“What if he’s dead?”
Scully is on the verge of crying at Skinner’s motel room. As she focuses on her breathing to calm down, she can feel a lump in her throat, tears stinging in her eyes. Scully doesn’t like being this vulnerable, but she can’t help it. She could blame hormones, but she is truly terrified.
This feeling is not unknown to her. She’s been here before. Exactly in this same situation, with the same man. Probably not the same feelings, but somewhere not too far from that moment.
She has felt like this before, too, with other people over the years. And it always ended badly. Well, not always. There was this one time when it was different. Mulder has always been different. She hopes and prays for the outcome of this day to repeat that of five years ago.
Dana Scully’s relationship with The Great Beyond started early in her youth. She had just turned ten and, wanting to fit in with her brothers, young Dana unknowingly took the life of a garter snake. That incident was a pivotal moment in her relationship with death.
For way longer than she probably should, Dana tried to give back what she had wantonly stolen from the little animal. She tried keeping it warm, placed band-aids on each wound, and cried at her mother for help. That little girl even prayed to God for a miracle, but nothing worked. What had been taken, couldn’t be returned.
Young Dana cried for two days, refused to eat; sleep eluded her. On the third day, her body couldn’t take it anymore and, exhausted, she finally rested on her mother’s lap. Her dreams weren’t peaceful, though. She kept seeing the writhing snake dying over and over, its last breath visibly escaping the animal’s mouth.
She lived in that turmoil for weeks, until her older sister found a way to give her comfort. Missy had started toying with a new way of thought, a new kind of religion, much to her mother’s dismay. Already turning into a rebellious teen, Melissa had found comfort in New Age Spiritualism. Dana had never paid too much attention to her about it, her mind too fixed in her parents’ beliefs. However, this one time Missy made her listen. It took young Dana some time, and she didn’t embrace her sister’s new beliefs completely, but Missy somehow convinced her that the animal’s spirit was at peace now, that it was on its way to its new adventure. The snake had forgiven her, everything happened for a reason. Once Dana stopped clinging to the past, she would learn a valuable lesson and could start setting things straight with The Universe. That night Dana fell asleep, not worrying anymore about what had happened.
But The Universe had other plans.
In the middle of the night, she had the weirdest dream. She was sitting up on her bed and their aunt Martha was sitting beside her over the covers. Looking all pale, aunt Martha was trying to speak to her but no voice was heard. Dana yelled at her aunt trying to make her speak up, but no sound came out.
“Dana! Who you talking to?” Finally, her aunt spoke, but Dana soon realized it was her sister Melissa’s voice. “You were talking in your sleep, Dana.”
She felt so strange, it actually had felt so real. Melissa told her she had been sitting on her bed, sleeptalking for a while before she decided to shake her out of it.
Later that afternoon, her mother got the terrible call that her older sister had died in a car accident earlier that morning.
Dana didn’t tell anybody and made her best to forget, but she knew the truth: it had been The Universe setting the balance for her cruel conduct. Since then, she put on her best behavior, listening attentively in Sunday School, and becoming an exemplary child.
When the death of her father brought her a similar experience, Dana had completely forgotten about her aunt’s Visitation. She was so immersed in her new job, in what was asked of her to do —put science first— that all the things she kept seeing but couldn’t believe were set aside. Dana tried so hard to impose her scientific background to everything in her life that Aunt Martha remained buried deep in her mind.
April 16 th , 1995
“Oh, my God. Scully, what have they done?” were the last words Scully heard from Mulder before the line went dead. After trying to call him half a dozen times with no answer whatsoever, Scully got into the car and drove back to Two Grey Hills. Maybe Mr. Hosteen could tell her what had happened to him.
On her arrival, she received news that she didn’t want to hear: Mulder was most likely dead. Trapped inside a boxcar, a bunch of military men had stormed in and set fire to the whole thing, Eric had said.
