Title: And I Rise
Author: Leslie Sholly
Archiving: Spookys, Ephemeral, Xemplary and Gossamer, yes. Anywhere else, with my name and address attached. And please let me know so I can feel flattered! :)
Spoiler Warning: Through US Season Six is fair game.
Rating: R (language)
Classification: SRA
Disclaimer: Chris Carter, 1013, and Fox own these characters. I mean no infringement or disrespect.
Keywords: MSR, Mulder-Angst, Scully-Angst, Character Death.

Summary: The worst is happening. Can Mulder find hope to continue his quest?

Author's Notes: O.K. I know I said I would never write a character death story. The idea for this one haunted me, though; I really had no choice in the matter. Perhaps you've said you would never read a character death story. I hope you'll make an exception, realizing two things: I have tried to make this a story of hope, not just a tear-jerker; and the beauty of fanfiction is that after you read this sad story, you can find a happy one in which everyone is alive to cheer yourself up! So please give it a try!

Thanks go out to Branwell, for being my first ever beta- reader and for helping sort out the tenses; to Alcott, for a three-hour beta by ICQ; and to Becky, for encouragement and ego-boosting!

Feedback: I respond to - and save - every note, no matter how brief. Please write me.

"Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love."

- Reinhold Niebuhr -

I was a four-year-old hellion when Samantha was born, or so I'm told. My mother was so overwhelmed with both me and a newborn on her hands that my grandmother kept me at her house as often as she could.

It was during those frequent visits that Grandma taught me to kneel down by my bed each night and say my prayers. "Now I lay me down to sleep" was what she taught me to say, that good old standard that has caused many a child to lie awake in bed at night fearing imminent demise. She insisted I say it every night when I was there, and made me promise I would do it at home, too.

Which I did, surreptitiously because no one ever mentioned religion in my home or even said the name of God except in vain. Somehow I sensed I would be ridiculed, or, at best, patronized. As I grew older, I stopped kneeling down for fear of discovery by my nosy little sister, but even long after Grandma died that prayer was the last thought in my head each night as I lay in bed waiting for sleep to come.

Until I was twelve. After Sam was taken, I never said that prayer - or any prayer - again.

My childish faith is long gone now, replaced by cynicism and bitterness. Although I pretend scorn, secretly I envy Scully the faith she possesses.

I have seen how faith can uphold people. I saw it in Scully as she stood by Emily's casket. And I see it in her family now, as they stand around the hospital bed where she lies - dying again from the cancer which returned abruptly two days ago.

I, excluded from their circle, unable to join in their prayers, stand alone by the door. What, I wonder, will uphold me?


- "My days have crackled and gone up in smoke."

- Francis Thompson in "The Hound of Heaven" -

Looking back now with the heightened perception of certain knowledge, I realize that Scully was paler than usual that day, that she was quieter, that she occasionally rubbed her temples as though she had a headache. But at the time, I thought nothing of it. I was absorbed in my files and we were far enough removed from the specter of cancer that my heart no longer constricted with fear whenever Scully was under the weather.

So when we were getting ready to leave for the day and Scully collapsed to the ground as soon as she rose from her chair, I was completely unprepared. And when I knelt at her side - saw the blood pouring from her nose - I nearly fainted myself.

No normal nosebleed, this. Scully was unconscious. She wasn't going to jump up and say "I'm fine" this time. I turned her on her side so she wouldn't choke on the blood, dialed 911 on my cell, then ran to the door and screamed for help even though no one else was likely to be in the basement.

The nosebleed stopped before help arrived but Scully didn't regain consciousness until we were in the ambulance, and then only barely. I smiled reassurance and squeezed her hand and prayed she wouldn't notice that both of us were covered in blood. Woozy and in shock, she noticed nothing, and smiled weakly back before going under again.

Scully was whisked away for tests as soon as we reached Emergency. Skinner, alerted by the switchboard, met me there. His presence had a steadying effect on me. He volunteered to make the call to Scully's mom and sent me off to the bathroom to wash up as best I could.

C.G.B. Spender was the last person I expected or wanted to see in that bathroom. But there he stood in the corner, smoke rising above him, nearly obscuring the No Smoking sign above his head.

