Title: Rescue Was the Easy Part Fandom: The Martian Characters: Mostly Mark Watney and Chris Beck, but all of Ares III crew show up. Timeline: Right at the end of the book, can be read if you've only seen the movie. But know that Beck rescues Mark in the book, not the Commander. Genre: Angst, Medical Realism, Friendship Notes: For Evil Author Day which means it's unfinished, unedited, and unbeta'd. Read at your own risk. Out of all of the EAD stories, this is the one I want to finish the most. I really like it, and I remember really enjoying the research I was doing. I'm really hoping that once the muse decides to cooperate again, I'll pick this back up, but for now it remains unfinished and has no timeline as to when it might be finished, if ever. - - - When they’d passed by Earth to slingshot back to Mars and pick up some supplies from Iris II, NASA had also sent Dr. Beck quite a bit of information on managing starvation victims and psychology of isolation. He’d be able to contact the medical teams at NASA as needed once they got Mark off Mars, but the delay communication meant he’d be on his own for quite some time. Not that anyone really knew what to expect. The vast majority of studies on isolation were from prisoners who’d been placed in isolation for punishment where it had since been determined to be cruel and unusual and therefore outlawed, but the prisoners always had food, and weren’t constantly worried that they’d run out of air to breathe. They were in a whole new world of possible psychological impacts, quite literally. And even though they had a better understanding of the possible physical effects of starvation and micro-gravity, the two had never been studied together nor for the length of time Mark had been stranded on Mars. He’d studied and learned everything he possibly could, he just wouldn’t know what to expect until Mark was aboard. Even then, he knew it might be days or weeks before some symptoms might manifest. Beck gathered the crew together a few nights before they expected to get within range of Mars. He wanted to prepare them as much as possible that the man they all knew and loved might not be the man they picked up. “I know what to expect physiologically, at least we have a decent guess. Some things are unknown just because no one has been in micro-gravity that long. It’s more psychologically that I’m worried about.” “Do you think he’ll be….” Martinez trailed off, not wanting to say it out loud. “He seems okay from his messages, like himself.” “I do,” Beck answered, understanding what Martinez was trying to ask. “Right now he’s so focused on surviving he hasn’t had time to do or think about anything else. And if he has, he has control over all of his communications. He can filter out anything he doesn’t want other people to know. But once he’s on board the Hermes, it will be different.” “There are instances of veterans who are fine when they are in a dangerous situation, but once they get back home, once they are safe, everything falls apart.” Commander Lewis added. Beck nodded, “Exactly. He may even be fine for the first few days, until his brain fully catches up to what is happening.” “So what should we expect and how do we deal with it?” Vogel asked. “Again, this is all speculative, we just won’t know until we get him here, and even then, it probably all won’t happen at once. But known effects of isolation are anxiety, depression, hallucinations.” “Hallucinations?!” Martinez repeated. “Yes,” Beck continued. “He’ll have been alone for a year and a half by that time, people have been noted to hallucinate after only a few days to weeks of total isolation. NASA psychologists consider those three things as givens. They will happen or have already happened.” “What else?” Johassen asked. “I can tell there’s more.” “Specific to Mark’s situation, he may have developed OCD. Everything is trying to kill him and he’s constantly at risk of starving to death if something goes wrong. He may feel the need to check systems multiple times a day, count rations, obsess about how much he’s eating.” Beck took a deep breath and looked down at his tablet. “Initially probably won’t be healthy enough to move all over the Hermes, so he may ask us to check, many times. I’m going to ask you to indulge him to start with. Hopefully, he’ll start to trust everything is okay on his own, but if he doesn’t, we’ll deal with that then.” “We can do that,” Johanssen answered for everyone. “It’s the least we can do since we left him.” The rest of the crew nodded their agreement. “And on that note, no guilt, at least not to Mark. I know we all feel guilty,” Beck looked at Commander Lewis. He knew she felt, as Commander of the mission, that anything that went wrong was her fault. But he’d been the one to say that Mark was dead when he wasn’t. She