The kid directed Scully to where he had last seen Mulder because she refused to believe Mulder was dead; she needed to see it with her own eyes. Eric was badly beaten so she went by herself, she and Mulder had already caused enough problems to the community. While climbing down the red dirt, Scully slipped a couple of times. At least she had been clever enough to put on boots that morning. She would have sprained an ankle if she had chosen heels.
The boxcar was still smoking when she got there. The sun was high in the sky and the heat was overwhelming. It would take a while for the smoke to disappear and the heat inside to cool for her to be able to get inside it.
“Mulder!” She screamed with all that she had. “Mulder, you can come out now!”
Walking as silently as she could around the boxcar, Scully searched for any sign of life. There was no living creature around, everything in that desert was dead or far gone. While she waited for the fire below to subside, she roamed around, trying to find any hideout Mulder might have used. He was a clever guy; damn it, he was the smartest person she had ever met. No way he would have hidden in a place with only one way out, right? Eric must have not seen him come out. Mulder must be out there, probably injured, maybe unconscious, waiting for her to rescue him. As usual. They had been there a hundred times: him on the brink of death and then miraculously reappearing safe and sound.
“Damn it, Mulder, where are you!?”
Scully spent hours in that desert; hot, thirsty, and tired. Only when the sun started setting she threw in the towel, not without regret. Maybe he’d be back in town, somehow? She wouldn’t lose hope until she found him, or was forced to identify his frozen body on a cold, metallic table.
On her climb up to where she had her car parked, Scully scraped her hands; and she gave out a final yell at Mulder when a twig stabbed her palm in the darkness.
It was almost pitch black when she parked in front of Albert’s home for the second time in the day. Scully rushed in, praying to find Mulder sitting there lightheartedly, none the wiser. But she wasn’t that lucky.
“He’s not here,” Albert stated quietly, as if reading her mind.
Deep down Scully knew where Mulder was, what had become of him. But she still wanted to believe he’d somehow be somewhere safe.
Dana Scully had lost colleagues in the line of duty before. It is part of the job, she forced herself to believe. Her background in medicine, as well as her pragmatism, always helped her detach from those horrible situations. Life goes on, it is part of the job. All the agents knew what they had signed up for, what the risks were. It is part of the job.
Mulder was no ordinary colleague, though. As much as she tried to deny it, he had become a good friend, someone she leaned on a lot. She couldn’t let him go just like that, without trying to bring him back with all that she had. Her mind kept racing but there was nothing else she could do out there. She had to take the nine a.m. flight back to Washington, and she still had to drive to Santa Fe and try to get some sleep. Scully had slept for a total of eight hours in the last two days, her mind was in no shape to make rational decisions right now.
On her way back to her motel she was intercepted by the military, and she made no attempt to resist. She was tired and defeated. They could take whatever files they wanted. Right now she just wanted Mulder back.
Scully fell on her motel bed without even taking off her clothes, she was completely worn-out. She dreamed about Mulder being trapped in the fire inside the train car. God, he would have been terrified. She felt for him. He had been working on his fear, surely he would have been able to act this time. I should have been there, I shouldn’t have left him alone… Dana, stop! Her mind pulled her out of her misery waking her when the sun came up. She had slept for about six hours, maybe, but she didn’t feel rested at all. She couldn’t remember but she was sure she had had really disturbing nightmares. Scully didn’t care too much about analyzing her dreams. Therefore, she tried to push that feeling away and ran to have a cold shower before checking out. She sure needed to brighten up, she had an important day ahead of her.
The meeting at the FBI was an absolute charade. Misconduct, they said. She was just trying to do her job in spite of the men at the top doing their best to prevent so. She started to sound a bit like Mulder.
Maybe they were right. Her job was to rein Mulder in, not trigger him. Because of her carelessness, now Mulder was dead and she was out of a job. She was pushed from the only thing that could help clear Mulder’s name and put the people responsible for his death and his father's behind bars. When had she become this sloppy? The anger piled inside her. Anger at herself, for losing track of what was important: the big picture she always tried to keep in mind.
