Addiction - Part XV
Friday, May 16, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Things are coming to a head as Stokes contemplates his options, and Serenity's Readers try and figure out who done it. NEW CHAPTER


Stokes sat on the bench in the changing room, staring at his hands, wondering where the hell his life was heading. He’d trained to be a doctor, not in the Core in one of the fancy MedAcads, but on Beaumonde. He knew he wasn’t one of the best, but he wasn’t one of the worst either, the kind who were only in the business for the money, for the chance to make large amounts of cash out of people who were too scared or stupid to know any better. At least he cared about his patients. Did his best for them. And when he came home to Newhall, joined Stan Hammond in the clinic, he thought he’d be doing just that.

And now he’d killed a man. Oh, Simon was still alive, lying in that room, his wife fluttering anxiously around him, but Stokes couldn’t help remembering the words of one of his old tutors, the one who had scared all the medical students with his ill-disguised delight in every disgusting aspect of his work.

“It’s the intention that you need to consider. Whether you succeed or not, while important to the patient, is almost secondary to you as a doctor. If you go onto that ward thinking that you won’t save their lives, don't bother going on at all. You’ve already lost. It is the intention that makes the difference.”

Well, Stokes had intended to kill. And if old Professor Wu was to be believed, and the intention was the result, then Simon was a dead man. He shuddered. He could still see the sunlight through the window, feel the shirt bunched up in his hands, hear the shout being cut off before it could begin ... It wasn’t premeditated or planned, but that young man stating that Stokes was the father of Rita’s baby, and knowing that, if he allowed that information to get out, to reach the sheriff ...

“Honey?” Claire walked around the corner, fiddling with her hair. “Are you okay?”

He took a deep breath. “I'm fine.”

“Only you’ve been sitting there like that for ten minutes.”


“Oh, I realised that. Could tell from the look on your face.” She smiled, tiny lines etched next to her eyes. “Can you give me a hand?” she asked. “It just won't stay up today.”

“Sure.” He stood and she turned, her red hair falling down her back. Stepping closer he lifted it up, feeling its weight in his hands, almost a living being all by itself. He luxuriated in it for a long moment.

Claire laughed. “If you ever leave me, it’s going to be for someone with even thicker hair than mine, isn’t it?” She glanced at him over her shoulder.

He swallowed, but said, “That’s right. ‘Though I’m not sure where I’m going to find that someone.” He twisted the tresses into a big knot, using the pins already there to catch it into place.

“How come only you can do this?” she asked, patting it carefully and facing him.

“Doctor’s hands.” He waggled his fingers at her.

My doctor,” she added, capturing them in her own and bringing them to her mouth, biting his knuckles lightly. “You did good in there.”

“Did I?”

“You know you did.” She kissed his hand once more then let it drop. “And when you announce to the folk in town that you’ve got the antiviral, they’re going to feel the way I do about you.”

“And how’s that?”

“I love you.” She said it simply without particular emphasis, just a statement of fact.

“Love you too.” He managed a smile. “And talking about the antiviral, I’d better go see how it’s doing.”

“That’s my good doctor.” She stood straight. “And I’d better be a good nurse and take a look at my other patients.” She pressed her lips to his cheek and walked out.

He stared after her, wondering why he’d been so stupid in the first place, when he had so much to lose. But it made the choices available to him easier, since basically he now knew he had only the one.


“And just why would you want this here warrant, Captain?” Judge Temple asked, leaning back in his chair and looking at the man in front of him over a pair of steel-framed spectacles. “I can’t just go around letting you peer into all and sundry just to see if you can flush a rat.”

“Well, this is a rat that needs to be flushed, sir.” Mal coughed a little, hearing his breath wheezing in his lungs.

“You should be in bed, young man.” Temple spoke more kindly. “Any fool can see you’re not well.”

Mal coughed again. “I can be sick later, when all this is cleared up.”

“And how’s it coming? This evidence-gathering of yours. Made any progress?”

“A little.” Mal had thought long and hard on the way over from the clinic as to whether to mention the ‘accident’. He'd finally decided against it as he walked through the doors of the sheriff’s station. There was no proof Simon hadn’t just fallen, despite what Jayne said and Mal believed. And Kuerk had a man already locked up – he wasn't going to go out of his way to investigate, especially if it threw doubt on Hank’s guilt. “It’d be better if we could take a look through that database.”

