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Doubt

by Lara Means

    Subject: [glass_onion] NEW (XF):  Doubt (1/1) by Lara Means
    Date: Tuesday, August 06, 2002 3:15 PM

    TITLE:  Doubt
    AUTHOR:  Lara Means
    E-MAIL:  LaraMeansXF@aol.com
    WEBSITE:  http://larameansxf.tripod.com
    CLASSIFICATION:  VA
    RATING:  PG
    ARCHIVE:  NO to Gossamer, Spookys; I'll submit directly to both.  
    YES to Ephemeral.  YES to mailing list auto-archives.  Anywhere 
    else, please ASK.  I'll say yes; I just like to know where the 
    kids are at the end of the day.
    FEEDBACK:  Please?
    DATE POSTED:  08/06/02
    DISCLAIMER:  I don't own them.  Heck, I don't even own my name.  
    It all belongs to 20th Century Fox.  No infringement intended.
    SPOILERS:  Field Trip.
    SUMMARY:  Scully ponders the meaning of her hallucination.
    AUTHOR'S NOTE:  Written for an After The Fact challenge.  More 
    notes at the end.

DOUBT
written by Lara Means

"Mulder? Mulder, can you hear me?"

Scully stands at her partner's bedside, his hand in hers, willing him to open his eyes. Dressed in a hospital gown herself, with an IV port in one hand and evidence of chemical burns on her skin, she gently brushes the hair off Mulder's forehead as he begins to wake up.

"Scully..."

"It's me, Mulder, I'm right here."

"You sure? You're not gonna dissolve into yellow goo?"

Scully smiles and sits next to him on the bed, keeping hold of his hand. This is her Mulder, trying to make light of the situation. "No. I'm real."

"Felt real before." She squeezes his hand in acknowledgment. They did feel real, the hallucinations -- too real.

"What do you remember?" she asks, helping him sit up more comfortably, mindful of the burns on his skin.

"I found the Schiffs, alive -- they'd been abducted," he tells her, gaining a skeptical look from his partner. "Then somehow... I captured a Grey. A real alien. I remember being so proud of it, showing it to you, finally giving you proof." He trails off, a faint, wistful smile on his lips.

"And in the face of such proof, I... what? Admitted you'd been right all these years?" she says with a smile of her own.

"Yeah, actually, you did. That's when I knew something was wrong. It wasn't like you to just accept what I was saying, even what I was showing you, without question. That's when everything sort of dissolved away." Mulder looks at her, at the burns on her arms and on his. "Guess we were lucky we didn't dissolve away completely."

She nods, tightening her grip on his hand, recalling what it felt like in the hallucination... when he was dead. She was lost, adrift without him.

"How about you, Scully, what do you remember?"

Flashes flood her mind...

The coroner: "I just think we need to look for the simplest explanation."

Skinner: "You concluded he was a victim of a ritual killing."

Langly: "It's the obvious answer."

Byers: "We believe his body was stripped then skeletonized..."

Frohike: "We'll make that monkey pay."

"Scully?" His voice brings her back to what's real. But what to tell him about this? His hallucination was that she believed him without question -- hers was that he was dead. She can't tell him that, he wouldn't understand. She's not sure that she understands.

"I, um... I remember us sitting in Skinner's office, and you questioning our physical condition, the lack of evidence of our being underground. Then you took out your gun --"

"-- and I shot Skinner. Scully, did we have the same hallucination?"

"Mulder, that's impossible."

"But that's what it sounds like. What else do you remember?"

She pauses a moment -- it may look like reflection, but she knows it's really avoidance and denial. Finally, she says, "Sitting with you in your living room, trying to figure it all out."

"And you did," he realizes. "The fungus, the hallucination, the digestive goo... It was you, Scully. You figured it out."

She allows herself a tiny smile, then rises. "I'm gonna go. You were underground longer than I was, you need your rest." She leans over him and places a kiss on his forehead, then turns to leave.

"Hey, Scully," he calls to her. "Good work."

She smiles again, and nods. "I'm right next door if you need me."

"Always."

Back in her own room, in her own bed, she can't stop thinking about what her hallucination might mean. Is that all I want, she wonders, someone to parrot my theories back to me? Someone to agree with me, no matter how simplistic my ideas?

She finally falls into a restless sleep, her mind still running at a frantic pace. Could she actually wish him dead? That's unthinkable -- she cares for him too deeply to want to be rid of him. But what could his death mean, if not something she wanted? Images -- bones, Skinner, the casket -- careen through her dreams until she jolts herself awake, Mulder's name on her lips.

"Easy, Scully, easy. You're all right." Skinner. Here, at her bedside.

She sits up with difficulty, raising a hand to her face --wasn't there an IV port there before? "Sir," she says, "what are you doing here?"

"You fainted. I rode with you in the ambulance."

"What are you talking about?" she asks him, fear and confusion rising.

"At Mulder's apartment. You were... hysterical. Going on about Mulder being alive, demanding to know where he was --"

"No. That's not what happened. Mulder is alive, he's in the next room."

"Scully," Skinner says softly, taking her hands in his. "Given Mulder's life work, it's tempting to attribute his death to the paranormal, the unexplained, the unknown, but that's simply not the case here."

Scully pulls her hands away. "He's not dead. I was just talking to him."

"You need to see this for what it is."

"No!" she shouts. "Mulder! Mulder!"

"Hey," she hears, and she turns her head sharply toward the door.

Mulder.

Skinner's nowhere to be found now. The IV port is back in her hand.

"A dream," she whispers. "It was so real..."

"It must've been." She holds out a trembling hand to him, and he takes it. "You okay?" he asks, concerned.

Scully nods, drawing him closer until he's sitting next to her on the bed. He reaches up and pushes her hair off her forehead, then helps her into a more comfortable position.

"I remembered something else," he says. "I was on my way in here to tell you when I heard you calling out to me."

"What?"

"When you were figuring it out about the mushrooms... you said that the room had been filled with people attending my wake." His voice is even, showing no emotion, and he watches her.

She's careful not to give anything away. "I don't remember that."

His eyes hold hers for a long moment, then he nods. He leans in and kisses her forehead, then turns to go.

"Mulder?" she calls to him. He stops, waiting as she collects her thoughts.

He didn't really want her to agree with him unequivocally. He knew that was wrong.

She didn't want that either, she realizes.

She doesn't want him dead, doesn't want him scientifically rigorous, as he put it. She wants him, needs him as he is --infuriatingly fanciful, with a keen mind that constantly challenges her.

"It's not that I don't think you've earned the benefit of the doubt." He looks at her, momentarily puzzled, then he nods. "It's just that... I think we work better together if we both have doubts."

He nods again, still waiting.

"You know, don't you, that I would never doubt you," she tells him. "Your theories, maybe, but never you."

"Back at ya, G-Woman," he says, with a smile that warms her heart. "Get some rest."

And he goes.

And she feels better, knowing he's right next door if she needs him.

And she'll always need him.

END


AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many thanks to Rhetta and Sallie for speedy and reassuring beta. Gratitude as always to IWTB for support and encouragement. Special thanks to CarriK for her transcript of this ep.

Written by Lara Means - http://larameansxf.tripod.com Lara's Favorites: A Rec Site - http://recsbylara.tripod.com CharlieFic: The Forgotten Scully - http://www.geocities.com/charliefic XFMU: Doggett & Reyes Fic - http://xfmufic.tripod.com X-Infinitum: Monthly Challenges - http://beyondthex.tripod.com


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