Last Goodbye, The

by devout2David

TITLE: THE LAST GOODBYE - part 5

AUTHOR: devout2David

RATING: R for foul language and explicit description of a

character's death (?).

CLASSIFICATION: Angst, angst and even MORE angst!

DISCLAIMER: Ohhh! The X-files don't belong to me, do dar, do dar!

            Love to use them for fans and me, oh dee do dar day!
            CC and Company....
            Please don't sue me...
            Not making a cent 
            So don't get bent (out of shape that is!)
            The writing's all done for free!

            (I gotta get a new song.)

SPOILERS: None, as we all know what happened in the Season 8

          Finale anyway, right???  So there isn't anything to
          worry about anymore.

KEYWORDS: Aside from Mulder and Scully's names? Not a one.

Not anymore!

SUMMARY: How will Mulder and Scully resolve things between them?

Will it be a happy ending or won't it?

AUTHOR'S NOTES: I want to thank everyone who has read and enjoyed

                The Last Goodbye.  Part one was actually my 
                original idea to end the series but because it
                left a gap for some I decided (with some serious
                nudging from my Masto-friends) to keep it going a
                little bit more. Also, I borrowed the lyrics to
                the song Comfortably Numb by PINK FLOYD simply 
                because I felt it was the type of music/song                                     
                Mulder would like.  It suits his mood.

ARCHIVE: I don't mind at all! In fact, I'll feel honored by it.

         Just let me know where it will be so I can visit your
         site!               

DEDICATION: This part is dedicated in loving memory of my friend,

Danny Mc Horney, who took his life on May 15, 2001.

Danny died for love.


Half-awake, Mulder rolled over to look at the person standing in the doorway but did not recognize Scully. With sleep-filled eyes, he mumbled, "That's okay, we don't need any service right now," then rolled over and went back to sleep.

Scully's heart sank to the pit of her stomach. She turned her back on the scene, moving quietly as she exited Mulder's hotel room. The door shut with a soft click of the lock. There was no sense in slamming the door, that wasn't her style. It was better to leave the two sleeping bodies alone.

She returned the room key to the front desk clerk, who raised a concerned brow at her as she gave him a sad, grateful smile before she turned to leave.

"Everything all right?" he called after her. She nodded and walked towards her car. Inside the vehicle, she burst into the tears she had held back and let lose a string of obscenities as she cried. After a few moments, Scully calmed herself enough to turn over the engine and drove back to the beachfront cottage in a state of shock. Once inside the house, she wandered around aimlessly as a lost soul with nowhere to go. She felt that too much precious time had been wasted for feeling guilty over her own actions and mentally kicked herself in the ass thinking she could ever patch things up with Mulder now.

I'm such a fool she thought.

She went upstairs to pack her things. She didn't want to be there at the house when he attempted to come back and she knew he'd do that.

If there's one thing about Mulder she knew for sure, it was his never-ending persistence.

But there was nothing for her to say to him now. Her beach haven was no longer safe and she needed to leave and salvage what little dignity she still had left.

But where to go from here?

She could drive up to her mother's but Mulder would eventually track her down there too. She certainly wasn't going to return to Washington where anybody knew who she was and where she lived. There was only one other place she might try but didn't know if it would be a good idea or not.

She picked up her cell phone and dialed Michaela's number.


A small beam of sunlight was peeking through the gap between the curtains and shining right into Mulder's eyes. He winced and rolled onto his side, touching something warm and soft. His head ached considerably, but he squinted through one eye and peered at his bed partner. The tousled head of blonde hair told him immediately that the naked woman beside him was not Scully. He sat up slowly and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He glanced at his watch on the nightstand, saw the lateness of the morning hour and groaned.

He threw back the blanket and stood up, albeit unsteadily, and headed for the bathroom and a shower.

He put the water spray on as hard and as hot as he could stand and scrubbed himself with the small bar of soap. His head throbbed and his stomach churned. Suddenly he felt ill and before he could shut off the water and make it to the toilet, he vomited onto the floor of the tub. He dropped to his knees and allowed his stomach contents to rinse down the drain. When he finished, he leaned his head against the wall and allowed the shower spray to rinse him off. He didn't remember much about the night before but he swore he saw Scully standing in the doorway of his room at some point in time. Had he dreamed it? He couldn't be sure.

Slowly, Mulder stood up, shut off the water and got out of the tub. He took one of the motel towels; much too small for his six-foot plus frame, and put it to his face. Another wave of nausea hit him and he sank to the cold-tiled bathroom floor. He wiped at his brow, which had started to bead with sweat despite the cleansing shower.

"You look a little green." A female voice commented.

Mulder looked up into the face of the blonde who had shared his bed. She stood in the doorway of the bathroom, purse in hand, wrapped in a bed sheet toga.

"Yeah, I drank way too much," he said miserably.

"Do you even remember last night?" she said leaning against the doorjamb. He shook his head slightly so as not to make himself any dizzier than he felt.

"Well, in case you've forgotten my name; which from the looks of you I think you have, it's Paula."

Realization hit him quickly as he remembered the Knicks game and the drive to the beach. He remembered a rather sexy shower with her but not much else.

She nudged her way inside the bathroom with him and started taking things out of her purse: toothbrush and toothpaste and a small makeup case.

She glanced at him and smiled. "After a few overnights like this where I found myself with some guy in his apartment, I had to start carrying stuff like this with me."

Mulder said nothing, just nodded again slightly.

He carefully stood up and left the bathroom to allow her some privacy. He walked over to the bed and slowly eased himself down onto the mattress. The throbbing in his head was getting worse. It felt like someone was setting off cherry bombs in his skull. He covered his eyes with a pillow and hoped the room would quit spinning soon.

Paula came out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel and sat beside him on the edge of the bed.

"I suppose breakfast is out of the question?" she asked as she towel-dried her hair. Mulder groaned at her.

"It's okay," she said. "I'm not much of a `breakfast person' myself. A cup of hot black coffee is all I need."

Mulder tried ignoring her talk of food.

"I'll get dressed and go grab a cup from the Continental buffet they have in the lobby," she said, "Do you want a cup, too, or anything to eat?"