Temple sat forward, picking up his pen. “And do you have someone to check it for you?”

“I do. One of my crew.” At least, that was the plan, so long as River wasn’t feeling too bad. She could, at least, read the information and know what she was looking at.

Temple flicked his pen on the desk once, twice, then signed his name on a blue paper. “Here,” he said, handing it out. “Give that to Dr Stokes. It’s my authorisation for you to have access to any medical details you think fit. He won’t like it, but … it’s a man’s life at stake.”

“That it is.” Mal held out his hand. “And thanks.”

Temple waved him away. “None needed. There is still justice out here, Captain. And I don’t intend to order your pilot’s hanging without hearing the evidence first.”

“Is that a kinda backhanded way of saying you think he’s guilty?”

“I'm reserving my judgement.” Temple picked up a file. “Now, I have work to do.”

“Thanks anyway.” Mal walked out of the office, meeting Kuerk outside.

“Get what you needed?” the sheriff asked.

“I did.”

Kuerk grinned. “He must’ve been successful.”

“What? Who?”

“The judge. He always goes fishing in the mornings. I'm thinking he caught a few.”

Mal raised an eyebrow. “Really.” He wiped his forehead on his sleeve. “As I'm here, can I see Hank?”

“Only if you promise not to collapse in there,” Kuerk said, only joking a little. “I'm not in the mood to be carrying you out.”

“I’ll only be a minute. Just to let him know he’s not forgotten.”


Mal tugged a comlink from his pocket. “Can I …?”

“If you’re planning on organising his escape, no. But otherwise, go ahead.”

For a split Mal had an image of Jayne marching into the station, twin bandoleers across his chest, Vera in one hand, a grenade in the other, pin freshly pulled between his teeth. “Nope, no escape,” he said, pressing transmit. “Zoe?”


“Get to Stokes. Tell him I've got the warrant and to unlock the information. Then get all of it downloaded to Serenity.”

Will do.”

“Everything else okay?”

As well as can be expected, sir.” Zoe-speak for Simon’s condition hadn’t changed.

“Well, keep me informed.” He switched off the link.

Kuerk looked at him quizzically. “Something I oughtta know about?”

“Not right now, no.”

“I don’t like being kept in the dark, Captain Reynolds. Not in my own town.”

“Believe me, soon as I have some light to shed, you’ll be the first to know.” Mal tilted his head slightly. “Now. Hank?”


“I don’t know what good you think this is going to do,” Stokes complained, his fingers flying over the keys. “There’s no guarantee there’ll be any match in the database. I don’t have DNA profiles of everyone, not by a long chalk.”

Zoe, watching over his shoulder, spoke evenly. “Then there’s still a chance.”


“You do have some entries.”

“Honestly, I think you’re clutching at straws.”

“He’s my husband.”

Stokes stopped, looked up guiltily. “Sorry. I forgot.”

“And I don’t believe he killed anyone.”

He went back to the keys. “You know, I could’ve done this comparison for you.”

“No offence, doc, but I don’t trust you.”

You have no idea, he thought to himself, but said, “Now why would that be?”

“You’ve already said you think Hank’s guilty. I’m not putting temptation in your way.” She took most of the sting out of her words with a smile, but he noticed it didn’t reach her eyes. “Just send it.”

Stokes stared at her, then hit the blue button. “It’s done.”

Zoe lifted the comlink to her mouth. “River, are you ready?”

“I'm already looking at it,” the young woman said, staring at the screen on the bridge of Serenity. She punched a few numbers in, and the information scrolled quickly down, the onboard computer checking through any possible matches. It didn’t take long, and River sighed. “Nothing.”

Are you sure?

“I ran it twice.”

Gorram it.” There was a pause. “Okay, get back to bed. I’ll let the captain know.” There was a click and Zoe was gone.

River looked at Freya, sitting next to her in the other seat. “Are you?”

“Am I what?”

“Going to go back to bed.”

Freya’s eyebrows raised. “I don’t recall her telling me to.”

“I think it was general order.”

“River, you know damn well I'm not going anywhere until we know about Simon.”

“Mustn’t swear.” Her voice was serious, but there was a hint of a smile on her pale face.

“You think that was swearing? Living with Jayne?” Freya shook her head. “I don’t know what the ‘verse is coming to if the worst Jayne says is damn.”

“Simon will be all right.” The words were more to reassure herself than anything. River desperately wanted to be there, at the clinic, but even climbing the few steps to the bridge had been almost more than she was capable of. She hated this, feeling so weak, as if her legs belonged to someone else.

