There's an explanation I wanted to use in here. I don't know if I did it correctly and would appreciate any tips people could give me. I tried to make up my own virus thingy, but I'm not sure how well it worked. Rewriting this chapter for that really wouldn't be too hard or change much of the story line (I am by far not an expert on science/medicine and the like). Also, I highly doubt Simon would have the equipment on Serenity to do what I had him do concerning info on Xander, but let's just say he does. Advanced technology and all. I really just needed to mention something in that little moment that will become part of a bigger plot.
Here are some references I made in the story. I don't want people to get confused.
Dr. Fries is Mr. Freeze, a villian in Batman
Solaris: a very bad movie where people start hallucinating (at least that's my take on it)
Woody Allen: I love his quotes about death. “I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it by not dying.”
He'd never been a big believer in luck. But at the moment, he really really had to give Lady Luck her well deserved credit. He didn't think there was any other lady in the universe that could screw with him as much as she did. Well, come to think of it there probably were quite a few, but that wasn't the point.
He was way too cold.
Xander took in a hiss of air, his lungs aching as he did so.
He felt so... so...
Eh, let's just backtrack these thoughts and say his luck sucked, it was easier.
He probably got hurt again and this was one of Will's wacky ways of healing him. She really did need to find new ways to heal them. He wasn't trying to inspect the teeth of any gifthorse or anything, really, but they were always so damn uncomfortable. Though, he did have to say, the freezing cold was a big step up from the tiny, innocent-looking, scary leeches, mixed with the smelly troll hair, and the oh-so-wonderful full second burn of salt in an open wound.
A cry left Xander's lips as his ears let out a painful pop. Luckily, that only took a second and he could now hear the noises around him. Well, he could hear the obscure-y sounds around him anyway. But hey, at least he could hear, that was never bad news – baring the time where he actually overheard Giles getting lucky... there was no way that could have been healthy for his ears... or sanity.
Xander had already lost an eye, he didn't need to lose his hearing too....waking up...
Xander couldn't help the jerk that came with the pinch to his inner arm. The voice sounded too deep to be Will's, maybe it was one of the new male mystics she had been training. That didn't seem right though....how much longer...
Now that voice... he couldn't place it but it sent chills down his spine. Literally. And whoever Will had watching him seemed to notice....rate increase... ...why the...
There was a small pause between the voices, and Xander took it to mean they had left. He managed to let out a small breath as the silence lulled him back into complete unconsciousness..ness...ssyy...
“So, why 'xactly did the boy's heart rate go up?”
Simon held up his hand to silence the captain as he stared distractedly at the heart monitor, making sure that the drugs he had just given his patient didn't mess with his heart, “It could just be a coincidence... but...”
“Spit it out, Doc,” Mal glared at the previously rich man, “you know I don't believe in no coincidence.”
Simon looked up from the poor boy and leveled an amused gaze onto the captain, “The sound of your voice caused it.”
The string of Chinese curses was followed by Mal's disbelieving question, “What? How? That ain't possible.”
Simon sent his Captain a wry look and couldn't keep himself from commenting, “Maybe he's met you,” at Mal's less then amused facial reaction, Simon waved his hand in apology, “I'm sorry. Like I said, it could have just been a coincidence.”
“We'll stick with coincidence, 'specially since I don't think I've ever had the pleasure of meetin' someone from Earth-that-was.”
The second that sentence left his lips both Simon and Mal looked up at each other in surprise. Yes, they both remembered well how the containers had been labeled as 'Earth-that-was Artifacts', but neither ever really considered that this man was from then.
“You... you think he might really be from Earth-that-was?” Simon looked down at the man with a strange look as he scanned him over.
“Don't rightly know,” Mal muttered walking up to the other man's side.
“Well it would certainly explain a lot,” Simon muttered and calmly walked over to the other side of his medical room and began searching his cabinets for something.
“It would?” Mal watched in confusion as his normally calm doctor searched the room, seeming to be looking for something.
“Yes,” Simon stopped a frown growing deeper on his face, “I wonder where it could be?”
“What're ya lookin' for, Doc?”
“It's not important I guess. Just a reference tool,” he dismissed easily, but frowned as his eyes turned back to the unnamed man on the table, “but he seems to be missing some of the more basic antigens.”
“Doc,” Mal crossed his arms and leaned back against one of the tables, “yer gonna have speak simple.”