Mulder groaned again.

"I'll take that as a `no'."

She was silent for a moment.

"Do you want me to leave?" she asked pointedly.

Mulder lifted the pillow from his eyes and sat up slowly. The throbbing persisted with each move he made. "I'm sorry," he told her, "I'm really not hungry and I know you mean well but, yes, I think you need to go."

She stared at him and said nothing, stood and disappeared into the bathroom again. She returned a few minutes later completely dressed, picked up her remaining belongings and headed for the door. She stopped before opening it and turned back towards him.

"In spite of your attitude this morning, I still had fun and you were a great fuck," she told him with a sly smile and left. Mulder braced himself against a possible door slam but she simply closed it with a firm click of the lock.

Mulder lay back on the bed and covered his face again with the pillow. He was glad Scully couldn't see him like this.

Scully.

He had to go back and try and talk to her again. He felt horrible about what had happened the day before, but it wasn't something they couldn't work out. They'd always managed to resolve their differences. He just needed to allow her to do the talking this time.

He painfully stood once more and headed back to the bathroom. He brushed his teeth, combed out his hair, then dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. He decided to go to the front desk for coffee after all. Maybe a cup of strong black coffee would wake him up a little more, and maybe he could get some Tylenol from the desk clerk for his throbbing headache.

When he walked into the lobby, he didn't recognized anyone and he was relieved to see that Paula had obviously grabbed her cup of coffee and departed quickly. He really didn't want to deal with her or know what it was he did with her last night. One small miracle of a particularly bad hangover was the lack of memory you got the next day.

While Mulder poured his coffee into the small styrofoam cup, he noted out of the corner of his eye that the desk clerk was smirking at him in a rather odd way. Not willing to approach the man and ask him what his problem was, Mulder ignored the clerk and drifted over to a chair in the corner of the lobby where a television was set up.

A few guests were watching a CNN broadcast of the weather for the coastal area. Though Mulder wasn't particularly interested in what the weather would be like, he watched for a few moments anyway as something to do. When he gleaned all the information he cared enough to retain, he turned around and headed for the exit only to find the desk clerk was still giving him a strange smirk. Going for broke Mulder approached him.

"Is there something I can help you with?" Mulder asked the man curtly.

"No, no," he answered back and feigned surrender by throwing up his hands.

"Well, then can I ask why are you looking at me like that?" Mulder frowned at him.

"Just showing my admiration for any man who's ballsy enough to do `it' with two gals at the same time," he said still smirking. Mulder simply blinked at the man before he chuckled, slightly bemused.

"Well, I don't know exactly what you think I did or have done but I can assure you I haven't fulfilled THAT particular fantasy just yet." Mulder answered back politely.

The man nodded and said, "Well, when I saw you come in last night with that cute little blonde and then that redhead stopped by this morning, I thought for sure that..."

Mulder interrupted the man right then with a pang of fear. "Wait a minute. What redhead?"

The man suddenly turned serious as he began to realize he might be making a faux pas here and started to sweat a little. "Well, she was in here early this morning. Asked for a key and said she was your `girlfriend' or `partner' or something."

The color to Mulder's face changed dramatically and the pang of fear he felt increased with his next question. "Did you give her a key?" he asked the man slowly.

The man nodded back at him slowly.

Mulder turned away quickly and ran out the door. He jumped into his car, raced out of the driveway and headed towards the cottage. All the while he pounded the steering wheel and swore aloud at himself for his flagrant stupidity and lack of good common sense.

When he reached the house he braked and hurriedly jumped out of the car, then scrambled up the porch steps to the French doors.

"Scully!" he called, pounding on the doors.

"SCULLY!"

No answer.

He peeked through one of the windows to see that all was quiet and still inside the cottage. It looked as though no one had been there at all.

"FUCK!" he hollered in frustration, his voice reverberating off the house's walls and echoing outward.

Pacing back and forth along the deck and running his hands through his hair, he let his imagination run wild with thoughts of what she may or may not have seen.

How could I have been so stupid? God, I royally fucked up this time. He thought.

Mulder flopped down on one of the deck chairs and felt his heart sink to the pit of his stomach.

"She's gone," he said aloud, "AGAIN."


"Well, I hate to say it, but I told you so," Michaela frowned as she opened her front door and let Scully inside.

"Oh, don't start, alright?" Scully snapped back tiredly as she dragged her suitcase in behind her.

"I don't understand why you keep doing this to yourself," Michaela said, grabbing the suitcase from Scully and yanking it down the hallway to the spare bedroom.

"Give it a rest, will you please, Mic?" Scully snapped again as she followed her down the hallway two steps behind. Michaela threw the suitcase onto the bed with such force it almost bounced right off. She turned back around to face Scully, shaking her head sadly.

"I'm just saying that this guy is NOT worth all this bullshit and I'm just tired of seeing you hurt like this." Michaela's voice caught as she spoke. "I don't care if he's your partner at work or not. He's an asshole."

"I know what you're saying," Scully said softly, glancing away from her friend, "I'm tired of it too."

Michaela came over to her and gave Scully a sisterly hug.

"I just want to seriously kick Mulder's ass right now," Scully confessed as she choked back another round of tears. Scully chuckled then and dabbed at her eyes.

"Him and that bitch he fucked last night, right?" Michaela said with a rather devilish grin.

"Yeah, her too." Scully agreed as an afterthought.

"C'mon," she said, gently tugging her to go with her. "I think this is a time to do some serious eating of ice cream. We can throw a couple of weepy movies in the DVD player and maybe drink a little..." Scully cringed at the mention of alcohol, knowing what happened the last time Michaela had been drinking. "Or maybe eat some truly fattening ice cream?"

Scully moaned in mock protest. "NO alcohol! What flavor of ice cream do you have?"

"ANY kind," Michaela said, "Whatever flavor you want. I stocked up on `BEN & JERRY'S' the last time I went shopping. Toppings are optional but I can tell you right now that I'm hungry for the biggest banana split I can make!"

"That sounds reeeally decadent and reeeally delicious to me right now." Scully said with a smile.

