Title: Conversations With the Dead
Fox Mulder, Dana Scully and Walter Skinner are the property of
Real hauntings have nothing to do with ghosts finally; they
Wait awhile eternity, old Mother Nature's got nothin' on me.
Location Unknown Date Unknown
Dark. Pitch...black...dark. It was so dark. Damn, he hated the dark. Was afraid of it, in fact. He knew there was a reason for the fear, but he couldn't remember it. Couldn't remember much of anything anymore. Didn't know how long he had been in the dark. Didn't know why this was being done to him or who was doing it. Didn't know the answers to the questions they asked.
He knew the pain. Knew that very well. It had become his constant companion.
The dark, the pain, the fear--these he knew.
He knew two other things as well. One was her name. Although he couldn't remember his own, he knew hers. He struggled hard to keep it, not wanting to let it go. If he let it go, he would be lost. He repeated it to himself, making it a prayer.
"Scully, Scully, Scully..."
Where was she? Why didn't she come?
The other thing he knew was that he was going to die here.
Dana Scully's House Los Angeles, California July 23, 2016
Whoever said time flies sure knew what he was talking about. Dana Scully sat on the redwood deck of her house and stared up at the slate gray sky. The mountains she so enjoyed looking at were obscured by rain. It made her sad and she felt tears tickling their way to the surface. She forced them down. How appropriate that it was such a gloomy day. She gulped down her fourth glass of wine.
Yeah, time sure as hell does fly. Twenty years worth of flying. Fox Mulder had disappeared 20 years ago. Just vanished. Without a trace. <Nothing vanishes without a trace.> The words of a long-dead foe. Oh yeah? Mulder did. One day he was there, annoying her and challenging her with his insane theories. And the next, he was gone--just gone. No clues, no evidence, no leads.
She had looked for him. For seven years finding him had been her mission in life. She became like him, grasping at the most unlikely clues. Obsessed. No one understood. Not her mother, not her friends, not her colleagues. They didn't understand that she owed him this. He would have done it for her. He had done it for her.
On the seventh anniversary of his disappearance, Fox William Mulder was declared legally dead. She used the declaration as an excuse to stop looking. In truth, she just could not keep up the search. She resigned from the bureau and, fleeing his ghost, accepted a position with the Medical Examiner's Office in L.A. and moved west.
Within a year, she'd met John, a lawyer, and married him. It hadn't lasted long. She hadn't really loved him. She had only longed for a normal life and John could give her one. Mulder's restless spirit came between them.
Actually, it was memories of him and her guilt. Guilt that she had given up. He would never have given up on her. He'd still be looking, even if it took a hundred years.
After the divorce, she threw herself into her work. Typical. Days went by, weeks, months, years. She convinced herself that she was over it. She hardly ever thought about him anymore. Really. Then Samantha had come.
The dark-haired woman had appeared in her office eight years ago with no appointment. When she introduced herself as Samantha Mulder-Tyson, Scully felt her breath leave her body. Samantha knew her brother was dead and that Scully had worked with him at the time of his disappearance.
The younger woman had pleaded with Dana. "I'm sorry I didn't call you first. I was so afraid you wouldn't see me and I wanted so much to talk to you. You're the only one left. Please tell me about Fox."
Scully would have run her out of the office if the resemblance hadn't been so strong. If she hadn't had his unruly dark hair and a nose so like his. There was no reason for this woman to lie. After all, Mulder was dead. She wasn't quite sure why she believed this stranger. But she suddenly wanted desperately to tell her everything she could think of about Mulder. Indeed, she was the only one. Mulder's mother had died shortly after his disappearance.
She canceled her appointments for the rest of the day and took Samantha to her home. They spent the day talking about Mulder. She told Samantha about the man. Samantha told her about the boy. The boy Mulder had been before his life had changed forever.
They cried in each other's arms, Samantha for the man she would never meet and Dana for the boy she never knew. With promises to keep in touch, Samantha had left.
