Disclaimer: The Stargate Universe and characters do not belong to me, it/they belong to other people who actually make money off of it. Pheww, I'm glad we cleared that up. Now, I'll just be borrowing them for a little while.
WARNING: This story contains imagery of a deceased newborn child. It is not violent or overly graphic, but it is there. You have been warned.
Author Notes: You do not need to read the Treading Water stories/universe that I have created to read this story. It can be read as a complete stand alone. However, this story is an Alternate Universe (AU) to my Treading Water series (which would make it an AU to an AU :P ), which means that it will have a few certain recurring themes and you may enjoy it more if you have read the series.
A question was asked in a review (and in a PM which I accidently deleted before replying to and feel awful about) in regards to the Treading Water Series, and it went like this: What would have happened if Rodney had had a water birth instead of being born in the air (like most of us are).
I apologize for not remembering your names, but this is my response and I hope you enjoy it :)
And as always, a big thanks goes out to Laryn for being my wonderful beta!
Summary: "Meredith would have been a miracle, a monumental advancement in genetic science," she announced, and it was true, but there was no 'would have been' about it: He simply was. TREADING WATER universe AU.
Genre: Sci-Fi, drama, tragedy, angst.
(AU of TREADING WATER Series)
"Okay, easy now. Just lay back slowly," the nurse instructed, hand pressing gently into the woman's shoulder to help her lean back. The woman resisted, blue eyes piercing as she reached out and gripped the tubs edges, holding herself rigid and refusing to budge. Her breathing was heavy, forced into a deep rhythm as she sucked air in through her nose and exhaled forcefully through her lips.
"Mary, you need to lay back," the nurse insisted gently, hand still firmly gripping her shoulder, pushing again. Mary shifted, one hand splashing down into the warm water, trying to find purchase on the bottom of the tub she lay in. It became tangled in the hospital gown that she still wore, floating around in the water, and she jerked it back above the surface and then grabbed at it around her neck, pulling.
"Get this thing off me!" She snarled, and then groaned and squirmed, spilling the tubs contents over the side, splashing the nurse.
"All right Mary, we're taking it off," the nurse nodded and a new set of gloved hands entered the mix, untying the knots and pulling the soaked material away, leaving a wet trail on the tiled floor as it was disposed of across the room. Mary followed it with her eyes a moment, sweat coating her face, before she finally let out a sigh and leaned back as the nurse had instructed. The water came up to her shoulders and she splashed out, gripping the tubs edges again. The bright lights of the room left her with little dignity as she lay there with people milling all about, and she couldn't have cared less.
Her eyes latched onto the two doctors that came in from one of the side rooms, dressed from head to toe in hospital blues, special gloves traveling all the way to their shoulders and masks resting over their mouths. Another aid came in behind them, pushing a table with tools they may or may not need. She glared at them, and when they looked back her glare turned into worry.
"It's too early," she huffed out, and leaned her head back to stare at the ceiling, ignoring the nurse as they attached special wires to monitor her vital signs. "A month too early. I should be in a hospital," she ground out and glared at them. The lead doctor looked back at her as the other set up just to his side.
"You know the arrangements that were made Mary, and you know that we are far more capable of handling this then the hospital," his voice was gentle, his eyes kind as he waited for her to nod her agreement. She continued to glare and he sighed. "You knew the risks," he reminded her softly and she squeezed her eyes shut against the room, taking more deep breaths before nodding. It was true, she knew the risks. She had agreed to them from the very start. But this was her child…
"Just…it's too early," her breaths became unsteady as she panicked a little, tears gathering in her eyes. "Save him," she pleaded. The doctor held her gaze a moment longer, before kneeling into position around the tub.
"We'll do what we can," he tried to assure her, tried to sound hopeful. He looked at the man beside him, meeting his brown eyes a moment before they went to work.
It was only an hour later when the child's head breached below the surface, Mary crying out as she squeezed the nurses hand to the point of almost breaking fine bones. She strained, water sloshing all around, her sweat mingling with it. The doctors had their arms in the water, hands helping where they could, gentle, coaxing. The nurses monitored her vitals, one standing by with sterile towels in his arms, waiting and ready.
Something was wrong. She cried out.
"He's half way out," the doctor calmly informed them.
"The umbilical is wrapped around his neck," the other suddenly announced, and there was a flurry of urgency all around.
"He'll drown," Mary cried, gripping the tub, moving to get out. Two more nurses grabbed her and held her in place.
"If you move now you'll only cause more damage," one firmly informed her as she pressed on her shoulders. Mary tried to strain against them, but she just didn't have the strength. It was taking too long. Tears streamed down her face as the doctors worked frantically to try and free her child.
It took too long. Then, all at once, the pain slipped out of her, and she watched with dull eyes as they finally pulled the newborn from the water. She wasn't given a chance to see even a part of him before the two doctors and the awaiting nurse with the towels sped off into another room.
"He wasn't crying," she looked at the nurse that remained by her side as the other moved to help finish the birthing process. Mary felt numb, hollow, exhausted. "He should have been crying," she insisted, but there was nothing the nurse could say to that.
They had all known the risks.
It was another hour before the Doctor with the kind eyes had come back out from the back room to find Mary lying rigidly in a hospital bed, dressed in a fresh medical gown and swathed in starched white blankets. Her face was still red, her cheeks blotchy and eyes dull. An air of resignation sat heavily about her. The nurse that had been with her the entire time stood and moved to the other side of the room, pretending to busy herself with something as the Doctor approached.
He didn't have a chance to say anything.