I stared at him blankly for a moment, then turned to the sink and began washing my hands. In the mirror I watched him drop the cigarette and crush it beneath his foot. He took one step towards me.

"Agent Scully's cancer has returned."

One part of me wanted to make a sarcastic comment. Well, no kidding, you black-lunged son-of-a-bitch. That must explain the blood all over my shirt and my office floor. But another part of me protested weakly. "We don't know that yet. There are other possibilities."

"*I* know it, Agent Mulder."

I turned to face him, the urge to throttle him almost overwhelming. "You bastard. If you've done this to her again - if you're here to offer me another deal-"

Almost gently, he said, "I'm afraid there will be no deals this time."

He lit another Morley and I stared at him. He held all the cards but still I was surprised at myself and at the desperation in my voice when I uttered one word:


He drew on the cigarette and looked into my eyes with an expression I did not remember seeing on his face before. In fact, it was an expression I was surprised that evil countenance could manifest: sympathy.

"I'm not withholding a deal from you, Agent Mulder. This is out of my hands."

"Then tell me who's holding your leash, Spender! Tell me where to find the bastards and I'll go to them!" I had my gun pulled on him now and although I was threatening him I was also pleading with him.

He gestured toward my weapon. "Please put that away, Agent Mulder. It will do you no good. If you shoot me, even if you're ultimately acquitted, you'll spend the next few days in custody instead of with Agent Scully."

Reluctantly I lowered my gun as he continued. "There is no name I can give you, Agent Mulder. This is simply a question of an equipment failure."

My heart slowed almost to a stop and I felt the blood leave my face. I heard his words as if from a great distance. "The chip has ceased to function, Agent Mulder. The cancer grew too strong. We didn't see this coming, and we have nothing more powerful to offer. In the same way that the chip eradicated the cancer almost instantly, so the cancer began to grow very quickly when the chip ceased operating two days ago. The doctors will find that the cancer has spread throughout Agent Scully's body, that it has infiltrated every system. It's inoperable, and neither radiation nor chemo could work fast enough."

My knees could no longer support me and I sank to the floor. "How long?" I whispered.

"Three days. A week at the most."

Spender extinguished his cigarette and crouched down so he could look into my eyes. "I don't expect forgiveness from you, Agent Mulder, nor do I deserve it. I've protected you from those who would have killed you to eliminate the threat you pose to the success of the Project because I made a promise to your father. It was necessary to rein you in somehow, and it was I who chose Agent Scully as the means. The cancer, too, was my idea. But I want you to know that never at any time did I intend for her to die."

I looked at him, disgusted by his attempts to justify himself but too shell-shocked to respond.

He continued, "Believe what you will, but I do like and admire her. I'm sorry that this is happening - to her and to you. If I could go back - well, who's to say if I would act differently. I've sacrificed everything to this project, because I've believed in the work I was doing. I've never regretted the sacrifices I've made to the greater good. This particular sacrifice, however, is pointless - and I do regret it."

He stood to leave and lit another Morley. "So, Agent Mulder, I hope that you will resist the temptation to indulge in your usual habit of assuming the guilt for anything that happens to those you hold dear. Don't blame yourself for this tragedy. Blame me."


- "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love."

- I John 4:7-8 -

Only a few weeks ago, Scully and I had a conversation about God. I'd wanted to for a long time, and I think she had too, but we always danced around that particular topic. Her religion was a side of her I couldn't square with the rest of what I knew about her. She, I think, feared my ridicule.

But somehow that day, it just came up. It was one of those rare days when we were having an innuendo-free, serious conversation that was neither about work nor an argument. We'd been watching a movie at her place when suddenly Scully turned to me and asked, "Do you believe in God?"

"No," I answered honestly. "I don't believe...but I don't *not* believe."

"You're an agnostic."

"Yeah, that's what they call it. I don't know, Scully. Even if I did believe in a God, I don't think He'd be like *your* God."

"How do you mean?"

"He'd be the clock-winder God. The kind that started the universe, then sat back to watch it run."

"I believe God is very involved in our lives."

