hi there! this is a companion piece to my previous
story, "come undone". I hope y'all like it! :)
Title: The final cut
Author: X-Phylia (email@example.com)
Disclaimer: anything you recognize is not mine.
Spoilers: Sein Und Zeit, Herrenvolk, Biogenesis, The
Sixth Extinction, minors for Demons and Signs & Wonders.
Archive: anywhere is fine, just let me know
Feedback: very welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
Summary: what happened in the morning after Mulder's
hard night in "Sein Und Zeit", before Skinner knocked?
San, a.k.a. Humbuggie: I hid a few "Easter eggs" here
for you. Let's see how many you can find! ;->
"The final cut"
"And if I show you my dark side
will you still hold me tonight?
And if I open my heart to you
and show you my weak side,
What would you do?"
(Pink Floyd, "The Final Cut")
A few years ago, when Mrs. Mulder suffered a stroke, her son was
desperate. He broke down in my arms, defeated, all his efforts to save
his mother were futile, including risking his own life and mine.
I took him out of the hospital after no small amount of insistence,
and only when he realized that if he stayed, it would be in another
room, with an IV stuck in his arm and sedated into unconsciousness.
Even though he was well past the point of exhaustion, Mulder had a
terrible night. He hardly slept, afraid that the phone might ring any
time announcing that his mother had passed away.
Against all odds, Mrs. Mulder not only survived the stroke, but also
made a full recovery. We never knew for sure how that happened, her
doctors couldn't explain it. The only clue to such a miracle was the
testimony of a nurse who had spotted "a gray-haired, blue-eyed
cigarette smoking man" near Mrs. Mulder's room. For once in his life,
my partner didn't make questions; he just accepted her mother's good
luck or good connections and thanked she was alive.
Since they hadn't enjoy a healthy mother-son relationship in the past,
I expected both of them to take her recovery as a second chance to
make up for lost time. However, that never happened. I know for sure
that Fox tried, but instead of coming clean with him, his mother used
her recent illness as another excuse for her 'bad memory'. Not a year
later they were at odds again, especially after Mulder questioned her
about who was his real father.
As the years went by and I got to know my partner's life better, more
than once I wished I could talk to Mrs. Mulder about him. I imagined
he couldn't have been an easy child, smart as he was and with all the
trauma he had suffered. But it was painfully obvious that his own
mother didn't understand him either. Maybe she was seeing her husband
projected in her son, someone consumed by work, estranged from his
loved ones; and feared that one day he might end up killed too. Not
that she was so wrong, after all. Mulder was always putting himself in
danger, although somehow he always pulled through. Mrs. Mulder never
took the time to visit him when he was ill or injured, it wasn't her
style. She assumed he'd be back on his feet soon, ready to risk his
neck again. And that was how it usually went.
But the one time I called her to tell her that Fox might really die,
she came. Mulder was in a coma, trapped inside his own brain's
abnormal activity, unable to give any sign of recognition. But she
stayed there. How and why she managed to deliver him to the smoking
man is beyond me. I knew she'd never hurt him, or let anyone hurt him.
Whatever they did to Mulder in that DOD facility where I found him had
eliminated the abnormal brain activity. Whether the procedure really
saved his life or only bought him time remains to be seen, all I know
is that he was dying and now he is alive.
I never saw Mrs. Mulder again.
Alive, at least.
I saw her yesterday, cold and stiff over my autopsy bay. I opened her
up, examined her, and determined that Mulder was wrong, that she
hadn't been murdered by what she knew.
She had killed herself, she had died a peaceful death in order to
avoid suffering a horrible terminal disease. That night in Providence,
Mulder had told me that if there was a person on this planet who hated
doctors and nurses more than he did, it was his mother; and, according
to him, it was one of the reasons why she never showed up when he was
Well, nice move, Mrs. Mulder. Congratulations.
At least you could have waited a little, couldn't you? Didn't you want
to hear you son's voice again, to see him one last time? Your timing
sucked. Not that there is such thing as a good time to lose your
mother, but it still sucks. You had to kill yourself in the middle of
a case like LaPierre, so close to home, and you *knew* Fox was working
on it. You had to do it not two weeks after he almost died in
Blessing, Tennessee. You chose to abandon him without explaining what
that smoking bastard did to his head or anything else, for that
matter. Mother Of The Year comes short to you, Mrs. Mulder.
