Title: Filling the Void
Author: Twilight Walters
Distribution: Anywhere but please let me know first
Rating: K / PG
Keywords: Mulder/Scully Friendship
Spoilers: Season Three
Summary: Scully deals with a sudden loss and the pain it causes. Written in Scully POV.
Disclaimer: The characters in this story are the property of Chris Carter and Fox. No copyright infringement intended.
Feedback: Like a chocolate dipped Frohike... always wanted.
Filling the Void
I never asked for any of this. I never wanted it. I never searched it out. Things... they just sort of happened, as is so often the case with Mulder and me. Then before I really knew what was going on... it was too late.
I suddenly had this handsome little being looking up at me with big soulful eyes, reliant on me to take care of him and meet his every whim. To feed him, bathe him and clean up all his little messes. He was completely dependent on me to love him and provide for him. To be there for him. I was all he had... but now he's gone. He's gone. I still can't accept it.
The thing that strikes me so irrevocably is that I never intended to open up my heart like this, so now how can I be so completely and utterly heart broken. I think I'm still partly in shock. One minute things were completely normal and now... now he's gone.
I was numb at first. Completely numb. I cried of course but things were happening around me so quickly. I was there... but at the same time I was vacant. The slightest thing could make my mind wander back to the moment when... I can't even bring myself to really think about it. I closed the case and tried to move on. I think I repressed the pain. I pushed it down in true Scully style until the dreadful moment that I got home from the case and opened my apartment door and then... nothing.
There were no noises. No sounds of clambering nails on hard wooden floor. No happy yelps waiting to welcome me. No gentle snoring. No big lump laying in a position where I would be bound to fall over him. Nothing. No Queequeg.
Suddenly my home doesn't feel like a home at all. It just feels like a place to sleep. It feels empty... an endless void.
I deposit my bag just inside my doorway, promising myself that I will tend to my laundry later when I am more up to the task. Wading through lake sludge has probably irrevocably ruined most of my clothes anyway; a couple more hours in my bag won't hurt.
I head straight to the kitchen sure that a hot drink will help still my frayed nerves, as I cross the threshold though I am halted in my pursuit by an inanimate object. Queequeg's water bowl lays there abandoned. It's still half full with water, completely unaware of the ill fate that has been bestowed upon its owner. I retrieve the bowl with trembling hands. Tipping the water down the sink, I then wash the bowl before placing it in the cupboard under the sink. Out of sight, out of mind as the saying goes.
I make myself a quick hot chocolate hoping that it will help me sleep. I haven't slept well since it happened. My mind can't seem to switch off. I keep hearing his little yelp and practically feeling his lead recoil in my hand.
Heading back into the lounge I make a beeline for the couch, needing desperately to rest my aching limbs. I'm sure that being stranded on a rock after swimming from a sinking boat has not helped my weary body.
Placing my hot mug down on the coffee table I spy another object that makes me pause. Queequeg's bed lays in the corner of the room, tatty and ripped in places. I remember the weekend I tried replacing that bed... he cried for hours until he had his old one back, silly thing didn't even lay in it unless he was in trouble. When I put it back down he just looked at it and wagged his tail, happy in the knowledge that his domain had been returned to him.
I quickly gather up his bed and promptly push it to the back of the hall cupboard. Callous I know but I can't face the constant reminder right now, not yet. Not when all I can imagine are his last moments alone on this planet... the jaws of the alligator snapping... I shake the image from my mind as I suddenly realize that these are not the only things of his that need to be collected and relocated so I set about eradicating them from my everyday sight. I will deal with them properly when I am stronger in will but for now I feel a box in the hall cupboard will serve me well.
I quickly pick up all the chews and soft toys of his that I can find. I never realized that I had spoilt him so much before today. The box is half full already and I have only done this room. I didn't even have him for a full year, when did I manage to acquire so much for him? I move back to the kitchen, removing his bowls from the cupboard I place them in the box before doing the same with an assortment of brushes, leads and pet jackets. Next I move on to the perishable items such as his flea treatment and medicated shampoo before placing all his remaining food and dog treats into the now overflowing box.
I look to the calendar and realize I will have to cancel his next appointment at the vets but I am not up to talking to anyone about this yet. I will also have to cancel the dog groomers and the obedience classes, he had more of a social life than me. For now though, I head back to the cupboard and stow away the belongings before shutting the door firmly.
I am back on the couch and sipping on my hot chocolate as I realize that the numbness still has a strong hold on me. It's a hold that I am actually very grateful for right now. If I just don't think about it, then it didn't happen. But it did happen and my subconscious is swimming in it. I lean back into the couch after swallowing down the last mouthful of my chocolate. A lump has formed in my throat but I am trying to control my emotions, there is after all no-one to cuddle up with to help sooth my fractured soul. Poor Queequeg.
