Title: Bees, Flowers and Fireflies
Author: Shylah (Writings.of.Shylah@gmail.com)
Warnings: Violence, torture, mind control, sexual situations
Pairings: None outside Firefly canon, so far.
Disclaimer: They're Joss's, not mine.
Summary: Serenity's crew prepares for a job.
Chapter 1One year later...
He supposed it was a bit selfish of him to think about voicing his complaints at this time. After all, the last planet they had docked at could hardly have been considered poor or uncivilized. And perhaps he should have been used to it by now, coming to the border planets.
Plus, any planet outside of the Alliance's closer surveillance was good, right? Never mind the kidnappings and the beatings and the gunfights.
But Beaumonde? Again? The last time they had come here was to drop off Inara at the city of New Dunsmuire. And that
had been a much-loved tourist city. But this time, after sending the Companion off to do her work, the rest of Serenity's crew had gone to do a job on the other side of the world. The rest of Beaumonde was nothing but factories and polluted air, water, and soil.
And that was in addition to all of the aforementioned dangers.
Allowing himself an expressive sigh that did nothing to soothe the edge off his anxiety, Simon turned and made eye contact with River as she stepped onto the bridge. Her steps were slow and leisurely and graceful as she walked across it. She kept her hand levitated over the safety rail, so close and yet never allowing her fingers or palm to touch the shining metal. Simon observed her descent down the stairs, and the look of exhilaration that came over her face as she came down.
Here he was, silently worrying himself out of his head, while she managed to take joy out of the slightest motions -- even despite her handicap.
As she made the last few steps, Simon watched the deep purple dress billow around her legs like it was alive. It reminded him of the prized fishes of the Cambersons' estate, with their long and flowing elegant fins. River had always loved staring at them for hours, just to watch the way their fins moved.
Simon looked up to his sister's face. Her head was tilted to the side as she stared at him, her mouth drawn in a soft smile.
"They live for dancing." She stepped onto the cargo bay as she spoke. "The mating ritual consists of the male making a nest of adhesive bubbles on the surface of the water and prominently displaying his fins to the female." She paused, and fisted her hands into one section on her skirts, looking as if she was contemplating pulling it apart. She quickly let it fall safely from her hands before Simon could react. "The male will often rip the female's fins to shreds, sometimes killing her. Fins and scales and blood and hunger. All shredded and consumed."
Simon felt his expression slip into one of mild horror. River was still wearing the same smile on her face as she gazed into his eyes. "Grace and violence. Beauty and death."
The sound of approaching footsteps and muffled voices drifting towards them redirected their attention to the door on the bridge. Soon after, Mal, Zoe, Wash, and Kaylee stepped through it.
Simon looked at River again, finding her drifting to the side of the cargo bay. He was tempted to follow, but sensed that she wanted to be alone. He feared he didn't have the words to say that would help her, anyway.
The others were on the floor, now, and Kaylee stepped towards him, smiling. "Hey, Simon."
Her voice and ever-cheery attitude managed to make his mood brighten slightly, and he smiled and nodded back. Her face wasn't smudged with grime from the engine as it usually was -- not that he thought her any less pretty at those times. She always seemed like the only one on the ship who knew how to smile -- really
smile. The way her lips stretched and made her cheeks rise and her eyes brighter. No one else could appear to project such light
"Another fun-filled day of smuggling and exploring exotic sights." Wash said. He paused, and looked to be considering what he had just said. "Well, okay, so not much with the exotic."
"I believe the word you're looking for is 'exotoxins.'" Simon helpfully supplied.
"Simon!" Kaylee playfully gave him a soft punch on the arm. "Beaumonde is a decent place. They gots lots of nice things here."
"Too bad you won't be seein' much of the nice." Mal said. "Most folks in this area live underground, and our customer ain't no different. He's also taken up residence a ways from the cities. Ain't gonna be viewin' many shiny baubles 'less they're with the cargo."
Simon folded his arms across his chest. "And do we know what the cargo is, or...?"
"We don't. But if I were you, I wouldn't start on worryin' as to the nature of the cargo, Doctor." Mal mirrored Simon's actions and gave him a steady look to go with his captain tone. "'Sides, Legan's rep is solid. This might be the first time in a long while we take a job don't cause us trouble."
"Sir, don't destroy the moment." Zoe commented in her usual dry manner.
Mal gave her a look, then apparently decided to ignore her remark. The captain instead gave the group a once over. His face fell into an expression of exasperation as he seemed to notice something.
"Where in the hell is Jayne?" He turned to the side to face Serenity's pilot. "Wash, I thought I told you to tell him to get out here."
"And that conversation was rife with giggles and smiles, believe me," Wash said, his sarcastic tone and expression revealing that it had in fact been anything but.
"What happened?" Mal demanded.
Wash shrugged. "I told him he was needed down here, he made some interesting insinuations about my mother and a goat, and then went back to sleep."
