Ever since childhood, she has lived her life with pride. The vehemence that she
invests into her beliefs is riveting, her battles are selected carefully and
fought passionately, and her level of endurance inspiring. Her beliefs are
founded in a simplicity that contradicts her partner's complexity. The faith
that she holds is inextinguishable and driving, and she relies upon her sense of
justice and morality to lead her to her truth. It is because of her logic and
her clarity that this quest has continued. Living her life with the vitality and
fervor that was the foundation of her existence, she has soared where others
To the wronged, she is a champion. To the oppressed, she is a warrior. To one
man, she is a savior.
And now, she is exhausted.
Lying amidst a legion of machinery and monitors, the fragile form of Dana Scully
is lost between the steel and metal that is keeping her alive. No shallow breath
goes unrecorded; not one irregular heartbeat is able to escape the mechanical
touch of an electrode. Surveyed around the clock by faceless doctors and
cautious nurses, there is no action of hers left unnoticed, and privacy has been
decimated and scattered to the winds.
No one understands her sudden failure. Her disease is select and fatal. Doctors
attempt to condescend to her in an effort to conceal the seriousness of her
illness, and she swiftly reminds them of her medical experience. Terms like
"malignant", "metastisize", and "invasive" are not alien to her. She has been
repeating them like a mantra during the months following her diagnosis.
They are her mantra to pursue her quest with the remaining strength that she
has. Each reminder of her sudden physical frailty fuels her need and her desire
to pursue her truth and hold it in her hand at least one before she dies. That's
all that she wants, just a taste of her goal, and then she may die at peace.
The man next to her holds her frail hand and bows his head, the muscles in his
jaw clenching in the condemnation of his failure. Knowing that she will die
without the realization of her journey and sacrifices is the burden that he, as
the living, carries within.
Swallowing back his discontent, Fox Mulder forces his thumb across the tissue-
paper that is her skin. "How are you holding up?" he asks, his voice a
disruption in the symphony that the electronic noises create.
Scully follows suit and swallows back the words that she wishes to tell him
passes on. "Okay," she hoarsely rasps. The medicine and the tube that feeds her
has robbed her of her cool, collected alto. This robbery has ripped through him.
In all of his troubled years, Scully's voice is the only music that has ever
been able to reach him. She has always been an awful singer, but her off-key
notes and flat delivery was able to soothe him out of insomnia with the simple
recitation of an old folk song or a ballad. Now, each word that escapes her
mouth is both fragile and blaring, and Mulder can hear the phlegm rattle inside
of her throat.
Carefully, Mulder takes his thumb over the thin, delicate webbing that connects
her thumb to her forefinger. Scully senses her this ginger attempt at contact,
the way his fingertips tremble over the bridges between her fingers, and she
strains to squeeze his hand in affirmation. The weakness in her grip causes
every part of him to scream with indignation. This is a strong, capable,
brilliant woman, his mind cries. What did she do to deserve this? How did our
fates get mixed up?
Licking his dry lips, he struggles to compose himself and speak again. "The
results of the latest round of tests should be in soon. I spoke to the doctors
just a few minutes ago," Mulder whispers, not meeting her face. Each meager
scrap of news regarding her own condition is a taste of ambrosia to her, and
only Mulder sees the injustice of concealing the progress of a disease that
threatens to conquer her. If Scully is to ever come to terms with what may lie
ahead of her, then she needs to understand the progress of the cancer within
Besides, he already knows the reaction on her face. Over the past couple weeks,
since her admittance into the hospital, Scully's face has illuminated like a
torch with each dangling sparkle of hope. Recovery is the only idea that can
make her smile stretch against the tight skin of her gaunt face, and Mulder
wants to deliver that promise to her.
So, rather than torture himself by watching her discontent, he memorizes the
pattern of her blue veins on the back of her hand. Scully has such small,
precise, nimble fingers. It is becoming difficult to distinguish her pale skin
from the multitude of tubes and IV's that lay entwined about her.