“Of course he will, xiao nu.” Freya laid her head back on the seat and stared up into the ceiling. Could probably do with a lick of paint, or even just a good clean. Maybe later. When she wasn’t feeling like she was about to fall off the floor if she wasn’t holding on. She turned to look at her friend. “Are you getting anything?” she asked. “About who did this?”

River didn’t answer at first, just stared out of the window at the sunshine. “It’s a nice day,” she finally said.

“Yes.” Freya wasn't phased by the apparent non-sequitur, just waited for River to get to her point.

“There’s clouds, though. Dark ones. Close by.”

Freya squinted outside. The sky was blue as far as the eye could see. So River was being metaphorical again. “More than one?”

“I can’t tell.” She lifted her feet onto the seat so she could hug her legs to her. “You?”

“Can’t feel a gorram thing. And I’m not going to apologise for that one either.”

“But do you get the clouds?”

“Oh, yes. Something bad about to happen.”

“Jayne’s there,” River whispered, holding on tightly. “He’ll protect.”


Jayne studied Kaylee as she sat next to her husband, and wondered if River’d been like this when he got himself hurt. The time when he’d had that clot on his brain, or even when the man in the bed had shot him. Had she gripped his hand, talking in a low voice, just so’s he was the only one could hear the words, wiping tears away once in a while? Probably. Maybe worse. River’d threatened her brother with violence on more’n one occasion, just so she knew he’d do his best.

He wanted to be up. Doing. Something. But he knew he couldn’t. He’d promised Mal he wasn't going to leave Simon’s side, and while he’d broken a whole mess of promises in the past, he wasn’t about to now. Besides, it was giving him some time to think. And the more he thought, the more he pondered on why Stokes had looked outside. No reason to, least none that he could see. Maybe he was just being thorough, but –

“Jayne!” Kaylee shouted at him. “I think he’s waking up!”

The big man was out of his chair and by her side, looking down at Simon, very pale even against the crisp white sheets. “Nah, he’s still out,” he said after a moment.

“But I'm sure he spoke.” Kaylee was staring into his face. “I know he did.”

“Wishful thinking, girl.” Jayne put his hand on her shoulder. “But he’s gonna wake up. He ain't gonna leave you and the kids, is he?”

Kaylee swallowed. “He loves them so much.”

“And you.”

She glanced up at him, a small smile tugging her lips. “He does, don’t he?”

“Yeah. He does.” Jayne took a step back, watching Kaylee watching Simon, and sighed inwardly. That man was River’s brother, Kaylee’s husband. He was little Bethie’s father, so maybe he wasn’t all that prissy. And he’d taken on Hope, loved her like his own. He shook his head. They were never going to be best friends, but they’d built something like respect, even maybe a thin thread of liking. He’d never admit it, a’course, not even under torture, or even if River threatened to kick him out of the shuttle, but he’d be damned if he was gonna let anything happen to the young doc if he could prevent it.


“You know, maybe if we tried together,” Freya suggested slowly. “Pool what abilities we have left.”

“They’re piss-poor,” River said, using one of Jayne’s sayings.

“That they are, but maybe together they can be something more.”


“You looked into my mind when I was showing you how to use the medallion.” River nodded. “Like that, but just more so.”

“I don’t know if we can.” A sudden look of determination crossed her face. “But we’ll try.” She sat up, her feet back on the ground. “Do we hold hands?”

“Touching might help,” Freya agreed. She stood up and went to the lockers, taking out the blanket from inside and arranging it on the floor. “If we sit here …”

River wrinkled her nose. “Has it been washed?”


“I remember what you were doing the last time you and Mal had that blanket out.”

“You weren't supposed to be peeking.”

“You were too loud.”

Freya chuckled. “It’s been washed, little miss fussy.” She lowered herself down, and River slid out of the chair to join her. “Now, if we hold hands and –“

“Want to join in,” came a small voice from the doorway. Both women looked up to see Bethie, a blanket wrapped around her. “Want to help,” she added, sniffing hard and wiping her nose on the back of her arm. “My Daddy.”

For a moment River was going to tell her to go back to bed, but Freya got in first. “You feeling well enough?” she asked.

“My Daddy.”

“Okay.” Freya held out her hand and the little girl hurried to join them, sitting down so she was leaning against River. Fiddler slunk in after her, turning around a few times then settling under the pilot’s chair. “Let’s see what we can see.”


