Not There Yet - Part VII
Sunday, June 10, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Simon explains the problem, and begins the operation. Forgive me if the medical stuff is inaccurate, but I have tried! And please comment. Please?


“What?” “Why?” Mal and Freya spoke over each other.

“I need to operate,“ Simon repeated. The original scans were inconclusive, but when I used the hospital imager …” He paused, watching Freya unconsciously press the palm of her hand into the crease of her hip, as if just the thought made it hurt. “Anyway, this allowed me to see what had happened.”

“And?” Mal prompted. “Simon, please.”

“After Wing’s men … hurt you, there must have been an infection in the bone, the head of the femur to be precise. That’s the long bone that runs down the thigh …”

Freya nodded. “I know what it is, doc. Go on.”

“I didn’t pick it up at the time because of the damage to your pelvis. The breaks meant I could only stabilise –”

“I remember.” She shuddered slightly, the trembling communicating through to Mal. Neither of them was likely to ever forget the aftermath of what Wing did, the weeks of pain and anguish, let alone the emotional mutilation.

“The point is that I couldn’t examine that area too well.”

“But you gave Frey antibiotics. I remember that too,” Mal said.

“I did. And they cleared the infections. The problem is the damage this particular one did.”


Simon crossed to his screen, bringing up one of the scans on it. “There are microfissures in the bone, invisible without the use of the imager, and even then only on a particular view.” He ran a finger down a network of bright red lines. “If we hadn’t found it, if I hadn’t been looking, it could have blown without warning.”

Mal stared. “Blown?”

“More or less exploded. Any undue force or pressure and the femoral head could have shattered into fragments.”

Mal’s grip on Freya was tight, but it tightened more. “And if that had happened?”

“There’s an artery runs …” Simon stopped. “It would have been bad.”

“But you caught it,” she said, forcing herself to breathe.


“So that was causing the limp.”


Mal and Freya exchanged glances. “What … there’s more?” she whispered.

“It’s your body, Frey,” Simon said softly. “The ability to heal. It … your body knows there’s a problem, and is trying to fix it.”

“That’s good,” Mal put in.

“It would be, but …” Simon changed the picture, this one to a tracery of fine blue lines. “Your body is building calcification around the joint, attempting to stabilise it. It’s interfering with the nerve impulses.”

“That’s why it hurts sometimes.” Mal glanced down at Freya’s white face. He knew it pained her, no matter she said otherwise.


“So what do we do?”

“I operate.”


“Soon as I can … Mal, we’re lucky. All it would take is Frey coming down too hard off a step, or jumping from the ramp, and …”

“Isn’t there something else?” Freya asked, her voice shaky. “Other than cutting me?”

“I don’t see an alternative. I have to replace the femoral head, remove the calcification … it’s not going to be a short job.”

“Do you need a hospital?” Mal was already reaching towards the com. “Not sure that the one here is a good idea to go back to, but we can be on our way –”

“No. I can handle it, Mal. It’s not like Ethan – this is my area of expertise. I just …” His voice trailed off.

“What, Simon?”

“It has to be now.”

“You said you needed a replacement. I can hardly figure they sell these kinda things over the counter,” Mal pointed out. “And I’m pretty sure we ain’t got one in store.”

“Yes. We do. At least, now we do.”

Mal stared at Simon, and the answer came to him. “Jayne and Hank’s little excursion.”

Simon nodded. “The imager confirmed what I’d come to suspect. I just couldn’t say anything until I’d proved it.” He looked at Freya. “I’m sorry.”

“It isn’t your fault.”

“No, but if I’d examined you more carefully –”

“Would you have seen it?”

“I … I don’t know.”

“Then don’t worry about it.” She took a deep breath. “I’d better go explain –”


“I meant it, Frey. Any sudden jolt, or misstep, this could all be for nothing. Even the dancing yesterday.” He patted the medbed. “You’re staying here.”

“Simon –”

“Freya.” Mal’s voice cut across her. “You do as he says.”

The young doctor opened a cupboard and took out a white gown. “You need to strip.”

The hand she reached out trembled a little.

“It’s okay, Frey,” Mal whispered, taking her into his arms and holding her close. “I ain’t going anywhere.”

“I’ll need you to scrub in,” Simon said quickly.

“Whatever you need.” Mal was gazing into his wife’s face. “See? Ain’t going anywhere.”

“I need to …” Simon backed out of the infirmary, giving them some space.

Mal ran his hand through Freya’s hair. “I’ll be back in a sec, okay? You get yourself naked.”

She gave him a shaky smile. “Not the first time you’ve said that to me in here.”

