MSR; rated PG
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Disclaimer: The characters of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are the property of Ten Thirteen and Fox; they're just nice enough to let me get into their heads now and then. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: "What is it, Mulder?" she asked gently. "Did you have a dream?"
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Mulder lay awake for the better part of the night.
Even ordinarily, he was prone to bouts of wakefulness, and it had been so many years since he had slept beside someone...
In the half-light from the hallway, he lay awake and watched Scully as she slept. He studied her red hair, spilling across his shoulder. He admired the ease with which she had curled her body around his and given herself over to the darkness, to her dreams; she seemed to feel no fear. Her contentment covered her like a blanket. He shifted just a little, and felt her arm tighten around his waist for a moment, as if to reassure herself that he hadn't gone, and then relax again.
In the living room, on the sofa -- after they'd made love -- he had begun to doze off, had hung in that delirious place between sleep and waking, and he realized only now that he hadn't been afraid. He had tucked Scully close against his chest like a talisman and had closed his eyes without a single thought of what images might rush at him through the dark. It occurred to him that, had they begun in this bed in the first place, he might have kept that peace and slept through the night.
There was always fear -- buried deep and denied, but fear nevertheless -- when he lay down to sleep. When he'd slept on the sofa in the living room, the streetlights outside had held the darkness at arm's length; here it was the light in the entryway of the apartment, casting oblique shadows as it entered at the open door. He had told Scully to leave the light on so that she wouldn't stumble in the dark if she had to get up in the night; he hadn't told her he left it on every night, that he couldn't sleep without it.
There had to be light. He was never afraid of the shadows it necessarily brought, as long as there was light. Here it was the hall light; in hotels, it was the bathroom light, the door left ajar just enough to let him see his surroundings in the bedroom. He had never bought a nightlight; that would be admitting that the fear was still with him. Instead he had forged this uneasy compromise with the night, and it kept most of the dreams at bay.
There was no mystery in it. He knew exactly when and where the fear had been born. It had come the night Samantha was taken. It had begun at the first moment that the light had died in the house, at the moment he heard her scream. From that night on he had needed the light. His mother had seemed to understand, but it had angered his father. You're twelve, for God's sake, not a baby anymore, he'd been told; his father would turn the light off and close the door and walk away with the measured step that Fox had learned to be afraid of too. So he would lie wide-eyed in the dark, listening for the quiet that meant he was the only one still awake, and then he would creep from his bed and turn the light on; only then would he sleep.
Yes: he understood its origin; knowing the heart of the beast, he had managed somewhat to tame it, but not to kill it. And so tonight he had enough light to see Scully, tucked into the crook of his arm, light to watch her side rise and fall with her soft breath.
What would she do, his Scully -- What would she do, the first time he woke screaming? The second -- the fifth... the hundredth? Because it would happen, even if she stayed -- if she stayed, she would see it; it was inevitable. Sooner or later he must show it to her. His heart sank, and he shuddered just at the thought.
Scully stirred against him then, and her arm tightened again around him. Her hand came up to his chest and patted him gently. She murmured something, so softly that he didn't understand, but the soothing, singsong tone comforted him, and all at once he knew...
It would happen, someday, but it would be alright; she would be there, and she would hold him, and she would chase away the darkness, and he would be safe. The wonder of it spread over him like sunlight across the sky in the morning. He turned onto his side, toward her; he enfolded her in his arms, and he closed his eyes, and presently he slept.
And as he slept, he dreamed. He dreamed he was at home, at the first home he could remember, in Martha's Vineyard; he was in the back yard, and it was twilight. A great tree lay uprooted, with its roots nearest the house. He was climbing through the branches toward the roots, toward the house, and Scully was beside him, holding his hand. He could see the lights through the windows; he could already feel the warmth of the place. They emerged from the branches and walked alongside the trunk, and as they came to the great bare roots, Mulder looked up at the sky; he saw not little pinpoint stars, but rather soft, filmy masses of light. He looked around and saw falling stars everywhere, tiny, almost like a silver glitter... falling on and all around him and Scully. They turned to shining dust upon touching down. And he looked at Scully, and she smiled at him...
He was in his own bed, and at the window he saw the first light of dawn. Scully was wrapped around him, all soft and warm and naked, and her fingers were twined in his hair, and she was kissing his face and whispering his name.
"Scully," he breathed, and turned his head to look at her. His amazement must have been written on his face, because her caressing hand paused on his cheek, and her eyes clouded with concern.
"What is it, Mulder?" she asked gently. "Did you have a dream?"
He opened his mouth to speak, but could only nod.
Scully drew his head down to her breast and stroked his hair. "It's all right, Mulder," she murmured. "Everything's alright."
"It's all right," he echoed softly, believing her.