The Arising Conscience

POV: Randi King

"The doctors were wrong?" I said quietly, taking my place at the discussion table in the office, late that night.

"So it seems." Joe replied in a half-bitter, low voice, sitting down beside me.

I let out a short sigh, and skimmed over the faces of my associates. They were all staring at the tabletop.

"Last week, the Williams had two children, and now they end up with none." Rex concluded solemnly, across from me. He glanced at me. I shook my head a little, and looked away.

For a few minutes, we all sat still, no words spoken.

"How could they've been so wrong about this?" Joe said, breaking the unusual silence. "They said the baby would live for sure, and within a few days, he crashes. What the hell is wrong with that?!"

I could feel the frustration and anger rising in him.

"It wasn't the hospital's fault, Joe." Lynn said at the head of the table, to the right of me. "They did their best. There was nothing more they could've done."

While Joe and Lynn argued over this, and Rex sat silently, I thought over the past week. God, I knew this whole thing was a bad idea. Right from the start, my conscience was bothering me. Endangering one life for another just wasn't ethical. No matter who it is. It's just not right. I didn't want this case in the first place. And now, we all have innocent blood on our hands.

They were still talking over everything. Rex was still quiet. I think he's just as worn out over this whole thing as I am. His expression was blank, just staring at the water rings on the table. I'm so sick of talking, debating, analyzing every law and statement about fetuses, placenta, organ donor, or what have you. I'm just tired now. I don't want this to drag on more than it should. I think Lynn and Joe are doing that. I'm not really sure why though. Maybe they feel part responsible.

Scratch that. They ARE responsible. No, forget that too. I'm not blaming them for what happened. I'm not blaming anyone. Mr. and Mrs. Williams, Dr. Morton, Judge Prentiss, the Firm, we all make our choices. Sometimes they just aren't the most ethical, thought-out choices. The baby's death wasn't their fault. Mike's death wasn't their fault. Things happen.

I just wished we hadn't taken this case. As a firm, I mean. If Lynn and Joe wanted to take it, then fine. I didn't want it. But I guess I didn't say enough to get my way out of it. Maybe I didn't want to. Maybe I wanted to change their minds about the whole situation. God, I don't even know anymore.

Why doesn't anyone listen to me? I'm not saying I'm one hundred percent in the right here, but I don't know. Something about this was just wrong. I really have nothing more to say on this subject. I want to let it go, but my heart just continues to cling to this situation.

They talked on. They spoke about what more they could've done. But there was nothing they could've done. They did what they could. They got permission to use the stem cells of a live birth. That happened. But there's nothing they could've done about Mike's death or the baby's.

I suddenly wanted to know something. Cutting into the conversation, I said, "Do you still believe it's right to have endangered the fetus' life for Mike? Now that we see how this whole thing turned out for us."

Rex raised his eyes from the table, and looked at me questioningly. Joe and Lynn stopped. They glanced over at me too. They didn't answer.

"Well, do you?" I repeated.

"I think Mike would've had a better chance of survival if we had only gotten to the stem cells earlier." Joe replied after a moment.

"That's not my question." I said back. "I asked you if you still think it's ethical to choose one life over another."

"We're not choosing one life over another, Randi." Lynn answered quietly.

"I think we are. That fetus had no choice. We chose it for him."

Rex was listening intently now, even though he didn't say a single word.

"A fetus is not a person --" Joe started.

"But it has the potential to be. And what we did, we didn't even give him a chance to live."

"A fetus is not a person." He repeated. "Therefore it doesn't have a choice."

"My point exactly. If it doesn't have a choice, then why did we make one?" I replied sharply. "We didn't even give it a chance."

Lynn was quiet now, looking at the table. Joe was staring at me, just like I was at him. I turned away first. I looked to my right, at Lynn.

"If Cassie were sick like Mike when you were pregnant with Rupie, would you have given your son up to save your daughter?"

She didn't answer. Maybe I was too harsh. She just gazed intently into my eyes vacantly. And for some reason, even though I knew she couldn't answer, I pressed on.

"Knowing all the moments you've ever had with Rupie, would you endanger his life?"

