A/N: First prompt so far! This one is a little longer than I was going to write but the topic was just so powerful. Anyway, this one comes from MexiFBI, who recommended I do something on Maddy's Palmyra Plasia relapsing. If you guys saw the psychiatric evaluations of Elisabeth and Jim, then you know what I'm talking about. If not, go look it up on YouTube. It will make more sense to you then. I wrote a story about Mark being in a coma a while ago. This is a nice companion to it, I think, even if it is a chapter of the prompts. Please don't hesitate to send me more, by the way. Little one-word or one-phrase prompts for me to turn into oneshots. Oneshots are my hobby now! (But fear not, I'm still going to update everything else too!) Please review, and don't forget to prompt me! One-word prompts are my favorite!
Mark wasn't sure what was happening, only that it wasn't good. One minute, he and Maddy had been sitting out in one of the rows of trees in the orchards, talking, laughing, and spending time, and the next she was erupting into a coughing fit.
"Are you okay?" he asked, concerned, his hand rubbing her back up and down.
"Yeah…" she gasped, still coughing. "Just…something in my throat…" her face was turning red with the violent fit. And then suddenly she grabbed his wrist and he heard an alarming wheeze in her breath just before she lurched forward.
"Maddy!" he cried, catching her limp form in his arms and laying her in his lap. Her breaths came in labored gasps and he noticed drops of blood trickling from her lips. "Oh God," he murmured, fear striking him. He wasn't a trained medic, but he did know that things were bad when people started coughing up blood. Gathering Maddy up in his arms, he made a frantic dash for the rover, laying her across the backseat and flooring it, every so often glancing back to ensure that she was still breathing. The rover ground to a halt just outside the clinic and he carried her in quickly.
"Dr. Shannon!" he practically shouted, eyes wide. He noticed the woman bandaging a patient, but she looked up when she heard her name called. A short gasp escaped her lips as she took in the sight of the young soldier carrying her very pale daughter, who was unconscious and barely breathing any longer. Handing the bandaging job over to one of the nurses, she quickly hurried over.
"What happened?" she asked, voice urgent but still somewhat calm.
"I…I don't know!" Mark exclaimed, unable to keep the panic out of his voice. "We were in the orchards and she started coughing and then she just passed out…"
"Oh dear God, please don't let it be…"
"Be what?" Mark asked urgently as two nurses brought a gurney over to wheel Maddy in. He laid her down carefully.
Dr. Shannon didn't answer his question, instead turning heel and following the stretcher quickly, her shoes echoing across the floor of the clinic. "Bring up a bio-scan," she commanded the nurse, who complied. The woman began to enlarge images on the holographic screen. "Can you zoom in on her lungs, nurse?" A moment later, an enlarged image of Maddy's lungs popped up. Mark could definitely tell something was wrong—they were discolored, flecked with dark spots.
"Crap!" Dr. Shannon cried, the first time Mark had ever heard her use language that was even remotely foul. "It is!"
"What is that, Doctor?" Nurse Ogawa questioned, eyeing the image with a perplexed look.
"It's PP," Dr. Shannon explained.
"In Terra Nova?" the nurse was shocked.
"But…we left that behind in 2149. The contaminants…"
"I don't know, Nurse Ogawa! But this isn't the first time Maddy's had PP. I'm going to sedate her, prepare a double-dose of the antibiotic in the meantime. Her heart rate's dropping."
Mark couldn't contain himself any longer and stepped forward, approaching Maddy's bedside, looking at his barely-living girlfriend. "Dr. Shannon, what's wrong with Maddy?"
Dr. Shannon glanced at him for a moment as she leaned across the table, injecting a clear fluid straight into Maddy's bloodstream. The machines soon indicated that her body systems were slowing down, that the sedative had worked. "Have you ever heard of Palmyra Plasia?" she queried.
Mark shook his head no.