"He didn't survive," Mary said flatly, meeting his gaze and he nodded. She looked away.
"We knew it was a high possibility. You were the only one to carry a child this far to term" he started and she glared back at him.
"I know that!" She snapped, anger mingling with sorrow. She rubbed at her eyes. "It doesn't make it any better."
"No, it doesn't. I am sorry, we did everything we could." There was a moments silence as Mary collected herself and squared her shoulders.
"Was there any…did he show signs of advancement? Anything to indicate that the changes we made to his genetic structure took place?" She forced out, the scientist in her needing to know even as the mother in her mourned. "Anything significant?" Anything that would have made this disaster of an experiment worth while?
The Doctor shook his head. "Nothing immediately apparent to the eye. We'll have to perform a thorough autopsy to be certain."
"I want to see him," She announced and he looked at her carefully a moment before nodding. He was halfway across the room, heading back to the room her child was lying, no doubt still and cold, when she changed her mind. "Wait!" He stopped and turned around at her desperate call. "I…don't bring him. I don't want to see him. It's not necessary," she looked away, eyes once again brimming with tears and she blinked them back. The Doctor nodded his understanding.
"Your husband has been informed that you went into premature labour. We've sent a private jet to pick him up out of Pierson Airport. We're going to have to keep you here a few more hours and then we'll bring you home. He should be there by the time you're ready to leave." She took a deep breath and nodded.
"I am sorry for your loss," he said softly, his sorrow clear.
"Yes, so am I. Meredith would have been a miracle, a monumental advancement in genetic science," she announced, voice going hard, the scientist emerging fully again until she could escape to mourn in privacy. The Doctor nodded and turned once again to leave, closing the door to the water birthing room behind him. He shed his medical gown, taking the crisp white science coat that was immediately handed to him before heading down a short hallway and into another room.
"How did she take it?" Harrison, the doctor that had helped him with the delivery asked, not bothering to look up from the chart he was examining. The lights were bright in this room and several people were busily working, lab coats flapping behind them or hanging limply as they remained still, absorbed in their work.
"Like a grieving mother and scientist," he offered, and looked at the table behind him. "She chose not to see him," he informed the woman standing by the table. "But we should keep him on hand a while longer, in case she changes her mind." She nodded, gently wrapping a sterile blanket back around the cold, still body of the stillborn that lay before her. It was absurdly tiny, little hands clenched into fists, eyes never opened. "Once she's gone have Richards return the infant to the hospital," he ordered and then turned away from the sad sight.
He paused, and stared, and after a few more moments without speaking Harrison looked over at him, and then grinned.
"Incredible isn't he," he announced and then followed Bueller's gaze to the specially designed, non-stagnating water incubator. It had been a bit of a scramble to get it together when Mary had gone into premature labour, but it was working flawlessly now.
"Absolutely," Bueller agreed. "How's he taking to the feeding tube?"
"Doesn't seem to be a problem," Harrison looked back at his notes. "Heart rate is slightly elevated, but that's not unexpected considering he's a month early. We're keeping an eye on it, and I suspect once we figure out the appropriate O2 saturation in the water it'll even out just fine. If he remains stable for the next week I think we'll be okay to move him to the Pheonix site."
Bueller nodded. He was tired of Vancouver and more then ready to head back to their main site of operations. The only downside being that he'd grown fond of Tim Horton's and sadly enough he didn't think the franchise had moved that far into the States yet.
Inside the tank the tiny newborn waved his arms around. It was easy to see its pinched face through the glass, eyes screwed up in distress from where he lay on the specialized gel-bed, head and neck supported, mouth wide and sucking in water.
"Listen to this," Harrison ordered and then leaned over to flip a switch, tiny speakers sitting beside the tanks suddenly let out a weak, crackling sound that stopped and started in an immeasurable rhythm. Several people around the room looked over immediately, two women taking a step instinctively towards the tank before stopping and turning pointedly back to their work. Bueller's eyes widened.
"He's crying," he announced, unnecessarily, and huffed out a laugh. "Incredible." They had known the child had developed gills as soon as his respiratory systems began to develop, but they hadn't been certain whether it would be capable of speech or not. It looked like communication wouldn't be too much of a problem.
"Yes, and the best part is," Harrison reached out and turned off the speakers, "that we don't have to hear it." Bueller spared a moment to feel sorry for the child, torn away from his mother to be shoved into a tank, removed from any physical contact or comfort. Unfortunately at the moment they were more concerned with monitoring and stabilizing the child, but he made a note to give people permission later to try and comfort the boy.
"She named him Meredith," he announced and Harrison looked over at him, raising an eyebrow even as he reached for the roll of masking tape that sat on the table beside him. Bueller smirked. "She was fond of stating that she'd been hoping for a girl."
"Kind of appropriate though," Harrison looked back at the tank, focusing his gaze on the tiny, delicate gill slits adorning the child's sides.
"It's Welsh, stands for 'sea lord'" he explained and at Bueller's look he shrugged. "My wife was thinking of calling our girl Meredith for a while, I'm glad she decided against it now." He ripped a strip of tape off and stuck it to the very bottom of the incubators glass wall. Bold black letters standing out.
"Meredith McKay," Bueller read out loud. He stared a moment longer as Harrison went back to work, watching little arms swathed in thin, water proof wires wave unhappily through the clear liquid. "Welcome to your life."
Well, I hope that was enjoyable, or at least intriguing? As I said above, I do want to expand on this fic, but I'm heading off to Europe for a few months of backpacking so it'll be a while before you see anything more from me. Until then I wish you all the best.