Title: The Infinite Love Contained In One So Small
Author: Angst
Written: June 2000
Spoilers: Requiem (egads, another post-Requiem story! Sorry
Rating: PG
Category: MSR, SA
Keywords: Scully angst (major)
Disclaimer: My name is not Chris Carter. I gain nothing but personal satisfaction from this.

Summary: Scully (perhaps wracked with surging pregnancy hormones) is guilt and grief stricken when she almost convinces herself that she can't care for her unborn child alone.

Author's Note: Please forgive any spelling transgressions or other errors as I wrote this story in one sitting with no advantages of a beta. :-) (More notes at end)


I don't know why I did it. It just seemed like a good idea at the time. I was lonely, though I loath to admit it. More than that, I think I said yes because I felt out of practice when it came to caring for a life so wholly dependent on me. Looking back on my life, I haven't had the greatest luck keeping things alive. Not even house plants, though I'm not sure if that counts. As far as I can tell, you have to be some kind of Martha Stewart School of All Things Domestic graduate to keep plants alive. Either that or Gregor Mendel himself, but then, didn't he only deal with peas? That's a vine of sorts. Give them soil and light and look out world, and god help any other plant nearby because the tendrils of the vines will choke the life out of them.

... .What was I saying?

Oh yes. Keeping things alive, which I believe I have established at being less than perfect at, which is ironic in a way, being that I am a doctor. In my defense I would just like to point out, that in all the cases of loss while in my care since I've been an adult, they have not been due to neglect on my part. Quequeg is a good example. He pulled his leash from my grip and ran after a hungry alligator for goodness sake. I try not to think about the fact that he was a five pound Pomeranian. My hand was numb with cold. I wasn't expecting him to run. The plastic of the retractable lease was wet and it slipped.

Oh god help me, I'm still trying to make excuses. Face the fact, Dana. You weren't paying attention. Your grip was relaxed and you let him go. You let his leash go and he died. He died because of you.

I need some more tissues.

I hold the clump of fresh tissues to my face as the renewed flood of tears flow into their soft, absorbent fibers. I heave tremendous sobs and I quietly cry out his name.

"Quequeg..."

So why did I do it? Why did I tell me friend Kate that I would take him? God knows how I lost Quequeg.

What made me think I wouldn't mess this one up too? Maybe because it wasn't a dog. Maybe it was because I was doing so good at keeping Mulder's fish alive.

That did it. I let myself think his name and now I feel like I'm going to be sick. I curl up on the bed where I have been sitting next to him, gently stroking his face as he labors at taking his last breaths.

He is so tiny. But he doesn't fear me, which is the most amazing part. Since the four months that I've had him, he has actually grown to recognize me. He would even seek me out for food, boldly pushing the door to his cage open and bounding to couch, climbing up my leg in order to pull himself up into my lap.

He scared me to death the first time he got out of his cage, but I soon learned his intentions and he grew bold, so I let him run free when I was home. He never got into trouble, and I always kept an eye on him. Apart from that, I paid him little mind. I thought...

...I'm such a fool.

Maybe it's the hormones associated with being pregnant.

Maybe not.

I just never thought I'd fall in love with him ... That I'd end up caring what happened to a pet rat.

There. I've said it. He is a rat. Nothing but a flea bitten, dirty old rat.

No. He isn't that. He's clean. In fact, cleaning himself was an activity he participated in quite religiously. He would use his little front paws to wipe his face and ears clean, and then he would lick his entire body until every hair was in place. He even took great care to ensure his tail - his ugly, snake-like tail - was perfectly groomed.

I would sometimes find myself just watching him as he engaged in one of his frequent cleaning rituals. I soon found myself transfixed. There was something soothing about watching him do it. It was almost hypnotic. One time, as he sat back on his rear legs, his upper body twisted around as he stretched to reach his back, I reached out and delicately hooked his tail with my finger. I gently ran my finger down the underside of his tail and marveled at how warm and soft it was. Not cold and snake-like at all save for the fact that as I came to the end of his tail, it reflexively curved ever so slightly around my finger. The scientist in me recognized the trace prehensile character trait still evident in this mammal whose ancestors once took solely to the trees.

I ran my finger under his tail again, lifting it up slightly as I did so, and it curled against my finger each time. Then I noticed his face. He had stopped his grooming and sat patiently, watching my hand as it stroked his tail. He did not seem bothered or impatient. He was simply watching. When I pulled my hand away, he went back to grooming.

Why had he stopped to watch me? I wondered. Was he curious about my actions? Or was he simply waiting for me to stop, because I was messing up his balance? I had laid down on the floor next to him, my cheek on the soft carpet, and watched him finish his bath. When he was satisfied, he sniffed my nose, gave it a quick little lick, and sauntered of to his cage for something to eat, carefully holding his tail off the floor as he went.

