BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Addiction - Part V
Sunday, April 27, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Simon makes his play at the clinic and Mal remembers old times. NEW CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1923    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

“Concentrate,” Freya urged.

“I'm trying.”

“Try harder.”

The young psychic lifted her head quickly to glare at the older woman, then dropped it back, her eyes staring at the coin on the warm surface of the old wooden table. “It isn’t doing anything. And my head aches.”

Freya smiled. “Then stop.”

River looked up. “I can never make it do anything,” she said, a resigned note in her voice.

“It’s because you don’t let go.”

“If I did that, I might kill everyone.”

“Then you don’t let go enough.”

“I saw what you did that time. While Jayne and I were visiting his mother. Bethie was amazed.” She put her head on one side. “How did you do it?”

“Honestly?” Freya laughed. “I don’t know. My mentor told me at first I’d never have the control, having started too old, but … I don’t know. It just does.”

“Show me now?”

She was about to say no, to explain how it took so much out of her, but one glance at the hopeful look on River’s face was enough. The young woman needed this, needed something to be thinking about other than her tiny son. She reached over and took the medallion, placing it in front of her. “Okay. Watch closely.” She leaned forward, her eyes not really on the metal, but more through it, into the spaces between the molecules, under the atoms, deep into the heart of the nucleus, and River was with her every step of the way.

---

The receptionist stepped back into the main atrium. “I’ve spoken to Dr Stokes, and he can spare you a minute, but that’s all. I'm sure you’re aware of the problems we’ve been experiencing, and what with Dr Hammond being sick too …”

“Measles?” Simon asked, getting to his feet.

“Yes.” The young woman shook her head. “Something that’s supposed to be just for children … most of our beds are already full.”

“Difficult times.”

“Yes.” She shook herself. “This way, please.” She led them along a corridor towards the rear of the building, her footsteps echoing on the hard floor.

Jayne was watching every turn, taking in where there were security cameras, blind spots, exits that might not be locked all the time, windows that could be forced. If it was needed, he had no compunction about knocking over this place, if that’s what it took to make sure the kids stayed safe.

He didn’t know Simon was doing the same.

“In here,” the receptionist said, opening a door. “Dr Stokes? They’re here.”

Simon walked into the room, and the sight that met his eyes made him almost forget to breathe. This was obviously a laboratory, with refrigerated units and cupboards lining the walls, and a worktable with various obscure pieces of equipment on it. A man was leaning over a microscope, intent on the slide beneath, but it wasn't him or the racks of test tubes cluttering every surface that had Simon’s attention. It was the machine in the corner.

His eyes sparkled with recognition.

“That it?” Jayne asked, barely whispering, having picked up somehow on the other man’s contained excitement. “Makes the vaccine?”

Simon nodded, just a single inclination of his head.

“Come in, come in,” the man said, not raising his head. “Thanks, Rita. You can go off to lunch now.”

“Thank you, Dr Stokes.” The receptionist closed the door behind them.

“I’ll be with you in a moment. Just need to finish this … damn.” Whatever he was looking at had disappointed him. “I really thought this time …” He took a step back and rubbed at his eyes.

“May I?” Simon asked.

“Mmn? What?”

“May I take a look?”

Dr Stokes peered at him myopically, then took a pair of glasses from his pocket, the oblong lenses catching the light. He slipped them on. “Are you a doctor?”

“I’ve had some training.”

“Where?”

Simon was reluctant to give too much detail so just said, “Osiris.”

“Core?”

“Yes.”

“You wanted to be a doctor?”

“I did.”

“Him too?” Dr Stokes gestured towards Jayne.

“Nah,” the big man said. “I'm a nurse.”

Dr Stokes stared, then laughed, much more than the joke was worth. “Well, thanks. I don’t think I’ve … go ahead. Take a look.”

Simon handed his bag to Jayne and approached the microscope. It was fairly new, but of an old-fashioned design, utilising refractive magnification rather than anything electronic. He looked through the eyepieces, automatically focussing it with the wheel at the side. “Hmmn. It looks to me like measles antibodies.”

“That’s right.” Stokes seemed surprised.

“What have you been doing, trying to get them to multiply?” He stood straight.

“Yes.”

“Not very successfully.”

“Oh, I can make them grow all right. At least in small quantities. Given enough time I could inoculate the entire town against measles, but that’s no damn good once it’s here.” He sighed deeply.

“I understand there’s something of an epidemic.”

“That’s putting it mildly. And the Alliance aren’t doing a thing to help.” Stokes spoke bitterly, and Simon began to feel optimistic over his task.

“Haven’t they supplied the antiviral?”

“About a hundredth of what I need. And that went in the first week. It’s already too late for some folks.”