"I know you do," I said, loving the serious, intense look on her beautiful face. "Why else would you pray? What would be the point? But you know, I don't think I'd want to believe in your God, Scully."

"Why not?"

"Because if He can intervene, and sometimes He does, then how can you live with that, when He doesn't? How can you worship a God Who doesn't answer your prayers?"

"God answers all prayers, Mulder. Sometimes He answers no, that's all. 'God's thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways are not our ways.' God doesn't play according to our rules, and we won't understand everything about Him and the way He works until after we die. It's in St. Paul's Letter to the Corinthians: 'Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know fully.'"

"Wow, Scully. I didn't think Catholics even read the Bible."

She gave me one of those rare smiles. "I think I know why you can't believe in my God, Mulder."

"And why is that, O wise one?"

"Christianity teaches that God is love. In order to experience God in that way, you need to have some point of reference. Most of us find that point in at least one of our parents. Our parents love us unconditionally, like God does."

I shrugged. "Conditional love, I know, Scully. Never unconditional."

She took my hand then. "I know. I know, Mulder, and I'm so sorry."


"If we win here we will win everywhere. The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it."

- Ernest Hemingway -

The tests were finished and Scully was finally admitted to a private room, and I was alone with her. I was selfishly glad that Skinner had been unable to reach her mother yet. The nurses had cleaned her up and made her comfortable and they were giving us a few minutes alone before the doctor arrived.

Of course, I knew already what he was going to say. But I tried not to think about that as I pressed my lips to Scully's forehead, brushed her hair out of her eyes, held her soft hand. I had to touch her - reassure myself that she was still there - warm and alive for the moment at least.

Her concern, of course, was for me. "You need to get a fresh shirt, Mulder. I'll be O.K. for a little while."

"Later. When your mom gets here. How do you feel?"

"I won't lie and say I'm fine, Mulder." She sighed. "I've been feeling bad for a couple of days. My head's hurting and my chest feels strange when I breathe."

She looked up at me and bit her lip uncertainly. "If my mom doesn't get here soon, Mulder, I need you to do something for me."

"Anything, Scully. You know that. What do you need?"

"I want you to call a priest for me," she said steadily. "I'm sorry, Mulder. The cancer's back, I know it is. And it's worse than before. I want to receive the sacraments before..."

"O.K.," I assented, my face crumpling.

It was a far different response from my "I refuse to accept that" the first time she told me she had cancer, and Scully couldn't have failed to notice my uncharacteristic acceptance of her words. "You know something, don't you?" she asked gently.

I nodded reluctantly. The doctor was coming soon anyway. There was no need to sully our trust with subterfuge. "The smoking man - Spender - I saw him in the bathroom earlier."

Her eyes flew open in alarm. "Mulder - you didn't promise him anything, did you? Didn't try to make a deal with him?"

"No deals."

"Good," she said approvingly.

Her approbation stung me. "I'd have made any deal, *any* deal, if there was one to be made, Scully. It's the chip. The god-damned, fucking chip. It's malfunctioned, and the bastards can't fix it."

Scully drew in a ragged breath as this registered. Her chin quivered and I could see the first tears appearing in her eyes, but her voice remained steady. "How long?"

"He said - he said three days, a week at most."

Now the tears overflowed and ran down her cheeks, even as she struggled to control them. "I see."

"I'm sorry, Scully," I began through my own tears.

She held up one hand to silence me, and wiped her eyes with the other one angrily. "Mulder, I blame you for *nothing.* I've made my own choices and I wouldn't change them. Spender and his cronies are the only ones who deserve blame. The *only* ones - and don't you ever forget that."

I nodded miserably, unconvinced.

"Look, Mulder. Before the doctor comes in, before my mom gets here, I want to talk to you. I want you to promise me something."

"Anything, Scully."

"Promise me you won't ... hurt ... yourself when I'm gone."

"Oh, God, Scully. Don't ask me that! I *can't* promise that."

"You've got things to do, Mulder. If you quit now, they win, remember?"

"I was planning to take Spender out first."

"No! No. Not revenge in my name. What good would it do anyway? It won't bring me back."

God, she was already talking about herself in the past tense.

