WARNING: For anyone who missed it in the summary, consider this your flashing neon sign--deals with Mulder's impending death. It won't be happy.
Requiem and nothing in the 8th and 9th seasons happened, except the flashbacks in Per Manum. I wanted to do this strictly platonic, but the things I wanted to address (namely All Things, and Per Manum), that I believed Scully deserved to have addressed, didn't really allow for that, so instead I tried to keep it on par with the show.
And I don't own the X Files, and Guns and Roses owns the lyrics to 'Don't Cry'. They just seemed to fit really well, and saved me from having to think of a title.
"Talk to me softly
There's something in your eyes
Don't hang your head in sorrow
And please don't cry
I know how you feel inside I've
I've been there before
Something's changing inside you
And don't you know"
Mulder was delaying and he knew it. He'd been delaying for almost a year now, and that only made it harder to tell her now. Especially, when it was much more fun to watch her try, and eat her ice cream cone before it melted. Scully had attempted to slowly lick it and savor the flavor, but it was almost ninety degrees in Washington. Her left hand and wrist were covered in chocolate ice cream and rainbow sprinkles. Yes, his normally kempt partner was covered in ice cream like a messy five year-old, and he wanted to burn the image into his mind so he'd never forget it.
They were sitting in the ballpark stadium, mid-way up in the stands, looking out over the field as the sun faded from the sky. They were both sweaty and smelly from a round of batting practice, and neither cared. It was a Friday, the sun was blaring, and a gentle breeze was keeping them from being too uncomfortable. They'd spent the first few days of the week working almost around the clock on a case in Idaho. Which was how they ended up in the ballpark.
They were playing hooky--with no guilt.
"Should I plan on getting a hose for you, Scully?" He chuckled at her.
"It's melting too fast!" She insisted, slurping up the ice cream as fast as her tongue would allow her.
"I told you to eat fast or it would melt." His cone was already gone, the last remnants swallowed down moments ago.
"Shut up, Mulder."
He grinned and looked across the vast field that they'd just been playing on. Easily the greatest game in the world, and he was glad that according to the doctor's calculations he would at least get to see some of the season, if he was lucky all of it. He had to take Scully to a real ballgame; he could just picture her studying the lukewarm hotdogs from the vendor, trying to determine if it really was edible.
He turned to his side at the sound of crunching. She'd gotten to the cone, but was having no better luck eating the melty food. In fact, there was a line of line brown in her red hair. Mulder grabbed a napkin, and gently lifted the lock, sliding the napkin down it, almost squeegeeing the ice cream out.
"Can't take you anywhere."
She only glared at him, as she popped the last bit of cone into her mouth.
He watched the woman who'd once shot him, scrub ice cream off her hand with a napkin, and couldn't help the smile that settled on his mouth. The same woman who had lied to protect him, yelled, threatened, and run herself ragged in attempts to save him, and fought any manner of unknown beasties, was looking unfavorably at the sticky substance that wasn't coming off her hand. Little pieces of white napkin were glued to her hand by the chocolate dessert.
He grabbed his water bottle and soaked the last napkin, before taking her hand, and wiping at the ice cream. It came off easily with the water, and he soon added the napkin to their trash pile.
"Thanks," she said, smirking.
"Next time, I'll bring wet wipes," he teased.
He smiled, but it soon faded. It was time, he'd delayed long enough. If he didn't tell her now, he never would. "Scully, I need to talk to you about something."
What anyone else would have missed, she picked up in seconds. Her smiled faded, and her body tensed beside his. "What's wrong?"
"You remember last spring, the rubbing, the abnormal brain activity?"
"Of course. Cancerman abducted you, the bastard had them cut into your head."
He nodded. "And you had the hospital give me a full work up, and you doubled checked everything yourself, and you all agreed that I recovered fine."
Scully didn't respond, didn't make a noise, just watched him and waited.
"I started getting migraines, and went back to the doctor. He ran more tests, and gave me some, uh, pills for the migraines. My condition was and is undiagnosed, so there wasn't much he could do. He did learn one thing though," he paused, sighing. "It's getting worse."
"Worse how?" She'd gone all business, slipped into her doctor skin right before his eyes.
"He says my brain is in a progressive degenerative state."
Her frown deepened, and she swallowed, but otherwise gave no indication that she'd heard or understood.
"Scully, I'm dying."