"It's a bacteria found quite commonly in the air pollution of 2149. It attacks your lungs, makes it impossible to breathe," she turned to the nurse, taking a syringe from her hand and injecting it into Maddy's other arm. "Put her on the respirator now. The antibiotic needs time to set in." The nurse nodded and immediately put a mask over Maddy's face. It was sickeningly similar to the re-breathers both she and Mark had left behind in the future.
"But…there's hardly any pollution here in Terra Nova," Mark said, confused.
"I know, but Maddy must have somehow come into contact with the bacteria again. She had it about three months before we got recruited. Once you've caught PP, you're highly susceptible to getting it again," she informed the soldier as she brought up Maddy's bio-scan again, working efficiently as she explained. "It could have been brought in with our personal effects—the bacteria have been known to inhabit dust as well."
"Is she going to be okay?" Mark asked the only question that mattered to him at the moment.
Dr. Shannon eyed her daughter closely, and Mark saw her face falter for a moment, like her detached façade was cracking. He knew that she was a trauma surgeon, and that she was able to immediately detach herself from her work as a defense mechanism, but seeing your own family in such a state had to take a toll, even if she wouldn't immediately allow it to show through. "I…I don't know." Her lightly accented voice was almost meek, vulnerable-sounding. "The antibiotics need time to start working. In the meantime she's totally dependent on the respirator."
Mark stood by Maddy's bedside, gently stroking her hand with his. "You said she had it before?" His brows were creased with worry.
Dr. Shannon nodded sadly. "Her re-breather wasn't filtering properly. She came home from school and she just collapsed, coughing up blood…" The woman shuddered at the haunting memory of standing by her daughter's bedside every day, watching a machine breathe for her. She had felt so powerless then—Chicago's best trauma surgeon couldn't even protect her own family members. She felt the same now: weak, powerless, vulnerable. "The bacteria were attacking her lungs and they had to put her on a respirator for a few days…she just couldn't breathe on her own." The family had moved to the Lakeview section of Chicago despite the high rent because they had heard it was one of the few places left in the city that wasn't overrun with smog and pollution. The fact that Maddy had become infected was a primary reason that the Shannons had moved to Terra Nova. Nowhere was safe anymore.
Dr. Shannon joined Mark by the bedside, putting a comforting hand on his shoulder. "She can hear you, you know? She's sedated in order to quell the coughing fits but she's still semi-conscious. Try talking to her—it's been known to improve patients' condition when people they love talk to them."
Mark nodded, swallowing the lump in his throat. Dr. Shannon had just told him that he was someone Maddy loved. It wasn't too much of a revelation for him—she had said it to him before—and he knew he loved her too, but hearing it come so easily from her mother was definitely something new. Dr. Shannon turned to leave, but he stopped her. "Dr. Shannon?" The woman turned. "How long until she won't have to be sedated anymore?"
Dr. Shannon shrugged helplessly and he saw the desperation in her eyes. "Hopefully, the antibiotics will start working soon and we can fully reawaken her. The monitor will keep close watch on her condition." It was the best she could do. She wasn't the type to make promises she couldn't keep, so she didn't give a definite timeframe. Mark nodded, understanding. "I…I have patients to check on…" the doctor excused herself, suddenly looking very tired and stressed.
Mark returned his attention to Maddy, who looked so peaceful lying on the bio bed. If it weren't for the respirator and the constant beeping, or the pale color on her face, he could've sworn she was just taking a nap. But he couldn't ignore his surroundings, nor could he ignore the hologram that gave a clear image of her lungs, presently under attack. As much as he hated to admit it, Maddy Shannon was fighting for her life, and there was nothing he could do about it. He suddenly understood exactly how Dr. Shannon felt. He had promised to protect her, and now she was being harmed by the one thing he couldn't defend her from. He drew in a ragged breath as he drew her limp hand into his. Thankfully, it was still warm, still living.
"Maddy…" he started, but his voice trailed off. What could he say? I'm sorry that your body is being assaulted by bacteria that could possibly kill you, but I'm here if you want to talk about it? Mark liked to think he was prepared for nearly anything—and the truth is, he was—but he had never in a million years seen this coming. He always imagined Maddy would be the one talking to his comatose form—in fact she had done just that when he was ambushed by Sixers OTG. But he had never envisioned her on the bio-bed, struggling to survive, having a respirator breathe for her.
"Maddy, if you can hear me…" he finally found his voice. He noticed her eyelids move ever so slightly, and he remembered Dr. Shannon's words. She was still semi-conscious. She could still hear him, even if she couldn't respond. "If you can hear me, I'm right here for you. And I'm not going anywhere until you're better." Somehow, her inability to respond made him even more determined. Had she been awake, she would have been yelling at him, demanding that he stop worrying, go home, and come back once she was feeling fine again. But she couldn't say that, so he was determined to stay.
He moved his hand from her hand to her forehead—the only part of her face not obstructed from the large respirator. He brushed strands of dark hair from her face and felt tightness in his chest that he was not accustomed to feeling. "God, Maddy, why didn't you tell me about this before?" The only response was the beeping of the machine, so he resolved to listen to her response in his head—what he knew she would say if she could.
Because if I told you, you'd constantly be fussing over me and worrying. Besides, I didn't think Palmyra Plasia would follow me here…
All valid points, he conceded, but it wasn't like he wouldn't worry about her anyway. He was a worrier, much the same way she was a rambler. He shook his head, feeling foolish at having an entire conversation with Maddy in his head. He sighed, looking down at her still form, let his hand linger a little longer, then collapsed into a chair beside her, grasping his head in his hands. He decided that this seat would be his post for however long it took her to get strong enough to breathe on her own.
Mr. Shannon dropped by later that same morning. They had exchanged a few words but both just stared at Maddy for the most part, hoping something would happen. The machines continued their chorus of steady beeps. Dr. Shannon was in and out, constantly checking charts and diagrams and monitoring her daughter's lungs closely. She seemed to be confident and detached, but if Mark watched her closely enough, he could see times when she let her emotions slip, sighing exhaustedly or blinking back tears.
Josh brought Zoe in during the afternoon, glancing at Mark, who still sat watching. They exchanged a nod of understanding, but remained reflectively silent. Zoe rested her small hand in her sister's, eyes wide and expectant, as if she were waiting for Maddy to wake up immediately. But again there wasn't any sign that Maddy was coming to. There was little change in her lungs' appearance on the screen, although Mark did notice that her chest didn't rise and fall as harshly when the respirator pumped air into her. It was more even, which he assumed was a good sign.
Skye brought a basket from her and her housemates—Mark had lost track of how many teenagers were living there, but he approximated about four—and left it by Maddy's bedside. She offered him an encouraging smile as she left. No one in the clinic seemed terribly bothered by Mark's presence. He was largely quiet and he kept out of the way of the medical staff. Word was spreading about Maddy's sudden illness, and he chalked it up to the fact that this was the first case of Palmyra Plasia in Terra Nova. Visitors went in and out frequently on the first day.
Commander Taylor showed up in the early evening, bringing along Reilly and Dunham. Taylor spoke quietly with Dr. Shannon, glancing at Maddy every so often. When the conversation ended, he gave one last look at the eldest Shannon girl, then looked to Mark with a sympathetic look. Mark moved to get up, but the Commander shook his head, indicating the soldier should sit back down. Then the three left. What unnerved Mark the most about all the visitors was their silence. It was almost like a wake—quiet, solemn expressions and occasional nods of sympathy. The only other time he had seen something like this was at his mother's funeral, and he was understandably quite upset during that time. He just wished someone would say something. But no one wanted to shatter the stifling silence, so Mark just sat like a sentinel—Maddy's sentinel—and waited until she woke up so that he could have a conversation—a real conversation—with her.