"Well, then, let's go! I certainly can't eat it all by myself." Michaela laughed.

And the two of them went to Michaela's kitchen to prepare for their feast.


Two days later
J. Edgar Hoover Building
Basement level
8:45 am

Mulder tapped his pencil nervously on the desktop. He couldn't believe that Scully had disappeared on him...again! This wasn't exactly the best time for her to disappear, but then again it wasn't ever a good time to disappear. He had used up all of his remaining vacation days searching for her in Virginia. It had been the most frustrating and disheartening thing to find she'd taken off before without a word to him and now having her disappear again was making it even worse.

Why did she keep running away from him and why couldn't she just talk to him?

She's hiding something, he thought.

He had dreaded coming back into the office and had hoped he could've gotten away with hiding in the basement just long enough to get some work caught up before Skinner discovered he was there.

But his hope for that was dashed when Skinner actually saw him getting onto the elevator and called just as Mulder was walking into the office. At least Skinner hadn't made a point of reaming him out in the middle of the hallway upstairs but he may as well have. The humiliation would've done Mulder a bit of good. Humiliation was supposed to be good for the soul. It's what kept arrogant men from becoming too full of themselves. Mulder felt he was no exception.

He managed not to say much of anything except the usual `Yes, sir' and `No, sir' where and when necessary and even made an attempt at sounding remorseful, but Skinner wasn't buying it, which made the dressing down Mulder got even more painful to bear.

"...and if you're considering taking off again to search for Agent Scully, I would suggest that you rethink that option because if you do, I will see to it that you NEVER get a day off again EVER! And you will then consider yourself terminated from the Bureau. Is that clear, Agent Mulder?" Skinner thundered at him as he ended the conversation.

"Crystal, sir." Mulder answered back.

Back in his office once more, Mulder sighed. He silently thanked whatever gods there were that Skinner's lambasting hadn't taken place in front of the new agents recruited to the department. They had all, quite thankfully, found other places to be.

Mulder knew he deserved the verbal lashing from Skinner. He also realized on his drive back home two days ago that he had been a total jackass and figured Scully would never come back to him now even if he did manage to find and confront her.

What exactly had she seen when she came to the motel?

He cringed at the thought of her catching him in the act of actually making love to Paula. He was sure it must have been a shock to her to see him with another woman in such a compromising position.

Mulder absentmindedly picked up a file. He really didn't feel like working at all today and decided it would be best for all involved if he just left a little early. There wasn't much he could do anyhow and it was just as well. He wouldn't have been able to concentrate the rest of the day knowing that Scully was still AWOL and things between them had ended badly.

His mind made up, Mulder grabbed his jacket and headed for home.


"Hey, Dana?" Michaela called out from the living room.

Scully was getting ready for bed and was just smoothing the sheets down when Michaela poked her head around the corner.

"I almost forgot to tell you," she said a bit sheepishly, "I'm going to be away tomorrow on business and will more than likely be late coming home."

Scully shrugged. "That's fine. Just don't work too hard."

Michaela blushed. "I'll call you if I can't make it back home, okay?"

Scully smiled. "Sure, dear, whatever you say." She answered teasingly.

Michaela picked up the shirt draped across the doorknob of the bedroom and tossed it at Scully's head. Scully laughed and ducked out of the way.

"I shouldn't be too late but just in case I am, I'll leave the number of the hotel I'll be staying at in case you need to reach me for anything... location of the liquor cabinet key, or the manual can opener, the flashlight if the lights go out...y'know, the important stuff."

Scully gave her friend the look she flashed Mulder when he was being a pain in the ass. "Mic, I'm a big girl and I've survived a lot of things. I'm pretty confident I'll manage quite well without you."

"Okay, okay," Michaela feigned defeat. "I'm just making sure you don't slit your wrists or anything like that..."

Scully looked up at her sharply. "That's a hell of a thing to say!"

"Sorry, I didn't mean it the way that it sounded." Michaela said apologetically.

Scully shook her head. "It's okay. I know you didn't mean it."

"Well, I'll be saying `good night' now." Michaela joked.

"Good night, Mic." Scully giggled at her friend's foot-in-mouth position.

"Good night, Dana."


Once at home, Mulder had felt completely and utterly lost. The apartment was empty in a way that made him feel small and insignificant. He felt more out of place than he ever had in his life and it depressed him. How awful it was to feel that he had absolutely nothing left in his life to fulfill him. The one bright spot that he relied on to help get him up every morning and come into work every day was gone from his life.

He enjoyed working with her and loved coming into the office every morning to see her there scribbling away at some report or checking out a slide from a tissue sample or sipping on a cup of that liquid slop known affectionately as coffee. He missed her and felt helpless to do anything. He felt as if Scully had slipped away from him without any reconciliation in sight.

Without her, he didn't want to get up in the morning and go into an empty office at work. Without her, he didn't want to live.

Mulder plopped down on the couch and just stared out the window. The filtration system on his aquarium hummed gently in the background. He glanced over at the fish tank and sighed. Oh to be a fish in that tank and live a simplistic life where swimming all day, and feeding off the crumbs that were dropped from above was the only thing to do. Where getting a bad case of Ichtyophthirius was the worst thing to worry about and making other little fishes was the most one could hope for before dying.

Mulder stretched and reached for the remote on the coffee table. He flicked on the television. Maybe there'd be a good basketball game on ESPN he could fall asleep to.


The next morning, Mulder was awakened by a hard persistent knocking, which he first thought was his neighbor next door, but quickly realized it was someone at his front door. Mulder wasn't expecting anyone but perhaps Skinner was coming to give him hell for something. Glancing at his watch and noting the time he felt sure it had to be Skinner.

Stretching, Mulder tentatively went to his front door and waited. The hard knocking started again.

"Who is it?" Mulder called as he slipped a t-shirt on to cover his bare chest.

"Fox Mulder?" a feminine voice answered.

"Who wants to know?" he answered back rather tartly.

"Dana Scully." The voice retorted.

That caught him off-guard and Mulder froze.

"Who are you?" he asked suspiciously.

"A friend. Can I talk to you?" The female behind the door asked politely.

