Summary: The date has come and gone. What happens now?
Notes: This actually started quite happily, despite the subject matter. Then it got darker (don't worry there's no character death) and then the ending ran away from me. Is it a stand-alone story or the first in a series? No idea. Either way it was interesting to write as it's quite a diversion from my usual rather-sappy fare.
"Is it how you imagined?" he asks, stirring the pan of eggs on the stove.
"I thought there'd be more screaming" she replies after a moment.
"Do you think maybe we should go out today?" she asks a week later. It's a half-hearted query at best. They haven't been out - off their land out - since it happened and they still have plenty of food so really what's the point?
They wonder aloud to each other on an almost daily basis why the animals weren't affected. If it really was as wide-spread as it appears then it must've been air-born. Yet Frohike, Langley and Byers, their trio of gangly chickens, are still doing fine and keeping them well-stocked with eggs.
They'd debated about buying a cow when their neighboring farm went under back in June. But after Scully's unsuccessful attempts to hide her hysterics when Miss Daisy kicked Mulder in the ribs for the third time, they decided to stockpile powered milk instead.
They're careful with their rations, meticulously planning every meal. It's not an especially varied diet, consisting largely of eggs, canned vegetables and pasta, but it'll keep them going until the ground thaws enough for them to plant some fresh crops in the Spring.
"We could take precautions" Scully continues. "The suits and masks. All the counters." She looks over her shoulder at him. Mulder's seated on the top step of their porch and she's sat at his feet, wrapped in the blanket from the back of the sofa and leaning against his knees. It's cold out but not unbearably so if they don't sit for too long, and they both feel the need to get as much fresh air as they can these days.
Mulder's fingers comb gently though Scully's hair and his gaze is lost somewhere in the middle distance. Or the past.
"I know we'll have to go out sometime Scully" he says eventually, after she prods his leg for a response. "It's just", he sighs, "While we're here, while it's just us, I can pretend that everything's normal. Like you're just on an extended vacation from the hospital and have finally resorted to threatening me with a nookie-ban unless I turn off the damn computer and talk to you once in a while."
She huffs out a laugh at that and presses a kiss to his denim clad knee.
In true survivalist mode, Mulder had installed a solar-powered generator in the shed at the back of the house. They try to keep its use to a minimum though, limited to essential cooking and heating requirements. There's little else to use it on of course. The computer and television have been dead since it happened and the radio is just static.
Apart from the lack of contact with the outside world, very little had actually changed in their lives since that day. Perhaps the most noticeable change was in Scully herself. Never one to be overtly demonstrative in terms of physical affection, except during their most gasping and trembling of intimacies, she now found herself utterly unable to stop touching Mulder. It ranged from full on embraces to small glancing touches like those they'd shared for so many years when the phase 'just friends' didn't have to be accompanied by ironic quotation marks.
The last few weeks had been a respite. A time to just be together, just them. After over a decade of build-up, of worrying and fighting, the day itself was almost anti-climatic. They'd expected fire and brimstone, countless flying craft and dire government warnings about staying put and conserving water and may God help us all.
They'd built a bunker with little optimism and had spend the preceding week moving as much of their canned goods supply in as seemed necessary. In truth they both considered it little more than an attempt at playing peek-a-boo when there's a dragon at the door but somehow, being who they were, they felt that a bunker was necessary.
The plan was to move down there on the night of the 20th and stay down until the various atmospheric sensors rigged around the place indicated that it was safe to emerge. From the numerous tests Scully had performed on them both in the months prior to the end date, ('End of Time Itself' as Mulder liked to call it, emphasizing the air quotes and capitals in order to get a patented Scully eye-roll), it was highly likely that whatever affected one of them would affect the other in the same way. Chips and viruses aside, their blood work now looked identical. Their bodies had been used and abused too many times.
They'd added a small bottle of red capsules to their tinned-goods collection. One capsule each would suffice but if it came to it they had enough to make sure.
"I'm not having you die on me again Mulder" Scully had proclaimed, her voice perfectly calm but her eyes instantly filling with tears at the very suggestion. She couldn't, wouldn't, go through that again. "This time we go together."
But despite their preparations, when the day finally arrived she decided that she didn't want to go down to the bunker after all.
"It'll only prolong the inevitable if it really is going to happen" she'd announced over breakfast. "They've chased us out of jobs and away from our families. I'm not having them chase us from our home."
