed him with the wrongness of it and his heart ached with a dull pain knowing that it was Book who had brought him here obviously with penance in mind. Worse than the growing numbness across his back was the sorrowing emptiness opening up inside him where his growing warmth and friendship for the Preacher had been deepening in a way more satisfying that he cared to admit. To have that hand of friendship turn on him in this way was hard to grasp. He thought the Shepherd knew him better than this.

"Your silence condemns you." Said the Abbott. His voice was no longer soft but had an odd edge to it as if even his infinite patience was running out.

Still the Captain said nothing. He was in that netherland between wakefulness and comatose, couldn't rightly say he was on the edge of sleep. Sleep inferred some relaxation, a letting go of the worries and concerns of the day for the bliss and comfort of healing rest. This was neither. This was a glimpse into *diyu* from which there could be no waking for it was no nightmare nor dream but a cruel warped version of reality. The Abbott paused. Mal barely noticed, hovering on the brink of passing out.

"Repent," Sighed the Abbott, his voice now weary, his tone mildly puzzled. It still had not occurred to him that the man in his spiritual care might be innocent of the charge levied against body and soul. "If you fail to repent, my son, you will rest bound then your penance will continue on the morrow. How long do you think you can withstand the justice of God?"

"Ain't no justice," Murmured the Captain weakly. "To beat on an innocent man."

The Abbott flinched, almost stirred to begin again but sight of the bloody back brought reason to bear on his irritation. Never had he met so stubborn a soul as this. He took a moment or two to get his breath back, carefully moving round to sit in the chair next to the Captain's head. The man was a mystery to him. He should have been weeping and begging for mercy by now. Repenting of his sins and crying out with a glad heart as God reclaimed him. "My son," Said the Abbott in a quietly pained voice. "Your obstinacy grieves me sorely. Why are you so *wangu*?"

"Mayhap 'cause I ain't done nothin' *cuode**, dong ma*? Not mockin' God nor his mistaken angels." The Captain's voice trailed off, too exhausted to put any weight behind his words and no longer caring to even try. Even a backbirth knew you couldn't convince a man whose mind was already made up. Right and wrong didn't come into it.

Alarmed, the Abbott leaned forward and checked the Captain's pulse, not breathing out again until reassured he had not gone too far. He was baffled. For a long time he watched over the now unconscious man and mulled over every word that had passed between them. At last he rose, stiff but determined to save the man's soul whether he wanted it or not. Yet doubt tugged at him as he observed the suppine form, the bloody trails across the Captain's back making bright livid scars. There was a steel in this man that would not bend but also something underpinning that obstinacy that had something of an honest ring to it. Belatedly he realised the man was shivering. Silently berating himself the Abbott called for a couple of the brothers to attend him and gently they unfastened the straps that bound him. Wrapping the Captain in a cloak willing hands took up the burden of his care and carried him to the infirmary, the hospitaller awaiting them.

The Abbott watched in silence as they washed and bathed him then treated the cuts across his back, the angry weals raising skin and flesh around the naked furrows. Yet even in extremis Malcolm Reynolds had made no confession, recanted not one sin. The soul as black and deeply marked as it had been on his arrival. Thoughtfully the Abbott mused, his mind determining the best way to bring this errant soul back into the fold.

* * * * *

Wash Warren loved his wife. More than the breath in his body, more than any gorram thing in the entire 'verse. Even more than flying. He lay replete and filled with joy, his heart full to overflowing with a love that knew no bounds. He smiled as his hand brushed gently over the curve of Zoe's stomach. A deep mirthsome chuckle rising up from her and sending his own smile into a crazy spin of happy delirium. "Do you know how much I love you, *bao bei*?"

"Why don't you save your breath, *zhangfu*, and show me?"

He lifted his head and gave her a look of mock alarm. "Not in front of the baby!"

Zoe laughed and drew warm hands down his chest, her fingers teasing him with gentle fleeting touches that began to drive him crazy. "Wash, baby ain't born yet."

"*Wo zhidao* but they say the baby reacts to stimuli while in the womb an' I..."

Startled, Zoe stopped her hands and looked up at him. "Who say?" He was fumbling with his words down, a faint blush creeping up his neck and into his face. Zoe thought it made him look beautiful but didn't want to gush. "I... um... *they*. You know..."