"But this isn't about me."

"Hypothetically, would you want to do what the Williams' wanted to do?" I asked brusquely.

"I don't know."

"Yeah, you don't know, so why should we make this decision for another family?"

All eyes were fixed on her. Rex looked at her sympathetically, like he wanted to save her or something. Immediately, I felt badly for interrogating her the way I did by seeing how Rex watched her with concern deep in his gaze.

"I'm sorry." I said quietly. I didn't quite know what to say anymore. In an uncomfortable moment, I picked up a pen, and turned it around between my fingers, staring down.

"No, Randi." She replied softly, "I'm glad you asked. Gives me something to really think about because I really don't know what I would do."

POV: Lynn Holt

"Do you still believe it's right to have endangered the fetus' life for Mike?" Randi suddenly interrupted. Joe and I stopped talking, and turned to her. "Now that we see how this whole thing turned out for us."

For a minute, I sat confused. I knew what she meant, but, I don't know. I wasn't thinking clearly, I guess. I glanced at Joe, then at Rex.

"Well, do you?" Randi repeated.

Just when I was about to say something, Joe answered, "I think Mike would've had a better chance of survival if we had only gotten to the stem cells earlier."

"That's not my question." She replied. "I asked you if you still think it's ethical to choose one life over another."

"We're not choosing one life over another, Randi." I said softly.

"I think we are. That fetus had no choice. We chose it for him."

"A fetus is not a person --" Joe cut in.

"But it has the potential to be. And what we did, we didn't even give him a chance to live." Randi replied.

"A fetus is not a person. Therefore it doesn't have a choice."

"My point exactly. If it doesn't have a choice, then why did we make one? We didn't even give it a chance." She looked at Joe, then turned back to me, her eyes so grave, I was afraid she could see what I was thinking.

"If Cassie were sick like Mike when you were pregnant with Rupie, would you have given your son up to save your daughter?"

A bad feeling sunk to the pit of my stomach. And the words got stuck. I didn't know what to say.

"Knowing all the moments you've ever had with Rupie, would you endanger his life?"

"But this isn't about me." I made out, a lump in my throat.

"Hypothetically, would you want to do what the Williams' wanted to do?" She continued.

"I don't know." My voice was really shaky. I heard it crack just enough for maybe Rex to notice.

"Yeah, you don't know, so why should we make this decision for another family?"

I looked at the table. Rex reached over under the table, and took my hand, and gave it a comforting squeeze.

"I'm sorry." Randi said softly.

"No, Randi." I replied. "I'm glad you asked. Gives me something to really think about because I really don't know what I would do."

And I stood up, and walked away. I could feel Rex's eyes watching me as I left.

I entered my office, and closed the door behind me. Making my way to the couch, I sat down, and rested my head against the arm rest. I didn't know what to do. I barely even knew what to think. Randi had a point.

God, their baby died. Their son died. And now they have to bury both children in the same week. This fighting, all for nothing. What did we gain? What did the family gain? Was this whole case worth the time and effort?

I thought it was. Now, I'm not sure of anything anymore. Maybe Randi was right. Maybe everything was just completely unethical. If I had the same problem, I don't know if I would sacrifice Rupie for Cassie. I love them both equally. And they're both mine.

Maybe if I were in the same place as Arlene, but, God, think of everything I would've missed out on with Rupie. And Cassie also. I can't decide that. If Arlene knew what she could've had with her second son, maybe she should've chosen a differently.

Maybe this whole case was a mistake from the very beginning, and Randi was right from the very beginning. I mean, when it became personal when she mentioned Rupie and Cassie, god, I didn't know what to think. What if I had lost them both too?

If I'm not ready to make such a decision like that, how could I have believed Arlene's full willingness? She was so sure of herself. But now, look what has happened.

Why did this feeling have to come now? When it's too late to change anything. And that's a fact. There's nothing for me to do now. How could this whole thing become such a mess?

God, I was so sure we were doing the right thing. And now, I truly don't know how to feel anymore.

Did we just cost Arlene and Brad their entire family? Was this struggle worth their tears, their pain, and everything they ever loved in their life? Did they take something away from this? Had they learned something?

