Title: Breathe For Two
Author: Syn
Category: Story - Angst
Rating: R (for adult subject matter)
Spoilers: For All Episodes up to US Season Five
Archive: Anywhere.
Feedback: Any kind is welcome.

Summary: Another life intersects with Scully's.

 


I know why people don't paint their walls red It's an ugly color when it dries; flat, dark and miserably claustrophobic It's harsh on the eyes, and sends warning signals tingling throughout your nerves, even when it comes from a relatively benign can of Dutch Boy.

When it comes from the blood of human bodies, it's much worse.

Even after six years with the Bureau, countless autopsies and murder scenes, I'm still not prepared for the slaughterhouse that greets me this blue-sky morning Six victims, two rooms. Immigrants from some sunny island, caught up in the promise of the New World, the land of opportunity Came here for something better, they found only desolation, poverty and the lure of drugs.

Easy money for one of them, death for the rest A deal gone sour perhaps, or even drug-inspired madness is what caused the mayhem I see Six bullet-ridden, slashed bodies, each one arranged in tableau more gruesome than the next.

There's Daddy in the bedroom, soiled undershirt soaked crimson Next comes a teenager, cowering at the foot of the bed, hands still covering her ears, probably to shut out the terrifying thunder of the guns In the tiny bathroom, two pre-teens lay, one sitting staring at me from the bottom of the tub, like a broken doll, the other slumped besides the toilet, his hand still clutching a bright, blue rubber ball.

An older female, maybe sixty, is face down on the dinner table, her hands still folded neatly in front of her, an attempt at dignity in the face of death The last victim, a young woman, is lying on the couch, her eyes wide, the horror still imprinted on her face She's arranged curiously I note, her body half on, half off the lounger and her index finger is rigored into a point.

"Well, isn't this nice," says Mulder, the irony thickening his voice, as he surveys the carnage with me. "Christ."

I don't reply, but move in to take a closer look at the dead woman on the couch I'm probably insane, but I'd swear there was something she was trying to say with her last gesture, that finger that's pointing into the dark space below her.

Carefully, I crouch and examine her hand A simple gold band adorns her ring finger, and her index finger stands out against the tight ball of her fist. Trying to avoid the smears of blood that surround me, I carefully kneel and turn my flashlight on.

Mulder walks into the back room Still talking "We might want to tell the coroner to bring two trucks for this What do you think, Scully?"

I peer through the dust and papers that litter the floor underneath the couch, wondering exactly what it is that I might be looking for, when I see it.

The unmistakable outline of a baby.

An infant girl, less than six weeks old. Nude; no blanket, no diaper, no protection of any kind. My hand trembles as I stretch for her, and I gently touch the little hand, wrapping five perfect fingers within the huge, clumsy grasp of my own.

The naked skin is still warm.

She lives.

Frantically, I pull her out from under the couch, yelling for help Mulder rushes back into the room, his eyes widening with horror as he sees my discovery I search for any signs of breathing, any sign of activity at all from the tiny creature clasped in my shaking hands.

I find none.

Mulder is already dialing 911 as I begin CPR Infant CPR, with its tiny puffs forced between baby lips, little nose pinched shut. Four fingers crossed, tapping velvet skin, springing back from ribs not quite yet hard-as-bone.

One, two, three ... tap One, two, three ... breathe.

Come on, baby Come on Give this pathologist something to write home to Mom about.

One, two, three ... tap One, two, three ... breathe.

Come on, baby. Show me how life is supposed to be, and that there's a point to all of it Give me something, give me hope that I'm not here on Fate's whim, that I have a purpose Show me that we both have a purpose, and that all this toil is not in vain.

Breathe, little baby, breathe Breathe for us both.

I suddenly hear a squeaking mewl, much like a kitten's cry and my heart soars in the most peculiar way.

She lives.

Mulder strips off his suit jacket and quickly tosses it to me I wrap her into the silk folds of its lining, her body becoming all but lost in pinstripes and long sleeves. I make sure her head can peek out from its top, and hold her carefully She's wheezing, I note immediately, and quickly become impatient for help to arrive.

I'm not the only one "Where the hell is that ambulance?" Mulder rants, nervously glancing from me to the window. "Jesus."

I don't reply, and a moment later, I gratefully hear the sirens approach I rock the infant slowly, carefully, making sure to watch each trembling breath she takes, each squeaking wheeze that tells me that she's still alive.

"Jesus," Mulder repeats, but softly this time, gently pulling at the collar of the impromptu bundling, leaning in to peer at the tiny face nestled there. "That was a good catch, Scully."

I wonder "I hope so," is all I reply.

He looks at me curiously, and then moves aside as the paramedics burst into the room, the tools of their trade in hand.


The next evening, I find her in a special ward of the hospital, dedicated to the abandoned and the sick.

There are no balloons to be seen in this room, no plush lambs or congratulatory cards dangling from the incubators No signs proclaiming "It's A Girl!" no nervous and delighted fathers beaming in through the windows It's a cold room, sterile in every sense, the only life being the tired shuffle of the nurses and the compulsive quaking and trembling of tiny limbs.

There's a rocking chair in the far corner, a place for the nurses to sit while they feed their charges It's done quickly, professionally, without any of the cooing and sweetness that naturally comes with such an activity You can't afford to get attached in this line of work, I know, but I wonder how that is possible.

The nurses let me in after I show them my badge, and I slip on the clumsy visitor's gown, not bothering to tie it at the neck I search only for a moment before I see her open crib, a clean, white diaper shining against her brown skin, tubes surrounding and covering her, a sea of plastic serpents.