"No, actually I don't know."

"Well, doctors mostly."

That comment actually made her sit up, leaning back on her hands while she openly stared at him. "You discussed our baby with Simon?"

He was babbling now. Yep, that was what panic sounded like. Zoe kept her face expressionless and just waited. Any minute now Wash would fold like a house of cards. "Well, not Simon..." Zoe frowned and Wash began to feel a bit desperate. "Okay, it was in books an' vids mostly, okay? *Gaoxing* now?"

Zoe decided to let him off the hook and gave a slow lust-filled smile that let him know she had only been teasing. Her hands reached for him and everything else drained out of his mind. There was only Zoe. Her warmth, her touch, her body cradling his, her hands expertly driving him out of his tiny little mind with want and need and oh, beautiful, wonderful, achingly shiny lust. Oh yeah. He *definitely* loved his wife.

* * * * *

Morning came early to the monastery yet not soon enough for Book. For some reason he could not fathom he was feeling anxious. Since bringing Mal to Zion Abbey he had not seen hide nor hair of him. At first he had been calm and quietly joyful. Luxuriating in the peacefulness of the Abbey, the cool welcoming arches of the cloister, the quiet hum of his fellow brothers going about their business with neither anxiety or haste. It was a welcome manna for the soul and yet it failed to fill him. At first he did not recognise his lack and when he did he felt ashamed, as if he were questioning God's ability to sustain him and make him whole.

It was after Matins when the Abbott called for him. Relief brought a swift smile to his lips which faded when he reached the Abbott's office only to find that they were alone. Brother Michael gave a little bow to the Abbott and quietly left, Book wondering where the Captain was. Assuming he must he getting washed and ready to go back. "We must go now, father. I thank you for your assistance."

The Abbott did not answer right away but took time adjusting his robe as he sat behind his heavy desk. "Yes, you must go." Book shot him a sharp look. "You mean *we*?" He corrected mildly. "I cannot return without the Captain."

Abbott Mathias leaned forward on his desk and steepled his fingers. The look he gave the Preacher was somewhat unsettling. "Then return you cannot for he has not repented. Nor has he confessed the depth of his sin."

"But..."

"He is in our care now, brother." Said the Abbott with all the calm authority of a coffin lid closing on a shroud.

Shepherd Book blanched. "I did not mean for him to stay, father. I thought..."

"You thought we would punish him. Bring him to his senses and thus back to God."

It was not a question but an answer that made the Shepherd feel uneasy. Was that what he had done? "Can I see him?"

The Abbott looked aplogetic. "I am sorry, brother, but I do not think that is a good idea."

Suspicion flirted with the Shepherd's heart. "*Weishenme*?"

A bushy brow was slowly raised at the very idea of a brother questioning his Abbott.

"I... I meant no disrespect father, but I feel the need to speak to him, to see him, by your grace."

A long lengthy minute passed, the seconds torturing the beat of Book's heart in a way that was disconcerting for he had done nothing wrong. Ah. There it was. The rub. *He had done nothing wrong*. Every thing Book had done had been for the Captain's benefit even if he knew the man would rail against it and be more than casually offended. He thought the greater service of saving his soul merited the deception. Now he was not so sure the price was one either of them could afford. A slither of steel settled into his nervous veins, his voice coming out steadier than it had heretofore.

"I'm afraid I really must insist father."

For a long time the Abbott stared at him but Book did not drop his eyes nor tender the subservience due his Abbott. Intrigued and disturbed the Abbott knew he would learn no more in the sterile confines of his office. Carefully he nodded and rose to his feet. "Very well, brother Book, seeing's as how you cannot leave without at least some reassurance."

In silence Book followed the Abbott down the flagstoned corridor not even attempting any conversation until they finally reached a heavy wooden door. The Abbott paused, a large heavy mortice key in his right hand. "He may be sleeping."

"Then I shall wake him."

Surprise flared in the Abbott's eyes but instead of querying the remark he turned back to the door and unlocked it, leading the Shepherd into a low ceilinged and stark room. The light level was dim, the heavy stone walls, floor and ceiling making Book feel as if they were deep underground but they were not. He blinked then cast his eyes carefully about the large austere room before he saw a cloak wrapped figure huddled awkwardly on a pallet in the corner. Resisting the urge to hurry he walked over to the bed and knelt next to the sleeping figure. The Captain was facing the wall, his body hunched over and face averted. The cowl of the hood had fallen over most of his face. Carefully Book reached out a hand and gently shook the Captain's shoulder but got no response. A flair of concern made him shake the Captain harder, this time turning him on to his back. A low deep moan of pain issued from exhaustion laden lips. The eyes were closed, the face pale and sweaty.