“I told you there wouldn’t be anything,” Stokes said, tidying away some samples from the counter into one of the cold units.

“We had to check.” Zoe crossed her arms.

Stokes closed the door. “I know. And I’m sorry I said what I did. But you have to understand. If it wasn't your husband, then it was probably someone I know. Someone I've treated, drunk with, maybe even invited to my wedding. You can see how I feel, can’t you?”

“Then it’s someone –“

The ViroStim beeped. Just once. But Stokes was on his feet immediately, almost running to the machine, checking all the dials and readouts.

“Is it …” Zoe licked her lips.

Stokes exhaled. “Yes. It’s ready.” He slid a compartment open and pulled out a tray of one hundred tiny ampoules, already sealed.

“That’s it?” She stared at the pale gold liquid, almost seeming to give off a light all by itself.

“That’s it,” Stokes confirmed, rolling the tray from side to side. “One of these and your crew will have enough in their system to knock out the virus.”

“It’s that potent?”

“It has to be. Your doctor pushed the machine to its limits to get as much as possible, as fast as possible. Normally it would take three times this amount to be effective.”

“But it’s only a hundred doses. And it took two days to –“

“To calibrate. To get the system running.” He found himself grinning. “Now it’s done the work, there’ll be another hundred in half an hour, then another. By this time tomorrow I’ll have enough to vaccinate most of Monument who might have been affected.” He placed the tray down on the counter and carefully removed one of the ampoules. Breaking the seal, he filled a hypo from it. “You first,” he added, turning back to her.

“No, I –“

She tried to back away but he was faster. He’d grabbed her arm and slid the needle into her exposed skin.

“You’re here. We do as we find.” He tossed the used hypo into the bin.

She glared at him, rubbing the injection site. “You and me are going to have words about this.”

“I'm a doctor, and you’re sick. Did you think I was going to –“

He was interrupted by Zoe’s comlink buzzing. She lifted it up. “What?”

He’s waking up!” Kaylee’s excited voice filled the room. “Simon. He’s waking up!

“We’re coming.” Zoe was already heading for the door, not noticing Stokes pick up the tray and half a dozen empty hypos.


“I can’t reach it,” River said, her head down, hair hanging across her face like a wave of black water.

“I'm scared,” Bethie admitted, scratching absently at the rash that had moved to her chest.

Freya gently pulled her hands away without even opening her eyes, holding them in the little girl’s lap. “Concentrate more. Open up.”



“Hold on.”


As Mal turned the corner he was surprised to see Zoe and Stokes hurrying away from him down the corridor. “Hey! What’s going on?” he asked, starting to run.

“Simon,” Zoe threw back over her shoulder. “He’s waking up.”

“I need to examine him,” Stokes said firmly. “Make sure there’s no complications.”

“But he’s awake?”

“That’s what Kaylee said.” Zoe reached the door to room 12.

“You’d better wait out here,” Stokes suggested, but not even a tidal wave could have stopped Serenity’s captain and first mate as they pushed past him. He bit back on the words that wanted to spill from his lips and followed them in.

“Kaylee?” Mal said, stopping by the bed.

“He’s awake.” She looked up at him, her eyes gleaming with unshed tears of happiness. “Said my name.”

Stokes almost manhandled Zoe out of the way so he could get to his patient. “Step back,” he said, waving at them to move. “Give me room.”

Mei-mei,” Mal said, lifting Kaylee gently away from the bed and handing her to Jayne.

She didn’t mind. Her Simon was awake.

Stokes leaned over the bed, looking down at the young man. He began to check his vital signs.



“Relax, River. Don’t fight it.”

“Auntie Frey …”

“What the hell?”


Simon’s eyes fluttered, then opened. He was obviously having trouble focusing, because he blinked several times before fixing on Stokes. His mouth dropped open slightly and he tried to lift himself off the pillow.

“Just lie still,” Stokes ordered, pressing him back. “You’re in the clinic. You had an accident.”

“You …” Simon tried to speak, but his voice was weak, raspy. He swallowed hard. “Doctor …”

“That’s right.” Stokes spoke quickly. “That’s me. I'm the doctor. And right now you’re the patient.” He made a show of lifting Simon’s eyelids and shining his penlight into them.

“Stokes …” Simon still couldn’t get more than one word out.

