Title: Wounds (6th part a new day dawning)
Disclaimer: Not mine.
”Alright, let’s load up these crates so we can get back home.” Mal orders. Jayne, Zoe, and Wash all glare at him, and then move to load the cargo onto the mule. The exchange went well. It was starting to bother him. Two jobs in a row that didn’t end with violence, it was just unheard of, at least for them. He watches as his pilot moves to pick up one of the crates. He gets it a couple feet off the ground then promptly drops it, missing Jayne’s foot by a few inches.
“Gorramit, little man, why don’t ya go stand over there and let us load it.” Jayne growls.
“Husband, it’d probably be safer with you standing over there.” Zoe agrees, pointing to the rundown shack a few feet from the mule.
“Yeah, Wash. You drop one of those on your hand, who’s flyin my boat?” Mal adds.
“Fine. I’ll go supervise.” With a grin, Wash moves to lean back against the shack. His plan worked. He got out of loading the cargo and at the same time got to watch his wife lift and move heavy stuff. He loved watching her move.
Jayne easily picks one of the crates up and puts in the compartment under the back seats. He moves to grab another crate, when he hears somethin.
He stands up straight, turning to look out around them.
“Jayne, hear something?” Mal asks his mercenary. Jayne’s got that look; the one when he senses someone is around.
“Someone’s out there.” Jayne growls. Mal sends a look at Zoe and they all drawl out their weapons, looking around for whomever Jayne senses.
Out of the corner of his eye, Jayne sees a flash of movement. He raises his gun to fire, but it’s too late.
Wash had been watching them, confused. Jayne was looking around like a dog that just smelt something that shouldn’t be there. He saw them pull out guns and got ready to ask them what was going on, when he felt something hit the back of his calf. He folded immediately, hitting his head on a rock when fell. As he vision blurred, he heard the crew fire back. Then he heard nothing.
River woke with a start, her eyes darting around the bunk. She quickly jumps over the guard on her bed, and then dashes up the ladder out of her bunk. After making a quick stop in Jayne’s bunk, she runs through the ship, into the cargo bay.
“River, whatcha doin?” Kaylee asks as River runs into the cargo bay. River doesn’t even pause; just continue running, until she’s past the crew gathered in the bay and out the open doors. Once she’s outside, the sun reflects off the object in her hand. With a gasp, Kaylee realizes it’s a gun.
“She’s got a gun.” Simon announces, moving to follow his sister. The rest of the remaining crew follows him. But once they’re outside of Serenity, they have no idea which way to go. River’s long gone and they have no clue what way she went.
“Where would she be going? And why would she take a gun?” Inara asks Simon.
“I don’t know.” Simon murmurs, running his hand through his hair.
“I think we should call the cap’n.” Kaylee says. “Maybe she went to find them.” Without waiting for them to answer, she moves to grab the com, “Gorrammit, they ain’t answerin.”
“We have to go find her.” Simon says, starting to move out the bay doors.
“Son, what do you suggest we do? We have no idea where she went.” Book stops the doctor. “It could take us hours to find her. What if she comes back while we’re gone?”
“So I should just leave her out alone?” Simon asks.
“We wait for them to return from the job. It shouldn’t be more than another 20 minutes. Then Jayne can track her down.” Book explains.
“Think he can find her?” Simon asks.
“Courding to the cap’n, Jayne’s the best tracker he’s ever seen. Better even then the one’s he seen in the war.” Kaylee answers. “He’ll find her.”
“I’ll give them half an hour. If they’re not back by then, I’m going to look for her myself.” Simon gives in. Simon walks out of the ship, pacing in front of the door.
River ignores the worry her brother sends out, she has to push it to the back of her mind. There’s not going to be any time to spare. She’s calculated every move, every outcome. She only has just enough time to stop it from happening.
But she forgot to calculate in the rough terrain. Her bare foot hit a rock and she tumbles down the hill, her body getting scratched on the way. By the time she got to the bottom of the hill, the wind was knocked out of her and it took a few seconds to get back on her feet. Now the calculations were all wrong. She starts to run harder but knows she won’t make it in time now.
She reaches the clearing where the exchange is taking place. Wash is leaning against the shack. She’s too far away; he won’t be able to hear her. Raising the gun, she aims and fires, and then watches while Wash crumbles.
Dropping her arm to her side, the gun still smoking, she watches the scene play out in front of her, tears blurring her vision.