“And it won’t be the last.” He let her go.

“Don’t be long,” she said, turning away.


“There’s more, isn’t there?” Mal asked quietly, following Simon out into the common area.

“Why would …”

“Because I know you. And I know damn well when there’s something else bothering you.”

Simon stared at him, then came to a decision. “This … may not be the end of it, Mal.”

“How come?” Serenity’s captain was motionless, all his attention focused on the young doctor.

Simon sighed, the air escaping from his lips. “Freya’s ability to heal … it may not …”

“Spit it out, doc.”

“There’s no guarantee that the calcification won’t come back. Once the body gets into a habit, it’s difficult to break.”

“And if it does?”

“Each time it’s removed, the area … it’s a Catch 22 situation Mal. I remove it, and in doing so can damage the area, so the body reacts, so I remove it …”


“She could end up crippled.” Simon let a beat go by. “Permanently.”

Mal swallowed. “So what do we do?”

“We wait. We hope. Now I know, I can keep an eye on things that much better, maybe even help her control it.” The doctor shook his head. “If I don’t operate now, and the bone does shatter, it could be fatal. If I do, and the calcification comes back, at least I have the option of trying again.”

Mal took a deep breath, exhaling hard to release as much of the tension as he could. “Better get to it then.”

“Better had.”

“Do you want anyone else to … to help?”

“No. You have enough battlefield experience, as long as you don’t mind me telling you what to do.”

“In this case, you order me around as much as you like, doc.”

“Don’t think I won’t enjoy it.”

“Sure you will, doc. Sure you will.”


River walked slowly towards the Fryes, Ethan on her hip but her mind elsewhere. Freya was afraid, and she wished she could be there for her, but there was something else she had to do. Someone else she had to be with.

Rounding the side of the house, she was hit by the laughter and music, her nostrils assailed by the scent of food. She looked around.

“Hey, there, moonbrain,” Jayne said softly in her ear, having crept up on her silently like the expert tracker he was.


He slid his arm around her waist. “You gonna leave the half-pint with someone so we can go for that walk?”

“No. Not today.”

He looked down into her face, surprised. “What? Why not?” There was something in her eyes that caught at him. “What is it, River?”

In a low voice so that no-one else could hear, she explained.

Tah mah duh,” Jayne muttered. “They need us?”

“No. Not right now. Mal wants everyone to have a good time. It won’t help Freya if they all start worrying.”

“But you are. Worrying. Ain’t you?” He squeezed her waist.

“My brother is a brilliant doctor.”

“That ain’t what I asked.”

She turned to look into his eyes. “Every surgery has its risks. But it isn’t that. She can’t shield things very well at the moment, and I can feel her anxiety, her fear. And so can someone else.” She turned her head, looking in front of them.

His gaze followed hers, to the little girl coming towards them, her arm in a sling, a puppy attached to a leather lead. “Gorramit.”

“Uncle Jayne? Auntie River?” Bethany asked, her eyes huge.

Jayne bent forward and scooped her into his arms. “Where’d you wanna go, River?” he asked softly.

“Kaylee has an old workshop.” She nodded towards some outbuildings. “Over there. I think we can be quiet inside.”

Jayne nodded. “Good idea.”


Mal fingered the small gold cross just inside his shirt, and offered up a silent prayer. He knew Simon was good, that this was what he had trained for, but it didn’t mean he wasn’t scared. And from the look on Freya’s face he knew she was too.

“Just relax,” Simon said, adjusting the drip into her arm. “You’ll start to feel a little numbness, then I want you to start counting backwards from one hundred.”

“What makes you think I can count up to one hundred?” Freya joked somewhat shakily.

“Do what I tell you,” Simon said gently. “I’d like to remind you that I’m the doctor here.”

Freya smiled. “Sure hope so. I’d hate to be letting anyone else rummage around inside me.”

“Just count, Frey.”

She lay her head back, her eyes meeting Mal’s, and sure enough her arm began to belong to someone else. “One hundred,” she said. “Ninety nine, ninety eight, ninety seven … Mal …” Her hand tightened on his.

“It’s okay, ai ren, I’m here,” he said, smiling for her. “Ain’t going anywhere.”

“Freya,” Simon prompted.

“Ninety six, ninety … five, ninety …” Her voice trailed off and her eyes closed.

Simon opened the drip a little more. “Give it a minute and then we’ll begin.”


“I thought you were going fishing,” Zoe said, walking up behind Hank as he stood at the table, pouring a mug of coffee.

He smiled at her. “I don’t know. Suddenly I just didn’t feel like it. Eddie was gonna lend me his rods and everything, but I came over all … I wanted to stay here.”