Dana poured her fifth glass of wine, or was it six? Who the hell cared? Leaning back in the Adirondack chair, she looked up at the black, starless sky. When had it gotten dark? She thought about her life. It was pleasant enough. A good job (they told her she'd be Chief Medical Examiner when Rossini retired), a few good friends, a beautiful home with a spectacular view. But something was missing. Something had been missing for twenty years. Excitement. And Mulder. <Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone.> The old Joni Mitchell song wafted through her head and she laughed drunkenly. "Dana, old girl, you are getting maudlin," she said aloud. "Time to go to bed."
Dana Scully's Apartment Washington, D.C. July 23, 1996
She shouldn't be in bed. She shouldn't be sleeping at all. She should be out there looking for him. The longer he was missing... She pushed that thought out of her head. <He is *not* dead. I will find him.>
Skinner had insisted she come home and get some sleep and she was so tired. Exhausted. She'd slept little in the week that Mulder had been missing. Some of the other agents thought he'd taken a powder and was not coming back. He had a reputation for that sort of thing, didn't he? Ditching her, running off on his own. That's what they thought. They were stupid bastards.
She fought sleep as long as she could, going over things that Mulder had said the last time she'd seen him. Looking for clues. Her last thought before sleep overtook her was <Mulder, where are you?>
She opened her eyes, only to find darkness. It was so dark and she was so scared and it hurt...it hurt so bad. There was blood all over her, in her hair, soaking her clothes. She wanted to scream in pain and fear but she didn't want to give *them* the satisfaction of knowing how afraid she was. She looked around trying to remember where she was and who she was. She didn't know. All she knew was pain and fear. And that she was going to die. They wanted something. <Where is it?> She didn't know and now she was going to die.
She could hear footsteps coming toward her. The icy fear was clutching at her throat now. A man came up to her, it was so dark she couldn't see his face. He grabbed her by the hair, forcing her to her knees and she could feel the cold hard steel of a gun at the back of her head and then she did scream.
July 23, 2016
Scully bolted upright in bed, shaking, gasping, tears running down her face. Where had that come from? "Oh god," she groaned, "I had way too much to drink." She turned on the light and began to get out of bed, then froze. Someone was in the room. She reached toward the nightstand for her gun.
A soft male laugh came out of the darkness. "That gun won't do you any good, Scully."
"I've had waaaay too much to drink. I'm hallucinating Mulder's voice," she said to no one in particular.
"It's no hallucination, Scully. I'm here."
She looked over in the direction of the voice and seated in the comfortable armchair near the foot of her bed, was Fox Mulder. Sort of. He looked a little transparent but it was definitely him. As she watched, he became more solid until she could make out his features.
Several years ago she had realized with sadness that she was forgetting what he looked like. She still had a friend in the FBI's personnel office who sent her his ID photo.
He still looked like the photo and she almost forgot to breathe. Same chestnut brown hair, disheveled as usual. Same burning hazel eyes. His faced was unmarred by time, wearing that lop-sided smile that always got him his way. His hands, elegant and beautiful, were folded in his lap. He sat slouched in the chair, his feet planted on the floor, his long legs open at the knees.
She looked over at the mirror by the bed. Her face was lined. Touches of gray graced her auburn hair. Time had not stood still for her as it had for him.
"You're still beautiful, Scully." The voice was the same. The raspy silk of it caressed her.
"This is a dream," she said firmly. "I had too much to drink tonight and I've been thinking about him and that's why I'm seeing him. He's not really here."
She closed her eyes tightly, then opened them again. Damn, he was still there, grinning at her. She moved down to the end of the bed, closer to him. She reached out to touch him. He lifted his hand and extended it slowly toward her. It looked as if their fingertips would brush each other. Instead, her hand passed through his. All Scully felt was a kiss of warmth where his hand should have been.
She gasped and he looked smugly at her. "You realize, of course, this proves nothing," she said. "You could still be a figment of my imagination."
The figment of her imagination groaned, then looked at her intently. "Scully, what were you dreaming about just now?"
"It doesn't matter. It was just a dream." But she turned pale.
"No, it wasn't. Should I tell you what you dreamed? Should I tell you what it was like?"
"No!" Terrified that he would tell her.
"You were there, Scully. You were my strength."