If three years ago Mulder had felt remorse for things left unsaid and
undone, now it was twice as bad. Back then, he had fought back his
tears, resisted the urge to cry, but sneaked into my room to get
himself some company, to attenuate his loneliness. We shared a bed as
friends, and in the morning he was still sad, but no longer looked
like a shadow of himself. I remember thinking how little he needed to
regain his composure, how strong his will to live was. His capacity to
survive has always amazed me.
Our relationship had suffered ups and downs all this time, but one
thing remains the same: when push comes to shove, we're always there
for each other. The closeness that has evolved between us in the last
few months revealed itself last night in the way Mulder cried in my
arms without holding back, letting me cradle and comfort him freely.
He didn't pull away immediately when his tears were through, he wasn't
embarrassed or uncomfortable.
This time it's for real, I am the only person he has left in the whole
world. There's no one left to hold him, no one left to cry to. I can't
imagine what that feels like, and God, I don't want to know. Seeing
the effect it has on someone so strong and resilient like Mulder is
more than enough, thank you. If our positions were reversed, I too
would hold on to him for dear life like did with me, as if I were the
boat saving him from drowning in a raging sea.
Somehow I managed to take him to his bedroom, we lay down and he
buried his face in the crook of my neck, still breathing raggedly. I
did something that I hadn't done before, at least not in *that* way. I
pulled Mulder's soaked t-shirt over his head and draw him closer to
Then I started to caress the bare skin of his back, inch by inch, with
loving, tender touches. He pressed himself against me even tighter, if
that was possible, and to my utter pleasure and astonishment, he began
to calm down. I don't think I would have gotten more spectacular
results if I had used a chemical sedative. His breathing grew deeper
and even, his body relaxed in my arms as sleep finally engulfed him.
Something so simple, and yet so powerful. I wondered if his mother
ever did this for him, if she knew how sensitive Mulder was to being
I made use of my newly discovered trick when he woke up later due to
his nightmares. It took Mulder a while to go back to sleep after one
of those, I didn't even want to ask what kind of horrors his troubled
mind was coming up with. I knew he'd tell me if he needed to talk.
Tired as a I was, I would have slumbered like a log if it hadn't been
for my anguished partner waking me up constantly with his screams. The
clock on his bedtime read 3:16 am, still a long way until the morning.
It's past 6:30 am now. Mulder woke up a little earlier and I catch him
watching me sleep when I open my eyes. It amuses me that he likes to
watch me sleep, I do it with him as well. Last night's grief has left
scars on his face, he looks so sad. We both know how difficult the
next day can be. How fragile you can feel, how easily your emotions
betray you. And Mulder hasn't even had enough time to get over and
process all that happened to him lately. We're getting older, we don't
heal nice and quickly in a snap like we used to.
The morning silence is comfortable. Again, it speaks volumes of the
kind of relationship we have. I still call Mulder my friend, we're not
lovers in the physical sense; but we can share a bed, sleep in each
other's arms and wake up feeling like I imagine old married couples
He knows I won't pity him or take advantage of his delicate emotional
state. It would be so easy to overstep the limits this morning
limits that I don't even know why are there any more. But today isn't
a good time to thread into the unknown.
A sudden gust comes from the slightly open window. I'm wearing one of
his t-shirts and not much more, so Mulder slides to my side and
embraces me. My whole body is wracked by a chill. As if to prove my
point, he doesn't realize that it's actually the heat coming from him
and not the cold breeze that made me shiver. For someone so fond of
innuendo to miss such a blatant sign, it's obvious that his mind must
still be clouded by pain and grief. Or maybe it's just tiredness. He
lets out a big yawn and closes his eyes. I resume the backrub and once
again Mulder surrenders to it with the abandon of a pampered cat. His
soft groans of pleasure even remind me of a purring sound.
"Feels good, huh?"
"Did your mom rub your back often when you were little?"
"No, not really," his voice feels raspy and sore. It also carries an
infinite sadness that wasn't there yesterday.
"Then who did it? Some girlfriend, maybe?"
"Samantha. Whatever she wanted from me, she'd get it if she promised
to rub my back," he said lowering his eyes, as if ashamed of that
"You mean nobody else caressed you like this ever since?"
He shakes his head and a sob escapes his throat, breaking my heart.
"Shh... I'm sorry, I shouldn't be asking so many questions today,
He rolls to his other side, a clever maneuver to both give me full
access to his back and get himself some space to deal with his pain on
"I don't think I'll go to work today, Scully," he murmurs a while
later. "Are you?"
"I don't know. Do you need some time on your own, Mulder? Just say so
if you do, I'll understand."
He rolls back to face me and shook his head.
"No, I think I could use some company," he says sheepishly.
