rynne: (m/s requiem)
[personal profile] rynne
[livejournal.com profile] remix_redux authors have been revealed, and now I can finally claim the two fics I wrote. This one was my assignment, my very first X-Files fic, and something of which I've gotten rather fond.

Title: All in the Waiting (The Silent Funeral Overture)
Author: Rynne
Summary: He wills her to wait for him.
Rating: PG
Fandom: The X-Files
Pairing: Mulder/Scully
Spoilers: Requiem
Title, Author and URL of original story: The Longest Shadow by [livejournal.com profile] winter_baby.
Notes: Title and subtitle come from The Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot. Thank you so much to my lovely betas, [livejournal.com profile] rubraaura and [livejournal.com profile] leiascully!


He feels like a horse's ass.

So many years, he's spent chasing after this knowledge. This, exactly. He's interrogated all sorts of people in the pursuit of it, some eager to tell him, some just trying to forget. Even Scully he's pressed beyond her comfort zone in trying to understand, and he's always thought it was the government who took her, not aliens.

But it's not the government, here and now. El Rico is more than a year gone, and most of those scared old men and their influence have long since passed. These things--aliens--extraterrestrial biological entities--they cannot pass for men, whatever the shape they've decided to have. He looks into their eyes, deceptively human, but sees nothing of humanity in them, not even the careful madness he's seen in all the serial killers he's met.

He's wanted to know what it's like to be abducted by aliens, what they did to the people they captured, how they treated them, how those people felt. Part of it was to try to find Samantha, part of it to sympathize with what he imagined she endured, but part of it was his own natural curiosity, his own desire to understand the unexplained.

He is no longer curious, and he has his sympathy--not just for Samantha, but for every other abductee he's talked to, and all the others whose stories he's never heard. And he feels like an ass, for he never truly appreciated what those people must have gone through in talking to him, in having to remember everything they told him. He'd felt for them in abstract, of course, with that compassion of his that tends to get him into trouble, but he hadn't known.

He wishes he still didn't know.

He thinks of Duane Barry, of everything the man described during that fateful hostage situation. He thinks of holes drilled into his teeth without anesthetic, of tracking devices being implanted beneath his skin. And despite himself, he feels a sort of horrified empathy with Duane. He hates the man still, and probably always will, for his part in what happened to Scully, but now that Mulder is facing what Duane was so desperate to avoid, he can't help but empathize--and hate that too.

Not much has even happened to him yet, but he looks at Billy Miles, at Theresa and Ray Hoese, and he sees their terror. More than that, he feels it, horror and gibbering fear sneaking past a calm façade to press into his own mind. It's almost like his illness of last autumn, the one triggered by a rubbing of an alien artifact. But this isn't just a rubbing, this is the genuine thing, surrounding him completely, and what happened then seems to be happening again now, magnified.

He doesn't think it's going to kill him this time, or come close. Not because the pain is less, because it isn't--emotions and thoughts pound against him, not just from his fellow abductees but from people beyond the ship, until it's all he can do to concentrate enough to have a coherent train of thought. But the aliens understand this thing so much better than the ignorant doctors in Georgetown, and he's sure they're not going to let anything happen to him until they're finished with him. Already things have improved, sort of; he's hypersensitive without having lapsed into catatonia, but he's not sure he wants to be aware and able to move when they start taking him for the tests. He just has to hope that their pattern holds true, and they'll let him go when they're done, as they have so many other people. Whatever the differences in victim pool this time, he has to hope that those differences won't cause a significant change in the aliens' modus operandi.

He wants to believe.

--

He hadn't meant to touch her. He hadn't even known it was possible, not from this distance. But though he'd only felt it for a few days almost a year ago, he hadn't forgotten the sensation of touching Dana Scully's mind, and knows he never will.

It was so brief, the contact, just long enough to show her an image of the kind of thing he would never want her to see, much less to have experienced. He hopes they hadn't done that to her--not that, not to her. It's all he can do to try and forget it, being naked on that chair, bolted down and unable to move--

But he doesn’t want to think about that, though he knows that although he was given a momentary reprieve, someone else is currently undergoing the exact same thing. He can feel it, almost as intimately as if it were his skin being stretched and sawed again, though he lies prone in his cell and someone else is in that chair. He wishes he could ignore it, but shoving it to the back of his consciousness is the best he can do.

Once upon a time, he'd envied Gibson Praise for his ability to see into everyone, so much more directly and clearly than Mulder's own intuitive empathy. Once upon a time, but not now. Now he thinks that the aliens couldn't have found a better way to torture him if they tried.