She pushed a graying lock of red hair behind her ear and settled at the foot of the bed. "It was a dream. It was the alcohol."
He frowned. "Was it the alcohol twenty years ago, Scully? You dreamed the very same dream twenty years ago on the night I died. I know. I felt you with me as it happened. My pain was yours, my fear was yours. I didn't want you there but you were. I guess it was my fault. All I could remember was you. I didn't know my own name but I knew yours. It kept me sane. Well, almost."
He was right. She had had the same dream twenty years before. In fact, she had spent the years convincing herself that it was just a dream. That she hadn't had a vision of Mulder's death. Now here he was, telling her that his death had happened just the way she had dreamed it.
Scully suddenly darted toward the nightstand, picked up the alarm clock and threw it in the apparition's direction. It sailed through him and hit the wall, shattering in several different directions.
"Shut up!" she screamed. "Stop it, you son of a bitch! What the hell are you doing here?"
The possible ghost looked hurt by her outburst, giving her his little boy look. She couldn't believe it. How often had she seen that look when he was alive? If this was a figment of her imagination, it was more detailed than her alcohol-addled brain should have been able to conjure.
The figment was watching her silently. When he had her attention again, he spoke quietly. "You wanted me here, didn't you? You were thinking about me tonight... remembering me. Your memories were very strong tonight."
"Then you're saying you're just a very strong memory?" she asked, grasping at his words.
"Anne Rice said that hauntings are memories."
"Anne Rice?" Sometimes she had trouble following his thought processes.
"You know, the writer." She looked blank. He tried again. "The Vampire Lestat?"
"Uh huh," she said. "So what you're saying is you're a figment of my alcohol-soaked imagination."
God, she wanted to wipe that smug look off his face. She would too, if she could touch him. Instead she said, "You like this, don't you? You get to play "Spooky" again. Except this time you really are a spook."
He moved forward in the chair eagerly, seizing on what she had said. "So now you believe me?"
"I didn't say that."
He laughed and fell back in the chair. "Oh, Scully, always the skeptic. I come back from the dead after twenty years. I'm right here in front of you and you still won't believe. What do I have to do? Levitate? Disappear and reappear? I know, how about if I moan and rattle some chains." His frustration was mounting.
Rolling her eyes in classic style she said dryly, "Oh, please, Mulder, spare me the cheap theatrics."
"Finally," he sighed.
She looked at him, her face a question mark.
"You finally said my name. I was wondering how long it would take."
She looked at him for a long moment. *Was* he real?
Before she could answer him, he said, "I came here for a reason, Scully. Actually, two reasons. There are things we need to say to each other. Things we never got to say before I died."
"What? You came here to dredge up things from twenty years ago? Why?"
"Because you need closure and so do I."
"Oh Christ, Mulder, don't try that psychologist crap on me."
"You're angry at me because I went away..."
Her blue eyes flashed. "You're damned right I was angry. What did you do, Mulder? What kind of crap were you poking your head into, without me, that got you killed?"
He suddenly looked sad. "I wasn't poking my head into anything. I was out jogging when they grabbed me, drugged me and threw me in a car. It wasn't a pleasant experience."
"I know, Mulder. I know how you died. I'm sorry."
"Then you know it wasn' t a dream?" His voice was so gentle, the way it had been when he questioned frightened witnesses.
"I know." She shivered at the horror of it. "But that doesn't mean that I think you're a ghost."
"That's okay, Scully. I know it will take a lot to convince you. I expected nothing less." He gave her his rare full smile. The one that lit up his face and made him look so young.
It broke her heart.
"Were you angry with me?" Her voice small and fearful.
"Why would I be angry?"
"I didn't find you. You counted on me to find you and I didn't do it and you died because of it."
"You tried," he said soothingly.
"You died with my name on your lips. I didn't try hard enough." The weariness was setting in. She wanted this dream to end. No, she didn't. He might not come back.
He barked out a bitter laugh. "You sound like me. Believe me, Scully, blaming yourself is not the answer."
"Why did they kill you? What did they want?"
"What difference does it make now? They're dead and they paid for what they did to me and to you."