listened to him on medical matters and that had put Mark in this situation. But he knew he couldn’t dwell on it, not once Mark was around, not if he wanted to be a good doctor. “We feel guilty but he doesn’t need that guilt put upon him. He’s the victim, don’t make it about you. He’s said over and over that he doesn’t blame us, that we did the right thing and we have to believe that he believes that. If you need to release that feeling, come to me, or anyone other than Mark.” “But,” Beck continued. “He may lash out, may say things he doesn’t mean when he’s feeling anxious or upset. He may say something about us leaving him there. Try not to take it personally, try not to let it show it affect you to him.” They all left the meeting more worried than they already had been, but Beck assured them they’d take care of their friend and while he could take of his physical ailments, it would take all of them to help the psychological ones. _ _ _ _ _ _ Vogel pulled Beck and Watney into the airlock and shut the door, “Watney and Beck aboard, Commander. Airlock sealed.” “Copy that, Vogel,” Commander Lewis replied. “Beginning repressurization.” They’d literally blown up one of the airlocks in order to get close enough to the MAV to rescue their crew mate, so the three of them would have to wait until the area repressurized before they could move into other parts of the ship. Thankfully it would only take around 20 minutes because they were able to section off most of the ship. They’d also had to turn off the rotation of the gravity wheel, so they’d all be at zero g’s for a few hours until they were able to spin all the way back up. For Beck, that 20 minutes was about 19 minutes too long. Everything in him was screaming to get Watney’s suit off and get a look at him and his injuries. Beck wanted to start his evaluation, it was something you learned in health care early on, just looking at your patient could tell you a great deal. He looked at how the other man was holding his body, but between the bulky EVA suit and no gravity, it was practically impossible to get any information. He reached across and lifted up the sun visor on Watney’s helmet so he could at least see the other man’s face. What he saw broke his heart. Not only was the other man showing clear signs of malnutrition - his eyes were sunken in, his almost lifeless skin was tight across his skull. The normal, healthy layer of fat that could usually be found across his cheeks was all but gone. But it was the obvious tears that had pooled in his eyes, and and pinched look of pain that made Beck worried. He knew Watney had said he felt like he’d broken his ribs on the assent from Mars, but he was clearly in a lot of pain. He pushed his own sun shield up to get a clearer look, which made Watney smile. “Hi,” Watney said with almost a sigh. “You look good!” “You look like crap,” Beck replied. “Tell me what’s going on.” “I’m just so happy to see another human, I think even Martinez would look good right now.” “You’re still on comms, you whore.” Martinez answered with a laugh. Beck was happy Watney was joking, but he interrupted before things could do further. “Seriously, I can’t do an exam for awhile yet, I need to know how you are.” Astronauts were trained to be forthright with their ailments. What was a minor issue on Earth could be a major problem in space. They had to be honest and not be worried about feeling weak, or like they’d get pulled from their jobs. “Ribs, like I said,” Watney answered. “I’m pretty sure I blacked out.” “You did,” Beck confirmed. “You were unresponsive when you first got to orbit.” Mark nodded his head slightly, “That probably explains the headache. My vision is… wonky.” “That’s probably from the assent, unless it’s been a problem before?” Mark shook his head, “No, that’s new. But everything else is old, I think. My back is killing me, but it has been off and on for about a year. It spasmed a few times on the trip to Schiaparelli and then I had to modify the MAV, which I don’t think made it very happy. Thankfully I brought some vicodin from the HAB with me on the trip.” “Anything else?” Beck asked. “Nothing that is screaming at me at the moment.” “Okay. As soon as we get repressurized, I’ll get out of my suit, but I want to leave you in yours until we get to the sick bay. I think it will be safer to have all my equipment with me. You’ve pulled way more g’s than the suit is designed for, but it’s still pressurized and your body may react as soon as that pressure is lost.” Watney, Beck, and Vogel continued to float in the area, Vogel doing his best to act as though he was doing something else while Beck did his best to examine their crewmate. It was only an appearance of privacy because they were in such a small area and everyone could hear what was being said over the comms.