“You’ve had deaths?” Simon glanced at Jayne, seeing the big man tense.

“Some. Mostly the old, but now it’s affecting everyone.” He gave a bark of laughter. “I’ll tell you, the town’s churches have never been so full. Mind you, neither have the saloons with people attempting to drink their troubles away. Different kind of prayer, I guess.” Then any humour vanished. “Anyone with even a cold is being ostracised, and that’s still not working. It’s starting to run wild, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.”

“Maybe I can help.”

Stokes face tightened. “If you’re trying to sell me black market juice, I have to tell you now, I don’t have any –“

“No. Not selling. But I think I can help.”

Stokes put his hands on his hips. “Who the hell are you?”

“My name’s Simon Mara. I'm medic on board a transport ship sitting at the docks.”

“And you came here? Knowing there was measles around?” Stokes shook his head. “Your captain must be a sang xin bing kuang.”

“We’ve got measles on board,” Simon said simply.

Stokes shoulders slumped. “Then I’m sorry for you. I don’t have any antiviral to give you. There’s not a single dose in the entire clinic.”

“Why don’t you use the ViroStim?”

“What?”

“The ViroStim.” Simon nodded towards the machine in the corner. “That could give you all the antiviral you need.”

A wry smile slid across the other man’s face. “If I could, don’t you think I’d have used it before now?” He shook his head. “You’re even more of a lunatic than your captain.”

“And if you could?”

“I'm not an immunologist,“ Stokes said. “I’m just a GP. A Federal supply ship brought this here almost a year ago, but didn’t have anyone to show me how to use it. It’s been gathering dust since then.”

Simon held out the carrot. “I can show you, if you like.”

“You could?” Stokes face took on an aspect of hope.

“In exchange.”

“For what?”

“Some of the antiviral.”

“Some of …”

“The rest of the crew have been exposed, and most have no immunity at all. My daughter is already in the macules stage, so it won’t work for her, but my other daughter and the captain’s son –”

“Your children?”

“Yes.”

“My son, too,” Jayne rumbled. “Only a few months old.”

Simon could see the doctor was trying to come to a decision. He knew what was going through the older man’s mind. He didn’t know them from Adam, and to trust them with his equipment, when they might just steal everything he had and leave him crying in the dust …

“How can I know I can trust you?” he asked finally.

“You don’t.”

Stokes laughed again, taking off his glasses and pinching the bridge of his nose. “Guess not.”

Jayne moved forward. “Look, the … Simon’s your only chance to save folks, ain't he? If he can make this piece of Alliance crap work, then we all win. You get what you want, we get what we want. It’s a good deal.”

“I can’t be scared into anything, you know.”

“Wasn't trying to do that.” Jayne grinned. “Hell, if’n I was trying you’d be in the corner pissing yourself right now.”

“Thanks, Jayne,” Simon said softly. “I think I can handle this.”

“How do I know you just won’t take all the antiviral and sell it on the black market? It’s worth a fortune at the moment.”

“You don’t,” Simon repeated. “I guess you’re going to just have to trust me.”

Stokes looked at the machine, then back at the two men standing in front of him. “I guess maybe I do,” he said after a long moment. “You help me, show me how to use it … you get what you need.”

Simon felt himself release a breath he hadn’t known he was holding. “Thank you.”

“Just don’t make me regret it.”

“I won’t.” Simon turned to Jayne. “You’d better let Mal know. I’ll be staying here for the moment.”

“Not going anywhere, doc,” the big man said, shaking his head. He pulled the comlink from his pants pocket. “Mal’d put me out the airlock if I did that.”

“Can you use that outside?” Stokes asked. “It might affect the equipment.”

Jayne glanced at Simon.

“It’s all right. I’ll be fine.”

“Okay. But I’ll only be a minute.”

“I’m not going anywhere, Jayne.”

---

Mal was watching from the doorway to the kitchen area. His wife and surrogate daughter were sitting at the old table, staring at something in front of them. He couldn’t see what it was, but that didn’t matter. He knew. The only link Freya still had with the man who’d literally saved her sanity, apart from the flame tattoo on her back. A coin, old, worn, not even legal tender, and probably hadn’t been for a couple of hundred years or so, yet they were gazing at it as if it was the most previous thing they'd ever seen.

Freya’s hands rested palm down on the old wood, and for a moment he was distracted by a memory of when he’d bought the table, entirely against Zoe’s advice.

“There’s only three of us, sir,” she’d said. “We don’t need something this big.”

He’d run his fingers across the smooth grain, worn to a patina by countless meals and unknown generations. “Won’t always be like that, Zo,” he’d responded. “One day maybe she’ll be full.”

“You’re not just talking about the table now, are you, sir?”