At the sound of gunfire, Jayne, Zoe, and Mal fire back, hitting the three men trying to sneak up on them. They'd snuck up on foot and it doesn’t take much to kill them. The clearing was barren, except for the shack and the mule. Once they’re down, Jayne moves over to grab their weapons and make sure they was dead.
“Yep, they’re gone.” Jayne confirms, grabbing the guns. Two of em are pretty useless pieces, but one is pretty good. It’s a shotgun, somewhere between the size of Vera and the sawed-off shotgun Zoe always carried. It could cause some major damage.
“Should have known this job wouldn’t go smooth.” Mal grunts. “Zoe you okay?”
“Fine sir.” Zoe says, wiping the dirt off her pants from where she had dove into the ground to avoid getting shot. “Wash, you okay.” She walks over to where her husband was lying on the ground. “You can get up now husband. Fights over.”
Mal comes to stand next to Zoe. “Wash, come on, we ain’t got time to play round.” Mal bends down and pushes the man over onto his back. His eyes are closed and there is blood running down the open wound on his head.
“Wash, baby, you have to get up.” Zoe cries, dropping onto her knees. “Come on baby, wake up.” She cradles his head in her lap and then looks up at Mal.
The look in his fellow soldiers eyes scares him. He’s never seen her look like that, so scared. Mal looks at the shed, and then swears when he sees the large hole where Wash had been leaning.
“What happened?” Jayne asks, moving to stand next to Mal. Jayne sees the hole Mal is looking at, and then looks down at the fallen pilot. “He didn’t get hit by what made that hole.”
“How do you know that?” Mal asks.
“Simple, he’d be headless if’n he did.” Jayne answers. “Look where that hole is. That’s bout the same place his head was. Bullet makes a hole that size, woulda done the same damage to him.”
“He’s got a bullet in the back of his calf.” Zoe states, still trying to wake her husband up.
“What?” Mal asks. “How’d he get shot in the back of the leg? They was all in front of us.”
Jayne starts looking around the clearing, “Gorramitt, what she doin out here?” About 200 feet away, he sees River.
“Jayne, she holdin one of your pieces?” Mal asks, also noticing River.
“I think so.” Jayne mutters.
“She shot Wash.” Zoe growls. As they watch, River drops the gun then turns to run back towards Serenity.
“We’ll deal with that later. We need to get him to the doc.” Mal says. “Jayne, get Wash in back of the mule, Zoe you ride back there with him.”
Jayne picks the smaller man off the ground then moves to place him in the back of the mule. Zoe’s there before him, grabbing Wash’s shoulders and pulls him across the seat. Without saying anything, Jayne jumps in the passenger seat and waits for Mal to start the mule. The ride takes about 10 minutes. When they arrive at Serenity, Jayne jumps out and grabs Wash from the back seat. “I got em Zoe, you just get the doc and have him hurry up to infirmary.” Jayne doesn’t wait for her to reply, just carries the pilot into the ship.
“Simon, where the ruttin hell are you?” Mal yells. A few seconds later, the doctor comes running into the cargo bay, the rest of the crew
following. “Get to the infirmary, you got a patient.”
With a nod, Simon takes off towards the infirmary, Zoe and Mal right behind him. Simon moves into the infirmary and sees Wash lying on his stomach on the sickbed. “What happened?”
“We don’t know. He’s got a bullet wound in the leg and a gash on the forehead.” Mal answers.
Simon quickly puts on gloves, and then moves back to Wash. Cutting his pants from the hem up to the top of his thigh, he pushes the cloth aside to examine the wound. Grabbing some tools, he moves to remove the bullet, only to realize it isn’t there. Setting the tools down, he cleans the wound and then puts some weaves into it, closing it.
“You’re not takin the bullet out first?” Mal questions.
“There’s not a bullet in the wound. It’s a graze, a long one, but a graze nonetheless.” Simon answers. He wraps the wound and then starts to turn the man over to examine Wash’s head wound. He cleans the blood off before putting a bandage on the wound. After injecting Wash with something, he moves out of the infirmary and waits for the rest to follow.
“Well?” Mal questions once they are outside the infirmary.
“He’s going to be fine. The bullet wound is nothing to worry too much about; it will heal completely in a few weeks. He probably won’t have more than a scar. The head wound makes me more worried. We’ll have to keep a close eye on him for the next 24 hours.” Simon says. “He’s very lucky. Had the bullet hit any higher, it could have shattered his knee. Any lower and it would have taken months to heal. The only bad thing about where he was shot at is that it hit a nerve, making his leg give out immediately, which is how he got the head wound, I’m guessing. He must have hit his head on something as he fell.”
