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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Landing on Newhall, Simon and Jayne head to the clinic to try and buy some of the antiviral. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1878 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
By the time Serenity approached Newhall both Ethan and Hope were beginning to sniffle, and their temperatures were increasing.
“It’s okay,” Simon reassured an anxious Freya and Kaylee outside the infirmary. “There’s still time to give them the antiviral, and they’re both strong children.”
“You sure there won’t be problems?” Kaylee was pale, her normal sunny disposition buried under a mountain of worry.
“I'm sure, bao-bei. Just get her bits and pieces, and take her into the shuttle.” He smiled, just a tilt of the lips. “At least Bethie will have someone to play with.”
“She’s asleep most of the time.”
If she bit her lip much harder, he considered, she’d draw blood. “No, that’s good.” He rubbed her arm. “The more rest she gets, the quicker her body’s going to throw this off.”
“I guess. You’re the doctor.” She didn’t look convinced.
“More than that. I'm their father.” It didn’t occur to him anymore that Hope wasn't his flesh. As far as he was concerned, his words were the honest truth. “Now, you go get some of her stuff. That grey … thing Jayne got her is a favourite.”
“It’s a hippo!” Kaylee said firmly.
“It’s got five legs.”
“She doesn’t care!” The young mechanic flounced away towards the nursery, radiating scorn.
Simon could help a grin, but it faded when he looked back at Freya. “Something on your mind?”
“What’s the point in all this?” she asked in turn.
“The point?” His eyebrows raised – he’d expected her to understand, at least. “Well, the antiviral –“
“Not that. I mean all this pretence. Putting the children in the shuttle, as if that’s going to stop it spreading.”
Simon sighed and took her arm, leading her to the common area chairs. “Did you peek?” he asked, making her sit down.
Her body was stiff, unyielding, hands clasped tightly in her lap. “No, but I'm more than capable of researching the Cortex.”
“Second guessing me now?”
“Afraid for my children.”
“Frey, don’t be. I'm a damn good doctor. You know that.”
“But even you can’t perform miracles.”
“No, no, I can’t. But it won’t get that far. With the antiviral I can stop this in its tracks.” He put his hand on hers. “I promise.”
“Then why not tell everyone the truth?”
“Because Kaylee needs something to hold onto. They all do, just a little bit. If I told them that by this time next week the only people still on their feet are likely to be Jayne and Kaylee, there’d be a riot, don’t you think? I mean, imagine Mal getting nursed by Jayne.”
Freya couldn’t help it. A slight smile creased her lips. “Giving him medication.”
“Taking his temperature,” Simon added.
“Making him have a bed bath.” The mental images amused her, but the anxiety didn’t recede. “I know all this, Simon. It’s just … after Ethan …”
He remembered – how could he not? Seeing two people so close to him almost losing their son, the pain they went through, the anguish … “It isn’t Minuet’s, Frey. The prognosis is good, and even if we do all come down with it, we’ll probably be fine. Terrible patients for Kaylee and Jayne to look after, but fine.”
“And … the infection … it won’t affect his pacemaker?”
Now Simon understood better. She was worried the tiny implant that regulated Ethan’s heart beating, put in after he contracted Minuet’s, might malfunction. “No, Frey. It was the best the Alliance can offer, and will probably still be ticking over in a thousand years time. The power source itself is guaranteed that long.”
“You want to read me?”
She looked into his blue eyes, honest and sincere. “I warn you. If it doesn’t, I’ll come back and perpetrate horrible things on your body,” she said finally.
“I’ll look forward to it.”
“Where’d you want to put down, Mal?” Hank asked, manoeuvring Serenity through the upper atmo, flames bright outside.
“At the port in Monument. Like I keep telling folks, this delivery’s above board. Macallum said he’d get his men there soon as we arrive to take it off our hands and pay us.”
“Monument City.” Hank stared out at the sky turning from black and red to blue. “Makes it sound really grand, doesn’t it?”
“I think the name’s probably more in hope than anything.” Mal steadied himself with a hand on the back of the pilot’s seat as they hit a spot of turbulence. “Just so long as it has a hospital.”
“I checked. There’s a clinic in town, says it has full medical facilities. Only three doctors anywhere near local: two in Monument and the other way out in the sticks, and not that many more over the whole planet.” He glanced over his shoulder. “How do people survive?”
“That’s the point. Sometimes they don’t. If you’re a settler and you’re lucky, you might have someone with some medical experience who can help, even if it’s just setting a broken leg. Most times, though, you just hope no-one gets sick.” He smiled grimly. “Let’s face it, Hank, there’s plenty of people still willing to be coming out here.”
“Probably a little. But we all had to come from some place, and there’s lots of land down there ready for the taking. Good or bad, it’s there.”
“Is that what your parents were like? Settlers on a raw new planet?”
Mal shook his head. “Shadow was one of the better terraformed places, and my family left the Core four or five generations back.”