Simon, looked up, a somewhat surprised look crossing his features. He always seemed to forget that no one else here had as much schooling as he had and that things he had thought to be common knowledge, they had absolutely no idea about, “Uh... To put this all very simply: Antigens are basically things in our blood that keep us from getting sick. They attack foreign objects, like bacteria and viruses. Um... once you've been exposed to a virus, your body starts to build up an immunity, it gets new antibodies. Hence, why once you've had a specific strain of the cold, you never get that specific strain again. You may get another version, as the infection does mutate, but you can no longer catch that specific strain. It's not implausible that someone has never been exposed to common things, such as litheria.”
“Litheria?” Mal rose an eyebrow, “Ain't that somethin' most children get?”
“It is now,” Simon, glanced back up at Mal and sighed. He backed away from his patient and leaned against the table on the opposite side of the room. Simon met Mal's eyes and continued his explanation, “It first appeared on Earth-that-was, I believe. If my memory holds, the theory is that it was an epidemic. Killed millions of people, until obviously, a cure was found,” Simon stopped his explanation and shifted his eyes to the unconscious man, “Add about 500 years and natural evolution and most people have the antibodies in their systems now to help naturally eradicate the infectious disease, it's very odd to come across someone who doesn't.”
Taking the hint, Mal nodded at the man, “Like him.”
“Yes,” Simon pushed himself off the shelf and cleared the floor to his patient, “Also, come look at this.”
Mal crossed the floor and stared down at the man's face. It wasn't thin, the man was obviously healthily fed in his life. His skin was pale, not too hard to imagine why, and his black hair was a shaggy length. But all together, nothing seemed too odd. The split second where Simon's hand hovered above one of his eyes, Mal noticed it. The lid seemed somewhat flatter compared to the other one. The doctor reached down and pulled up his eyelid...
“Gao yang jong duh goo yang!”
Mal's gaze snapped away. Yes, he had seen far worse things in his time during the war, but it was his eye! There was always something about the eyes that always got to him. They were you gorram eyes! It was unnatural is what it was.
“Did you have to show me that?!” he snapped.
Simon frowned in confusion but let the lid slide closed, “Most people try to get a doctor to put in a regrown eye, and those that don't have enough money for that usually have enough to, in the very least, get themselves a nonworking glass one.”
“That don't mean you had to show me that!” Mal snapped once more, ignoring the surprised Doctor's face, “Words would have done nicely.”
“Captain...?” Simon trailed off staring at him in concern.
Noticing the Doctor's sudden interest, Mal silently berated himself, “What 'xactly does he not havin' an eye tell us? 'Sides the fact they might notta had regrown eyeballs on Earth-that-was.”
“Not much actually,” Simon then pulled the sheet down, revealing the man's bare chest, “but that mixed in with his scars here,” and sure enough, the stranger was covered in scars, most the scars Mal recognized from seeing all kinds of wounds in the war, but a few were very strange, “I'd say he led a very unusual life,” Simon cast a weary look back to Mal, “I wouldn't be surprised if he was public service or military in his time.”
Mal took in his words very carefully. He knew what Simon was implying, and he himself had thought of this several times since the man rolled out of his icy coffin, but if he was a government loyal man...
“You thinkin' he gonna be a problem?”
“Honestly?” Simon sighed and shook his head, “Couldn't say,” he turned and began packing up the supplies he currently didn't need, “A lot has changed since Earth-that-was. I couldn't even begin to know the differences myself, but to assume he's going to side with a government he knows nothing about isn't very reasonable.”
“I dunno, I think it's kinda excitin',” Kaylee piped up happily as she sat down at the wobbly table.
“Certainly ain't boring,” Zoë chimed in, flashing a smile at her husband as he walked up behind her and wrapped his arms lovingly around her.
“I just mean...” Kaylee smiled dreamily, “I bet he's got stories, ya know. 'Bout Earth-that-was,” the far away look crossed over Kaylee's face as she went into her own little fantasy land, “I wonder what it was like. Bet it was filled with really tall mountains, green trees, 'n' sparklin' blue water 'n' the like.”
“I bet he's got war stories,” everyone turned their sights to Jayne. He sat across from Kaylee, his feet propped up on the table, using a knife to clean out his nails, “C'mon. Ain't nobody lost an eye like that without bein' in a fight.”
“He ain't lost an eye!” Kaylee's distress at the statement was evident. She cast a worried, self-doubting look towards Zoë, “Has he?”
