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Baby, You Are Radiant

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Bring it! Radiation poisoning angst, liver POV. I triple-dog-dare you. Cause y'know, all those organs feeling icky, stomach especially, liver freaking out... - aries_taurus

And I read in the thread a B-day had something to do with this? That dare I just threw down? Yeah, my birthday's next Wednesday. - also aries_taurus, because nothing says fandom like some friendly emotional blackmail. Happy birthday! <3

~~~

Liver gets its first clue that something's wrong when its hepatocytes start slowing down.

Normally, that wouldn't be a big deal. Normally, Liver would go with the lull and take it easy for a few days. But Steve's glucose stores are at an all-time low, and so Liver sighs and prepares itself for another round of working overtime.

Except that's not what happens.

Instead of increasing their productivity, its hepatocytes are sluggish, barely managing to achieve a low average no matter how hard Liver keeps pushing them.

"Uh." Liver tries to initiate some accelerated cell reproduction to compensate, but the response isn't very promising. "I got a problem here."

"Tell me about it," Stomach moans, sounding queasy. It quivers slightly, obviously tries to relax. Then, suddenly, it tightens.

Steve throws up.

"Okay, what the hell is going on?" There hasn't been any rise in ingested toxins. If anything, detoxification has been a little boring lately, with Steve only sporadically indulging in alcohol. So food poisoning is out, but what else could make Stomach react like that? Are they sick? "Brain? Brain, what's wrong with us?"

"Not so loud," Brain begs. "Please. Quiet. We'll be fine. This is just... we caught something, is all."

"Caught something," Liver repeats, incredulous. "We caught something? May I remind you that our immune system isn't the best right now? We could be in serious trouble here!"

"And whose fault is that?" Right Kidney snaps.

Right Kidney is an asshole.

"Excuse me? Do you want me to leave?" Liver asks, because it does not have to put up with this crap. It saved their lives, dammit. "Is that what you want?"

"Liver." Gallbladder says. It always does this, cutting in just when Liver's about to go off on any organ that isn't Gallbladder, but something's off this time. Gallbladder sounds like it, too, would like to throw up.

"Hey," Liver says, concerned. "Hey, you all right?"

"I'm fine," Gallbladder says, but it's not. None of them are.

The lethargy spreads through them like a toxin. There's nothing for Liver to filter out, though; nothing for it to fight against. Just a slow, unstoppable decrease in activity as everything, for all of them, keeps taking more and more effort to keep up. They pull together, share resources as best they can, anything to resist the advancing weakness.

Then, between one step and the next, both legs buckle and land them on the floor of Steve's living room.

"The hell?" Right Knee says, sounding stunned. "I didn't mean to do that."

"Guys?" Right Ring Finger says while they're all still trying to process, "I can't stop shaking."

Its neighbors agree with growing hysteria.

Something is terribly wrong.

~~~

"Okay, so don't panic," Brain says, and Liver almost laughs because that has to be the worst way to start a conversation.

"No panicking, got it," Left Kidney says sarcastically, apparently thinking the same thing.

"We went to see a doctor," Brain says.

The organs murmur uneasily. Was that what the most recent leaking had been about? Blood tests?

"What did he say?" Heart asks what they all want to know.

"We, uh." Brain pauses awkwardly. Liver's getting a very bad feeling about this. "We got radiation poisoning."

Silence.

"We had radiation poisoning," Spleen protests. "It went away!"

"Well, it came back."

"Came back?!"

Liver cuts in before the argument can escalate. Of all the organs, Spleen is the least laid-back; probably because Steve uses up its blood reserves even faster than he runs through Liver's glucose.

"So now, uh, now what?" And when Brain doesn't immediately reply, Liver adds, more urgently, "What do we do?"

"All right, here's the plan," Brain says, apparently pulling itself together. "We'll be getting antibiotics and some vitamins, but I'm going to need all of us to work together, okay? Bone Marrow, you'll need to step up leukocyte production."

"Oh, really?" Bone Marrow huffs. "You sure you don't want us to give infection a shot? Because that's what I was going for when I decided that we need fewer white blood cells. It had nothing at all to do with feeling like crap."

"Try, okay?" Brain says, refusing to be goaded. "Stomach, the antibiotics are going to hit you hard, but you'll need to try and preserve as many of your bacteria as you can, all right? Intestines, you too."

"Sure," Small Intestine drawls. "No problem. I'll just wrap them in the lipoprotein Liver doesn't like. Not like antibiotics make me cramp or anything."

