“Mal?” She jumped at the sound of her name, interrupting her train of thought.
“Hmm?” Mal turned to Eva, who was rummaging around in the fridge.
“I asked if you wanted a beer, querida. Twice.”
“Umm…sure, thanks.” She fidgeted with one of the throw pillows, looking down at the floor.
Eva sat down next to her on the couch, handing her the bottle. “I can tell when you’re in your head. So, spill. Is it about the bodies?”
Mal frowned trying to figure out how to put her thoughts into words. “Yes…well, not really. It’s about ASI,” she paused. “And Aaron. There is no way a ballistic trauma victim who was shot five times in the torso should be walking around less than a week after the incident. Not with even with the most advanced conventional treatment.” She got up and started to pace the small living room.
Eva watched her from the couch. “I saw it happen. He went down and there was so much blood. In L.A., you get used the sound of a gun. Doesn’t mean you get used to seeing it, ya know? I drove Natalie to the hospital…she was really shaken up.”
“Yeah, I called her yesterday to check in. Apparently she’s staying with Aaron until he gets back on his feet. Although from what she told me, he’s doing a lot better. She said that he looked better than he had before getting shot, and that he was eating enough food for two people. With the amount of pain meds they were giving him, he should be experiencing nausea. I think…I think they gave him some sort of supernatural treatment. That’s the only explanation. He should have been dead five times over.”
“But he’s not. He’s alive. You don’t think that’s a good thing?” Eva asked accusingly.
“Of course I’m glad he’s alive! That’s not the point. ASI is doing some amazing things, and their staff is knowledgeable. I just worry that they are so focused on how to harness the supernatural that they forget that our world is governed by conventional science. Medications and treatments take years to develop; there are endless control studies that need to be done, variables to be taken into account. Like, what if his treatment interacted with his anti-oneiric serum? He could start having visions again, and they might be even more psychologically traumatic than they were before.”
“But you don’t know that…”
“That’s exactly it. We don’t know. He could drop dead from some complication caused by whatever they gave him. He’d just be a blip of data for them on a study that they should have done beforehand. Eva…I don’t think I could go through that again.”
“Can’t go through what again?” Eva asked softly, gesturing for Mal to sit down next to her.
Mal sniffled, flopping down on the cushions before drawing her knees to her chest and wrapping her arms around herself. “When I was a resident, a doctor prescribed a brand new medication to a patient. I had concerns about the course of treatment because she didn’t have any of the symptoms that this medication was approved for. Plus she was having side effects. I called him out on it and was kicked out of the program. Three days later, I was unzipping her body bag.”
Eva didn’t say anything, but she pulled Mal toward her. Mal buried her face in her neck, inhaling her scent.
After a moment she said, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah I’m fine. I’ve come to terms with it. Just like I need to come to terms with this. I hate the idea of my friends being guinea pigs, but I think I’d hate losing them over my own hangups more. As much as I wish I could do something to change their processes, I need to accept that I can’t, or I’ll drive myself crazy.”
Eva let her go, so she could look Mal directly in the face. “Seriously baby, I’m surprised you haven’t already. You think about things way too hard. Of course you can change things there.”
“But I don’t have access to any of the data. I could ask Aaron if he’d release his records to me…but even still.”
“So what? That ASI bitch was pawing at you because of some paper you wrote.” Mal was going to interrupt her, insisting that that ‘ASI bitch’ had a name, but for the life of her she couldn’t remember what it was. “Just write another one. Show them there’s a better way to do things. Don’t let what they’re doing wrong stop you from doing it right.”
Mal stared at her for a moment, letting her words sink in. She felt a renewed sense of purpose, and a rush of gratitude to Eva, who somehow always knew the right thing to say. “How did I ever survive without you?”
“I have no idea. You were absolutely hopeless. I put the moves on you for months and you had no clue.”
Mal remembered the day that Eva had strode into her lab and confessed her feelings. So much had changed since then, but somehow she managed to keep this amazing, capable, sexy woman by her side. She looked at Eva and pulled her closer, affection warming her from head to toe.
“I’m glad you came and set me straight.” she murmured, running her fingers through Eva’s hair. “I couldn’t imagine facing the darkness without you.”
Eva kissed her softly. “We are going to stop that son of a bitch Carver, and then you are going to make the world a better place.”
Mal burst out laughing, and Eva frowned at her. “I thought that was romantic!”
“It was!” she said trying to get her giggles under control. “But I hate to break it to you babe, Doctor Skaar already used that line. But don’t let that bother you; he’s not exactly my…type.”
Eva pushed her down on the couch, pinning her arms above her head, dark eyes flashing. “Does it work?” she whispered hotly into her ear.
Mal grinned, knowing exactly where this was headed. “Absolutely.”