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Firefly: Just a Little Favor for a Friend Pt. 18

The Little Lame Prince

***

Simon made his way, drifting, to River's room, where he slid to the deck near her bunk. She had been lying on her belly, heels crossed up over her back, changing every other numeral on a computerized counted cross-stitch frame to see what would happen to the tiny birds in the pattern.

"Jayne's awake," she said.

Simon nodded. His expression was one of despair.

River reached over and tousled Doc's hair.

"This wasn't my job, you know. When my part, the trauma part, was over with, they'd go into intensive care. Or into therapy."

"And now you have friends for patients."

Simon's face crumpled.

"Okay, Brother. You clearly need to get some perspective on what your responsibility is to Jayne Cobb. You work so many miracles that you've forgotten that's not your job description."

"I think I'll sit here for the rest of my life."

"That's not what you think. You think you have to pull yourself together and talk to Captain again."

Simon was granted a short reprieve from this task, however. Ducky was calling from the corridor. She stuck her head in the room. "You're wanted in the infirmary right away."

"Jayne?"

"No. That McBride."

Simon stumbled up and into the corridor with speed.

"Mal!" Simon reprimanded the captain in distress when he saw that Danny was once again grey and unconscious.

"I didn't do anything to him this time."

"Let's see. What's the blood on his lip from?"

"Well-- we did punch him a few times."

Simon awaited continuation.

Mal pointed toward the cargo bay impatiently. "We were all fistfighting in the cargo bay-- just fighting some. Danny had an unfair advantage over me being as he's youthful and lithe. So Zoe took over. They had a fair fight and he went down and then he didn't get up. Spoke, though, before he blacked out again. As if all was usual and he didn't see it coming."

Simon ran both hands through his hair desperately. "I have to wake him up or we'll lose him--"

"But if you give him the drugs to do it he'll go mad."

"Very likely." Simon was doing it anyway.

"And you can't use the depressant drugs."

"Right, or he'll crash again. Like he's doing now. What is it."

"Something they did to him on that ship."

"He's going to wake up, so, Captain, help me strap him down here in case he has another extreme reaction."

Through the examination and discussion, Kaylee was perched on a stool next to Jayne's bed, holding a threadbare clothbound book and watching the goings-on, her place in the book held open by her thumbs. Jayne looked up at her, then over at Mal and Simon with resignation to an indefinite interruption in the tale. "Who is that?"

"It's Danny," Kaylee told Cobb.

Mal was asking Simon, "What about the drugs we picked up from that boat? Anything in there that might help?"

"If you mean the unfamiliar ones, no, nothing that I've been able to find any reference to. I'm well versed in medications, but I don't feel comfortable using those."

"You sure it ain't just some new miracle drugs?"

Simon began to say something, but the restrained McBride shot awake. Danny stared through them with glazed eyes and would have thrashed but his arms were tightly at his sides with buckles on them. He struggled violently but meaninglessly, rapidly jerking his head side to side in small increments. Then the boy suddenly fixated on Simon and tried to pull a shoulder out of the med-bed strap with clear, menacing intent.

"Daniel-- Daniel! Is this what he did on the infirmary vessel when you went back with him, Captain?"

"More or less."

Simon attempted to examine Danny's face. "He could do himself damage trying to break out. Help me hold him down."

"Settle, McBride," Mal grumbled, aiding the wrist restraints by closing a hand around Danny's lower arm. "We ain't got time for this."

Danny noticed the grip and raged at it.

"I'm beginning to lose my nerve with this boy. He could stop breathing any time he sleeps or anything else upsets his system or chemistry. Good Heavens, do we have to knock him out to get him to stop? Danny, I want you to wake up now. Come on."

Danny did. He began to try to sit up normally, felt the restraints, and lay back with a frown and glazed eyes.

"Danny?"

From her stool, Kaylee ventured to add, herself, "Danny?"

"A'right. I'm a'right. I am in the infirmary? Wow, and I feel like I had the wind knocked out of me."

"Was Zoe did that." Mal motioned to Simon, who undid the straps, poised against the potential of Danny turning on him.

Danny rubbed his forehead and thought. "Just give me a minute so I don't embarrass m'self by wondering who you are."