Lost in thought, she wandered out of the FBI Headquarters. She was going to take a cab home, but thought twice. It was a nice Spring afternoon, there was a gentle breeze that felt refreshing. Her eyes hurt from lack of sleep and held-up tears but the breeze was relieving the pain. Maybe a stroll home would clear her mind.
After a while, Scully realized she had strayed away so much that she was walking into her mother’s neighborhood. How long had she been walking? Looking at her watch she realized it was well after nine. It was late, but now that she was already there she might go and visit her mother. Maybe she could comfort her. Scully was not one to share feelings and burden others with her problems. But she felt so lonely, so lost…
Her mother tried putting her mind at ease. It was not her fault, she said. She was doing her best, working to do the best of her knowledge. Her father would be proud. Scully hadn’t come in expecting her mother to help her feel better, but somehow she did. She felt so distressed about the whole situation. It was so childlike. She was used to taking care of things by herself, not needing anyone. But this time she was overwhelmed, and her mother helped soothe her a little.
Leave it to Melissa to come home out of the blue and throw it all away. Scully loved her older sister to no end, but Missy’s view of the world collided with hers in so many ways that they very rarely saw things eye to eye. And this was surely going to be one of those situations.
“Mulder is very likely dead.”
The words struggled to come out. Scully had said and heard that sentence so many times in the last twenty-four hours. She was trying to stay strong but a tear threatened to escape from her. She wouldn’t allow that. Not in front of Melissa, anyway.
“I’m getting a very strong feeling otherwise,” Melissa kept pushing.
Scully didn’t want to yell at her. She knew her sister was only trying to make her feel better, but it wasn’t helping. This wasn't something that could be fixed by lightning a candle or chanting naked in the woods. Scully laid down her facts, tried to tell her sister what had happened, that she was hurting. And Missy was dismissing all her pain by simply saying that she felt that Mulder was okay just because she wanted it to be true. The world didn’t work that way, people couldn’t just be wished back to life like that.
“Melissa, I have lost somebody. I’d like to deal with it in my own way.”
And with that, she decided to leave. Scully didn’t want to damage her relationship with her sister over this. She would be alright as long as she was able to process what had happened by herself. Only when she was leaving her mother’s house she realized she shouldn’t have come here at all. Her modus operandi of pushing all her feelings under a carpet had worked for her for years. She should have gone home, locked the door, taken the phone off the hook and stayed away from the world for a couple of days. It was not like she had anywhere else to be anyway.
Letting Mulder get this close had been a mistake. She had been avoiding emotional attachments for years, trying not to get close to people so as not to get hurt when they left her. She had completely forgotten her number one rule with Mulder. Rebuilding the wall around her would take days, but she was going to make sure that it stayed strong this time. She wouldn’t get this hurt again, she was going to make sure that nothing could break her defenses.
April 18 th
A new day in her new unemployed life and Scully didn’t know what to do with her time. Again, she woke up feeling tired, having spent most of the night mulling over what had happened. She had dreamt about Mulder being consumed by fire, his screaming painful face haunting her even when she woke up.
She got up and brushed her teeth, immediately feeling disgusted by the image the mirror returned. She had never worried too much about her appearance, but the bags under her eyes were so huge that she avoided looking at herself for the rest of the day. She was lucky that she wouldn’t be meeting with anybody.
One of Mendelssohn’s Piano Concertos was playing loudly in her apartment and she decided it was a perfect day for the long-postponed Spring cleaning. Spending the day wiping and polishing was the last thing she felt like doing. She was tired, physically and mentally. Pushing the sad and angry feelings away really took a toll. But she wouldn't allow herself to sit the whole day in front of the TV with a package of tissues. No way. She was not a crybaby little girl. Scully wiped a tear that betrayed her stoic demeanor and got her cleaning gloves. She was going to be productive no matter what.
Scully’s place turned into a complete mess while she carried clothes from her bedroom closet to the hallway one. Bed linen was also changed, and she was thinking about washing the curtains next. Anything to keep her busy. Her mind wandered to Mulder a lot, but every time it happened, she pushed the thought away by scrubbing harder. She wasn’t going to let the sadness swallow her in.
