The first thing Simon noticed when he woke up was the massive headache that felt like an engine grinding away his brain. He squeezed his eyes shut, willing it away and wondering just what had hit him.
“Hey,” an unfamiliar voice broke into his little world of pain. Which brought Simon to the second thing. He wasn’t on Serenity. Or the last backwater they’d been “working” on.
The girl sitting by his bed wasn’t familiar. Long brown hair and a calm face with a small frown line between her eyebrows. When Simon tried to sit up, she pushed him back gently. “Hey, you had a nasty knock to the head.”
“Where am I? What happened? And who are you?” The questions poured out of Simon with a rush of adrenaline for everything that was not right about this situation. Pushing off her hand, Simon fought off dizziness to get to his feet. The girl held her hands up defensively.
“Okay, but if you puke, I’m not cleaning it up.”
“Where. Am. I.” Simon spun on her, angry, a thousand thoughts spinning just as fast through his head. Where was River? Where was the rest of the crew? Would Mal even come for him this time?
“I, uh, can’t tell you that,” the girl smiled nervously.
“I can’t tell you that either. But there is a paradox involved.”
“Oh, wonderful. Maybe I’m not really here,” said Simon dryly.
“You’re here. We checked. I’m Dawn by the way.”
“Simon,” Simon said in reflex. He sat down on the bed again. “What about the people I was with?”
Dawn shrugged. “You were the only one who came through the portal. They’re probably wherever you’re from scratching their heads.”
“Oh, God.” Simon’s head fell into his hands at that image. And his headache got worse. “You realize that they’re going to come for me, whoever you are.” He hoped. “So whatever you want –”
“Hey, chill. It’s cool. We’re trying to figure out how to get you back as we speak. You have nothing to fear.” There was a crash in the distance. Dawn smiled brightly. “Really.”
“Right. Do you mind if I don’t trust you on that?”
Dawn rolled her eyes and took a pill bottle from her pocket. She shook out two pills and offered them to Simon. He stared at them for a moment. “What is that?”
“Aspirin. For your head.”
Simon shook his head. “No thanks.” He wasn’t about to take any drugs that he hadn’t vetted himself. Not here.
“Your headache.” Dawn didn’t seem too bothered by it, which he took as a good sign. They stared at each other awkwardly for a minute. Dawn pushed a lock of hair behind her ear.
“So you can’t tell me anything useful?” Simon asked one more time for clarity’s sake.
Dawn made a face of more awkward no. “If you live on a spaceship I get ten bucks.”
“So do you?”
“Yes, but what – ” he stopped at the girl’s bright grin. “Nothing else? No interrogation? No torture?”
“Does this look like a dungeon?”
“Yes, well, you won’t tell me anything so I must assume that you want something else.”
“Are you single?”
Dawn blushed but shrugged. “Then nothing we want. Just helping you home.” She smiled brightly again. “Take your aspirin. Yell if you need anything else.”
Dawn waved and then shuffled back to the door. “I’ll bring you dinner.”
“Right.” Simon watched her go, very confused. Shock. That was it. He took the aspirin.