Character: Dana Scully
Fandom: The X-Files
Setting: Season Six Episode: The Sixth Extinction
Mulder was asleep when she came in. Scully wasn't surprised really as she gently closed his front door. For all of his big talk earlier that day about coming into the office to see her, she knew he would wear out quickly. He had only been home two days; it had been barely a week since she had drug him, half-coherent, from out of the hole they had hidden him in. He should still be in bed resting. But instead he was sprawled across his leather couch, is arms and legs splayed under a thin sheet, his gentle snores keeping time to the baseball game on television.
She couldn't help but smile indulgently at him as she quietly moved to check the dressings on his head. So far, so good, she would need to change them when he woke. Frankly, his recovery was about as miraculous as the fact that she even found him. Despite the evidence the doctors found of major head trauma, likely caused by some sort of invasive surgery, Mulder had begun healing quickly. By the third day he was already awake and coherent, the damage repairing at a rate that baffled the doctors. The brain activity that had so crippled him before his disappearance was now gone, or at least dulled for the moment. Though it wasn't clear to his doctors what was done to him, whatever it was, it worked for now. He seemed to be as normal as Mulder ever was.
But for how long, Scully silently wondered. She knew the truth of what Kritschgau told her, about Mulder not being quite "human" anymore. She had ordered DNA tests of course, blood tests, tissue samples, anything she could possibly get her hands on. Nothing seemed abnormal. He had some elevated levels of white blood cells, but that was to be expected when he had just suffered invasive surgery. Scully had breathed a sigh of relief at that, at least for the moment. She wasn't sure what any of those tests really meant, if they meant anything at all.
Not that she could ask Kritschgau about it. The day that Mulder was recovered Skinner informed her that Metro police had found Kritschgau murdered in his own apartment. The computer that she had deleted the information from was gone. There of course were no clues as to who did it, but Scully could guess as to why. Still, Kritschgau was one of the only resources they had regarding what happened to Mulder and how to find the evidence. Now he, like so many other leads they had over they years, was gone. The only truth that still remained was the truth of what Mulder suffered…and what she saw in Africa.
"You're thinking too loud." Mulder's voice was a soft groan as his dark eyelashes fluttered against cheeks still a tad too pale for her liking. She chuckled, running fingers lightly through his dark hair.
"Listening to my thoughts?" She was joking, but the words still caught, just a little.
"No, you were staring off into space standing over me. I know I'm not that good-looking."
Scully snorted. He must be feeling better. "How's the head."
"Itchy," he whined, sitting up carefully on the leather, causing the couch to creak as he did so.
"Let me get the bandage off," she murmured, reaching for the doctor's bag she brought with her. "I want to see how those stitches are doing."
"Hopefully they will be out soon," he groused. As ever, Mulder was the stellar example of bad patient. She simply rolled her eyes as she moved to stand next to him, hip against his shoulder as she worked.
"Hold still,' she warned, beginning to unwind the gauze as he blinked owlishly at the game score. "Did you get good sleep?"
"It's amazing how much sleep you can get on pain killers. I see why people can develop a habit."
"I wouldn't recommend it," she teased, balling up the used fabric and prodding the skin of his forehead gently. "Any headaches today?"
"Just a small one," he admitted, wincing as she grazed the tender flesh. "So will I have a Frankenstein scar?"
He sounded so hopeful. "Sadly, much like your longed for hook for a hand I think you are going to get off lucky on this one. You're healing so quickly I doubt in a few weeks anyone will notice."
"A man can always dream," he sighed as she treated the incision area and began to bandage him up again.
"How were your soap operas," she teased, gently applying cotton around his skull again.
"I hadn't missed much since the last time I was out," Mulder enthused blithely. It had only been weeks since Brown Mountain, and he was clearly pleased he could still follow the major storylines of All My Children. "I think Adam and Brooke may be broken up again."
Having no idea what he was talking about, Scully only hummed. She was simply happy to hear him happy…to hear him talking and chattering and not screaming her name over and over…
"Hey," Mulder's head turned up to her as she realized she had stopped her ministrations. Her fingers lay still, the last bit of gauze crumpled in them. "You okay there?" There was worry in his green eyes.
"Yeah," she smiled, even if she didn't quite feel it. "I'm fine." She neatly tucked the gauze under the edge and looked for tape to fix it further down. Before she could move away, she felt Mulder's arm wrap around her, pulling her back closer to him, his cheek resting against her abdomen, snuggled under her breast.
