Title: All True Wealth
Author: Dryad
Written: April 2002
Rating: MS-something, weirdity, PG13
Spoilers: Not tellin'
Archive: You betcha. A note where would be nice.

Summary: A scene, further explored.

Note: Written for the XF Song Lyric 'Ending' Wheel http://www.tifling.demon.co.uk/wheel


- Concerto Grossi -

Later that night their positions mirrored one another; feet on the coffee table, heads resting against the back of the couch, cups of tea slowly cooling on their laps.

"If you had things to do over, would you do them just the same?" asked Scully, rubbing her cheek on the soft fabric of the couch as she looked at him.

"Would you?" he countered, mentally slapping himself as he recognized the implications of those two simple words. He hastily added, "I don't know. I think so. I don't really know what else I could have done."

"You trained as a psychologist," Scully offered.

Mulder shrugged. "I almost majored in Literature. Psychology proved to be the bigger draw by a hair."

"Do you regret not staying on that path?"

"No. What about you? Would you have preferred to stay with the living?"

One corner of her mouth turned up slightly. "The dead needed me more."

He glanced at her then, wondering what, exactly, she meant. She so rarely let slip such nuggets of herself, of her character. The depth of her compassion was wondrous to behold, if too rarely seen outside of a small, select company of people. Maybe that was it, maybe she felt too much compassion to bestow it upon those who wouldn't or couldn't really appreciate the effort. Or perhaps the satisfaction of knowing the truth was enough for her. At one time he would have thought the same for himself. "Dana Scully, Justice's Champion."

She huffed, gaze dropping to her hands. "What does that make you?"

"Me? Oh, I'm Fox Mulder, Fool," he said. He took a sip of lukewarm tea, half-wishing it were something far stronger.

Scully abruptly leaned forward and put her cup on the table. After a moment she clapped one hand over her mouth, then leapt to her feet, walked swiftly towards the bathroom.

Mulder closed his eyes and sighed. Neither of them had wanted this day. Yes, the odds had been overwhelming, but even at a million to one, there had been a chance. Now there was nothing.

For all his talk of miracles, of all the things he could have given her, this was the one he had wanted the most, for his own selfish reasons.

When he had held her arlier, as expected, she didn't cry. She just looked so incredibly tired, though, so weary and drained. Finally, he pulled away, brushed the hair away from her face, caressed her temple and jaw with one trembling hand. "I have to run a few errands, but I'll be back, okay?"

The look in her eyes only confirmed the sense that he was betraying her, but he couldn't help it, he had to run before he cracked. He took her hands and kissed her knuckles, whispered, "Scully."


- Solo -

He pulls over on the way home because his vision is blurring so badly he can't actually see the road.

Ignores the "Hey man, watch where the fuck you're going!".

Drives a few more blocks.

Parks the car.

Waves at Mr. McDougal instead of stopping to say hello as usual.

Picks the keys up off the hallway floor, unlock, slam, lock.

Allows the first keening cry to pass his lips.

He collapses on the couch, barely able to catch his breath from the great, wrenching sobs coming from so deep inside. The funny thing is, as bad as he feels for Scully, he's really crying for himself.

What else can he do, but mourn this loss of a potential future? It isn't that he can't have children with another woman, what hurts is that he and Scully had the chance for something lasting, a real, live, breathing truth, one which would have combined their essences, bound them together forever, one which would have lasted beyond the both of them, beyond the Files and all the other things they had discovered and uncovered. A truth no cigarette smoking man would deny. A line from one of Frohike's favorite books comes to mind, "All true wealth is biological".

God, god, they are but paupers now.

Hours pass, and dusk falls by the time he gets some semblance of control again. He washes his face clean of salt and snot, his swollen, blotchy cheeks already returning to their natural color, changes his shirt and heads back to Georgetown. With luck, she won't comment on his red-rimmed eyes.


- Canzona -

Mulder grabbed Scully's mug and brought it to the kitchen along with his own. He washed and rinsed them, put them in the drying rack before walking slowly down the hall. Her bedroom door was not quite closed. He knocked once, pushed the door open. "Scully?"