“Everything okay?”

“Shiny. Just don’t want to get too far from home.” He put his head on one side. “Does that sound crazy?”

“No more than River on a good day.”

“Thanks. I think.”

“So do you feel like dancing?”

He glanced across at the improvised floor, where one or two couples were already moving to the music. “You know, I don’t. Do you mind?”

“No. And I know what you mean.”

“Do you mind if we just … I don’t know …”



“Sounds good.”



Mal swallowed. “Ready.“

Simon nodded, then picked up a scalpel. Pausing only for a second, he made the first incision, a long sweep down the skin above Freya’s hip, revealing the striations of muscle amid the cut blood vessels.



Kaylee had been searching, but there was no sign of Simon. Something wasn’t right, and it was making the skin on the back of her neck crawl. He’d been so anxious about the scans, that something was badly wrong …

“Winnie?” Her father looked up from where he was supervising carving great slices from a ham. “You gonna have something to eat?”

She flashed him an absent-minded smile. “Maybe later, Pa. I just …” She started to head back towards the house.

“What is it?” he called.

“Just got something I gotta check first.” She waited until she was out of sight before starting to run.


Mal looked down at the bone showing whitely amongst the glistening red. “That it?” he asked.

“That’s it,” Simon agreed. “It doesn’t look like there’s anything wrong with it, does there?”

“I wouldn’t know, doc. Ain’t exactly been party to many of these things.” He watched as Simon sprayed something onto the bone. “What’s that?”

“Resin. Just to stabilise it enough so that I can remove the femoral head. Otherwise it could shatter while I do.”

“You just take all the time you want,” Mal said softly. He glanced at Freya’s face, tranquil, calm, and wondered if there was a part of her that knew what was going on. He sincerely hoped not.

“Can I help?” Kaylee stood in the doorway to the infirmary.

Bao bei,” Simon said. “You should be with your family.”

“I am.” The young mechanic stepped over the sill. “And I want to help.”

Mal smiled at her, almost overwhelming her with gratitude. “Could do with someone here to hold my hand, xiao mei-mei,” he said. “Ain’t too sure I can get through this otherwise.”

“You could have told us,” she said, only faintly remonstrating.

“And have everyone worry?”

“So you do it by yourself?”

“Not no more.”

Simon nodded towards the side counter. “Kaylee, if you’re staying, glove up. If you could hold Freya’s leg whilst I work.”

“Course, Simon.” She pulled on the gloves and took hold of the unconscious woman’s knee.



“Good.” Simon checked the resin - it had hardened in those few seconds. He looked up at the other two. “If either of you are likely to faint, you’d be better off doing it outside.”

“Ain’t gonna faint,” Mal said firmly, then wondered if he was lying as Simon picked up a small bone saw.

“Good.” He switched the saw on and the infirmary was filled with the sound of teeth whirring. “Hold her leg steady.”

to be continued


Sunday, June 10, 2007 8:01 AM


This is all manner of tense, but I love it! You really know how to get a person's attention! Great job!

Sunday, June 10, 2007 9:08 AM


I love how everyone is affected in some way by what's happening. Even Hank knows something is up. That shows how close the entire crew is and I think that's lovely.

This is terrifically tense - I can't wait to read more. Maybe a little interaction between Bethie, River and Jayne, that could be hugely interesting ...

Sunday, June 10, 2007 10:40 AM


Well now...the whole crew is sensing something is going down that isn't rainbows and puppies, huh? Gotta wonder if Bethie's abilities are ramping up unconsciously due to the anxiety she's feeling. Certainly would be one way around the "no peeking" issue if she can broadcast the sensation of something being wrong to everyone in her family:(

Sunday, June 10, 2007 11:59 AM


I don't know much about the medical side either but it sounds good. I just hope that everything goes OK.

Sunday, June 10, 2007 12:42 PM


Oh good gorram, I'm not going to have any nails left! Poor Freya, poor Mal, poor Simon thinking he could have found out earlier only you can't second guess something like this. Thank goodness Mal insisted Simon check her out otherwise she could have fallen or jarred her hip and we might have had no more Freya. Doesn't bear thinking about. I am glad that Kaylee didn't go to pieces when she found out what had happened but calmly set to and helped. And I love how everyone somehow feels off-centre as if a deep part of them knows something isn't right. Loved River thinking of little Bethie and taking her some place where her mind would be naturally shielded from what was happening to Freya. Please let the operation be a success, that poor lady has been through more than anyone else in the 'verse and deserves a happy outcome. Ali D
You can't take the sky from me


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[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

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[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]