"Mulder," she laughed, but he didn't let go. What had brought this on?
"Thank you," he murmured, pulling away finally to look up at her with shining eyes. "Thank you for never giving up on me."
His words were so simple and yet so powerful, and Scully couldn't hide the tears welling up as much as she tried. "Mulder, it's was what I do for you. It's what you do for me."
"I know," he smiled, letting her finally reach for the medical tape on the coffee table. "Has there been any other information yet on Diana?"
Scully paused, picking at the tape far longer than she needed to pull up the end. She knew he would eventually ask. "Yes," she replied, clearing her throat as she snipped off a piece of tape with surgical scissors. "The metro police said there was a series of robberies reported last night at the Watergate. They believe that Diana's apartment was targeted and that she was likely just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"Do you believe that," Mulder asked quietly as she taped the gauze firmly in place.
"No," Scully replied succinctly, turning to clean up her work, avoiding Mulder's inquisitive gaze.
"Neither do I," Mulder sighed, flopping backwards on the couch as she gathered her things and put them away. "Ironic, a break-in at the Watergate, a conspiracy to cover up."
Scully kept her eyes trained on her work at hand, unwilling to look to see Mulder's myriad of thoughts. "She did help, Mulder." Diana Fowley had also hurt too, and she had admitted as much. But Scully at the moment was willing to overlook that.
"She did," Mulder sighed softly, watching her as she worked. "But she wasn't completely honest to me about everything, was she?"
Scully's eyes cut sharply sideways to him. How had he known the truth? "She had her reasons, Mulder. She did love you, very much."
"I know," he replied. "It was easy to love her."
Scully found herself extremely fascinated with ensuring that the roll of gauze material was placed properly in her bag. "I'm sure it was. She…was smart, attractive, dedicated to your work."
"And she was lying and duplicitous with loyalties that lay with other than me," Mulder answered, not angrily, just as a matter of fact. Scully's eyes widened at him as he shrugged against the couch. "Don't get me wrong, Scully. I did love her a great deal. And there is a part of me that thought it would be easy to go back to that, to just give everything up and have the life I once wanted with her. She had me nearly convinced, but…I knew in the end it would all be a lie. And enough of my life has been built on lies."
It was a true enough statement. Scully's heart ached for him. From Teena all the way down to Diana he had lived one lie after another. Was there anything honest and true in his life?
"At least," he murmured as she finished up and settled on the couch beside him. "I have one thing honest in this whole damned world. That's you."
She almost didn't want to hear it. Mulder saying something like that, it was almost as if he believed her some superhero. He hadn't seen the number of times she had doubted and nearly failed over the last two weeks, the mistakes she made trying to save him. "I don't know about that, Mulder."
"It's true," he insisted, a hand reaching across the space between them to take hers, long fingers warm. "You've never been anything but unerringly honest with me, whether I wanted to hear it or not. Do you know how few people in my life have given me that gift?"
"I know," Scully admitted, thinking of Teena, of Bill, of Phoebe, and Diana and everyone he had ever loved. "That doesn't change who and what I am, Mulder. Even when I saw the ship, right there in front of my eyes, I still wasn't sure…what in the hell was I supposed to believe?"
"But you stayed."
"Yes," she acknowledged, trying not to shiver at the memory of the old man and the visions she saw. "I stayed, but I didn't understand."
"That's simply because not every truth out there is for you to understand."
She blinked at the words he used, the same ones the old man had. "I didn't want to believe it, Mulder, I was afraid of what it meant. The scriptures, the things I saw…it went against everything I knew to be true…and at the same time confirmed them as well."
"But you stayed."
"For you," she turned to him, tears glazing her eyes. "I couldn't just run away, I needed to know what was happening to you. And that was the only place I knew to look."
Something about that amused him, he chuckled deep in his chest. "Skinner turned to Kritschgau."
"And look how that turned out," Scully rubbed angrily at the corners of her eyes. "Kritschgau's dead, Mulder. Any scientific evidence he may have had is gone." She ignored the fact that she deleted much of it and for that very reason. She had feared something like this happening.
"Still, Kritschgau was the sort of person you would have turned to before. You did as a matter of fact. What changed?"