Mulder hesitated again for a moment then cautiously unlocked the door. When he opened it, the first thing he noticed was the mane of auburn locks attached to the attractive woman standing before him. The second thing he noticed was that she was approximately the same age as Scully.

"You don't look anything like Scully" Mulder murmured to her with a frown in a weak attempt at a joke.

The woman said sweetly, "Yes, well, may I come in?"

Mulder stepped back to allow her access into the apartment.

"Nice place." She commented, looking around.

"Thanks," Mulder said dryly, "Now, you were saying about Scully?"

The woman turned to face him, still smiling. "Straight to the point. I like that. That's good. Then this will be easy."

"I'm sorry?" Mulder said, confused.

"Let me keep this brief." She paused and then said, "I've a message from Dana and I'm here to tell you that you are to stay away from her. You are not to search for her. You are not to try and contact her. You will refrain from even thinking about contacting her family with regards to her whereabouts or anything else pertaining to her..."

Mulder was stunned. "Excuse me?" He stammered.

"It's really quite simple...You are to LEAVE...HER...ALONE. Get it? Got it? Good." The woman turned on her heel to leave. Mulder reached out and grabbed her by the arm.

"I'd think twice about grabbing hold of my arm like that if I were you..." she said with an evil, rather icy smile which made Mulder release her arm quickly.

"But you haven't told me anything. Who are you? Is she okay? Where is she?" He tried to reason with the woman. "I need to get a message to her."

"I'm Dana's friend, Michaela, and that's all you need to know. She's fine and doing well. I'm not telling you where she is because she doesn't want to see you and no, you don't need to send her any messages because she doesn't want to talk to you or have any type of contact with you...EVER." Michaela seethed at him.

"I don't believe you." Mulder shot back. "She wouldn't just...stop talking to me like that. I mean I know she was upset the last time I spoke to her but to cut off all communication with me isn't her. There has to be a misunderstanding here."

Michaela cut him off abruptly. "I really don't care if you believe me or not, but it's true and there's nothing you can do about it. She doesn't want to see you or speak to you again, so, get over it and go on with your life."

"Look, I need to tell her some things...explain...some things and it's important that I see her so I can tell her myself." Mulder said, almost pleading.

"There isn't anything you could say to her right now that she would want to hear from you!" Michaela fumed. "Don't you get it? You HURT her! You've been hurting her for years and she's tired of it. You need to leave her alone."

"I wasn't trying to hurt her..." Mulder said softly. "I just...fucked up and I want to make things right between us."

"Well, you got one thing correct. You royally fucked up and that was simply the straw that broke the camel's back as far as she's concerned." Michaela replied and turned again to leave.

"Wait! Can you at least get a message to her from me?" Mulder asked. Michaela stopped and turned icy eyes at him.

"You're kidding, right?" she snorted at him.

"No," he said, "Can you? Please?"

Michaela sighed impatiently. "Fine. What is it?"

Mulder rushed to his desk and started searching for something to write on, opening and closing drawers. "It'll only take a moment, just let me write it down quick..."

"What? You're writing it down?!?" she said in disbelief and disgust. "I don't have time for this shit..."

"You said you could deliver a message to her so let me give you one." Mulder said as he tried to scribble his feelings down onto the piece of stationary he'd found in his desk drawer. The paper he wrote on was less than desirable but it would have to do.

So many things he wanted to tell her but with Scully's friend glaring at him and tapping her foot impatiently as he wrote, was not making it any easier for him to convey his feelings into just a few quick lines. How could she possibly expect him to tell Scully all that he felt in only a couple of quick sentences? This wasn't right.

When he finished, he quickly jammed the note into an envelope and handed it to Michaela who snatched it out of his hand and tucked it into the breast pocket of her suit.

"Please, make sure she gets it, alright?" Mulder asked her.

"Yeah, sure. Fine. Whatever." She said and with that she turned on her heel and left his apartment. Mulder felt very little hope that Scully would ever see his letter and his heart sank in despair.

Mulder had never really prayed before. Not since he was a child but he said a silent prayer just then.

`Please God, let her get my note? Scully, please answer.'


Scully found that living with Michaela was just about as much fun as living with her sister, Melissa. While they didn't fuss and fight over stupid things like she had done with Missy, it was a chore nevertheless. While she was neat and tidy with everything, Michaela was a slob and nothing ever seemed to get done unless Michaela felt ready to do it, which was just about never.

In the beginning, Scully had felt guilty for imposing on her friend the way she had and had pitched in to help keep the apartment clean. But Scully quickly realized in the short few days she'd been there that the more she did, the more Michaela expected her to do and it was grating on her last nerve.

While Michaela was away, Scully noticed how the apartment easily +remained clean and tidy. But the minute Michaela came home, off came the shoes at the front door and remained there until they were coated with dust. Off came the suit blazer she was wearing and into a heap on the floor because she missed the ottoman. Briefcase landing askew near the hallway table and remaining there all weekend long, unless she was working on something for a Monday deadline; then papers would be strewn everywhere in the living room so that no one could possibly sit anywhere. She was as careless about her housekeeping habits as with everything else. Scully had once admired this "carefree spirit" in her friend, but now she was starting to see how irresponsible and immature she truly was. Scully thought it had been a good trait for her friend to have but now she was not so sure.

Scully sighed as she washed the last of the dirty dishes that had been piling up. She felt that her time away would have been better spent at the beach house where she would have gladly faced Mulder again instead of playing maid here in the city. Scully felt unhappier than ever and contemplated what she should do about the situation she knew she had created.

`I think it's about time to bid a fond adieu to Mic now.' She thought to herself. She would tell Michaela she was leaving the minute she got back from her business trip. Scully wondered what Michaela had to do this time in Washington and wondered why she just didn't move closer to her job since she spent so much time in the Downtown than she did here. Scully snickered to herself remembering a time when Michaela and she almost roomed together before Scully went into the F.B.I. and she certainly was glad it had never happened. Otherwise, she and Michaela might never have been friends at all!

As Scully rinsed the last dish and put it into the dish drainer, she heard the front door bang open against the wall.

"Honey! I'm home!" Michaela called out jokingly from the front door.

