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Mulder and Scully do Romeo and Juliet;
or, what if season 8 turned into
a Shakespearean tragedy?

KEYWORDS: CD (think Romeo & Juliet)
SPOILER WARNING: takes place in season 8, diverging from canon after the teaser of "DeadAlive"
DISCLAIMER: Not mine; they belong to CC, FOX, etc. The basic plot isn't mine either; it belongs to Shakespeare.

* * *

When confronted with the death of a loved one, Dana Scully always dealt with it the same way: by throwing herself into her work. It was a pattern that she established back in college when her grandfather had finally succumbed to lung cancer. It was only a week before finals, and when her parents had offered to fly her out for the funeral, she decided that she needed to stay at school and finish the semester. After all, the best response to death was to go on with life, and she knew that her grandfather would be proud of her accomplishments.

When Ahab died, she didn't miss a beat. While the rest of the family gathered around to console one another, Dana caught a plane to North Carolina to join her partner on a case that even he thought was anything but paranormal, and hence, her usual skepticism wasn't even needed. When Melissa died, she turned down the offer of time off once again, said she "needed something to put her back up against." But the truth was, she needed the work. The work kept her mind occupied so she wouldn't have time to think about what had happened. More importantly, if she didn't have time to think about it, she wouldn't have time to feel the loss and the emptiness.

And so, after she buried her partner and lover in North Carolina, this time she traveled in the reverse direction, immediately boarding a plane for DC in order to drive to Quantico and do an autopsy that same night. The autopsy could have waited, but she couldn't. She needed the work to keep her busy so she couldn't feel the loss.

And so she continued for the next two weeks. She took every case that crossed her desk, ignoring all of Agent Doggett's entreaties for her to slow down, take some time off. But this time, her coping strategy backfired. The work didn't help her avoid the loss because the work was where she felt the loss most profoundly. Every day she walked through that door, every case that she worked was only another reminder that Mulder was no longer there. That Mulder would never come back. She felt that if she kept the work going, perhaps she could keep his spirit alive in some sense, but she knew that to be merely another lie to help her avoid her own feelings. The truth was, when Mulder died, her soul had died with him.

When Scully finally returned home each night, she always cried herself to sleep. She claimed it was the hormones, nothing more, but that alone should have been a reminder of her precious cargo. In the end, the inevitable happened. Long hours and lack of proper rest and nutrition took their toll on an already precarious pregnancy. Two and half weeks after she buried her life mate, all that she had left of him died. As the bleeding began, she had just enough energy left in her to dial 9-1-1 before she passed out on the bathroom floor. When she came to, the doctor confirmed what she already knew. The baby was gone.

* * *

This time, she wasn't allowed to deal with death in her customary way. The doctor refused to let her leave the hospital immediately because of the blood loss and her poor health, and Skinner refused to let her come back to work even after her release because of this double blow to her spirit. Everyone walked on egg shells around her--that is, those who dared to come by. They spoke in hushed tones as though she might break to pieces at higher decibels. Only her mother dared to stay, which in fact turned into hovering. But her mother wouldn't look her straight in the eye. When she did, there was always that latent accusation: How could you put the work above your own baby?

The days offered her too much time to think, and the nights gave her too much time to feel. But she no longer cried herself to sleep. To cry is to feel sorry for oneself, and she was beyond that. She no longer had a self to feel sorry for. The majority of her had died in that clearing in Montana, and whatever was left had bled out of her that day in her bathroom. Instead, she was numb, as all good zombies must be. She was a body without a soul, merely going through the motions.

She went to the psychiatrist as assigned, who offered her a prescription to manage her depression. With that in hand, and a clearance from her doctor, she was finally allowed to return to work, which finally gave her the motions to go through. And so she did. During her absence, Doggett had been forced to take the lead on their cases, and when she returned, she allowed him to continue in this capacity. She worked nine to five and left promptly when the work day was done. Doggett saw this as a mark of improvement and told Skinner as much. Their boss didn't believe it himself until one day he took her out for lunch and saw that there was again a spark of hope in her eye.

