There was a knock on the door of the apartment. Susan was awakened from the restless sleep had finally fallen into at 5:00 a.m. on the bathroom floor.
"Susan?" It was Mark. She sat up, rubbing her eyes. Just the tiniest movement turned her stomach upside down. Susan groaned.
"Susan?" Mark was banging on the door. "Are you there?"
"Yeah." she yelled. She pulled herself up into a crawling position, using the counter, and made her way to the door. Arriving there, she stood shakily and unlocked the door. "What do you want, Mark?"
"That's not a very nice way to greet a friend. Wow, you look terrible." Susan faked a smile.
"You don't look so great yourself."
"You try spending the night on the bathroom floor . . ." She rolled her eyes, and flopped down onto the couch.
"I did." Mark was immediately concerned.
"Hey, what's wrong?" She sighed.
"I'm not sure. I've had this virus or something that I haven't been able to shake for a couple of weeks now. It wasn't this bad until last night."
"You off this morning?" Susan gasped.
"No . . . I was supposed to be in at 8:00, what time is it?" Mark pointed at the clock. It read five after.
"Dammit!" She grabbed the phone from the table and dialed.
"ER, Frank speaking."
"Frank, it's Dr. Lewis. Is Weaver around?."
"Yeah, and looking for you. Where the hell are you?"
"Frank, just get Kerry." He mumbled something, but complied.
"Susan, where are you?" she sighed again as she heard Kerry's voice on the other end.
"Kerry, I'm sorry, I know I should have called sooner. I spent the entire night on the bathroom floor. I won't be in, I hope you can find someone to cover for me." Kerry exhaled loudly. She was drumming her fingers against the admit desk.
"Fine. I'm taking you off rotation for the next three days. Call me when you feel better." She hung up the phone and Susan rolled her eyes. Mark had a touch of a smile on his face.
"You think this is funny?" she asked him. He laughed. Susan had to smile, knowing he was thinking about Kerry's nazi like reaction. A wave of nausea hit her and she bit her lip in pain.
"Susan, what's going on?" He asked.
"I don't know." she moaned. "But don't worry about me. You have yourself to take care of."
"Well . . . misery loves company!" He rose from the chair. "I have my second round of chemo in half an hour. I'll take the El back here afterwards. Elizabeth is still living in the hotel and Rachel is away on a school trip for the next three days. We'll have some fun."
"I'm so sorry about Elizabeth, Mark." she said. He shrugged.
"I know. I would tell her about the tumor, but I want her to come back because she feels it's the right thing for our marriage. Not because she knows I'm going to die and won't have to deal with me for much longer."
"Mark . . ." he held up one hand.
"I'll take your keys so I can let myself in when I come back." Susan nodded and he was gone.
* * * * * * * * * * *
A couple of hours passed before she heard the door unlock. Susan was only half awake but saw Mark head into the kitchen. Once she managed to wake herself up, she grabbed the blanket and walked awkwardly into the kitchen. He smiled at her.
"I have about a fifteen minute window before the chemo kicks in. I thought I'd make you some soup before I can't stand up any more." Susan was boggled by his knowledge, and it saddened her to know he had been through this hell before.
"It's ok, I don't think I can eat anything anyway." She turned to return to the living room and had to grab the chair beside her to steady herself. She felt her head getting light.
"Susan? Susan!" Mark dashed across the kitchen to try and catch her. But Susan felt no more.
"What were you doing at her place?" Carter asked Mark accusingly. The two doctors were walking down the hall at County, waiting for Susan's labs to come back.
"I knew she wasn't feeling well, so after I came here to pick up some stuff, I went to see if she was all right. I was making her some soup in the kitchen and she came in to see me. She just passed out in the middle of the floor." Mark suddenly turned green, and vomited in the next garbage pail.
"Don't tell me you've been spending so much time with her that you caught whatever it is she has?" Carter sounded both wounded and angry at the same time. "Or did she get it from you." Mark rolled his eyes.
"Carter, come here." he lead him into an empty exam room. Once inside, he began to talk. "John, Susan and I are just friends. I know you gave her the third degree after she spent the night at my house, but trust me, okay? I'm married."
"You're having problems with Elizabeth." Mark didn't blame Carter for being protective. Susan was a beautiful woman.
"Carter," he hesitated. "My tumor is back. I don't want you to say anything to anyone else, Susan is the only other person who knows. After Ella almost died, I thought there was something else wrong. My trip to New York wasn't for a conference, but an appointment with my neurologist. There's nothing they can try but chemo, which will only give me a year."
"Mark . . . I . . . I didn't know."
"That was the idea. Susan was there for me, and brought me home after I had a procedure to determine the size of the tumor when I could barely stand on my own two feet. She stayed the night because she was worried." Haleh knocked on the door of the exam room.
"Dr. Carter, multiple MVA rolling in."
"Are Dr. Lewis's labs back yet?"
"Yes. Do you want to see them?" Carter hesitated.