“They did good?”
“Very good. Brought up their sons and daughters to respect freedom.” Mal tightened his grip on the chair. “Hank, ain't we getting just a bit too close to the ground? I mean, I don’t mind discussing my family’s history with you, but I’d rather we didn’t crash as a result.”
“We’re fine,” Hank assured him, lifting Serenity’s nose and feeling her respond well. “So, Monument?”
Monument City sat at the delta of a river that flowed through three-quarters of the largest land mass, a sprinkling of green all along its banks until it got close to the coast, when the better irrigated farmland spread out. Homesteads dotted the countryside, cheek by jowl in the fertile areas, more scattered the further away from the water they were. Mal had been almost right – while there were no buildings above three or four storeys, the town looked respectable and well-kept.
As Hank settled Serenity into her dock, River stood at the doorway of the infirmary. “Better take a coat,” she said.
Simon looked up from the small medical bag he was packing. “Why?”
“There’s a forty percent chance it’s going to rain.”
He smiled. “Okay. I’ll pick one up.” He straightened. “How’s Caleb?”
“What?” The smile fled his face, and he was almost out of the door as she caught his arm, effortlessly stopping him.
“No. There’s no need. There’s nothing you can do until you bring back the antiviral.”
He looked at his sister, her calmness, almost at odds with how he’d come to think of her. “River, I should –“
“The sooner you get it, the sooner Caleb will be better.”
Now he saw the tension in her face, just a small tightening around her eyes. “He’ll be fine, River.”
“I know. I have faith in you.” She shook her head. “I almost wish I’d had the full range of inoculations at the Academy as they planned, but you got me out before they could.”
“You saw that? That they were going to –”
“In their minds. Defensive deployment generally means offensive, and likely to be out in the uncivilised areas of the ‘verse.” She sighed. “If I’d had the inoculations he would have been all right, but –“
“It’s not your fault.” He dipped his head to look at her. “You do know that, don’t you?”
“Nobody’s fault,” she agreed, then lifted her head as if listening. “Time to go.”
“Simon!” Mal shouted from the cargo bay as soon as the words had left her lips, his voice ringing through the superstructure. “Time!”
The young man grabbed his bag and glanced back towards the lower crew quarters. “My coat …”
“I’ll get it.” She gave him a gentle push. “Go. Otherwise Mal will be angry.”
He flashed her a grin and hurried towards the doorway.
She watched him step through, then turned to fetch his coat. No matter that she had made out she knew everything was going to be shiny, there was a knot of fear in her belly, and it was making her conjure up all sorts of scenarios for things that might go wrong. She needed to talk to someone. Freya. Yes, that would be best. Perhaps they could run over the whole control thing again.
“You ain't going alone,” Mal said firmly, his arms crossed as he stood in front of the open bay doors.
Simon sighed heavily. “I realise that. But … Jayne?”
“Hey, ain't like I wanna be your date neither, doc,” the big man said. “But someone has to look after you.”
“Can’t Zoe –“
“She’s staying until Macallum arrives.” Mal shook his head. “Look, I ain't keen on you going out there at all, but you’re the only one knows what he’s talking about, so you go with a bodyguard. And until we’re unloaded safely, Jayne’s it.”
Simon knew he wasn't going to win any argument. “Okay.”
“You got your beacon?”
“Yes.” He tapped his shirt, feeling a small metal box lying flat against his skin. Kaylee had sewn a pouch in each of them for just such a reason, complaining all the time of sticking herself with the needle, but not letting him do it. As soon as she had the parts she’d promised him one small enough to fit into the heel of his shoe, but until then this was the best they could do.
“Good.” Mal reached into his own pocket. “This is about all we can spare in the way of cash until we get paid.” He held out the handful of currency. “If you need more, tell ‘em we’ll get it to them.”
Simon glanced at the notes. “I think Jayne ought to look after that.”
They spoke together, both men surprised, not so much that the ex-mercenary could be trusted with the cash, but that Simon was the one doing the trusting.
“No-one’s likely to try and rob him, not if they value their lives,” Simon explained, inwardly amused at their reaction.
“He won’t be armed,” Mal pointed out, as if the lack of weaponry on the big man had gone unnoticed. “Monument don’t allow guns off ship.”
Simon smiled. “I’ll take Jayne over any eight other ruffians any day.”
“Well … that’s … good.” Mal tried to pull his dignity back together. “Then I guess you’d better get going. You got a comlink, Jayne?”
“Sure thing.” Jayne touched one of the many pockets on his cargo pants.
“Clinic and back, no side trips.”
“You got it, Mal.” The big man slapped Simon on the back, almost overbalancing him. “Better go.”
“Wait,” River called from the common area doorway, running through with Simon’s coat. “You don’t want to catch a cold.”