"Then it's settled. I'll call Skinner later."
"Thank you. You know, for staying over... I don't know what I'd do
"You're welcome, Mulder. That's what friends are for, or so the song
He stares at me with his red and swollen eyes, I and just know what
he's going to say.
"You're more than a friend to me, Dana. You know it, don't you?" He
doesn't disappoint me. Well, well, it seems I'm not the only one with
mixed emotions. No, scratch that. I know *exactly* which emotion we're
dealing with here. The fact that we're both shy about letting it out
in the open doesn't mean it isn't there.
"Yes, I know," I reassure him. "You mean a lot more than that to me
too. But I think we should postpone this conversation until you feel a
"Haven't we postponed it long enough? We may not have all the time in
the world, Scully. I don't want to leave all those things unsaid
between us. If anything happened to you..."
"Shh... don't think about that, Mulder, not now. We'll talk soon, I
promise," I soothe him as new tears are pooling in his eyes. He's way
too raw for a conversation of this sort yet. "Why don't you try to get
some more sleep? You look so tired."
"Yeah, I don't feel so great. My head hurts."
It isn't at all surprising that his head is hurting after crying so
much last night, but every time he complains of a headache, I stir.
After the surgery, the pain was almost paralyzing; in his delirium he
even asked me to shoot him and put him out of his misery. It was so
bad that the only thing that calmed him was a shot of Demerol. His
rear was bruised for a while, especially when they removed the IV. And
not long after that, those damned snakes really did a number on him.
That was pure agony too, he screamed in pain even saturated with
painkillers. He had so many bites that no matter how they positioned
him on the bed, it still hurt like hell. I held his hand and cried
with him, it was so hard to watch him suffer so much and not being
able to help him.
Geez, that was what? Ten, twelve days ago? Mulder doesn't believe in
God, but I can't find a better explanation as to how he survived such
ordeal almost unscathed. And now he has to bear this pain, one that
drugs cannot obliterate. I can touch him and he doesn't yell as if I
were prodding him with a red-hot iron, but my hands cannot reach the
place where it hurts now. I can only kiss his forehead, rub his back
and thank my lucky stars that he's alive and well.
My fingers massage his scalp, I know he likes that. He gets closer and
puts his over my left shoulder. His hair is soft against my cheek, his
breathing warm and reassuring. This is not just comfort, I think to
"I should have been there for her, Scully," Mulder whispers, startling
me out of my not-too-partnerly thoughts. "I should have visited her,
called her more often. I can't believe she was so sick and I didn't
find out until it was too late."
"How could you know? She decided to keep that to herself."
"But if I had visited her, I would have known she was sick, wouldn't
"Not necessarily. If she was as good at hiding her illnesses as you
are, you probably wouldn't have noticed. Don't beat yourself over it,
Mulder. Just think that she passed away peacefully, she didn't suffer
at all. Maybe that's what she was trying to tell you."
"Then why couldn't she wait and tell me in person? I heard her last
words to me from a fucking answering machine!"
"The last time I spoke to Melissa it was on the phone, too. In the
end, it doesn't really matter."
"Melissa would have done a lot better if she had known those were her
last words, don't you think?"
I'm going to lose this argument, so I give up. I can't really defend
Mulder's mom, even though I tried last night.
"Remember that time in Providence, when she had the stroke?" he
continued. "I tried to imagine what it would feel like to lose my
mother then. I wasn't even close. I thought I knew her, Scully. It's
hard to accept that it was her choice to cut her life short and leave
me behind like this, as if I hadn't lost the rest of my family
already. You know what? I'll take the snakes any time. Any time..."
He breaks in an anguished sob and wraps his arms and legs around me,
as if to make sure I'm not going to abandon him too. I do remember
that night, he asked me to stay with him; and in a moment of weakness
he confessed how tired he was of everyone leaving him. It's a little
past seven now, Mulder cries quietly in my arms. Time passes as he
calms down a little, then breaks down again as another memory or
painful conversation replays in his mind, repeating the cycle time
after time. I hope that his mother is somehow watching him now, seeing
the consequences of her actions. I hope she's hurting as much as
Mulder is. In the meantime, I'm forced to remain strong; his constant,
his touchstone. And paradoxically, I draw that strength from him, from
the faith he has in me. He trusts me take care and protect him while
he's in an utterly vulnerable state, when even a simple comment brings
tears to his eyes.
I wish he could just drift off to sleep, but he remains awake. He
raises his body and moves over me to land on my other side, which is a
good thing since my left shoulder was beginning to feel cramps. He
doesn't waste time and cuddles up against me again.