"And?" Scully asks, and he flinches at the possibility that screams from her
Pained, Mulder flicks his eyes away from her, toward the crease of his wrinkled
trousers, and her eagerness evaporates. Through the years, their language has
become based not in the brashness of words, but the subtlety of eyes and face.
Scully recognizes each emotion that pours into his individual muscles, and the
lines that appear in his brow, the tugging on his lower lip, tells her the news.
"I see," she murmurs in response, retracting her hand from Mulder and placing it
cautiously in her lap. There, they flutter like white butterflies, entrapped by
the cords and tubes that keep her alive by refusing her freedom. The desolation
and resignation in her voice and in her downcast eyes stabs into his heart, and
he clenches down on his lip with his teeth, drawing blood. The coppery taste
washes over his tongue, and she smiles shakily, reaching out with her fingers to
temper the wound.
"Don't do that," Scully whispers, her voice fond and her gesture intimate. The
feathery touch of her fingertips on his lip is still enough to thunder the force
of their passion that had always existed between them. Startled, his eyes
flutter up to meet hers, deep jade underneath the fringes of dark ebony lashes.
Gently, she smiles, and Mulder swallows. "You'll scar it." Wistfully, she allows
her hand to remain on the silk of his mouth for a moment longer, reveling in a
sensation of him that will soon be robbed from her with the passing of her life.
All throughout their years together, this yearning has existed; burned between
them. It began with the suddenness of spark chasing onto wick, and then slowed
to simmer in the subtle flame that it is today.
Scully regrets never stoking that flame until now. Every possibility of
recognition of love
is in the creases and crevices of Mulder's lower lip, and etched into the
indentation of his satin lips. She believes that she should stop, but her heart
begs with her to hold onto this man as though he can be an anchor. Bitterly, she
inwardly laughs. To use such an unstable man such as Mulder for an emotional
binding is as hopeless as her dreams of recovery, and yet she clings to his
"Are you afraid?" His words are sudden and come from nowhere, and Scully is
jolted out of her reverie. Scrambling for composure, she jerks her hand away
from his lips, not dwelling on the possibility of whether or not he had kissed
her fingertip when he had spoken. Quietly, she folds her hands once more on her
lap, and her rough palms catch on the cotton of her bed sheet.
"Sometimes," she admits. Hasty lies to cover up her discomfort with her
condition would only be a contradiction to her belief in truth. When she was
still active and out of the hospital, she had often used false promises to ease
his mind of her health issues, but there were no pretenses now. Mulder knew more
about the failure of Scully's body than she did.
Concerned, Mulder inches nearer to her face on the bed, so that when he
breathes, she smells the cinnamon chewing gum that he had been gnawing on
earlier. The dot of crimson on his lip is a stark reminder of her own
nosebleeds, signature reminders of her tumor. "How so?" he inquires, folding his
own slender hands near to hers. Next to her pale, porcelain palms, the splayed
gold of Mulder's tapering fingers and delicate wrists are a sharp contrast.
Scully's fingertips dance toward those hands, wanting to let herself be covered
by them, and she instead rests next to them.
"My faith has been questioned so often during these years that I am unsure of
what the afterlife is," she muses. "Religion dictates eternal heaven and eternal
hell. But I can't trust my religion. My own mind can't invest any stock into
"What do you believe the afterlife to be then?" Mulder questions.
She shrugs her bony shoulders, the collarbone shifting through her transparent
gown and skin. "I believe the afterlife to be a multitude of possibility," she
decides. "Perhaps life after death is only what you perceive it to be."
"And what do you perceive it to be?"
A darkness settles over her drawn, pinched face, circling under her china eyes.
"That's where I'm worried, Mulder," she breathes. With the low pitch of her
voice, the roughness in her tones is smoothed out slightly, giving a husky
quality to her already rich alto. "I cannot perceive an afterlife, and I'm
terrified of living out death in nothingness."