Throwing his hands up, Mal moved away from the others and over to the intercom. After bellowing the mercenary's name at the top of his lungs at a volume that had most of them covering their ears and wincing, Mal stepped back towards them. The group waited in silence for a few moments before the tell-tale sounds of hurried heavy footsteps neared. Jayne stepped onto the bridge, his coat in hand and a gun holstered on a haphazardly secured belt. His eyes were wide and there was a visible pillow crease on the side of his face. Simon heard Kaylee stifle a giggle at the sight.
"Cap'n?" Jayne asked, looking guilty.
"I don't wanna hear it." Mal growled. "Just get down here."
Jayne quickly complied, nearly tripping in his haste to come down the stairs and put his coat on at the same time. He joined the rest of the group, trying to catch his breath.
"I'm ready." he said.
"Glad to see that." Mal's brow furrowed slightly as he stared at the reddened mark on Jayne's face.
"What?" Jayne asked.
Mal didn't reply, just looked at the rest of them, making sure he had everyone's attention. "Zoe, Jayne and I will be headin' to the rendezvous point t'meet up with Legan's men. They'll lead us to his place, and we'll do the usual negotiations. Could take a few hours --maybe even most of the afternoon. This guy's clean as far as smugglers go, but I've heard he likes to take his time. So don't start worryin' unless I call you and tell you to, or we're out past nightfall, dong ma?"
"Right then. Let's get to it." Mal said as he moved over and activated the cargo bay doors.
Kaylee fingered a lock of her brown hair. "Shepherd Book's pro'ly awake now."
"Sweetie," Zoe said with a small smile, "everything within a ten mile radius is probably up after that racket."
"Let it never be said that our captain can't wail with the best of 'em." Wash quipped.
"Wasn't wailin'." Mal protested over his shoulder. "That was pure manly screamin'."
Spike crouched in the corner of his cell, trying to stop the shivers resulting from the latest session spent with Doctor Berkant Ramsden. They had been spending the past week perfecting his reaction to the order to submit on command."Good, Spike. Let Doctor Mather get you secured into the chair, and we'll start in a moment."
It was always the same with making new or enhancing old command implants. He would be drugged into unconsciousness, but he would dream. And through his dreams he could barely register the fact that the pain his physical body was experiencing was entirely disconnected from his unconscious world.
His mind was often terribly muddled after these sessions, and he tended to be extremely weak, and couldn't remember anything that had happened. At least, not while awake. Sometimes he would dream at night -- or what he assumed was night -- and a piece of memory would belatedly come to him, horrific in its cruelty. Burning electricity shooting through his skin or the sharp agony of his head being pierced. He would usually jerk awake, in a cold sweat of fear, only to find himself laying on his cot with the white sheets and blanket, and staring at the white walls of his cell.
And there were the other sessions, the ones that served a more obscure purpose. In these the dreams he experienced were not his to control, nor did they stem from his own mind. He knew because he had never been outside of the laboratory or the cellblock, yet in his dream he would see vast fields, or amazing structures that were sleek and silver, or space ships engaged in battle, or the glow of two moons as they rose up into the night. The dreams he had were never this vivid. And sometimes there was a voice, and it explained things he didn't understand, or recited history to him.
In the early stages the dreams had been gentle, serene. But soon he found himself faced with nightmares of war, of humans shooting at each other, of violence and bloodshed and death. He had wanted to help somehow, but he didn't know which side was in the right. It became clear that the distinction was in the clothing -- one side wore blue, while the other wore brown. As he continued to learn, the images that flashed grew in intensity. A brown-clothed man standing over another dressed in blue, holding a knife in his hand and stabbing downward even as the downed soldier begged for mercy. A group of the brown men storming into a camp of blue, slaughtering without remorse and taking captives to take back to their own camp to torture. A blue-suited soldier, grabbing a human child and turning his back to a bomb, shielding the girl with his own body as it exploded.
He wasn't sure why these dreams were supposed to be significant, but questions on his part lead to answers that were either vague or gave him reason to be uncertain as to their validity.
Those times did not hold as much importance to him as the pain sessions, anyway.
And somewhere along the line, the months and months of torment, confusion and fear, Spike had begun to retreat to a safe place within himself, keeping his essence locked up and leaving, for the most part, a numb shell to react to the outside world. His mind was kept blank, and he didn't focus on anything except the mechanical actions of eating and sleeping and obeying. Because of this, they didn't keep him chained or muzzled as much anymore. Not while he was alone.
There were times, however, when he would find himself suddenly very alert and lucid, times when he remembered who he was and what he was supposed to be. Those were the times that he reassured himself that one day he would escape, he would lull them into thinking they had him completely, when all they had control over was the shell. It wasn't him. He wasn't the same as that mindlessly compliant puppet. And by the time they would finally realized that, it would be too late.