Genesis: Do Not Go Gentle
Summary: A post-Tithonus episode, where Scully's life hangs in the balance, and those who love her face the reality of life without her.
"Do not go gentle into that good night...
Rage, rage against the dying of the light"*
"Clamp the chest tube and watch it for an hour to make sure there's no air leak. Then get an upright chest x-ray in six hours. If there's no evidence of pneumothorax, and the lung is fully inflated, go ahead and pull it."
Marsh moved to the next bed in the intensive care unit, followed by residents, trauma fellows, and nurses. She picked up the patient's chart and began to peruse the vital signs. Suddenly, her shoulders stiffened and she carefully replaced the chart on top of the bedside table. She turned slowly and looked across the room. Mulder was standing just inside the double swinging doors. Wordlessly, she threaded her way through the surrounding staff members and went to face him. "Is she alive?"
Mulder didn't even stop to wonder how she knew. Somehow, he understood. "Yes, but it's bad."
Her pupils flickered and a faint shudder rippled through her body. A cold hand squeezed her heart. "Let's go up to the heliport. We'll use that to get to my plane."
When they arrived in the downtown Manhattan hospital, Scully was already in the operating room. Marsh simply displayed her FBI credentials and asked where the surgeon's locker room was. Ten minutes later she was standing beside the operating table looking down into Scully's open chest. The operating surgeon didn't even bother to look up.
"You the FBI doc?"
"Yes," Marsh replied calmly. *and her lover*
"You want to scrub in? It's a great case. The bullet went between the sixth and seventh ribs, through the lower lobe of the left lung, glanced off the descending aorta, and lodged in the posterior paraspinus muscles. It's amazing she didn't bleed to death - but then again, she almost did."
A bright geyser of arterial blood spurted up onto the surgeon's mask. "Shit -- she still might."
Marsh watched the surgeon's hands moving inside Dana's chest. Gently lifting the lung out of the way, applying fine clamps to bleeding vessels, cutting away the blast-damaged tissues. "You seem to have things under control." She paused for a moment. "It looks like you might have of bleeder up there behind the hilum," she said politely. Very calmly. The calm that comes from holding back terror with both hands.
The surgeon grunted softly and advanced the suction cannula deeper into the chest cavity, removing old clots and fresh blood from around the root of the lung. "Oh yeah, I see it now. I've been wondering where that damn oozing was coming from. Thanks."
Marsh studied the wound. The aorta was already controlled with clamps above and below the area of the puncture site. The surgeon was now placing a non-crushing clamp around the edges of the bullet wound in the lung. Fortunately, the projectile had missed the left ventricle and the heart was beating steadily. Dana's heart.
For the first time in hours, Marsh was aware of her own body. Her legs were trembling faintly, and her hands were shaking despite her clenched fists. For an instant, her vision blurred. That had never happened in the operating room. This was her arena. This was where she did battle, and had never been defeated. In this place, nothing was permitted to penetrate her consciousness, other than the body before her and the instruments in her hands. The world outside the four walls of the operating room receded into nothingness. Time stopped. Personal worries - personal pain - personal fears, disappeared. In this theater, at this table, she was invincible.
But not now. She was lost.
"I'll be in the lounge," she murmured. "If something changes, if you start to lose her --" She couldn't continue, she couldn't even put words to the deepest fear in her life.
How exactly would she continue? What would be the point? Was there something that she hadn't already accomplished that she would possibly care to live for? She had achieved every goal she had ever desired -- she had honed her skills to the highest level, she had practiced her profession with integrity and honor, and she had paid her dues to her country. She had even finally forgiven herself for Karen and made her own personal peace. For what other reason could she possibly get up in the morning other than to love this woman? How would she find a reason? Where would she find the desire? To envision a future without Dana was as impossible for Marsh as to envision not loving her. She supposed she could continue, perhaps even would continue, but the emptiness within would never abate. And if the pain that accompanied that desolation did not lessen, she would not survive.
She looked once more into the open thorax of her lover, and willed the fragile tissues to heal. Then she slowly turned and softly left the room.
Mulder found her leaning against the window, staring out into the night. It had been three hours since Dana was taken into the operating room. He had spent most of that time pacing in front of the double doors with the large red sign warning him not to enter. Beyond those doors was a world he could not experience. He was not allowed to see, he was not allowed to touch, he was not allowed to act; there was nothing he could do. He experienced a helplessness he had not known since those frozen moments when he watched Samantha drift away. It was hard enough accepting his own impotence. It was almost more than he could bear to watch Marsh's agony.
He couldn't tell her it would be all right, because he didn't know that was true. He couldn't tell her that she would survive the loss, because he couldn't imagine how. To him, the thought of losing Scully was a pain that struck so deep, he was choking on it. What must it be like for Marsh, to lose someone she had touched and loved and admitted into her body. He didn't know. He wasn't sure he wanted to know. Perhaps that was why there was no one for him like Marsh.