“Weren’t luck.” Jayne argues.
“What?” Simon asks.
“She knew where she was hitting, what it would do.” Jayne clarifies.
“She,” Simon starts, “you mean River, she found you guys, didn’t she?”
“You knew she left?” Mal asks.
“She ran past us with a gun, we tried to stop her, but she didn’t even stop
to listen to us.” Simon explains. “By the time we followed her out of the bay, it was too late, we had no idea which way she went. I wanted to try to find her but Book and Kaylee talked me into waiting for you guys to get back. Said Jayne would be able to find her. She came running past us about 5 minutes before you got back. We tried to catch her but she moves too damn fast. We were looking for her when you called for me.”
Mal starts to reply, when they hear Wash groan. Simon quickly moves back into the infirmary to examine his patient. “How are you feeling?” Simon questions.
“Like I got shot.” Wash grunts out.
“Well, I guess that’s appropriate since you did get shot.” Simon says. He examines Wash for a few more minutes, before declaring that it’s fine for him to have visitors.
Zoe reaches Wash first, reaching down to kiss him. “Husband, you ever scare me like that again I’m going to hurt you.”
“Sorry wifey.” Wash murmurs, “note to self: no more getting shot, makes wife upset.”
Zoe kisses her husband again, then runs her hand through his hair. “Well, lamby toes, it could be worse,” Wash starts, “if someone hadn’t shot me in the leg you wouldn’t have my head here to play with.”
“That ain’t funny Wash.” Mal growls, before Zoe can say anything.
“No but it is the truth.” Wash retorts. “As I fell, I heard a bullet pass above my head. If I hadn’t fallen when I did, well, I’d be headless now.”
Simon start to say something when Kaylee comes up beside them, “Cap’n, me and Book shut the doors. We leaving soon?”
“Not right away Kaylee, our pilot’s not able to fly at this moment.” Mal says.
“What’s wrong with Wash?” Kaylee asks, worriedly.
“He’s got a small bullet wound, but he’s gonna be fine.” Mal answers. “We need to find River, see what’s up with her. Jayne, I want you to check the cargo bay and me and Zoe will get the mess and the rest of the ship.”
Jayne starts away but instead of heading towards the bay, he moves in the direction of the bridge. “Where ya goin Jayne, I told ya to check the bay.”
“She’s on the bridge.” Jayne states. He continues moving towards the bridge, not stopping for the rest of the crew.
“What, how do you know that?” Simon asks, confused.
“Can smell her.” Jayne answers.
“You can smell her!” Simon cries out.
“Yep.” Jayne moves up the stairs into the bridge, coming to stop in front the pilot’s chair. He pulls the chair out then growls down, “kitten, whata doin? Come out from under there.”
“No.” She whispers, “Can’t. I’m bad.”
“Mei-mei, come out from under there. You’re not bad.” Simon pleads, coming onto the bridge just in time to hear his sister’s statement.
“Yes I am.” She restates. “I hurt Wash, had no other choice but that doesn’t change anything. He was my friend and I hurt him.”
“River, we know why you did it, just don’t know how ya knew.” Mal says. “Now why don’t ya come out from under there and explain it to us.”
“Gorramitt girl, don’t make me come under there and get ya.” Jayne growls.
“You can’t. You’re too big, you won’t fit.” River argues. “I saw it.”
“What? Saw what?” Mal questions.
“I calculated all the different outcomes and variables, but I forgot I wasn’t wearing shoes.” She whispers. “I fell down and wasted precious seconds. It was too late then, he wouldn’t have understood what I meant fast enough to move and I was too slow to move him out of the way. I had to shoot him.”
“Outcomes?” Simon questions.
“I saw him die.” River whisper, ignoring the gasps the crew give. “I was dreaming then it wasn’t a dream anymore. Wash was leaning against a shack and a bullet hit him in the neck. It was painless, he died instantly.”
“You saw him die?” Zoe questions, disbelieving.
“Yes. I tried to change it, stop him from getting hurt, but I was too slow.” She answers.
Everybody’s silent for a few moments, when Mal addresses River, “alright, little witch, I want you to come out from under there and talk to us. No more of this hiding stuff.” Mal orders.
The crew watches in shock as she moves out from under the helm. Mal starts to say something, when River moves the pilot’s chair up to the helm and sits in it. She starts hitting buttons, starting the ship.
“What the gorram hell do ya think ya’re doin?” Mal yells.
River doesn’t answer, just continues to press buttons. With a sigh, Simon moves to address his sister, “River you know you’re not allowed to fly ships anymore, not after what happened.”
