Title: Angels Instead
Author: conspiracy
Rated: PG
Key Words: CD, MSR
Classification: SRA
Spoilers: Existence
Disclaimer: I don't own any of 'em.
Archive: Anywhere as long as you drop me a line.
Dedicated to: The Jedi Shipper. For being a great friend, a great beta-person, and a tolerant "pick the damned title already!" type of gal.

Summary: How do we teach our children what we ourselves are unsure of?


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"I had the strength of your beliefs."
-Dana Scully, 'One Breath'
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"Mulder," Scully once asked me, "You're so willing to believe in everything else, why not this?"

Standing in the kitchen of what used to be her apartment, and was now ours, we had started to discuss how we should raise William -- what to teach him when he got old enough to ask all the questions no one had real answers to: What happens when we die? What does it all mean? Why are we here? I'd always thought I would leave that part up to her. After all, Scully was the only one around here who had any real sense of 'faith.' Then, when he got home from church, I could brainwash him with stories of UFO's and ghosts and we'd end up with a suitably screwed up child who would at least be well-behaved because he'd have both the threat of eternal damnation and alien abduction hanging over his head.

But when she finally broached the subject to me, I found I was less compliant than I'd expected. Part of me loved Scully for her ability to believe something so completely unproven. It gave here a depth of character that I might not have seen had she not worn that small gold cross around her neck. But her experience also allowed me to see how organized religion at an early age could irreversibly indoctrinate a person. I never would have shared this observation with Scully for fear of my life, but it struck me often that she hadn't chosen her system of belief. The rational, logical Dana Scully that I knew would never have simply read the doctrines of Catholicism and agreed with them. It would be the equivalent of her waking up one morning and deciding to join a UFO cult. Whatever beliefs she finally came to over the years concerning aliens and certain other phenomenon had been critically arrived at and based on fact -- based on things she saw with her own eyes. No, it was not my Scully who decided she believed in God, it was a young, impressionable child who formed the belief and gave her older self no alternative.

Suddenly, I didn't want that for Will. I wanted him to grow up with no firm beliefs; no doctrines passed down to him by generations before, so that when he was old enough, he could form his own opinions. Hell, with Scully's powers of scrutinization, he could probably find some damn good ones.

"Then you can't talk to him about aliens," Scully had said. She wasn't angry yet, simply trying to prove a point. I understood what she was getting at, but to me the two things were entirely different.

"Scully, we have proof of them."

I can still see the look she gave me then -- her mouth slightly agape, her eyes fogged over momentarily with the obvious insecurity she'd always felt when discussing her faith. "Even if I had proof of God, Mulder, you wouldn't believe."

I pondered this for a moment. For a long time, I believed Will's conception to be the ultimate proof that there was a higher power, that Scully and I had been able to create this perfect little person out of nothing -- less than nothing if you figured in her suddenly not barren womb. Even before that, though, I'm not sure I didn't always have some idea of what an extremely liberal person might call 'God,' but God in the traditional sense? Some big guy with white hair who took an interest in directing world affairs and had such a small ego he required people to pray to him nightly?

That, she was right, I could never buy.

"I never said that I didn't believe in God, Scully. It's just religion I have a hard time with."

She stared at me wearily, probably wondering what the hell my version of God could possibly be like; probably afraid to ask.

"What's the difference?" This route was new to me. It was this very question that had kept me from admitting faith in a higher power all this time. I didn't believe in any specific religion, therefore I couldn't believe in anything. Now she was using it in the opposite way.

I tried to think of a way I could explain what I felt. "Religion tells us what to believe," I began. "It's taught. I think that true belief can only come to us through instinctive knowledge and experience."

She nodded the slow, patient nod of a teacher attempting to get her student to come to the right conclusion without coaching. Then her eyes met mine with a look that I can't quite describe; one of curiosity and fear, though I'll never be absolutely sure what that fear sprang from. "And what has your experience taught you?" Her voice was smooth and clear, but her eyes darted away from mine and I couldn't quite tell what that meant.

I swallowed. What a difficult task -- the man who believed in everything, being asked to sum up his own personal philosophy in a few sentences. "Well..." I tried to think of a way to make it make sense. "You remember in Ghost Busters II, the slime that was always underneath the city? Festering, creating the evil?" She smiled as her head tipped down in a small nod, and even after all the time we'd been together, I still felt so blessed by that smile that I had to return it three-fold to even attempt to show her half of what she'd just given me. "I'm somewhat serious, though. I..." How to word this? "I believe in that sort of thing, just not necessarily the evil part. I think there's got to be good slime too, and it's effected by our thoughts, by our actions."

Scully couldn't help herself. She let out the short puff of air I had come to know as her 'I'm amused' laugh. I loved it when she laughed at me. "Good slime?"

The slightly incredulous tone of her voice didn't hint at disapproval or even real disbelief. I'd come to recognize this as her 'You're crazy but I love you' voice, and every time she graced me with it, it felt like she'd just spoken the words.

"Yeah," I continued, a grin on my face. "Good slime... A sort of... social consciousness. It doesn't dictate our actions, but maybe it watches over us." I've spent a fair amount of time over the years profiling myself. It's not conscious, but being narcissistic as I am, self-reflection comes naturally when I'm lying in bed, trying to sleep but not being able to shut my eyes. So I know why I believe in this; this quasi-God that allows me to feel safe while at the same time not give in to what I've always spoken against. I want to believe that people can change the world, that I can. A belief in a symbiotic God allows for both the comfort that someone is watching over you and the ideal that when you set your mind to something, you can make it happen yourself.

Scully and I had talked about my need for self-determination before. She believed it was part of my problem with religion.

Her smile was enigmatic as ever. She placed a hand on my arm. "And how is that different from what I believe?"

This threw me back a little. "Isn't it?"

Her warm smile grew a little and she stared softly into my eyes. I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up.

"Mulder, religion is a starting place for those types of beliefs. God is made into a caricature because most people can't comprehend anything different. Do you think that because I'm Catholic I believe everything in the Bible, word for word?"

She leaned into me comfortably then, and I can still taste the faint salt of her lips as she kissed me, the coarse velvet of her tongue. She looked down and her voice took on a slightly darker quality.

"If I listened to everything my priest said, where would Will have come from?"

Her soft hands slid over my face like feather-soft kisses.

A month later, her cancer had inexplicably come out of remission.

"If I pray hard enough, will that make it better? Is that how this works?"

"Mulder, sometimes acceptance is all we have left. Maybe some miracles come at a price."

The bony hand I held as she slipped away still haunts me, but when I close my eyes that's not how I see her.

I see the mother of my child, slowly standing with a beautiful baby boy wrapped in her arms.

I see a strong woman, full of piss and vinegar, ready to argue to the death if it will prove her point.


This month, Will turned three. Last Sunday I took him to the church Scully used to stop by occasionally. I don't know what I believe. I don't know whether losing her has strengthened or destroyed whatever faith I may have found; it seems to depend on the day. But I do know that with her last breath she was every bit as determined as she must have been with her first, and I want to pass that on to our son.

I'm prepared to offer him as many alternative ideas as he's willing to take in, but whatever Will's beliefs turn out to be, with any luck, he'll grow to have the strength of his mother's.

~finis~

I sit and wait
Does an angel contemplate my fate
And do they know
The places where we go
When we're grey and old
'Cos I've been told
That salvation lets their wings unfold
So when I'm lying in my bed
Thoughts running through my head
And I feel that love is dead
I'm loving angels instead

-"Angels" by Robbie Williams


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