TITLE: But Then Comes the Morning (Part 1 of 1) AUTHOR: Leslie Sholly E-MAIL: PennySyc@aol.com DISTRIBUTION: Anywhere, with my name and address attached. SPOILER WARNING: This takes place right where we are in Season Six, but no particular episodes are mentioned. RATING: R (for language) CLASSIFICATION: SRA KEYWORDS: MSR SUMMARY: What happens when you wait too long to reveal your true feelings?

DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of these characters. Chris Carter, Fox, 1013, and the actors themselves have that honor. Please forgive me for attempting to make them my own. The song at the end is also not mine. We used to sing it at Mass when I was little, and I do not know who wrote it.

FEEDBACK: Please, I beg you! PennySyc@aol.com (Leslie)

But Then Comes the Morning by Leslie Sholly

The telephone was ringing when I let myself into my apartment. I managed to grab the receiver just as the machine was picking up. "Hello?" "Fox? Oh, Fox. Thank God, I've finally reached you."

The voice was shaking and it took me a moment to recognize it as Maggie Scully's. When I did, my heart stopped beating. Something was wrong, very wrong. I didn't want to hear what was coming. "Fox? Fox? Are you there?" I spoke with an effort. "Yes, Mrs. Scully. I'm here. What's wrong?" "Dana--she's almost out of surgery, Fox. I've been calling you for hours--she was asking for you--you need to get here as fast as you can--" Mrs. Scully broke down into sobs.

Another voice came on the line. "Agent Mulder?"

It was Skinner. "Sir?" I tried to keep the panic out of my voice. "Where is she?"

"We're at Georgetown, Mulder. She's in surgery but she will be out any minute. You need to get here as quickly as you can."

I didn't even answer him. I didn't even hang up the phone. I was out the door, down the steps, and in the car in seconds. On autopilot, I drove toward Georgetown Medical Center way faster than was safe in Saturday afternoon traffic.

Scully was in danger. Something had happened to her--at this point I didn't even know what--and I wasn't there to protect her. My partner, my best friend, let's face it, the woman I loved--had been calling for me, and I hadn't been there.

"No, you fucking idiot," I lambasted myself. "You had to choose today to go to a god-damned triple X film festival with Frohike."

While I was sitting in the dark watching strangers fucking like bunnies, my beautiful partner was in trouble. She had needed me and I hadn't been there, and I would *never* forgive myself.

This was serious. I didn't want to think about it, but I could tell. Skinner and Mrs. Scully--they hadn't said the words, but I knew what they were trying to tell me when they said to come quickly. Scully might not make it. They wanted me there in time to say good-bye.

I refused to believe they could be right. Scully and I still had too much territory to cover. Not only in the X-files, newly returned to us, but in our personal relationship. I'd tried a couple of times to tell her how much she meant to me, but never very hard. But I was working up to it, I was. After all, we had all the time in the world. I was secure enough in our friendship and in our partnership to know that Scully wasn't going anywhere. Our romantic relationship had plenty of time to develop.

Unless--it ended now, today, before it began. Suddenly I knew exactly what I would say when I got to Scully's hospital room. I could envision her lying in the bed. God knows, I'd seen her in hospital beds way too many times already. She'd be pale, her hair like a flame next to her white skin. Her eyes would be brilliantly blue and even though she'd be tired and in pain, she'd manage a small smile for me. And I'd walk up to her and take her hand and no matter who was in the room I'd say, "I love you, Scully," and I'd make sure that this time, she'd know how much I meant it.

At the hospital at last, I parked my car illegally and ran into the E.R. Skinner was there waiting for me and I *did not* like the look I saw on his face. He looked sympathetic. And there were *tears* in his eyes. I opened my mouth but no words came out. He grabbed my arm and it was a good thing because suddenly my knees were weak and I would have fallen without his support. "I'm very, very sorry, Mulder. She didn't make it through surgery."

I wanted to hit him, to scream, to cry, to say it wasn't true. I did none of those things. In fact, I did nothing. Quite simply, my life was over. There, with those words. There was nothing to say and nothing to do.

Skinner led me away, to some kind of waiting room where they put people who have just heard terrible news, I guess. Mrs. Scully was waiting there for me. She was crying, of course, but when Skinner brought me in she came over and put her arms around me. Then something inside of me loosened up and I started to cry too. "Oh, Fox. Oh, Fox," she said. She was patting my back and although I realized I should have been comforting her because, after all, this was her only daughter and who was I to Scully, anyway, really, in the eyes of the world, she was actually the one who was comforting me. She was the strong one here and I was drawing on that strength--the same strength that Scully had lent to me so many times.

Finally, I was able to speak. "Oh my God, Mrs. Scully. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I should have been there. I should have saved her."

"No, no, no, Fox," she said firmly. "I will *not* have you feeling guilty. There is *nothing* you could have done. Nothing anyone could have done. Dana was in a car accident, Fox. Her car was hit head on by a 16-year-old in an SUV. The kid was inexperienced, speeding just a little--she lost control in the rain. She's here, too--in pretty bad shape. There were paramedics on the scene in minutes--but the internal injuries were massive, Fox. They told me before they took Dana into surgery that they didn't expect her to make it. There was nothing you could have done."

So this is how it ends. Dana Scully dies, not a victim to a global conspiracy or to my quest or even to the violence of her chosen career, but simply to bad luck and an inexperienced driver. Suddenly I wished with all my heart that I believed in God. For two reasons--one, because then at least I could know that Scully was in a better place and I could hope to see her again one day, and two, so that there would be someone to blame for this. I was used to having people to blame--the U.S. government, my dad, the Cigarette guy, Kersh--but who was I going to blame for this? The weather? Some poor teenager who was going to regret this forever if she lived at all? Without a target for my rage, I was simply bewildered.

