By Christine Leigh
Summary: Season Two. Takes place after the teaser for One Breath, but before Scully's return.
The first thing he sees upon entering the vestibule of the church is a small crystal vase of miniature pink tea roses and forget- me-nots. It has been placed on a table which also holds three photographs of her, and he immediately wonders why anyone would choose these particular flowers to place there. Clichéd sentimentality aside, it's just stupid, he thinks. And then he feels ashamed for having this thought. This is her family's doing; he's the outsider here, the nonbelieiver.
His line of vision moves to the photographs: One where she appears to be about age ten along side another girl whom he thinks could be a sister, you never mentioned a sister, Scully one from a graduation, probably college, and one with her mother and father on what looks like a birthday. The last one couldn't have been taken too many years before she'd started to work on the X-files, he guesses. Then he just stops. He needs a minute to breathe. He's here, but only in the corporeal sense, and because three nights ago he'd made the mistake of answering his phone.
"Yes, Mrs. Scully. Hello." He waited. Only a few seconds, but it seemed forever. His tolerance for other people was wearing thin these days, and all he really wanted was to slam the phone down.
"There's going to be a service." Shit, he thinks, this isn't happening. He couldn't shake the image of that damned headstone from his mind. Sometimes it was huge, twice his height, easily. He doesn't want to see the real one again, ever.
"This isn't what you think, Agent Mulder. We, the family, that is, just want to gather and remember Dana."
"Oh, I see." As though forgetting her was an option.
"There will be a few close friends there as well, and I wanted you to know that you're welcome."
Welcome. Not a word he's accustomed to hearing in reference to himself. He can't think of anything he'd rather not attend. But seeing as he's welcome, what the hell?
"Thank you, Mrs. Scully. I'll think about it." It was a lame answer, but he couldn't muster anything more.
The organist is playing "Ave Maria," and Mulder is glad to have the strains of Bach to assist him in getting through this. The silence and intermittent whispering had been trying his patience. No, forgetting her isn't an option, but he's here anyway remembering along with thirty or so others, he guesses. Mrs. Scully had told him how glad she was he decided to come. She sat in the front pew along side two men in uniform who he knew must be Scully's brothers, and he imagined that he would not escape introductions after the service. Again, he felt ashamed, and bowed his head. It was so little to do for these people, none of whom would be here today if not for him and his fucked up life.
It was Samantha all over again. Almost. The truth is that this woman who he'd known relatively for so short a time, had taken up a huge space in his life. One day she was standing there, shaking his hand and smiling down at him like he'd done something unexpectedly right, and another, she was gone, but not without leaving him the sound of her voice begging him for help. That's the one thing he can't quite surmount with sex or alcohol. No matter where he is or in what condition, he'll hear her, and remember that he didn't get there in time.
The parts of him that no one can see, possibly save her, are aching. The emotional pain he is experiencing now is worse than the physical pain of two nights ago after he'd gone several rounds with a bottle of Absolut. The hangover made him sicker than he'd been in a long while, but at least it pulled his mind away for twenty-four hours; his current hurt isn't leaving any time soon. *Are you here, Scully? Do you know I'm here? You must. Are you far away, or maybe just outside, waiting in the car?* In his reality they are both anywhere but here, in this terrible space his body occupies, as he sits and waits for it to start. It's ridiculous to be sitting here, but it's all there is left for her mother, so he won't say or do anything. He'll just hold on.
The priest entered. Mulder stood with the rest of the congregation. They had never done anything like this for Samantha, and for once Mulder is in agreement with his parents' decision, or more likely indecision, given their states of mind during the time following her disappearance. Whichever, he is grateful that this never happened for her. It shouldn't be happening for Scully, but Mulder isn't in charge here, and all he can do is hold on to his belief that he will find her one day. He doesn't really want to deal with anyone, even her mother, in the interim. He knows how selfish that is, but he doesn't know any other way.
He thinks back on the case in California. It was a couple of months ago, and the further away it gets, the more he has to work to convince himself that it happened. Kristen was deader than he, even prior to her self-immolation, but now he feels that he could rival her if he isn't careful. It would take very little provocation. He just needs to hold on. The tickle of the chain around his neck that holds Scully's cross is his tether to both his existence and to her. He was surprised when her mother had given it back to him that day, and now is terrified of ever having to return his talisman, knowing that there would only be one reason to do so.
He closes his eyes for a second to see her face. Usually recalling her voice will calm him some, but he needs to see her face now. *Scully, you're pretty. Do you know that?*
In the end it wasn't as difficult as Mulder had thought it would be. He'd gone on autopilot as the voices around him were mumbling the responses to the Kyrie, and didn't hear much after that. The priest must have spoken about Scully, but Mulder missed it. He was just glad to have survived the hour. Now, for the really hard part. It didn't take long for the church to empty after the family had exited. He followed behind a brunette woman who appeared to be Scully's age, into the vestibule. Mrs. Scully and the priest were talking and Mulder, for an instant, thought he'd just leave, but wavered. Then the brunette woman was walking toward him. She held out her hand.
"I think you must be Dana's partner. I'm a good friend of hers, Ellen Curtis." As he shook her hand, he could see the hint of a smile in the woman's eyes. Somehow, that comforted him.
"Fox Mulder. Yes, I'm Dana's partner." He really needed to leave.
"I knew you had to be him. Dana and I haven't had time to visit each other since Christmas, but whenever we do get together, your name enters into the conversation."
"Something like the bad penny, I suppose."
"No, not at all. She always speaks of you affectionately. And I know her regard for you professionally couldn't be higher. She's been so busy since working with you it seems, but she always looks happy when I see her. Happier than I've ever seen her before, and we've known each other since our sophomore year in college."
Mulder is having a tough time now. Who is this woman, is all he's really thinking, but his heart is beating to a different rhythm at the moment, and he wants to take it in for all it's worth, which is probably nothing, knowing his record. What she's just said has made him feel better on this miserable day. Yet, there's also something odd about her. About the way she's speaking. What is it?
"I don't know what to say."
"Please, there's no need to say anything. Dana is like a sister to me, and I just wanted to tell you that working with you has made her happy. She's a hard one to read sometimes. Well, probably most of the time. I think I figured out how to spot happy Dana by the time we'd graduated."
That's it, Mulder thought. She's speaking in the present tense. Everyone else here is mourning a person whom he believes is still alive, and that they do not, even if they haven't yet acknowledged the fact, except for this woman, Ellen. She is holding on to hope for seeing Scully again. Mulder can see that, clearly. Suddenly the day isn't a terrible one. But he does need to get out of here. He hopes Mrs. Scully will forgive him for leaving, but that's what he's going to do.
"Ellen, thank you. I have to leave. Perhaps we'll meet again some day."
"Fox, I didn't want to come today, but it means so much to Maggie, and I knew that Melissa, Dana's sister, would probably not attend, so I came. However, Maggie's sons are both here, and my husband and son are waiting for me at home, so I'm leaving, too. Walk me to my car?"
"I'd like nothing better." Mulder motioned her to the door, and together, they left. This misbegotten day was now working out. It would end, and tomorrow would be just as bad as every day had been since Scully had gone, but right now, it was tolerable.
Mulder looked around as they approached Ellen's car, and was amazed that he could actually appreciate the beauty of this October day. Once more, he thought back to the hell he'd visited in California, and shook his head slightly. He'd come close to something horrific there, but had somehow made his way back.
Scully will return. He will see her again, and not just in his dreams. He knows this. Let the others have their false requiem.
He has her.
~ End ~
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This story is (c) Copyright 2003 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.