This is set inbetween Trevor and Milagro, after Monday, but anything is fair game spoiler-wise. Clearly, I do not own anything but the plot. Thank you for reading, and please review!
12:37 AM; April 4, 1999
"Mulder." His answering voice was loud in her tired ears, and Scully abruptly yanked the phone away, before her sleepy brain adjusted, and managed a response.
"Scully? You okay?"
She smiled at the abrupt shift in his voice, from relaxed, even sleepy, to hyper alert. "I'm fine. I just had that dream again."
"The bank dream?" He asked, voice serious.
"Yeah. You bleeding all over me, and then boom." Ever since the hostage situation at the bank, Scully had been dreaming a much darker end to it. Mulder had been surprisingly free of nightmares on this one.
"You know my theory, Scully."
"That we actually lived that, and many other variations of the bank situation."
"Yep, you just have to remember, Scully, it turned out okay for us. We both survived, the Universe isn't done with us yet," he spoke softly, trying to soothe her with his voice.
"I know. And, that just makes me want to know why I keep dreaming this. I mean, we've survived scarier situations, and I've come out with fewer nightmares, why this?" She was frustrated and tired.
"Well, maybe that's it."
"Like you said. We've been through worse, but usually worse for us is also bizarre, we're used to dealing with that in our everyday. This bank thing was normal, for us; we weren't on a case, we were simply at a bank. Somewhere you'd normally think of as safe, that's probably what jolted you, and brought these alternate memories to the surface."
"Sometimes I forget that you're a shrink, Mulder."
"Not a shrink, Scully. I can't give you drugs."
"You've got it where it counts, Freud."
"Now see, if I were Freud, I'd say the entire thing was a metaphor for sex. You know, the gun is phallic, the explosion is the moment of orgasm--"
She cut him off. "Spare me, Mulder."
He chuckled, relived that she sound amused now. He yawned. "You were asleep already, Scully?"
"I have church bright and early tomorrow morning."
"Why not sleep late, and go to a later service?"
"Because, I'm meeting my family there and then we're getting brunch."
"The whole Scully clan?"
"Yep, even Charlie and his family."
"Wow, what did you have to do to get him over here?"
"He's on leave, and tomorrow's Easter." She yawned.
Mulder was silent for a minute. "Oh, that's explains the brunch thing. Nothing like celebrating your savior coming back from the dead by eating pancakes and sausage."
She rolled her eyes. "You're welcome to come, Mulder."
"I don't think so. You know me and church, and with both your brothers around, I'm not optimistic that I'd walk away still in possession of my balls."
"I'll protect you and your balls, and Mom wouldn't let them hurt you either."
"As intriguing as the idea of your protecting my balls is, Scully, I'm still going to politely decline. Holidays, church, family, not really my thing."
"I know...listen, you have any plans tomorrow?"
"Just my usual holiday plans."
She smirked. "Charlie Brown's Easter, beer and pizza?"
He pretended to consider that, and then joked, "I was actually thinking about switching to Ziggy this year."
Scully laughed. "Well, I'll come by after I finish at my mother's, and join you."
"You don't have to do that, Scully. Spend the time with your family, how often does your mother get to see you all together?"
"She'll have us all Monday too. The boys are on leave and aren't flying out until late Monday, and the Bureau was generous this year remember?" They also had Monday off, to give families a chance to return home from visiting relatives.
"Well, then stay at your Mother's tomorrow night, like I'm sure you planned too, and come by Monday after everyone's gone home. Visit your family, Scully; you see me all the time."
She sighed. "Fine, then I'll see you on Monday."
He smiled. "I'll be here." He paused. "Go to sleep, Scully, or you'll fall asleep in church."
"Wouldn't be the first time."
"And here this whole time, I thought you were a nice Catholic girl."
She chuckled. "Good night, Mulder...and thanks."
Scully laughed as Charlie's five year-old son Nate tried to explain to 15 month-old Matthew the finer points of playing with Matchbox cars. He sat with crossed arms as Matt once again ignored his older cousin's instructions and shoved the red Corvette in his mouth.