I don't even know if I learned something myself. Because, now I'm just as confused as I was during the case. I'm tired now, and everything changed for the worse.

I stood up from the couch, and walked to the window, and stared out into the street. It was growing dim outside, and something about it was unknown, questioning. It was like the reflection of my own heart. Hot tears welled up in my eyes, threatening to fall against my will.

A knock at the door interrupted my thoughts.

"Come in." I choked out. I didn't even look at the door, but heard the soft squeak of it opening then closing. Tentative steps walked in toward me. I couldn't look at Rex. I knew it was him. I didn't want him to see me crying, even though he'd seen me a dozen times before. But I didn't want him to see me now. This was different. He didn't say anything, and I grew anxious with the silence between us.

"What?" I said starkly, still not turning around. I could sense his eyes staring at me. God, Rex, I don't want or need someone to stare at me now. What I want is someone to hold me.

And suddenly, as if he read my thoughts, he stepped behind me, and wrapped his arms around my waist, drawing me close so that my back was aligned with his chest. I let out a stifled sob, and collapsed against him. He didn't say a word. Instead he kissed me gently on the temple, and continued to hold me like he had forever.

POV: Rex Weller

Lynn looked at me. Ambiguity in her tender eyes.

"I don't know." She said, her voice trembled enough for me to hear.

"Yeah, you don't know, so why should we make this decision for another family?" Randi continued.

Lynn stared down at the table. The expression on her face was hard to take in. She was lost and confused. I reached under the table, and took her hand in mine. I didn't know what else there was for me to do at this moment in time.

"I'm sorry." Randi said genuinely. I could tell she was. I think she said it more to me than Lynn.

"No, Randi." she replied, letting go of my hand. "I'm glad you asked. Gives me something to really think about because I really don't know what I would do."

And with that she stood up and walked away. My gaze went with her. I desperately wanted to get up and follow her, but somehow I knew she didn't want me to. So I sat still, and watched until she entered her office, closing the door behind her.

I gave a short sigh, and looked back at Randi and Joe. They were both quiet. Neither of them wanted to look at me. The three of us didn't say anything for a long time.

I couldn't disagree with Randi. She had a very good point. Why didn't I think about this before or during the case? Why now? Everything was over. Mike and the baby are both gone. The Williams' are without any kids, and it was partly our fault. It was everybody's fault. The Firm, the Williams', Dr. Morton, everybody. We all wanted the same thing. Then how could this have turned out so wrong?

Good intentions. All we had were good intentions. We wanted to save the Williams' family. We wanted Mike to live. We wanted the baby, the fetus, whatever, to live. We wanted to keep the family together. We wanted both children to live a life they were meant to have. Meant to have, that has no meaning to me now. The words are just floating around, and I can't seem to make sense of anything anymore. Good intentions. Don't talk to me about good intentions. Good intentions amount to nothing. So what? Good intentions, it doesn't do anything. It doesn't mean anything if everything turns out a different way from what we expected.

These kids were gone. They were gone forever. And nothing could change that, least of all good intentions. They were just gone. The Williams' lost their entire family. Maybe they didn't have to. Maybe they should've just let Mike go. I know, I probably don't know what they're going through, but god. I don't know.

Between Andrew and I, I'm the second child. If Andrew had been sick like Mike, I would've been that baby. That baby. That baby. That baby didn't even have a chance to live. Well, sure it lived a few days, but that's different. He wasn't given a real chance. The chance that it could've had if he had been born without induction. But we just decided to take his life away without hesitation. He didn't have a choice.

Randi was right. I can see that now. Maybe Lynn and Joe see it too. I don't know. But we seemed so certain about our ethics in the beginning. We didn't question it. We didn't listen to Randi. I don't know why we didn't. I guess, we were all just so stuck up about winning the case, and wondering if we could do it, that we didn't pause to think if we should.

God, what a horrible mistake. It was just a mistake. We made the wrong choice. But who knew this one mistake would cost the lives of two kids? Alright, so we knew that the baby would probably have little chance of survival, but Mike. Now that I think about it, I can't believe we went through with it knowing the baby would have less than ten percent chance of living. What were we thinking?

