The Color of April
By Christine Leigh
Summary: Post-series. Scully remembers a difficult month.
Category: V, A, AU
Spoilers: This Is Not Happening, DeadAlive
There was a commotion on the porch. When Scully went to see what it was, she came upon Jasper torturing a finch. The cat, who lived three doors down, seemed to prefer this house and the porch in particular, to his home. She wasn't in the mood for this today and watched for a few seconds before clapping her hands loudly until he ran away with his bounty between his teeth. He'd be back soon enough, she knew, but let his owners deal with the bird. She returned to her tea and book. The late afternoon sun, unable to penetrate the chill that clung so stubbornly to the outdoor air, was warm filtered through the living room window.
This had been a day when morning hadn't come soon enough, even though she had awakened to a shivering cold. Three-quarters of an hour under a sturdy stream of hot water had helped, but she was still feeling cold. It would pass, but it seemed to be hanging on longer this year. Perhaps being alone was exacerbating it, she thought. Then she thought again. No, this is just how it was. Her body was remembering how it had been *that* year, and there was nothing to do but let it run its course.
When she was a child she had associated specific colors with certain months, and had always thought of April as green. May was pink; July, red, and October, yellow and orange. June had been blue, most of the time a big bright blue for the happiness that was summertime. Then there were the mornings she would be out of bed even before her mother, and then the blue was softer, matching the hues of the changing sky as she watched the sun come up.
April had no color now. It had bled out that year.
In her dreams she saw him as she had in the motel room in Montana. Agent Reyes was nattering on behind her, and then suddenly he'd be there when she glanced up, just as he had been after she'd tried to assault the light switch. In her dream, though, she never looked away and soon he would become more defined. Then Agent Reyes was gone, and there they would stand. No voices or other sounds broke the spell. In her dream she was convinced that looking away had been her mistake on that horrible night. If she'd only kept her focus on him he would never have been returned in the condition he was. She was tortured by this thought. Some nights it would end there, and on others the dream would turn into a nightmare as his silhouette against the window became something else. She would feel hands touching her, but she didn't want any hands on her with the exception of those belonging to the man whose once beautiful body was now lying in a heap in the dirt, left for dead. As she shook the hands off and turned to start her run, she couldn't bear it any longer, and would then awaken. Sometimes screaming, but always crying. It had been two months since the service in North Carolina. Had that really happened? The question went round and round in her head; her heart didn't need to ask.
After an hour Scully put her book down. She knew she should think about dinner, but it was difficult getting motivated in that direction. She had a movie for tonight, but wondered if she would watch it. For a woman who had spent a large part of her adult life alone, she was not liking this status at all now. Complete solitude wasn't her thing anymore. She'd changed so much during the last several years. She'd done her mother proud. Better not go there, though. She missed her mother. Maggie had been able to visit a few times, but the everyday comfort of knowing she was close by is something that Scully dearly wished she still had. She'd taken it so for granted when it had been there. She could always give her a call, she supposed. But a glance at the clock reminded her of the time difference. Her mother would most likely be at mass, having forgone Sunday mornings for Saturday evenings a few years ago. She'd call her tomorrow morning, definitely. She got up and started for the kitchen, but then heard more noise outside so turned back. Damn that Jasper. He'd better not have left the finch behind, she thought as she headed to the porch. Before she could look, however, she heard voices instead of meows and scuffles.
"Will, we need to take these shoes off." Then louder. "Scully, it's us. We're back."
Scully came upon her two loves seated on the steps to the porch, their backpacks in tow, and pulling off muddied shoes. She smiled through tears that she'd managed to keep at bay, but were now threatening to fall. Mulder saw this, though, and asked about it.
"You okay, Scully?"
"Yes, Mulder." She leaned down and kissed him. He put an arm around her waist and held her for a moment looking up at her.
"Really. Sad book. That's all."
"Mommy, we missed you."
Scully sat down next to Will and hugged him.
"Will, I missed you terribly. But I hope you had fun. Why are you back now instead of tomorrow?" She directed her question to Mulder.
"Tom got sick with some kind of flu bug and it looked like rain was on the way, so we called it off a day early. Scully, I'll have you know our boy is a good little camper, though."
"Will, did you roast marshmallows?" Scully saw his little left eyebrow go up and something inside her gave way. Maybe this was a turning point, she thought. Perhaps she wouldn't be so cold next year at this time. She turned her attention back to her precious boy.
"Hot dogs. I roasted hot dogs. On a stick."
"Well, of course, on a stick. That's what campers do."
"And how many did you eat, Will? Tell mom that. I'm surprised Tom was the one who became sick."
"Four. With hot mustard."
"Four? Well, now I'm not so worried that I didn't make dinner yet. Sounds like we may not need it."
"Mommy, that was last night."
"Oh. Okay. In that case I guess I'd better go see what we have to eat." They all rose, and filed into the house.
"Marshmallows!" Will darted ahead of them, undaunted by having his trip cut short.
"I don't know, how about chicken?" Mulder looked at Scully and grinned.
"I think that might be doable." Yes, something was shifting. Permanently, she hoped. "Marshmallow chicken. Extra marshmallows for the person with the cleanest hands."
At hearing this, Will changed course and darted to the bathroom. The sound of a running faucet soon came forth. Mulder looked at Scully again, searching.
"Scully, are you sure it's just the book?"
"No." Now that Will was out of an earshot, she could say this.
"What's going on?"
"I just missed you, and for some reason even more today."
"Well then, I hope he's all right, but bless Tom's stomach. And the weather forecast." He turned and led her back outside. They had a clear view of the evening star in the western sky and for a few minutes as they stood on their front porch watching it, they became just Mulder and Scully. Friends, lovers, parents, those things were all part of their package, but for now they were just them. A perfect distillation. The sky had turned a brilliant violet and Mulder looked at Scully observing it. She seemed mesmerized.
"Beautiful color, isn't it Scully?"
"Yes." She wanted to hold onto it. She *would* hold onto it.
"I'm so glad you're back, Mulder."
"I'll always come back, Scully, I promise you that."
She managed to squeeze his hand. At the moment that was all she could do.
They went inside.
~ End ~
Author's note: April has many associations for me, both happy and sad, and in a way this vignette is an expression of that. When I first wrote it two years ago I wasn't thinking along those lines, but when I pulled it out to revise, the parallel struck me. As a child I always loved April - it was the month I wanted my birthday to be in, and for some reason I've never been able to trace to anything particular, I just thought it was the best month of the year. As an adult there have been problematic things to deal with at this time of year, and then I lost my father in April seven years ago, incidentally on the day "all things" first aired. So, like Scully in this vignette, I'm always hoping for better Aprils to come.
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This story is (c) Copyright 2004 by Christine Leigh. "The X-Files" and its characters are the property of the Fox Network and Ten-Thirteen Productions and are borrowed here without profit or intent for profit.