She moved to a Hummel Concerto for cooking and realized before long that she would run out of things to do in the house soon. Not surprisingly, the house was spotless and highly rearranged by mid-afternoon. What was she going to do now?
Sinking over the couch, Scully picked up the phone. Her thumb pressed the keys on its own accord before she realized what she was doing. Whenever she got bored, she used to call Mulder. It didn’t happen often —he used to call her first— but there had been some occasions in which she found herself dialing his number just to check on him while they were away over the weekend. Sighing deep, closing her eyes and focusing on the moment, Scully dropped the phone on the sofa and strode to her room. Putting on her running gear she was soon outside. It started raining mildly, but she didn’t care. Exerting herself might help her sleep that night, so she went above and beyond, taking a two-hour course on the outskirts.
April 19 th
She wasn’t sleeping, anyway, when Frohike knocked on her door in the middle of the night. Scully should have pushed him away but she recognized her own sadness in him, and decided to invite Melvin in for a cup of coffee. Comforting him might help to calm herself.
Up to this point, she had been succeeding in avoiding to process Mulder’s death. Frohike’s visit brought her down to Earth. This was real, her partner was no longer with her. Oddly enough, she still felt sad but tears were no longer threatening to escape her as they had the days before. Maybe her mind had been processing in the background while she tried to push all thought away. Scully worried that talking to Frohike would get her to break down. She’d hate to show her softer side to him precisely. Keeping Melvin in check was exhausting at times.
It ended up being a good idea since Frohike’s visit gave her a new purpose. The piece of newspaper he showed her made her wheels start turning again. Mulder could be proved innocent of his father’s murder. The sadness and regret that had been her companions during the last days were now traded for resolution. She couldn’t bring Mulder back to life, but she could clear his name with this new information.
Scully spent the rest of the night contemplating what she’d say to Skinner and how she’d make him see her way so as to make Mulder’s slate clean. Of course he hadn’t killed his father. How could anybody believe that? Mulder was unruly and destructive at times and she knew he didn’t get along with his father. However, Scully didn’t believe for a second that Mulder was capable of killing someone in cold blood. Maybe under the effect of narcotics? But it was his father, he had no reason to hurt him. Unlike Krycek, whom she’d truly believed Mulder would have killed had she not stopped him.
Oh, God. She just remembered that she had actually shot Mulder! Scully’s stomach churned and she felt nauseous for a moment. What kind of partner was she? She had hurt him and ultimately pushed him to his death… Maybe it was a good thing that they had taken her gun away. Maybe she wasn’t cut out to be an FBI agent.
What was she going to do with her life now? She doubted she could start working with another person, if they ever reinstated her. Scully had worked with other agents on occasion, and she had realized early on that nobody held a candle to Mulder. He drove her mad more often than not, but he also made her mind work harder, made her feel alive. Mulder is…
“Stop right there, Dana!” she cried aloud while she zipped up her beige skirt. He is dead, you gotta come to terms to that, the sooner the better .
April 20 th
The world was spinning too fast and Scully had trouble adjusting to every turn she was finding in her way. Mulder was dead and she felt it was her fault. As if that was not enough, she had found a microchip implanted in her neck for God-knew-how-long. Another night with no sleep and she was losing count of how many there were already.
Scully found herself hating Mulder for leaving her alone right now, when she needed him the most. She had discovered, not a week ago, that her name was part of a DOD Classified File. She had stopped digging into it when Mulder —trying to find answers for her— had been killed. And now, looking at the chip she’d retrieved from her body, only served to make her even more restless. Should she stop digging? Would investigating that get her killed too? Scully thought she had nothing to lose now. She would hate doing something stupid but it was no longer Mulder’s quest. This was personal now.
However, where was she going to find her answers? If the Government was involved, could she go to the FBI? No, she couldn’t. She was suspended now, and she feared the Top of the Organization was somehow involved. Damn, she was even starting to doubt her own boss. The words ‘Trust No One’ echoed in her mind and Scully only wanted to break down and cry. Her only source of Conspiracy News was dead and she had no one to turn to to find out what had been done to her. Maybe she could contact The Gunmen, but it was not like she had much faith in them.