He ended up sleeping in the chair that night, simply too exhausted to stay awake any longer. Twice Dr. Shannon tried to convince him to go home, but unlike with Maddy, she had no real authority over him, so she just let him stay and hoped it gave him peace of mind. She smiled inwardly watching the boy sitting at her daughter's bedside, looking so much like a worried husband. Jim did the exact same thing after all three of their children being born—he slept in the chair by the bedside and kept her company. Maddy would be thrilled to know Mark did the same for her.
On the second morning, the black flecks on Maddy's lungs had receded slightly, but Dr. Shannon sadly informed him that she was still not strong enough to be taken off the respirator. Mark took heart in noticing how Maddy's breaths came slower, steadier, more calm. Hopefully she wouldn't be sedated much longer. He spent the rest of the day without moving much from his seat. He occasionally read from the science textbook he had downloaded to his Plex. He had been reading up on Maddy's favorite subjects so that he would have some passing knowledge on what she liked to talk about. But he couldn't focus very long. The constant worrying was maddening.
He spent another sleepless night by her side in the clinic; the steady beeping of her lifeline became his lullaby. He awoke at just past six in the morning, glancing at Maddy, who was still silent. The heavy noises of the respirator and the forced rise and fall of her chest were the only indication of life. And the monitors that displayed her vitals. Her sedative was regulated by a drip device, and the ultimate effect of all of this equipment was that Mark could barely see her. This bothered him almost as much as the oppressive silence, which hadn't lifted. Even the medical personnel who came in and out throughout the day were largely silent.
It was nearly noon on day three that Mark's world nearly ended. He noticed that something seemed oddly silent about the space. Suddenly, the monitors started beeping like crazy, alerting the staff that something was amiss. Dr. Shannon came rushing in with Nurse Ogawa on her heels.
"She's flat-lining!" Dr. Shannon exclaimed frantically, and Mark's blood ran cold. He knew the terminology. If someone flat-lined, that meant their heart had stopped or that they were no longer breathing. If Maddy was flat-lining, she was running out of time.
"You'll have to leave," Nurse Ogawa told Mark urgently, and he understood. Only authorized medical staff were allowed to be there. Dr. Shannon pulled the curtain shut and began barking out orders. The beeping didn't stop and Mark watched the silhouettes moving about the bio-bed, his mouth dry and his heart beating rapidly.
Dr. Shannon's triumphant cry relieved him several moments later. "That's got it!" The beeping slowly died down, returned to its normal, steady rate. The encouraging sound of the respirator working again reached his ears. Dr. Shannon herself emerged several moments later, visibly shaken and heaving a sigh of relief.
"What happened?" he asked, hurrying over to her, anxious to know what had gone wrong.
"The respirator cut out unexpectedly—we took a power hit," the woman informed him. "Thank God the other machines kicked back in or else…" her voice trailed off, but the implied meaning was not lost on the soldier. Maddy had just brushed with death, and the doctor had just confirmed it was by the grace of God that she was even still alive.
"Can I…?" he pointed at the room, unable to find the words to speak given his current state of shock.
"They're still running a few diagnostics, it could take some time. Why don't you go home and refresh yourself in the meantime, Mark, you've been here for nearly three whole days." Dr. Shannon patted his arm lightly, offering him an encouraging smile. He nodded, still trying to calm his frantically beating heart.
He did what Dr. Shannon suggested, taking a hot shower to calm his nerves and relax all the tension that had built up in his muscles over the past three days. He felt re-energized afterwards, and he approached the clinic with renewed spirits. He would spend another night at the clinic before any good news was delivered.
"Good news," the doctor told him on the morning of the fifth day. "The bacteria is almost completely gone from her lungs and she's begun to breathe on her own now. We're taking her off the sedative—she'll be awake soon." The doctor smiled at Mark's overjoyed reaction to the words. He looked hopefully at Maddy. The color had been slowly returning to her face, and it was almost back to the caramel tone he found so attractive. The respirator was absent now. The marks on her face left by the mask were the only indication it had ever been there in the first place.
"I have other patients to tend to," Dr. Shannon said. "Could you keep an eye on her for me?"