Bill was chuckling loudly as his young son, the picture of a happy, excited father. He'd tried to be on land more this year than in the past, and he was getting old enough to be able to request better, land-bound positions. Not that he wanted to be on land all the time, but certainly in Matt's early years, and while he and Tara were working on trying to make a second child. He and Scully had been getting along alright this visit; perhaps because of the kids, it seemed less tense than in recent years.
Two year-old Jackie toddled over to Scully with a book in her hands, clambered up on the couch, and plopped heavily onto her diapered bottom. Charlie's youngest looked up at her aunt with the Scully bright blue eyes, and handed her the thin picture book. Obligingly, Scully pulled the little girl into her lap, and opened the book. Scully spent the next fifteen minutes quietly reading her only niece 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar', while her oldest nephew nagged his father to let him eat some candy. By the time she reached the end of the story, the little girl's eyes were dropping, and she was soon sound asleep.
Scully raised an eyebrow at her younger brother. "What time did you get her up this morning?"
"Nate ran through the house screaming at six, and woke us all up." He shot a look at his son, who grinned mischievously.
"Uh huh, somebody wanted to see what the Easter Bunny left them." She smiled. "Funny, Charlie was the same way."
"Oh, I wasn't that bad," he insisted.
"Oh, believe me, you were," Maggie same in, rolling her eyes. Her youngest son shot her a look of mock betrayal. Maggie looked at Jackie, and rested her hands on her hips. "And here I thought that child was so shy."
"So did I," Scully agreed.
"She usually is, she hardly ever leaves Rose's side at any family functions, right Hun?" Charlie turned to his wife.
"She never wants to go near anyone, but I guess there's something about you she likes, Dana." Rose smiled at her sleeping little girl.
"That's not surprising," Bill said. "She's just like Dana was then, right Mom?"
"Yes, Dana was always pretty quiet, and very thoughtful like Jackie is."
"Yeah, except when Bill was teasing her, then she morphed into a little Fury," Charlie grinned.
Scully rolled her eyes. "Bill was deserving of everything I did to him."
"Oh, thanks Sis. Love you too," he teased.
Their quiet laughter was interrupted by a knock at the door. A heavy knock, as if their visitor was tired, maybe even weary. Maggie went to get it, waving her children and their spouses back. Scully didn't even try to move, not wanting to wake her niece. She ran a hand over the little girls head, and tried to ignore the pinch in her chest at the thought of another little girl.
"Mr. Skinner, what a surprise." Scully turned at that, confusion written on her face. What was he doing here? She did move then, attempting to move Jackie to the couch, but the little girl stirred and held on tighter. Scully hitched the toddler up on her hip and walked over to the door where her mother wore a frown of confusion, and her boss looked exhausted.
"Sir?" She asked.
"Agent Scully, sorry to disturb you holiday, but I'm afraid I have some bad news." Skinner wasn't dressed as if he'd been celebrating a holiday, but like he'd been at the office, except for the soot. Scully's breath suddenly caught in her throat.
"Oh god, don't tell me they burnt down our office again?"
"No, the office is fine. I need to--you should--is there somewhere we can talk? You should be sitting." He was looking from his feet to her face, and back again, as if he couldn't bare to look into her eyes for long.
Then Scully felt her heart jump into her throat. "Something happened to Mulder."
Skinner didn't respond, except to look into her eyes now.
"Mom, can you take Jackie?" She was already handing the little girl over, only feeling a little bad when tiny hands tried to grab at her shirt, not wanting to leave. She didn't notice her brothers approach the door, both looking worried.
"When was the last time you talked to him, Scully?" Skinner asked, ignoring the family milling around her.
"Last night, he didn't mention any new leads coming up. What hospital is he at?" She asked quickly, already moving to grab her jacket.
"Agent Scully...can you please sit down somewhere?" He pled with her, following her inside, her family parting, and watching nervously.
"I'm fine. Just tell me what happened." Her blood was already rushing in her ears, and she could feel her legs weakening beneath her.