And so things continued for another month. Scully returned to the psychiatrist and had the trial prescription refilled. She put in her 40 hours a week and left work promptly each evening. Her only occasional lapses from that schedule were for appointments that she had to keep during the day, but that was only understandable for a woman who had recently been through so much physical strain. Everyone began to breathe easier around her and talk in normal tones, no longer afraid that she might break or blow away. But no one knew what had caused the change in her. That is, not until that day.

The fact was, Scully had come to a decision one afternoon while she lay on her couch during mandatory sick leave. If asked what finally made the decision for her, she would have pointed to words from a movie that she ran across while mindlessly flipping channels on TV. To get busy living, or to get busy dying. So, like the character in the movie, she made her choice and started laying her plans.

* * *

Dana Scully was found dead on a Tuesday evening. On Monday, she had gone to work like any other day. When questioned, Agent Doggett explained he had found nothing remarkable about her behavior that day, certainly nothing to indicate what she intended to do when she left work that evening. She had simply gone home, prepared dinner, washed up afterwards, laid out the suit she wanted to be buried in, and overdosed on anti-depressants.

It was not a suicide attempt or a cry for help but a well-calculated and meticulously executed plan. As a doctor, she knew exactly how many pills it would take to ensure that she'd fall asleep and never wake up again, so that's how many she took. She didn't bother to empty the bottle. That would have been overkill. She also knew that no one would come looking for her until it was too late. When she didn't show up for work on Tuesday morning, calls were made and messages were left until concern turned into worry and Agent Doggett assured Mrs. Scully that he would stop by Dana's apartment to check on her and have her call her mother as soon as possible.

She left no loose ends. Everything around her apartment was either already boxed or labeled, making the process of cleaning things out much easier. The bathroom and kitchen had been scrubbed clean, as though already preparing for the next tenant. Her will had been signed and witnessed. Having recently inherited the entire Mulder fortune as the sole heir of the sole heir, she left all of this to his three quirky friends. Beyond this, all that was hers went to her family. There were notes for each of her family members, telling them how much she loved them and recalling happy memories. However, there was no suicide note or explanation why. That came in the form of her detailed burial arrangements.

The one part of the Mulder inheritance that Scully had not relinquished was the vacancy in the family burial plot. Because there was no body for Samantha, one space was left empty among the graves that now shared one headstone. Whether or not this was the source of her inspiration, no one would ever know, but Scully had chosen to use this vacancy to her advantage. The rest of her instructions, however, were quite unusual. She had purchased a double coffin, one large enough for two people to be buried together, and insisted that Mulder's body be exhumed and placed in the coffin with her own. If they could no longer be together in life, she at least wanted them together in death.

It was in carrying out these instructions that they found what no one expected. Fox Mulder wasn't actually dead.

* * *

Some called it a miracle, others, just plain spooky. Whether due to natural or supernatural causes, Mulder's body held on to faint signs of life. He was placed on life support for a week, until his doctor determined that he was no more than a vegetable and should be removed from the machines to let nature run its course. No one expected that his heart would keep beating indefinitely. Between his friends and his boss and the man who had unwittingly taken his job, the words "alien virus" were mentioned, and although the first part was ignored, the second part suggested to the doctors a course of action. And so he was put on anti-virals (after all, the worst they could do was kill him), and in the end, it worked.

By chance or by fate, it was Walter Skinner who received the unenviable task of being the first to see Mulder when he woke up. After a moment of blinking around in confusion, he said the three words that everyone predicted: "Where is Scully?"

The first time, Skinner deflected and told him to get some rest. The second time he was saved by the arrival of a blissfully ignorant nurse who was doing her rounds. No one else came by to be asked the question. While another man's friends would have rushed to his side as soon as he was conscious, this one's dutifully avoided him as long as his question remained unanswered--all but the man who knew that for some reason he had received the short end of the stick. Maybe it was his penance for not being able to save Mulder before he "died."

