Title: The Ghost in My Bed: An X-Files Tale
Notes: This story is experimental. It is not intended to be anything other than an exercise in style [I'm still trying to write my way out of a block :-( ] But I'm proud of it anyway, so here it is ... Thanks to Debbie Hewett, editor extraordinaire (as always and again) and to the amazing soundtrack of "Exotica" which helped set the mood for the writing.
I think about him all the time. He's never too far away ... but just far enough to make the distance impossible to cross.
I'll be driving in my car and it's like he's there, sitting beside me in the front seat. "What are your thoughts, Scully?" he'll ask in that lazy way of his. I turn to look, wanting, desperately needing to see those hazel eyes, laughing at me ... Or I'll be writing a report and he'll be behind me, reading over my shoulder. "By the book again, Scully?" he'll drawl. "I guess you're still not ready for what I think." And that low-throated chuckle.
And when I turn to look at him, really look, wanting nothing more than to reach out and touch him, he's never there. Just the empty air, reproaching me.
Mulder died eleven months ago. You would think I'd be over it by now. <Click.>
Work. It's what I have instead of a life. It's my existence, my salvation, the thing I fill my hours with. I go in very early and leave very late. I write reports until my eyes burn and my fingers cramp from being on the keyboard for so long. My office is more my home than is my empty, echoing apartment. Work helps me to forget, if only for a little while.
Other people, other agents, they skirt around me and all conversation dies when I walk into a room. I'm a pariah, untouchable. My partner died. And even though I wasn't there, I am still suspect. Even though they were scared of him, of his ideas, they respected him. And I'm to blame. Because I wasn't there. Because I couldn't help him. Because I was unable to protect him. They know it. They stay away from me. No one will look me in the eye. I'm the jinx, the black cat, the number 13, snake eyes. If they ignore me, nothing bad will happen to them. So I get respectful little nods, I get files and reports handed in to me on time, I get the odd murmured, "How are you," and I get little else. Nothing that comforts or eases this unrelenting ache.
They gave me a promotion after he died. Skinner didn't waste much time. The week after the funeral, he called me into his office and once he had offered me the usual well-meaning condolences and blank words of comfort, dangled before me a new job with Violent Crimes. I think they hoped that Mulder's gift, his ability to make those intuitive leaps that would solve cases, had rubbed off on me. I'm good at what I do, but not that good. I took the new job because I thought that's what I needed, to get away from my memories. To start over. But I can't run away. The memories hover over my head, inhabit me, surround me. There is no relief, no sanctuary to hide in. Not from the relentless, daily replay of memory.
The smug, sarcastic challenges bitten off at me. <Do you believe in the existence of extraterrestrials?> The quirky little comments designed to keep me off balance, keep me at arm's length. <Do you know how difficult it is to fake your own death? Only one man has pulled it off ... Elvis> And most hurtful of all, the sly, dancing remarks that irritated but were strangely endearing, the constant reminders of the could have beens, the should have beens. <I think it's remotely plausible that someone might think you're hot ...>
A thousand things. The death pallor of his face as he lay on a narrow hospital bed in Alaska. The dark circles of tension under his eyes even as he smiled at me when I woke from the coma. The gentleness in his hands when he dabbed at my face with a napkin. And the most bittersweet memory of all -- the feel of his arms wrapped around me as I clung to him, sobbing. The feel of his chin rasping my cheek as he whispered soft comfort in my ear. The smell of his exhaustion, his relief at finding me, all wrapped up in a richness of scent that was uniquely his ... oh god I can still smell him if I close my eyes ...
<The sound of muffled sobbing.>
I can't believe it. I'm crying again. I thought I was in control, that I was strong. And these memories defeat me. I'm so weak.
Damn you Mulder, why did you leave me?
<Click.> This is the preliminary autopsy report on John Doe 57, Quantico Pathology Unit, SAC Dana Scully presiding. Levins -- adjust that light for me, please. <Muffled sounds of movement.>
Look, Agent Scully, I think I'm going to go back down to the fingerprinting lab. I don't think you need my help with this. Go ahead. The subject was found floating face down in the Potomac. A cursory examination indicates a bloating typical of drowning ... <A door is shut>. Thank god, Levins is gone. Of all the sanctimonious, self-righteous, officious little ....
Okay, Dana Katherine, deep breath. We can edit this tape later. Just because the agent assigned to you is a smarmy little worm is no need to get uptight. Just because Mulder was the ideal partner in most respects is no need to dislike the worm who is supposed to be his replacement ...
Subject is a Caucasian male, measuring six feet three inches, 168 pounds. Subject has light brown hair. There is evidence of cranial trauma ... and two wounds to the upper chest that look like bullet holes. Mulder was shot five times. It was a .58 caliber. Tore holes the size of my fist in his chest, went right through his back. He bled to death. I couldn't even be near the autopsy, but I saw the report. I had to know exactly how he died, to know it through fact even though I had seen it with my own eyes. So that I would believe it.
It was supposed to be routine. We were investigating what looked like a garden-variety kidnapping and extortion. We were on a stake-out. I had gone back home for twenty minutes, just to get a change of clothing and some food. Somehow he had been lured out of the car. When I came back, he was lying on the ground beside the car, all of the blood in his body pooled beneath him in a sticky black lake. He died with his eyes open, staring up into the sky where the stars twinkled dispassionately over him.
