Key Words: Mulder/Scully Romance
Spoilers: Redux II
Disclaimer: No infringement intended.
Archive: Gossamer, please. Email me before archiving elsewhere. I don't see why I'd refuse.
Summary: A late autumn bloom.
"i will wade out
till my thighs are steeped in burning flowers i will take the sun in my mouth
and leap into the ripe air
Alive with closed eyes
to dash against darkness
in the sleeping curves of my body"
--e.e. cummings, from 'impressions'
In his dream, she fades away.
He stands beside her bed, listening to the bleeping heart monitor as it slows. Her breaths are short, shallow. Beginning to fall silent. He watches as stillness spreads through her features, falling over her like snow. Her skin is paler than the hospital linens, her blood quieting, slipping into inertia.
He loses her without the power of speech or movement. Without a word of protest.
But when he wakes his throat is echoing, aching with screams.
Remission, Scully tells him, doesn't mean it won't come back.
I know, he says. But it won't come back.
She shakes her head. Mulder, it might come back.
When she takes his hand, he gently squeezes her fingers.
It won't come back, he says.
She bites her lip, blinks back tears, and he can see she still misunderstands. She still thinks he's being stubborn.
He's just stating what he knows to be true.
Scully, he tells her, it won't come back.
He lifts her hand to his lips and flutters a kiss against her pulse point, but she doesn't smile.
Later, while she sleeps, Mulder looks around at her hospital room, still crowded with flowers of pale yellows and pinks, and papered with well-wishing cards. There's even a bunch of balloons, sky-blue and silver, with curly ribbons.
None of this can hide the stark walls, overpower the scent of disinfectant, or make the room any less like a morgue.
He wants to smash open the sealed window. He wants to take Scully into the daylight, to drench her in life.
He has only vague notions of how Scully will recover. Most of them involve her swaddled in comforters and quilts at her mom's house.
Mrs. Scully has other ideas.
Dana doesn't need coddling, she tells him. She just wants to go home, to get back to her life.
Take her home, Fox. Make her comfortable.
Of course, he can't refuse.
Mulder stands, frozen, in Scully's kitchen.
He's come here to clean up, to take out the trash, but he can only stare at her wastebasket.
Beside the apple cores, the yoghurt tubs, the scrunched notepaper and envelopes, lies a tissue. It's soaked in old blood, crusted and rust-brown, the colour of decaying arteries. All that remains of the tissue is a white corner, peeking through.
He gags, leaning against the wall, covering his mouth with a hand.
An hour passes of sitting on her sofa, telling himself she's alive, she's alive, she's alive, before he stops shaking.
As he carries Scully into her apartment he's afraid she'll crumple like tissue paper. Even after her hospital recuperation she still seems too frail for his touch.
She should have given him a black eye when he hefted her into his arms. Instead she makes do with rigid anger, accompanied by a spitfire glare. He's relieved to see vibrancy still swirling beneath her surface, the tiger crouching behind her eyes, but he wants more.
He wants her to strike out against him, to curse him, to take him down. He wants to feel her as coiled strength in his arms, rather than as listless flesh.
She is resurrected but she isn't healed. If he wasn't so afraid of breaking her he would wrap around her like a cocoon until she emerged shining and mended.
Scully kicks him out after three days, firmly repeating some 'I'm fines' as he packs his things. Before he leaves he plants a kiss on her forehead, and is pleased to note her healthy flush.
He has cleaned her apartment, stocked her refrigerator and rented some of her favourite movies, and that's all she needs at the moment, she tells him. She's well enough now to take care of herself.
For once he knows better. He waits in his car, a block or so down the street from her apartment, and half-dozes while the autumn rain dances across his windshield.
It takes half an hour for his cell phone to ring.
Mulder, she says, I um...I've run out of strawberry yoghurt.
They watch an old movie together in their pajamas, while he clumsily braids her hair. A real slumber party, he tells her.
No Mulder, she replies. A real slumber party involves ice cream.
Then I'll be back in ten minutes, he says, and ducks out the door.
He returns with a pint of Ben&Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie and watches her savour it from the corner of his eye, spoonful by spoonful, until she curls contented at his side and falls asleep.
He mutes the TV and sits awake on her couch all night, watching her eyelids flickering, her chest rising and falling, as she dreams.
Scully's candles are pastel votives. Vanillas, peaches and jasmines, strewn around her apartment. Every evening when she lights them her actions are automatic, almost bored.
He's been staying with her a week when, out buying groceries, he discovers a tiny New Age store tucked between a pharmacy and a greengrocer.
He returns with bags of exotic candles, a kaleidoscope of colours and scents. Chinese marigold, bluebell forest, prairie sage, apple spice, lemongrass, cucumber kiwi, mango papaya and more.
When he sets them down on Scully's kitchen counter she kisses him full on the mouth.
She breaks away after an instant, blushing, and then he kisses her in return.
That night she lights one candle, a tall raspberry mocha.
It has burnt all the way down before she and Mulder are finished in her bed and they fall asleep, sprawled over the damp cotton sheets with his arm flung across her back, her face pressed to his neck.
The next day Mulder brings her an armful of Canna lilies, blood-orange hued. He can't help thinking about the last flowers he brought her, a hospital bouquet, but he can see it doesn't even cross her mind.
She doesn't have a vase to fit the vibrant span of their petals, so she drapes them over her dining table and leads him to her room with kisses.
Later they light a candle and dance to Louis Armstrong. They drink cheap red wine and feed each other bite-sized Reese's pieces.
They talk late into the early morning, laughing and touching, and neither of them needs to say it, but she finally believes.
It won't come back.
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