What the hell were we thinking? One life is never more important than another. Especially in a situation such as this. And even in other cases, nobody's life should ever be valued over another. Who's to decide that? Nobody has that right. Nobody. I don't care who you are. Things are clearer to me now. But it's too late. You always realize what's wrong and right only after you make the wrong choice. What kind of logic is that? I can't believe this has happened.

But to be honest, if I was given the chance to do this again, but with the guarantee that Mike would survive the surgery, I don't know what I would do. I really don't. The baby would still have almost no chance of living. I don't know.

Is there a correct answer to this? I don't know. I guess I really don't know anything, do I? I wish there was an answer. Maybe it'd give me some assurance that we tried to do the right thing. But I know it's not enough. Nothing would ever be enough to replace the lives of two kids. One barely even got to live his life, another didn't even get a chance.

I guess that nothing can really be based on law statements, theories, documents. It's just on morals. Ethics. Principles. What it all comes down to is one's personal belief of wrong and right. But it's hard. Things aren't always in black and white. I thought this case was like that. Randi just saw differently. No, Randi didn't see differently. She just saw deeper than the surface of the matter. Even if I truly listened to her, I don't know if I would've seen what she saw. I guess I just blocked it out. I don't know why. But now I see the errors of my ways. Only too late. Too late.

Without really noticing my actions, I stood up from the table. Joe looked at me. He nodded toward Lynn's office. I nodded back soberly, and walked away.

I wasn't sure if she wanted me, but I knocked on the door confidently.

"Come in." I heard her say. She said it, but I really don't know if she meant it. Extremely hesitant, I opened the door and walked in, closing it behind me again.

She stood next to the window, staring outside. I could tell she had been crying.

"What?" She said bluntly.

I didn't know what to say. I couldn't answer. Maybe I didn't have to say anything because I moved behind her, and took her in my arms, and kissed her hair. She seemed satisfied with that alone.

POV: Joe Celano

"No, Randi." Lynn replied quietly, "I'm glad you asked. Gives me something to really think about because I really don't know what I would do."

She got up, and walked out of the office. I watched Rex as she left. He was hurt. The three of us remained silent.

So it turns out the baby died. First Mike, now the baby, leaving the Williams' with no children at all. Their kids were gone. Maybe we did the wrong thing. Maybe we should've analyzed both sides of the case before completely agreeing to it. Randi did. She must've seen both sides to have fought against us so hard on this case.

Was it our fault? Was it our fault that that baby died? I think Randi thinks so. She was against us the whole time. I don't know anymore. I don't think I really knew what I was walking into when we accepted this case. I don't believe anyone really knew. It all just happened.

Maybe we didn't think about it as much as we should've. I don't think I even thought about the other side of the story. I didn't think about the fetus. I was just so determined to not let Mike die, that I didn't realize it was going to cost another potential life.

What was the point of this? What's the good of this situation? Mike would've died either way, taking the case or not. But how were we supposed to know that? Maybe if we had gotten to that stem cell thing earlier. Maybe he would've had a chance. We were too late.

If we hadn't accepted the case, the baby would've had a ninety nine percent chance of living. Probably. That wasn't a scientific thing, just my guess. Presumption. But at least there would be one kid instead of none. Maybe. Another theoretical guess.

Maybe the whole time, I didn't really know what I was fighting for. Sure, I fought really hard for what I thought I knew, but did I really know what I was doing? Now, it's just really hard to say I know what I'm truly fighting for. God, I thought I was doing the right thing. We all did. I'm not that sure anymore. Before I had absolutely no doubts about this, no fears at all. Randi talked to us numerous times, but I just somehow unconsciously blocked it out.

Were we fighting for the wrong thing the whole time? I really thought I knew. Now, it's just a blur. I can tell the faith I once had in myself is falling away into hopelessness. I never want to be so sure of myself like I was with this case ever again. Because if I am, then something's wrong.

POV: Doesn't Matter

I don't know. I don't know if I know what my beliefs are anymore. Everything's just.........

THE END