Zoë gave her a sad smile, “Sorry t' say it, Kaylee, but I noticed it too. Man got his eye lost,” She rubbed Wash's arm before pulling away to sit next to the younger girl. She patted her gently on the shoulder, “Don't worry none. Jus' 'cause he got his eye lost doesn't mean he was in a war,” Zoë shot Jayne a scolding look.
“Don't look at me like that,” Jayne said indignantly, “Jus' callin' it like I see it. I see missin' body parts, I think war.”
“Well when I see lost limbs, I think boating accident,” Wash chipped in happily and took a seat across from his wife.
“Well, I'm sure he's got other stories,” Kaylee gave them all a hopeful smile, “Maybe 'bout stuff like boatin' in the blue 'stead of the black!”
“Ah, yeah,” Zoë smiled brightly at the girl, happy to humor her until the ancient man woke up, “Prob'ly got tons a stories 'bout that. Maybe even be somebody important to be frozen like that.”
“Ya think?” Kaylee's eyebrows shot up in interest.
“That or he done somethin' bad,” Jayne happily chimed in with his usual atrocious thought.
“You just enjoy spreading the not-joy, don't you?” Wash said with a disbelieving look.
“Jus' think we should be prepared fer whatever one-eye there's gonna throw at us, is all.”
Mal had left the med bay a few minutes ago, leaving Simon in the room alone. Simon was actually grateful he left. It gave him a chance to put his medical bay back the way he liked it without interruption. Granted, it wasn't actually his medical bay, but seeing as how he informed the Captain of what supplies were needed, knew how to actually practice medicine, and kept everything in here clean (his room being the only other clean place on this whole ship), it was an almost unsaid agreement that when it came to the medical room, he was in charge. Unless Mal pulled his rank as Captain, which Simon had no problem listening to surprisingly. After all, he had been right with that Reaver survivor.
Simon had just been putting some things up in a cabinet when he heard a groan behind him. Looking over his shoulder he watched in shock as the patient sat up and stretched his arms tiredly above his head. Simon winced at the succession of popping sounds from the man's back. The man then suppressed a yawn.
“Oh, yeah,” the words mumbled out in a strange accent, “that's the stuff...”
Deciding it was best to announce his presence, Simon quietly closed the cabinet, “Hello.”
The patient froze, his arms still in mid-air. He then quickly twisted his body around and stared back at Simon with wide eyes. Simon had to keep from wincing when he saw the empty eye socket now open to the world.
The man seemed blissfully unaware of his empty eye and stared at Simon strangely, “Hey...” the man lowered his arms and looked around. Deftly jumping off the bed, he continued his scrutiny. He looked as if he trying to assess something, “Where are we? Some kind of secret underground lab base thingamabob?”
Simon had to take a moment to figure out that last word, before he answered, “No, um... we're on a ship,” he was unsure of how the ancient man was going to take it.
“A boat?” the man cast him a disbelieving look. Simon could have sworn he saw a small amount of confusion, “Really?” Simon only nodded before the man launched into his questions, “Where's Will?” Before Simon could question who this 'Will' was, the man continued, “And Buffy?” suddenly when the man noticed Simon's confusion, he seemed to go into somewhat of a panic, “What about Dawn, where's Dawnie?!”
Simon grabbed the ancient man's shoulder's, his own nerves growing taught. The man didn't even seem to notice his unstable posture, “They aren't here,” the man didn't even seem to notice that Simon was now keeping him steady on his feet, “I'm afraid you're the only one we found,” so far, he added mentally, his thoughts going back to the other containers that had yet to open.
“Found?” he pushed himself away from the doctor and stumbled back slightly, for the first time realizing just how dizzy he was.
“We found you in a container,” Simon explained, slowly inching towards him, “You were frozen.”
“Frozen...” The man trailed off and blinked, “So who are you? Dr. Fries?”
“Um...” Simon really wasn't too sure how to respond to him. Was that a doctor for one his friends? Will, maybe? “No, my name is Simon. I am a doctor though.”
“Hey, Doc,” Kaylee poked her head in, “I was wonderin' if maybe..” she trailed off as the strange man turned around, “AH!” Kaylee squeaked and pulled out, covering her face with her hands.
“Kaylee?” Simon watched in concern as Kaylee slowly made her way back in.
She gave the ancient man a timid smile, “Sorry... it's just...” she trailed off and motioned to her eye.