"In the kitchen!" Scully called back to her as she rinsed the soap bubbles down the sink's drain.

"Hey," Michaela sighed and plopped down into the nearest kitchen chair and kicking off her shoes. She jumped up suddenly and opened the fridge. Michaela grabbed a bottle of Heineken out of the side panel and twisted it open. She chugged down a large swallow and smacked her lips in satisfaction.

Scully watched. "Rough day?" she asked, amused.

Michaela shrugged nonchalantly. "I had a last minute meeting with some pitiful jerk." She replied and took another swig of her beer.

"Anyone I might know?" Scully asked which made Michaela freeze.

"No-o, no, nobody you know well." Michaela quickly lied.

Scully nodded and turned back to finish up cleaning around the sink. When she finished she came over to the kitchen table and sat down across from Michaela who was downing the last drop of beer from the bottle. Scully sighed, gathering her courage before she spoke.

"I think - I think it's time for me to go." She said quickly. Michaela stared back at her.

"What do you mean? You're leaving?"

Scully nodded.

"Why?" Michaela asked, a bit confused.

Now it was Scully's turn to shrug. "I just think I've imposed on you long enough and I think I want to go stay someplace else for awhile."

Michaela smirked. "You mean, back to the beach house."

"Not necessarily." Scully said vaguely, even though she was considering it. Especially since she knew that Mulder wouldn't look for her twice in the same place so she would be reasonably safe there for a while.

"Liar." Michaela accused.

"Well, what if I did go back to the beach house? Are you worried about me or something?" Scully jibed at her friend.

Michaela snorted and went to the fridge to get another beer. She brought back two bottles and shoved one across to Scully who let it sit untouched in front of her.

"No," Michaela said.

"Who's lying now?" Scully teased.

"I just think you should just stay here where no one will bother you." Michaela said as she twisted the cap off the bottle and took a swig. "No one knows you're here except your mom so what's the problem?"

Scully laughed aloud. "And play maid of the house for you? Not exactly my favorite thing to do, Mic. I love you like my own sister but you are a huge slob."

Michaela pantomimed stabbing herself with an invisible knife through her heart. Scully laughed.

"That hurts." Michaela said as she pretended to slip from her chair onto the kitchen floor.

Scully finally opened her bottle of beer and took a sip. The two women sat at the table silently for a little while before Michaela spoke.

"Well, as much as I love having you around, you're a huge pain in my ass." She stated matter-of-factly. Scully burst out laughing.

"Is that right?" she answered in between giggles.

"Yes," Michaela confirmed to her. "You are too neat. You're more uptight than you've ever been and I think you need to go back and see that shrink you were seeing after you were abducted."

Scully stopped laughing and stared at her. "That was rather a rude thing to say."

"Well, it's true." Michaela said blatantly. "You have issues, my dear. Issues that you need help addressing... and you aren't addressing them here with me."

"As if you don't?" Scully shot back. Michaela waved a dismissive hand in Scully's direction as she got up from the table and threw the empty beer bottle in the trash and began to walk out of the kitchen. She paused and turned back to Scully. "I think your leaving is a good idea. Have a great trip." Then Michaela disappeared. Scully heard the door to Michaela's bedroom close firmly.

`At least she didn't slam the door this time.' She thought gratefully glancing at Michaela's collection of expensive crystal sitting in the glass-fronted cabinets.

Scully sighed and finished her beer.


Mulder had no clear idea how many days had eventually passed without a reply to his note to Scully. Either way, he hadn't been able to concentrate on a single case or the overdue peer reviews on the new agents working for the X-Files. Skinner had already lambasted him for his lack of responsibility towards his duties as a superior in his own department and warned Mulder to `get his shit together' or he was looking at more than just a mere suspension but perhaps a termination from the F.B.I. Mulder had finally `gotten his shit together' but it was only to appease Skinner, and although he tried to keep his mind off Scully and do his work, it was a half-hearted attempt. Without her presence in the office, Mulder was miserable. Without her by his side, life was exceedingly boring, dull and totally unexciting. She truly was his one in five billion and without her, he didn't want to go on.

With another weekend rapidly approaching, Mulder was dreading the long hours of having nothing to do. He wished he could sleep until the sun came up on Monday morning. Or perhaps if he got really good and drunk, the weekend would whiz by and he wouldn't have to suffer through another afternoon of nothing but ESPN or the Sports Channel. Not that he minded watching basketball every single weekend but he was becoming so bored that even his favorite team sport could do nothing to ease the suffering he felt from missing her.

Mulder finally relented and headed out of the office for home. He didn't know what he would do once he got into the apartment but figured he would stop off at the store to pick a few things just so he wouldn't while watching whatever game would be on. And maybe, just maybe, he'd pick up some beer or maybe a bottle of Smirnoff to go with some orange juice. A little booze to help him sleep, he reasoned, since he never slept well these days especially. In fact he couldn't remember the last time he truly slept a whole night without waking fifty times because of the nightmares or because he felt a presence in the room with him.

`Maybe this time I'll sleep better if I have a couple of drinks in me,' he thought.

It couldn't hurt.


Scully's bags were packed and ready to go beside the front door. Michaela sat on the couch smoking a cigarette as if she hadn't a care in the world. She acted as if Scully's departure was an every day occurrence and paid little attention as she reached for her purse and coat.

"Well,..." Scully sighed aloud as she looked at Michaela.

"Yeah," Michaela replied back emotionless.

"Thanks for having me, Mic, I did have fun while I was here." Scully said, trying to seem as though leaving was a good idea.

Michaela didn't move from her spot on the couch but instead turned her eyes toward Scully in an expression of boredom and distaste.

"How nice," she flipped back.

Scully sighed and shifted from one foot to the other before she spoke.

"Mic, don't act like this. It's really childish of you to be this way. I made my decision and I'm not going to change my mind about it so you can just stop this pouting act you're doing."

Michaela took a long, slow drag of her cigarette before stubbing it out in the large glass ashtray on the coffee table. She got up slowly from the couch and walked over to where Scully stood by the front door. She regarded her for a moment before she gave her a slow, gentle hug.