It's then that I see it... one of my favourite pumps lying under the table. I lean down to retrieve it wondering briefly why one shoe is without the other. I feel it before I see it. The toe is wet and slimy and there are holes where there should be none. I know I should be angry at Queequeg for destroying another pair of my shoes but I just can't bring myself to feel that emotion. Instead I sob... I am not one to sob but today I sob. I am sobbing brokenly for my poor little Queequeg. I would happily let him chew through all my shoes if I could just have him back with me. I had him for such a short time but I became so attached to the little fellow.
I think I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I know I am being woken up by a barking dog. I am half way across the room to retrieve my shoes and Queequeg's lead before I realize how redundant my actions are. I can't do this. I am sobbing again. The numbness has passed and I can fully feel the pain of a loss so strong. Why did I take him on a case with me? Why this case? There must have been another way. This is entirely my fault.
The phone is ringing in my hands before I have realized that I've dialled a number.
"Mulder." He sounds out of breath, he must have been for a run.
"Mulder?" It's hard to believe that that little squeaky voice came from me.
"Scully? What is it? Are you okay?" He's panicking now but I have no strength to reassure him.
"I'll be right there."
The next few minutes pass like hours and seconds at the same time. I'm locked in my own thoughts. He trusted me incontestably. He relied on me and I let him down. I was everything to him. He was mine and now... he's gone.
Mulder arrives with his gun drawn. He scans my apartment after looking me over from a distance for wounds. I am only partially aware of his actions but I do sense his movements.
"Scully?" He asks looking for an explanation.
"He's gone." I whisper trying to hold back tears.
"Who's gone? Who was here?" He demands, crossing to me and touching me to reassure himself that I'm unharmed. He doesn't understand.
"Queequeg." I sob unhindered. I can count on one hand the times my partner has seen me like this but tonight I just can't control myself. I've lost him. Who's going to listen to me moaning about Mulder now? Who's going to listen to me whinge about the Bambi's and Detective White's that seem to fall into his lap?
"Oh Scully..." He whispers stroking my face before backing away from me. I panic for a moment that he is deserting me but he is back at my side within seconds after securing the door. "What happened...?" He begins to ask before he sees the pump lying discarded at my feet. Taking me into his arms he rocks me gently, helping to sooth my pain.
"I know I didn't have him long but..." I can't continue my thought as the sobs rack through my body. I can't remember the last time I cried this much. "I miss him." I manage to choke this out though I am not sure if Mulder could have made out my words.
It doesn't matter. He holds me close, stroking my hair and whispering soothingly to me. I think I've been crying near on an hour before I speak again.
"It didn't take long to fall in love with him. At first I was undecided whether I should keep him but every time I got home from work he was always so happy to see me. He'd be waiting at the door with his tail wagging and his eyes wide."
"Sure he wasn't just hungry?" Mulder asks lightly trying to get me to smile.
"He probably was but I'd get in and feed him and we'd be happy. He was the only part of my life that seemed normal." I am speaking to his chest now, finding it easier to be open with him about this if I can't actually see his reaction.
"A cannibalistic dog seems normal to you? Am I the only one that finds that a little strange?" Okay, I nearly do smile at that.
"Is it still cannibalism when who he ate wasn't his own species?" I ask unable to resist.
"Good point." Mulder concedes smiling.
"Anyway, we were happy, even if it was a little unorthodox. He would know instinctively when I'd had a bad day or when I was upset. I think dogs have a sixth sense about that kind of thing. He'd climb into my lap and sit with me all evening just letting me pet him until I was feeling a little better."
I look around the apartment feeling as though I am missing something vital to my existence. I thought the numbness had passed but it strikes me again as I begin to imagine my life without my little Queequeg. "I miss him so much already." I confess, no longer caring if Mulder thinks any less of me for this breakdown. "He gave me a reason to get up in the morning. I hate getting out of bed but the thought of going for a nice long walk together in the park always appealed to me. It's funny but people look at you strangely when you walk in the park alone but consider you completely normal when you have a dog with you."
Mulder remains quiet sensing my need to spill my heart out. I don't think I have ever done this with Mulder before. I don't think I have ever done this with anyone... funny that a little furry animal has ended up being my downfall.
"He always woke me by licking my feet in the morning. I thought it was strange at first. Mom said it was something about the saltiness of my skin, it didn't matter. I grew to love it, just as I learned to love him. It was one of his little quirks. It always tickled. It's nice to be tickled awake. I can't believe he's... dead." I sob the last realising this is the first time I have said it aloud.
"You never know maybe he made it." I think Mulder is grasping at straws in an attempt to placate me.
"Against an alligator?" I sob.
"You never know. Maybe he managed to slip away."
"That's a little unlikely." I counter even though I wish it were true. His collar was undamaged and there was no blood present on it but Mulder and I searched the woods for an hour and a half after I lost sight of him before I resigned myself to the horrible truth. We headed back to his cabin and he allowed me to sit in silent shock knowing that I couldn't talk about it yet.
"I'm all about extreme possibilities."
"That's one of your theories I would love to believe in." I murmur honestly.
"He could be out there terrifying the local population." Mulder smiles into my hair before giving me a little squeeze.
"Maybe." I smirk knowing how much damage Queequeg could cause there unleashed.
"And I'm sure he wouldn't go hungry." I can feel Mulder smirk. "If he didn't make it... he might be doing the same things up in doggie heaven."
"You believe in doggie heaven?" I'm surprised. I didn't think he believed in heaven given his views on religion.
"I believe in everything, Scully." I feel him grinning and can't stop the small smile that plays at my lips. I feel his grin disappear as he turns serious on me. "I must confess, I never understood your bond with Queequeg." Mulder whispers almost hesitantly. I know he's not saying this to be mean or malicious; it's just that there are not many things in this world that Mulder doesn't understand. "Help me understand."
"He filled an empty place within me." I murmur sadly. Leaning into Mulder's embrace further on the couch, we are reclined now though I am not quite sure when we shifted to laying down.
"I can understand that." He whispers giving me a gentle squeeze. "It's just that... jokes aside. He ate his last owner."
Trust Mulder to hit the nail on the head. "I know." Trust me, I know. It took me a long time to reconcile that little fact. "I think it's like you said... when an animal is faced with the possibility of extinction it does what it has to do to survive."
Mulder nods at this. Survival he can understand. I know he can't fully accept my answer but it means a lot to me that he asked. Truth be told, I knew he never liked Queequeg but in actuality I think he just feared for my safety. A noise comes from the bedroom and I turn expecting to see little Queequeg in the doorway, funny how even though I have accepted in my head that he is gone my heart still expects his presence. I guess it was just a normal apartment settling noise.
"Will you get another dog?" I am shocked by his words and pull away from his embrace slightly.
"If you lost a member of your family would you try to replace them?" I bite my tongue as soon as the words have passed my lips. He did lose a member of his family and he has never stopped looking for her.
"Not replace no. I could never replace someone, be they human or animal. But I think I might try and fill the void." He is being honest and true and I appreciate that. He is just thinking about my well-being. I think if Mulder and I could spend more time like this it would go a long way towards filling a void.
"Maybe..." I murmur. I did feel safer having Queequeg around. Silly really because the only person he ever barked at was the mail man. How could I fill the void adequately enough to make me feel safe, loved and needed all in one?
"I'm dreading going to bed tonight. Queequeg would always lay at my feet while I was in bed." Mulder looks down at me surprised. What? Everyone likes a little comfort in bed.
"No wonder I was always so jealous of the little mutt." Though he said the words flippantly I know they are both heartfelt and compassionate. He always goes for a little light heartedness to help lift my spirits.
"Okay Scully..." He says after a moments pause. "I'm at your disposal." What does he mean by that?
"I will..." He pauses for dramatic effect. "... beg and whine until I get attention, though I think I already do that. I will wag my ass as opposed to my tail whenever you walk into the room, though, come to think of it I do that too. I will happily go for walks with you in the park, I'd like that. I will roll over and do tricks until I get my belly rubbed. Actually that one sounds quite nice too and last but not least I will lie at your feet while you sleep. I'll even lick your toes."
I smile at his words. Only Mulder could make me smile at a time like this.
"I do however have to draw the line," Okay, I'm intrigued. "...at chewing your pumps." He grins and so do I. "I'm purely a hush puppies kind of guy."
Bless him. I know the things that he has said are in jest, though I feel a flutter in my heart at the thought of afternoon walks in the park. I completely understand his underlying sentiment. He will help me through this difficult time. He will be there for me just like he always has been. I don't think I can ever replace Queequeg but I know now that with Mulder's help I can start filling the void.
Author's notes – Hey guys, I hope you enjoyed this little fic. I know it is a little different but I hope it worked for you.
I'd been planning on writing something about Queequeg for a while but hadn't planned for it to go this way. I actually wrote this fic because I suffered the same loss as Scully in the fic (though not by the jaws of an alligator) I needed to try and deal with it somehow and get a little closure... how very x-filey of me :)
Thanks to Enpauriel for the beta.
Let me know what you think with a little feedback, you know you wanna : )