Ad Vitam Aeternam
Vignette, Rated PG (disturbing imagery)
Keywords: ScullyAngst, MSR
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Spoilers: It's sort of post-'Requiem,' but a few years post; not immediately.
Disclaimer: The X-Files and the characters thereof are the property of Ten Thirteen and Fox, and are used without permission and for no profit.
Summary: "It was enough, in the end..."
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It troubled her for a long time afterward that she had not heard his last words to her.
She thought she might never understand what he had meant. "It was the only way I could come back," he had said. He had said something more, and she had strained to hear it, but she couldn't; she couldn't get close enough, and then it had been over.
There was such an unreal quality now to the two years that had just passed. Her mother in particular was given to voicing her fond reminiscences of him, and Scully would sit listening, dandling her daughter on her knee, nodding in that distant way, letting her mind wander, letting her fingers play through the little girl's long dark hair.
Nothing in all her life had even begun to prepare Scully for the intensity of the love she felt for this child. Of course she had run every possible test of paternity both before and after the birth, but even without that proof she would have known. She saw him more and more in the child as she grew -- in her hazel eyes, in her expressions, in her curiosity and her stubbornness and in the beguiling way she already tried to manipulate Scully. And Scully felt the echo of her relationship with him in the way she would sometimes find herself charmed into acquiescence.
She hadn't told her mother the facts of the thing; she had opted for the easy lie instead. The truth of it opened too many doors, and they were doors she was too weary to walk through. She couldn't bear the thought of searching for him all over again. She was ashamed to admit that she might have come to prefer him dead.
Before her daughter had been born, when she was only an idea, an abstract thought, the notion of giving up the search for Mulder had been unthinkable. But now that she had seen her, had held her, had loved her, it had been so easy to step back and become a widow. The decision seemed to have been made for her.
She had had her respite, she told herself. She'd had two years in the sun, two years when all was right with the world. Two full years and more from the day he'd been found wandering, confused but apparently unhurt, at the edge of a farmer's field not a hundred miles from the forest where he'd vanished almost a year earlier. Two years that he had loved her and she had loved him, and together they had watched their child grow. Sometimes she thought it would have been selfish to ask for much more than that.
She had closed her ears to the well-meant suggestions from Langly and Byers and Frohike that perhaps it had never really been him at all. She had declined when Skinner offered to try to have the investigation reopened. She had never told them what he had said to her there, at the end. She knew she could never explain why she believed it.
There hadn't been much left to bury. She had briefly considered cremation but, given the particular circumstances, had thought the risks too great. Instead, she had been very specific that the casket should remain closed throughout the services.
She had seen him hit; she had seen, in her peripheral vision, the blur of motion as he fell. "Officer down!" she shouted as she ran, darting from car to car, ducking for cover. "We've got a man down!"
"Mulder, lie still. Lie still!" she'd cried, seeing the way he was struggling to rise, but instead of obeying her he floundered all the more wildly as she came closer.
"Get away from me!" he shouted, and it was the rising note of panic in his voice more than anything else that slowed her feet. "Stay back, Scully -- stop!"
She hesitated, torn, bewildered. He was on his knees, he was clutching at his stomach; he was scrabbling backward away from her. The anguish in his eyes was the most terrible thing she had ever seen.
He lost his balance then, and as he threw back his hand to break the fall, she saw that the spreading dark stain on his shirt was not red, but green.
And it was impossible, and it wasn't real, and it couldn't be happening. She hadn't noticed her legs giving out beneath her, but she was on the ground. He lay only a few yards away. She found herself crawling toward him, saying his name over and over like a chant.
There was green foam hissing; there was a pool of viscous green growing on the cracked cement. "I'm sorry," he was saying. "I'm so sorry. I had to. It was the only way I could come back." And then the acid fumes were too much, and she fell back, gasping, and he was still speaking, but his voice was too low and she was too far away, and she couldn't hear him, and then he was still, and it was over.
Once, when she was younger and had not seen so many things, she would not have let the mystery go. In her naivete she would have catalogued and studied and analyzed and theorized, and would have sworn that her science would bring her closer to the truth. But she found now that somehow, without her ever noticing, he had taught her that what her eyes could see and her hands could touch was not always the whole of a thing. She found that if there had been more or less to these two years than she had supposed, she did not wish to know.
It was enough, in the end, to remember him, and to see him all over again in their child. She could walk away now. She could let it be over. She thought, sometimes, that it must have been why he had come back -- that it might have been what he had been trying to tell her.
And she found, for the first time, that she could believe it.
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Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, dimissis peccatis tuis, perducat te ad vitam aeternam.