Act of Mercy
Keyword: Angst. Tragic, terrible Scully angst. Get tissues before you read this. You're going to cry. I did. Goddess knows what I was thinking.
Spoilers: Allusions to One Breath, TFWID and Monday, though this won't spoil anything.
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Disclaimer: The X-Files and the characters of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are owned by Ten Thirteen and Fox. I have no money and I won't make any from this, so don't sue me. Sue the people who keep egging me on.
Summary: Scully makes a terrible choice.
Although I never thought I could save him, I have come to believe that it was I in the end who damned him.
It may be a matter of minutes. Certainly it will be no more than a few hours. And when it is done I will come home and close the last chapter in this long, strange book. How ironic it is that after all we have been through, after every impossible, epic journey, that it should come down to this...
If we had foreseen this ending, would we have had the wisdom to change it? Or even the power? I always believed that we were our own masters, but now I find myself inextricably caught up in the Fate which he believed guided our destinies. I am ready now to concede the point to him.
I know where he is because I was there once, and I came back only because he called me.
But he can't hear me calling him, because I walked away a year ago. And if he should hear me... I don't think he would believe.
For ten days I have sat by his side and called him in every way I know. It hasn't been enough. There is no improvement. There isn't even a plateau; there is only the slow, inexorable decline.
I asked him on a Monday morning. I knew that having a week of work ahead would give him a place to go and a purpose for going. I knew that if I asked him in the evening, the night would be unbearable. I knew that to ask him late in the week would be to create for him a weekend of torment. I knew that no matter how I phrased it, he would take the blame, shoulder the burden.
I remember, after hard cases, after disastrous endings, nights when I would take him home, take him to our bed, trying to offer him at least that comfort; nights that would end instead with him lying helpless in my arms, sobbing out against my breast all his guilt and shame and blame - all over things for which he was, I knew, in no way responsible.
On a Monday morning, a year ago, I asked him for the divorce. I expected persuasion, rationalization, even argument. I was prepared for those, prepared to refute. But defeat? And simple tears? I was disarmed. I crossed the room and held him while he cried. ...Because it was never, never that I no longer loved him. It was never that: it was that I couldn't be loved *by* him, not the way he needed me, and still keep my own soul. He smothered me; he swallowed me. There was no part of me left that was not his. He needed so much of me that there was nothing left for me to live on.
There was nothing left. There is nothing left now...
The report describes an accident, a mishap. A miscommunication. But I know better: he meant it. He meant to be seen, to draw their fire. He chose them to do what he could not do for himself. They did it well. He waits now only for my decision, for my word, to release him. My blessing to begin his journey.
It is the kind thing to do. It is the right thing to do. I know this. I know this: yet I find a way, every day, to postpone it. Not today, for this reason; and not today, for that. Even over these ten days his condition has deteriorated enough to make clear to me that it is inevitable; only its timing lies in my hands. It is up to me to do right by him this one last time.
They will call him brave, when they remember him, but I know it was not bravery, not really. The brave man knows what he stands to lose and acts anyway. But what do we call the man who values himself so little that he cannot perceive the risk?
I wish I could cry. I can't cry.
I cried when I saw him stand, saw him walking into the open. I cried before he fell. I knew - somehow I knew - and the moment he rose my eyes blurred with tears. I was crying as I leaped to my own feet and ran out after him, crying as I knelt beside him, crying at the injustice that cut him down while I ran almost unscathed through that same rain of bullets.
I cried when I saw the X-rays, the CAT scans.
I cried the first moment I saw him afterward, when I saw the machine breathing for him.
I can't cry now.
It wouldn't be quite so hard if I could just cry.
For all that he said - and believed, with all his heart, as only he could - that his life revolved around me, I knew that it really revolved around his obsession with me, and thus around just another part of himself.
I keep having the same nightmare about that Monday morning that we chanced upon the bank robbery. In my dream he has been shot, and is lying on the cold marble floor, his blood, his life, ebbing away under my hands. When I look up at the shooter I see myself standing across the lobby, the weapon still smoking in my hands.
I wonder if he knew I would have to accompany him. I wonder if he knew I never again found all the pieces of myself that I had given away to him. I wonder if he knew how empty I was after him, without him. ...And I wonder if, knowing all that, knowing that it was more my pride than anything else that kept me from him, he would still have stepped out of the tall grass, unarmed, hands raised in surrender, in supplication. I wonder if he would still have chosen to fall.
Know, as you read these lines, that I do not take this step impulsively or without compassion for those of you I leave behind. In my extremity I have come to understand, as he seemed to have understood all along, how one's own need can become so great that it overrides the needs of those we love, whose needs we place before our own.
Know also that, whether this should happen all at once, as it will, or stretched across the long years, the end is the same. I have been dying, by degrees, since he fell in that field; when his dying is finished mine will have hardly begun.
So I will finish this letter, and I will go back to the hospital, and with my own hands I will disconnect the monitors and I will remove the breathing tube. And I will sit on the edge of his bed and I will hold him in my arms and I will wait with him for the end.
It may be a matter of minutes. Certainly it will be no more than a few hours...
Because I am a doctor, they will allow me to perform this act of mercy for him with my own hands. And because I am a doctor, I know the drug and the dosage that I will need to follow him over the edge of that abyss. It is here, already drawn up into the syringe, waiting.
He believed that we return, over and over, finding each other, learning across the lifetimes to love each other the way we were meant to. I scoffed at his conviction then, but I cling to it now for strength. I hope he was right. I want another chance. I hope I can find him. I hope I can recognize him. I hope I can be the one to give him the love he wanted and never found in this life.
I want another chance.