"Have a safe trip." She whispered in Scully's hair.

Scully hugged her back. "I will. Thank you, Mic. For everything."

As Michaela withdrew from the embrace, she slyly slipped Mulder's note into the side pocket of Scully's purse and prayed she wouldn't be noticed for her crime. Scully, totally unaware of Michaela's deception, smiled at her friend as she picked up her suitcase and opened the door to leave.

"Call me when you get to your Mom's, okay?" Michaela pleaded.

"Sure," Scully smiled and left a worried Michaela to stand alone in her doorway.

Scully would arrive on her mother's doorstep in about four hours if she didn't stop for gas.


Mulder managed to not only get a six-pack of beer and a fifth of Smirnoff's, but also a nice bottle of scotch, a bottle of Jack Daniels and a bottle of the brandy he used to sneak sips of with his sister standing guard while vacationing on the Vineyard.

He was disappointed to be drinking alone but being alone was nothing new and alcohol would dull the pain and heartache he felt from coming home to an empty apartment.

He hated it here.

He hated the walls.

He hated the floors.

He hated everything about this place that was a reminder to him of the life he led and the times he had spent chasing after the things that didn't even matter to him anymore. Only one thing mattered to him and she was gone. Perhaps forever.

He had nothing left. No family. No friends. No reason to make him get up every morning to face the world. Mulder felt like he was dying inside, a piece at a time each day Scully wasn't there with him. She was his heart; when she'd left, she'd taken a big chunk of it with her.

Mulder drank straight from the bottle rather than a glass. No sense in using one since nobody was here but him to care and he didn't give a shit one way or the other.

He sat in a half-drunken stupor and stared at the television screen. The Sports Channel was giving him a headache and despite the curtains being drawn, the darkness of the living room wasn't helping. He couldn't even tell what time of the day it was. His mind wandered to reminisce about the past and the years he had spent with Scully by his side.

Dana Scully.

Dana Katherine Scully.

Dana Katherine Mulder.

Mrs. Dana Mulder

He stopped midway into the mental revelry that was torturing him.

He loved her but she obviously didn't love him. He couldn't remember a time when he was in love with anyone else. In fact, he couldn't remember being in love at all. Phoebe Green had been a mere infatuation and Diana Fowley had just been a total mistake. Mulder blocked both women from his mind.

Is this what it felt like to have your heart broken?

Mulder choked down another swig of the burning alcohol.

He just wanted the pain in his chest to stop. His heart had cracked and spilt its life's blood all around inside him. He didn't know what else to do. The situation had reached critical mass and was now exploding in his brain. She would never return to him, he thought. She was gone forever. He had come to realize that now.

Without her in his life, he didn't want to live.

He reached for the remote and switched off the television. He stood up unsteadily and went over to where his stereo sat in the corner and flicked it on. The Pink Floyd tape that he kept inside the cassette deck was one he had listened to over and over again in times like this when he was feeling low. But this time he felt he was as low as he could possibly get. He felt that he was in the deepest, darkest abyss from which he could never escape.

He turned the volume up on the stereo to where he could hear the music but not enough to disturb his neighbors. The song that began to play was slow, dream-like even. The song suited his mood to a tee as he wandered aimlessly around the living room, glancing out the window and then ambled into his bedroom.

*Hello.
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anybody home? *

He lay down across his bed, closed his eyes and let the song take him away. He tried blanking his mind to her image and found her beautiful face floating behind his closed lids, her blue eyes looking at him with an expression he couldn't read. It wasn't love or disgust. It wasn't sadness or hate. It was...well, he didn't know what it was, but she just kept staring at him. Those eyes that had refused to allow him access into her heart; eyes which kept the doors to her soul locked tightly away from him and never allowing him to see her true feelings.

*Come on, now.
I hear you're feeling down.
Well, I can ease your pain,
Get you on your feet again.*

He blinked and sat up on the edge of his bed. Somehow he needed to rid her from his mind.

*Relax.
I need some information first.
Just the basic facts:
Can you tell me where it hurts?*

Mulder stood and went into the bathroom. He stripped off his clothes and turned on the shower as hot as he could stand it and stepped into the spray. He picked up the bar of soap and began to scrub his body all over...HARD. He scrubbed until his skin began to turn red from the effort. He scrubbed until tiny corpuscles began to surface on his skin and bleed. His self-exorcism was not working. He could still see her. She still looked at him with an expression that was now starting to resemble something bordering on pity.

He couldn't stand having her look at him that way. He didn't want her pity. He wanted her love.

He turned off the water and pulled back the curtain.

The steam from the water had not formed a film of condensation over the mirror above the sink since he hadn't bothered to shut the bathroom's door. As he reached for a towel, he caught a glimpse of his own reflection and stared at the person in the glass.

*There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon.*

The man who looked back was unrecognizable. The man Mulder saw had haunting, dark circles underneath his eyes, making him look at least 20 years older than he actually was. The hair at his temples had grayed considerably, which he hadn't noticed until now. The mirror image was of an old man. A man that resembled...

Mulder ran a hand across the stubble on his chin. His vision fogged and he quickly looked away. Feeling a chill come over him, he began to dry his wet body.

*You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're sayin'...*

As he dried himself, Mulder felt as though his limbs were weighed down with lead and he sank to the floor.

He didn't want to live anymore.

He didn't want to live with this feeling of emptiness any longer.

He was tired. So tired.

He wanted to sleep and not wake up. He wanted to sleep on forever.

He simply wanted to die.

*Now I got the feeling once again.
I can't explain, you would not understand.*

Mulder looked up towards the mirror, afraid of the image he had seen there, and tears welled up in his eyes.

*This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb.*

He got up from the floor, letting the bath towel fall away and went into the bedroom.

Padding over to the bedside table, he opened the top drawer and began searching for what he wanted. What he needed.

He then turned towards his closet and rummaged for the next item. Once found, he pulled them out before returning to the bathroom.

One last glimpse of his reflection made Mulder stop and really look at himself this time. He studied his mirrored twin and still did not like what he saw in the man who stared back.