"I didn't know to ask him," she replied, but knew it was more than that. "Besides, I had to see with my own eyes if what Dr. Merkmallen and Dr. Sandoz argued was true. They were men of science, Mulder, men I would under normal circumstances respect. And they believed what they told me. I thought it all a hoax, but it was real. And now…everything is not what I thought it was, not anymore."
He was silent beside her, though his fingers squeezed gently on hers. For long moments he stared quietly at the television and the baseball game on.
"You know," he finally spoke into the silence that rose between them. "I dreamed while I was gone. Whether it was what they did to me, the drugs I was on, perhaps the outside stimuli….maybe it was my own subconscious talking to me, I don't know."
He shifted subtly, sinking further into the cushions, drawing her hand onto his leg, holding it firmly, an anchor as he spoke. "I had such hopes once, Scully. I wasn't always this man. I wanted to marry, to have children, to live that white-picket fence life you keep telling me I should desire. I wanted the comfort of having a companion to go home to everyday, kids to raise and fuss over, to grow old with people. But more than those things, I wanted to find my sister…and more than that I wanted to find the truth.
"And so, when Diana left and I thought the house and kids thing went with it, I decided that my life should be focused on the other two. Samantha became my guiding star and the truth my whole world, and I believed because no one else in this whole damned world would believe me."
He turned his bandaged head ever so slightly against the leather, green eyes pinpoint bright as they fixed on hers. "Until you."
Scully suddenly felt her throat tighten so hard she didn't dare a response.
"I think, Scully, in the end, that's why we had to be in each others lives," he murmured, a low growl over the whisper of the television. "Because nothing in this world is constant. And when everything else has gone to hell, we each have each other to cling on to."
That earned a wet snort as Scully nodded, chuckling as she used her free hand to wipe at tears coursing down her face. "It's so strange, Mulder…I would have never gone to see that ship, I would have never witnessed it actually being there if it hadn't been for you. If I hadn't needed to find it for you."
"And hey, if the dream you wasn't kicking my ass, I would never have found my ship," Mulder grinned, earning an inquisitive look from Scully. "Let's just say you are twice as bossy in my subconscious than in real life."
Scully wasn't sure if she liked Mulder imagining her that way or not. "Your ship?"
"Mmmm," Mulder nodded, shrugging. "I think just as you had to find your proof off the Ivory Coast, Scully, I had to find my belief again. I had to remember who I was…who I used to be. The child who had such promise."
Glimpses of a beach and a boy with a bucket came to mind. "Did you find that child again?"
"I think so," he smiled softly, eyes unfocused. "I found my faith at least."
"And I found my evidence. Though according to Dr. Ngebe, it's all gone now."
"Doesn't matter. You know the truth now."
"I do," she replied softly, nearly reverently. What had once been Mulder's truth alone for so many years was now also hers.
"I can't believe you flew all the way to the Ivory Coast," Mulder whistled low, snorting. "Do I want to even know how much that cost?"
"Not as much as you would think with all the frequent flyer miles I've racked up over the years with you," she teased, nudging his knee playfully with her own. "Sadly, I didn't bring you a souvenir."
"I think I can forgive you, from what Skinner says you weren't exactly in the tourist mood." He paused, glancing at her thoughtfully. "Was it worth it?"
Did he really have to ask that? "Was it worth flying to Antarctica to save me?"
If the tightness of his fingers on hers didn't answer, the rough, instant "yes" certainly did. She smiled down at their intertwined fingers.
"If you were willing to go to the ends of the earth for me, Mulder, what makes you think I wouldn't do the same for you?"
Her answer earned a slow, beatific smile from him, the sort of smile she couldn't remember seeing from him before. "I'll always have Dana Scully to come save my ass?"
"Of course," she replied, grinning just as freely. "Because I will always be your friend, Fox Mulder."
"Good," he nodded, eyes turning back towards the television. "That means you'll stay and watch the game with me right?"
Somehow, Scully suspected she'd been had…but she also couldn't bring herself to care over much. "Sure, Mulder. As long as you buy dinner."
AN: This concludes Seasons: Sixth. Thank you to all you readers who have kept up with this story over the last year-and-a-half, for being patient through typos, long silences, and my degrees. Seasons: Seventh is certainly in the works, never fear! It's hard to believe I have been at these stories four years come next month! For those of you who have followed them all, thank you so much for your continued love and support. It's meant a lot to have you enjoy what I come up with.