"It's nice being here with you," he says, a yawn distorting his voice.
"I only wish the reason why you're doing this weren't so damn bad. We
can't just have this if there's nothing wrong, huh?"
Ouch! That catches me completely off-guard, but I don't have the nerve
to deny his words. He's right. Comfort comes easily when one of us
needs it, but true physical intimacy has always been like walking
through a minefield; and the funny thing is that *we* put the mines
there in the first place. I thread carefully into the explosive
"Yes, we can, Mulder. And we don't need reasons, good or bad."
He raises his head to meet my eyes. "Does that mean that I can hold
you, just for the sake of it? That you will you rub my back like this
if I ask you to?"
"Of course you can hold me! As for backrubs... well, that depends on
how much paperwork you're willing to do," I grin mischievously.
"Sculleee..." he groans.
"All right, it stands from tomorrow on. Today is free, as much as you
"Hmm... I don't think I'm going anywhere far from this bed today."
Grief and banter, tears and smiles. Fragile one minute, throwing
innuendos at the next. Mulder's emotions are wide open this morning,
he's not holding back anything. And he's not on the phone, or sitting
across the room - he's telling me all this while he's lying next to
me, tangled up in my embrace, after we spent the night sleeping in the
same bed. In a way, reality hit us both today. Mulder knows that he
has no one else in the world but me, and I realize I wouldn't want
anyone else in my life but him.
I glance at the watch again and I'm fully aware that it's late and I
that I forgot to call Skinner. However, the cell phone is not within
reach and I don't want to disturb Mulder, who's now sleeping soundly
for the first time since last night. I don't think Skinner expects any
of us at the office, anyway. He knew I was coming here after finishing
Mrs. Mulder's autopsy, and it didn't take a psych degree to figure out
the impact the news would have on my partner. So I close my eyes and
join Mulder, basking in the perspective of a lazy day.
The silence is interrupted by a loud knock on the front door.
Mulder hasn't heard it, and I'm tempted to let it go. Who can it be
this early, anyway?
I curse my sense of duty as I get out of the bed, hoping not to wake
Mulder up. It better not be a vendor or a Jehova Witness, or I won't
be held responsible of my actions.
I feel quite uncomfortable about what I'm going to do, my hand
vacillates before it knocks on the door of apartment 42. Mulder has
just lost what little was left of his family, and here I am, summoning
him back to work because a disturbed woman from California wants to
talk to a specific FBI agent from Washington DC. I finally knock and
the door opens a few moments later. I can't say I'm surprised to find
Agent Scully here. She looks weary and tired.
"How's he doing?"
"It's been a hard night for him."
She doesn't elaborate any further, or invites me in. If I didn't know
better, I'd think she's irritated by my presence; so I go straight to
"Billie LaPierre is asking for him. She's got something to say and
she'll only talk to Mulder."
"It's not a good..." Scully starts, when her partner shows up behind
her, looking just as tired as she does.
"What is it?"
"This case has heated up. I've booked two flights for us."
Mulder nods and goes back inside the apartment, not even mentioning
that he's supposed to be on leave, or that he's tired because he lost
sleep. His partner, however, doesn't look quite happy with this
"Well, then you'd better book three."
I meet them again a few hours later at the airport. To my surprise,
they are dressed casual very casual, indeed: jeans, t-shirts, hiking
boots. They look eerily young in that outfit, no one would ever
mistake them for seasoned federal agents.
Mulder looks composed for a man who just lost his mother to a bottle
of pills; Scully seems worried, she doesn't take her eyes off him. By
the way she fusses over him, "it's been a hard night for him" was
probably a broad understatement.
They spot me and walk in my direction. Mulder makes a quick run the
restroom and Scully joins me.
"With all due respect, sir," she says with a stern voice, "I don't
think Agent Mulder should be here. He's been through enough already."
She's right, of course, her accusing words hit me hard when Mulder
approaches and I can see him clearly in the light of day. He does look
like he should have stayed at home. I do my best to hide the remorse I
feel, if Mulder even hints that he's not up to this assignment, I'll
call it off.