Her eyes are open, her left one more than her right I peer closely, wondering if there are any signs of papilledema, but shake myself out it She has her own doctors here, you've done your job, Dana No need to get involved.

No need at all.

I take her small hand in my own once more, marveling at it's miniature perfection, when a nurse enters, and gives me a kind smile.

"It's her feeding time Would you like to do it?" she asked casually.

I look up, startled Do I want to feed her? At first I almost decline, but, then, think better of it I gave her life with my very breath, a few moments with a bottle wouldn't make that much of a difference

"Yes," I reply, and I take the bottle I maneuver into the rocker, and she carefully places the baby in my arms, unraveling tubes as she goes.

She smiles as she leaves. "If you need help, just ring the red button next to you and I'll come back."

I nod in reply, and put the bottle to tiny lips "Come on, baby Time for dinner."

She looks at me soulfully, with huge brown eyes, not quite focused correctly. I wave the nipple under her nose, trying to tempt her with the smell, and I nearly laugh at the unsavory grimace that crosses her face.

"Okay," I say "It doesn't smell that great But it tastes good I promise."

She perks up at the sound of my voice, and I rub the bottle to her lips. Slowly, she takes it in and soon, we are in sync, her little mouth suckling, as I rock in time to her intake. It's a shockingly natural motion, one with roots far more instinctual than I'd believed possible.

The dull white liquid slowly disappears and I hear a familiar voice to my left.

"Scully?"

It's Mulder, looking somewhat nervous, abashed, in backwards scrubs that are far too small for his lengthy frame "Scully, they're asking us for a name," he says "It's traditional for the officers who find an abandoned infant to give them some sort of ID."

I look up at him Surprised "Name?" I hadn't even thought of naming her.

I didn't dare.

Mulder shrugs, helplessly "I told them I'd ask you I really couldn't think of anything It's for ID purposes only."

What to name her? I look into her sleepy eyes, and at her brown cheeks, chubby and soft, when it comes to me.

"Baby X," I murmur, rocking slowly, watching the contents of the bottle disappear ounce by ounce "We can call her Baby X."

Mulder immediately seems grateful. Relieved "Yeah, that's fine, I guess. Okay, well, I'll be back at the hotel Just..." he hesitates.

"Yes, Mulder?" I ask, glancing up at him.

His voice turns gentle "Just come back when you're done here, Scully. Whenever you're ready."

"Of course," I reply. Crisply "I'll be back after this bottle."

He nods and leaves the room, pulling off the annoying scrubs as he goes I resume rocking and start to murmur to the tiny life in my arms, being very careful not to let words I'll regret slip from my tongue She struggles for a moment, and then drifts quietly into sleep, her mouth slipping away from the bottle I continue to rock and babble nonsense for a moment, but, sensing something, I look back up Toward the huge windows.

Only to see Mulder's sad eyes, peering at us through the glass His expression is pensive and at that moment, something akin to shared pain passes between us. Quickly, I avert my gaze and turn it back to the sleeping baby in my arms.

And with a sigh, I slowly reach for the red button at my side.


She died while I was out on a case.

It took me over an hour to find out, with the nurses humming their way through the charts. Baby Jane Doe, was it? No? Baby Sylvia, she was found in the garbage outside of City Hall Is that her? Or Baby Claudia, perhaps? The Bathroom Baby?

Baby X, I repeat, for the fifth time Baby X I found her under a couch, in a bloody room, somewhere on the wrong side of Hell She had ten perfect fingers, and a head full of soft, dark hair I breathed my own life into her, and her brown eyes opened and looked into mine, stealing a small piece of my soul.

"Baby X? Oh, we're sorry, Agent Scully We lost her three days ago."

"Oh, I see," I reply, seeing nothing at all.

The voice turns apologetic. "She didn't really have much a chance, the poor thing. We lose so many of them, every day. Again, I'm very sorry, Agent Scully. I know it's easy to get attach..."

I flip the phone shut without saying goodbye.

A week later, I find out that she's already been cremated and buried, in a Potter's Field somewhere in south Virginia I buy a small bunch of flowers, daises mostly, from a street vendor, and take the afternoon off.

The drive to Virginia isn't lonely, I have the radio blasting the entire way there, and when that becomes annoying, I turn on Bach When he becomes too much, I turn on Mozart, and let him take me down the tree-lined roads.

When I get there, there are no signs, no iron gates or well-manicured paths leading to neatly kept graves There are no headstones or monuments, no tiny white crosses or little plaster lambs to mark the children's graveyard.

There's nothing. Nothing but a bulldozer and a long line of pasteboard coffins. All I see are fresh mounds of dirt, dotting, what could be, for all intents and purposes, a giant parking lot.

Suddenly, I feel very foolish, the flowers in my hand looking gaudy and pointless.

I turn, red-faced, back to my car I back out of the field, and leave down the same road I came There's no music on my loudspeakers now, there's no sound at all except for the crackle of cellophane crunching beneath my fist I reach past the plastic, and crush the flowers underneath, and feel their petals become damp and soft between my fingers.

I roll down the window, and let the breeze in I take deep gulps of the country air, but it doesn't seem to be enough Not enough for the tears that are threatening to swallow me whole, not enough for my lungs which are suddenly desperate and needful beyond their capacity No, there's not enough air, not enough air in this entire world There can never enough...

For a woman who is still breathing for two.

THE END

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