a/n: needed to get in one last fic before the new year and the cancer arc really strums a lot of personal chords in my heart. I hope you enjoy!
by: dear pearlie
"Hey," he smiled, entering her room for the second time that day. When Mulder caught sight of the woman laying in the bed, the woman he formerly knew as his partner, he wasn't sure it was the afternoon light that revealed to him the state she was in or if she had taken a turn for the worse that day. He tried not to let what her appearance did to him show on his face, especially not to Scully, but he felt he failed. Thankfully, her head was turned, looking out the window.
"I wasn't expecting you back here," she said in a small voice, not taking her gaze from the outside.
"Figured you'd miss me bothering you," he told her. He stopped at the side of the bed opposite the direction she was facing. There were many times in his life where Mulder wished he possessed telepathic abilities, but not once was his yearning as strong as it was in that moment.
"I miss a lot of things."
"So," Mulder started, trying to lighten the mood. There would be a time for serious discussion, but that time would fall under the darkness of night, when she couldn't see the pain radiating through his body at the prospect of losing her. When she couldn't see but she could hear and feel his tears as he held her to him. "What did Ms. Scully's day consist of?"
She smirked and he could feel it. He knew she didn't want to depress him.
"Well, after breakfast, there was… after breakfast," she referred to the event that took place for three days during her treatment, her inability to keep food down at every meal. She'd already lost a significant amount of weight due to this, not that she had any to lose. Six months of this had caused her face to become gaunt and her ribs, shoulders, and elbows to seemingly jut out of her skin. It made this real. It made him hurt for her.
"And after that I just wanted to sleep, but that was useless. I just sat here in bed watching Jerry Springer for an hour. Ugh. Don't tell my mom. Then I read. Next thing I knew, I was waking up and since then I've just been sitting here… thinking."
"What have you been thinking about?" Mulder took the liberty to sit down on the edge of her bed.
"My mom. And my brothers and their families. And you."
"We think about you too."
Scully finally turned to look at her partner, whose compassion could not overcome the terrified look on his face. She knew he hated when she talked like this, he preferred her when she was healthy and in the field with him and they could joke and laugh and pretend she wasn't dying. But she'd spent the entire day alone, thinking about her future—or her lack of one—and she needed to get it out. She didn't know how much longer she'd have left.
"You know there's nothing in the world that would make me want to leave you. Not for a second." She knew he had to hear that because it was quite obvious he blamed himself for her condition.
"I know," Mulder was staring at his clasped hands before she put hers over them.
"Take me to dinner?" she tried to lighten the mood as she swiped a stray tear from the corner of her eye.
"Your chariot awaits, madam," he pulled out her wheelchair from the corner. Scully winced and shook her head. It was no secret that she hated the thing. It was a representative of all that the cancer had stripped from her.
"I've got it," she told him, slowly swinging her legs out from under the covers. They were so skinny. Not just from the throwing up, either, she had stopped her running regime when it became too much for her and her muscles were slowly deteriorating. She pushed herself up on them, wobbly as a newborn deer. Instead of watching her struggle with her dignity, Mulder immediately offered his arm out for her to lean on, all the while making mocking gestures of chivalry to her to make it less painful for both of them. Then they walked to the cafeteria.
Later, after a few bouts of sickness, they were laying in bed. Scully never told Mulder how much she liked being with him like this—wrapped in his arms and nestled between his legs with her back pressed up against his chest. That would be too much to admit, especially now. Her breaths were heavy and Mulder's hands moved up and down over her arms and shoulders, trying to stabilize her. Sometimes, he would press small kisses to her thinning hair line or offer her the standard hospital-issued plastic tray designed for throwing up in when she began to heave. All the time, he was willing the cancer to leave her body, even if that meant entering his.
"Tell me a story," she shuddered, sounding almost pitiful and definitely childish. But Mulder would do anything for her when she was in this state, most importantly if she asked.
"What do you want to hear about?"
"Anything. I don't care."
"I'm not very good at this, Scully."
"Just start talking."
Mulder took a moment to gather the story in his mind. Should he tell her a real story or make one up? He hadn't done either since his time working in a children's psychiatric hospital in college. Scully wasn't a child, either. She was the strongest woman he knew. And he had to tell her a story that would help her to stay strong.
"Uhh, when I lived on the vineyard as a kid, there were always animals making their way into our yard. It's not a big island, but there's a lot of wildlife on it. So one day, I was probably around ten, Sam and I were playing basketball in the front yard. We were really lucky, not only had Dad gotten us a basketball hoop, he'd gotten us one of those nice ones that stood on their own. You know, they were so much better than the ones that you just attached to the garage. And I was kicking her butt at PIG, mostly because she was six, but it made me feel like the best player in the world. Suddenly, she stopped. She did this a lot when she was getting beat; she'd run into the house and cry to mom that I wasn't being fair. Stuff I'm sure you never did as a child," he smiled. Scully smiled too because he was absolutely right. The one time she had run to her father after an unfair game of tag with Bill he'd told her that if she wanted to play with the big kids, she had to act like a big kid. Never again did she get upset when her siblings or their friends were better at something than her. It only gave her the strength to become as good as they were. She couldn't help but wonder what kind of profound effect that had had on her life.
"But she didn't run into the house. She just stood there, staring at the steps to the front porch. And when I asked her what she was looking at, she just walked over there slowly and crawled underneath the deck. It was almost dinner, and I knew Mom would be angry if she got dirty before we ate, so I went in there after her. Except what Sam had seen was a little rabbit with its leg twisted the wrong way. I tried to tell her not to touch it, but she grabbed it gently and cradled it in her arms like a doll. Mom and Dad let us keep the rabbit in the basement, so I built a cage out of chicken wire and wood for it and Mom helped to set the leg. I took care of that rabbit, Billy, for six weeks before he was healed. I loved him a lot. He'd eat carrots right out of my hand and for six weeks, I knew that something depended on me. It was so hard to let him go, but I knew he would be happier in the wild than in my basement for the rest of his life. And the day I released him, he ran around the yard cautiously at first, but then sprinted off to go back to his old life. That was the closest thing I had to a pet when I was a kid."
Scully didn't have a lot of knowledge about that time in Mulder's life. She knew it was happy, but his days were always so preoccupied with what happened to his sister and who and how and why… it was nice to hear a story about her from before she was taken.
"Why did you tell me that?" she had to ask. He had dozens of childhood memories in his repertoire. They'd been on many a car ride and talked extensively about their childhoods. One of his favorites, she knew, was of the time he hit the winning run of his little league championship game when he was 14.
"Because I want you to know that I'm going to take care of you and love you and be there for you even though I know it could end with you leaving me."
There wasn't much pause before Mulder heard her start to cry. He laid his head on the back of her neck and let her know that he was there for her.
"I don't want to leave you," she finally got out, fingernails scraping the hands that held her around the middle.
"It's going to be okay. I'm not giving up without a fight, and I know you're not either," Mulder reassured her now that he'd made her cry.
Scully maneuvered herself so that she was laying, chest to chest, with Mulder and tucked herself under his chin.
"Hold me tight. Make sure I don't leave."
And he did. All through the night and into the next morning when Maggie came to visit her daughter and found them tightly hanging on to each other. What they could not see but Maggie could see clearly was that the loved they shared was something not even death could eradicate. And with that in mind, she knew they were in the safest hands possible. Maybe everything wouldn't be okay in the end. Maybe this journey was meant to end badly. But Maggie's daughter was wrapped in the arms of a man she knew truly loved her.
Maybe they'd lose each other. But for now, they hung on as tightly as they could.
sorry for the sap. thanks for reading! happy new year!