As If From Nothing by Daryl Ann
Chapter 7: As if From Nothing
Conflict reigned as the joy he first felt at the news of Katie's first step toward recovery was replaced by a sense of dread.
Ronon agreed to sit with Katie until Rodney could return. Dr. Keller assured them both that the medication and exhaustion would keep her asleep for several more hours.
After several starts and stops to look back at Katie's prone form and Ronon slouched in the chair near her bedside, he forced himself through the infirmary door and into the hallway.He made his way to Elizabeth's office, his mind racing ahead of him despite his attempts to reassure himself that it may not be bad news at all.
Arriving at Elizabeth's office, he braced himself in the doorway. His feet, formerly on auto-pilot, refused to budge from the spot. Frozen dread rose from his chest and paralyzed his vocal chords as he recognized the look on the diplomat's face as one she had tried to school into a neutral expression but had failed miserably.
"Rodney, how is Dr. Brown doing? Dr. Keller tells me her prognosis is good."
Lack of response from the scientist flooded her with concern, had she been misinformed?
"Uh, yes,.. yes." Icy cold fear ran through him, realization sinking in that Elizabeth had not addressed the reason she had sent for him. "Elizabeth.. Is there...news from my sister?" There, he's gotten that much out. He didn't know how much more conversation he would be capable of at the moment.
"It's Jeannie, Rodney. She's been trying to get in touch with you. When she couldn't get through, she arranged through through the SCG a direct conference link." Elizabeth turned to look at the small screen, then back at Rodney. "It should be ready in a minute or so."
The nighmare he'd had forced its way back from his memory with a vengeance. He nearly swayed in the doorway as his head swam with images of his little niece being closed into the coffin.
"What did she say?" If only he had walked a little slower, taken deeper breaths, calmed down a little before coming in...if he'd only...this couldn't be happening, could it? Nightmares don't come true...well, maybe not such outlandish ones... and maybe not on Earth...
"Rodney, she seemed upset...she tried to hide it, but I'm pretty sure she'd been crying."
Oh God, no. Not this. ...No. He fought the urge to bolt from where he stood, anything so he wouldn't have to face the news from Earth that a precious life had been lost.
He steeled himself and tentatively approached the monitor. Jeannie's face appeared as the link was established.
Jeannie looked tired, as exhausted as he felt. There were dark circles under her eyes, her cheeks still wet with trails of tears.
Both addressed the other at the same time.
"I'm so...sorry. I know it's too little...too late." Rodney's voice broke as he choked out the words. "I just...I just ... wish I could have helped..."
"Mer..." Jeannie's soft voice interrupted Rodney's floundering appologies.
"Oh God, Jeannie, she was so..."
"Mer! Listen to me! It's okay! Jeannie sputtered through the hot tears coursing down her face.
A galaxy away, Rodney raised his head, his hands partially covering his eyes and forehead, grief emmenating from every nuance of his posture. He's been unable to grieve the way most did when Carson died, now the slump of his shoulders and the way his body had begun to tremble seemed to indicate a complete turn around.
"NO! Jeannie it's not okay! I'm not okay, and I don't believe for one minute that you...Jeannie?...was she ...smiling? He stared back at the face filling the screen in bewilderment and growing concern.
"What can I do to help?" Tears and emmotion were kept feebly at bay for the moment by his sister's obvious need for support and understanding.
"Help?...Oh, Mer..." as Jeannie sniffed and brushed away the most recent tears, her face lit with a smile and she actually laughed. "I'm happy! I can't help it, I cry when I'm happy too. It's just that it's so overwhelming, what's been going on here, and I kind of lost it when I finally made contact with you. It's a miracle, Mer.. she's okay! Madison's going to be fine...and before you say anything..." and the tears began anew as she explained to her stunned brother the scientist through tears and pinched voice that Madison now showed no sign of the leukemia that so recently threatened to take her from them.
Extensive labwork and tests had been run, all with good results. By the time Jeannie finished explaining recent events at the Miller household, Rodney felt surreally numb. He sat motionless, staring at the screen.
"Say something, Mer. You're starting to freak me out a little here."
That's all it took to jolt Rodney out of his stupor..."I'm freaking you out?...You're the one who had me thinking ...
"What did you think Mer, that she was...why would you..." suddenly realization dawned as to why her brother seemed so stricken...Oh...
I..um...I have to go now Jeannie.."He turned his head as his voice cracked under the relief of the pressure of the past few days. "Tell Madison...tell her...'
"I know Mer, ...Madison knows too."
The emmotion he was used to keeping barricaded behind the wall of science and snark continued to disregard all of his efforts, so he quickly signed off, promising to visit as soon as he was able.
Turning to find he was alone in Dr. Weir's office, he could no longer hold back the overflow he'd kept at bay for weeks.
"It's really sweet of you to spend so much time with me, Rodney."
"Yes, well, I'm a sweet guy' you know." Rodney grinned from ear to ear as he began to push Katie's wheelchair through the hallways of Atlantis. Her recovery had been slow but sure. She was still too weak to walk unassisted, and the botany lab was several levels from the infirmary.