So she called in sick - winter vomiting bug, highly contagious. They fed the chickens, washed the dishes and went back to bed. Mulder had warned her that he didn't intend to let her get dressed at all that day but after the second - or was it the third time - she felt peckish and the house was too cold to wander around naked in. It was the middle of winter after all. So she donned her robe and he'd reluctantly found some sweats and they de-camped to the living room where they spent the afternoon watching old Western movies and eating sunflower seeds and M'n'Ms. And when Mulder finally succeeded in divesting Scully of her by-now rather chocolate stained robe and lowered her down onto the sofa cushions, he proclaimed that if the world really was going to end that night, this was a dam fine way to go.
They'd turned reflective later that evening of course, as they tumbled back into their rumbled bed. They were both exhausted. Ten years of apocalyptic worry and twelve hours of frantic nookie-making will take it out of even the strongest individual and they were several years past their FBI-prime. But as they huddled under the covers they made time to speak of lives long-ago lived, of family members and friends lost along the way, of motel rooms and bad cups of coffee and you could've have me years ago you know Scully if you'd just brought me iced tea that night - oh now you tell me.
And when they were all talked out, they came together once more to communicate in their own special way. Mulder was hesitant at first, knowing that Scully must be worn out and probably more than a little sore from his earlier exuberances. But she'd pulled him to her, into her, promising him that nothing was going to keep them apart that night.
So they kissed away each other's tears, even as their own continued to fall. And they loved each other to a perfection born of an awful lot of practice and an overwhelming desire to be joined, body and soul, at the final moment.
Which then never came.
Scully woke first the next morning and for a split second she thought it was just another day. Almost Christmas. Lots to do. Better wake Mulder and start on the to-do list. Oh god! Mulder! And then she woke the love of her life with a well-placed elbow to the ribs.
Mulder, gracious soul that he was, immediately forgave the rude awakening when his first sight was of a gloriously naked and rumbled Scully leaning over him in their bed. For a moment he experienced the same temporary amnesia Scully had, before memory suddenly crashed in on him and he did the first thing that came into his head. Grabbing a handful of Scully's hair, he pulled her down roughly for a kiss. Which lasted all of two seconds (her reflexes were slower when she was tired) before Scully pulled sharply away.
He grinned. "See Scully. Now I know I'm not dreaming. It's been years since you rejected that me rudely in my dreams."
She ignored him. She was good at that.
"We're still here. Mulder it's the morning of the 22nd. It's -" she leaned over him to grab his watch from the bedside table. " - almost midday in fact. It's December 22nd everywhere in the world. And we're still here. Nothing's happened!"
But of course something had. A very big something, and it was left to the wonders of modern technology to reveal it. Or rather the lack of it. No phone signal, radio or television. No Internet despite the top-of-the-range set-up they'd had installed by Jimmy and Yves several years ago. Guaranteed to withstand any virus, power-outage or hacking attempt. But not, as it turned out, an alien invasion.
They'd been prepared for numerous doomsday-type scenarios, from hordes of flying death-ships to rampaging super-soldiers. Their bunker was well-stocked with weaponry and they fully intended to go out fighting if the need arose. But if it didn't then they weren't about to go looking for trouble.
"The way I figure it," mused Mulder to a half-asleep Scully as that first post-whatever day drew to a close without either of them either dropping dead or emerging from the bedroom, "If it happens it happens. We've spent the best part of twenty years fighting this war and if this is what it's like on the losing team then actually it's not so bad."
Scully smiled sleepily and shifted slightly in his arms to press a kiss to his shoulder. "What do you think we should do?" she asked around a yawn.
"I think, for now, we just wait" he replied, the words sounding strange even as he spoke them. They weren't used to doing nothing, to hiding away and hoping for the best. But with no way of knowing what had really happened, and no way to reach any of their former contacts, what choice did they have? So they spent that first week discussing contingency plans, re-checking their arms supply and being far more amorous than any approaching-middle-aged couple had a right to be. Christmas Day was spent on the front porch, finishing the M'n'M horde and trying to come to terms with the idea that they may in fact be the only two people left in the world.
On the whole this idea was perfectly acceptable to them. They'd existed in their own world for close to twenty years and were perfectly well-adjusted in their own special way.