"Dana, the children," her mother reminded her. "How about we go into the kitchen?"
Scully nodded, and marched into the kitchen, while Maggie handed Jackie off to her own mother, and joined them. Scully's brothers followed, but she didn't seem to care, she folded her arms over her chest, and regarded Skinner, demanding with her eyes.
"There was a fire at his apartment building. They got as many survivors out as they could, and managed to contain it. It ate most of his building, and damaged the ones on either side. The firefighters were still trying to fight it when I left, but they assured me, there wasn't anyone left alive inside." Skinner paused, looked away from her, clearing his throat as he stared at her white knuckle grip the the wooden chair back.
She already knew what he was going to say. "Sir?"
"He wasn't among the survivors, Scully."
"He might not have been home, did you, did you try his cell phone?" Her voice was shaking, and her mother came beside her, and put an arm around her. Scully was still gripping the chair, her hands now trembling slightly.
Skinner nodded. "I figured after the third call, he wasn't going to pick up."
"His battery could have died, or he could be out of range. He might have gone back home, he might be there now," she insisted, desperation making her voice high and thin.
"Scully, I was there for hours, he didn't come back." He watched her fight to maintain her composure, and wondered why she was bothering, she was allowed to grieve. "Scully...do you know what his plans were today?"
She pulled her eyes off the table and looked at him, her lips shaking as she spoke, voice cracking. "He was just going to stay home."
Skinner sighed, he was holding out hope that he'd gone to see his mother or something. He picked up her hand, and squeezed it. "I'm sorry."
She nodded, and seemed to swallow down every emotion raging inside her. "We should get over there, and see what they find."
"No, I should get over there. You stay here, with you're family."
"No, I need to go. I need to--" Skinner cut her off, shaking his head.
"You need to let me handle this. I promise, I'll let you know as soon as we find him." Or rather, his body, but Skinner couldn't seem to bring himself to say that to her.
She went to object again, but her mother stopped her. "Dana, please listen to Mr. Skinner, I know how close you and Fox are, and being there while they're--it won't be a good situation for you."
Scully finally relented, and Skinner took the opportunity to duck out. Her mother had both arms around her now, but Scully still refused to cry. She couldn't, she just couldn't accept it. Charlie chose that moment to step in front of her, and take her hands.
"I'm so sorry, Dana. If there's anything I can do..."
She nodded, and began shaking herself loose of all her family members. She felt like she was suffocating, like her chest was so heavy she couldn't move it. She knew the weight that was crushing it was grief, a phantom substance with a very thick phantom density.
"I need some air," she said quietly, pushing back quickly from the table, and rushing out the back door. It slammed shut behind her, and no one tried to follow her.
She paced and dialed his number, fingers stabbing the buttons as if the phone was responsible for the fire. Mulder's line went immediately to voice mail. She hung up and dialed again. Again she heard his voice asking her to leave a message. She hit the end button, and dialed again, only to be hit with the same message. This time she didn't hang up.
"Answer the phone, Mulder. I need you, please answer your damned phone." Her voice cracked, she was edging on tears. "I need you to answer your phone. Skinner came by, he said there was a fire at your building, he said you were dead. I need you to call me back, and tell me it isn't true." She finally hung up, a hand coming to rest over her mouth.
Scully leaned against the side of the house, and just began to shake. Not shiver, not quiver, but full blown tremors wracking her body, trying to force her to allow the sobs in her chest to escape. Her stomach was flipping over, tying itself in knots, creating a sharp, burning ache inside her. The kind of ache you get when you're really afraid of something, the kind that doesn't go away with a little Pepto.
She slid down the side of the house to the ground, her arms around her body, hugging herself. He couldn't be dead. Mulder couldn't be dead. She couldn't say goodbye to him, she couldn't, she just couldn't. Scully stared off into space, thoughts of denial running through her mind, circling around as if building a safe little cocoon for her mind to retreat to. Her eyes began to burn, and she blinked them once, and just kept staring.
A fence and the gray and white house next door sat in front of her, but what Scully actually saw was her world falling apart. Oh god, Mulder.