"Get appendix to help you. Come on, guys, we're gonna get through this."

~~~

Small Intestine does cramp. So does Stomach. Their gut flora about halves, which leads to fewer nutrients for Liver – the memory of some nice, disgusting vitamin K fills it with nostalgia – which means even less resistance to the antibiotics and more dead bacteria. Brain's promised vitamin supplements pass through mostly untouched. Spleen's blood reserves are increasingly damaged.

They're not getting through this.

After another spectacular bout of throwing up, Brain gives a defeated sigh.

"Danny," it mutters, but although Heart gamely accelerates, Steve's blood pressure stays precariously low.

Uh-oh, Liver thinks.

They haven't told Danny about the radiation poisoning yet. Liver maintains that Danny's reaction is going to be worse the longer they wait, but as always, Brain remains stubbornly resistant to good advice.

Looks like it'll have to explain, now.

Below Liver, Gallbladder shivers.

"Hey," Liver says, worried. Gallbladder hasn't been producing much bile lately. It hasn't been responsive to Liver's increasingly anxious questions, either. "Hey, hey, talk to me. You all right?"

It's a stupid question, so stupid, but Liver doesn't know what else to say. Gallbladder's even more stubborn than Brain, determined to suffer in silence. Liver desperately wants to help, but Gallbladder hardly acknowledges it anymore.

"'m fine," Gallbladder mutters miserably.

"You're f-" Liver can't believe what it's hearing. "Seriously, that's what you're going with?"

"I'm fine." Gallbladder says again, more insistent this time.

"Shut up, you're not fine! Look at you, you're," inflamed, listless, in pain, "you're not fine."

"So stop asking." Gallbladder sounds indifferent again, sinking back into apathy.

Liver wants to yell, to shake it, anything, but however much it prods, Gallbladder stays silent.

~~~

"Lobe?" The loud whisper wakes Liver from an uneasy doze. "Uh, Liver? You okay?"

It's Heart. Danny's Heart; Danny and Steve must lie curled up together again.

"What do you think?" Liver snaps, but honestly, compared to what some of the other organs are going through, it's doing okay. Compared to what Gallbladder is going through, Liver is doing fantastic.

"Can we help?"

"I, uh, I don't think-"

"Please, we need to help." That's Left Lobe. The entirety of Danny's liver, now. Gallbladder stirs. Liver sends down a warm trickle of bile, and Gallbladder quiets again.

"There's got to be something we can do," Danny's Liver adds, outright pleading now.

Liver thinks of Bone Marrow, trying and failing to provide for them all. It thinks of Spleen and its dwindling stores, of the Intestines and their losing battle against barrenness, and of Brain, refusing to let them give up.

It thinks of Gallbladder, dying by increments.

"You know what?" it finally says, "I think there is."

~~~

"Ohh, that feels good," Heart slurs as the fresh blood fills its chambers. "Guys, you have to... Wait, let me..."

It pumps, more energetically than it has in a while, and one by one the organs groan as undamaged blood cells start spreading rich oxygen through their capillaries.

"That's amazing," Spleen sighs, and the others murmur their agreement.

Liver feels its hepatocytes tremble and relax as the new blood reaches it. Danny's blood. The blood that Danny gave them so Steve would feel better.

There's not enough oxytocin in the world.

"Hey, Liver," Gallbladder murmurs, stretching for the first time in days. "You got any bile? I'm gonna order us some... everything."

It sounds weak but getting stronger, and Liver doesn't know if it's the blood or the hormones or what, but then again it doesn't care.

I'd give you everything, it thinks, giddy with relief and possibly a little bit delirious, anything you asked for.

Out loud, it says, "You're unbelievable, you know that?"

"What?"

"How many times do I have to tell you to bring your own bile!?"

"I've been sick!" Gallbladder snaps, sounding deeply offended.

"We've all been sick! And you said you were fine!"

"Well, clearly I wasn't! What, are you gonna be sensitive about this?"

"I... sensitive?" Liver sputters. "Sensitive?!"

The other organs groan as Liver and Gallbladder keep squabbling, but Liver doesn't care. It pushes its hepatocytes into action, struggles through the delayed response.

Gallbladder opens up readily as the first flush of bile hits it, even as it tells Liver that, "You really are annoying, you know that?"

Anything, Liver thinks again, anything at all.

From the way Gallbladder bumps up against it, a wordless gesture of hello and thanks and sorry you were worried, it's pretty sure the feeling is mutual.

~~~

The End.