Her mouth fell open, and she didn't say anything for several minutes. Her eyes grew wet, but she seemed determined not to crack, not yet anyway.
"Did he give you an estimate?"
"Based on my development, he says months now. 2 or 3, maybe four if I'm really lucky." He watched her carefully, looking for any indication that she wasn't going to handle it well.
"How long have you known?"
And this was the part where she got pissed, really pissed.
"About a year."
She didn't, it was worse. He watched the delicate composure she was forcing herself to maintain turn into hurt. It hung there is her watery eyes, and he felt like a complete asshole.
Scully simply swallowed again, and said quietly, "I want to see all your medical files, tests, everything."
Mulder nodded. "It's all at my apartment."
She didn't respond, but got up, threw out their trash, and headed straight for the car. Mulder sighed miserably into his hands. He knew she wouldn't settle for it, wouldn't accept it, not until she plowed through his files, and exhausted every possibility. In eight years, Scully had never given up on the chance to save his life, on the contrary she'd proven again and again that she could bring him back from the brink of death.
This time she couldn't, and that would make it so much harder.
Scully's pulse was throbbing loudly in her skull, seeming to bounce around louder and louder as she drove. This wasn't happening. This couldn't be happening. Not now, not after everything that happened between them this year.
Mulder sat quietly beside her, appearing so calm it was almost infuriating. But then, he'd had a year to come to terms with his impending death. She, on the other hand, was trying to keep from panicking and accidentally putting them into a telephone pole. That would be irony--to be so desperate to save him, she accidentally killed them both. She suddenly felt nauseous and dizzy.
She shook her head hard. Pull it together, Dana, she scolded herself for her near panic attack.
Dana Scully didn't panic for anything. Not for monsters, mutants or aliens, and not when Mulder was knocking on death's door. She was a doctor, a scientist, a highly trained FBI Agent; she would remain calm and level-headed. She would stop his persistent pounding yet.
She pulled into a space across from his building, and they climbed out of the car silently, and went up to his apartment just as silently. Scully was concentrating on not fidgeting and not panicking, and until she figured this out, that would keep her grounded.
"Where are your files?"
Mulder sighed, but retreated into his bedroom, and came out with a small stack of folders and films. He set them on the coffee table, and sat heavily on to his couch. Scully sat beside him, and began sorting through all the papers and documents.
Blood tests were normal. The neurological exams weren't bad, and that came as something of a relief, though she could have guessed it. His reflexes were good, optical nerves were good, but his motor coordination was being affected. Not significantly yet. Just a little difficulty walking a straight line. The deterioration in his brain couldn't be that bad yet.
She scanned through his doctors' notes before looking at the CTs and MRIs, hoping to prepare herself for what she'd see. She was happy to see, he'd seen three separate neurologists, but that feeling quickly changed. They all said the same thing, and the words sent a stream of ice sliding down her spine. Whatever had attacked his temporal lobe had spread to his cerebellum and parietal lobe, and was advancing into his frontal lobe. But somehow, it wasn't causing too much harm yet.
She pulled out the actual scans, and held them up individually to the light, studying every inch of them. Off his desk, she grabbed a yellow legal pad and a pen, and began scribbling notes. More tests to run, more conditions to check for, treatments and therapies to try, everything she could think of. As she went through the rest of the file, she crossed things off, added other things, and crossed off some of those too.
It was all done in silence. She didn't say a word, and Mulder remained mute beside her. She knew he was humoring her, he knew that she needed to do it, but didn't expect her to find anything. She buried all her fears, all her anxieties, and focused on the task at hand. The echoing throb in her head grew quieter and disappeared, no match for her drive to work.
Was she always so relentless? Mulder knew she was determined and tenacious, but now she seemed almost physically unable to put her pen down and stop.
It was nearly seven-thirty in the morning, and she'd gone almost all night, falling asleep briefly between five and six. She'd woken up with a start, and a look on her face that said she was silently scolding herself for falling asleep. He'd sat in his living room with her all night, reading case files, and the latest edition of The Lone Gunmen. He'd tried to tell her to give it a rest, to get some sleep, but she wouldn't hear of it. Insisted she'd already lost too much time already. Eventually he gave up, and just let her do what she obviously needed to do.
Mulder brought her a fresh cup of coffee and left to take a shower. He had no doubt she'd still be there when he was clean and changed.
