Title: Cast Me Gently Into Morning
Author: Ellie
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Category: VA, Post-Emily
Disclaimer: They are not now, nor have they ever been, mine.

Summary: A Mulder-POV continuation of "Emily."

Authors Notes: Thank you to Xscribe for the beta and encouragement.

"I am moved by fancies that are curled
Around these images and cling:
The notion of some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing."
-T. S. Eliot, "Preludes"

"But there is evidence of this."

I can't bear to watch as she steps toward that white coffin. As much from my own aversion as in respect to her grief, I turn away, looking across the empty pews. There were so few mourners to begin with, and now we are two. Yet it takes little imagination to see the specters there too, of Scully's father and sister, and my own.

The soft rustle of tissue paper and petals warns me a split second before the creak of the casket lid. There is a moment of silence-- eerie even in a place of worship--before I hear the intake of Scully's breath, half a sigh, and all falls silent once more.

Finally, I bring myself to turn and face both our pain. But I am not ready for the sight that greets me. Scully stands, the gold cross so recently around her daughter's neck now twined in her fingers, even as the other embraces baby's breath and carnations, a combination for which there should never be occasion. The coffin stands empty save but for burlap and sand.

I can see the tears streaming down Scully's face as I take the two steps to her side. I want to touch her, I want to hold her, I want to let loose my own tears as she buries her face in my chest, I want to tell her that it's all right to grieve over this. I stand, close enough that our suits brush against one another.

It seems an eternity before she casts a glance over her shoulder at me, tears trailing down her cheeks. My own have been threatening to spill over, and that look does me in.

She turns then, throwing her arms around me, crushing flower stems against my spine. Has this been what she needed all along, even when she told me she wanted to be alone? Has it been what both of us needed, not just now but all this time, though all these crises? It seems such a simple solution, yet isn't that what Scully has always told me? That the simplest solution is always the most plausible, that hoof beats are horses and not zebras?

I wrap my arms around her and we stand together in the silence, crying for everything that has happened. While Emily was painful, I know that this grief goes deeper than the tragedy of a child. Has it only been a year since we stood like this in the hallway of a hospital?

Reaching back, I close the casket lid. With one arm still around her, it takes little effort to guide us to the first pew. She drops the flowers to the floor and the gold chain loosens around her hand as it falls into her lap. She begins twisting it through both hands like a rosary. What the hell do I say to make this better? I don't know, so I place one of my hands on her wrist, stroking the soft skin with my thumb, mirroring her motion over the gold chain.

"You were a good mother to her."

She looks at me, and shimmers of incredulity and hurt make their way through the pain on her face. I can't have put my foot in my mouth so many times that she thinks that was meant as a joke. How do I fix this?

"Really, Scully. You were faced with the hardest decision anyone ever has to make, and for your own child. And you had the strength to make the right choice. I couldn't--haven't--ever been able to do that." The last sentence is barely a whisper, but I'm sure she heard it.

"You do the right thing, in your own way." Splinters of light from the stained glass windows turn her hair unearthly shades as she turns to look at me. "If you didn't do the right thing, I wouldn't be sitting here."

I nod. I can't say I completely believe her, but she has a point. And there's no other response I can think to give her, sitting here with light streaming through the Tree of Jesse to color us.

"Thank you for trying to save her for me."

"Whatever my initial objections, I know you loved her. That she was created out of something besides love, and was meant to live as a curiosity, is criminal and she deserved better than that. You wanted to give her more than that, and that's the most admirable thing in the world. We would have loved her."

Shit. We? Where the hell did that come from? Shit, shit, shit.

"We would have." She gives me a bittersweet smile, and I wonder what cosmic alignment has allowed her not only to accept but go along with my slip.

This is getting into dangerous territory now, places we've too long avoided to be discussing at this moment. I rise and extend my arm to her. "We still can."

The corners of her lips curl up ever so slightly, and she wraps her arm around mine. Slowly, we walk through the diffuse light of the chapel until Scully draws us to a pause at the doors. She looks down at her cross, and I fasten it around her neck before we step into the bright California morning.
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