Her doorbell rang while she was still pacing around her bedroom half-dressed, so she picked a denim shirt and buttoned it up on her way to the door.
Missy was the last person she expected to find in the hallway.
“I come in peace,” her sister added, offering a bag of her favorite tea blend.
Letting out a sigh, Scully welcomed her and headed to the kitchen to heat the kettle.
“How are y—? ”
“I’m fine,” Scully hurried to answer. She wasn’t, not truly, but she didn’t want more of her sister’s nonsense. Today, she couldn’t handle it.
“Well, we both know that’s not true. And I hate it when you lie to me, but I’m only pressuring once because I’m on your territory and I don’t wanna end on the wrong side of your gun.”
Scully snorted and immediately relaxed. Missy could make her smile even when she was mad at her.
“Seriously, I’m fine,” she repeated, trying to sound more convincing this time.
Melissa eyed her for a moment and Scully felt as she was somehow reading her mind. Her sister was weird that way.
“Maybe something else is bothering you?” She finally asked. “Maybe I can help. I’m your big sister after all.”
Scully didn’t think she could help, but the fear and anger were gnawing at her, so she finally decided to confide in her. Reluctantly, she grabbed the little jar from her pocket. Leaving it on the table, she proceeded to tell her about the implant. Scully didn’t dive into what she knew too much, because she was scared of the implications. Even if she had her hypothesis, she really didn’t know when or who had put it in her.
For the second time these days, her sister couldn’t understand her. Missy wanted her to access her own memory. Did she even know her at all? Scully didn’t do those kinds of things. She had always based her actions on logic. She was a scientist, her faith was in evidence and facts. Not in hypnosis or energy fields.
“Just do this for me. As your sister. Please,” Melissa kept pushing. “What do you have to lose? It’s not like you have anywhere else to go this afternoon, don’t you?”
Scully was fuming. Melissa had really struck a nerve. But she deflated quickly. As much as it might hurt, her sister was right. This might be the only way she could find answers nowadays. Not that she trusted hypnosis would be the answer, she finally accepted.
“Okay. But I’m sure it won’t work,” she said picking the card her sister was offering her.
April 21 st
Dreams had been haunting her for the last couple of nights. Most times she just woke with a heavy feeling, sadness looming over her. Sometimes she remembered bits and pieces: Mulder screaming, or asking for help.
Tonight it had been completely different. She had seen Mulder’s face, reflected in an open night sky. He seemed calm, happy even. And she could recollect every word he said, the whole dream. That didn’t usually happen. What had changed in her psyche for her to be so peaceful all of a sudden? It couldn’t have been her visit to Dr. Pomerantz, she refused to believe so. Could it have been more than just a dream?
Scully had dreamed about dead people before. Visitations Mulder would have called them. But this was the first time they had spoken to her , in a manner of speaking.
Everything started coming back to her now. Scully thought about her late father, and how she had found him sitting in her living room, mutedly speaking to her. She remembered her aunt Martha —right after she had just died— sitting at her teenage bed, also devoid of all sound.
Tonight, however, she had actually heard Mulder, loud and clear. I have returned from the dead to continue with you. This had not been the soul of a deceased person saying goodbye. This had been Mulder telling her he was coming back.
It was not like Scully to have these wishful thoughts, but somehow she believed his words. Could it be true? Could Mulder have returned from the dead? Scully didn’t put much thought into the soul or the afterlife. These were not quantifiable things she could prove with science. However, she herself had experienced something , even though she had never talked to anybody about it. Not even her sister, who —over and over— had asked her to tell her about The Great Beyond, which she was sure her little sister had experienced. Mulder’s visitation in her dreams felt so real, so like that one time when her father had told her that she wasn’t ready to go yet. It was a very strong feeling, a powerful sensation… a solid intuition .
