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{ficlet} untitled | Firefly

Ok, un-beta'd quickly edited and totally needs continuing, but I wanted to post before it got too out of hand! Haha...

Untitled at the moment.
For: Firefly, Simon/author's choice or gen, he really is a robot prompt
Possibly pre-slash Mal/Simon

----

Kaylee's hands trembled as she reached for the exposed wires. An inch from contact, she recoiled and shook her head wildly.

"I can't!" she gasped, voice rising in panic. "I can't! I'm sorry!"

Surprisingly it was Jayne who pulled her back and wrapped a protective arm around her shoulders. Kaylee squeezed her eyes shut and turned around to bury her face against the man's shirt.

Mal grimly stared down at the body lying haphazardly on the cargo hold's floor. River had knelt and cradled the familiar dark-haired head in her lap. When Kaylee recoiled, River's expression fell, betrayed, and she ducked her head to hide her face.

"Sir," Zoe murmured as she appeared at his side. She inclined her head to indicate the Shepard she'd gone to retrieve.

Mal watched as Book took in the scene. The man's eyes widened in surprise, but he said nothing as he knelt beside Simon's body and examined the strange wound revealed by the doctor's unbuttoned shirt.

River lifted her gaze to stare at the Shepard. "He didn't know," she whispered. "Couldn't tell him. Nightmares he couldn't take." Tears slid down her face but she made none of the typical noises of someone crying. Mal felt something clench in his chest.

"How could he not know?" Wash asked, his expression still fixed in shock.

Inara suggested quietly, "Advanced experimentation with cybernetics, highly illegal. It's rumored that test subjects are treated with memory-altering drugs."

River's hand drifted over the bloody hole exposing metal and wire and muscle. Book glanced at the girl and placed his hand over hers.

"We'll fix him, River," he promised.

River looked up at Mal, locking their gazes. "Can't fix him. Hurt."

---

With the assistance of River and Zoe, Book tended to Simon in the infirmary. The rest of the crew gathered at the door to watch in morbid fascination. Mal stood in the room, back to the door, eyes fixed on the prone body.

He couldn't help thinking that man was supposed to be flesh and bone – he wasn't meant to be metal and wire. Mechanical. Machines couldn't be men.

Mal stared at the blood staining River's dress and the flesh Zoe was stitching now that Book had fiddled with the wires. Flesh and metal bone. Blood and wires. Memories of a full life, of childhood and family and... Mal shook his head. Doc always had been a mess of contradictions.

River looked up and fixed Mal with a heavy stare. "Wasn't always metal," she said, eyes sad. "Came for me and they took him. Promised him a deal, but they only lie. Only hurt." Her gaze wandered back to her brother and she took his limp hand.

Huh. Mal eyed Zoe's work, watching as skin stitched together and hid the evidence of something unnatural beneath. He realized suddenly that River had avoided glancing at the rest of the crew since entering the infirmary. Reluctantly Mal turned his gaze to the folks standing outside the door. Kaylee still looked shell-shocked, Jayne uncomfortable, Inara pitying, but Wash's surprise had eased towards confusion and concern.

"I hope that's all right," Book said. He stripped off his gloves and looked across the bed at River. "Can you tell how he is?"

River nodded slowly. "The body mends. The heart will crack," she announced sadly.

Zoe stripped off her gloves and rested a bare hand on River's shoulder. Her stoic expression softened to show sympathy. "Clean yourself up, River, then sit with him.

River nodded again. "Needs me." She stepped away and turned to Mal. "Needs you," she added, eyes pleading. She left before he could respond.

Mal caught Zoe's bemused gaze and shrugged. He turned to the group still outside and took a breath to keep his irritation at bay. "Imagine there's plenty you oughtta be doing elsewhere," he said.

Kaylee hunched her shoulders guiltily and Jayne glared at him before leading the mechanic away. Inara drifted away silently. Wash stubbornly met Mal's stare and stepped into the room.

Book excused himself as the pilot joined Zoe at Simon's side.

"Qing wa cao de liu mang," Wash muttered, his fists clenched. Mal's eyebrows rose in surprise at the venom. "What do those bastards want?"

Mal moved to position himself on the opposite side of the infirmary bed but continued to keep his distance. He ran his gaze over Simon's body; no other signs of what lay beneath the skin.

"Was he just convenient, or is there something particular they want with the Tams?" Zoe eventually said.

Good question, that. Mal stared at the doc's face, lax in unconsciousness. Man hadn't stirred since he'd taken the shot from their backstabbing buyers and Serenity's takeoff. He wondered at how natural the unconsciousness was. Unnatural, he determined.

"Shock to the system," River's voice drifted in a moment before she appeared. She gazed at Mal disapprovingly. "Just a man," she said firmly.

Wash smiled weakly at the girl and lifted an arm indicating for her to come close. She echoed his smile and went to hug him. Wash gently embraced her and rubbed her back. Zoe watched with a strange, nearly wistful look in her eye. Mal felt he was losing any familiar footing he had left.

"Don't let him fall apart," River whispered. Her head was tucked beneath Wash's chin, but her stare was on Mal.

"It's okay, mei mei," Wash assured, patting her back.

-----

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
haunted1019
Feb. 16th, 2010 11:52 pm (UTC)
Interesting idea. I would love to read more.
enmuse
Feb. 17th, 2010 03:32 am (UTC)
=3 Gonna try to write more!
measuringlife
Feb. 17th, 2010 09:55 am (UTC)
OOh, thank ya! This is a really interesting au :D

I really love how Wash was bringing River into the family, so to speak. D'aww ♥
enmuse
Feb. 17th, 2010 05:02 pm (UTC)
I adore Wash. When you get right down to it, I'm pretty sure he could get as protective as Mal.

Glad you like it! I'm writing some more... I'm just hoping it doesn't truly turn into a monstrosity because I don't need another major wip. lol
slashedshi
Feb. 24th, 2010 03:58 am (UTC)
OKay this seriously needs to be conmtinued. Its heart breaking and wonderful and amazing at the same time.
enmuse
Feb. 24th, 2010 04:25 am (UTC)
=3 Thanks. I've started another scene, but slow-going because the dialogue is causing my trouble... not to mention other plot bunnies biting onto my pant leg. =p
slashedshi
Feb. 24th, 2010 04:36 am (UTC)
you'll be awesome, I haz much faith in your epic awesomeness.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )