Title: Breath
Author: Eve11
Rating: G
Category: Vignette: Angst
Spoilers: Emily
Keywords: none
Disclaimer. All the characters in here are property of Chris Carter, Fox and 1013 productions. Please don't sue me, as I am not making any money on this.

Summary: Scully's thoughts while at Emily's deathbed.

Author's note: Hi. I am new at this stuff and this is my first post, so bear with me please : ) Hopefully, you'll need to get the tissues out on this one. I have really enjoyed reading stories on this archive and I think it's a great creative opportunity. Thanks to everyone who takes time out to give the rest of us something to enjoy! Feedback is welcome at rlw146@psu.edu

Her breaths are so light. I can only hear them after all the monitors are turned off. The smallest sighs, each one softer than rose petals. It makes me wonder why we say that gems are precious. Cold, everlasting, unchanging, one glance is all you need, and you know it is like this forever. How is that precious? How can I call that precious now, when I am holding my breath to hear each one of hers? Her breath coccoons us in the rocking chair; washed-out hospital walls and tiled floors are swept away, each one pushed further from us with the slightest rise and fall of her chest. I've missed so much. I cannot bear to miss even one of her last breaths. It is all that is left of her.

I have held vigils before. I have seen my partner at death's door. I have seen my sister beneath a death mask of bandages. I have prayed my own last rites, clutching the golden cross that now rests on her chest. But it is not like this. With Mulder, it was always anger. He should not have done this to me, I would always say. And I knew that, in the end, he would recover. I couldn't be so angry at someone who would not get better.

I am not angry now.

Melissa's death was distant, unreal. I had hope until the very end that she would recover; that she would save me from the guilt and regret I would suffer from causing the death of a sister. When she died, I felt betrayed, even as I crashed into despair over her loss.

I have no hope of Emily's recovery. My heart sinks slowly now; the depths are measured in her breaths.

And my own experience is laced with fear. I tried to be strong. I would not accept pity; I would face my prognosis with the clinical detachment and professionalism of my occupation. But as I heard my last rites, as I echoed the prayers, my heart was racing, and I held my cross so tight that it punctured my fragile skin.

I am not afraid now. I am beyond that. I exist, waiting, and I feel it each time she breathes.

Emily has already closed her eyes for the last time. I was humming to her, stroking her cheek, and she watched me with her deep blue eyes. I saw her lids closing, reacting to the internal forces of exhaustion that plagued her. It was like waves washing upon the sea shore. And I knew that she would not withstand this force. *Please*, I prayed, *Not now. Not yet. Please, take me.* But what can you do to stop the ocean? Even as I railed against the surf, the waves swept past me, and I watched, helpless, as her eyelashes brushed together more delicately than angel's kisses. It was as inevitable as the tide.

She has already said her last words, muffled from behind her oxygen mask, competing with the constant blips of the heart monitor. Her lips moved so slightly I almost missed it. It took me too long to figure out what she had said.

"Mommy, hold my hand."

I tried to make up for the precious seconds I had missed; my hand sped from my side to grasp her tiny fingers. She didn't move. "I'm here," I whispered, smoothing her hair from her forehead. "Mommy's here." But I could tell that she was miles away. I tried to sing to her, but the words caught in my throat. Instead, as I stroked her hair, I prayed that my touch would save her. For the first time, I felt alone in the room. The only sounds were the heart monitor and the breathy
hum of the oxygen machine.

When they turned the monitors off, I had nothing but the silence wrapped around us, until I heard her breath.

Despite my embrace, it is the thinnest of threads that holds her to me. It is her lifeline, but I hold onto it as if it were my own. I have already asked for another laugh, another smile, another word. Now, I ask only for another breath.

I cannot move. I cannot speak. I only hold her and listen. I breathe with her. When she breathes in, she draws me in with her. When she breathes out, I want to gather the air and seal it up inside me. But I have no way of saving something so delicate. If gems could hold each breath in a gleaming
facet, then I would call them precious. Then I would gather them in my hands and weep at their beauty.

I am gradually aware of the floor beneath my feet, and I know she is gone. I have been holding my breath, waiting for her. I try to breathe out, but without her, it turns into a shudder. The hospital is too much. The walls, the floors, the faint background noises are thunderous. The assault wrings
tears from my eyes. I try to push it away; I rock back and forth in the chair, holding her tiny frame, trying desperately to restore our coccoon. But it is like trying to grasp a single grain of sand with the force of the ocean. The realization hits me so hard that I am shaking.

I cannot escape the maelstrom. I do not have the one thing that can rescue me.

I have lost the delicate, subtle power of her breath.


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