(5-19-00... yeah, I know -- I wrote the post-ep before seeing the ep <g>)
Vignette, rated G.
Spoilers: This is set post-'Requiem.' All I knew was that Mulder was going to be taking a little ride in the spaceship -- everything else was just my conjecture.
Archive at will, keeping this link to my site at www.foxsongfiles.net.
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A big shout out to the usual beta squad, Char Chaffin and MaybeAmanda, even though I hardly let them get a word in edgewise this time! <g>
Disclaimers: The characters of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are the property of Ten Thirteen and Fox, who abuse them shamelessly. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: Scully follows the stars.
- - - - -
I go outside now, on clear nights, and study them. I know their names as well now as I know the names of old friends. Aldebaran, Rigel, Sirius, Altair -- as the seasons change they arrive, each in turn, fixed in the ancient constellations, familiar, timeless and changeless over the changing world.
I know they are only points of faraway light, only clouds of burning gas held together by the immutable laws of physics I have always trusted. But they have become more than that to me now: they are markers on a map, waystations on a journey. Their twinkling is no longer just an effect of the atmosphere and the light, but rather some kind of cosmic Morse code, a message I keep thinking I ought to be able to decipher.
I stand outside on clear nights, watching the stars as if they will give me an answer.
I don't really even know where to begin. Old Spender is dead; Krycek and Covarrubias have faded again into grey and vanished. The man I have lately been partnered with does not say so, but his eyes tell me that my stories are only a few degrees removed from the ravings of a lunatic. My weekends and most of my evenings are spent with Langly and Frohike and Byers. Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet believe.
One Sunday, the priest spoke of the disciples' faith, and of their joy as they went away from the scene of Christ's ascension to spread the good news of the Gospel. Around me, the congregation nodded, but I couldn't.
They had to wonder, after He had gone, even though they had seen Him rising from the earth with their own eyes. They must have told and retold the story as much to convince themselves as to comfort the ones who had not seen it. They must have found themselves, sometimes, staring up into a cloud that reminded them of the one that had received Him, and asking the same kind of questions I address to the stars.
There is a stone for Samantha in Greenwood Cemetery. He had it placed there a few months after his mother's death. I only discovered it when the twice-annual maintenance statement from the cemetery showed up in his mailbox a few months after he'd gone. It didn't surprise me that he'd never mentioned it; Samantha, afterward, was just another one of the things we never managed to talk about. If our relationship was built on the rock of our trust, those stones were mortared with our silences.
All through the years, he held fast to his faith that his sister was alive. In the end, he was wrong. How long, I wondered, would I wait before I would give up and order his stone? Standing in his abandoned living room, fingering the statement, I made the decision. A week later the provision had been added to my will to erect his stone next to my own after I am buried. I will not do it while I am alive. While I live, let at least the illusion of hope live as well.
I paid the bill for his sister's stone.
"You're still a young woman, Dana," my mother told me yesterday. I know she means well. But my soul is old now, as ancient as the stars I watch at night, as empty as the endless void of dark space that separates them.
I wait, each Sunday morning, after the Mass has been said; when the church empties I light a candle for him. I am never sure how to pray for him, hovering as he seems to between heaven and earth. I watch the little flame catch the wick, watch it flicker and then grow steadier, and I find that whatever words I had thought I'd decided upon are inadequate. I bow my head and cross myself and let it go at that.
When I can't sleep at night, I go outside and I look at the stars. I talk to him. I can't really convince myself that he hears me, but I can't be sure that he doesn't. So I still talk to him.
Sometimes I see him in my dreams. I have one, the same one, every few weeks: I am walking through great wrought-iron gates into a beautiful park. It is always late spring, the cusp of early summer. The flowering trees are in bloom. I walk up a wide sunny path between banks of tulips until I come to a little garden with a few small tables, marble tabletops, moss-green wrought-iron legs, matching chairs. He meets me at the garden's edge.
He takes my hand. He leans down to kiss my cheek. He leads me to a table in the shade of an old tree, and we sit down. He asks me how I have been. I tell him about my life. I tell him about the cases I've been working on. He listens, he nods; sometimes he offers a suggestion.
After a little while he tells me it's time to go. We rise and he walks me to the edge of the garden. I tell him I miss him. He tells me I'll be all right.
As I leave the garden, I never look back.
From the first day I set foot into that office. I was under the impression you were sent to spy on me. Standing in the rain, nine minutes gone, laughing like a madman. Lost and found and dead and resurrected, more times than I care to count. You were my touchstone. The Buddha under the fish tank, and waking in his arms, shh, Mulder, it's all right, I'll wake you when the coffee's ready. It's early yet. Go back to sleep... yes. I love you, too.
It's not fair. It's not fair. It's not fair.
I had to put on a jacket tonight to come outside; there's a chill in the air in the evenings, even now, just after sunset. Low in the east, I see Orion for the first time this year -- Orion, the hunter, shield raised against the onrushing lion, club hefted high above his head, poised, waiting, for the killing blow. Betelgeuse, the bright jewel of his belt, glitters, cold and tantalizing, as silent as all of its brethren.
These aren't even the same stars that took him. The earth has carried me halfway around the sky since then, but I still come outside at night. I have nowhere else to go. I have no one else to ask.
It has grown dark; a breeze comes up, uncomfortably cool. I fold my arms and tuck the jacket more tightly around my body. It must be cold out there, I think, and catch myself hoping absurdly that he was wearing something warm enough when...
I ignore the cold. I stand alone in the darkness, and I search the silent stars, and I wait.