So we sat there in silence, waiting for them to get Scully cleaned up so that we could see her. It didn't take me long to decide that I could blame myself after all. Because if I had ever had the balls to act on my feelings for Scully, I wouldn't have been sitting in a theater watching porno movies on a rainy Saturday and Scully wouldn't have been driving around alone. We would have been together, doing whatever it is lovers do on weekends. I would have been driving the car, and I would be the dead one. Or maybe I wouldn't be dead, because I'm a lot bigger than Scully, I thought inanely. Anyway, obviously, it was my fault. My life was over and it was my own fault.

Why didn't I tell her? Why didn't I tell her? Those words played over and over in my head as we waited. Mrs. Scully was trying to be kind, I know, but it was like having salt poured in an open wound when she said, "Dana loved you so much, Fox. Your name was the last thing I heard her say."

I wanted to tell Mrs. Scully how I felt but no words would come out and I could see it was unnecessary anyway. She knew! And Skinner's sympathy and the comments he made to me when I could concentrate on them told me he also knew how I had loved her. I remembered how people had always mistaken us for a couple whenever we traveled on the job. It seemed that everyone but the two of us could see how we belonged together.

Someone came in to tell us we could see Scully now. Of course Mrs. Scully went in first. While I waited my turn I considered different suicide methods. My gun was at home, but I wouldn't do it here, anyway. Too messy, I thought analytically. And inconsiderate to Dana's mother. I'd have to hope Skinner didn't deduce my intentions and take away my weapon. But I could always slit my wrists. Shit, if I had to I would jump off a ledge or throw myself in front of a bus. It didn't matter. I wasn't going on. I couldn't live without Scully and I wasn't going to put myself through the agony of trying.

Then Mrs. Scully came out. "Do you need me to come with you?" Skinner asked. Mutely, I shook my head and walked into the room alone.

Scully looked a lot like I had imagined on the way to the hospital, except, of course, that those beautiful blue eyes were closed forever. Never again would I see them. Never again would I see that rarely displayed--but all the more precious for that--wide smile. Never would I hear her voice or feel her touch.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I stared down at her. Most of her injuries had been internal; her face was largely unmarked, just a cut on her forehead and a bruise on her jaw. Gently I stroked a lock of hair back from her forehead. Then I took her hand. It was still warm.

I was undone. I sank to the floor, still holding that lifeless hand, and, sobbing, buried my face in the blanket. "I'm so, so sorry, Scully," I said through my tears. "I'm sorry I didn't get here to say good-bye. I'm sorry I never told you how much you mean to me. I hope that you're right and I'm wrong and that you are with your dad and Melissa and Emily right now and that you know how I feel. I love you, Scully. You were my life and I cannot go on without you."

They must have heard me sobbing because I heard footsteps and then someone was lifting me up from the floor and walking me back out to that waiting room. Father McCue was out there now and I saw it was Frohike and Byers who each had one of my arms. Again, there were looks of sympathy and understanding on every face. All of them knew I had lost more than a partner and friend.

We sat down again and as if from a distance I heard Mrs. Scully talking about funeral arrangements. I was absently plotting out my suicide, which I planned to carry out as soon as I could get home, when she asked me if I could speak at the funeral. I couldn't begin to imagine how I would be able to say a word at Scully's funeral without breaking down completely, but I knew I owed it to her and to her mother to try. It would be a kind of penance for me, to live through the ceremony, which I had hoped to escape. Anyway, it would be a chance for me to tell the whole world what a coward I was, and how I had failed Scully by not telling her my true feelings.

I saw the way Frohike looked at me when he offered to drive me home. He would probably take everything lethal out of my apartment. Well, no matter. Even if they locked me in a padded cell, I could always refuse to eat. Or just die of a broken heart. That sounded melodramatic, even to me, but I was quite sure it was possible. So I hugged Mrs. Scully good- bye, told her I'd come to the house in the morning, like she'd asked me to, and followed Frohike out to my car.

I zoned out in the car and fell asleep, emotionally and physically spent. It seemed like only a few minutes when I was disturbed by a persistent ringing noise. Finally it stopped and I heard a voice: "Mulder! Mulder, it's me. If you're there, would you please pick up?"

It was the most wonderful sound in the world, because it was a voice I had never expected to hear again in this lifetime. It was *her* voice. Scully's. And I opened my eyes and saw sunshine streaming in through my living room window and realized I had slept all night on my couch again.

Are the five most beautiful words in the English language, "It was only a dream?" I think they are. I know there is nothing to compare to that moment when you wake up from the most terrible nightmare you can imagine and realize that *it wasn't real.*

I jumped up and I grabbed that phone like a lifeline. "Scully?" My grin was so huge I thought my face might split in two.

"Mulder, I'm sorry if I woke you. I know it's early and it's Saturday. It's just that--I know it sounds silly but I had a really bad dream last night and I just needed to make sure you were O.K."

"Scully, that doesn't sound silly at all, but what I'm getting ready to say might. Just hear me out, O.K.? I am not drunk, I am not on drugs, I am not delusional. I know what I'm saying and I'm being perfectly serious. Scully, *I love you.*"

No sound from the other end. I waited, listening to my own heart beating. Then: "Mulder, I love you, too. Now get over here! Please?"

I dropped the phone, slipped on my shoes, and ran out of my apartment into the morning sun.

"But then comes the morning, Yesterday's sorrows behind. Wake, it's the day of your longing. Life returns, mercy comes, it's morning."

THE END