A Woman's Code *PG*
Deslea R. Judd
DISCLAIMER: Situations not mine. Interpretation mine. Deal.
ARCHIVE: Sure, just keep my name and headers.
RATING: PG. Pretty harmless.
SPOILERS/TIMEFRAME: Sixth Extinction missing scene. Spoilers to all things.
CATEGORY: Vignette. Angst. Mulder/Diana, Mulder/Scully, Teena POV.
SUMMARY: Every mother has an opinion about what's best for her son. Teena's includes his wife.
DEDICATION: To the ladies on haremxf, who get me thinking about connections among the supporting women far better than I do alone...
MORE FIC: http://fiction.deslea.com/
FEEDBACK: Love the stuff. email@example.com.
AWARDS/ELIGIBILITY: Spooky 2002 eligible. Recommended by The Enigmatic Doctor (February 2002) and The Grove (25 March 2002).
Diana is the daughter I never had.
To be strictly literal about it, she takes the place of the daughter I lost, which is less elegant but the truth. Whatever you may have heard about what goes on between a man's mother and his wife, I get along with my daughter-in-law just fine. And when you get right down to it, we see eye-to-eye on the best way to handle a situation. We always have.
I was pleased when Diana returned from abroad. I never wanted her to leave in the first place. She said it was for the best - that Fox would be safer this way - but she was wrong. We didn't know how wrong until that Scully woman came along.
I knew Scully was trouble the first time I saw her. When she came to me at my husband's funeral to tell me my son was alive. That stupid, interfering woman. She should have let me suffer rather than put him at risk in that way. I knew at that moment that Dana Scully would enable Fox's foolishness, not hinder it. And that was exactly what happened.
Oh, I understand it. I do. Men are easily led. Faced with the allure of innocence and idealism, they forget the stability, the security, the real comfort to be found in pragmatism and responsibility. Usually, as with Diana, the wife is passed over for the mistress, but it can happen the other way as well, as it was with Cassandra and me. Like father, like son. And in Dana Scully's case, both father and son were misled - the father, blinded by her beauty and her intelligence to the danger she posed to the work; the son seduced into the belief that the truth was the higher path. When all is said and done, it is men who are the hopeless romantics, not the women, and that's as it should be. It is the women who are entrusted with the survival of children, and that is why women will sell their bodies for survival more readily than men. It's also why men will sell their souls to prevent them from doing so. I have never had to go to those extremes, and I don't believe Diana has either, but we retain the pragmatism of women - the kind of women who've struggled, who've faced hardship, who've loved difficult men. Things women like Dana Scully - nice women from nice families - know nothing about.
Diana looks up from her vigil. "What are you thinking, Teena?"
"That we're cut from the same cloth, you and I." She smiles a little, as though she thinks it a compliment. She should. It is.
"Yes, we are," she agrees, and she turns back to my son, her head bowed, her hands grasping his once more.
"Where's that woman?" I wonder.
"My sources say she flew to Africa. She's on her way back."
Anger washes over me, thick and bittersweet. "Africa?" I sputter.
"She thinks there's an artifact there that can help him. To be fair, we encouraged her to think so. So we would be free to do what we needed to do."
"You defend her. She doesn't deserve it." She looks up at me sadly. "You're a good girl, Diana." She only shakes her head and turns back to her vigil.
"Fox...cares for her," she says at last. There is a strangled note to her voice. "You understand."
Yes, I understand. Diana may wear the clothes and the attitude of a modern woman, but she subscribes to the old ways. The codes of honour among women. Women like Scully ignore these codes, but Diana knows them and honours them even when her counterpart does not. When Fox became ill, she set aside her jealousy and welcomed Scully as one her husband loved. In times of crisis, the wife is gracious; she respects the mistress. And the mistress must always respect the higher place of the wife. But Scully - a woman from a good family, a woman who should know better - Scully doesn't respect the old codes. She's a serial mistress - I had her investigated, I know - and she rips families apart and leaves devastation in her wake.
The world is so different now.
I have been a mistress, and I have been a wife, and I know the difference. They're both valid, both important, and any woman who has loved a difficult man acknowledges the need for both. In time, she comes to welcome it, because a great man is too great a burden for a woman to bear alone. And it is the women who always bear the burdens of the men, because that's how men and women are. Women today, women like Scully don't understand that. They believe they can have their own honour, their own conscience, their own beliefs, their own truths, even at the expense of their men. A woman like Scully will sacrifice anything but the one thing that really matters: herself. She travels the globe even as we speak, but she will not sacrifice her idealism for his survival. Truly, women have become the men in this strange age: they have embraced men's weakness and men's romanticism, denied the pragmatism demanded of our role as the ones on whom all survival rests.
But there are still women who adhere to the old codes. Women like me, like Diana, even like Cassandra (may she rest in peace). And although we will call on Fox's father to assist in his release, it is ultimately our decision. Because we are the caretakers, the pragmatists, the survivalists. And because there is no other way.
"No, there isn't."
I look up from my reverie. I hadn't been aware of speaking the words aloud.
"I hate this," I say. "I hate what his father will do to him."
"If you have any better suggestions, Teena, I'm listening." She means it, too. If I had one, she would take it, even if it meant striking out on our own. But I don't, so I only look away.
"He'll die if we leave him as he is," I say at last. "And that woman's interference will only kill him sooner."
"I know that. You don't have to convince me."
"This way...this way, he has a chance."
"Yes," she agrees. "A chance." She strokes his cheek with the back of her hand.
I go to her, put my hand on her shoulder and squeeze it. "I should go and call him."
Diana looks up at me, smiling a little. It's a weak smile - weak and wretched. "Do you want me to come with you?" She gets to her feet, ready to walk at my side.
"No," I tell her. "Stay here. Say what you need to say to him."
She understands my unspoken fears. "I won't let Skinner or Kritschgau near him again. I promise."
"You're a good girl, Diana," I say again. It's a strange thing to say to a grown woman, but it's what I would have said to my daughter, and so I say it to my daughter-in-law now. "If that woman comes," I say severely, "I'll send her away."
"No," she says at once. "Let her in. Let her say her goodbyes."
So I leave her, and I feel proud of her all over again - and proud of my son. Because if only for a little while, he loved a woman who honoured a woman's code.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: It's no secret that I haven't thought highly of Scully the last few seasons, but I have to say for the record that Teena is unfairly harsh here. But I think it's very likely that Teena sides with Diana. They're women from the same world with much the same unsentimental yet protective outlook towards Mulder. I think Teena probably dislikes Scully and blames her for much of what's happened to Mulder in recent years, and she probably uses Scully as a scapegoat for many of Mulder's own actions, too. This fic, like many of my recent works, arose from an ongoing discussion about the relationships among the supporting female characters on the yahoogroup haremxf (http://harem.deslea.com). You ladies rock!
THE GROVE said, "Holy Kiwi Fruit, Batman! Here's just an eye-opening look at the other women in Mulder's life. Outstanding." Thanks, Dryad!
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