"Why did you force me to watch you die? Do you have any idea what that did to me? I've told myself that it was just a dream. But it was so vivid, so real."
She took a deep breath, lowering her head. She couldn't look at him. She remembered how she had felt waking from that dream twenty years ago. Praying that it wasn't real, but terrified that it was.
"I don't know how it happened, Scully. I didn't want you there. Do you really think I'd want you to see that?" Mulder paused and then continued. "I guess we were linked more strongly than I thought."
She jerked her head up and looked squarely at him. "You don't seriously think we had some kind of telepathic link, do you?" The idea was ludicrous.
He shook his head and said with affection. "Ah, Scully, you haven't changed. The truth is right in front of you and you still deny it."
"Did you find the truth, Mulder?"
"I found a truth." When he didn't elaborate, she changed the subject.
"I have to know something, Mulder. Did you resent me? Did you resent me because I made you give up the tape?"
"The tape? Oh, Scully, none of that matters now." He shifted in his seat, obviously uncomfortable with the question. Some ghost he was.
"Yes it does, or you wouldn't be trying to avoid an answer. Tell me," she implored.
"Okay, yes, I resented you. Satisfied? That tape was the holy grail. It had the evidence I needed to prove the government coverup."
Scully could see a tirade coming on. She interrupted him, "Mulder, you almost died over that tape."
The sad look crossed his face again. "Scully," he said gently, "I did die over that tape. Krycek tried to save his own rat ass by telling them I had it. I didn't."
"Mulder, I had to give back that tape. I had to see Melissa. Not that it did any good."
Mulder was looking down at the floor. "I'm sorry, Scully." His voice was so weary that she almost cried.
"Ruining your life."
Dana marveled at his capacity to feel guilt, even when dead. "You didn't, Mulder."
"If you had never met me, you would never have been abducted, Melissa would still be alive. You would never have seen the horrors that you weren't meant to see."
"And I never would have met the most exciting man I ever knew."
He snorted. "Now you tell me. Now that I'm dead and can't do anything about it."
Now it was Scully's turn to look sad. "You're right. I should have told you. We both wasted a lot of time. I was worried about protocol and professionalism. But you pushed me away. You said you resented me because of that tape. Well, I resented you too. I blamed you for what happened to me and my family. That was wrong. But I also blamed you for what you did to yourself. You scared me so badly sometimes. You were so reckless. I wanted so much to tell you I loved you. I didn't because I thought I would scare you away. You didn't want anyone to love you, Mulder. You didn't think you were worthy."
"You're wrong. I wanted you to love me. I was afraid. If they found out, they would have used you to get to me. They'd have taken you again and I could never have survived that." The sad look was back.
She looked in his eyes. He couldn't lie to her. "*Did* you love me, Mulder?"
"Yes." Tears formed in his eyes.
"Ghosts can cry?" she said softly, crying herself.
"Apparently so. I love you, Dana."
"I love you too. Fox."
They both smiled. The years-old permanent ache in Dana's heart eased a little. At least now she knew.
"Tell me something else, Mulder. Where are you? I mean when you're not sitting here in my bedroom?"
"I can't tell you. It's not allowed." He looked away.
"Is Melissa there? And Ahab? Can you tell me that? Is it a good place?" She desperately needed to know.
"It's a good place and yes, they're there." He looked at her again, hazel eyes searching her face.
"Scully, I have to go soon and there's something else. Remember I told you there were two reasons I came back and that I needed closure." At her nod he continued. "I need you to do something for me."
"I need you to find my body and see that it's given a proper burial."
"You're kidding." She couldn't believe what she was hearing.
"No, I'm not. I told you that it was a good place, but I'm not in it, at least not all the way. It sounds really corny but I can't rest until I know that you really accept that I'm gone. You say you believe it but I know that there is a small doubt in your mind because my body was never found. I'm tired, Scully, I want to rest. Will you do this for me?"
He was right again. She had been nursing a tiny seed of doubt. A seed which some days flowered enough to make her look for him in crowds and stare for long moments at tall, dark-haired men until she was sure it wasn't him.
She was trapped in this crazy dream and the only way out was to see it through to the end. "All right, Mulder, where do I go?"