Book pushed the hood back, put a hand on Mal's forehead and frowned. "He is running a fever."

The Abbott did not respond, he was watching Book intently. Noticing the almost respectful way he treated the man. Certainly not the way he would expect a brother to react to a rapist. What tale was he not being told? Had the Captain spoken the truth and if he did where did that leave this Shepherd? This lone wandering crusader for Christ?

"Captain? Can you hear me?"

Another low, deeper moan. The Captain was stirring now, trying to roll on to his side, away from Book and the dim light but the Shepherd kept a hand on Mal's shoulder. After a moment heavy lids fluttered open. Pained eyes stared up at the Preacher in confusion as if drugged. "Book? That you?"

"*Qu* Captain, it's time we got back to Serenity."

The Captain sighed and closed his eyes against a rush of pain. Alarmed Book turned to look at the Abbott. "What did you do to him?"

No father, now. No respectful address. "Malcolm was doing penance."

"What kind of penance?"

"Brother, you know as well as I that we hold to the old ways." Book felt a sickening in the pit of his stomach. He had brought the Captain here to talk to the Abbott, trusting that the man's wisdom and devotion to God would do for Mal what he could not. *Wode ma*, he should have been expecting the possibility of another outcome but he was not. Too concerned for the Captain's immortal soul to give his body a second thought. Instead he felt a deep sense of shock. Recalling how, instead of talking this out with the Captain first, he had gone charging off to the nearest Abbey and dragged Mal along with him with no thought as to what would happen next. He had hoped the Abbott would be able to convince the Captain that his actions were not acceptable and were against the laws of God. Rape or corruption of a minor was a very serious offence. Many a man had been hung for less.

Now, as he helped ease the Captain on to his side his mind raced. He could not leave Mal behind but knew the Abbott would not release him. What he needed was a plan.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*diyu* = hell *wangu* = stubborn *cuode* = wrong *dong ma*? = understand? *bao bei* = precious/treasure *zhangfu* = husband *wo zhidao* = I know *gaoxing* = happy *weishenme* = why? *qu* = yes (lit.go) *wode ma* = mother of God!

COMMENTS

Monday, July 25, 2005 1:12 PM

NUTLUCK


Hmmm curious what the rest of the crew Jayne and River are up too.

Monday, July 25, 2005 1:12 PM

NUTLUCK


Doh and Inara

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 5:40 AM

ARTSHIPS


About damn time Book checked-up on Mal. And why hasn't River goaded the rest of the crew into a rescue like she did just a few chapters back?

Wednesday, August 3, 2005 1:09 AM

KISPEXI2


I think this chapter is possibly the most disturbing bit of Firefly fic I have ever read. I found it really, really difficult to get through.

I like your writing Ali and I'm going to persevere in the hopes that Mal gets rescued and soon.

But, hell, that was a difficult read ...

Monday, November 20, 2006 3:32 AM

XEYRA


I've started reading this series recently, and have been enjoying it very much (even if I'm not the best reviewer ever, I confess), but I have to ask a question here. Isn't this taking place 6 years after the series ended, supposedly? I seem to recall a mention of that... So, if six years have passed and River was 17 during the show, wouldn't she be 23 now? Hardly a minor in any way, shape or form, except perhaps psychologically, though after 6 years she'd grown up a bit, regardless of whether she was broken or not. So I don't understand this whole redemption thing, and the Preacher's need to have Malcolm absolve himself and this sentence: 'Rape or corruption of a minor was a very serious offence'. Because River wouldn't really be a minor if this takes place six years after the series. Under Mal's protection, yes. Perhaps still considered a little girl by the 'adults' in the ship, mayhaps, but she'd be in her 20's in this timeline and thus, a woman. Even if some clueless captains forget to notice that...

I'll keep on reading this series because, despite this confusion, I've been enjoying it and want to see how things end up between Mal and River, but this whole age detail has kinda thrown me.


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