Mark was all too happy to accept, and the mother smiled to herself at his eagerness. "Thank you," she said sincerely, exiting the room to go check on the other people who had found their way into the clinic for various reasons.
Mark stared at Maddy for nearly half an hour before she stirred. Excitedly, like a child on Christmas, he rushed to her side, kneeling so that he was at eye-level with her. He'd been waiting for this moment for five whole days. Her eyelids fluttered open and he saw those amazingly deep, brown eyes for the first time in nearly a week. He swallowed, forcing all the emotion down. She seemed a little dazed but a smile touched her lips when she recognized him. He felt his own lips tweak into his signature sideways smile, too. "Good morning, beautiful," he whispered, as if she had only been asleep for an evening.
Slowly, she tried to sit up, but realized she was hooked up to various monitors and quickly lay back down, memories snapping into focus. "Mark, what happened?" she asked, looking alarmed.
He quickly put his hand on her arm, gently rubbing it to calm her. Her breathing began to return to normal, a fact he noted with much relief. "Relax, Maddy. You're fine now," he reassured her.
"What happened to me?" she asked, her brown eyes turning watery as she realized she was in the hospital. After her first bout with Palmyra Plasia, Maddy had become very afraid of being hospitalized. There was something about the situation that made her feel powerless, and she got enough of that in school. Being hospitalized meant you were trapped, and Maddy didn't like that feeling much either.
"You had something called palimyra plasma," Mark said, trying to pronounce the complicated name of the bacteria.
"Palmyra Plasia?" she corrected, her features suddenly taking on an even more alarmed look.
"Yeah, that. But don't worry—you're fine now! You collapsed and I brought you here. They had you sedated for a while…"
"I remember…" she said, vaguely. "How long was I sedated?"
"Five days," he said quietly, looking up at her.
She breathed in deeply, taking in the new information. "Five days?" she repeated. He nodded ruefully. "Was I on the respirator?" He nodded again and she sighed. "This isn't the first time I've had Palmyra Plasia."
"I know," Mark told her. "Your mom told me."
"But how did I get it again?" she wondered aloud, her scientific curiosity taking over.
Mark shrugged. "Beats me. Your mom suggested you might have been exposed to dust that carried the bacteria."
Maddy nodded, remembering something. "I was handling some old samples from 2149. That might have done it…"
He chuckled, trying to alleviate the somewhat dark atmosphere. "Commander Taylor is probably going to quarantine your belongings now…"
She grimaced. "Oh no, if he does that I won't be able to do any homework or research or…"
"What ever will you do with yourself?" he teased, kissing her forehead like he had been longing to do for so long.
She grabbed his hand. "I can think of a few things…"
The curtain pulled back and Dr. Shannon stepped in, looking bright. "I thought I heard voices. I see you're awake!"
"Hi Mom," Maddy greeted quietly, still getting accustomed to everything.
"Mark, could you be a dear and give us a minute? I need to run some more diagnostics now that Maddy's fully conscious again."
Mark nodded respectfully, offered Maddy one last relieved smile, and then vanished from the room.
"Glad to see you're awake," Dr. Shannon spoke quietly to her daughter. "We were very worried about you. Especially Mark."
Maddy nodded, seeming a little surprised. "I heard him talking to me every so often—how often was he here?"
Elisabeth laughed a little. "How often? Dear, he never left your side!"
A/N: Seemed a good place to end. Sorry for how long this was. It started out much shorter but I kept adding to it and adding to it. Anyway, thanks so much to MexiFBI95 for sending me the prompt that inspired this! This is just the first of many, hopefully, and hopefully the stories won't be so long after this! Please send me prompts in the reviews or in a PM and I'll write to them. One-word or single-phrases. Or if you want to challenge me, give me a quote for someone to say in a story and I'll try to build something around that! I'm feeling uninspired as of late, so this will hopefully get the creative juices flowing once more! Thanks, and don't forget to review this first entry!