He told her the location and then said hopefully, "You believe me?"
"No, I still think I'm hallucinating..."
He cut her off. "Scully, this is important. You can't wake up in the morning and decide that it was all a drunken nightmare. Please, I need you. You have to promise me."
He sounded so desperate. "Okay, I promise. Even if I make a fool of myself and they lock me up for being a lunatic, I'll do it."
He let out a relieved breath. "Thank you. I have to go now. Someday we'll be together. And this time it'll be forever. Don't forget that I love you."
"One more thing," he said, the full smile once again gracing his face. "If you find my body, just where I told you it would be, will you believe?"
She watched him fade. For a long moment, she sat and stared at the now vacant chair. An urge she could not resist overtook her. <This is ridiculous> she thought as she walked over to the chair and placed her hand on the seat cushion. It was still warm. Sitting down in it, she was enveloped in the warmth and she cried.
FBI Headquarters Washington, D.C. July 25, 2016
Walking through the halls of FBI headquarters, Dana couldn't help but smile at the impossibly young agents who walked past her. <Was I ever that young?> It was hard to believe that she hadn't been here in thirteen years. Coming through the doors, she had felt as if she were coming home. <I should never have left> she thought, then shrugged it off. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Those kinds of thoughts would get her nowhere.
She decided against a trip into the basement to see Mulder's old office. Skinner had told her years ago that it had been turned into a storage room. She couldn't bear the thought of seeing it devoid of him, stripped of his essence. Besides *he* might be there and she wasn't ready for another visitation.
Scully sat in Director Skinner's office facing her former boss. He looked good. In his 60s and still in great shape. They had kept in touch by phone over the years and she was happy to see him again. Being in his office felt like old times except he was giving her the "you're insane" look he used to reserve for Mulder.
"Dana, do you really expect me to believe you had a visitation from Mulder's ghost? And he told you where to look for his body?"
She smiled at his incredulous tone of voice. "No, sir, actually, I don't. I don't believe it either. But I don't think it will hurt to look."
Skinner removed his glasses. "If anyone else came in here with a story like that, I'd call for sedation." He sighed. "Leave it to Fox Mulder to find a way to come back from the dead."
His look told her that he wished things had been different. "Okay, where do we look?"
The location Mulder had given her was in a section of town used for warehouses and industry twenty years ago. Now it was abandoned and run down.
Anxiety had seized Scully as soon as she had walked into the building. The unease was growing. She didn't hear Skinner enter the building. He walked up behind her, startling her.
She showed him and the two baffled young agents with him the spot.
Skinner noticed her uneasiness and said, "You don't have to be here, Dana."
"Yes, I do."
He nodded, understanding.
As the other agents began to dig, images assaulted her. She could see him huddled in the corner. She could feel his fear, his pain. She could hear his screams as they beat him over and over again, asking him questions for which he had no answers. Finally, she felt his despair as he knew they were going to kill him. Felt his sadness at never seeing her again.
She closed her eyes. <Knock it off, Mulder. I'm doing what you want.> When she opened her eyes she saw nothing but agents digging and Skinner looking at her. She waved him off. "I'm fine, sir."
After several minutes, one of the agents yelled, "Got something." Skinner hurried over, Dana right behind him. She looked down into the hole. Bones. Nothing but bones and an FBI identification wallet bearing the name Fox Mulder.
One week later Arlington National Cemetery
Skinner had pulled strings and two days after his remains had been found, Fox Mulder had been given a hero's burial in a hero's cemetery. Samantha and her husband had been there. Her mother. The two remaining Lone Gunmen. A few other friends and colleagues.
After the brief service, Samantha had pushed the folded flag that Director Skinner had given to her into Scully's hands.
"No, Samantha," Scully protested. "This is yours."
"I didn't know the man who earned this. You did," she said earnestly. "Please take it."
She was leaving today, going back to her life in California. Since finding Mulder's body, she had felt a kind of peace. She hoped that he was at rest now and that he was in that good place he mentioned. Melissa and Ahab would look after him until she got there.
Kneeling by the grave, a single tear fell from her eye and splashed on the single red rose she had placed there.