empty infirmary, empty heart

The infirmary was an empty shell. She'd stood here for hours, shoulder to shoulder with Adler, but now? Now there would be no one to advise. No one to counsel on which cut to make, and after just three months beside him? She was confident that he'd sown seeds that would bear fruit.

Standing in the center of the room, the basic medical chair was nothing short of spartan. But more than that, it was one of the last things that Marisol laid her hands upon to reinstall for Dorian before... Little had the mechanic known that it would be for Lyen's ministering. Or maybe Marisol had known? The nun-gone-medic shook her head to banish the conspiratorial thought.

A slender hand ran along the leather seat, shiny from sheer use over the years of this Firefly ship. It felt sturdy and unrelenting. Ly felt she could empathize. She recalled seeing a tin of leather polish in the engine room--the breath shot from her lungs again. Breathing in, the new medic took stock of the drawers one at a time. Books from Yeva's tutelage remained, along with materials Adler had procured for himself, some to do with dental work, others geared for general practitioners. These dusty pages would become her sparse Bibles in the coming days.

She moved to the cabinet. Glancing over the ledger, Lyen interrogated the bottles and tinctures, gels and tablets at home in the Veil's medical stores. Just as she had for the last three months, she marked each against the list for Adler to... She placed the ledger face down on the counter. Taking a vial in her hand, the medic raised it against the light. The amber liquid swirled inside. Her mouth went dry, her jaw clenched, and tears fought at the corners of her eyes. The vial went away, the lock replaced. Her stomach turned.

Against Adler's recent habit, Lyen didn't lock the door to the infirmary. The only thing of value in there now was his Denta-kiln, neglected in the corner like a permanent phantom. The knives and medicines were locked separately, so no mischievous little hands could seek out instruments of naughtiness. But that was hardly on her mind now as the nun floated toward the aft of the ship and her quarters.

The door slid closed and she lowered herself onto the bed. Head on her pillow, her hand reached for the book of prayer that lay beneath it, when a slip of paper caught the tip of her finger. Straightening, she lifted the pillow to see a loose envelope upon the book. 'Lyen' the outside read in Marisol's quick hand. Her heart started to pound.

Deftly, the letter was free and her eyes devoured its message. The tears fell in slow rivulets at first, then a gasp for breath gave sound to the tearing in her chest. The nun craned over the letter in her lap, ink spreading and smearing into a watercolor beneath her. Marisol's last farewell was gone from the page, but the searing in Lyen's chest remained, with no one to soothe her.

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