BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Addiction - Part XII
Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Simon finds out something important, but is he going to be able to tell anyone? NEW CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2305    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

“You look like something a man might scrape off the bottom of his boot.”

Simon glanced up. “Thanks. I think I could say the same thing about you.”

Mal smiled and stepped inside the lab. “To be honest, I don’t feel much better.”

“You should be in bed.”

“Well, thanks for the offer, but I’ve got things to do.”

“Well, that’s another fantasy out of the window,” Simon said dryly, turning back to the microscope.

Mal’s lips twitched again. “Anything interesting? As in, can I take a look?”

“If you want. It won't make much sense to you, though.” He stood back.

“Hell, Simon, nothing much does nowadays.” He peered through the eyepieces. “Huh.”

“Exactly.”

“So what am I not understanding as to the nature of this ... whatever it is?”

Simon suppressed a grin. “It’s a test sample of the antiviral, stained for ease of examination.”

“That’s why it’s sorta purple?”

“Indigo, actually.”

“Whatever you say.” He looked up. “And is it good?”

“Very good. The ViroStim is working, and we’ll have the first set of injections ready to go about six pm tonight.”

Mal felt part of the tension ease from his belly. “And that’s soon enough?”

“Apart from Bethie, of course, I can dose everyone up before bed, and they should start to feel better in the morning.”

Mal’s eyes narrowed slightly. “There something you’re not telling me?”

Now Simon laughed. “I can't get much past you, can I, Captain?”

“Not much, although more’n a few folks have tried.”

“Most people actually feel worse before they feel better.”

“How much worse?”

“Nausea, headache, some palpitations –“

Mal held up his hand. “Then I suggest you knock out those you can, the kids in particular.”

“I was intending to sedate everyone.” Simon sighed. “Hank, on the other hand ...”

“Yeah. I don't get the impression Kuerk’s going to let you inject that man with anything.”

“No. I'm just hoping he’s got natural immunity.”

“Knowing his luck, I wouldn’t be surprised.”

“His luck? I’d say that’s just about run out.”

“Hope not, doc.”

“Talking of which, how did your visit to see Dr Hammond go?”

Mal shook his head. That wasn’t going to go down as one of his most favourite conversations ever. The man was delirious, alternating crying for the loss of his wife and angrily trying to get out of bed to kill the man who’d murdered her. He was probably not much older than Jayne, but the fever from the illness and the grief had turned him into an old man overnight.

During one of his occasionally more lucid moments at the median point between mood swings, Mal managed to ask a couple of questions.

“Dr Hammond, do you know who would have wanted to hurt your wife?”

Hammond fixed him with red-rimmed eyes. “Get him. Get the man that took my Rita.” He grabbed Mal’s hand, holding surprisingly tightly. “Bastard needs to be gutted. You promise me you’ll get him, do to him what he did to her.”

“Who, Dr Hammond?” Mal leaned forward. “Was it an affair? Who was she seeing?”

The sick man shook his head, but the tremors he was experiencing meant it was almost lost. “Never knew. But she always came home to me.”

“Sir, did she tell you she was pregnant?”

Hammond stared, then a huge tear rolled down his cheek into his hair. “No. She didn’t say a word. But she knows I’d love it, no matter who the father is. I love her, you see. Love her ...” His eyes blurred with more tears, even as he slid into unconsciousness, still convulsing slightly as he dreamed.

“What about the DNA sample?” Simon asked.

“Tears do you?” Mal held out the swab container.

“Perfect.” Simon slid the end into his small DNA tester and pressed the button. “Care to take a bet on whether this is a match to the foetal tissue?”

“Apart from the fact that Hank’s locked up right now because of gambling, no. Be a sucker bet. Hammond admitted Rita tended to play around.”

Simon leaned against the counter. “You know, as obvious as this is to us, it’s all circumstantial. Stokes is right. We’re going to need a lot more solid evidence before Kuerk believes us.”

“Then we’ll find it. We know Hank didn’t do it, so there has to be something.”

“And if there isn’t?”

“I can always let Jayne loose with grenades.”

“After we get the antiviral,” Simon insisted.

“Oh, yes. Ain’t that crazy.” The machine beeped and Mal leaned forward. “Now what?”

“We compare.” Simon fed the data into the clinic’s analyser, and in a moment two patterns appeared on the screen. Running his finger over a pad, he aligned them one on top of the other.

“Well?”

“No match.”

“So we were right.”

“Rita had at least one lover.”

There was a pause before Mal asked, just a little diffidently, “I don’t suppose that doohickey has other samples we can compare it with.”

Simon raised an eyebrow at him. “That wouldn’t be ethical.”

“So?”

“Anyway, no. I already looked. Stokes hasn't given me access to that information.”

“Can’t we –“

“No.” Ray Stokes walked into the lab. “I can’t. Simon isn’t even supposed to be here, let alone going through patients’ records.”

