Title: Heaven Can Wait
Author: Gina Rain firstname.lastname@example.org
Category: S, H
Rating: PG-13 for naughty words that 8-year olds know. Spoilers: Brand X
Summary: Deep suction lands Mulder in some deep ... Uh, never mind. You'll see.
Muchas gracias to Sybil who issued a challenge I never, ever thought I'd answer and, of course, for being a super-beta.
The last thing he felt was a troop of tobacco beetles marching their way up his throat and through his nose and mouth.
The last thing he saw was the freedom dance these brave soldiers performed on the plastic wall of his oxygen mask.
The last things. The very last things.
Until he ran into Seymour.
After his close encounter with the bugs, Mulder simply `found himself'-for lack of a better description-behind a Lucite desk. One moment, he was in the hospital, struggling to find a small space in his lungs for a tiny gasp of air and the next, he was in front of a rather nondescript, thin man in his early thirties. The man looked up from the pad he was writing on, smiled, introduced himself as "Seymour" and told Mulder he'd be with him momentarily. His recent ordeal gave Mulder more patience than he usually possessed. He used the other man's preoccupation with paperwork as an opportunity to take in the unfamiliar surroundings. Aside from the see-through desk, there was no furniture in the room. There were no real walls, either. They seemed to be in a room that, except for the fleecy white floor, was totally made of glass. All around him, the sky was an incredible shade of blue. And, for an enclosed room, it had remarkable ventilation. He felt as if he was outside on the most perfect of days. The air was neither too hot, nor too cold. It was just right. He took a very deep breath, and let the air fill his surprisingly pain-free lungs.
Deep suction. Of course. That was the answer. Scully must have signed him up for another of those deep suction technique sessions that he was so fond of. One week ago, Scully using such a term would have sent a thrill straight down to his nether regions. Having experienced said technique, however, his nether regions retreated faster than a turtle going back into its shell in the face of a dreaded predator. Suction was great-if the sucker's strength couldn't actually pull the body part straight off the mother ship. Mulder smiled to himself. If this FBI thing didn't work out, that was a porn scenario that was just crying to be made.
Nether regions aside, though, surgeons served up some good drugs when they put you under and this little room in the sky seemed to be the end result. Cool. Mulder had a fun imagination. He couldn't wait to hear what it would make old Sy say after he finished writing the Gettysburg Address.
"Fox William Mulder," Seymour read aloud from his list.
"That's me," Mulder said, completely relaxed and waiting to be entertained.
"Done in by tobacco beetles," he shook his head sadly. "You've disappointed us. Most of us were going with the autoerotic asphyxiation scenario-although perhaps this qualifi ... nah. There was nothing erotic about your demise and, really, it's not like you caused it, either. But, if you had to go in another way, I think we would have preferred something a little more heroic than getting your lungs filled with some nasty looking bugs. Blech."
"Who are you again?" Mulder asked, looking around the room for an exit.
"Well, you know, I'm kind of the guy you hit before you go on to the pearly gates. St. Peter is the true gatekeeper. I'm kind of like the guy who takes your luggage at the curb."
Mulder frowned. This didn't feel like a side-effect of mind-altering drugs. Shit. Where was his gun?
Come to think of it, he had a few more questions. How did he end up here? And where was here? And where was Scully? He didn't feel quite as relaxed anymore. In fact, he felt a full-on panic attack ready to surface.
"You're dead, Fox," Seymour stated.
"I am not dead."
"I'm not. I'm sitting here talking to you. Dead people can't talk."
"Of course we can. It's a cinch to talk to other dead people. It's done all the time. Talking to live ones is a bit harder, but can be done."
"You're dead," Mulder said, a tone of skepticism in his voice that Scully would be proud of.
He flipped his hand at Mulder. "Oh, sure. For years and years. Died in 1953." He leaned forward. "You want to hear about a non-heroic death? I'll give you a nonheroic death. I went on a roller coaster with my girlfriend, Lucille. She was scared and I tried to impress her by showing her I wasn't afraid of anything. I stood up just as we were about to take a nosedive and I flew off the roller coaster and landed down on the ground. Dead. As a doorknob," he sighed. "Still, they gave me a real nice job up here. By all rights, they could have made me a kind of court jester or village idiot or something but my death did led to stronger restraints in amusement park rides, so I guess that counted for something."
Mulder didn't care about Seymour's career rise through crashing. All he cared about was Scully. If he was dead, the last sound he should have heard was the soft sound of her voice telling him she loved him. The last vision should have been those deep, blue eyes looking at him the way they did when they were completely alone together, waking up in a hotel room on the road, just the two of them. Instead, he got those grungy little, crawly ...
"Mother-fucking shit," Mulder yelled out loud.
"Technically, I suppose they qualify as `mother-fucking shits' since there was more than one beetle. Yeah, I feel your pain, brother. A vision of Dana would have been a kinder last view of your world. Oh, and I should warn you, the Big Guy frowns on that type of language. He understands and forgives but you really don't want to tick him off too much."
"Skinner is dead, too?"
"Who? Oh, Walter S. Skinner. You think he's the Big Guy?" Seymour scoffed at the idea. "You have NO idea."
"God? You're talking about God?"
"Yes, God is the Big Guy. It's just a term of endearment really, but it seems to amuse him."
"So ... I ended up ..."
Seymour smiled. It was a nice, friendly sort of smile. "Of course you did, Fox. You're always so hard on yourself. Hey, your methods may have been off and you may have inadvertently, and not so inadvertently, caused the deaths of a whole bunch of folks, but your intentions were good."