They had exchanged few words when Marsh piloted them from Memorial's rooftop to the air strip where her plane awaited them. When they lifted off, Mulder tried to say he was sorry.
"I was too late. I tried to warn her --"
Marsh stared straight ahead into the night sky. It was perfectly clear, and the horizon was littered with twinkling stars. "I believe you."
"She was working with a guy she didn't know. They split us up--"
Mulder shifted in the seat, wanting so much to comfort her, and not knowing the first thing to say. "She's strong, Marsh."
"She's flesh and blood, Mulder. You have no idea how fragile the body is. It betrays our spirits. We can struggle to overcome our weaknesses, but in the end we are mortal. She's strong; she's the strongest person I've ever known. But her strength is in her heart, and in her will. Her body is as vulnerable as a petal in a rain storm. It can be broken; it can be destroyed."
"I've seen her win before," Mulder persisted, needing her to believe as much as he needed to. "I've seen her dying, and I've seen her fight it. I've seen her come back when no one should have."
"How many times, Mulder? How many times can she do it?"
Mulder took a deep breath, and spoke from his heart. "She'll do it for you, Marsh. She'll do it because she loves you, and because she needs you, and because she wants to be with you more than anything
in the world. She's never had quite that reason before, and no matter what has happened to her, I believe that she'll live for you."
Marsh's hands tightened on the rudder, and she willed her arms not tremble. *Please God, let that be true. Let that be true, and I swear, I will love her with every breath, every moment - for the
rest of my life*
They gave them as much privacy as possible. At one end of the long rectangle which comprised the intensive care unit, there was a single isolation room. Granted, it had a large window which allowed the nurses and other personnel passing by to see the patient from almost anywhere in the room, but at least they were separated from the never-ending noise, bright lights, and sounds of the barely
living. The overhead fluorescents had been turned off, and most of the illumination came from the glow of the many monitors. The endotracheal tube which had exited from between Dana's lips, connected by a long flexible tube to the portable ventilator, had been removed shortly after surgery. Intravenous bags ran nutrient fluid into her veins, and chest tubes and catheters removed the ravages of trauma and injury. If anyone found it odd that the tall trauma surgeon from Washington D.C. sat silently by the bedside,
both hands clasped around the patient's motionless fingers, no one had time to comment on it.
Touch and go, they had said. She should have been dead at the scene, but for some reason she hung on. Morning was a lifetime away.
Marsh was unaware of conscious thought. Her mind registered the flickering of dials in the background, the steady rhythmic bleeping of the electrocardiogram machine, and the comforting rise and fall
of the compression devices on Dana's extremities. She watched Dana's eyelids flicker slightly as her body struggled. If she just looked at her face she could almost forget what was happening.
*She's so beautiful when she's sleeping. But she's not sleeping, is she? She might be though - her face is flawless, without that little crease that forms between her eyebrows when she's thinking, or angry. She's not making those soft little murmurs that she usually makes when she sleeps, but she seems very peaceful. I
wonder if that's good? Is she so peaceful because she can see a better place than here? Is she so still, so quiet, because she doesn't need to fight anymore? Is this what my patients are like just before they die?*
Marsh saw death every day. She had lived with it; she had held it in her hands; she had watched life slipping through her fingers. She had watched in agony as a lover died in her arms, but she had never seen death come so gently, so quietly, so respectfully. She wanted to shout, to make her stay. She wanted to grasp her fragile shoulders and shake her until the breath raged through her lungs,
and blood pounded through her body. She wanted to scream, "Don't leave me. I can't live without you." But she did not. Because if this is how death came, it did not seem to be the enemy. And if Dana chose to go this way, to go quietly in the night, she would not deny her that choice.
She hadn't realized she had slipped to her knees by the bedside, her forehead pressed against Dana's abdomen. With one arm, she reached around Dana's still form to hold her close. She hadn't meant to
beg, she meant to say goodbye, but in the end, she was no hero. *I love you with all my heart. I cannot imagine spending one day without you. I need you more than I need breath in my body. Please, Dana please --if you can hear me, please stay. I need you so much*
It might have been minutes, it could have been hours. Marsh felt a soft hand brush her cheek. She turned her face, her eyes bruised, her skin salty with long ago tears. Dana watched her with clear blue eyes.
"Are you really here?" Marsh whispered.
The faintest of smiles twitched at Scully's lips. "Yes, darling. And I intend to stay."
"That would be good," Marsh managed as she struggled to contain fresh tears. "That would be so very good."
Scully squeezed her hand, then closed her eyes, and returned to the battlefield yet again.
*Verse by Dylan Thomas
DISCLAIMERS: The characters of Scully, Mulder, Skinner and others/events introduced on the X-Files are the sole property of Chris Carter etc, and are used here without permission for entertainment, not for profit.