But he doesn't, the man's a professional. It surprises me when he
doesn't make any subtle remarks about my reprimanding him for adding a
fairy tale touch to the La Pierre case only to have to call him back
in because he might be right after all. I study him discreetly; he's
not himself today. He doesn't walk so proud, his eyes are on the floor
or fixed at some faraway point. His hand unconsciously tends to go in
Scully's direction, needing the reassurance of the contact, but then
he retreats it, as if remembering that he's not supposed to do that in
I wonder if Mulder and Scully are aware of how much they give away
about their relationship just by the way they behave around each
I don't pretend to know if they are lovers in the biblical sense, and
what most people fail to understand is that sex isn't really the issue
here. I am supposed to be the one who will settle the pool at the
Bureau some day; the way I hear it, there's big money on it. What I do
know, however, is what my bet would be.
I booked three consecutive seats in a row. Mulder lets Scully get the
window, he accommodates in the middle and I get the aisle. Mulder
hasn't said anything except a weak 'hello, sir' when he arrived,
Scully is silent too. But as usual, their unspoken communication makes
me feel like a third wheel. Quick glances, discreet touches, soft
grunts... they all are part of a language only they understand.
Mulder falls asleep even before the plane takes off and his body
slumps slightly against Scully, who nonchalantly ignores the fact that
they're FBI agents on duty not to mention her boss being watching in
the next seat - and takes her partner's hand in hers.
"Um... Scully, I'll take the seat in the next row, so he can... um...
stretch a little," I suggest trying to hide my uneasiness.
"That'll be great, sir, thank you," she answers quickly with a grin
that leaves me with the feeling that she counted on my being
uncomfortable around them, starting with their casual outfit
contrasting violently with my business attire.
She pulls a sleeping Mulder to a pillow on her lap and covers his
hunched six-foot frame with a blanket. Her hands brushes his hair as
she stares blankly out of the window. The scene would have looked out
of place if they were wearing suits, but they looked like any normal
young couple. And I'll bet Scully spent most of the night doing pretty
much what she's doing now.
I find myself envying Fox Mulder at this very moment. I never had
anyone remotely close to Dana Scully to comfort me in the dark moments
of my life. That someone so paranoid and estranged like Mulder were
capable of having that kind of relationship is an X-File to me. But
then again, maybe *Scully* is the X-File. From the beginning, she was
able to see something in Mulder that no one else seemed capable of.
One of the most impressive evidences of the bond they share took place
earlier this year when Mulder ended up in a padded cell with a very
bleak prognosis regarding his health and sanity. His partner, who had
flown across the country in record time in order to see him, demanded
to go in; but Mulder's doctor wouldn't let her, claiming he was a
danger to everyone.
"Not to me," she defied him.
I don't know how many people would have risked being alone in the same
room with a visibly crazed Fox Mulder. Certainly not his ex-partner,
Agent Fowley, who was directly responsible for his being there in the
first place. But Scully wasn't afraid. To her, Mulder was still
Mulder, crazy or not, and he wouldn't hurt her.
The doctor finally relented, but not without making his warnings.
"Whatever you do, Dr. Scully, don't get too close him. He has attacked
every person who tried to touch him. If he gets violent, we'll be
forced to come in and restrain him."
Scully looked at the man with derision.
"That's not going to happen," she simply stated. I was moved by her
faith in her partner. Fowley, on the other hand, seemed eager to see
Scully run away from that room in fear, as she had done herself.
We followed the scene thanks to the video camera. I wasn't surprised
when I saw Scully walking straight to an agitated and frenzied Mulder.
"What's she doing?" The doctor protested. "I told her to stay away
from him! I don't want to be held responsible if she gets hurt!"
"She won't," I said confidently. "Just watch."
From one minute to the next, the allegedly crazy man was being held by
his petit partner. His shoulders were trembling, his head was buried
in the crook of her neck.
All in all, Mulder looked as dangerous as a rag doll. The doctor
couldn't believe it, and Fowley looked green, something I know Scully
would have paid good money to see.
I smile at the memory as I throw furtive glances at my agents. Mulder
stirs in his sleep, startling Scully, who holds him tight and murmurs
something to him. He wakes up and seems a little disoriented and
upset, but with only a few words, she calms him down.
"Go back to sleep, Mulder, it's still another three hours before we
arrive to California."
I can't help a smirk when he lies sideways across the seats and lowers
himself into Scully's arms. A few tears run down his cheeks, his whole
expression suggests grief and exhaustion. Scully wipes them away and
draws him closer to her. When she thinks I'm not looking, she even
kisses her partner's temple with great tenderness.
Watching their intimacy has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I
never had a love like that, and as the clock ticks my time away, I
don't think I ever will. I wish I did, though. Hell, I wish *everyone*
had what they have. Maybe then we'd live in a less crazy world, and I
wouldn't have to drag across the country a man who has just lost his
mother to comfort a mother who has just lost her child.