BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Addiction - Part XI
Monday, May 5, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Hank gets a shock, Mal hears from a friend, and Simon gets some news. NEW CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1953    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Hank was dreaming. He and Zoe were on a beach, blue sky above them, brightly plumed birds singing in the trees behind, and crystal clear waves lapping at their feet as they lay on the sand making love. He had just kissed her all the way down from her earlobe to her waist, and was about to continue further when a shadow loomed over him, shaking his shoulder.

“Come on,” it said. “It’s time.”

“Time?” Hank struggled out of sleep. “Time for what?” His eyes focused on the deputy’s face.

“Come on.” Warner pulled him to his feet, fastening his hands with the restraints.

“Where are we going?” Hank blinked hard, trying to clear his eyes.

“Outside.”

“Why?”

“You’ll see.” Warner smiled and gently pushed Hank towards the door.

Moving as directed, Hank looked over his shoulder. “What’s going on?”

“Just some business.” He prodded Hank again. “Come on. We don't got all day.”

“But it’s still night.”

“Nope. Dawn’s breaking. Kinda traditional.” He reached around Hank to open another door, and the scent of fresh air drifted in. “Just through here.”

Hank stepped outside, peering into the gloom. “There’s nothing ...” Then his eyes adjusted, and he could see a frame a dozen yards ahead, the unpainted wood stark against the darkness. “No ...”

“Now come on,” Warner said. “It’s undignified to make a fuss. Besides, everyone’s waiting.”

Suddenly Hank realised the space between him and ... it ... was full of people, moving to either side like the parting of the Red Sea to let them through. He pulled back. “No, look, this isn’t right. I'm innocent.” He twisted to look into the deputy’s face. “Warner, I ain’t even been tried yet!”

“Well, the good citizens of Monument decided they didn’t need to wait.” He nodded towards the gallows, surrounded by eager faces lit by the rays of the rising sun. “All the evidence points to you, and your Captain’s not found anything to the contrary. So the Judge decided not to waste tax-payers money.” He gave Hank a push, harder this time. “Come on. Don’t want to keep your audience waiting.”

“Please. Don’t do this.” He stumbled at another push, almost falling to his knees.

“You okay?” Warner asked, lifting him back up. “Don’t want you breaking your neck, do we?” He grinned and half-carried the other man towards the scaffold.

“Don't do this!”

“Don’t worry yourself so,” Warner advised. “I told you before. We’re firm believers in the eye-for-an-eye kind of justice in this town. And it’ll be over quick.”

Suddenly they were at the steps, and Hank was manhandled up. He gaped at the crowd, trying to find someone who would stop this, panic making him search every face until he heard a voice he recognised, raised in anger. He focused on it, his heart leaping as he saw Mal and Jayne, struggling to break free of the men holding them.

“Mal! Help me!” he screamed.

“This ain’t right!” Mal shouted. “I ain’t presented my evidence! I can prove he’s innocent!”

“Gorramit, let me go!” Jayne added. “Didn’t you hear him? We got proof!”

Warner shrugged. “Too late for that now.”

Hank locked gaze with Mal for a moment, saw the knowledge that they couldn’t do anything, even as he still fought to get through. Then his eyes caught another figure.

“Zoe. Zoe!” She was at the front, her arms folded across her chest, no expression on her face. “Help me!”

“Why? You brought this on yourself.” She didn’t move.

“I didn’t do it!”

“You lied to me. Broke your promise. This is what happens when you do that.” She turned and walked away, past Mal and Jayne, barely acknowledging them.

“No ...” He watched his wife until she was gone, not looking back, not even once. All the fight drained from him and he let the deputy put him into position on the trapdoor.

Warner smiled encouragingly. “That’s it. You just take it like a man.” He lifted up a bag-like hood. “This is just so the good folks don’t get upset.” He dropped it over Hank’s head, and suddenly his world existed only of the coarse linen against his cheeks and the rushing sound of the blood in his ears as his heart tried to get in as many beats as it could before it was stopped forever. Even Mal’s shouts were muted, as if he was a long way off.

Something settled around his neck, and he realised it was the rope. Now he could hear his own panting, drawing the cloth of the hood into his mouth with every breath. It smelled of fear, of the last man to die wearing it. Losing control of his bladder, he felt warmth against his leg and felt ashamed that everyone would be able to see.

“Anything you wanna say ‘fore sentence is carried out?” Warner asked.

“Zoe.” He couldn’t get anything else past his lips, and he knew no-one had heard, not even in the sudden, expectant silence.

“Okay then.” There was the creak of wood on wood, then a snap, and he was falling, dropping into eternity as the rope tightened on his neck ...

“Hey, you okay?”

He struggled to breathe, drawing a ragged breath into his mouth, tasting fabric.

“Hey, wake up.”