"Samantha's still out there, Mulder. I know you'll find her one day. Wouldn't it be terrible for her, if she came home one day, and *all* her family was gone?"

"Oh, Scully. Please. Don't. That's not fair."

"I'm sorry, Mulder. I am. But there's more. You're the only one who knows about colonization - the only one who might possibly prevent it. We're so close."

"Not without you, Scully. I can't *do* it without you."

"You won't be alone, Mulder. You've got the Gunmen, and Skinner will help you; I know he will."

Hating my own selfishness but helpless to suppress it, I whined, "I'm less than half a person without you, Scully."

Locking her eyes with mine she said, "Listen to me now, Mulder, and if you ever believed in extreme possibilities, believe in this one: I will never leave you. I will be with you, wherever you are."

The doctor knocked at the door. "Miss Scully?"

"Just a minute please." Turning back to me, she said, "One more thing. We've never discussed it - but we both know there could be more - more Emilys out there. I know you've been looking for them. You can't leave them to suffer and die. You've got to find them and you have to stop the Consortium from making any more of them. So promise me."

I nodded, condemning myself to a living death, and said, "I promise."

Then Dana Scully turned to face the entry of the doctor who would deliver her death sentence.

"Cast all your cares on God; that anchor holds."

- Alfred, Lord Tennyson -

Father McCue arrived within hours to hear Scully's confession and do whatever else priests do at Catholic deathbeds. Obviously it was a private time and since various members of the family were also beginning to show it was a good time for me to take a hike for a while. I should have gone home and showered and changed my bloody shirt while I had the chance.

But instead I surprised myself by ending up in the hospital chapel. I told myself I just wanted to be alone but in truth I was seeking some connection to God. Scully believed in miracles, after all. I believe in everything else; why can't I believe in this too?

I lit a candle for Scully and tried to say a prayer, then sat down and stared at the crucifix mounted behind the altar. It was one of those large gory ones in full living color. I stared into the agonized face of Christ and tried to imagine what he went through. Hours of suffering for him - days for Scully. Selfishly I imagined the hours, days and years of suffering ahead of me in a world without her.

As I sat there, a young priest emerged from the room behind the altar. He was holding an altar cloth and some other Catholic-looking things. Assuming a service was starting soon, I rose to leave. "Please," he said. "Don't let me disturb you. Mass is still nearly an hour away - I'm just getting an early start." He smiled genially at me.

Now Father McCue is the perfect stereotype of a parish priest. This guy was something different. I'd guess he was younger than I am. Scully would probably think he's good-looking. He was wearing the black garb but his collar was unfastened and he had sneakers on. We were at Georgetown so I decided he must be a Jesuit.

Father McCue's never made an effort to engage me in conversation either. Maybe the Scullys have been talking to him and have made him afraid to try. Here again this guy was different. He came down off the altar, sat down by me, and offered his hand. "Bob Callahan," he said.

I shook his hand and responded, "Fox Mulder."

"I don't mean to intrude, Mr. Mulder, but if you'd like to talk - or pray-"

I shook my head and smiled. "I'm not much for praying, Father. I don't mean to offend, but I'm far from sure I even believe."

"Yet you're here." He waited to see if I wanted to talk.

What the hell, I thought. "The person I'm here about. *She* believes. And if you would pray for her, I'd be very grateful."

"I'd be glad to. What's her name?"

"Dana. Dana Scully. She's got cancer, Father. She's going to die in three days. The doctor just brought us the news. There's absolutely nothing they can do."

"I'm very, very sorry, Mr. Mulder," he said and I could see he meant it. "I'll pray for Dana - that God will ease her pain - and if you don't mind I'll pray for you, too."

"I appreciate the gesture, Father." His sincerity was obvious so I wasn't offended.

"Surprisingly, some people find God in the midst of tragedies such as this one," he told me. "I'll pray that you are one of them, and that you may feel the love of God during this terrible time."

"Thanks, Father." I stood to leave.

"Come back if you need to talk," he told me.

"The world is charged with the grandeur of God."