Understanding suddenly, he moves from his plastic chair next to her bed, and
perches on the mattress next to her. There is a sudden need to be near to her,
to touch her and cling to her as though she were his anchor. It is a ridiculous
thought, to try to find stability in a woman whose life is slipping away surely
and swiftly, but Mulder's only anchor has been this woman. In her strength, he
has found a common ground.
Delicately, so not to jiggle the bedside and upset her already weak stomach, he
settles down next to her. Flattening his hands on the indentation of her
abdomen, he aches at the skeletal shape of her body. Scully has always taken
pride in her physical condition, and he can feel the muscle wasting away
underneath the sheet. The other day, he saw her walk to the bathroom, dressed
only in her hospital gown and thick cotton socks, and he had to excuse himself
before seeing her.
Mulder had never thought that he would see Scully hobble.
"Then let me give you my images," he offers. Cautiously, she smiles, and he
reaches up to smooth back her brittle red hair. He cannot dwell on her hair now.
Later, he can mourn and weep, but not now. "I believe that there is no such
thing as heaven and hell. I believe in reincarnation."
"Soul mates," she murmurs, her voice low with a heaviness, and he shakes his
"Not soul mates," he corrects. "Different lives, and sometimes the same people.
But you have to choose your own fate in the next life. You get another chance to
make something wonderful of your life. Even if you have committed the most vile
act against another person, you still get the chance to correct your mistakes."
Without another word, he smoothes back her hair again. He needs this. "And if
you've lived out your life in pain, then you can live out one in joy."
She doesn't need to know that he is winging it. Mulder has no idea if he truly
believes this or not, though every word that spills from his mouth is making
more and more sense to him. And the sense that it makes is painful, for he
realizes that he is preparing Scully for her life after death. He is not
preparing himself for a life without her.
A life without Dana Scully is simply not life anymore.
Somehow, she knows what he is thinking, and she finally initiates the first
contact. Tangling her fingers in his, her smooth hands now rapidly aged from the
many needles and probes, she looks up at him. "What are you going to do when
this is all over, Mulder?" she asks, and her voice is with such concern that he
blinks back tears. He can't do this.
"I don't know," he whispers, his voice suddenly no bigger than her own small,
sick tones. "I just don't know." Leaning his head toward hers in weariness, his
entire frame seems to collapse. "I can't think about that now. I can't let this
"It's going to end," she sadly acknowledges, and his chin drops to his chest.
"When the doctors walk through my door, I already know what they are going to
tell me. And then, it's just a matter of waiting."
Anguished, he turns his face to hers, and she catches her breath in her throat
before he even speaks. Every color of emotion is splashed across his face in a
rainbow, and Scully finds her own lip tugged on in an effort to keep herself in
check. "I can't let this end," he repeats, his voice strangled. "Don't you
understand? It's the only thing in my life that had a beginning."
Oh, Mulder, don't tell me that. Please, don't tell me that. But he is not
finished. With a plea, his dark hazel eyes fixate on her blue ones, and she is
captured. "There are too many doors left open," he decides. "I need to close
those doors. When every room is explored, and there's still nothing to be found,
then I'll let it go. But not till then."
Furrowing her brow, she speaks. "But how many doors are you opening just for the
sake of saying that they're open?" she chides, and he looks down. The
healthiness of his hands is starkly compared to the sickliness of hers, and he
aches to infuse his life into the skeletal fingers and fleshless palms. If only
he could give her everything that he had never deserved, then perhaps she will
"I can't let this go," he forcefully whispers, and then confesses. "I can't let
you go." There is another pause, and when he speaks again, his voice is thick
with despair. "I just don't know how to let you go."
There it is, revealed and open to the world. She knows with the shattered
quality to his voice, and with the sudden creases around his hooded, sullen
eyes. Scully sees for the first time every emotion that this man holds for her,
and the effect is overwhelming. For a moment, she wishes that she had never seen
it, and had instead remained unaware of every falter in their relationship. In
Mulder's open face, she sees what they could have, and perhaps should have,
But before she can open up her mouth to speak, something warm drizzles down her
face like a steaming raindrop, and she quickly conceals her face with her hand.
