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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Takes place after the events of the series and before the BDM, and a few months after "Nothin' In The 'Verse Part I".
The return of a former passenger to Serenity causes conflict among the crew - and creates a problem for Mal that he is unprepared to deal with.-------CHAPTER 16: The crew gets some down time on Haven, but it's anything but a break for Mal. Simon presents Mal with an unexpected option to consider.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 691 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Disclaimers: Everything belongs to Joss, except for one character of my creation
Haven lived up to its name. The small mining community was known for taking in the occasional Browncoat fugitive if the price was right. That included several of Mal and Zoë’s wartime associates. Those friends ‘waved them once in awhile if they needed a favor, usually transport for someone to or from the moon. Now, they were returning the favor to the crew of Serenity by loaning Simon use of their clinic for the tests he needed to run.
Haven would also serve as a place for the crew to get some down time. It would not be the leave time Mal had promised them, but it would be something. They could relax with friends while Simon assessed Alex’s condition and he and Mal figured out what to do.
For Mal it felt like anything but a haven. He couldn’t think of a time in his life that he had felt pulled in so many directions. He wondered how thin he was capable of being spread. Going to the prison in search of Alex held many unknowns; and he thought he had prepared himself for all the possibilities. He hoped they would find her alive, but he had steeled himself for the very real likelihood they would not. He knew there was a chance they might not find her at all. But THIS...never in three lifetimes had the situation in front of him entered his thoughts. The implications—no matter what the outcome—were so immense that he refused to even let his mind go there. Not until he had more information.
So he thought about the more immediate problems at hand.
He had made promises to his crew that he needed to keep—and to Inara as well. He had promised her she would be the first stop after Zargon, no matter what they found there. Now, here they were on Haven, nowhere near where Inara needed to be. One promise broken already, and who knew what lay ahead?
Inara had assured him she understood, that she would have it no other way. That only served to make Mal feel worse. She was being selfless and generous about the situation, which made him feel even more terrible about hiding from her what had happened between Alex and himself. Yet, he couldn’t bear the thought of her knowing. There was just no good way of handling the mess he found himself in.
My luck hasn’t changed, he thought. The people I touch are still suffering. The more I try to do right by everyone, the less I do right by anyone at all.
Simon was in the clinic with Alex and the town doctor. The rest of the crew had dispersed. Mal walked to the top of a rise overlooking the village and sat down. He leaned against an outcropping of rock and closed his eyes, letting the sun beat down on his face. He hadn’t slept much since they had left Zargon, and he was exhausted. He considered that incongruity. The first time the nurse had been aboard the ship, she had helped him end a string of nightmares and sleepless nights; now she was the reason he was not sleeping.
He started, only then realizing that he had actually drifted off for a short time. Zoë was standing over him.
“Zoë,” he mumbled thickly, his mouth dry. He was surprised to see her. “Where’s the old man? Figured the two of you to be off ruttin’ in the woods by now.”
Zoë sat down beside him.
“Needed a break.” She nodded down the hill toward the clinic. “How’s she doin’?”
Mal shrugged. “Clingin’ to life. Don’t know any more yet. Doc’s still runnin’ his tests.”
Zoë studied his face.
“And you?” she asked.
“I’m still clingin,’ too.”
They sat in silence for a bit before Zoë spoke again.
“Sir, you don’t know you’re responsible for this.”
Mal didn’t need to ask what she meant.
“Don’t know I’m not.”
“If you are, she didn’t see fit to tell you.”
Mal said nothing.
“So what’s the next move?”
“Not sure,” Mal said. “She’s got folks on Boros, is all I know. Guess we’ll have to wait ‘til she wakes up.”
“What if she don’t?”
Mal grunted. “I ain’t got that far yet.”
They sat in silence again, watching the villagers go about their business down below. Shepherd Book was in the midst of them and appeared to be holding court.
“He seems to be gettin’ along right well here, don’t he?” Mal remarked.
“Folks seem to like him,” Zoë agreed.
Mal chuckled dryly. “Well, maybe he’ll get the sermonizin’ out of his system before we get back on the ship—save us havin’ to hear it. Reckon he’d like to give me an earful about now.” He leaned back against the rock and closed his eyes again.
“There’s the doc,” Zoë said.
Mal sat forward and saw Simon outside the clinic entrance. He was pulling off his exam gloves.
“Better see if he’s lookin’ for me.” Mal rose to his feet and Zoë stood to follow him. Simon spotted them then and waved.
“Get what you needed?” Mal called out as they descended the hill.
“I think so,” Simon answered. He opened the clinic door and ushered them inside.
Alex lay on a table in the treatment area, surrounded by instruments and the scans Simon had taken. The clinic doctor passed them as they entered, on his way out. He nodded a greeting.
“I took scans of her hip to know what I need to do to remove the blade,” Simon began. “It’s into the joint pretty deep. It’s not going to be a matter of just pulling it out and patching the hole. It looks like there’s some pretty significant damage to the joint itself, and probably nerve damage as well. It’ll be a surgical fix, and I can’t guarantee she’ll have normal mobility again no matter what I do. It’s just too early to say.”
He hung the scans for Mal and Zoë to view as he went over them.
“I used surgical bond to mend the wounds I couldn’t suture on the ship, but she’ll have some pretty nasty scarring. I set her broken nose as well as I can, but I can’t say for sure it will heal perfectly either, since was broken awhile before I got to it. ”
“What about the baby, Doc?” Zoë asked, mercifully saving Mal from having to voice that question.