Mal crossed his arms. “I thought you believed Hank was innocent.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever said that.” Stokes gazed at Serenity’s captain. “I think he’s probably as guilty as they come. He just doesn’t remember.”

“Then why are you –“

“Because we both have something the other needs. But I’m not going to totally ignore protocol just to let you rummage around trying to find something that probably isn’t even there.”

“I could threaten you,” Mal pointed out, stepping closer.

“You could. But all I’d need to do is turn off the ViroStim and no-one gets the antiviral.”

“True. Could always take the machine with us, though. Make what we need elsewhere.”

“And leave your man here? I don’t think so.”

They were now only a couple of feet apart, squaring up to each other.

“Mal, enough,” Simon put in quickly, not wanting to see the tension in the room boil over into something else.

“You don’t get to tell me when enough’s enough,” Mal growled.

“In this case I think I do.” He didn’t blink at the glare Mal threw his way. “Besides, if we found anything like this, Judge Temple would probably throw it out as inadmissible.”

“He’s right,” Stokes agreed. “You get me a warrant from the judge, duly signed, and you can go through the records to your heart’s content. But until then, they’re off limits.”

Mal didn’t back down for a moment, then something eased. Just a whisper, but the explosion was defused. “Okay. I’ll go see what I can do.” He looked at Simon. “Stay here.”

“I'm not a dog, Mal.”

“No, well, if you were then you wouldn’t try and tell me what to do.” He raised one eyebrow and was gone.

Stokes released a long breath. “Sorry about that.”

“It’s okay.” Simon smiled tiredly.

“He’s … very aggressive.”

“It’s for his family.”

“I suppose. I hope he didn’t think I was being deliberately obstructive.”

“He might not have put it in quite those terms, but ... probably. But he won’t hold it against you.”

“It’s ... you have to understand, if the City Council find out I’ve been helping you, bypassing the rules, they could have me replaced, just like that.” He clicked his fingers. “And I need this job.”

“There are a lot of worlds that are crying out for doctors.” Simon tried to ease his aching shoulders.

“This is my home. And I’ve spent too long making this clinic the place it is.”

“Point taken. I’d feel the same if I had to leave Serenity.” He turned back towards the microscope, but his coordination must have been off as his arm caught a rack of test-tubes, sending them to the floor. They shattered into razor shards. “Son of a bitch.”

“It’s okay,” Stokes said quickly, going down onto his heels and picking up the largest fragments. “They were empty anyway. No great harm – Cao.” He lifted his hand to his mouth, sucking on his finger.

“It’s a good job they were empty,” Simon teased gently. “Who knows what you might have caught doing that?”

Stokes laughed. “You’re right.”

“Is it okay?” Simon tried to see.

“Just a cut. I wouldn’t worry about the copious amounts of blood pouring out.” He looked at his finger. “See? Stopping already.”

“You need a weave on it, though.”

“It was my own fault. I should have got the pan and brush, but I just have little patience lately.”

“Where are they?”

“In the cupboard over there.” Stokes pointed vaguely.

“I’ll do it.” Simon patted him on the shoulder. “You go and put something on that cut. And perhaps you could get us something to drink at the same time.”

Stokes smiled. “Thirsty?”

“Measles.”

The smile faltered. “I thought you didn’t look too hot.”

“According to my captain, I look like shit.”

“Well ...”

“Thanks. Although I don’t know how you’ve managed to escape being infected.”

“I had it when I was a kid. My Ma took me halfway across the planet to catch it.” He gave a sloppy salute. “But drinks it is.” He walked out, still sucking on his finger.

Simon chuckled, shaking his head, then opened the cupboard. As predicted, inside was a dustpan and brush, and he busied himself for a minute sweeping up every fragment of glass. Satisfied at last, he put the pan by the door, ready to be disposed of.

Turning back to the counter he looked at his own mess. Better put the other samples away before he broke them too. Picking up the containers, he opened one of the refrigerated units against the wall, and smiled again. It looked like Stokes never cleaned out anything. There were dozens of samples, perhaps hundreds, all jammed in together.

Moving test-tubes and Petri dishes, he made a space at the front, sliding the samples into place. He stared at the rest, his sense of order offended by the higgledy nature of the shelves, and he idly turned half a dozen phials so that the name labels at least faced front. His hand paused, and for a moment he wondered why, then he looked again. Rita Hammond. He picked it up, rolled it so the blood within moved lazily from side to side, and read the label again. Rita Hammond. No date.

He glanced at the door, then back at the small tube. “Now why would Stokes have a phial of her blood?” he murmured to himself. “Fresh, too, by the looks of it.” His blue eyes narrowed. “Doesn't make sense.”

Almost without knowing it, he found himself in front of the analyser. “Probably won’t be anything. Nothing at all.” The chill of the phial was making itself known in the palm of his hand as he broke the seal and took a tiny sample, feeding it into the machine, every second expecting the door to open and Stokes to be standing there, demanding to know what was going on.

