Synopsis: Mal recovers in an Alliance medical facility following the Miranda incident and wonders what has befallen the rest of his crew.
Pairings: Yes. Mal/Inara. Simon/Kaylee implied.
Timeframe: During the movie, Serenity. A missing scene from the feature film.
Disclaimer: This story is not meant to infringe on the copyright of any person or company related to the trademarked characters and situations depicted in the Serenity movie or Firefly series. I make no money from this. OnIy done for fun - and a desperate craving to have more stories told about this wonderful 'verse Joss Whedon created.
Consciousness returned slowly as Malcolm Reynolds opened his eyes. He squinted as the light reflected off the uncomfortably bleached white walls to momentarily blind him. He tried to move but the pain that lanced through his side reminded him that it might be better to simply lie there. A grunt slipped through his lips as he struggled to wrap his mind around where he was, what was happening.
As his vision cleared, he thought for a moment that he had ascended into the realm of angels – if one were to believe such beings existed. For leaning over him was the most beautiful vision of loveliness he had ever seen. She called his name – her sweet voice echoing in his ears.
Then his vision cleared and he gave a small start at see Inara's face so close to his. She was almost close enough to kiss. Mal blinked rapidly to rid himself of the desire to simply lean forward and press his lips to hers.
"It's about time," Inara said softly, brushing a lock of short hair out of his eyes.
"Where –" Mal looked around the spotless room. It wasn't his infirmary, that's for sure. Even Simon didn't keep the place this clean.
Inara answered his unasked question. "The Operative had everyone brought here for treatment."
Mal squinted. That's right. Miranda. Reavers. Why was his mind refusing to cooperate? He shook his head.
Inara chuckled softly. "The doctor said you would be disoriented when you woke up. Side effect of the medication."
Mal tried to speak but his words slurred together so he inhaled deeply and tried again. Concerned for the well being of his crew, he asked, his mouth suddenly dry, "You – everyone okay?"
Inara smiled softly, a hint of sadness in her eyes. "As good as can be expected."
He felt she was being deliberately vague. Damn the woman. Couldn't she ever just answer a question to his satisfaction? She looked fine – too damn fine. He deduced there must be another reason for the lingering sadness gathered in her bottomless brown eyes. As much as he was able, without his head spinning, he looked around the room. There was no one there but he and Inara.
His head was clearing but he still had trouble remembering the names he knew he should be asking about. Then one came to mind. Shining brightly among all the others. His first mate. The woman he trusted like no other to watch his back. He'd seen her lying against a crate, wincing in pain. He vividly remembered the heart-wrenching scream as they watched her husband die before their eyes. "Zoe?"
"Recovering. Simon sealed her back wound well enough that when the medical teams arrived, they could move her without risk of adding to the damage."
Mal nodded, relieved. "Good."
Inara continued without him having to ask. "Jayne took a shot to the arm. He's already up and complaining."
"A course he is."
Inara chuckled and noticed as Mal's heart rate escalated. His eyes widened and his hand clutched hers. She could see him swallow nervously before asking about his little mei mei.
The smile reached her dark eyes as she felt the brotherly love for his young mechanic pour off him. "Kaylee is just fine. Simon was able to tell me how to counteract the effect of the darts. She refuses to leave his side, tho'. So you'll probably have to go visit her."
His eyes flashed as he remembered the bodies of his crew lying bloodied and bruised at his feet, the horrific sounds of the carnivorous Reavers separated only by the blast doors in front of them. He knew his eyes had sought out Inara the moment he'd exited the lift; unconsciously needing to see that she was unharmed. His heart flipped in his chest, lingering even now when he saw her hands covered with blood.
He had been relieved to learn that it was not her blood covering her hands. But it gave him no ease to learn that it was Simon's blood. The younger doctor lay prone on the floor at his feet, unmoving for the entire length of time he'd stood there.
"He's still in intensive care." Inara's eyes shifted toward the door.
Mal's his heart lurched and his body tensed. As much as he hated to admit it, Simon and River meant something to him. They were part of his crew.
"He was hurt pretty bad, Mal. But they say he'll recover. It will just take a bit longer."
"Prolly don't wanna see Kaylee right now anyway then. Just have to listen to her worryin' about her little crush."
Inara grinned and hesitated a moment, but her desire to add to his annoyance was too great. "You know, that little crush has been reciprocated."
Mal frowned. His head was instantly clear. "Has it now?" Well this was a new development. Last he knew the good doctor hadn't found himself capable of reciprocating anything. A curious eyebrow rose at the mere thought. "From an ICU bed?"
Inara laughed at Mal's discomfort. "Oh no. Before the Reaver attack. I think we all – well, except you," she smiled smugly, clearly enjoying the tease, "overheard what he said to her."
Mal's eyes narrowed. "Which was?"
Inara shrugged, "You'll have to ask them. I don't think we were meant to overhear in the first place."
"Inara –" His voice deepened as he pushed himself into a sitting position. If Simon hurt Kaylee, he'd space 'em. "If that boy so much as –"
"The feelings are reciprocated, Mal, that's all any of us needs to know."
Mal opened his mouth to demand more information but was interrupted by a large, somewhat brooding man-ape walking through the door. Simon's description of Jayne really was quite accurate, though he would never admit it.
"Hey Mal." Jayne walked into the room, his right arm in a sling. "When we getting' outta this place. Creepin' me out bein' here."
Mal shifted his gaze to Inara.
"Whenever everyone is well enough to leave, I suppose."
"I'm well 'nuff right now."
"I think I'd rather be recoverin' in m'own ship too," Mal swung his legs over the side of the bed, wincing as the muscles healing around his injury pulled painfully.
Inara quickly placed her hands on his shoulders. "Where do you think you're going? Get back in bed before I ask the doctors to knock you out."
Jayne laughed. "How 'bout I take crazy down to the ship and see how bad it is? Start repairin'"
"She willin' ta leave her brother's side?" Mal asked, not even questioning the fact that Jayne had adopted a little pet name for River. Oddly, he would feel better if the little assassin went with him. She'd more than proven herself capable in a fight.
"She's goin' as nuts – and that's sayin' somethin' since she's already certifiable – as I am up here. The doc's gonna be fine."
"Well, take her if she's willin' ta go. Be good to have some of my crew off this gorram ship."
"'Specially the fugitive they been wantin' ta bag so badly." Jayne agreed and left to fetch River from her brother's room.
Mal sighed and leaned back, sinking into the soft mattress.
"Rest, Mal. No one is going to hurt us." Inara slid her chair closer and squeezed his hand.
Mal nodded and closed his eyes. More exhausted than he wanted to admit. As sleep claimed him once again, he heard the faintest whisper of her sweet voice.
"I'll be here when you wake."