AUTHOR: Jade Hawthorne (email@example.com) WEBSITE: www.geocities.com/jade_hawthorne DISCLAIMER: Not mine, just borrowing.
TIMELINE: Season 8, post-Dead Alive
CATEGORY: MSR, Angst
SUMMARY: They sent him back, but they took away his ability to feel.
by Jade Hawthorne
There's still a little bit of your song in my ear. There's still a little bit of your words I long to hear, You step a little closer to me,
So close that I can't see what's going on.
- Damien Rice, Cannonball
Mulder awoke from his long rest easily, calmly, not gasping for air, gasping for life---not the way he'd always imagined that coming back from the dead would be like. It was as if he'd just been asleep for a while, not interred in cold earth for months. Although she assures him that this wasn't the case at first, his body bears no scars, no signs of decomposition, no sign of anything at all.
He remains perfectly preserved, like a saint from the Middle Ages. An incorruptible. Scully would know exactly what he was talking about if he asked her. Saint Spooky of the Holy UFO, he thinks bitterly.
In Christian mythology, the resurrected and the incorruptible are viewed as saints or saviors. The Greeks and Romans celebrated those who returned from the underworld as heroes. In this modern age, however, no one quite understands what to do with him. There are few to celebrate his return. His family is utterly gone. Only Scully remains, although her joy seems mixed with fear and apprehension.
Others stand at a distance, having seen his name on a tombstone, a death certificate, an obituary. They are not ready to reconcile this with the man in front of them, as if they are waiting for his invitation to dip their hands into his wounds to expel all doubts.
But he has no wounds. None that he can see or feel or remember.
He understands what others mean when they speak of out of body experiences, for everything that happens to him now seems to be happening to someone else. He views himself with cool detachment. Interesting, he thinks, as he cuts his finger on one of the many release forms he must sign. The cut draws blood, but he feels no sting. He cannot feel pain.
He is a dead man.
They sent him back, but they took away his ability to feel.
Over the last few weeks, they've had several strained conversations where they talk around thorny subjects. Mulder protects her from the horrors and aftershocks of his abduction. Scully protects him from the responsibility of the baby. Neither of them betrays any emotion. She, because she will not. He, because he cannot.
He tells her he's having trouble processing things. She tells him about "her" baby and "her" pregnancy. He knows she's honoring the terms of their deal. He didn't want things to change between them. Careful what you wish for, his mother always told him. Don't acts of God, such as, perhaps...death and resurrection, break contracts? Doesn't that change something?
If he could feel something beyond numbness, he might fight their arrangement. He might tell her he wants to be a real father, a real lover to her. Instead he tells her he's happy for her.
The only thing that spurs him to action is learning that she's had a partner during these months, that someone else shared her days, argued with her, teased her about her lunch. That Scully's life kept turning, even when his did not.
He doesn't tell her this. Instead he tells her that he wants to check this John Doggett out. That he doesn't trust him. That he wants to go back to work.
He thinks he does.
One night she comes over to talk to him. She sits down on his sofa, swollen and blooming and bursting with life, and gives him one of her understanding looks, a crease between her eyebrows, but still as inscrutable as ever.
"Mulder, I know at some point this is all going to come back, and you're going to need to talk about what happened. About what they did to you," she says. "I want you to know that I will be there to---"
"I don't know what they did to me," he says flatly. "There's nothing to talk about."
She looks at him for a moment. He feels the weight of her gaze, but it tells him nothing.
"Anyway," he begins, "what's to be gained by examining something I don't remember? I've got to move on, like you did, Scully. You kept your life going. New life, new partner... and you've got the family you always wanted on the way..."
She stares at him again, her mouth a tight line. She picks up her keys from his coffee table and heads for the door.
"Part of me died when you were gone," she says quietly, before closing the door behind her. He hears her footsteps echo down the hallway.
He doesn't call her that night. Instead he sits on his old leather sofa and looks around his apartment, observing how---aside from a couple of dead fish--- nothing has changed.
Nothing at all.