"Who is that fella? And why's he trying to attack Doc?" Jayne was mystified.

Simon slipped, saying, "One of the zombies from the infirmary vessel."

Jayne stared at Doc, then asked Kaylee, "Zombies? Just how long I been out, again?"

Danny gave Doc a startled look, and Simon realized he had to amend. "The others weren't clear-headed at all."

"Captain."

"McBride."

"I seem to know who and what I am. And you're the captain Mal Reynolds. I think I'm good to go." Danny jumped down off the med-bed, steadying himself on Simon. "Thanks, Doc. I guess I owe you for medicines. How bad was it?"

"Bad, not long-lasting though," Mal said.

Danny was waiting for Simon's verdict. Simon decided to forgo a professionally tempered speech. "What Captain Reynolds said. And don't worry about the medical supplies. Stimulants are highly available on the black market. Serenity's -- lousy with them."

Danny grinned. "A'right. Seeya."

Mal turned to Simon and give a significant, slight jerk of his head in the direction of Jayne.

"Yes. Ah. Uh-- Kaylee."

Kaylee nodded and slipped down from her stool, keeping her place in the book with one thumb. "I'll finish it later. We're almost at the end."

"Well, something better happen fast, then, if we're close to the end," Jayne told her.

Simon saw Kaylee out the infirmary hatch; Mal's face showed expectation which Simon did not feel ready to respond to. He prepared himself without meeting Mal's gaze.

Jayne broke the silence. "Got kinda a limited lot of options, here."

"Ah. Yes. I wanted to suggest an option. Well, Jayne, you see, if we get the funds, you could go to a big Alliance-affiliated corporate hospital."

"What for?"

"They may be able to fit you with a substitute electrical impulse system and give you some semblance of autonomous motion in the affected limbs. In the meantime I suggest we manually exercise them so they don't lose potential."

"What?"

"Um. A high tech hospital. Could help you."

"You want me to be some land doc's patient? No ruttin' way. I'm keepin' my legs."

"Not contested! Nobody ever said anything about taking your legs, Jayne."

"They'll get better on their own."

"Doc says they may'n't," said Mal.

"Well Doc ain't smart enough to know everything." Jayne frowned, shoving the side of his fist onto the bedclothes repeatedly as if jabbing a knife into the mattress. "Mal, you'll say what oughta be done. But I ain't goin' to no hospital. It don't make sense leaving me there and forgetting about me."

Simon's first instinct was to reassure. "Nobody's going to forget about you." The words sounded hollow once he had them out. He dropped his eyes in defeat.

"Leave me alone," said Jayne. "Send Kaylee back in. She ain't paid so much attention to me since long afore Simon joined on crew."

Simon made a move to retrieve Kaylee. Jayne abruptly thundered, "No hospitals. Not an option. Strike that one out."

Simon rubbed his aching temples. "Very well, Jayne. Allow me to get Kaylee for you."

"Yeah. Thanks." Jayne sank back on his bed.

"Doc. Outside."

"Captain."

They signed for Kaylee to come in from the lounge and shut the hatch.

"He can't work, without legs. Is what you're sayin'?"

"Captain," Simon began. "You understand what I've explained to you so far?"

"He's sustained himself an incomplete spinal cord injury. Means something from his brain's getting below the point where he got injured at. But his legs are paralyzed anyway. Would seem to be complete injury to me. What're you gonna do about it?"

Simon shook his head. "I can't answer you the way you need me to. I can't do anything. I've told you the alternative. I'm one man in a minimally equipped Firefly cargo ship. An injury of this kind makes Jayne more susceptible to infection, heart failure, all kinds of problems people can fall prey to. He's much more vulnerable. And I wouldn't want to subject him to the kind of difficulties--"

"I don't wanna hear that he's vulnerable. He got any of those problems now?"

"We're still evaluating his status. It's likely he will develop--"

"Doc, I don't like you tellin' what bad could happen, unless there's something I can do to stop it, or it makes a real interesting story."

"His spine is prone to further serious injury, and I won't be responsible-- " Simon saw the telltale expression on Mal which showed that the next thing Captain Reynolds did was to be a disciplinary action.

"Fix him. So he can work. Or you're off my ship."
Tags: firefly
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