“Damn it, Missy!” Scully jumped out of bed. She hated it when her sister was right.
Even when it was still early for her flight to Boston for Mr. Mulder’s funeral she started getting ready. There was no way she was going to fall asleep again. She felt so alive, she somehow knew Mulder was going to be okay and she couldn’t wait to see him again.
As soon as Scully finally caught sight of him later that evening entering his apartment like a bulldozer, a great weight off her shoulders was lifted. She had never been happier to see anybody in her life. Mulder was alive, and somehow she had known. She would never tell him why, though. This situation would be one of those few she kept from him. Maybe out of guilt, or disbelief, or plain not wanting to discuss with him the fact that she entertained something beyond the realm of science.
Scully wakes up in her motel room, alone, her heart beating rapidly in her chest . She has dreamed about Mulder, again, strapped inside a fucking spaceship. She’s had this dream before, repeatedly, since he was taken; and she hasn’t worried about it too much before. She rationalizes it knowing that she misses him and fears what they are experimenting on him. Thus, her mind reacts to all her pent-up thoughts and elaborates on them while she’s asleep. It’s not real, it’s just a dream.
Today it is different, though. She’s been awake for a while and she can’t calm down. What if Doggett is right… What if he’s dead? Scully becomes increasingly anxious.
Her heartbeat thumps in her ears and she gets up, needing to push that horrible thought away. She resorts to a less scientific approach: she hasn’t had any Visitation. As long as she can hear him yelling her name, he’s going to be okay.
Mulder is going to be okay. He has to be.
Somehow, she still doesn’t believe it. For a moment, she feels the baby inside her kick. It can’t be, it is too early. She’s only fifteen weeks in, she can’t be feeling it yet. What if she’s hurting the baby by getting this stressed out?
Her mind starts spiraling, she needs to talk to somebody. Getting dressed as quickly as she can, she walks out and heads to the room next door.
“What if he’s dead?”
Her little talk with Skinner helps to calm her down. The man has been some kind of father figure to her lately, always being there for her. He’s been the only person she’s trusted enough with her secrets and fears.
“Nothing says he won't be fine,” Skinner says, and she truly wants to believe his words.
The man is right, though. Pessimistic thinking isn’t going to take her anywhere. So, she tries to develop her paranormal theory . It feels like the only way she can work this out to calm herself down.
What facts does she have? She doesn’t know how it works, she’s never given it much thought. Her scientific mind has always prevented her from doing it. However, now she needs this theory, she needs to put the Mulder into her Scully-brain. She’s seen dead people while being awake. People standing still, quiet. Dead. Whatever the reason, and as much as she wants to ignore it, she’s experienced it several times.
On the other hand, in her dreams, she’s seen people who were still alive. No dreaming about the dead. So, the reasoning says that as long as she keeps dreaming about him, she can trust he’s going to be fine.
Pondering these thoughts makes her smile. Scully has strode so far from that young scientist who walked into the basement nearly ten years ago. She’s willing to put her faith in dreams these days? Anything to keep her mind calm about getting Mulder back. If Mulder could hear her now… He’d make a snarky comment, write it down on his imaginary diary. God, she misses him so much.
Scully manages to stay more or less calm for the following hours, until the talk with Absolom. His words make her restless again, so she walks away, needing to be alone for a moment. She finds an empty room and walks in, but the light seems to not be working. Scully flicks the light switch a couple of times. Still nothing.
And then, she sees him: Mulder standing in front of the window. He’s back! By some miracle, she has him back. Her prayers have been finally answered.
Scully wants to run to him, tell him how much she misses him. But she freezes.
Agent Reyes calls her name and Mulder disappears. Her thoughts are interrupted by the agent saying she's found something, and she pushes the whole incident away. Scully can feel her exhausted body asking for some rest. The events around her speed up and she’s trapped in a whirlwind of people coming and going, a manhunt, people whom she recognizes that maybe she doesn’t. Everything is a mess.
Only when she’s sprinting through the field crying for help does she finally realize: she’s seen him while she was awake.
Mulder is dead.