“Oops!” The man comically slapped his hand over the empty eye socket and smiled nervously, “Sorry. I usually keep that sucker covered up. Um...?” he turned his head inquisitively to Simon, “Do you have anything...?”
“Oh!” Simon stopped and glanced around his med room in thought, “I don't think so...” he pointed a thoughtful finger at the man, “I can look though.”
“Much appreciated,” was his gracious response as the doctor began rummaging through his cabinets.
“So...” both men turned their attention back to the girl who was still standing by the doorway, “are you really from Earth-that-was?”
Simon's eyes went wide, “Kaylee!” he had yet to tell the man exactly where he was.
“Huh?” The man's mouth fell open and he glanced over at Simon before turning his attention back to Kaylee, “Last I knew it was Earth-that-is,” he paused for a moment, running things over in his head, “Hey, Doc,” Simon's eyebrows went up as he looked at his patient inquisitively, “What year is it?”
“2518,” Simon tilted his head to the side, “What year do you last remember?”
The man glanced back and forth between Simon and Kaylee, as if he looking for some sort of give, “Ooohh!” a smiled broke across his face as he pointed at Simon in amusement, “I get it. This is some sorta trick, isn't it?” he laughed and shook his head, “Nice try, Will!” he shouted into the air, “Not gonna fool me this time, going all Solaris-y with my brain,” Simon and Kaylee exchanged nervous looks, “I'm not as easy to fool as George Clooney.”
There were a good five seconds of silence where Simon and Kaylee both just stared at the man as if he had gone mental.
The man awkwardly cleared his throat, “Umm... this isn't a mind game, is it?” he glanced over at Simon who slowly shook his head, “And I, uh, just made a complete fool of myself, didn't I?” he now turned to Kaylee for her response.
“I wouldn't say ya made a fool,” she gave him a kind, if not nervous, smile, “I mean, you did just come to from that frozen canister. We expect ya to be a little confounded,” she glanced at Simon for verification, “right?”
“Of course,” the answer was a little too rushed and Simon winced.
“Uh-huh,” the man glanced at them nervously, his hand still covering his damaged eye, “Hey, not that I wanna rush you or anything, but my hand's starting to go all tingly,” Simon nodded and started his search again, “if you have some gauze and tape that'll work just dandy.”
“So, uh,” Kaylee inched a little closer. The man didn't seem too harmful, seemed more worried about making them uncomfortable, “What's your name...?”
“Xander,” he gave a small smile at the face Kaylee involuntarily made, “Alexander Harris, actually, but I much prefer Xander.”
“Well, I'm Kaylee,” she smiled and stuck out a hand, which Xander happily accepted with his free one, “and that there is Simon,” she motioned to the doctor standing with gauze and tape behind him.
“Here you go,” Simon held the gauze up to his eye, “Kaylee, if you could call the Captain?” he gave a weary smile to Xander as Kaylee made her way to the comm, “I really should have done that the moment you woke up, actually.”
“Worthy of being checked out by the Captain? I feel so special,” he smiled brightly as Simon finished up, “So, can you guys tell me anything more? What happened to Earth, where we are, or whether or not Woody Allen is still alive?”
“Um...” Simon and Kaylee once again exchanged confused glances, “Well, people began leaving Earth-that-was around 2030, I believe.”
“You're kidding,” Xander looked at him in surprise, “I could have been alive long enough for people to leave Earth?”
“What year are you from?” Kaylee asked, honestly interested.
“2005,” he stated easily, “Damn. I didn't think we were anywhere near that kind of technology.”
“Government enjoys keeping secrets from us little folk,” a voice chimed in from behind.
“Yeah, boy, have I got stor...” Xander trailed off as he finally turned around. 'Oh, hell no!' didn't even begin to cover it! Everyone in the room noticed the sudden tension. Simon wasn't the only one concerned with how pale the man's face turned. There was a good two seconds where everything was still and the crew of Serenity waited for him to finish his sentence.
In a burst of unexpected motion, Xander bolted out the lab, slipped past the Captain, and ran.
When he made it to the cargo bay, three other people stood there now staring at him; a tall attractive black woman, a big scary muscley guy, and a reddish blond haired man in a very nice Hawaiian shirt. Two of them suddenly whipped out guns, their eyes trained keenly on him. Glancing over his shoulder, Xander noticed the other three had followed him, the Caleb look-a-like pointing his own little pistol at him.
“Sir?” The woman's voice rang loudly in the open space.