But he has seen the evidence that mars her perfection, and Mulder freezes as the
blood flows like a river down her translucent skin. With jerky movements, he
rises from her bedside. His mouth opens and closes as though the words yearn
escape, but he cannot collect himself. "I'll... I'll get the doctor," he
stammers, but she shakes her head and reaches out with one blood-stained palm to
"There's no need," she protests. "These happen now and then... It'll pass." She
speaks the truth. Ever since Scully was hospitalized, she has been victim to
these sudden attacks. She has just been fortunate enough not to have had one in
the presence of her partner. But the blood that flows like copper spittle down
her chin cracks the mask that she has tried to don, and Mulder stares at her
with shock and horror.
"There's got to be something that..." The sticky palm that had touched his
forearm lightly tightens in a vise-like grip, and he is shocked by the sudden
strength that she is able to conjure up. Of course she has this reserve, he
chides. She has always had more strength than meets the eye.
"Stay with me, Mulder," she says, and there is no query in the tone of her
voice. She does not command, but decides. Wisely, Mulder shows no resistance,
and swings his long, lanky legs up next to her shorter, atrophied limbs. The
tips of his wing-tipped dress show push against the floorboard of the hospital
bed, and together, they swim in the ocean of Scully's electronic life.
With an arm protectively slid around her shoulders, she is wrapped next to him,
her petite red head leaning against his breastbone. Her right hand floats
tentatively to his chest, and he covers the wired hand with his healthy, strong
palm. Finally, she nuzzles into his necktie, and he leans down to rest his chin
on the top of her head, disregarding the smear of blood left on his patterned
tie. In the rare occasions that they had come together in the intimacy of an
embrace, they had always found that they were interlocking pieces. Mulder and
Scully fit perfectly together.
In this moment, they both see the past four years of their lives whisper around
like phantoms, singing of a time that they had spent together, and of a
sacrifice that neither is willing to make. Mulder has sold every part of his
life in order to attain this Holy Grail of truth and justice, but to rip Scully
from him would be to tear the marrow from his bones. The loss of her would be
crippling. She is too much a part of him for him to let slip away.
Perhaps in this moment, she recognizes this, and she whispers her confirmation
to him in what others would perceive as ambiguity, but what Mulder perceives as
directness. "Thank you," she whispers, "for taking the pain away in this life. I
want you there in my next one."
This is all the exchange that they need, and the only physical confirmation is
the union of her hands with his over his heartbeat. Both pray that the
persistence of Mulder's pulse is enough for the two of them to live on, and that
her wisdom and strength is enough to carry his heart through.
And then, the doctors leave, and Mulder leaves, too. This is not his time, and
this is not his body. She needs this time to know her own fate, and her silence
speaks volumes to him. There is no pity in her luminous blue eyes now, only a
poignant clarity and acceptance as she turns to him. With her eyes only
millimeters away from his, she feels that one escaped tear would fall free from
her lashes and dangle easily on his. Fortunately for the both of them, there are
no tears to be shed. This is her fate, and her time to hear out her fate.
With a final pat of her palm on his fuzzed cheek, she nods her relief to him. "I
need this time," she croaks, and he swallows.
"I'll be just outside," he manages, and with great effort, swings his legs off
of the bed and onto the floor. Odd, how the solidity of the tile floor beneath
him offers less steadiness than the wisp of a woman in the hospital bed. Scully
has always provided him with a source, and now her well is drying up.
With a final, wavering smile, he turns his back to her and begins his way out,
pausing briefly to meet the eyes of the doctors who march in with the solemnity
of pallbearers. The corpse that they carry is Dana Scully's diagnosis, encased
within the casket of a manila folder. Mulder sees this report in the middle
doctor's hand, and wrenches his eyes away from that promise of death. He was
never one for an open-casket funeral to begin with.