She was curled up in the middle of her bed, covering her face in the attempt to muffle her weeping. As he approached, she blindly flung out one hand and he sighed with relief. She turned to face him once he was settled, grabbing his shirt and moving as close as she possibly could.

Drawing in a ragged breath, he stroked her back, trying to ease the shudders which occasionally wracked her body. Eventually she stilled, slipping one hand in between his pullover and tee, resting it directly over his heart.

They lay that way for some time, until the light coming in through the windowblinds faded and the room was dusky dark. Mulder pressed his mouth her warm, damp forehead. She shifted a little, turned her face up and kissed him straight on the lips, and didn't seem at all surprised when he kissed her back. When she continued to reassure him, he copied her lead, moving over temple and chin, cheeks and eyelids.

It was all strangely asexual, a small measure of comfort around a wound that could never be healed.

The brush of fingers against his face woke him, along with the shifting of the mattress. He heard the subtle slide of a drawer being opened, and when he rolled over, saw Scully standing in front of the dresser, her back to him, unbuttoning her shirt. He caught a glimpse of the alabaster curve of one breast before she slipped into a silver satin pyjama top, oversized as was her habit. There was something sad in her actions, as if it didn't matter that he could see her, as if their combined failure made her useless and unpretty, undesirable. Of course he knew this wasn't true, but in this little bubble of hurt and pain, all the rules were ignored.

They were living in an emotional Schrodinger's box. Sans cat.

Mulder averted his gaze when she dropped her trousers, unwilling to sully his long-term dreams by spoiling the moment of a future unveiling with memories of an unhappy time. All the other times he'd seen her naked, Pandora's last gift had been uppermost in his thoughts.

A moment later the bathroom light flicked on before waning behind a closed door. He stretched, wondered what to do. Should he stay where he was, or move out to the couch, or perhaps even leave altogether? Trying to think of which was the least guilt inducing, he lost track of time and was startled when Scully slid under the covers. She curled up against his side, one hand on his bicep, only the blankets between them. When her breathing had evened out he rose, bladder aching to be relieved, hot from wearing too much clothing.

In the bathroom he discovered what she wanted him to do, for she had left a clean pair of boxers, sweats, and one of his undershirts neatly folded on the closed toilet lid along with a toothbrush. He smiled a little, flushed with affection for her. She rarely made her own needs so obvious. A bystander would think she was cold, heartless, dispassionate, but in Scullyspeak she was screaming for help. He changed, performed his nightly ablutions, crawling slowly back into the bad in order not to disturb her. She immediately snuggled back into his cautious spoon, taking his hand and holding it between her breasts.

They slept.


- Presto -

"Are you okay?"

Fox thought Debbie Wiltse had the longest legs he'd ever seen. And her hair, it was the color of ripe wheat, falling almost to her knees - christ, how long did it take to wash? And then to dry?

Debbie looked at him curiously from where she sat on the porch railing, idly drawing the end of her braid against her chin. "Fox?"

"Huh?"

"Daydreaming again," she scolded, giving him an eyebrow and closing her book, ERB's 'Princess of Mars'.

He shrugged and shifted on the bench, stared at the popsicle sticks on the stairs, sticky grapey remnants trapping ants as they congregated around some leftover peanut butter cookie crumbs. It was too hot out.

"Have you ever thought about getting married?"

When he glanced up her hair was black and bobbed, one eye hazel, the other pale blue. "Wh-what?"

"I don't want to get married," she said, swinging one suntanned leg up on the railing and leaning back on the post. "I think it's bullshit."

"Uh, right."

"Nothing but a trap for women, property in all but name."

Fox sighed and tuned her out. He liked Debbie, a lot. She was smart, and tall, like him, and she read science fiction. They ran together, and she regularly beat him at one on one hoops. Best of all, she was his friend, one of the few who had stuck around after Samantha. For all that, however, she harped on about marriage as if it were the end all and be all of her life.

"She's Catholic, Mulder," Scully sat primly on his left, wearing floppies with white plastic daisies on the toeband, hot pink Daisy Dukes, and a tight Partridge Family tee shirt. "She's Catholic and it's the 70's and she's sixteen. She's the youngest of six children and the only girl. She wants to be on the Pill more than anything in her life."