But there always existed an undeniable need to know, to be sure, to discover the truth about what had really happened. It was part of who they were, what made them love each other so much. They needed proof, evidence undeniable. Sooner or later they would have to go out into the world.
It started well, their venture into The Great Beyond. Since the Apocalypse-that-never-was, Mulder had developed an annoying habit of speaking in capitals. Scully really needed to put a stop to it but she tended to have other things on her mind these days. Things like the salvation of the human race. What to have for dinner. And was it natural to still want to jump her lover's bones after so many years together. Important considerations all.
It was mid-January. Nearly a month after whatever happened had happened. They'd been putting it off for days now. Telling each other that today was the day. Getting up early. Packing their supplies, all ready to set off. And then one of them would point out that it looked like rain. Or that they felt a bit tired actually and you know, it's not like there's any real rush is there? And then the bags would get unpacked, the supplies put away and the day would continue just as all those before it had. Spent largely in bed. Never out of the other's sight for more than a few minutes at a time.
Eventually of course they ran out of these admittedly rather flimsy excuses. And so they found themselves standing at the end of their drive, trying to come up with a valid reason to turn around, to go home and shut whatever was left of the world away for another day. Neither of them spoke. They looked up at the sky - bright and clear without a hint of rain. They were well rested, fit and healthy. Well Scully was actually a little tired after Mulder's playful overtures at 3am but she wasn't about to complain. Therereally was nothing to stop them this time.
Scully had insisted they wear what were likely entirely-ineffective surgical masks, purloined from Our Lady of Sorrows' well-stocked but poorly guarded supply cupboards. Figuring he had very little to lose at this point, Mulder attempted to steal a kiss 'for the road' through their respective masks. Scully arched her brow, rolled her eyes and responded simply "Germs, Mulder. No."
He grinned, shrugged and opened the gate. Reaching for Scully's hand, he squeezed her fingers tightly and they stepped forward together.
As had become the norm, nothing happened.
Considering that It, whatever it was, seemingly occurred in the middle of the night in the middle of winter, the lack of cars on the road was unsurprising. It was an infrequently travelled road at the best of times, hence its suitability for their FBI fugitive/pediatric neurosurgeon love-nest.
They walked in silence for the most part, exchanging only occasional observations in regards to the signs of already encroaching nature - weeds pushing through the tarmac and the proliferation of small mammals that crossed their path. On the outskirts of the blink-and-you'll-miss-it town that had previously been their closest link to civilization, they came across a pile of desiccated and very dead bees, lying in a heap by the side of the road. Scully went pale at the sight and tugged Mulder away before he could investigate further. In some cases, absence did not make the heart grow fonder.
They'd avoided any real discussion as to what they thought had happened to everyone. It was too horrific to consider once it had become reality as opposed to possibility. They'd assumed the ID4-type invasion hadn't occurred of course. Scully was a deep sleeper and Mulder's own nocturnal habits had become much more settled since the acquisition of a regular bed partner. But even so, they were 99% sure that a fire and brimstone type-invasion like the disaster movies had been pedaling for years would have woken them both up.
If she was honest with herself, Scully had been expecting to find piles of bodies in varying stages of decomposition and/or alien gestation. She was half expecting Mulder to ask her to do an impromptu autopsy for old times' sake. But there was nothing to autopsy, nothing to examine.
The first building they reached was a grotty tavern, set a little way back from the road and in desperate need of repair or preferably condemnation. Mulder had visited it once several years ago after a particularly blazing row with Scully. He'd downed three pints in half an hour, punched the bartender for something that seemed important at the time and crawled home to a night on the sofa.
The door was closed but unlocked. As they cautiously inched their way inside, Scully thought wistfully of all the dark and dangerous places she and Mulder had so brazenly entered back in their FBI days, armed with nothing more than a penlight. They'd been so sure of themselves back then, so confident. Ever ready to face the unknown and do battle with its mysteries and monsters.
The room was dark and damp and empty. Layers of dust were rapidly accumulating on surfaces that were probably far from clean to begin with. Apart from a glass on the bar which appeared to be cultivating its own furry ecosystem, the place was devoid of life.
In fact the evidence they were both so diligently searching for was so unobtrusive that they almost missed it. They were just heading out the door when the beam of Mulder's flashlight caught a slight lightening in the shadows that crowded the corners of the room. Indicating his find with a tilt of his head - words were frequently seen as superfluous during their investigations, legitimate or otherwise - they found themselves standing over a small pile of dirt, perched in the center of a stool in the far reaches of the bar.
