A World of Fragile Things
By Christine Leigh
Summary: Mulder looks back on a terrible, wonderful time in their lives.
Spoilers: Memento Mori
For Lidia on her birthday.
It's strange, he supposes, that when he remembers everything that happened in that time, that some of his clearest memories should be of the saddest days. That was a terrible period in their lives and he'd jettison it in a heartbeat if it were possible. Yet, he doesn't mind remembering.
These memories come out of nowhere lately it seems, and tonight he is remembering the day he dropped the teacup. He knew she wouldn't say a word about it, but the slivers of fine china that were strewn all over her kitchen floor served as the perfect metaphor. She was one of the strongest persons he'd known, and now that her strength was gone, if she were to fall, she'd break every bit as easily as the cup. He saw this every time he looked at her. The bones were more prominent; her skin once radiantly translucent, too thin and stretched.
It was a pretty cup, forget-me-nots painted on delicate white, and he wondered whose it had been. Her own dishes were contemporary, but the cup and saucer he'd found sitting on the counter were straight out of someone's china closet -- from her mother or grandmother he wondered? She had asked for tea, and so naturally he'd thought to bring it to her in the cup that was now in smithereens. The world they inhabited was so fragile, and he needed to be more careful.
"Mulder, is everything all right?"
Her voice was weak, but still beautifully musical. The low notes were the ones he loved to hear best. This last round of chemo had been the worst so far, and she was calling to him from the living room where she rested on the couch. That she'd asked him to be here is alternately a comfort and pure torture.
"I dropped the cup that was on the counter. I hope it wasn't too special."
"Don't worry. There's a broom in the closet."
He found it and made quick work of cleaning up the mess. Then he started over, and as he carried the tea to her, he tried to sound relatively upbeat.
"Here you are, Scully. Sorry about that." He set the mug on the coffee table as she tried to sit up.
"Are you okay to be up?"
"I don't know. We'll find out." She patted her hand gently on the space next to her, motioning him to sit. He complied and picked up the mug of tea to hand to her. She took it and just held it for several seconds and then sipped, finally.
"Thank you, Mulder. It tastes good."
"There's soup, too. I think I'm up for the challenge."
"Not right now." She paled even more at the mention of the soup, so they just remained quiet for a bit. After a few more sips she set the mug down. He could sense a slight hesitation in her and then she surprised him by laying her head on his shoulder. There was no hesitation on his part as he put his arm around her. It was as if they sat like this every night together.
"Scully, are you sure you wouldn't be more comfortable in bed?"
"No. I like it here."
He gave her a gentle squeeze.
"Mulder, why haven't we done this before?"
"I don't know, Scully. I never . . . "
Never thought about it? Not true. He thought about it often, even before her diagnosis. Now, the time they spent together had become so precious, but he didn't want to upset her. She wanted to know about this, though -- about them. He couldn't refuse.
"I was always worried that things between us, as they were professionally and as friends, might be ruined. It was a delicate balance, but it seemed to work. Well, most of the time. And I was so obsessed with finding Samantha." He almost choked on his next words. "I always told myself that there would be time later for us."
Her voice was sorrowful as she uttered the word, and she closed her eyes. He stroked her cheek and felt her tears. He faced her now, and if she should open her eyes, she'd see his.
He turns to look at her. She's fast asleep, her back to him. It has been a strange and wonderful ride they've had. The years that came before her don't really register with him fully anymore. He knows why he doesn't mind remembering that time; knows why as well as he knows why the sun still rises each day. It was because of the one thing -- the most important gift of all that he had been given during that time.
He knows that this is when she'd come to love him.
~ End ~
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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.