Hank opened his eyes, pushing the sheet away from his face, and focused on Warner’s slightly worried face outside the bars. “Wha ...”

“You were dreaming,” the deputy said, sitting back onto the stool. “And I ain’t sure it was a good one.”

“Uh ... no. No, it wasn’t.” The pilot sat up, rubbing at his face with his hands, and surreptitiously feeling his neck.

“I think I can guess.”

“What?”

“What you were dreaming about. It’s pretty common. The prospect of getting hanged does that to a man.”

“Really. That’s nice to know.” He scooted back in the bed and sat against the wall, trying to get his heartbeat back under control.

“Here.” Warner pushed an opened can of water through the bars. “You wanna talk about it?”

Hank took it, swallowed a mouthful then said, “Not ... no.”

“Just thought you might. Sometimes if you talk about things, it makes ‘em seem less aggravating.”

He wanted to ask how hanging could be made any less aggravating, but only commented, “No. Thanks.”

Warner shrugged. “Well, I’ll be leaving you for now, get some rest myself, but I’ll just be along the hall. And the lights’ll be going off, too. But holler if you need anything.”

“Thanks.”

The deputy smiled slightly and walked out, and a minute later the lights dimmed to half, then went out all together. Hank grasped the luke-warm can of water to his chest with trembling fingers, and tried not to close his eyes.

---

Breakfast was a muted affair, with only Mal, Jayne, Kaylee and Simon attending. River was still in with Freya, and Zoe was on the bridge, stating she wasn’t hungry.

“I meant what I said last night,” Mal told her. “You’re gonna go see him today. Even if it’s only to shout at him.”

“That I think I can do.” Zoe stared out into the morning sunlight. “Do you think we can get him out of this mess?” she asked, her voice low enough Mal wondered for a moment if she was actually talking to him and not the dinosaurs still ranged across the console.

“Gonna try my damndest, Zo,” he promised. “Then you can kill him after.”

“Oh, I’m looking forward to it.”

Back at the dining table, Kaylee was fluttering anxiously around her husband. “Sweetie, you shouldn’t be going anywhere,” she was saying as Mal joined them. “You’re really sick.”

“I have to, Kaylee,” Simon said. “I have things to do, important things.”

“Can't someone else? I mean, that Doctor Stokes sounds like a good man. Can’t you let him do them for you?”

Simon shook his head. “As much as I like the man, he’s a member of the Monument community. I'm not sure I want him checking Hank’s blood test.”

“You don’t trust him?” Mal asked, grabbing a handful of protein sticks and munching on them.

“It’s not that.” The young man tried to get his thoughts in some semblance of order before speaking again. “It’s just that the authorities already believe Hank’s guilty, and I ... well, I wouldn’t put it past Stokes to not ... notice something that might be useful in his defence.”

“You don’t trust him.”

Simon sighed. “No. Besides, I do need to check the ViroStim, make sure we’re still on target for this evening.”

“And this is gonna make the kids better?”

“Everyone, I hope. Except for Bethie.”

“Yeah. Poor kid.”

“But she’ll be okay, won't she, Simon?” Kaylee asked, holding onto his arm.

“Yes, of course she will.” He smiled for her. “Her temperature’s already dropping slightly, so in a few days she’ll be good as new.”

“And the rest of us?” Mal sat forward. “I have to say, I ain’t exactly feeling too hot myself this morning.”

“It hasn’t stopped you eating,” Simon commented dryly, but noted the faint sheen of sweat on the captain’s forehead.

“No, well, I gotta keep my strength up.” He half-grinned but then it slid away. “Although it might just be the fact that I didn’t get much sleep last night. My wife and your sis kept me up most of it.”

Jayne stirred. “Why? What were you doing?”

“Nothing.” Mal quickly pushed away the mental image he’d inadvertently acquired, and added, “I was in the chair while they had the bed. They were dreaming, only it was more like nightmares.”

“It’s the fever,” Simon explained. “Bethie was the same when I checked on her.”

“What about the other kids?”

Simon opened his mouth, then closed it again. “Actually, no. Even Ethan was sleeping well.”

“It’s Hank,” Jayne put in. “I'm guessing he ain’t resting too good, being banged up in jail, n’all.”

“You’re probably right.” Simon ran his hand over his own face. “And I need another dose of medication.”

“Simon ...” Kaylee was still worried, and that worry was tinged with annoyance.

“Don't worry, mei-mei,” Mal said quickly. “I’ll take him to the clinic, make sure he’s settled in okay and got everything he needs.”

“And you ain't much better.” She glared at him.

“She’s right,” Simon added. “You’ve got the start of a temperature, I can see from here.”

“Then you can dose me up too.” He smiled. “Doc, I’m like you. I’ve got things I gotta do, and no time to be sick.”