He relished the feel of the hot water beat over his back, it felt good, soothing to his tired body. Whatever was destroying his brain hadn't taken much of a toll yet, but he knew it would, and that scared him. His doctor predicted that once whatever it was that spread through his brain that more neurological symptoms would present and that it would progress quickly. What would that leave him as?
Would he lose control of his arms, his legs, his body? Would he start to forget things and progress into dementia? Would he forget how to speak? What he stop being able to think, to reason out? Would he lose his sense of smell? His eyesight? Hearing? And when he lost all autonomy, how long would he like a helpless child before death took him?
Equally troubling for him was that he knew when he was finally hospitalized and unable to care for himself, Scully would plant herself by his bed and not move until the Grim Reaper appeared wielding his scythe. Knowing Scully, she might just try and fight him too. But, while he valued her loyalty, and more so, her friendship and love, more than anything in his life, he didn't want her to see him like that. Her last memory of him, is of a helpless man-child?
No, he didn't want that. If he could have his way, he'd choose to go before it got to that point. Maybe he could enlist the Gunmen to help him make sure of that. If he was really lucky, his brain would bypass all that unpleasantness and just shutdown.
He shut off the water and began toweling off. He tried not to think too much about the fact that he was going to die very soon, and the actual implications of that. Scully had told him once, that while she was in a coma, after they brought her back, that she'd seen the other side, and it was nothing to be afraid of. He'd seen it himself, and knew he shouldn't be scared, but it was hard not to be at least a little afraid.
He dressed quickly, swallowed a pill for the migraine beating behind his eyes, and wandered back into his living room. Scully wasn't on the couch anymore.
"Scully?" He looked around, and walked to the kitchen. "Scully?"
Scully ignored her ringing phone, and glanced at the clock. It was just after midnight, and he was still calling, looking for her. Only part of it was that she was busy trying to figure out way to save him. The other part was pure and simple avoidance. If she could just concentrate on this as a problem, then she wouldn't have to view it as anything else, and if she kept ignoring him, she wouldn't have to look into his eyes and see the truth.
Two of her med school textbooks were open in front of her, half covered in films of Mulder's brain and notes from his doctors. She'd spent the day calling in every favor she had in the medical community, but no one was able to help her. They reiterated what his doctors already said, what she knew as a doctor to be true, but was unable to accept.
Mulder was dying.
The notepad on her lap became blurry, and she hurried to wipe the tears from her eyes, but not before one landed on the pad, darkening the yellow. She gripped the pad tightly in her hands, and closed her eyes, praying that she'd wake up tomorrow and find out this was all some horrible dream.
Suddenly someone was pounding on her door, and Scully was reminding herself to breathe. She straightened up, swallowed her emotions, and steeled her nerves. She opened the door to find Mulder looking tired, and none too pleased with her.
"Scully, I've been calling you all day, I was getting worried." He walked right in, not bothering to wait for an invitation.
"I've been busy...you want something to drink?" Scully was already half way to the kitchen when she realized she was literally running from the conversation.
"Sure, water's fine."
She filled two glass from the tap, and returned to find him sitting on the couch, eyeing her workspace. How many times had her coffee table been overflowing with research and documentation from their last x file? How many more times had his? They seemed to be perpetually perched on a couch, a storm of papers around them, a half-empty pizza box on one side, and empty glasses on the other. More often than not, one of them had something bandaged, splinted, stitched, or at the very least, had bruises and scrapes.
She'd give anything for it to be just one of those nights. All the paper work and bruises and bandaging in the world was a fair trade right then. Scully shook her head, and sat beside him, handing him one of the glasses, sipping from her own.
Mulder rested his on the coffee table and turned to her. "Scully, talk to me."
"How could you not tell me?" She'd spoken without even thinking, the question hanging on the tip of her brain.
"Simple. I was hoping I wouldn't have to tell you."
"What? You thought you just up and dying would be easier to accept than knowing you were sick before...before...before," she struggled. Jesus, she couldn't even say it.
"No, I was hoping I would be cured of this thing before it progressed this far." He turned his attention to his fingers, seeming to find the distinctive whorls of his fingerprints fascinating.
"And, when did you decide you couldn't be cured?"
"Three months ago, I realized I didn't have much time left."
"Then you knew when I asked you to...to help me have a baby." Her voice shook, but she didn't cry and she didn't crumble.