“What? What happened?” Mal asks.
“She stole an Alliance ship once.” Simon answers.
“What? When?” Mal questions.
“She was 11 or 12 I think.” Simon explains. “Our father was having a meeting with a couple members of the Alliance defense. River somehow broke into the ship and took it out for a ride. She didn’t go far, just circled over the mansion a couple of times.”
“She didn’t get in trouble?” Kaylee wonders.
“She should have, it’s a felony, punishable buy up to 10 years on a penal moon.” Simon says, smiling. “My father donated a large amount of money to the Alliance, in exchange for them forgetting about the entire incident. But she knows she not supposed to fly anymore ships, right River.”
“It’s not applicable.” River states. “We have to leave now.”
“Why?” Mal asks, not comfortable with her playing with the controls. He thinks about trying to move her, but remember what happened in the bar. Maybe if talks enough, she’ll forget or something.
“There’s more coming. They’re not happy. They want the ship.” River answers.
“More comin?” Jayne questions, moving a little closer to her, in case Mal tried to grab her or somethin. “Don’t worry bout it, we’ll load up and stop em.”
“NO!” River yells, making them jump. “You can’t. The numbers don’t add up right. Simon won’t have enough hands to save us all.”
“Okay, don’t go freakin out.” Mal says. “Why don’t you get up……”
River doesn’t wait for Mal to finish, just pilot’s Serenity off planet. The surrounding crew watches as she expertly controls the ship. Once she’s out of atmo, she set’s the course for Persephone, and then activates the autopilot. Spinning the chair around, she looks at her hands, “can I go see him?”
“Yes, I suppose so.” Mal answers, still recovering from the shock of watching her fly the ship.
River stands up, grabbing 2 of the dinosaurs before moving away from the helm, “he wants Herbert and Mike.” River explains to the confused crew.
She starts to move out of the bridge when Zoe grabs her hand, stopping her. Jayne takes a step towards them, but River’s voice stops him. “He’s going to be fine. He will be walking again in 2 days, 13 hours, and 26 minutes. His limp will start to fade in a little over 3 weeks.” River assures the taller woman.
“I just wanted……thank you.” Zoe says.
“It’s okay. He’s my friend.” River says. “Sides, she can’t fly without him.”
“You seemed to fly her pretty good.” Zoe says, smiling.
“Wasn’t talking about Serenity.” River states. She leaves the crew standing where they are to move into the infirmary. Wash is lying on the sickbed, looking bored.
“They left me.” Wash tells her. “They went to find you didn’t they?”
River nods. “I’m sorry.”
“For what?” Wash asks, then realizes what she’s apologizing for. “You shot me didn’t you?”
“Yes.” River answers. “Didn’t want to.”
“Hey, it’s okay.” Wash assures her. “Not that I want you shooting me all the time or anything, but you saved my life, so it’s okay.”
The rest of the crew gathers in the doorway of the infirmary, listening to their conversation. River holds her hands out to Wash, the dino’s in them.
“Ohh…you brought Herbert and Mike.” Wash moves to grab them, and then looks at the guilty looking girl. “Wanna play?”
“Can I be Herbert?” River asks.
“Sure.” Wash says, handing the t-rex back to her. Then taking his dino voice, he says, “Everything looks good from here. Yes, yes, this is a fertile land, and we will thrive. We will rule over all this land and we will call it, this land.”
River takes the t-rex and moves it towards Wash’s brontosaurs. Then making her voice deep, she says, “I think we should call it your grave.”
Wash groans, then says, “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal.”
River gives a deep cackle, saying, “Mine is an evil laugh.”
The watching crew laughs at their antics, as the two continue playing dinosaurs. Eventually, River makes the t-rex die, then turns to her brother. “His leg hurts, he needs something.”
Simon moves over and grabs a light pain reliever, then moves over to inject the pilot. “That should relieve the pain but will make you groggy. I think it’s best if you try to get some sleep. I’ll be back to wake you in an hour or so.”
River moves over and sets the dinosaur down very gently next to Wash. He groggily pats her hand, as if to say it’s okay. She smiles down at him, then leaves the infirmary, the crew separating so she can past.
“River, where are you going?” Simon asks his departing sister.
“Going to wash the blood off.” River says.
“Blood?” Jayne questions, ignoring the looks most of the crew is sending him.
“Tumbled down, got scratched.” River answers.
“Inara, will you take her to your shuttle and get her cleaned up?” Mal asks the companion.