“You’re still concussed,” Stokes said, picking up one of the hypos and an ampoule. “I’m going to give you the antiviral. It’ll help lower your temperature and reduce any pressure still on your brain.” He broke off the tip of the tiny glass phial, holding it up so everyone could see him push the needle inside. “You’ll soon feel much better.” He leaned forward, his back to everyone else, covering his actions as he palmed the full hypo and put the point of an empty one against Simon’s arm. “Much better,” he repeated, pushing it through the skin.

to be continued


Friday, May 16, 2008 6:14 AM


No No No!!! Stop him someone!!

So good. I am now on pins and needls. like cliffhangers,too.

Fat 10 from me!!!

Friday, May 16, 2008 10:31 AM


Holy crap, any tiny little miniscule fragment of sympathy I might have felt for that *tamade hundan* Stokes is well and truly in tatters. I hope Mal breaks his gorram neck and that they can help Simon recover. What a horrible nasty piece of work he has turned out to be and after Simon has done so much to get the antiviral so everybody can be helped. Ali D
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, May 16, 2008 10:32 AM


ARGGGGGGGGGGGGG...SOMEONE had better save Simon...what a cliff hanger. Adds my 10 to the pot. Bites my nails and waits for the next installment...this feels like the Saturday Matinee..with poor Pauline tied to the railroad tracks!!!!

Friday, May 16, 2008 1:08 PM


Ohhhh, Nooooo! You did it again.

Friday, May 16, 2008 2:11 PM


Yikes! Just got caught up with the last several chapters, and I have to say that this is one wild ride! Great work! :D

Friday, May 16, 2008 4:29 PM


I can't take any more hanging off of cliffs, you people are killing me!!!!

Friday, May 16, 2008 4:29 PM


I can't take any more hanging off of cliffs, you people are killing me!!!!

Friday, May 16, 2008 11:17 PM


crikey!:) pauses for breath - oh you had me lulled into a false sense of security - the claire/stokes section was a great piece of character misdirection!:)T

Saturday, May 17, 2008 2:12 AM


Boy does Simon ever need a hero about now. Who's it going to be? You lined up this plot perfectly for maximum suspense and heartstring pull.. Contrasting Kaylee's image against Claire in the decision-making process was perfect - and Bethie trying so hard to help - ouch. This was great! The only person not vulnerable is Jayne - and what DID he put into Zoe?


You must log in to post comments.



Now and Then - a Christmas story
“Then do you have a better suggestion? No, let me rephrase that. Do you have a more sensible suggestion that doesn’t involve us getting lost and freezing to death?”

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little standalone festive tale that kind of fits into where I am in the Maya timeline, but works outside too. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Epilogue
"I honestly don’t know if my pilot wants to go around with flowers and curlicues carved into his leg.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]

Monied Individual - Part XX
Mal took a deep breath, allowing it out slowly through his nostrils, and now his next words were the honest truth. “Ain’t surprised. No matter how good you are, and I’m not complaining, I’ve seen enough battle wounds, had to help out at the odd amputation on occasion. And I don’t have to be a doc myself to tell his leg ain’t quite the colour it should be, even taking into account his usual pasty complexion. What you did … didn’t work, did it?”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Simon has no choice, and Luke comes around.]

Monied Individual - Part XIX
“His name’s Jayne?”

“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

“Nothing, nothing! I just … I don’t think I’ve ever met a man … anyone else by that name.”

“Yeah, he’s a mystery to all of us,” Mal said. “Even his wife.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank's not out of the woods yet, and Mal has a conversation. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Part XVIII
Jayne had told him a story once, about being on the hunt for someone who owed him something or other. He’d waited for his target for three hours in four inches of slush as the temperature dropped, and had grinned when he’d admitted to Hank that he’d had to break his feet free from the ice when he’d finished.
[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters show their true colours, Jayne attempts a rescue, and the others may be too late.]

Snow at Christmas
She’d seen his memories of his Ma, the Christmases when he was a boy on Shadow, even a faint echo of one before his Pa died, all still there, not diminished by his burning, glowing celebrations of now with Freya.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Part XVII
Jayne hadn’t waited, but planted a foot by the lock. The door was old, the wood solid, but little could stand against a determined Cobb boot with his full weight behind it. It burst open.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The search for Hank continues. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XVI
He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Kaylee finds the problem with Serenity, and Jayne starts his quest. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XV
“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

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

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

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