*Ok.
Just a little pinprick.
There'll be no more -Aaaaaahhhh!
But you may feel a little sick.*

The expression Mulder saw was the sad expression of a broken man whose world had completely disintegrated into a billion pieces without a way to repair the damage done. A man who had lost everything and had nothing left to lose. A man who was already dead.

*There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon...*

Mulder turned away.

He opened the tiny bottle and poured the pills into his hand. There weren't many in this one.

He swallowed hard.

Swallowed them all down.

He closed his eyes and a single tear slid down his cheek.

*There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon.*

He grasped another small bottle and poured the contents in his hand once more. Without hesitation, he swallowed them down as quickly as the first handful from the other bottle.

He then took hold of the leather ends of the belt and looped them over the shower curtain rod. He tightened it and tugged with all of his body weight to make sure it would hold.

Carefully he stepped up onto the tub's porcelain side and stood there for the briefest of seconds before slowly looping the belt around his neck.

He swallowed hard and pulled the belt taunt. The leather gripped his neck snugly.

He closed his eyes as another tear slid down his cheek.

He swallowed once more and with a single step, stepped off the edge of the tub.

The belt had immediately tightened, constricting his throat viciously.

There is no pain, you are receding....

Oh but there WAS pain!

His throat was being squeezed by the leather belt in a way that made him quickly realize that this was NOT what he intended to do!

No! I don't want to die like this! He thought. He wanted to take it back.

As he gasped and choked his vision begin to turn black.

He had seen his reflection again briefly before his eyesight began to quickly darken and saw how his naked body was struggling against the makeshift noose.

Spots and stars flashed before his eyes with lightning speed as his lungs screamed for relief. He felt as if they would burst through his chest as the sense of panic began to set in.

He tried to step back up on the side of the tub but his legs felt too heavy to lift. The drugs mixed with alcohol had taken effect with efficient speed and the fight within him to survive was beginning to ebb away as quickly as his brain was being deprived of oxygen.

He began to feel as if he was falling. Falling into a deep dark pit of night where nothing would find him and the earth were swallowing him up in a screaming crowd pleading to God for help. He could hear them calling as if in a far off distance.

As he began to lose all consciousness of his surroundings, he swore he saw Scully standing before him. A vision of her wearing the expression of pity which had turned to agonizing sorrow as she wept tears of regret and shame.

Mulder attempted to reach out to her but it was all in vain. His arms didn't want to work as his life was being extinguished

In a few more precious moments Fox William Mulder would no longer exist in this world


His body hung silently.

Motionless.

The only sounds were that of the slow steady drip of water from the shower head and the music that continued to play on the stereo.

*The child is grown, the dream is gone. I have become comfortably numb.*


When Scully had stopped for gas, she discovered a white slip of paper poking out from the side pocket of her purse as she reached for it from the front seat of her car. She smiled as she took it out and held it between her fingers as she searched inside her bag for her wallet.

As the machine chimed with each gallon that filled her car's tank, Scully slipped the wallet inside her coat pocket and then unfolded the simple white piece of paper. She recognized the chicken scratch right away.

It was from Mulder.

She felt her breath catch as she began to read his words.

*Scully,

       I'm sorry I can't say this to you directly but I wanted 
       you to know that I am so sorry for the pain I've caused 
       you and that I never meant to ever hurt you in anyway.  
              
       I want to be with you and only you.  Please come home.  
       You mean everything to me.  

                  I love you! 

                                Mulder*

Her hand trembled as she read and re-read the note over and over again. Her eyes welled with tears as she read the note one more time.

"Oh, God, Mulder," she moaned softly to herself. "I'm sorry too."

What a fool she'd been! To run away from Mulder and hide out like some overgrown child. How terribly immature.

But the hurt she felt from seeing him in bed with another woman was real. How could she forgive him his trespasses so easily? It was something that warranted a long discussion regarding trust and Scully knew it would not be one of their only painful discussions.

But it didn't matter now.

He loved her and although she knew he wasn't perfect, neither was she.

It was time to stop running and time to start talking.

She kissed the slip of paper in her hand as her tears soaked the corners. She quickly paid for the gas with her credit card, hopped in the car and began to drive in the direction of Mulder's apartment.

She knew on a Sunday he would more than likely be at home either doing his laundry or watching some basketball game on T.V. She knew that this was the perfect time for her to come clean with him regarding everything and perhaps forgive herself in the process.

When Scully arrived at Mulder's apartment, the first thing she noticed was the music coming from behind his door. She didn't recognize the song playing at first but to her it sounded like something Mulder would listen to; very moody and rather melancholy.

Obviously he wasn't going to hear her knocking so she removed the spare key she always carried to his apartment and let herself in.

When she entered, it felt like a cave; dark and slightly musty, as if filled with one hundred years of dust. She left the door slightly ajar as she continued to enter.

She took notice that the living room curtains were tightly drawn and there was a faint aroma of liquor in the air. Glancing over towards the kitchenette she could see a full garbage can sitting in the corner and on top were the tell-tale empty bottles of hard liquor. From the labels, Scully could tell exactly what Mulder had been drinking but she wasn't sure how long the bottles had been sitting there so she wasn't about to jump to any conclusions. She refused to make that mistake again!

As Scully warily went into the living room, the television sat black and quiet.

Was he even home? She wondered as she touched the top of the console and found it still slightly warm.

He must be she thought, only two other rooms to search.

Scully wandered towards the bedroom and pushed back the partially closed door.

Mulder's room was the same mass of disarray as it always was with socks, sneakers and some ties thrown on the floor, a good suit dangling haphazardly from a hanger and hanging off of the bureau's top drawer. His bed, rumpled as though he'd had a fitful night's sleep, was left unmade. Scully shook her head slightly at his lack of housekeeping skills and let a small smile curve her lips.

She sighed and picked up a stray sock and tossed it over in the corner where his clothes hamper stood. It landed with the others piled around on the outside of it.

She then turned towards the bathroom and saw the light was on. A faint whisp of steam drifted out and dissipated in the chill of his bedroom.

"Mulder?" she called, so she wouldn't startle him.

No answer.

"Mulder? Are you in there?" she called again and inched her way towards the doorway.