Simon shrugged. “As far as I can tell, everything looks fine. I took scans and did an ultrasound, and nothing visibly wrong shows up. I want to run one more test, which will involve removing a little fluid and testing it for abnormalities I can’t see. Otherwise, her vital signs, and the baby’s, all seem pretty normal.”
“Then why ain’t she wakin’ up, Doc?” Mal asked.
Simon shook his head. “She went through a lot. Her body was already under stress from the pregnancy, and she went a long time in the cold with no food or water and a lot of serious injuries. She lost a lot of blood. I can stand here and list her injuries and tell you how I can fix each one, but how they’ll affect her ultimately is something I can’t predict.”
“Meaning...I’m a physician, not a magician. I can patch her up, but I can’t say for sure she’ll recover.”
Mal was quiet as he considered that.
“Do you have any feelin’ about it one way or another?” he finally asked.
Zoë spoke up then.
“Sir, I’m gonna let the two of you talk,” she said quietly, and slipped out.
“Well, I—I don’t know,” Simon replied. “I—I think it’s too soon to tell. I’ve started her on antibiotics...and, like I said, I’ve got one more test I want to do...but we really have to just wait and see.”
“When can you remove the blade?” Mal asked.
“Any time, really. I’ll do it here if we can stay parked a bit.”
Mal nodded. “Take as long as you need. The crew’s happy—they’re stretchin’ their legs and gettin’ fed.”
“Speaking of food, I could use lunch before I start in again,” Simon said.
“There’s a communal kitchen down the road apiece.” Mal nodded in that direction. “They’ll be happy to feed you.”
“Care to join me?”
Mal shook his head. “Think I’ll stay here awhile.”
Simon walked out, leaving him alone with Alex. Mal strolled around the room, idly looking at the various medical paraphernalia lying about. He had no idea what most of it was for. He came to the scans, which Simon had removed from the light box and stacked on the counter again. Mal picked them up one by one and held them to the light, looking at various views of the knife blade in Alex’s hip. He shook his head wonderingly. How she had gotten stabbed in that way, and how the handle had gotten broken off was something he guessed he really didn’t want to know. He didn’t want to think about how painful it must have been.
There were two more scans beside the first stack. These Simon had not shown him. Mal hung one on the light box and turned the box on. He frowned, studying the view, unsure at first of what he was looking at. Then he realized what it was.
It was the baby.
He cocked his head, studying it from every angle. Then he picked up the other scan and hung that one too. It was a slightly different view, but obviously of the same thing. Mal stared at the two scans, examining them closely. He could clearly make out the outline of the skull and spinal column, which were well developed. The limbs and other bones were visible, too, but less defined.
Mal looked from the scans to Alex’s still form on the table. He gazed at her face, peaceful enough in repose, despite the cuts and bruises covering her. His eyes traveled down and came to rest on the soft hump of her belly beneath the sheet that covered her. He watched it rise and fall with the steady rhythm of her breathing.
All at once he felt lightheaded. He gripped the edge of the counter to steady himself. His heart was beating too fast, and he felt himself beginning to sweat. He struggled to catch his breath, and held onto the countertop until the feeling passed. Then he turned back to the scans on the wall. The thought he had been suppressing all along caught him off guard and forced its way to the surface, so quickly he did not have time to push it back.
That could be a part of me.
He closed his eyes, the woozy feeling threatening to return. He struggled to will it away.
“I have the ultrasound, too, if you want to see that.”
Mal started at the sound of Simon’s voice. He turned to face him.
“You weren’t gone long,” he remarked, hoping his voice didn’t belie his shakiness.
Simon had a plate of food in his hand.
“Decided to come back here and get started...” His voice trailed off and he frowned as he looked at Mal. “You don’t look so good.”
Mal pulled in a deep breath. He could feel sweat beading his upper lip.
“Oh, I just...it’s stuffy in here, is all.” He shrugged and swallowed hard. “Maybe I’ll step out a minute.” He moved toward the door.
Mal turned back. His legs felt like rubber.
“If, uh...” Simon began awkwardly. “If there’s anything you’re wondering about—something you feel like you need to know...I, uh...well...there’s a test,” he said. “It’s pretty simple, really. I’m already pulling a fluid sample, so...if you want...” He let his voice trail off again.
Mal had no idea what to say. He hadn’t expected to be confronted with an option of this sort. “Doc, I, uh...I—I don’t think...” He paused to gather his thoughts. “Would that even be ethical? ‘Cause, you know, she ain’t awake to consent to something like that.”
Simon sighed, considering it.
“Well, I’m not really sure about that,” he admitted. “But, I thought...well, you seem like...it might be weighing on you.”
“Thanks, Doc,” Mal said. “It’d be good to have answers—but...but I’m not sure it would be right. I...” He considered it an instant more. “No. I don’t think it would be right.” He shook his head.
“All right,” Simon agreed. “I just wanted to let you know...it is an option.” He had pulled out a syringe with a large needle attached and was unwrapping it as he spoke. Mal suddenly felt faint again.
“I’m goin’ out there.” He gestured toward the door and exited quickly.
Once outside in the fresh air and sunshine, he felt a little steadier. His stomach growled, and he realized for the first time that he hadn’t eaten a thing since they had arrived on Haven. He decided to follow the doc’s example and get some lunch before starting in on anything else; if he couldn’t do another blessed thing, at least he could keep up his own strength. He headed up the road toward the kitchen.
Go to Chapter 17.
Back to Chapter 15.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006 12:48 PM
Thursday, October 12, 2006 1:50 AM
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