"Give them to Dr. Greene and let him go over them with her." Carter grabbed a pair of gloves and left the room. Haleh handed Mark Susan's lab results. He glanced at them quickly.
"What the . . ."
* * * * * * * * * * *
Mark walked slowly to exam three where they had put Susan. He was hoping that she was awake. He didn't know if he could tell her what the labs said, but he had better chance if it was immediate. Her eyes fluttered open as he opened the door.
"Hey there stranger." he said.
"Mark," she groaned. "Did you call the paramedics?"
"Yes. I couldn't wake you up after you passed out."
"Ugh. How embarrassing!"
"Could be worse." laughed Mark. "You didn't get the third degree from Carter and have to tell him you have an inoperable brain tumor."
"Oh Mark . . ."
"It's ok. I would have had to tell him eventually. Now, pick a hand." he had his hands behind his back.
"Ooo, bad choice. See, in my left hand, I have a chocolate bar. But, in by right hand, I have your lab results." His heart was pounding in his chest.
"Have you looked at them?"
"Ok, ok, yes."
"And . . ."
"And what?" Susan was exasperated.
"And am I ok? What's going on?"
"Well, yes and no. Yes you're all right. Actually, better than fine. I'm not totally sure I should be the person telling you this, but Carter was called to help an MVA victim, so you have no choice. Maybe that's a good thing."
"Mark, just tell me."
"There's nothing wrong with you that nine months won't heal." Susan was shocked. Her mouth dropped. "You're pregnant." Mark added unnecessarily.
"It's Carter's, I assume?" Mark was trying to get Susan to say something."
"Uh huh." she was still speechless.
"You're slightly anemic, that will have to be monitored closely, but other than that you and your baby are healthy. You can go home as soon as you sign yourself out."
"Ook." Mark sat down and took her hand.
"Susan, it's going to be ok. You're fine, you're not dying or anything. It's ok." She said nothing. Just then, Carter walked into the room.
"Hey Susan, Mark." He picked up her labs. "So, what's the deal?" His eyes widened like the kid in the candy store. Mark got up slowly.
"I'll leave the two of you alone." he said, and left the room. Mark watched from outside as they spoke for a couple of minutes, and then as Carter gave Susan a big hug. He could see Susan was crying, but knew they were happy tears. Mark turned away. He couldn't help feeling slightly envious. He didn't have his wife, or his daughter, and he was dying. It didn't seem fair that a new life could be created as his was ending. He left the ER and went to sit in the ambulance bay. He closed his eyes to the sunshine.
A few minutes later, he heard someone approaching. Assuming it was Carter, Mark congratulated him.
"For what?" He heard a cultured British accent. It wasn't Carter at all. It was Elizabeth.
"Oh, Elizabeth. I thought you were Carter."
"Sorry to disappoint you." she sat down next to him. "What were you congratulating Carter for?"
"Oh, uh, he made a nice save on a critical patient." Mark lied. The baby was Carter and Susan's news.
"I've been thinking about it a lot lately, what you said about Ella needing a family. You were right. Would it be suitable if I moved home after work tonight?" Mark looked his wife in the eye. She was smiling. He hugged her.
"Of course it would be suitable." he said, mimicking her accent. But, as a wave of nausea washed over him, he was reminded of his tumor. He pulled away.
"What is it, Mark?"
"Elizabeth," he hesitated. "I was hoping you'd be here, actually. The trip I made, to NYC last week, do you remember it?"
"It wasn't a doctor's conference. I went to see my neurologist." he heard Elizabeth gasp, but continued. "My tumor's back. It's inoperable. I've just started chemo and the doctor gives me about a year to live." Now it was Elizabeth who was speechless. But, unlike inside with Susan, it was a heavy silence. "I'm glad you decided to come home because, I need you, but I don't need your pity. I just need you, and Ella to come home." Elizabeth nodded slowly, and hugged Mark tightly.
Dear Mark, Elizabeth and the girls,
It's two in the morning, so forgive me if this letter is brief and makes no sense. Susan insists that I write to you right now to tell you the good news. Our baby was born less than an hour ago. It's a little boy. We named him Mark John Truman Lewis-Carter the fourth. He's absolutely beautiful and we can't wait for you to see him. The wedding is in exactly three weeks. We expect you to be here with bells on. You might want to leave the beach wear at home in Hawaii since it's snowing here in Chicago. Can't wait to see you!
John, Susan & Mark Jr.
Dear Susan and John,
Since you are on maternity leave, I know you won't get the news at the hospital like the rest of Mark's friends. Mark died this morning at 6:04a.m. One of the last things he said was to apologize profusely for not making it to your wedding. We received the letter about Mark Jr.'s birth just yesterday and Mark was so honored to have you name you child after him. He should have passed away weeks ago, but was waiting for news of the baby's birth. Rachel, Ella and I will be at the wedding in two and a half weeks time. Don't postpone the wedding, Mark wouldn't want that. He loved you both very much, as colleagues and as friends. The funeral is in three days time in Chicago.