The one person with whom he'd welcome this touch, he both wants to avoid and yet can't bear the idea of doing so. He wants to touch Scully, wants to fall into her mind with its salty-clean oceanic taste/smell/feel, wants to feel the colors of her thoughts swirl around him, surrounding him in everything that she is. He wants that with enough desperation that it would probably scare her, his need of her, though both of them know it is not new, was not brought on by this sudden separation. He's needed her forever, it seems, even if it took him more than three decades to find her, and there's nothing that scares him more than being forever without her. She is one of the few safe havens he has left, and he couldn't help but reach out for her in his agony.

And that is why he knows he must avoid her. He can't bear the idea of making her feel his pain, or of showing her what is happening to him and making her imagine how he hurts. There is nothing he wouldn't do to spare her pain. Nothing. But more than that, he knows that it will hurt both of them, to have this be their only contact. He wants to touch her with his hands, feel his skin pressed against her own, to kiss her and warm her and love her with his body as well as his mind. He wants to find balance in her eyes, in her voice, in the tilt of her chin and the crook of her eyebrow.

He needs so much more than what he can offer her right now. They both do. He knows he's never been able to offer her what she deserves, but until he can give her more than a lonely and hurting voice in her head, he thinks it best to stay away. That is, after all, one of the reasons it took them so long to become lovers--he couldn't, in conscience, offer her his heart until it was free of its search for Samantha, and ready to welcome her in with everything it had.

Even if she deserves so much more than him, she seems to want him, and at the very least, she deserves everything of him. He'll wait until he can give it to her.

--

He brought tulips to his sister's grave--tulips, her favorite flower. He still feels guilty about that, sometimes. Once, his entire life was dedicated to her, to finding her and bringing her home, but once he did, he was reduced to bringing flowers to her grave every month. He hadn't even managed to bring her home properly; the grave is empty, with no body to lay to rest. Sometimes he wonders how he can so easily accept that she's gone without that vital evidence, his conviction built on the laughter of spirits in a grove in California. Then he remembers the sense of peace he felt, peace she gave him, peace unlike anything he's known since he was a young child, and he feels in his heart that she is dead, and his quest for her is truly over.

But after so much time spent searching for her, it's been hard to let her go. He and Scully were the only ones to attend the funeral; everyone else who might have cared was long since gone, and even his mother had been buried for days. He wore a torn black ribbon pinned to his coat and gripped Scully's hand tightly in his own, and he couldn't manage to feel anything other than empty and numb. When he sat shiva, three days for her and for his mother, because it felt appropriate even though he isn't religious, Scully sat with him, and her mother brought food to his apartment and watched him while he ate.

Samantha was the first safe haven he'd had, and the only one who's always remained, for all that it's been almost thirty years since he's actually seen her. He'd thought of her as a pest, in the traditional way older brothers think of their younger sisters, but when their father was gone on business and their mother lost in her thoughts, Samantha was all he had. He loved her fiercely and with everything he was, the same way that she loved him, and he's always considered them siblings by heart as well as by blood. She was the first person to love him unconditionally, the only person who did until he'd met Scully, and even after she'd disappeared, he was able to take solace in that it wasn't voluntary, that she herself had never made the choice to leave him. That knowledge of her love is a refuge he's turned to time and again, and the only thing that had changed after his discovery of her death was that, after the funeral, he now had a specific place to go in order to feel closer to her.

It's strange, but he's never felt out-of-place in cemeteries. It's not that he feels dead, but so much of his life since he'd joined the Bureau has been bound up in death that he just grew accustomed. He's not Scully, can't imagine being a pathologist and intimately getting to know the empty shell of what had once been a person, but death has never made him squeamish. It's just a natural part of life, and though he may not like it, he's never been afraid of it.

People call him spooky for that, too.

Samantha's gravesite has ever been a place of peace for him. Sometimes, he can even still feel his sister's spirit as he had in California, welcoming him and grounding him. She shares the plot with their parents, around whom he's never felt peaceful, but he's finally brought their little girl home to them, and their chastising voices in his head have quieted. He's no longer haunted by them, living or dead.

Always before, when he'd wanted comfort or direction and couldn't go to Scully, he went to his memory of Samantha, warm and vivid and almost alive. He needs comfort now, as much as he ever has, and something to distract him from the reality of his situation, from the screams, silent and audible, of the other abductees. Thanks to the ship constantly surrounding him, boosting his strength, he has the reach to go where he needs, finding the peace he's been searching for in the faint tendril of Samantha's presence in her cemetery.