"Where are we going today?" She tipped her head back toward her wheelchair escort as she smiled up at him, pleased to be out of the infirmary for awhile again today.
"I thought you might want to check up on your ferns, see how the little guys are doing. You know, I hear the reasearch is back in full swing."
"I would really love to. I haven't had a chance to touch base with anyone from my team since... well,...the planet."
He thought back to the conversation he'd had with Katie the day before. He'd begun to tell her about the situation with Madison, and how he remembered her saying her research on the ferns could lead to a cure for leukemia. Katie then echoed some of Rodney's thoughts on hope for his sister's only child. The ferns had shown promise from the start. A cure, she explained, was most likely months or even years away depending on what challenges or set-backs presented themselves. Medical staff had interrupted their visit and shooed Rodney away so that Katie could get some recuperative sleep. Once the worst was over, visiting hours had been reinstated, no exceptions.
"I have a surprise for you." Rodney turned the chair in the direction of the botany lab. "Everyone's been working around the clock to keep the ferns alive. They're actually doing great, and you were right. The enzyme is strongest in the spores. Your team has isolated a crucial componant,and progress has been faster than you can imagine. Really, it's amazing, even for me...and it's so important..." Rodney's voice trailed off as they arrived outside the lab.
"Wait." Katie's voice was full of concern. "Rodney, you aren't saying.." She re-started her question not knowing if she really wanted to hear the answer. "Your niece...Madison...how is she doing now?"
Rodney had been almost manic in his interest toward the ferns and the life saving potential of the enzyme. "Rodney...is she...is Madison responding to treatment on Earth?"
He placed a hand on Katie's warm shoulder and breathed a heavy sigh before beginning. Almost reverant in his explanation, he recounted his recent communication with Jeannie, and ended with "We just don't know what happened."
Katie smiled serenely. "It must be a miracle Rodney, remission is sometimes permanent when it happens like this."
"You know, I've tried to believe that it could be something we don't yet understand, I even had an impulsive thought that the team had somehow come through with the fern 'cure'..for a split second anyway, before I came to my senses and realized it couldn't be possible yet...I'm a scientist, Katie...I just can't go to places that defy any feasible explanation. But your ferns...now there's a sientific contribution we can make for Madison... and for others of course. I mean, in case..you know..in case she...has a lapse...in her remission."
"If she ever has a relapse." Katie took Rodney by the hand and urged him to step around the chair so that he was facing her. He knelt in front of her, her face seemed aglow with serenity.
"Rodney, there's a reason I've been working so hard on this project, why my work has been so important to me."
"I know, you want to help people. Frankly, I really admire what you're doing Katie...It's makes me think about the direction of my own work."
"Yes, I want to help other people...the thing is...I want them to feel the joy of remission...to give them back their lives. I..." She hesitated as she thought about what she was about to say next. "I want to give something back...to share whatever I can of the miracle that I recieved myself... a long time ago."
"Wh...what? Katie, are you...I mean, you?...You had leukemia?"
"I know, it's still as amazing to me now as it was then. Maybe even more, now that i'm an adult, and a scientist.
Rodney wore a stunned expression as she continued. "I've never had a recurrence, Rodney...ever...and it's been a long time. I'd love to say that Madison won't either, but none of us can know that."
"So you were like Madison? It just disappeared?"
"No, not just like that...I went through a lot of treatments before they told us there was nothing more they could do." Katie's facial expression dropped at the recalled dark memories. "It wasn't very pleasant at all. It took a long, long time...and I'm really thankfull to be here at all...It was a miracle for me...and for Madison."
"Well, I don't know about a miracle, but maybe something science doesn't understand yet, medical science being just fractionally above voodoo."
Katie suppressed one of her knowing smiles. "Rodney, I believe it was Albert Einstein who said ' There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.' I guess I just like to believe there are such things as miracles. I feel so...blessed, especially now, and especially since what happened ..." her face clouded over as memories of the attack on the planet came slamming back unbidden. A lone tear trickled from the corner of one eye and blazed a trail for others that threatened to follow. As it reached the line of her jaw, Rodney reached out and gently brushed it away with his thumb.
"But you are here, Katie. You beat the leukemia, you beat that damned giant bug. You're one of the strongest people I've ever met...possibly the strongest for putting up with me. And the fact that you're also smart, and beautiful...well,... Katie...I'm so glad you are here. Strong doesn't mean you have to pretend it doesn't bother you. I mean...you're a survivor...in so many ways...but if you need anything...you know, just someone to talk to..." Rodney let his sentence trail off as he was overcome with a warm sense of awe and contentment that in spite of everything that had happened in his world recently. His family ...no, his families... both on Earth, and on Atlantis were going to be alright...maybe even more than alright.
Katie's face beamed as she smiled, blushing. "I will."
Rodney leaned in and kissed her lightly. "So...you're beautiful...and strong...and you can quote Einstein...Ms Brown, I think I'm in love.
Katie's blush deepened in hue, and before she could form a response, he stood nervously and turned to open the door to the botany lab. "Now, let's go check on some more miracles in the making, shall we?"
THE END... hope you enjoyed it!