Wistfully, her eyes follow his stooped shoulders out of the room, and she turns
to her doctors momentarily. For the past months, she has faced this nemesis,
this foe, and the final battle has been fought. With the flimsiest of Mulder's
untamed beliefs, with the most experimental science, and with the most founded
prayer, she has armed herself carefully, using these three sources of faith to
draw upon for warfare. These doctors, her battalions and army, wait beside her
for the word.
The battle has been fought, and the war is over. Only the results remain
undetermined, and the victor waits to be named inside of that thick medical
A doctor opens his mouth to speak, but she holds up her hand. "Wait," she
requests, and the men are silenced before the shadow of beauty within and
without. They have known this woman for months, and they have seen her body
disintegrate and decompose. Never have they seen her spirit falter, and they do
not catch a glimpse now.
In this pause, she holds onto her life once more. Every memory whispers past her
in a flood of emotional experience and tumultuous sensation. This is the
exuberance of life, and the whirlwind that is existence. Memory is a mere
history of this hurricane, and her life will leave her behind as a part of the
wreckage and carnage.
It will also leave him behind, and for a moment, Scully lingers on him. Knowing
that he does not believe in prayer, she instead bows her head, and hopes. She
hopes that his life can go on with the persistence and power of his
insurmountable spirit and heart. She hopes that he knows that she is still with
him, and hopes that this is enough.
Once having left her, Mulder faces a row of plastic chairs, colorful in hue and
purpose, and bites his lip in fret. These chairs are empty, and reserved for the
beloved and bereft of the dying. Their sole purpose in this world is to house
the weeping and grieving of the driftwood and debris that death brings, and
Mulder takes his place in this elite club. The chairs provide no comfort; they
allow no hope. Instead, all that they do is exist.
The only comfort and hope that is left in Mulder's twisted life is a slip of a
savior entrapped in the maze of tubes and monitors, and his body jolts forward,
lolling around in the desire to break and bend underneath the pressure. He is
not built for this, he tells himself. He is not made to be alone. Perhaps once
upon a time, seclusion and separation was the only answer. But after feeling the
fleeting touch of actual human affection, something that he has been starved of
his entire life, there is no way to return to his existence before.
The life that he knew as the Fox Mulder with Dana Scully will die when she is
removed from the life support, or when the final nosebleed robs her of her
lifeblood, or when the aneurysm explodes within her skull. In many ways, he has
been given a similar death sentence.
Only she is the one who will not have to forge a new life after he is gone. God
cannot be kind to Mulder, for Mulder does not believe in God. God is a giver,
and the only person to give has been Mulder himself. There has been too much
blood spilt, too many sacrifices made, and too much innocence shattered.
Despairing, Mulder arches his back against the restrictions of the plastic
chair, and he turns his face to the ceiling. His hands curl into claw and talon.
Why is there no more time? Why does it have to be this woman? Why does it always
have to be us? Why can't someone else have a turn in the roulette wheel he has
been spun in for the past thirty-seven years? And why can't he keep her alive?
Then, his body relaxes, and he sinks. Oh, Scully, he bemoans. There is supposed
to be more for you than this. But there will never be more. He can only offer
what is his to give, and the possessions of Fox Mulder are few in quantity and
tainted in quality. He can only offer love, something that has been tampered
with since childhood and betrayed in adulthood. But he can offer his heart, and
he can offer his trust.
Wearily, his face sinks into the blindness of palm and flesh, his profile
covered by the steeple that his hands create. He can still smell the scent and
tang of Scully's blood on his skin. There is nothing fragrant about it.
He does not pray, for the words and prayers have been forgotten and abandoned
over the years. But she has taught him hope. She has taught him hope, sculpted
his love, and then refined his truth. Through her empathy and passion, she has
saved him, and he loves her for it. Whispering her name with the most fragile of
breaths, he hopes for her, and he hopes that it is enough.
Minutes pass like hours, and they are moments that he fears that she cannot
afford. Finally, the door to her room opens, and the doctors leave. Their faces
are expressionless and blank, neither joy nor pity nor sorrow revealing their
prognosis to him. Mulder's face turns upward, and a young doctor looks at him
with a nod. Slowly, he rises from his chair, and he pauses.
