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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1345 RATING: 0 SERIES: FIREFLY
The course was set and they were well on their way. Jubilee would take roughly a week to reach under normal circumstances, but Mal, being his usual self, wanted to go the long way, meaning a week long trip was turning into an eighteen day adventure on the far side of space.
Eighteen long days. What was worse was Zoë had begun to act differently around him. Wash had been surprised to find so much animosity in her that morning on Medea, but he hadn’t expected it to be this bad or to last this long. She was ignoring him. Worse then that, she had been avoiding him for two days now. It was going to be a long trip.
He sat in the pilot’s chair just staring. Nothing had happened, that’s what killed him. He’d told her that, but it didn’t seem to make a difference. He didn’t know why it should even matter if Adrienne and him had had sex. It wasn’t like there was anything going on between Zoë and him. He didn’t owe anyone an explanation, especially her. That didn’t explain why he felt he had to give her one. It was so confusing. His head was starting to hurt just thinking about it.
“Hey,” Kaylee said from the doorway, startling him from his thoughts.
“Hey,” Wash said, trying to sound normal, like he hadn’t been up here moping.
“Still not talking huh?”
Wash gave her a look, but then relented and just nodded.
“She’ll come around. She can’t stay mad forever.”
“I don’t know why she’s mad in the first place,” Wash sighed, “besides, I think Zoë is exactly the type that could stay mad forever.”
Kaylee just laughed, and then looked at him seriously.
“You don’t look good.”
“I shouldn’t, I feel like crap. Haven’t been sleeping right is all. It’s nothing.”
Kaylee leaned in closer to him and placed a hand on his forehead.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“I think your running a temperature. You should go rest.”
She sounded worried.
“I’m fine,” he said, “really. Just been thinking too much. My brains not use to it so it’s overheating.”
“It’s not funny Wash,” Kaylee said, not giving an inch, “you could be really sick.”
“You’re overreacting,” he said dismissively, “change in climate. Warmth of planets versus cold of space. Happens all the time.”
“Okay, but you should at least take something for it before you go to sleep tonight.”
“Sure,” he said, not really listening anymore. His mind was still clearly elsewhere.
Kaylee just rolled her eyes and left.
‘Men,’ she thought.
Kaylee joined Jayne, Mal and Inara in the common room. They had been playing cards for money and Mal, as usual, was winning.
“Hey Cap’n,” Kaylee said, taking a seat nearest him, “I think Wash is coming down with a bug or something.”
“What, he sending you down here now to get out of work?” Jayne smirked, still focusing on the cards in his hand.
“No,” Kaylee replied in a tone only she could get away with to Jayne, “in true male fashion he’s completely denying it. But he is running a fever. He shouldn’t even be out of bed.”
“Wash is an adult Kaylee,” Mal sighed, placing another card on the table, “he doesn’t need mothering. If he’s sick he knows full well he can just go take a rest.”
Kaylee gave Inara a look, asking her to jump in.
“I don’t know Mal,” Inara said, trumping the card he’d just placed with one of her own, “you men are stubborn. I can’t recall a time when any of you have ever taken a rest without there being a gun wound involved.”
Jayne smiled as if he was reliving a fond memory and then glancing at his cards again folded.
“I just run this ship, not your lives.”
Kaylee and Inara laughed at the same time.
“No really, you should go tell him to take a break,” Inara continued.
“Come on Cap’n, what harm would it do?” Kaylee added.
“Fine, I’ll tell him to take the night off. Satisfied?”
“I am now,” Inara smiled as she laid down her cards, winning for the first time all night.
Zoë, knowing that sooner or later she was going to have to try and make things right between her and Wash again, entered the bridge. As she expected, he was alone. She had waited till now knowing everyone else would be engaged in the weekly card game. It didn’t make it easier, but at least she wouldn’t have to worry about anyone interrupting them.
“Got a minute,” she asked as she leaned against the deck directly across from him.
“I’ve got a few,” Wash responded, somewhat surprised to see her.
“I haven’t exactly been fair to you these last few days. I did mean what I said, it isn’t my business what you do with your life or who you spend your time with.”
“You sure didn’t make it feel that way.”
“I know and I’m sorry.”
Wash just stared at her. They were words he’d never thought he’d hear from her lips. ‘I’m sorry.’ Somehow, it made him feel wrong.
“You don’t have to apologize,” he said looking down and shaking his head.
“Yes I do. So just accept it so we can move on.”
“Okay, fine. I accept. But, you have to tell me something first,” he said giving her a smile and then more seriously, “Why did it bother you?”
The room suddenly felt too small. Zoë wasn’t ready to ask herself that question yet, let alone give Wash an answer to it. They just looked at each other, really looked, each unsure of what they were seeing. The air grew thick between them, but not like before. This was a different kind of tension. The good kind. Wash wasn’t sure if Kaylee had been right before, but he certainly felt like he had a fever now.
The mood was broken before it could fully form by the arrival of Mal.