He hadn't expected to find Scully there, waiting for him.

--

He has to think for a moment before saying something, unsure if he should make himself known or not. She looks stoic, but then she almost always does, and he can only tell something's wrong because he's spent over seven years learning her face and the grace of her body. But he knows her now, sees the pain she tries to hide even from the stillness of the cemetery, and despite his promise to himself to wait until he could be there in person again, he can't stand to see her looking so bereft.

Tread softly, he whispers. There's no running in the cemetery. You don't want to disturb everyone sleeping here, do you?

A hitch of breath is the only indication he is given that she heard him, but he knows she did. And it may not have been much of a joke, but it's the best he can do at the moment.

She continues walking, towards that little plot in the corner that he knows so well. She stops in front of the graves, looks at the inscription on the headstones, then rubs something in her hand before she places it on top of Samantha's. A rock, rubbed smooth and polished by a caring hand.

He went to her at Melissa's grave, once, but that was the only time he's seen her in a cemetery when she wasn't working or at a funeral. Is that your tradition? he asks. It does not feel like the first time she's done something like this. It's not a Jewish thing, and you're Catholic.

She doesn't answer, but she thinks about Samantha, about the brief span of years his sister lived, and that nothing lay beneath her headstone but earth. He feels her wondering if that will be him, eventually, an empty grave next to Samantha's, a lonely headstone with no corpse underneath the dark soil.

Only if I never come back, he reminds her, and wills her not to give up on him. He wants to promise her that the grave isn't necessary, that it won't be for years, and that when he does go, he wants to share space with her, resting by her side for all of eternity. But though he wants to make that promise, he knows he can't, and so he'll settle for reminding her that his fate is not yet set in stone.

Still she says nothing, and when he mentions the smell of tulips that drifts across her mind, she too remembers his sister's funeral, where she noticed how empty and hollow he'd felt.

How empty and hollow she feels now. She pushes the rock off Samantha's headstone, and watches it land gently in the grass, nestled there amongst the soft green blades.

He wants to urge her to feel something; he knows from experience that almost anything is better than feeling hollow. Even the pain that has been his companion since he was taken is better than the emptiness. At least he knows he's still alive. But she didn't respond to the hope he offered her.

What kind of flower will you have at my funeral? he asks her instead, and feels the sharp edges of her despair at the very thought. Will they be tulips like hers? he asks, prodding away at a weak spot, one of the things he's always done best. Or will they be bleeding hearts like yours?

She shivers, and wraps her arms around herself as if to hold in warmth. It doesn't seem to work.

Pain, he thinks, to make her hurt, make her angry. Remind her that she's a fighter. Remind her of why she shouldn't give up.

Tell me, he persists, I want to know. The day I die, will I be there? Will it be my rotting corpse that's lowered into the ground as you cry for me? He pauses for a moment, then adds, Will you even let yourself cry?

She clutches her hair, tugs at it, as if trying to rip his voice out of her head. And while he hates to cause her pain, an empty Scully terrifies him. He had enough of that during her cancer, at the times of her greatest despair when it seemed even she was giving up. He still has nightmares about the Harold Spuller case, and her calm acceptance of the death omens she saw. He wants to see her with the steel resolve that he's admired so much in all their seven years together.

He almost hesitates to ask this one, but it's something he wants to know. Or will you be here forever, waiting for me? Always alone, like you are now?

Because he's not with her right now, not like he should be. And though he loves her enough not to want her to be lonely forever, he's also enough of a selfish bastard not to want her to leave him alone either. Now that there's nothing he can do for Samantha, he has nothing if he doesn't have Scully.

His rapport with her is interrupted suddenly, his concentration shaken enough to almost drop the link. Billy's scream echoes in his ears and mind, and though Mulder hates to turn away from those cries, there's nothing he can do for Billy, or for the other dozens whose mental voices cry out in fear and anger and pain. He's helpless here, locked into his lonely cell with only his mind free to roam. There's only one person he can even begin to aid, and he has to concentrate to reach her again.

When he does, the sun has broken free of the clouds, and the rock is back on top of the headstone. He doesn't know what she thought when he was torn away, but now she feels cold. Not empty, but cold isn't much better.

There's so little he has left to offer her, so little he can give. He doesn't know if it will be enough, but perhaps what hope he has will be able to help her find her resolve. If his absence wounds her as much as hers wounded him, she'll need it. But she's always been the stronger of the two of them, and he has confidence in her determination.

Wait for me, he says, because in the end, that's all either of them can do. Wait for me, he thinks, and I will wait for you.
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