CLASSIFICATION: post-ep, V, A
SPOILERS: post-ep for Elegy
DISCLAIMER: Not mine; they belong to CC, FOX, etc.
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Scully spun around in her seat to face the front window and kept her eyes tightly shut as she caught her breath. Not Harold. That couldn't have been Harold. He was dead. How could she see two dead people within as many days? She didn't want to think about this anymore. She couldn't think about what this meant.
Suddenly, she was seized by an impulse to escape. The air inside the vehicle felt oppressive, like a thick, heavy fog, and she could no longer breathe. Grasping for the handle, she finally was able to open the door on the third try, and she bolted outside, shutting the door behind her--shutting out Harold and acceptance of the inevitable. And then she collapsed against the car, her body admitting the defeat that her mind could not. For what seemed like an eternity, she remained there motionless, numb. She was just so tired of feeling it all, and of holding back those feelings. Maybe if she kept her eyes closed long enough it would all just disappear, just like the vision of Harold....
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After Scully left the building, Mulder waited a long moment to calm himself, and to allow her a discreet head start out of the parking lot, before he headed out. He had been harsh with her; he knew that as soon as he saw the tears welling up in her eyes. He didn't mean to hurt her like that--it was the last thing he wanted to do--but he couldn't hide his own frustration. What would it take for her to finally believe? What would it take for her to let him in? She wanted to die alone, strong and silent as usual, and he was terrified of being left without her, and with so many things being left unsaid....
Sighing in resignation, Mulder exited the building. He knew they both needed a night of rest and a break from this case. Maybe things would be better in the morning--he hoped. As he reached into his pocket for his keys, he idly glanced across the parking lot and suddenly realized what he was seeing. Scully's car was still there, and she was leaning against it, her form slumped over against the door. A feeling of fear and panic seized him, and his long strides turned into a jog as he hurried toward the car.
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The sound of Mulder's voice shocked Scully out of her reverie, and she physically jumped at the sound. She looked up at him just as he reached her, winded and looking very worried.
"Scully, are you okay?"
"I'm fi-." She realized the irony as the words started to automatically pour out her mouth. It was just a reflex that she seldom thought about, until now. This time, she was anything but fine. She knew that, and Mulder knew it, too. And now, she choked on the word.
At her reflexive response, Mulder's reciprocal frustration started to surface, until he heard her throat constrict with the word and saw her eyes drop to the ground. He wanted to reach for her, hold her, but he knew he needed to respect her space. As much as it infuriated him, he had to let her take things at her own speed.
A moment of silence passed between them, and Scully took a deep breath to find her voice again. She had to say the words; she had to tell him, especially after the conversation they'd just had inside, but she couldn't look at him.
"Mulder...I just saw Harold. Sitting in the back seat of my car. I saw him through the rearview mirror, and then when I turned around, he was gone."
He didn't know what to say to this. All he could do was reach out to her with his hand, as he was wordlessly doing with his heart.
Scully felt Mulder's hand fall comfortingly--or pityingly--on her shoulder. She looked up at him, to read his eyes, and with that she broke. The tears that she had been holding back were no longer under her control, and all she could do was collapse into her partner's arms. He held her tight, and a voice at the back of her head asked her why she hadn't done this before. She desperately needed someone to comfort her, to share the burden that she insisted on shouldering by herself. She said that she relied on his strength, but did she really allow herself to?
After the initial wave of tears, Scully finally choked out the words that she had been asking herself over and over in her head. "Why is this happening to me?"
It was almost a rhetorical question. She didn't expect that either of them really knew the answer--or maybe they knew it all too well--and so she didn't truly expect a response. But he answered anyway. "I don't know, Scully."
She heard the words whispered close to her ear and could feel the emotion behind them. Then he continued. It was his turn to be the reasonable one, to try to rationalize what had happened, especially since he carried the guilt of telling her that she must be dying, too, by virtue of the fact that she was seeing death omens. "Maybe you and Harold shared something else in common."
Unsure where he was going with this, Scully pulled back and looked up inquiringly, as Mulder's arms loosened around her but did not let go. He responded to her look. "You said it yourself. He wasn't dying--his life was being taken away from him. Just like it's being taken away from you. But we didn't know what was happening to him, not until it was too late, and so we couldn't fight it. But we know what's happening to you. And we will fight it. But we have to do it together."
Scully dropped her eyes, but Mulder wasn't finished yet. He put his finger under her chin and gently tilted her head back up to meet his gaze, now even closer to her own. The gentle quiet to his voice matched the proximity. "Scully, I can't presume to know how you feel right now or what you're going through. But I need you to understand, this isn't just happening to you--it's happening to me, too. I already lost you once, and I'm terrified of losing you again. I'm just asking you...." He paused, and she waited, as he searched for the right words. "Don't shut me out."
It took a long moment for the look of angst and bewilderment to leave her face, as though she had to weigh his words and consider her response long and hard. But eventually the answer came, in the form of a small smile of surrender and an almost imperceptible nod as her arms dropped and she began to pull away. Mulder's hand that had tilted her head was lingering on her shoulder. Before he stepped away, his hand wandered over to gently stroke her face, and then he leaned forward and kissed her forehead. As if by magic, he could feel the remaining tension in her melt away.
Without another word being spoken, Mulder stood beside the car and watched as his partner climbed in, slowly buckled her seatbelt, and then drove away. He hoped that an understanding had passed between them, and that maybe now she would be more open about what she was experiencing and let him share in her pain and her fears. But knowing her as well as he did, he realized that wasn't likely. This was the Dana Scully who never missed a beat after her father's death, her sister's death, or even her own near-death. And now she faced death again, and she still wouldn't let it slow her down. It was a formidable enemy, but like a fearsome warrior she kept standing up to face it again as it dealt her blow after blow. She refused to let it see her weakness or fear, and so she hid that from everyone else who knew her as well. She wouldn't let death defeat her.
Mulder only wished he could say the same thing about himself. If Scully were to die...but he couldn't think about that. Bringing himself back to the present, he turned and walked back to his car. Only a few minutes after his partner exited the lot, he followed the same path toward the highway, idly thinking of excuses he could use to call and check on her later that night.
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