- Gerard Manley Hopkins -

I tend to think of Scully as my only friend, but in my heart I know that's not true. The Gunmen - especially Frohike - would do anything for me. They've haunted the hospital since I called them. One of them has held vigil outside Scully's door round the clock. On the rare occasions when I leave the room, whichever one is on duty shadows me.

Today it's Frohike. Scully's sleeping and I've decided it's safe enough to grab a cup of hospital coffee, putrid though the stuff is. Since I haven't left the hospital since Scully and I arrived over 48 hours ago, I'm sorely in need of the caffeine. I sleep in chairs, on the occasional waiting room couch, sometimes even standing up. I haven't showered either, although someone - it escapes my memory who at this point - brought me a fresh shirt to replace the one that was stained with Scully's blood.

I'm grateful for Frohike as he more or less leads me to a table and brings me coffee and a doughnut. I can't remember when I last ate. I'm not even sure what time it is, even what day it is. As I automatically eat the doughnut I reflect on the strange friendship I share with the gnomish man across the table. We never talk, not really. We've shared some meals and some beers, we kid each other about our porno habits, we plan our attack on the global conspiracy. But we don't discuss the things that matter most to us.

I look over at the guy. He looks almost as sad as I feel. I know that in his own way he loves Scully too. And that he cares enough about me to be here for me through this. Somehow I find myself asking him, "Do you believe in God?"

He blinks at me, surprised. Probably he's thinking that when I decide to have a personal conversation, I don't pull any punches. After a few seconds of reflection, he nods. "Yes. Yes, I do."

Now it's my turn to be surprised. Belief in a benevolent, all-powerful deity doesn't fit with the conception I hold of my paranoid friend. "Why?" I ask him.

"I could say it's because I was raised that way - which I was," he says. "But then I wasn't brought up to hunt conspiracies, so I guess you can't blame everything on upbringing." He gives me a half-smile and goes on. "This is going to sound weird - weirder than usual," he adds, anticipating my quip. "But the world's a beautiful place. The world is a beautiful place," he repeats. "There's a beauty to nature, and an order in it, that I don't think is accidental. I think it was designed, that it was placed there. And there's the beauty in the human intellect, the strength of the human spirit. And when I think about Agent Scully-"

"What about her?"

"A person like her, Mulder - when she ... goes...all that she is can't just end. I refuse to believe it. She believes she'll go on, that she'll go to a place where there is no more suffering, and I do too."

"I want to believe," I say, with no sense of irony.

"Then why don't you, Mulder? You find it easy to believe in absolute evil - why not give absolute good a chance?"

"It hath been often said, that it is not death but dying which is terrible."

- Henry Fielding -

Scully's about to go on morphine. She'd prefer not to because it will make her sleep, but she can't manage the pain alone anymore. While I hate the thought of her being unconscious for even one second of what is left of her life, I'm grateful for her decision because watching her suffer is torture to me.

She's taken the past day to wind up her affairs while she is still able. Her attorney just left. The only material possession she bequeathed to me was her cross. In fact she already made me put it around my neck. She says she can see it there and although the words are unsaid I'm sure she's hoping it will lend me a measure of the faith she seems to have in abundance and that I so sorely need.

She left small items - trinkets to remember her by - to her friend Ellen and her brothers and their wives and kids. The rest went to her mom with one notable exception - I am named as guardian of any genetic offspring of hers which may turn up.

She told me this before the lawyer arrived and I was absolutely undone by the trust she placed in me. I hope I never find another suffering hybrid created from Scully's stolen ova, but if I do, I will act as I know she would have wanted.

A few friends have come by today. Upheld by a faith I envy, Scully serenely made her farewells to them all. I sit outside the door and watch the unhappy parade. Every last one of them - from Frohike to Ellen - leaves in tears. Scully has apparently decided that what cannot be changed must be accepted and she's trying for the most graceful exit she can manage.

"I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life! - and if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death."

- Elizabeth Barrett Browning -

Her family surrounds Scully where she lies in the hospital bed, a tight little cadre of support and love. Excluded, as I have been since their arrival, I stand by the window, forehead resting on the cool pane. Even Scully's mother has apparently exhausted her tolerance for me and the disasters I bring to her family. I have always stood in awe of the woman's ability to accept me into her home, to look on me with affection despite the losses she has sustained on the altar of my quest, but I had never realized how much I counted on her continued goodwill until she turned cold eyes on me when she entered the room instead of offering the hug I expected.