Mulder slumped back in his chair.
"I'll be damned."
"Actually, no, you won't." Seymour laughed at his own joke.
"You have to send me back," Mulder said, leaning forward in his chair.
"You watch too many old movies, buddy. We don't send people back."
"Aha. So, send me back."
"I can't live without Scully."
"Technically, what you'd be doing here is not living in the strictest sense of the word, so you'll do just fine."
"No. I won't. I can't."
"You can. Besides, she'll be here eventually. If you got in, it's a given that she will. I mean, she has good intentions and not as many dead bodies on her scorecard. Anyway, you and Dana will be reunited and you can all live-well, exist, happily ever after. Now, come on, let's get you processed."
"No. I mean it, Seymour. You just don't understand. Scully and I ... not too long ago...decided to take that step, make that move, we ..."
"Oh, come on, Fox," Seymour rolled his eyes at Mulder's clumsy attempts to tell him about the change in status of his love life. " I know all about those things. I saw some pretty racy movies when I was still alive. You know, that Myrna Loy was some hot number. You and Dana became boyfriend and girlfriend. Yes, I know all about it. Man, I loved dating. I miss that."
"You ... can't do that up here?"
"Oh, sure you can. But I have a very responsible job. I mean, it's my choice, really. I like to dedicate myself completely to my calling. Much like you did all those years before you started to keep company-in that waywith Dana."
Mulder gripped his head between his hands.
"Wasted time. All that wasted time."
"Come on, Fox. The faster you get processed, the faster you can see your father and mother."
Mulder didn't move from his chair.
Scully. She had waited for him for so long. As he had waited for her. And what was the waiting for? The right time, the right place, the right circumstances. And were they ever exactly right? Or did being together just make them right? As they would have in any time or place. And what did all that waiting give them? A couple of months of pleasure among all the pain of living in denial of their feelings?
So many, many questions. If he could feel pain, he'd have a headache.
And if he weren't already dead, he'd kill himself for being such an ass.
Seymour slapped the table and Mulder looked up.
"I know. Oh, Fox-this will change everything. Forget your parents. I can give you what you've dreamed about for years. Your sister, Fox. As soon as you're checked in, I'll bring you to your sister. You have a lot to catch up on."
How much of his life had he given in his quest to find his sweet sister?
That question caused his eyes to fill with tears he absolutely refused to shed. Even in heaven, choices were not easy. A lifetime search coming to a final, final end or the infinitesimal chance of a new beginning.
"I guess you guys have all the answers here," Mulder said.
"Well, more than you have down there."
"Scully doesn't know. That's the problem. She can't know because I didn't tell her. All I ever told her was how important finding Samantha was to me. And it was. At one time, it was everything. And then, it wasn't. Scully was. But she always acted on the assumption that she was in second-or maybe even third-place to all the other things I was searching for. And she stood beside me anyway. She put me first. Please, Seymour, Samanthaand heaven--can wait. I need to go back."
"How do you know you won't go back and mess things up? Perhaps give up your chance for the ultimate reward? Give up your chance to spend eternity with Dana?"
"I don't know. I can only try. What I do know is ... we didn't get enough time. Please, Seymour? I know I'm a selfish bastard but I need more time to prove to Scully that ... she really was-is--the most important person in my life."
"That's fucking beautiful, man."
"Seymour! The Big Guy..." Mulder looked up at the glass ceiling and the slightly darker shade of blue the sky had suddenly turned.
"Sorry. I spent a lot of time last week processing some motorcycle gang members from the Bronx. You'd expect them to be tough-all the leather and chains-but really, they had hearts of gold."
Seymour shuffled some papers on the desk.
"Autoerotic asphyxiation. Eh. I don't think I'll go for that choice in the next pool. I mean, why would you bother if you have someone as lovely as Dana as your girl? Go on-I'll have someone work the paddles on you one more time. You'll be revived. Of course, you might be in for more of that suction stuff."
"Anything, Seymour. I'll do anything."
"Hey, don't get carried away. Eternal gratitude is not necessary. I'm just a sucker for romance," he leaned forward again. "To tell the truth-my girl-the one I tried to impress-Lucille--was checked in just last week. She took one look at me, slugged me and called me an idiot. She said I traumatized her and ruined her life. Because, you know, well-they closed the ride and kind of left her up there while they were retrieving my body and she was alone and deathly afraid of heights. Plus, she kind of was horrified at my fall and all...then, there were the years of therapy and the time in the commune and then more therapy and ... well, I'm hoping she'll get over it some day and we'll have a second chance. Maybe by the next time you see me! Go on, get out of here. I'll see you in thirty or forty years."
"Thank you, Sey..."
The first thing he saw when he regained consciousness was blue. The clear blue expanse of an endless sky. The promise of eternity in their depths.
Scully's eyes. Looking at him with such love from behind a thin, clear veil of tears.
As soon as he was able to speak again, he'd wax poetic about her eyes. After all, he now knew they were the same color as the welcoming skies of heaven. But perhaps he'd always known that. After all, they were now welcoming him back to the little glimpse of it he was always able to find right here on earth.
The challenge: Take an episode with a near-death experience and go for the kill. Done. I just went one step further and reversed the action. I mean, I just couldn't deal with the hate-mail I'd get for not sticking a CD warning in the headers. This way, I get off on a technicality.
If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Gina Rain
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