He nodded. "That's why I couldn't say yes automatically, when I knew I wouldn't be around for any of the child's life."
"You should have told me."
"Why? Would you have changed your mind, decided not to ask me?"
"No." She looked down at her feet. When she looked up at him again, she was much steadier. "But Mulder, you should have told me before we," she shifted feeling awkward with the topic, "before we took that step."
"Would you have changed your mind then, Scully?" He frowned at her, set in his thoughts, having debated these questions with himself a hundred times.
"I wouldn't have changed a damn thing and you know it. But I deserved to know," she faltered, her voice cracking, eyes shimmering again. "I deserved to know we were starting something you couldn't finish."
She was right, and he knew it. He didn't tell her, not so much to protect her, but because he knew if he'd seen her upset as she was now, he wouldn't have been able to go through with it, knowing taking their relationship forward would only make it harder on her when he did die. And, he wanted to take that step, so badly. If they hadn't done that, it would remain at the very top of his list of regrets.
But, they had made love. That was one regret he wouldn't die with.
"I'm sorry." He took her hand, his voice soft, the brush of a feather. "You know I don't want it this way, but this isn't something you or I get to decide."
She wouldn't meet his eyes, but stared at their joined hands. Then suddenly she was on her feet, studying the materials in her bookcase. Mulder stood up, feeling almost anxious, and watched her pull out medical journals, briefly checking them before returning them. She walked back toward him with one in her hand, and laid it on top of the ever-expanding pile on her coffee table. Hands on her hips, she finally looked at him.
"We need to check the x files, there might be something that can help, in the way of alternate avenues."
"I already looked through them, Scully. There's nothing there." He sighed in frustration. He had thought she understood, thought she had accepted that there was no way to save him.
"Well, I'll check again."
"No, you won't."
"You need to accept this for what it is, Scully. I need to know that you can accept it."
"And, what is this, Mulder?" Her frown was deeper than earlier, tinged with anger.
"For me? The end. Or at least, it will be soon."
"And for me?"
Mulder took her hand again, squeezing it gently. "A chance to say goodbye."
"I can't do that," she said, yanking her hand away. "I can't accept that, I won't."
She leaned over, going for the journal she'd pulled out, but Mulder grabbed both of her hands, stopping her. She looked quickly at him, and tried to yank her hands out of his grip. Mulder only tightened his grip, trying to hold her without hurting her. Her blue eyes were dry, and pure anger was burning inside them now.
"Scully, listen to me, please."
She turned away, refusing to hear him. Mulder released one of her hands, and held her chin instead, forcing her to look at him, to face him. Forced to look into his eyes, her resolve began to slip.
"Scully, I have been sick or hurt, and knocking at death's door more times than I'd like to think about, but I've always been saved. Overwhelmingly, that's been because of you. You've saved my sorry ass more times than I can count, Scully," he said, grinning and was almost rewarded with one from her.
He moved closer to her, and rubbed his thumb gently over her cheek, watching her eyelids flutter at his touch. "But, you can't save me this time. I can't be saved."
The tears started slowly at first, the overflow of build-up, but quickly became a wild deluge. Her careful restraint had crumbled, and what she'd held back for over a day wasn't about to be stopped now that she'd released it.
Mulder finally released her, but only to wrap his arms around her, and hold her close. Standing on the tips of her toes, her arms were around his neck, and her face buried in his skin in minutes. But, she didn't stay that way long, she pulled her head up, sniffling, trying to breathe beyond the tears. Still holding on to him, looking over his back, she spoke, her voice breathy and choked at the same time.
"Mulder, you need to understand something too." Her voice cracked. "You need to understand that I can't accept it, that I can't give up, not until your heart stops beating."
Moving only a little, he kissed the side of her head, and settled back into position, tightening his arms around her. A choked sob issued from her throat, and she burrowed into his neck again. Her tears trickled down into his collar, and her body shook gently against his.
Mulder let his own tears fall then. He cried for himself, and for Scully.
He cried for what they'd never get to have.
"Give me a whisper
And give me a sigh
Give me a kiss before you tell me goodbye
Don't you take it so hard now
And please don't take it so bad
I'll still be thinking of you
And the times we had...baby
And don't you cry tonight
Don't you cry tonight
Don't you cry tonight
There's a heaven above you baby
And don't you cry tonight