“Thanks.” He smiled and slipped it on, then reached up and pushed her hair away from her face. “Won’t be long, mei-mei. Keep an eye on Kaylee for me, will you?”
“Of course.” She kissed him on the cheek.
“Hey, don’t I get one of those?” Jayne complained, pulling her to him.
She smiled and reached up, placing a much deeper kiss on her husband than she had done on her brother. “Better?”
He laughed. “Just about tide me over.” He let her go. “See you soon, girl.”
The two men strode out into the cool air, and River wrapped her arms around her chest.
“You okay, xiao nu?” Mal asked.
“I don’t know.”
He looked at her sharply. “You see something happening that shouldn’t?”
She shook her head. “I … don’t think so. But there’s so much worry on board, I can’t focus.”
He stepped closer to her, putting his arm around her shoulder. “Albatross, I know if there was, you’d see it.” He smiled. “And she’s waiting for you,” he added, squeezing gently.
“Mmn. Said you ought to go join her in the galley, if’n you want.”
She leaned her head against him. “In a minute,” she said, allowing his heat to warm her through, the care and love he felt soothing her mind. “In a minute.”
“Thanks,” Jayne said, walking swiftly and staring solidly ahead. “For saying that. ‘Bout you trusting me.”
“It’s true.” Simon was having to half-run to keep up. “Besides, you are my brother-in-law.”
Jayne flashed a lop-sided smile at him. “Didn’t think you approved o’that.”
“Jayne, you keep my sister happy, more than I was ever able to do with all the drugs I had. She’s never going to be completely sane, or even close, but she’s never been as … as content as she is with you.”
“You know she means the world to me. Her and Caleb.”
“I worked that out when I saw your tattoos in lieu of rings,” he said dryly. “And he’ll be fine.”
“What?” Jayne’s brows drew together. “Who?”
“Caleb. He’ll be fine.”
“What?” The big man glanced down at him. “What about Caleb?”
“Didn’t … didn’t River tell you?”
“Tell me what?” He stopped in the middle of the street. “Tell me what, doc?”
Simon looked around uncomfortably, then said quietly, “It looks like he’s coming down with the measles too.”
Jayne glared at him, then turned his eyes towards the docks. “Ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng, why didn’t she tell me?”
“She probably didn’t want you to worry.”
“Bit late for that now, ain't it?” Jayne realised his hands were in fists, and he tried consciously to relax them, when all he really wanted to do was hit something. “How come it’s all the kids, doc?”
“They have less resistance, generally. The rest of us have been out in the world, and … Jayne, if it makes you feel any better, I think Zoe’s got a sore throat.”
The big man jerked his head back to stare at the young man, then realised he was joking. “Cao, Simon, that ain't fair. And I don’t want no-one to get sick.”
He was almost in shock. “I think that’s the first time you’ve called me by my name.”
“Yeah, well, don’t get used to it.” He strode off again, letting the doctor play catch-up.
The clinic was a fairly new building, two floors high and all white stone and steel, standing out somewhat incongruously amongst the older flatboard houses. Two small wings swept back from the central façade, and a wide double door was set dead centre.
“No punching,” Simon said firmly. “We’re here to ask for a favour. I don’t want us thrown in jail just as we’re this close.”
“No punching,” Jayne agreed. “But can I at least look intimidatin’?”
“You mean you don’t do it on purpose all the time?”
“Nah. Underneath I'm just a soft woolly teddy bear.” He leered slightly. “Ask your sis.”
Simon closed his eyes for a moment, hoping when he opened them it would be one of the other crew members standing there. It wasn’t. He sighed. “Come on.” He led the way through the double doors that hissed quietly open at their approach.
Inside the smell of disinfectant and other chemicals was overlaid with a faint perfume of flowers, but it didn’t work very well. In front of them, along one long wall, was a counter that looked as if it could handle six or seven people, but was only manned by one.
Simon let his doctor persona take over, and he approached the desk. “Hello,” he said, smiling at the receptionist. “I’d like to see either Dr Hammond or Dr Stokes.”
She looked up, about to smile back then seeing Jayne looming behind. Her hand hovered over the emergency call button. “If you’re selling something –“
“No, nothing like that. It’s … personal.”
“I have a request.”
“I really need some more –“
“Please. I just need to see him for a few minutes.”
She looked him up and down, wondering what a man like this could possibly have wrong with him. “Well…” She knew she shouldn’t, but he had a nice smile, and he looked professional, and … “Dr Hammond isn’t available, and Dr Stokes is with a patient.” She glanced at Jayne again. “But if you two … gentlemen would like to take a seat, I’ll let him know as soon as he’s free.”
to be continued
Thursday, April 24, 2008 8:02 AM
Thursday, April 24, 2008 8:26 AM
Thursday, April 24, 2008 1:04 PM
Thursday, April 24, 2008 6:04 PM
Monday, April 28, 2008 1:04 AM
Friday, May 2, 2008 1:22 PM
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