“What about me?” Jayne asked.

“You’re going to make sure Zoe gets to the jail. She’s got a visit lined up.”

The big man smiled a little. “Like to see that.”

“Well, you’re not going to. I want you to hang around a few bars. See if you can find anything out.” Mal fixed him with a stern eye. “But no drinking other than to blend in.”

“’S’if I would. And you? After you’ve been Simon’s babysitter.”

“Hey!” the young doctor protested, but was ignored.

“I thought I might go have me a conversation with the dead woman’s husband. See if he might be able to shed some light on these developments.” He shrugged. “Maybe he knows if he’s likely to be the father of the child.”

Simon sat up. “You know, that’s actually not a bad idea.”

“It’s not?” Even Mal managed to look surprised.

“Stokes wouldn’t let me get a DNA sample from Dr Hammond. He said it hadn’t been requested by the sheriff so wouldn’t be admissable. But you’re representing Hank. You could get one for me.”

“Sure, no problem. You just tell me what to do.”

Zoe leaned in the doorway. “Sir, got a wave for you.”

Mal stood up. “Get your stuff, Simon, and meet me in the cargo bay in ten.” He followed Zoe along the corridor. “Who is it?”

“Sam.”

“Sam Nazir?”

“That’s the one.”

He calculated swiftly, but Lazarus was well out of range, even with the modifications Hank had kept coming up with. “What does he want?”

“Ask him yourself, sir,” Zoe said, stopping by her own cabin hatch. “I'm going to get ready to see my current husband.” She dropped down the ladder and disappeared. Mal winced and continued up the steps.

On the bridge Sam’s face was showing expectantly from the vidscreen, and he broke into a smile as he saw his friend come into view. “Mal. Good to see you. How are you?”

“Could be better.” He slid into the pilot’s seat. “Where the hell are you?”

“We’re on board a luxury liner, the Trident, with my daughter and her husband. Inara’s getting ... well, the idea is that they could get to know each other, but so far it’s been more a case of each one tiptoeing around the other.”

Mal had to smile. “’Nara lost her knack of getting folks to like her?”

“No, not at all. But Dhira can be ... somewhat abrasive, especially if she thinks her family are being threatened.”

“And she sees Inara as a threat?”

“Not quite. But she doesn't want me taken advantage of, either.”

“Sam, I think you can live with that kind’ve advantage being taken.”

Sam laughed. “Oh, I certainly can. But we thought a neutral spot would be best, somewhere away from Lazarus and Greenleaf.”

“I conjure that was a good notion.”

“Well, so far it hasn't worked that well. Which is why I was waving. When Kaylee talked to Inara last she said you were going to be doing business on Newhall, and since the liner is in the vicinity I wondered if you and the others would care to join us for a few days.”

“Safety in numbers?”

“Something like that. Can you?”

“Unfortunately, I think this is one time I'm gonna have to decline.”

“Why?”

In as few words as possible Mal explained the situation.

“Can I do anything?” Sam asked, his face having become more serious as it went on. “If it would help we can leave the liner, perhaps charter a ship –“

Mal shook his head. “Can’t see how. And I'm not sure how you could help. Have to admit, if I didn’t know Hank, just seeing the evidence would more or less prove to me he was guilty.”

“But he isn’t.”

“No. Stupid, maybe. But guilty of murder? No.”

“Then perhaps we should come.”

“Even if you got here soon as you could, I reckon it’ll all be over by then, bar the shouting.”

“That quick?”

“This isn’t like an Alliance planet, Sam. Justice grinds damn quick. Partly, I always figured, ‘cause they don’t want the cost of feeding their prisoners, but mostly because they can’t see the point. Not exactly like he wasn't caught red-handed. Besides, the trial’s set for tomorrow.”

“Then do you need money for a lawyer?”

“No, although I might bear that in mind if I get out of my depth.”

“You?”

“I'm representing him.” Mal watched as a mixture of expressions crossed Sam’s face. “And I’d be more’n a little grateful if you didn’t say any of the things that’ve just occurred to you.”

“I wouldn’t be so tactless.”

“No?”

“Well, not much. But whatever you need, I can make arrangements.”

Mal moved forward in the chair so he was closer to the screen. “Look, Sam, I’d be beholden if you’d keep this to yourself. I'm glad Inara’s not listening, ‘cause it’d only worry her and that wouldn’t be good for her looks.”

Sam had to smile, even if it was only a lift at the corners of his mouth. “If I wasn't about to promise you I’d keep this to myself I’d tell her you said that.”

“She can’t do anything. That’s the hell of it. I'm not sure any of us can. It’s not stopping us trying, of course.”

“No. Well, you wouldn’t be you if you took this lying down.”

“That a compliment?”

“I think you’d better take it that way.” Sam pursed his lips. “And if Hank is convicted? What then?”