Still, her Christian charity is intact. She won't kick me out of the room even though Bill and Charlie clearly want her to. I can't get near Scully, can't touch her, talk to her, or even see her, but I can hear the rasping of her breath which means she's still here, still alive, that she has not yet left me alone and bereft.

The drugs she is on for the considerable pain she's in keep her in and out of consciousness, although she's on the lowest dosage that offers any relief at all, wanting to be awake for as much of what is left of her life as possible, wanting to feel pain rather than feel nothing.

The pattern of her breathing changes and I cease to breathe myself for a moment, until I hear her voice. "Mulder. Want Mulder."

The Scully clan parts like a reluctant Red Sea to let me pass and I am at her side in an instant, leaning over her bed, holding her frozen fingers in my own. My ability to smile is limited but I try anyway and am rewarded by a brief shadow of a Scully-smile in return. "I'm right here, Scully."

"Couldn't see you," she says, glaring accusingly at her family.

"I'm not going anywhere, Scully. I'll stay right here if you want me to." I look at Bill defiantly. I accept the Scullys' need to blame someone, but I can't let anything stop me from being with her if she needs me.

More than anything I want privacy. I had planned what I wanted to say to Scully the next time I got a chance, and it would be hard enough if we were alone, much less under the baleful gaze of five Scullys and Scullys-in-law.

"Scully, I..." I begin.

She squeezes my fingers with what little strength she still possesses and says, "Mulder, look at me."

Her eyes are as blue as ever and as they draw me in I realize she is creating a bubble of privacy around us. Her family recedes and as I look at her my embarrassment ebbs and I feel we are the only ones in the room, the only ones in the world. Unbidden, tears begin to roll down my cheeks.

"Don't - don't cry, sweetheart. 'sokay."

Indomitable Dana Scully. Always so strong. Dying, in excruciating pain, she is comforting *me.*

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Scully. Sorry about all this - and sorry that I never let you know how much-" How much I love you, I'm going to say, but she never gives me a chance. "But you did." She smiles at me. Her strength shames me. "After the Triangle. And I knew anyway. Antarctica - so many other things. Love's more than words, Mulder. We were so far beyond words. You showed me. You showed me. You didn't need to tell me. I always knew."

The speech exhausts her. She closes her eyes and I bend to kiss her cold cheek. "I love you, Scully."

"I love you too," she answers sleepily.

"As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well-used brings happy death."

- Leonardo Da Vinci -

Another night is passing into the grey of a chilly November dawn. We're all at Scully's bedside. I have one hand and Mrs. Scully the other. Bill and Tara, Charlie and Kristin stand around the sides and the foot of the bed - having left a conspicuous amount of extra space next to me. They have suffered my presence only because Scully cries for me pitifully if she opens her eyes and can't see me. As much as this upsets - and in Bill's case, disgusts - them, they can't be cruel to Scully now. So on this, the fifth day since her admission to the hospital, I haven't left her side or let go of her hand for the past ten hours. If she opens her eyes again, I will be there.

Death is in the room. We feel his ominous presence. I'm reminded of the shadow killer and feel as though Death too casts a shadow which is looming ever nearer. Soon it will touch Scully and extinguish her light forever.

She's moaning in pain even in her sleep and she breathes only with great difficulty. Soon the effort to draw another breath will be too great. The distance between breaths will grow longer ... and longer ... until they cease entirely.

The last time the doctor came by Mrs. Scully begged him to increase the morphine dose. He shook his head. "Dana's still capable of making decisions for herself and she was very clear about keeping the morphine down. She wants to remain awake and aware as long as possible. Morphine suppresses respiration and will hasten the end."

"I can't stand seeing her suffer this way."

"I know. I'm sorry." He hesitated a moment before adding, "She won't suffer much longer now, in any case. A few more hours at most. If - when she wakes again, I'll be glad to increase the dose if she consents."