“Of course.” Inara says, moving to grab River’s hand. “Come on mei-mei, let’s go get you cleaned up.”
River follows the companion without protest, Kaylee right behind them. “Jayne, why don’t you start unloading those crates, me and Zoe will be down to help you in a minute.”
“I’ll go help him.” Book says, following the merc.
Simon returns to the infirmary without a word, leaving the soldiers alone in the hallway. Mal slowly moves towards the bay, Zoe falling in step beside him.
“You okay?” Mal asks.
“Fine, sir.” Zoe answers.
“She saved his life.” Mal states.
“I’m starting to think maybe we should check with her fore leaving on any jobs, see if she can tell if somethings gonna happen.” Mal says.
“I think you may be right.” Zoe agrees. They don’t say anything else, they don’t have to. Mal knows she’s dealing with almost losing her husband in her own way and doesn’t pressure her to talk about it. If she feels the need, she will.
Jayne’s in the cargo bay, lifting weights. Wash was still in the infirmary, the doc was makin him stay the night, somethin bout observin him. Mal was on the bridge, watchin over stuff, with Zoe moving between it and the infirmary. Doc was stayin the night in the infirmary with Wash. The rest of the crew was sleepin. He tried, but couldn’t. Kept thinkin bout her.
He knows what’ll happen if’n they get caught. If he’s lucky, Mal’ll just shoot him. If he’s unlucky, he’ll get thrown out the air lock. He’s knows he gotta snip this whole thing in the bud, but don’t really want to. She makes him feel, somethin other than just lust, though she does make him feel that too, a lot.
“Gorrammit, kitten, this gonna be a every night thing?” Jayne asks River as she moves into the bay. He sits up, watching as she moves to stand in front of him. She straddles the weight bench, and since he happens to be sitting on it, she ends up straddling him too. He remembers he’s supposed to be stopping this whole thing, but the feel of her straddling his legs, makes him completely forget bout that.
He pulls her closer until their pelvises are touching. Tangling his hand in her hair, he pulls her mouth to his. With a moan, she opens her mouth to allow his tongue in. Once it’s in, she lightly bites it, then sucks it deeper into her mouth, making him groan. He forces her head to the side to gain better access. The continue to kiss, with him eventually moving his hands under the back of her shirt, to gently rub up and down her sides. His hands move around towards her chest, making her moan again.
“Jayne you still down here?” Mal’s voice calls from the entrance of the cargo bay.
River pulls back quickly, her eyes wide. Before he can say anything, she jumps off his lap and runs to hide behind some crates. Jayne quickly lies back down, grabbing the weight bar and lifting it off its holder.
“Jayne, I’m talking to you.” Mal says. He comes to the side of the weight bench, looking down at the merc. “Should you be lifting that much without a spotter?”
“Probably not, but when’s that ever stop me?” Jayne says, his heart beating fast. The just came so close to gettin caught. “Whatcha want?”
“You seen River?” Mal asks.
“Not sense dinner, why?” Jayne lies.
“Kaylee came up the helm, says River ain’t in their bunk. Just wanted to know if she’d been down here.” Mal says.
“Ain’t seen her down here.”
“Well, she shows up, send her back to her bunk, okay?” Mal orders.
“Sure.” Jayne grunts, lying back down, to lift more.
River waits a minute or two before she comes out of her hiding spot. She moves back towards the weight bench, moving to sit back on Jayne’s lap when he stands up, moving away from her. “This has to stop.” Jayne says roughly, not looking at her.
“What?” River asks, confused. She doesn’t read him anymore, not unless he pushes stuff at her. She doesn’t think it’s fair for to always know what he’s thinking. So she has no idea where this is coming from.
“We can’t keep doin this. You just saw how close we came to gettin caught.” Jayne explains, his back still to her. “I want ya, I can’t hide that. But I ain’t about to get killed on account of some trim.”
River stiffens at the word, but doesn’t say anything, just lets him continue.
“Sides, ya’re way too smart and way too young for me. Ya deserve someone a lot nicer than me. I ain’t one for stayin and never been one for bein faithful. This just won’t ever work out.” With that said, Jayne turns to look at her, and instantly wishes he hadn’t. Her eyes are filled with tears, her hand coverin her mouth. As he watches, the tears pour down her face.
She lets out a gasp and then turns and runs out of the cargo bay.
Jayne watches her leave and then slams his fist into the side of the boat. Turning, he slides down the wall, to cradle his head in his hands. Gorramit, he knew this wouldn’t end pretty.