“Cap'n,” Kaylee looked at him pleadingly, glancing nervously between Xander and the Captain's gun, “he's just scared. Ain't no reason to shoot 'im.”
“He actin' all twitchy and the like earlier, Doc?” Mal questioned, his eyebrow raised, “'cause if he gone crazy on us, I ain't havin' 'im endangerin' my crew.”
“He doesn't preach.”
Everyone turned their attention upwards to the young girl leaning over the catwalk. She shook her head, staring seriously at the stranger, “Not anymore. Doesn't like to. Feels wrong.”
“OK...” Xander frowned and slowly raised his hands in he air, as if to show he was unarmed, which was already a given. He turned his attention back to the Caleb-look-alike, “look, I don't know what Twilight Zone I dropped in on, but you,” he pointed an accusing finger at Mal, “look way too much like the asshole who did this,” he pointed at his obvious injury for effect, “Now, obviously, you're not him, or about half of these people here would be dead. So, why don't we lower the shiny guns and have a nice calm weapon free conversation.”
A moment of silence as Mal considered the request. Then, with a consenting nod to the other two, Mal lowered and holstered his gun, “Alright. Let's have us a conversation.”
A few minutes later and everyone was gathered around the eating room table, The Captain sitting on one end with Xander on the other side. Everyone else sat wherever they pleased around the table with the exception of the strange girl from the catwalk. She chose to sit in one of the chairs in the corner, curled up with her arms around her legs and her chin resting on her knees as she stared at Xander in fascination.
With a few nervous glances, Xander finally cleared his throat, “OK, so will somebody fill me in on the what's what here?”
“I was hopin' you could do the fillin', son,” The Captain leaned against the table and hit Xander with a hard glare. The message got through to the Californian. It was the standard 'If you don't explain, I'll hurt you severely' look that Buffy used to give out oh so often.
“And what exactly do you want me to say?” Xander asked in confusion, “You want me to tell you how I was frozen? 'Cause that's gonna be hard, what with that memory missing and all.”
“Alright,” The Captain consented, “Wanna tell me more about what that crazy was down below? I can't very well have someone runnin' around my boat if he's a danger to my crew.”
“It's not like I attacked anybody,” Xander defended, “I saw how eerily you resembled somebody I was not such good friends with and I ran. It was a survival instinct,” Xander had faced many things in his time and had even stood fast against his flight response a myriad of times. However, working with Buffy had taught him to follow his instincts during certain situations. He was no match for Caleb, he knew, his only hope to enforce Rule One was to run and hide – something he was very good at he might add, “I didn't endanger anybody. What was I gonna do? Hit a bullet with my head?”
The Captain's eyebrows shot up at the response and Xander noticed the fight to keep the corner of his lips down. The Captain beat that little battle quite fast, but Xander could quickly see the amusement in his eyes. Well, maybe not in his eyes... those things were hard as stone, but he could tell The Captain was amused by him. In his life, that generally led to being alive a little longer than originally intended. Always a good thing.
“See Cap'n!” Kaylee said, a pleased look on her face, “He ain't gonna hurt nobody!” at Mal's sharp glare, Kaylee frowned and lowered her head a little. She hated it when the Captain looked at her like that, “M'just sayin'...”
“Actually, Mal, if I may?” Simon spoke up, catching everyone's attention. The strength of Mal's stare was no less intense, but he nodded, “Downstairs in the infirmary, Mr. Harris seemed to show more concern about making us feel comfortable than he did about who we were,” Simon cast a curious glance at Xander who blinked in surprise at the sudden defense.
“Alright, fine,” Mal leaned back against his seat, his arms crossed defensively over his chest. He sent Xander a hard warning glare. It was eerily similar to when Buffy had met Dawn's boyfriend Kenny for the first time. Xander remembered that scary threat clearly, “I just want to make one thing clear: You're only welcome on this boat as long as I see fit. Now, if I go thinkin' yer gonna make unwanted trouble for me and mine, you're off. We got enough problems of our own to deal with, we don't need nothin' else to come kickin', you understand?”
“Yeah,” Xander said with a nod, “I got one thing I wanna make clear too,” Xander gave them all an equally hard glare, letting his rare serious side to the forefront. Xander didn't miss the unappreciated frown on The Captain's lips or his decency to at least hear what the stranger was going to say before he responded. Xander pointed to Wash., “I really
want one of those shirts.”
Gao yang jong duh goo yang! = Motherless goats of all motherless goats!
Gorram = Damn