The third time, Skinner embraced his fate. Only he could appreciate the sick irony of standing once again by his agent's bedside and confessing that the beloved partner was lost. Only, the last time, she had professed hope and determination and proclaimed what had already been gained. This time, there was no cause for hope and twice as much had been lost.

The first three times Mulder awoke, he asked but one question. Every time after that, he said nothing, for there was nothing more to be said. They had resurrected his body, but his soul still lay in the grave.

* * *

Unlike his previous record, Mulder proved to be a model patient. He never protested his meds or harassed the nurses. He dutifully worked with the physical therapist and patiently waited for the doctor's rounds. Every doctor and med student in the county wanted to see him, and he withstood their prodding and their questions. He could only assume that Skinner had driven away the reporters or they would have been swarming him, too.

After a clean bill of health, which all the medical personnel were still at a loss to explain, there was only one obstacle standing between Mulder and his freedom: the psych consult. At this point, Mulder found his degree in psychology to be quite helpful as he anticipated the questions of this young intern before him and calculated the most sane and reasonable responses that would guarantee a pass with flying colors.

On the day that the doctor finally signed Mulder's release papers, he donned the clothes that Skinner had left for him and set out determinedly for his final destination, making only one stop along the way.

* * *

Fox Mulder stood silently over the fresh grave that lay next to his family plot. The headstone read simply, "Dana Katherine Scully, 1964-2001." He knew that she must have ordered the headstone herself, for anyone else would have elaborated on how much she meant to them and the emptiness that she left behind: "Beloved daughter," "friend," "lover," "mother." Therein lay the irony--it was these last two that had proved to be her undoing. They had both left her, and she had gone to join them. Only, here stood her lover, while she had gone on without him.

Beneath her epitaph lay another: "Fox William Mulder, 1961-2001." Apparently, whoever had set the headstone had not received the message that this man had recently been resurrected, or perhaps had only laughed in disbelief at this absurd story and gone on with his task. Even more confusing to the ignorant observer would be the fact that the "deceased" already had an epitaph on the adjacent headstone amongst the extinct Mulder clan. The paradox was that the man in question lay in neither grave but stood over both now, alive and breathing. But, as known only to him, each epitaph served its own function: one was a word of history, the other a word of prophecy. One way lay his past, and the other his future.

After a gentle caress of the name "Samantha" that was carved into the stone, Mulder moved back to the adjacent headstone, ready to end his visit. He felt out of place here, the living among the dead. It was time for him to go forward, to move on.

"I'll see you in the next life, Scully."

A single gunshot pierced the silence of the cemetery, followed by the thump of a lifeless weight hitting the ground.

* * *

When the body of Fox Mulder was later discovered sprawled over the grave in which his beloved lay, there was no suicide note or explanation, only a crumpled piece of paper in his hand with the instruction, "Bury us together." As he stood quietly at the scene, superintending the removal of the body, A.D. Skinner was the only one there who understood the irony of the message. He fleetingly considered that he hoped Scully had truly succeeded in her goal and did not merely cast herself into a deep slumber, before he crumpled the note in his pocket and turned to walk away into the gentle rain.


Final notes: Since I have never been involved in funeral or burial arrangements for anyone, I have no idea if there is any basis in reality for a "double casket." However, for this story such a thing was necessary because there had to be a reason for exhuming Mulder after Scully's death.

The movie that is referred to by Scully is the Shawshank Redemption. It is a great movie, but it is constantly playing on cable. I think the only thing that appears more regularly is X-Files reruns.

I realize this story is rather dark, and I normally wouldn't write or read CD, but Mulder's "resurrection" brought to mind Romeo and Juliet and made me ask "what if," which turned into this story.

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