He doesn't call her the next night, either, even though she leaves three messages on his answering machine. Instead he heads to the Lone Gunmen's lair for pizza. It's simpler that way.
**Back from the dead? You want pepperoni or sausage?
They munch on deep dish with sausage and mushrooms and watch the director's cut of "Blade Runner." "Not that fucked-up, Sam Spade-voiceover shit," Frohike says. "As far as I'm concerned, this is the only version." Since 1993, Mulder's heard him repeat this a million times. It's familiar and oddly comforting to him.
During the Harrison Ford-Rutger Hauer scenes, Mulder catches Langley stealing strange glances at him, but he pretends not to notice.
"Dude," Langley says when it's over, "Remember when Ridley Scott said Deckerd was a replicant all along? Tracking down and killing his own kind, and he didn't even know. Man, that totally changes the way I look at this movie."
"Who cares?" says Frohike. "He ends up with Sean Young, and she was hot back then. Before she went nuts."
"But how could you not know?" muses Byers. "I know they say Rachael--and now Deckerd---didn't know, but how can you not know what you are?"
"Programming, dipshit!" Frohike says. "They created them. They could make 'em think and do whatever they wanted... for a while, at least."
They stop and look uncomfortably at Mulder for a moment. He doesn't care. He knows what he is. He's not a replicant.
He is a dead man.
Mulder smiles, catching them off guard, and sees his friends visibly relax.
"So," says Frohike, picking up another slice of pizza, "got any wit and wisdom from the great beyond?"
But he has none. Instead he asks them to help him again, to break into a Department of Defense office to find a disk of abductee and MUFON information. It's something he should do. Fox Mulder takes risks. He searches for the truth at all costs. He has a passion for the quest.
Maybe if he does the things he's supposed to do long enough, some of that passion will come rushing back.
Maybe the numbness will step aside and give it some room.
But their caper brings him no answers, no truth, no feeling---not even the old anger at being thwarted yet again, only Scully's ire over his foolishly risking his neck again. Doggett shows up to help them and lecture him again. Mulder doesn't know if she sent him, but the last thing he needs is another skeptical nursemaid on his case.
To make peace, he shows up unexpectedly at her apartment with a gift for the baby she continues to refer to only as "hers." Blushing, she tells him she's already ordered dinner and invites him to eat with her. Pizza again. He never remembers her enjoying, looking forward to food so much. Pregnant Scully is such a different creature that she seems almost a stranger.
He's uncomfortable, so he bombards her with endless jokes about the nature of her relationship with the pizza man and the baby's true paternity until he knows he's made her mad. He plays it off as banter. Fox Mulder is known for his witty banter. He remembers this.
The only problem is, this Fox Mulder isn't funny anymore.
And he knows how hollow it is when she collapses, begging for him to call 911, and for the first time in weeks, he feels something.
And he's suddenly Fox Mulder again. The boy who lost his sister. The boy whose mother froze him out of her life. The boy whose father drank himself into a stupor. The boy who chased after aliens, derided by his peers until they all turned away. The boy who was alone until he met a girl who---if she didn't really understand his ideas---understood his soul.
He's at her side, whispering in her ear, as the delivery boy makes the call. "Scully..."
"Mulder," she whispers, her eyes closed, "something's wrong."
"No," he says, placing his hand on her stomach. He hasn't done this yet. Hasn't let himself touch her. Hasn't let himself believe in this miracle. But now he's gripped with the wonder of it all, and the sudden, palpable possibility of loss, the way she and their future could vanish in one cruel twist of fate. And the fear is sharp and wrenching and the love he feels is strong and vast, and mixed with regret. Regret for the time lost, anger for those who took it from him. And he feels powerless against its force, this love.
But he feels. He feels.
And suddenly he knows that this will not be the end, and that he's not been confined to purgatory all this time. He's been sent back to live...to love. To love her, and this child. And live.
He is not a dead man. He is alive and he feels.
"It's okay, Scully," he tells her, finally feeling it for himself. "It's going to be okay."
And for the first time in weeks, he believes it.
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