She peeked around the corner and froze at what she saw, and then let escape a horrific scream.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Oh, my God! MULDER!!!"

She reached out to his lifeless body and felt his skin was still warm but his face held a faint blueish tint. She franticly searched the bathroom for some sharp object to cut him down with and knew his dead weight would be too much for her to handle herself. She would need help.

"Somebody!!! HELP ME!" she called out loudly, not expecting an answer to her plea.

Scully was starting to panic as she threw objects on the floor from the medicine cabinet. He didn't have anything in there sharp enough to cut with so she ran into the kitchen and rummaged through a drawer, searching...searching for something sharp. A large carving knife gleamed from the bottom of the drawer. Scully grabbed the large blade and ran back to the bathroom.

Mulder's face was becoming bluer by the second. His eyes had rolled back into his head, showing only the whites of his eyes. She tried not to look directly at his face as she climbed up on the side of the tub and stretched to reach the belt to cut it.

It took some effort for her to saw through it but his body dropped with a loud thud to the floor when she did and he missed hitting the sink by a few mere centimeters. Scully hopped down and felt his neck for a pulse. Not feeling one she started C.P.R. in an effort to get him going again.

"SOMEBODY! PLEEEEASE! HELP ME!" she called out again. This time her panic was setting in and she needed to get help for him quickly. But she didn't want to stop the compressions for fear if she did he would continue to die in front of her eyes.

Unless he's dead already she thought.

How long had he been hanging there? A minute? Five minutes? An hour perhaps? If so, it could already be too late to save him. Death of the human brain came swiftly without oxygen and she could very well be trying in vain to save a dead man.

"Christ, Mulder, don't you do this to me!" she cried as she continued compressions on his chest and blowing life-giving air into his mouth.

Her tears fell unchecked as she kept on. Some fell on his face, some fell on the floor, but they fell in a steady stream as she worked desperately at having Mulder give her a sign, ANY sign, that he was still somehow alive and trying to live.

"HELP!!!" she called out again. "I NEED HELP!!! PLEEEEASE, HELP ME!!!"

A voice answered her cries back this time.

"Hello?" the voice called back to her.

"In here!!!" she answered with a faint sense of hope and relief.

An elderly man appeared in the doorway and rushed to Scully's side.

"Oh, thank God! Please, do you know C.P.R.?" Scully asked the man.

"Took a course at the Y once years ago but I think I can remember how to do it." He said as he knelt down beside Scully.

"Good! Here you take over while I call 911," she said as she rushed to Mulder's bedside telephone.

She struggled to compose herself enough to speak clearly into the phone as she hit Mulder's pre-programmed 911 number and waited for someone on the other end to answer.

"This is Special Agent Dana Scully. I need an ambulance over to this address for a sui...I have an agent down. He's cyanotic and not responding. He's not breathing but we've started CPR. Please hurry! We're losing him!" she said and dropped the phone to rush back to Mulder's side.

The man was becoming winded so Scully took over the breathing for him. The man continued to do compressions on Mulder's chest at her direction.

"He looks dead." The man said in a sad, matter-of-fact tone.

"He's NOT dead!" Scully snapped at him. "He's just not breathing. We have to get him to a hospital quickly."

"With those marks on his neck, I think you're too late." The man affirmed. "Looks like suicide to me."

Scully stopped her breathing for a moment to look up at him sharply.

"Look!" Scully snapped at him, "He's going to be alright as soon as we get him to the hospital. We just have to keep him going until the ambulance and paramedics get here! Now, either you help me or get the hell out of here and wait for the ambulance downstairs!"

She resumed her breathing, checking his pulse as she proceeded and finally felt one.

It was faint and very thready, but thank God it was there! She continued to breathe into Mulder's mouth.

In the distance, the scream of the ambulance siren grew closer to the apartment building and Scully felt a small glimmer of hope that all was not lost.

"God, Mulder, please hang on. The ambulance is here and we'll get you to the hospital. Please, please, hang on!" she pleaded into his ear as she reached over to squeeze his hand. She wasn't startled at how limp and lifeless it was but she choked back another sob out of fear that he was lost forever to her.

But she knew if Mulder survived, he could very well spend the rest of his life on life-support as a vegetable. Could she handle never seeing him smile at her with his familiar boyish grin? Could she handle never hearing his voice speak to her again? Telling her a joke or explaining his irrational reasons for taking on a case or telling her aloud how much he loved her?

The thump of footsteps coming into the apartment and the voices of the paramedics coming towards the bathroom never swayed her from continuing her breathing until someone gentle nudged her aside and said they would take over.

The moments that passed from the time of the paramedics' arrival to the time that Mulder's body was loaded into the awaiting ambulance and taken to the hospital, passed as if in slow motion. Scully couldn't remember anything about the questions that were asked of her; his condition, what happened, etc. She just stood by Mulder's side and never took her eyes from his face for a moment.

The tubes and wires placed on him during his transport was nothing she hadn't seen on him before. Nor was his struggle for life different from the ones in the past. But somehow, this time, it felt different, almost final. Like he was saying a last goodbye.

She wasn't willing to allow him that. This wasn't the last goodbye.

He won't die she thought. He can't die. Not this way.

But if this was it, she didn't want to live without him. She didn't want to live a life without him there. Scully set it in her mind that if he died, she'd follow. There were no other options.

"Mulder, don't leave me alone like this." She whispered as she held his hand tightly in the ambulance. The paramedics worked silently around her, giving her the right to remain beside Mulder's side as they careened through the streets of D.C. on their way to the hospital. Scully's tears never ceased and drops continued to fall where they may.

"God won't take you from me. Not now. Not like this. You're going to be alright. You've survived so much, Mulder. You won't...you can't die like this!" She cried as she kissed his limp hand.

She reached across the aisle and brushed the stray strains of hair from his forehead and let her fingers brush down the sides of his cheek.

Never once did he move of his own accord.

Never once did his eyes move beneath closed lids.

Never once did he squeeze back her hand in acknowledgement of her presence there beside him.

Scully's hope in his survival never wavered and she silently prayed that everything would be alright.

It had to be.

Death was not an option.


(END CHAPTER 5)

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