“Wash. Kaylee says you’re too sick to work. Why are you still up here?”
Zoë looked away first, something she wasn’t accustomed to doing.
“She’s overreacting. I’m fine,” Wash answered, reluctantly turning his eyes from Zoë.
“Uh huh,” Mal said, then turning to Zoë, “you’re the closest we have to a doctor round here, what you think?”
She slowly closed the distance between Wash and herself and felt her own temperature rise in the process. He just looked up at her and then slowly shut his eyes as she placed a hand to his forehead. Her touch had been tentative at first, but then she pressed her hand fully against his skin.
“You are warm,” she said, somewhat concerned, “Really warm. Wash, I think Kaylee’s right. You should be lying down.”
“You heard her, get out of here,” Mal instructed, purposely ignoring whatever it was that was going on between the two of them.
Wash just nodded and stood to leave. Truth be told, he was starting to feel worse. His head felt thick. He hoped he would sleep tonight and that tomorrow he’d fully be himself again.
Zoë and Mal watched him go.
“Everything alright here?” Mal asked, suspicion creeping into his voice.
“Fine, everything’s fine,” Zoë said, somewhat distracted and still looking at the door Wash had exited, “Maybe I should make sure he gets to his room. He didn’t look steady.”
“If you really think that’s…”
Zoë had already left before he could finish, practically running to catch up to him. She did just as he had begun to stumble down the few stairs remaining at the bottom of the run.
“Whoa,” Zoë said, grabbing hold and place an arm around his back to help support him.
“Guess I’m sicker then I thought,” he kind of laughed, but his eyes were visibly cloudy.
“Yes, you are. Come on, we’re going to the infirmary.”
“We have an infirmary?” his voice sounded thick.
“Yeah, it’s that room where we keep the spare guns,” Zoë deadpanned.
Wash laughed again, but it didn’t have its usual quality.
As soon as they got there, Zoë helped him to lie down on the nearest bed.
“It’s bright in here,” Wash said, squinting up at the lights.
Zoë took the hint and dimmed them as best she could. Next, she took his temperature and drew some blood. She didn’t have a whole lot of medical experience, but she did have more then the rest of the crew. She’d done some work in the field during the war. The conditions aboard Serenity were a vast improvement. They even had access to an onboard index of common medical maladies. One which she knew she’d be combing through till she found the answer. This wasn’t just a fever. Fevers didn’t suddenly turn like this.
Wash had apparently drifted off as Zoë did the few tests she knew to run. So far nothing. His temperature was up to 103 degrees. Not good.
“What happened?” Mal asked, concerned to find that they had come here.
“I’m not sure, but I think he’s really sick.”
“Any idea what he has?”
“No,” Zoë sighed, “he only has a few symptoms. A fever, some slurred speech and loss of coordination.”
“Could be drunk,” Mal said in attempt to lighten the mood.
Zoë wasn’t biting.
“You check the index?”
“Not yet. I wouldn’t know what I was looking for if I did.”
“Well, it couldn’t hurt.”
“You’re right,” Zoë agreed turning towards the reference section.
Mal came over and watched from behind.
Zoë entered in the systems and began the search. ‘Fever/slurred speech/sudden loss of coordination’ Before she continued, as an afterthought she added ‘light sensitivity’
It didn’t take long to come up with a list, a surprisingly short list. Only three items long.
The first was a type of flu known as the ‘Cattle Herders Flu’, and it wasn’t really a possibility. They’d all been vaccinated four months earlier when an outbreak had occurred on a planet they’d been delivering goods too.
The second was also not possible. It was commonly called ‘Hera’s Curse’ and only affected women.
That left only the third option. ‘Dredge’s Disease’ It was actually a misnomer, since Dredge’s wasn’t really caused by an infection, but by a parasite.
Mal and Zoë read in astonishment what the disease was expected to do. It was characterized by a high fever and usually not much else; the other symptoms were secondary and might not occur in all patients. Most commonly, patients became delusional and had hallucinations, but that was mainly fever induced. The trademark of the ‘disease’ was the infection site. A parasite, known as a Dredge, had to burrow into the skin to cause the illness. Once inside, it began emitting a liquid which poisoned the host, and then planted its eggs which, when they hatched, fed off of the remains of the victim. They laid anywhere from 200,000 to 500,000 eggs in a host. Dredge’s normally only infected livestock, but several human cases had occurred recently. The only cure was to rid the body of the parasite, something not easily done since it had to be removed in its entirety and the nasty bugs had a way of holding tight. Chances of survival were listed as 1 in 99 with proper medical treatment and early detection.
As soon as they had finished they immediately went to Wash. Zoë began to quickly undo his shirt and check for the rash. His arms and torso were clear on the front, but as she turned him on his side she saw it. It was unmistakable. On his lower back was a black circle, no bigger then the tip of her pinky. Upon looking closer she saw what she had been afraid of. Emitting from the circle were black streaks in all directions. The poison had already begun to spread.
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