It is just past five o'clock that morning, 108 hours after she collapsed in our office, that Scully opens her eyes for the last time. Mine is the first face she sees. "Hi," I whisper, trying hard to smile through my tears.

"Hi yourself." Her voice is faint.

"Scully, sweetheart, the doctor can give you more medicine for the pain..."

"No. I'm ... fine."

My heart breaks.

"Need to talk ... to you all." Without letting go of my hand, she turns her face toward her mother. "Mom?"

"Right here, honey." Mrs. Scully kisses her daughter's forehead.

"Sorry ... to leave you."

"Oh, Dana - no, sweetie, don't worry about me. I'll be O.K."

"Love you."

"I love you, too." I am awed by Mrs. Scully's strength, as usual. Big old Bill is blubbering like a baby - we all are - but Mrs. Scully smiles steadily at her daughter, absolutely radiating calm and faith.

Now Scully looks at her older brother. "Billy-"

"What is it, Dana?" he asks, taking his mother's place at her side.

"You love me?"

Through tears he gasps, "You know I do. Of course I do."

With more strength in her voice then there has been there in days she says, "Then leave Mulder alone."

Bill shoots me one last glare of pure hatred before he answers her. "O.K. I promise."

She smiles at him. "Love you."

He can't answer.

"Tara - Kristin-" she whispers. "Kiss the kids for me, 'kay?"

Tara and Kristin bend to kiss her; it's all they can do. Then it's Charlie's turn.

"Baby brother," she says.

"Yeah, big sis?"

"Glad ... you're here."

"Me too, Dana. I'm sorry I've been such a stranger."

"It's ... O.K. You're grown up ... have things to do...hope you'll be around for Mom, now."

"I will. I promise."

Now, at last, she turns to me. She has saved me for last and I fear she has used up all her strength and won't be able to give me whatever message she wanted to. So, holding her hand in both of my own, willing warmth and life into her as though I could sustain her in existence by the force of my love, I kiss her gently - forehead, eyelids, lips. Oblivious to the animosity of the Scullys I try to say with those kisses what I don't have the strength to express in words.

She smiles at me one last time.

"Don't wanna leave you, Mulder."

"No, sweetheart, don't hang around just for me. It's O.K. I don't want to make you suffer any more than I already have."

"Not your fault."

Bullshit, that, but I let it go. "O.K."

"Love you, Mulder."

My name on her lips. The sweetest sound in all the world to me.

"I love you too."

"Mulder - remember - you're not alone. Never alone. I'll always be there."

Her eyes close. Her chest rises and falls, each time more slowly, three times more - then stops.

There my memory ends. They will tell me later that two nurses have to pry my fingers from her dead hand, that Frohike and Skinner have to walk me from the room to the car, that the Gunmen have to do everything for me right up until the funeral. From the moment she dies until I stand at her grave, dropping white roses down onto the top of her casket, I remember nothing at all.

"The sunshine is a glorious birth. But yet I know, where'er I go, That there hath passed away a glory from the earth."

- William Wordsworth -

Frohike stays with me the night after the funeral. The other guys want to stay too, but it's just too much. Over Irish whisky which he produces for the occasion, we have our own wake for Scully.

We speak of her beauty, her loyalty, her humor, her intelligence. Of how the world will be a poorer place without her. Frohike confides that he once shared a similar evening with Scully when they both thought I was dead. "But *you* turned up alive," he adds mournfully.

"Know something funny?" I ask him. "I always thought, if Scully died, I'd know. Like when she was abducted, I knew she was out there. I could feel it. And other times when she was in danger - I knew she wasn't dead. But now, even though I was sitting right next to her, holding her hand when she died, even though I just put her in the ground - she doesn't feel dead to me, Frohike."

"It's like I said to you the other day, Mulder. She still exists. It's only the body that dies, Mulder."

Now I have a question I feel sure my friend can answer. "Did you tell Scully I was looking for any children that might have been made from her ova?"

Frohike looks sheepish. "Yeah."

"But why? You knew I didn't want her told. I didn't want to raise her hopes - to have her get attached to more children like Emily only to have them die."

"I know that, Mulder! I didn't just go tell her! She came to me, asking me to help her look."