This is the last time he has with the fragile faith that she will live forever.
One last moment, he promises himself. He just wants one last moment of a future
together. Just to believe for a second longer before his world is shattered. And
then he re-opens his eyes, and returns to Scully's room to receive news of her
There is no tension in her body as he walks into the room, and it eats at him.
He cannot interpret her composure as either courage or relief. Finally, from the
folded, calm hands, his eyes move upwards to meet her face, clean of blood.
Cerulean eyes stare blankly back at him, and the hoarse voice speaks to him in a
mockery of Dana Scully's rich alto.
"It's over," she murmurs, and he stiffens. Each and every muscle, involuntary
and voluntary, contracts with the impact of her words, and the marrow turns to
lead within his bones. The fight to save her life is over. "It's all over."
Terrified, he cannot read her words, and he finally drifts beyond the color and
shape of her eyes to the soul underneath. That is where the true confusion
settles in, for what he sees is a puzzle. "Scully," he chokes, and she flutters
her eyelashes in an effort to conceal her emotional jumble.
"Remission," she blurts, and the word slams past Mulder. Remission... Revival.
Redemption. Resurrection. Redux. This is what her word means to him, and he
finally staggers. Grace robbed from his step at the wonder of her truth, he
stumbles to her bedside, and drops to his knees in a jerky, fumbling movement.
Hazel eyes wide with disbelief, he frowns at her, and she tugs at her lower lip
with her teeth. It'll scar, Scully, his mind absently throws at her, and she
reaches out with her hand to trace the silkiness of his disheveled brown locks.
The gesture rips through him with realization, and he suddenly recognizes every
single impact that her word had on him. Images of mornings beside her, of nights
in her company, of words that they may speak and breaths that they would take
spill through his mind like abandoned wine, and he feels himself shatter. He has
existed in a precarious state the past days, and every emotion that has rested
within the secretive hollows and hallows escapes. The tears spill down his
cheek, and his cup runneth over.
In agreement with his display, she cups the back of his head with the curve of
her palm, and weaves her fingers through the curling threads of mahogany against
the nape of his neck. The gesture is soothing, and she sighs. "Shh," she
whispers, "it's enough."
It is all enough. It is enough to be the champion. It is enough to be the
warrior. It is enough to be the savior. And one day soon, it will be enough to
As Mulder allows himself to weep, Scully holds him and whispers to him again.
And it is.
Feedback? Did anyone say feedback? Why, sure, I'd love some! Just send it down
to Auralissa@aol.com! I reply to every letter!
Author's Notes: I have wanted to do a vignette for this episode for a long time
now, and I took the time out to write out the inspiration that came only days
ago. I am a shipper. I tried to keep the romance down to a minimum in this story
because I felt that it would have detracted too much from the impact of the
story. However, I make no promises from here on out. :)
You may also have noticed that my Scully was in worse condition than she
actually was in "Redux II". I took some artistic license with this because I
felt that a woman dying of cancer would be in less-ideal shape. And I didn't
think that her lipstick would be perfect or her hair would be blow-dried. ;)
I wrote this story as an elaboration on the triad of possibilities that were
supposed to have saved Scully: Mulder's beliefs, Scully's science, and Scully's
faith. But what if it was hope that saved her life? I think that one of the most
wonderful things about "The X-Files" is its underlying ribbon of hope, and I
thought that this, while maybe not a cure, was a nice way to save a woman like
Scully. Thank you, Kris, for helping me think of this one.
Special thanks to Alexandra Moody for editing and critiquing the story. Welcome
to the wonderful world of "The X-Files" and its fanfiction, Lexy! =
::urges all to applaud Annie's friend for taking the dive into the show::
This story is, as always, for Kristin Pohaski. When two people such as us live
so far apart physically and so near spiritually, we can only hope that our
friendship, trust, and confidence will be enough. And I think that it is. :)