And this is how I am lying now, only I am with him on my bed, my face inches from his as he struggles with a labored breath. The tears are running down my face sideways and are pooling in my ear, but I could care less. I gently stroke the side of his face and he closes his eyes, leaning into my caress ever so slightly.

"Sweet boy," I sob. "Tiny angel...It's okay to let go, sweet one..."

All I want for him now is to fall into a peaceful sleep from which he will never wake up. My gentle stroking brings him closer to slumber, but no more closer to death it seems.

He's a fighter. I know it in my heart that would he could have the choice, he'd want to live. He enjoyed his life, such that it was. A life free of worries and full of simple pleasures.

But he has only one pleasure now and that is the gentle strokes I place along the sides of his long face, and it's not enough. He's in pain, and I realize that I have to do something.

I wait until he falls into a light slumber and I carefully roll off of the bed. I go into my bathroom and pull open one of the drawers next to the sink and look for the prescription sleeping pills I remembered seeing the other day. When I find them I check the date. They expired a few months ago, but I know they still have potency.

I go into the kitchen and get a small glass from the cupboard. I fill it with about one teaspoon of water. I then proceed to empty one capsule into the glass and then I throw in a dash or two...or three of sugar and stir. When the contents have all melted, I return to the bathroom where a manage to rustle up a syringe. I suck the laced sugar water from the glass into the syringe and return to my bed.

I try not to jostle the bed as I move to sit down on it, but the ever growing bulge that is my unborn child causes me to flop down a little and he wakes up. He doesn't even bother to move.

I lean forward and rest myself on my elbows in front of him and offer him the end of the syringe. He surprises me and takes a strong grasp of it and begins to lick. I quickly push the contents into his mouth before he can register the bitter taste that the sugar may not have been able to mask. When there is nothing left, I pull it away and his gaze turns listlessly away. His eyes are unfocused as he lies slightly hunched, holding his head up shakily as if he still refuses to surrender to his final good-night.

I stroke the side of his face and he finally closes his eyes. The tears flow unabated from my red, swollen eyes as he lets his chin come to rest on the blanket beneath him. I don't stop stroking his face and the spot behind his ears that he loves so much to be scratched, not even when his breathing slows and eventually, mercifully, stops.

After a few moments of his absolute stillness, I give in to the overwhelming sobs of guilt and grief. I cover him with my hand and can feel him growing cold already. I bury my face into the blanket nest to his lifeless form and scream ...and scream...and scream. The wordless wails soon become something more tangible as I cry out, "Justin, I'm sorry! I am so, so sorry!"

I failed again.

I couldn't keep Justin alive. What about this child?

"Mulder," I cry. "Oh god, Mulder, I need you! I can't do this by myself!"

At some point, I have the presence of mind to get up and wrap Justin's body on a small towel. I carry him to the incinerator chute, then change my mind. I will not toss him down this cold, dark shaft. So I take him to the basement instead where I place him in the fire and stand back to watch him burn, the energy released from his tiny body ascending up the chimney, up to heaven.


When I get back upstairs, the phone is ringing. I contemplate not answering it, but decide against it. Not answering my phone now-a-days tends to bring an enclave of well-meaning, yet at times irritating hordes to my door in the form of Lone Gunmen or an Assistant Director or, at worst, Mom.

"Hello."

"Dana? It's Kate. You called me yesterday, but I just got home from Stockbridge."

I sit down shakily on the couch.

"Dana? Dana are you there?"

"I'm here."

Now Kate is starting to sound worried. "Are you okay? What is it?"

"Justin died."

She gasps softly. "Oh..."

We're both silent for a moment. Kate breaks the silence, "Well...He was old. For a rat."

A little bell chime suddenly goes off inside my head. "How old was he?"

"Three and a half. I've heard of domestic rats living as long as six years, but the typical life span is an average of three years."

I close my eyes against the fresh onslaught of tears. Kate must have heard my slight sniffle, though I tried to suppress it.

"Oh, god, Dana, I'm sorry. I would never have asked you to take him if I knew. I know what you've been going through lately."

"You didn't know then."

"I'm sorry."

"You didn't know," I repeated.

We talk a few minutes more and when I hang up with her I go to the living room window and open it wide, breathing in the warm D.C. Summer evening air. The breeze seems to blow through me, cleansing me of any lingering guilt. He was old, Dana, and you never did anything to let him down. Not even when you put him to sleep.

I put my hand on my abdomen as I feel my child roll over. I push in slightly and am rewarded by a slight outward pressure as he pushes back with what I assume is his foot. (When did I start thinking of the baby as a he? I should stop doing that until I know).

"I can do this, can't I, Justin?" I look up at the stars. The tears begin anew. I don't want to find out if I can do this alone. "Oh god, Mulder, please come home."

 

-end


Author's Final Notes:

Dedicated to the real Justin, who, at the time of the writing of this story, lay dying of cancer. I cried the entire time I wrote this. Never underestimate the power of love, even when the being you love is small enough to curl up and sleep in your hands.

 

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