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PATIENT ZER0 1/4

posted in 24_fanfic

Title: Paitent Zero, Chapter 1
Author: marinw
Characters: Jack/Sunny Macer
Rating: PG
Summary: Post Day 7 AU. Jack displays some interesting symptoms.
Spoilers: for 7.16. If you haven’t seen that episode, you may want to skip this.
Disclaimer: 24 is the Property of the Fox Production Company, the provider of fresh, gooey Canon.
A/N: Something to tide us over until Monday. Denile is a river in Egypt. Or Sangala. Thanks to my super-quick beta, cybertoothtiger. And thanks as well to kcountess, who tolerated my delusional happy ravings on the topic on her LJ.

“Jack, I need you to think.”

Jack wiggled his toes for the tenth time that hour. The fact that his extremities still responded to his commands was reassuring. There wasn’t any loss of sensation. On the contrary, everything hurt.

Even his eyes hurt as he looked about his sparsely furnished private room in the infectious deisese ward of West Arlington Hospital. They had given him another set of white scrubs, this time minus the long-sleeved t-shirt. He was chilly, but pulling up the neatly-folded blanket at the edge of his bed was an act of surrender he wasn’t quite ready for.

He could still think clearly. Sort of.

An IV needle attached to a bag a saline pierced the face of the Virgin. This was the only piece of medical gear he was hooked up to. For now.

“I’m trying to think. I’m not sure what you want from me.”

“Your medical records are rather incomplete. So you need to tell me where you’ve been. I do know that you spent time in China,” Dr. Macer said. Jack liked that she didn’t patronize him.

“I was being held in military prison.”

“And after that?”

“I spent a few months in Los Angeles. Then I went lots of places: Croatia. India. Kazakhstan. Sangala.”

“Sangala! That can’t be a coincidence. I know you’re not feeling well, but I need you to concentrate. When were you there?”

“A few months ago. I left the day Juma took over.”

Jack’s voice had grown weak and raspy. His throat was dry, but just looking at the carafe of water on the bedside table made him nauseated. Hence the IV.

“When you were there, how was your health overall? Did you ever get sick?”

“Yeah. A few weeks after I arrived. I was staying at a school run by a friend of mine. I had a high fever. I did get pretty sick. I didn’t want to go to a hospital, so my friend got a doctor to look at me.”

“And what did this doctor say?”

“He told me I picked up some sort of intestinal bug. He gave me some antibiotics but they didn’t help.”

“What else?”

“I don’t really remember. I was pretty out of it.”

“Please. Anything you remember. The smallest detail could be helpful.”

“The doctor gave me some other medication. It helped with the pain and it made me sleep. After a day or so the fever broke. I was pretty run down for about a week, but after that I was fine.”

“I need to know more. What was your friend’s name? We’ll contact him.”

“Carl Benton. He’s dead. And I don’t remember the name of the doctor who treated me. Like I said, I was pretty out of it. I’m sorry.”

“Dammit.”

“Why is this important?”

Dr. Macer took a deep breath. “Jack, I don’t want to give you any false hope. But the symptoms you’re exhibiting: the fever, the muscle pain. Even your white blood cell count. This isn’t how this strain of Creutzfeldt–Jakob’s presents itself."

"But I'm Patient Zero. So how do you know how it presents?"

"Which is why it’s too early to say anything definitive. But you may be producing antibodies.”

Jack gave Macer half a smile. “So there is a treatment. You can use me to make a vaccine. ”

“Maybe. Are you usually susceptible to stomach bugs?”

“No. I almost never get sick.”

“Hmmmm. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t any ordinary gatro-intentional infection you picked up in Sangala. You may have been exposed to a microscopic amount of an earlier strain of the virus itself.”

“I only heard about the village through a rumor. I never went there.”

“But you may have come in contact with something that had. A tool. A peice of cloth. Anything.”

“The chances of that happening are…”

“Astronomically low. The only other explanation is that you have some sort of natural immunity. Those scars my technicians saw earlier. They’re impossible to ignore. Are those from China?”

“Yeah.” Jack squirmed slightly and wished he was wearing something with long sleeves. It was amazing how self-conscious he still was. Even after all this time.

“If you survived those burns and lacerations without proper medical attention then you must have one hell of an immune system.”

“So what do we do now?”

“We wait. The autoimmune process is not without its own problems. You’re still going to get pretty sick. If your fever gets too high the resulting delirium may be indistinguishable from dementia. So we need to observe you closely.”

“I understand.”

“In the meantime, we can make you more comfortable. I’ll have the nurse give you something for the pain and nausea, and I’ll also order a sedative so you can get some rest. But that’s all. If I’m right about this, we have to let everything else runs its course.”

“And if you’re wrong, it won’t matter.”

“That’s not true. Either way, you can teach us a great deal.”

“It’s fine,” Jack mumbled.

“There is some room for optimism here, but I can’t make any promises. You may be immune. You may not. Right now all we have is a theory.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
cybertoothtiger
Apr. 2nd, 2009 10:54 pm (UTC)
Lovely layout! You space cadet, you.
marinw
Apr. 2nd, 2009 10:57 pm (UTC)
*Preens* I've had my eye on it for ever so long.

I should develop my coding skills so I can make may own layouts.
kaitlia777
Mar. 22nd, 2010 10:48 pm (UTC)
Ohhh, I love this fic! I read it this fall, when I was basically devouring 24 fic (I had just started watching Mom's DVD's and got hooked)
marinw
Mar. 22nd, 2010 11:17 pm (UTC)
*waves* This is an AU now, so thanks for writing.
kaitlia777
Mar. 22nd, 2010 11:21 pm (UTC)
Yup, I like AU's...sometimes more than cannon, lol! My longest 24 fic (still a WIP) is a season 6 AU
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )