Author's Notes: I recently dug up some X-Files stories I wrote back in the day. I wrote this one ten years ago and posted it on a site that has long since gone the way of the dodo. I decided to resurrect it here. Let me know what you think.

What you need to know: This story refers to Sein Und Zeit from season 7 in which Mulder's mom, Teena, commits suicide. Mulder doesn't believe that it was suicide and asks Scully to perform an autopsy, and when she confirms that suicide was indeed the cause of death, Mulder breaks down. The story contains a couple of mentions of the season 4 cancer arc too.

Proud. Haughty. Even in death.

Stretched out on the cold, unforgiving steel of the autopsy table, Teena Mulder's face was impassive, her chin lifted, her jaw set. She had lived a life of secrets, and she would be damned if anyone was going to extract them from her in death. But Dana Scully had pledged to uncover one of them—a task she dreaded, but the plea in her partner's eyes had brooked no refusal. Scully stepped toward the table, allowing only a second of weakness to show as she closed her eyes to calm herself.

Devoid of clothing, stripped of outward dignity, her skin's bluish hue enhanced by the cold fluorescence of the lamps above her, Teena Mulder exposed a side of herself that Scully had never fully noted: she was old. Her breasts sagged ... breasts that had nursed a little boy. Her fingers were long and careworn though perhaps once elegant. Had those fingers soothed? Had they stroked the face of a sensitive little boy? A sensitive boy with dark, unruly hair, pale skin, and ancient eyes. Who loved baseball and stars and watching his mother as her fingers danced across the piano keys. Or had they always lain stonily in her lap, reaching out only to strike?

Scully swallowed hard against the images. A paradox: scientific detachment was imperative and impossible. Sweat beaded on her brow as she began the Y incision. The scalpel was incredibly sharp and left a precise cut; no jagged wounds. Unlike words. She wondered if Mulder's distaste for his first name stemmed from negative associations beyond the teasing of schoolmates. She could imagine his mother's full lips drawn into a grim line as she used it to scar him. "God dammit, Fox, she's gone!" "Fox ... I'm tired." "Fox, my son, my only child ..."

Her lips were not as full as Mulder's. They lacked a certain sensitivity. And yet the similarities were striking—an alluring pout, curling voluptuously if allowed to smile. Beautiful. She had given him that; she had at least given him that. And eyes. Mournful eyes devoid of the sharp, accusing glint of his father's. Eyes that were entirely his mother's, down to the drooping lids and thick lashes that lay heavily on her blue and clammy cheek.

The rational part of Scully's mind continued to slice, probe—mechanical motions born of experience. Carcinoma, carcinoma. Evidence of a debilitating disease. Carcinoma, melanoma, nasal pharyngeal mass ... a man and woman standing in front of a blinding white screen ... "I have cancer" ... "I refuse to accept that" ...

Scully shook her head more forcefully this time. The science. She had to concentrate on the science, on the amazing intricacies of the human body as it lay displayed before her. Heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, large intestine, small intestine, pancreas, heart, lungs. Heart ...

She dropped the scalpel. It clattered, splattering an intricate pattern of blood on the gleaming metal. She reached her gloved hands towards the heart, willing her eyes to be playing tricks on her. But her hands corroborated what her eyes had discovered. A slight tremor emanated from the organ—a tremor that intensified until it established a familiar and haunting rhythm.

She backed away in horror, holding her bloody hands away from her body but unable to wrench her eyes from the corpse and its beating heart. Teena Mulder's head drooped slowly in her direction, hazel orbs blinking numbly, guarded by thick, blue lids. The mouth opened like a sarcophagus. The lips were Teena's but the voice was his: "She is me, Scully. She is me."

No, Mulder. No. The stench of death rode on the exhalations of the corpse, making her gag, retch. "Scully. Scully. Scully ..."

"Scully!" Her eyes flew open, dilated in horror, the erratic movement of her head ceasing suddenly as she caught Mulder's gaze where his head lay next to hers on the pillow. His pillow. His apartment. They were sleeping. His mother. Suicide. She had told him and he had not believed and she had proven it. And he had broken in her arms.

She fought the urge to retch or explode, relaxing into the movement of his hand on her ribcage—the hand that had shaken her from sleep. He lifted his hand gently from her stomach, smoothing her hair back from her flushed face and ending by caressing her upper lip where small beads of sweat had gathered. All the time he continued the soothing murmur of her name. She gazed back at him, seeing his body stretched diagonally across the bed where he had collapsed, spent and exhausted, head inches from hers as she had run her fingers through his hair. His face was lined and weary. His red-rimmed eyes looked swollen, painful. But, at that moment, in their dark, flickering depths she saw only concern for her.

And that was what severed the thin cord of control that had held her together over the previous eighteen hours. Her face crumpled savagely as a strangled sob racked her body. He gathered her into his arms, pressing her against him, one hand roughly stroking her head, her neck, her shoulder as she sobbed into his collarbone.

"I'm sorry ... Mul ... der. So sorry," she managed between choking breaths.

"You have nothing to apologize for," he breathed quietly, darkly into her hair, rocking as she clung to him.

"I'm ... sorry ... about ... your mother. I did ... everything I knew how. I ... wanted to believe. But there was ... no evidence ... nothing."

"Scully." His voice was thick, and he said no more. Her sobbing intensified, and he felt her fingers dig further into his back. He relaxed into the pillow, bringing her with him, face still buried in his chest. His grip loosened, and he ran his fingers through her hair and along her arm until it lay outstretched with his across the mattress, fingers entwined. Silently, very silently, he stared at the ceiling until her sobs subsided into shudders, then into a limp heaviness on top of him.

"Scully?" He spoke after several moments of stillness, punctuating the question with a caress of his thumb over her hand. She extracted her fingers gently from his and raised up on his chest to look at him.

Her voice was low, tear-stained, and tired. "Mulder, I'm sorry you have to be alone." Her eyes spoke tremendous sadness. The usual strength of her gaze was absent. She allowed him to look at her, vulnerable and young. Her eyes glistened, her lips were parted and chapped. Her tousled hair obscured what little of the sharp lines of her face he could see in the half-light the moon provided. She was beautiful.

"Scully," he said again, feeling her name along his tongue, gliding, whispering against his teeth, through the air. He lifted a hand and pushed her hair away, tucking it behind her ear, though one lock bounced stubbornly back to curl against her cheek. Slowly, he rolled her over so her head sank into the pillow. He propped himself above her, one hand absently fingering her hair. He breathed deeply, exhaled, breathed again, locked his gaze with hers. "I'm not alone. Not with you, Scully."

Her eyes melted beneath his. She nodded once. "Okay." A bare whisper.

Silence followed as she looked at him, then the blue in her eyes shifted, uncertain. He cocked his head, questioning.

"Mulder ..." She stopped, reached up to finger the spot on his t-shirt that was wet from her tears. Her eyes seemed intent on this process as she continued. "I won't leave you. Never question that." A pause. "But, if I were ... gone. If I were ... if the cancer ... would you keep going?" She glanced back up to search his expression, but his head had dropped against his chest, the stubble of his chin scraping against her fingers. "Would you go on?"

He exhaled sharply. "I ... don't know, Scully. I would try."

"Please try, Mulder. Try."

"I will. I would ..." he corrected himself. "But I can't promise you, Scully. You know that." His eyes begged for understanding.

"I know," she mouthed. She reached for him and grazed her knuckles across his forehead, down his nose, along his cheek, then dropped her arm heavily to the bed. A shuddering breath. "I don't want it to be you on that table, Mulder. I don't want anyone to question. Not like your mother. Not like that."

Something in his eyes changed, deepened in the faint light. She could see her reflection framed by the flickering greens and browns of his iris. He extended a finger to her neck, improvising small circles as he inched his head towards hers. "You love me, Scully." His quiet words carried a trace of awe and barely the intonation of a question, but she felt his need for a response.

His face was so close, she could not see all of him. She focused on his lips. Full, boyish, honest lips, parted so a hint of straight, white teeth was visible. Her breath mingled with his. She closed her eyes as her voice trembled, broke. "Yes."

Her heart quickened as she felt the weight of his chest upon hers. He snaked one hand into her hair, the other behind her back and to her neck. They breathed together, his nose whispering against hers, his mouth tantalizingly close.

"I love you too."

And his lips finally connected, soft, yielding, tasting, becoming more demanding as she responded with equal intensity. A sound between a whimper and a growl resonated from his throat as he pulled her further into him, exploring her mouth, then breaking away to kiss every angle of her face, her chin, her neck, before relaxing motionless and warm on top of her. She felt his heart thudding into her breast; his breath condensed wetly against her ear.

She wrapped her arms around his broad back, holding him, savoring his weight upon her as their breathing slowed to a rhythmic cadence. She loved him.

"Say the words to me, Scully." A tickle of velvet against her ear.

She knew what he meant; she was almost surprised to realize she hadn't.

"I love you, Mulder."