He hadn’t replied, just paid the man the asking price plus delivery. It had taken them the best part of a day to take it apart so they could get it through the doors, then put it back together again.

He’d been right, though. Soon Wash was on board, and Bester was replaced by Kaylee, then Inara and Jayne took their places at mealtimes. Then three arrived at one fell swoop that day on Persephone, a cargo of stolen protein bars hidden behind the bulkhead. They’d all stayed, made a family. When two seats became empty, and tears cried over the loss, he’d wondered if there would ever be anyone to fill them, but he should have known better. Serenity attracted a certain kind of person, and Hank was definitely that. He’d stayed, married, had a child. And then there was Freya. His amazing, astounding, darling Freya, who’d taken his heart and given him two children whose laughter filled the old Firefly … He stopped, a lump in his throat. Long may it continue, he thought, trying to swallow. Dear God, long may it continue.

“Mal!” Hank’s voice bounced down the corridor. “It’s Jayne!”

Mal turned on his heel and was running for the bridge before the echoes died away. He grabbed the com. “Jayne. Everything okay?”

Yeah, Mal, everything’s shiny. In fact it’s better’n shiny. It’s … hell, you need to ask River for another word.”

“The antiviral?”

They don’t got any –“ Mal’s heart sank. “- but they’ve got the machine, and the local MD’s agreed to let us have enough in exchange for Simon showing him how the thing works.

“Thank God,” Mal heard Freya whisper behind him.

He fingered the gold cross around his neck. “So what’s the plan?”

Simon’s staying to get it started. Sooner the better, n’all that. Don’t worry none, though. I ain't gonna leave. It looks like he’s stuck with me for a while.” There was definite laughter in the big man’s voice.

“I’m sure he’s loving that idea.”

Nah, me and the doc’ve come to an understanding.”

Mal’s eyebrows raised as he glanced at Hank, vaguely wondering as to the exact nature of that understanding. “Well … keep me posted as to the progress.”

No probs, Mal.” The com clicked as Jayne switched off.

He hung the handlink back up then immediately turned to his wife, pulling her into his embrace. “They’re gonna be fine, Frey,” he murmured into her hair.

“I know.” She sighed, her breath hot on his neck.

Mal glanced at River over his wife’s shoulder. She was standing gazing into nothing. “You okay, albatross?” he asked.

“Maybe my brother isn’t as much of a boob as I thought,” she said quietly, bringing her eyes back to smile at the captain.

“Really?”

“No.”

The com clicked again, this time Zoe’s voice filling the bridge. “Sir, Macallum’s just pulling up.”

Mal stroked Freya’s back once more then straightened his shoulders. “Hank, since Jayne’s otherwise occupied, you’d best give a hand.”

“Sure thing, Mal.” Hank stood up, giving River his best grin as he walked down the steps along to his bunk to get his work gloves. It wasn’t often he wore them, but after the incident with the crate a couple of years back that had burst and showered his hands with mildly corrosive chemicals, he wasn’t taking any chances with his flying ability.

Dropping down the ladder he dragged open a drawer, reaching inside. The gloves were lodged right at the back, and as he tugged them free the action pulled a small money pouch out as well. He smiled, hefting it in his hand. His nest egg. His and Zoe’s future.

A speculative look flashed into his eyes. They were going to be here for a few days while Simon prepared the antiviral, and there wouldn’t be anything for him to do, not even really worry about the kids any more … He felt the weight of the bag again. Maybe he’d be able to add to it, make it just a little heavier.

“Hank!” Mal’s voice filled the corridor, filtering through the open hatch and any small crevices, making tiny flecks of paint fall from the walls and dance in the breeze. “You planning on joining us?”

“Just coming, Mal,” he shouted in return, replacing the pouch at the back of the drawer, satisfaction solid in his grey eyes.

to be continued

COMMENTS

Sunday, April 27, 2008 2:38 AM

KATESFRIEND


What a wonderful mix of hope, nostalgia, and angst. Hope Freya's mentor can help River's sanity too. Glad Simon is choosing to do the right thing for the town. Jayne's tough guy response was priceless. Loved the look back at the dining room table - a reminder that time only goes forward. And Hank. He's about to make Zoe mad, isn't he?

Sunday, April 27, 2008 8:14 AM

ANGELLEMARCS


This is going really well, Jane. I am really liking this idea. Ready for more!

Sunday, April 27, 2008 12:57 PM

AMDOBELL


Excellent. I hope Dr Stokes keeps his promise and was relieved when Hank put the little money bag of savings back in the drawer. Hope he manages to keep that old demon temptation under control and I really hope they get enough antiviral for the whole gorram crew. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, May 2, 2008 1:32 PM

SLUMMING


Hank's about to get shaken until his teeth rattle by his better half, isn't he?


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