"- I mean, Dad won't even consider me going to college, how backwards is that?" Debbie said, folding her arms defensively. A fading empurpled bruise highlighted one cheek.

Beyond the porch, clouds smoked the sky as if someone had hit a dimmer switch. It was going to be a dark and stormy night.

"One night she sneaks out of the house to meet up with a boy named Jason. She has sex with him, even though she doesn't love him, in fact she doesn't even like him, but she's curious and he's only too willing, and quite frankly, she just wants to get it over with," Scully whispered into his ear, breath hot on his neck. "For three weeks afterwards, she thinks she might be pregnant, and cries with relief at the dark smear of blood on the toilet paper when she wipes herself on the first day of school."

"Scully, why are you in my dream?" he asked.

Ripe wheat hair up in a sloppy bun, tendrils plastered to her sweaty face, Debbie said quietly, "Russ touches me sometimes."

They were boating on the fire pond, the two of them in the public skiff on a supremely humid summer day. Fox bit his lip. He had never liked her middle brother, even though the older teenager had made several overtures of friendship. There was just something about him that give Fox the creeps. Besides, he could practically see the wheels turning whenever Russ looked at him - 'What can I get out of him' and 'He looks like a sucker' and 'I bet I can find out what really happened to his little sister'.

"So what are you going to do?" he asked. At least she was old enough to move out on her own, get a job on Nantucket or something, maybe go to Boston.

He was in the Meeting Hall for Harvest Festival, buying a slice of pumpkin pie, which was weird, because he'd moved to the mainland with his Mom that fall, and hadn't been in the Meeting Hall in, well, he couldn't remember.

"Fox, where's your mother?"

"Hi, Dad," he said, snagging his paper plate from Mrs. Cavendish. "I think she's outside, talking to Mrs. Hamilton."

"All I need. Dottie Hamilton has a mouth worthy of the Town Crier," His father said, moving out of the flow of foot traffic. "Fox, I want you to remember something. It's very important-"

Oh god, another bit of wisdom that he could care less about.

Dad put one hand on his shoulder and said, "All true wealth is biological."

"I'm pregnant," Phoebe announced. She threw her bag across the room, then paced to and fro, hands on hips. "You're going to have to pay for it."

He stood there dumbly, the first spears of panic cramping his belly. But, he wanted to say, you're on the National Health Service. "We could get mar - "

"Oh for fuck's sake, you're such a fucking romantic. You don't want to marry me and I sure as hell don't want to marry you."

Shock became tinged with anger. "So what the hell am I paying for, then?"

She looked at him quizzically. "I thought we could spend half-term in Paris, afterwards. You said you would take me, don't you remember?"

"Phoebe, you can't tell me you're going to have an abortion one minute and then expect me to take you to Paris the next!"

Head tilted to one side, brows creased, she said, "Well, why not?"

And then it was autumn on the Vineyard, and he was standing in the grove of maples that marked the end of his father's back yard. The bank of rhodedendrons provided a backdrop in dramatic dark green, as if the vibrancy of turned and fallen leaves on the ground weren't enough. Someone touched his arm, Scully, smiling her gentle smile. She was very pregnant, and rather resembled a large white bell that had a red tip on the handle. Her parents were Embarrassed that she was getting married so late in the day, but at least the child wouldn't be a bastard. In his heart of hearts, Fox was proud and not a little bit pleased to see her like this, to show off his accomplishment. He was secretly happy that he was getting pictures, too, the only ones she had decided to allow for the duration of pregnancy.

A bell began to ring prematurely, before they had even started down the aisle, which was weird, because for one it was an outdoor wedding, two, no one had any damned bells, three, there was no church nearby, and four, Debbie was the Justice of the Peace and she'd moved off the island years ago. He clutched Scully's wrist, wondering what the hell was going on -

- Ritornello - The singular high beep of Scully's travel alarm finally penetrated his consciousness, and he slapped at the offending noise, hitting cool pillow, the edge of the sidetable, a book, a glass, then the small clock itself. He rubbed sticky eyes open, sat up. By the sound of running water, Scully was in the shower, but the odor of coffee permeated the air. Throwing on his undershirt, he headed towards the kitchen.