“Hadn’t thought that far ahead.”

Jien tah-duh guay,” Sam said pleasantly as the image fluctuated but steadied again.

Mal shook his head. “Where’d I get this reputation for doing rash things?”

“Oh, it’s only among us who have the privilege of knowing you.”

“I'm gonna take that as a compliment too.”

“Better.”

Mal became serious again. “I've thought about it. Course I have. Pretty much spent last night doing nothing but think about it. And each time I end up pretty much at the same conclusion.”

“Which is?”

“Oh, come on, Sam. Like you said. You know me.”

Sam looked more than a little unhappy. “Yes. That’s what’s worrying me.”

---

Dr Raymond Stokes hurried in through the clinic doors, pushing his hair flat with his hands. He’d overslept, having spent the night tossing and turning, and now he was late. There were a number of things he wanted to do before Simon Mara got there, not least of which was ... He glanced at the reception counter, still expecting to see Rita there, and it was a lurch to realise he never would, ever again.

Almost running down the corridors, he came to the lab doors, pushing them open as he pulled the collar of his white coat down into place.

“Good morning,” Simon said, looking around from the ViroStim and smiling.

Stokes drew up sharply. “Oh. Morning. You’re very early.”

“Not that much.” Simon patted the machine next to him. “I wanted to check things.”

“And ... are they ... is it okay?”

“On track. By this evening we should have the first batch.”

“That’s good for you.”

“Yes. And I'm very grateful for you agreeing to letting me have what I need from it.”

“Hey, no problem. You’re helping me.”

“It’s a good job I was, too.” Simon crossed to the counter where a small device was sitting next to the microscope. “One of the sheriff’s deputies brought Hank’s blood test over. I did the analysis while I was waiting for you.”

“That’s great!” He nodded strongly as he joined the young man. “And?”

“There’s just a trace, mostly broken down, but ... I think it’s Volmenox.”

“Are you sure?”

“Take a look.”

Stokes studied the resulting read-out. “It certainly looks like that. But Volmenox is just a sedative. It hardly constitutes –”

“Combined with alcohol Volmenox makes the recipient malleable, happy even, before knocking them out for between four and six hours.” Simon leaned against the counter. “It also inhibits formation of short-term memory, which is why Hank can’t remember much about that night.”

“I suppose.”

“Does ... did Rita have access to any?”

“I keep some,” Stokes said, turning to a locked cabinet on the wall. “In case there are any violent patients.” He punched a key into the codepad. “But I’ve never had to use it.” He opened the door. “It’s right at the ... Good God.”

“What?”

“There’s some missing.” He turned, a small phial in his hand.

“How much?”

“About 20 cc’s. Enough to knock out an elephant.”

“If taken intravenously. But if taken orally, in a drink, you’d need more.” Simon took the phial. “Did Rita know the combination?”

“Of course. In case I needed something and I couldn’t get to ... But look here. It doesn’t mean Hank didn't kill her. Just that she could have been planning to ... I don’t know. Rob him, put him in a compromising position so he had to help her ... anything.”

“No, but it’s another point in Hank’s favour. You said you kept it for violent patients. If Hank had this in his system, even if he was attacked the most he could probably have done was laugh.”

“Probably,” Stokes repeated. “That’s the thing, isn't it? What you said. Probably. Maybe he only had a little, or perhaps he ... he threw up. You can't tell from the test results – from what I recall, a little or a lot, you still get the same reading.”

“That’s true, but –“

“Kuerk will want proof, absolute and positive. And so will the judge. This just isn't enough.”

Simon smiled grimly. “But it’s a start.”

to be continued

COMMENTS

Monday, May 5, 2008 9:29 AM

AMDOBELL


Good old Simon, I am glad that he is taking no chances on Hank's behalf and hope he finds more than the trace amounts of Volmenox in Hank's blood. As for Mal, I wish Sam had been able to suggest something that could help in that wave and poor Hank having nightmares about being hung. Hope we soon see some light for him at the end of the tunnel, just so long as it isn't an oncoming train. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, May 5, 2008 2:59 PM

NCBROWNCOAT


I'm glad too that Simon is there. He's just about Hank's only hope, except of course for Mals lawyering.

And I'd settle for a small candle for Hank right now.

Monday, May 5, 2008 6:24 PM

JOLY


I know Stokes is doing the devil's advocate thing. But... he doesn't seemed overly concerned that it looks like someone stole his drugs to use on a innocent guy. Backwoods, country-ass doctors...

Totally interested. Ready for more.

Peace and Blessings

Joanna

Monday, May 12, 2008 12:53 AM

WYTCHCROFT


fine chapter - that sort of Simon mediccal exposition is hard to do, I know - you pulled it off and it flowed right into the action.


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