The door didn’t open, and there was no outraged voice. Instead the machine beeped, and Simon read the results. Pregnancy test – positive.

He stood straight, his lips pursed. So this blood was from – no, wait. Stokes had said she’d been pregnant before, had a miscarriage. It was possible this blood was from that time. A year, Stokes said. It was possible. And the rest of his samples were in such a state, that would explain why there was no date on it. But maybe there was a way to find out. Simon typed another request into the machine.

It seemed an age again, but finally it was ready. He took a deep breath and read.

Positive.

He wasn’t sure why he wasn’t surprised. The blood showed pregnancy indicators, and the measles virus. Proof it had been taken within the last eight weeks, at least according to the level of hormones.

He leaned on the counter, staring at the screen, trying to make his flagging brain work. Stokes had said this was his lab, so there’d be no reason for Dr Hammond to store samples in these units. Besides, he said he didn’t know his wife was pregnant. But someone was lying.

Slowly his head lifted, his eyes fastening on the dustpan by the door.

“This is crazy,” he muttered. “I must be crazy.” Still, he carefully tipped the broken glass onto a clear area of counter, picking it over with a pair of forceps. There. A single piece, but there was enough. Carrying it back to the DNA tester, he wiped a swab along the edge of the piece of test-tube and placed it inside. “Come on, come on,” he urged, glancing up at the door again. As the result appeared he was already feeding it into the analyser, barely breathing.

The two profiles appeared, and he swept one on top of the other. A black bar across the centre of the screen confirmed what he’d already seen. Match. He stared at it.

The door was flung open and Stokes hurried in, a tray with a selection of cold cans and two glasses on it. “Sorry, took me longer than I thought. We’d run out of chilled drinks in ... what is it?”

Simon looked at him. “It’s you.”

“What?”

“You’re the father.”

He put the tray down. “I don't know what you’re talking about.” He moved forward, finally seeing the phial of blood and the broken test-tube. He swallowed thickly.

“It’s a match,” Simon said, tapping the screen. “You’re a match.”

“That’s ... no, you’re wrong. That blood ... it’s from when Rita was pregnant before. I did the test for her. Remember? I told you.”

Simon was shaking his head. “She had measles. Her body was already creating antibodies.” He touched the glass fragment. “And even if it was old, how do you explain this? You’re the father of her baby.”

“It was over!” Stokes said, throwing his hands into the air, his face earnest, begging to be believed. “Before I even found out she was pregnant!”

“And she came to you for the test?” Simon shook his head, not just because he didn't believe the man standing in front of him, but to try and clear the muzziness. “I don’t think so. Not her ex-lover. Not unless she wanted something.” He pushed himself upright, and started across the room.

“Where are you going?” Stokes demanded, his hands in his hair.

“To call Mal. Tell him.” He tried to focus on his jacket hanging on the back of the door, the comlink in the pocket.

“No. No, Simon, stop!” Stokes grabbed his arm. “I didn’t kill her!”

“I think we’ll let the sheriff decide that.” Simon tried to pull free, but he seemed to have lost his strength.

“I can’t let you ...” Stokes pushed him, his whole body weight forcing the other man towards the window.

Simon felt the edge of the sill against his thighs, then Stokes twisted, and suddenly he was in mid air, falling, the ground rushing up towards him.

On board Serenity, Bethie screamed. “Daddy!”

to be continued

COMMENTS

Thursday, May 8, 2008 3:58 AM

AMDOBELL


Holy crap! Why oh why couldn't Simon have kept the knowledge to himself until he had safely passed it on? I know he wasn't thinking clearly because of the virus but if that doctor wasn't a killer before him pushing Simon out of the window makes him one now, only I'm hoping Simon doesn't die from the sudden stop at the end of the fall. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, May 8, 2008 9:06 AM

ANGELLEMARCS


Great twist! Love the mystery here and the explosive ending. Simon better kick some tail. Great job as always! Way to write!!

Thursday, May 8, 2008 3:13 PM

KILLWITHBRAIN


Secondary character, introduced early, always forgotten. Hate to say it was obvious... but still PERFECT. It's turning into a soap opera. How did they not see it coming, what with Stokes being the partner and all? And why oh why did Mal leave Simon alone with him? But I guess Simon's sort of a big boy now. He can handle himself.

Thursday, May 8, 2008 4:15 PM

NCBROWNCOAT


Of course you have to leave us hanging...literally! I just hope that there's a wagon with some hay in it parked outside the window.

Now I'm wondering why Hammond is so sick.


Saturday, May 10, 2008 2:20 AM

KATESFRIEND


Silly Simon, confronting the suspected murderer next to an open window. Loved Mal's comments about Jayne and grenades. The snarky dialog was right on, especially between Mal and Simon - it shows a maturity and understanding between them. Looking forward to more.


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