Fortified with coffee, toast, and a blueberry Pop Tart from Scully's not so secret stash of junk food, he got dressed and kicked back on the couch to read the paper. The usual political machinations held little interest, nor the scandals or 'good news' stories. He tossed the paper on the coffee table and tried not to think of anything in particular.

Through the window he saw the sun shining, the leaves on the trees a brilliant, lively green. It wasn't fair, that life should continue on when Scully would never have children from her own body.

"Penny for your thoughts."

Mulder looked over his shoulder. Scully approached the couch, a blue and white cup in her hand, damp strands of hair brushing the collar of her cornflower blue shirt. She was very pretty, in a washed-out sort of way. "They're not worth that much," he mumbled.

"Anything of interest in the paper?" she asked, sitting next to him.

"Nah," he wanted to ask how she was, but that wasn't their style. Besides, he wasn't really in the mood for an "I'm fine." He'd call her on it if she said it, and she didn't like his occasional intrusions and forays into her psyche. Hell, he didn't like her visits, either.

"Mulder," she glanced down, hair obscuring her face. "I need to take a couple of days off."

He nodded. "I think that's a good idea. Maybe talk to your Mom?"

"No," she chuffed a little, shook her head. "No. She doesn't - it's not - she can't - "

"Yeah, I know," And he did.

"I think I'm going to head for the shore. I need to see the waves, hear the ocean."

Mulder stretched, then stood up. It looked like the initial crisis had passed, and if everything was not perfect, they were still friends, still partners if not parents, one more thing to have met and survived, although not conquered. "Well, if you're heading out, I guess one of us should hold down the Fort."

Scully trailed him to the door, shyly met his eyes while he put on his jacket. "Kiss me hello."

He froze and stared at her. "I'm sorry?"

She waved one hand. "Just a line from a song Charlie used to listen to when he stayed with me."

Ah, the long lost Charles. He couldn't help himself. "You used to live together?"

"Long story," she said, firmly taking his arm and pushing him at the door.

One which sounded quite interesting. He stepped into the hall, but turned at the sound of his name, softly spoken.

Scully smiled ever so slightly. "Thank you. . .for everything."

He reached out and grabbed her hand, squeezed gently. "Call me."

"I will."

Outside, the day proved to be as glorious as promised from inside of her apartment. The air was clean - or at least as clean as it could be - fresh and sweet, a change from yesterday's gloom.

Inside and out, a change from yesterday's gloom.


Author's note: Aren't verb tenses fun? Yeah, I'm not convinced it worked, either.

"All true wealth is biological" Cordelia - or is it Aral - Vorkosigan, in one of Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan novels (Maybe Cordelia's Honor? Hell if I can remember, and I'm not going to skim all 12 books to find it, 'kay?)

Schrodinger's cat - Read all about it here (because I took Biology in high school, not physics. Besides, this is the most entertaining explanation that I've ever read):

http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_122.html

Kiss Me Hello
Written by Tommy Shaw
Lead Vocals by Tommy Shaw [Styx, not the Big Band leader]

If you had things to do over
Would you do them just the same
Would you maybe see yourself
As just a player in the game

And if hindsight's twenty-twenty
Would it help you see at all
Would you never try the mountain
Are you too afraid you'd fall

And what would you do for the money
What would you do for fun
Would you leave yourself defenseless
Would you get yourself a gun

Ooh kiss me hello

Outside it's pouring and there's
No use in ignoring
That I've stayed too long

My hands are shaking
But I can't control my feet
They're making tracks for the door

Do you think you'd try the backroads
Maybe ones less clearly marked
Would you make love in the daylight
Would you come out of the dark

Would you hold your thoughts in silence
Would you free them with a shout
Would you demonstrate your patience
While your destiny's dealt out

Ooh kiss me hello

No more complaining
No refraining from the way
I really wanted to go
Wish me good luck

Kiss me hello

I'm here to stay
I only needed to know

Kiss me hello

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