"Why didn't she come to me?"

"She was afraid you'd try to dissuade her. So I let her know you were both on the same page. She was happy you were taking care of it. I guess she figured we had it covered."

I nod in understanding, glad that Scully knew I realized without her having to ask how important such a search would be to her. "How are we progressing on that, Frohike?"

"Making steady progress, but nothing definite yet," he tells me. "Want me to step up the search?"

"Yeah - yeah, I do. Put some of our other projects on the back burner. It was important to her - and it's one of the things I promised I'd do."

"Will do." He looks at me quizzically as he pours us another round, then says, "Maybe now's not the time - but have you considered the C.G.B. Spender situation?"

"I'm not going after him, Frohike. I mean except in connection with the whole colonization thing. I'd like to extract his blackened lungs with my bare hands like ... like that fucking psychic surgeon - but that's another thing I promised. No revenge."

Frohike nods in understanding. "See? Scully's not gone. She's still your conscience even now."

I almost smile.

"He said not, 'Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be dis-eased,' but he said, 'Thou shalt not be overcome.' "

- Julian of Norwich in "Revelations of Divine Love." -

In the darkened chapel I kneel, my face buried in my arms, my shirt sleeves wet from all the tears I have cried. Visions of my gun waiting in its drawer back in my apartment taunt me. At worst, using it means peaceful oblivion; at best, an instant reunion with Scully. But I promised her I wouldn't.

So I reach out as best I can to a God I'm only trying to believe in. "Please, God, please. I promised her I'd go on. I promised her. But I don't want to go on. I *can't* go on alone. *Please* help me keep my promise."

I always relied on Scully to cover the God angle. If He really was out there, her faith would protect me, too, I'd always thought. I knew she prayed daily, and that she prayed for me. But now she's gone and I have to do this in my own fumbling way.

Then I remember that Catholics pray to saints to intercede with the Almighty. Well, Scully may never make it to the canonization process, but she's a saint in my book.

There is no statue of her in the chapel but I have her cross to clutch in my fist and her image is burned forever in my mind. So I call up a vision of her face - smiling, healthy, alive - and I pray to Scully.

"Scully, I always thought I'd feel it somehow if you died. But I never felt your light go out. Somehow, I know that you were right in your belief, that you still exist somewhere. I need you, Scully. I know I promised you. I know I did. But it's so hard. I'm so alone - more alone than I was before you came into my life because now I know what I'm missing. I want to keep my promise. Please help me."

Then, as clearly as though she were speaking aloud, I hear her voice inside my head. "Mulder, it's me. You are not alone. I'll be with you, wherever you are."

Even in death, I can count on Scully to come to my rescue.

Comforted by the sense of her presence, I think about all the times Scully was there when I needed her. I think of her watching my back out in the field, protecting my credibility with Skinner, walking proudly down the halls of the J. Edgar Hoover Building by my side despite my reputation with my fellow agents. I remember how she conducted background checks and fertilizer inquiries without complaining when she easily could have moved on. I think of her refusal to blame me for the tragedies that happened in her life and her refusal to let me blame myself. I remember Scully mad as hell at me but never leaving me or for one minute making me think she didn't care about me.

My eyes are drawn again to that lurid crucifix. Even I know that verse: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son." Christians believe that God sacrificed His son, and that His son suffered an agonizing death out of immense love for mankind - flawed and sinful though we are. It's that unconditional love Scully was talking to me about that evening not so long ago.

I realize at that moment that I do know all about unconditional love - but it wasn't my parents who taught me. I would have hung on a cross for three years if it could have saved Scully's life. And she would have done the same for me. Scully taught me all about love, and maybe, just maybe, she led me to God too.

For as I think about Scully I feel another Presence near - stronger, deeper, greater. I hear another Voice which lets me know with certainty that I will never be alone.

Cradled in love and supported by a strength not my own, I stand, square my shoulders, and leave the chapel to continue my Quest.

"Through such souls alone God stooping shows sufficient of His light For us i' the dark to rise by. And I rise."

- Robert Browning -


Thank you for reading, and please let me know what you thought at PennySyc@aol.com (Leslie).
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