Mulder poked it. Naturally.
"Eurgh! Jesus!" Mulder frantically flicked his fingers to get rid of the offending substance. Turning around he went to wipe them on a bar towel which, while certainly harboring about a million germs and bacteria, was marginally better than having dead body dust on his hands. Half way to the bar however he heard a slight crunch and, looking down, realized that he'd inadvertently stepped in the middle of another seemingly-innocuous pile of ash.
Spinning back round to face Scully, he was about to let loose a string of expletives when he caught the look on her face as realization began to dawn. Scully slowly turned around, shining the beam of her flashlight into every hidden corner of the bar. The room was full of ash, dozens of tiny piles perched on bar stools or lying on the floor. Each a final marker of a person's last moment on earth before the end had come so suddenly.
A room full of death.
For the next two hours Mulder and Scully searched every room in every house, shop and bar in the tiny town. Everywhere they looked they found the piles of ash. In kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms. In shops and bars and even on the street, in curiously untouched piles, sitting calmly atop the snow as if they'd just been dropped there instead of lying unnoticed for almost a month.
The professional detachment they'd developed and honed to such high degree of precision during their FBI years served them well. They collected samples and took photos, documenting the scene as rigorously as if they had a report to file when they got back home. They spoke only to discuss the evidence in front of them and tactfully ignored the uncontrollable tears they saw reflected in each other's eyes.
Whatever had happened had clearly come without warning. There were no signs of panic or chaos other than two cars that had casually slid into each other when their drivers had been vaporized. It had also clearly occurred during the daytime when everyone was up and about - that day when they had hid themselves away, blocking out the world in anticipation for a night-time of annihilation. By the time they went to bed that night and said what they thought would be their final goodbyes to each other, it had already happened. They were too late.
When they finally decided that they'd done all they could, they walked back home in silence, hands tightly clasped as if they thought they'd dissolve into ash themselves unless they remained joined. When they reached the gate at the edge of their property they stopped for a moment to gaze across the fields at their unremarkable little house. The pink tinge of the setting sun made the snow-covered ground look like half-melted marshmallows. It was hard to reconcile the scenes of annihilation they'd faced that day with the cozy familiarity of home.
"What do we do now?" Scully asked, her voice rusty from barely suppressed sobs. She didn't really expect an answer. As far as she could see they only had two options. They could continue the search for survivors in towns and cities further away - although without transport this would require careful planning and prolonged exposure to the winter elements. Alternatively they could bury their heads back in the sand and remain at home, surviving as best they could and waiting for whatever came next.
Right now option two was looking pretty good.
"God, Scully. I just - " Mulder let his head drop down to his chest as he leant against the gate. He looked exhausted, as if he'd rather crawl the remaining distance than walk home. Scully stepped close and wrapped her arms around his waist, her head nudging his until she could tuck it securely under his chin. He hugged her back tightly, eternally grateful that despite the hell on earth they know found themselves in, they had somehow managed to hold onto their own tiny patch of heaven.
With their strength renewed, they eventually broke apart and turned to head back home. Closing the gate behind them, Mulder turned around and bumped straight into Scully who was standing stock still on the path a step ahead of him, staring transfixed at their front porch.
"Scully? What's - " but even as he spoke he saw what had so grabbed her attention. There was someone there. A lone figure was standing on their porch looking straight at them.
Mulder swung into action. Stepping in front of the still frozen Scully, he scrambled for the gun at his waist as he yelled "Stay where you are! I'm armed! Whoever you are just get the fuck away from us!"
The figure moved. Slowly, with its arms held out in a clearly placating gesture, it came closer. The encroaching twilight made it hard to pick out any details but the figure appeared to be male, young, possibility still a child. But then they'd been taken in by more than one dangerous child in their time and who knew the age limit on the shape shifter's transformations.
Clicking the safety off, he aimed his weapon squarely at the figure's chest. "Stop right there! I swear to god if you take another step I'll blow your head off!"
"Mulder no!" Scully suddenly snatched the gun from his hands, throwing it to the ground and grabbing his arm. "Mulder look! It's him! It's William!"
Yeah. So. Turns out I could kill everyone else in the entire world except their son. Go figure.
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