I don't remember much after that. Rumour has it I went a little crazy. I know I was sedated, I remember the needle. It's just a dark cloud of misery to me. I can remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach, like something had been ripped right out of my body. I know now what it was. It was a piece of my soul, the piece that Mulder had completed. With his death, he took it away with him. And somehow I don't think I'm ever going to feel whole again.
John Doe 57 died from two .58 caliber bullet holes, one puncturing the aorta and the other obliterating the left lung. It has been determined by myself that this is a wrongful death. A full investigation is to be launched into this homicide and a list of suspects is being compiled. A wrongful death ... Tonight is the anniversary of that horrible night. I've spent an entire year without him.
I can't believe it. I feel I've been living in a nightmare. But sometimes, it's like he's right there, and other times ... other times I can't even remember what he looked like. I think I need a drink.
This little tape recorder is turning into my only friend. The only one I can stand to have around me <bitter laugh>. At least it won't offer empty platitudes and those hollow, meaningless words of comfort ...
Well, Mulder ... wherever you are, here's to you.
<The clink of glass and the sound of liquid being poured.>
I miss you, you know. More than I could ever say. Much more than I ever thought I would.
You know, Mulder ... I think ... I think part of the reason this hurts so much is ... is because maybe I ... maybe I loved you ...
And I never, ever told you that. Because I couldn't say it. Because maybe Ithought you'd always be with me, and that I had all the time in the world ... I thought I would be able to tell you how I felt in the future, the future that never came. And that I could tell you that I hoped that we would be more than ... be more than just friends, just partners -- all those "just" things that we were so much more than ... and that there would be a future for us, together. With a house, a dog, a baby ...
Oh god, Mulder, in a way I'm glad that you can't possibly hear me say what I just said. <Shaky laugh.> What dry comment would you come back with after that? You'd have a field day, and I'd never live it down.
<The sound of wind. A slight tapping sound.>
What -- what's that?
<Long sighing sound.>
I think ... it sounds like there is someone in my bedroom ... or maybe it's just the wind. The tree branch outside is scraping against the window --
Is anyone there?
<Another small tapping noise.>
God, I'm so paranoid. It's like that's the only part of you that rubbed off on me. I see shadows behind everything, Mulder. Unseen manipulative hands .. I'm worse than the guys at the Lone Gunmen.
They keep trying to get in touch with me. Cute e-mail messages, weird quirky phone calls. I never answer them. It would be too painful for me ... because every time I talked to them, I would be expecting you to be there.
Sometimes ... sometimes I feel your presence near me and it makes me happy. Like now. I feel that you are very close to me tonight, Mulder. And I'm glad. I can pretend for just a little while that you're still here ... that you're alive and at any moment now my phone will ring and you'll say, "Scully, it's me."
Please ring, phone.
Oh god, Mulder. I miss you so much.
<The sound of sighing.>
I think I'm going crazy. I really think I am.
If Melissa were here she'd have some supernatural and arcane explanation for what happened to me last night. Something that would convince me that I'm losing my mind.
But what if it was true, that it was real?
And that I wasn't under some kind of waking hallucination ...?
I'm not going to think about that. But I need to say what happened, to put it into words. Because something happened. I'm not sure what it was -- was it a dream, was it a fantasy, was it just wishful thinking? I don't know. I don't know what the hell happened to me.
Because last night Mulder came back to me.
He came to me in my bedroom while I was trying to stop crying, trying to sleep.
He was there. Right there, on the bed, with me. He held me in his arms, which were solid, real, and warm. He kissed my forehead. He brushed away my tears. He said to me, "Dana, don't cry. I'm with you now, I'm here. Please don't cry. I can't stand to see you unhappy." It was his voice, not some kind of dream, not an hallucination. It was really him -- that same silky tone and the sadness that always lay so close to the surface -- all of it, it was him. He was here, and he was real.
He was so very beautiful. Much more beautiful than I remember him to be. I kissed him. I couldn't help it, I was delirious. He kissed me back, the way I had dreamt a thousand times that he might. And warm -- oh god, his lips were warm! I could feel his heart beating, I could hear him breathe. He even smelled the way I remember ...
And his touch ...
Oh god ... there's a ghost in my bed. A breathing, thinking, six-foot ghost. It's Mulder. He came back. It's impossible, but it's true. He came back to me, for me. He -- he loves me.
This must sound insane. I am going out of my mind. I hope he'll come back. He said he would. And Mulder never lied to me. He said a lot of wild things, he was sarcastic and he could be cruel, but he never, ever lied to me. I want him back. I can't believe ... I've been given a gift -- I can tell him how I really feel, and he hears me. He's here. I can hold him in my arms the way I never could when he was alive ... This must be what joy feels like. <Click.> **
AD Walter Skinner frowned. "This is it?" He rolled the small dicta-a-phone tape between two fingers. Dana Scully had been missing for three days. The blond agent nodded. "That's all we've been able to find. The tape was in the recorder that we found on the floor by the bed. Everything else was untouched. There's no sign of a break-in, or that she left in a hurry. Nothing has been disturbed in her apartment. She's just ... gone, that's all." He looked very solemn. "It's no secret how depressed she'd been, sir, and it was the anniversary ... the anniversary of Agent Mulder's death. We're checking the morgues now, and a squad is being assembled to drag the Potomac on your command, sir." Skinner sat back in his chair. "We'll wait until morning. If there's any word, get back to me. That's all, Delaney. Thank you." He waited until the agent had left his office, then pocketed the tape. He rose and stood before his window. Lights began to sparkle like a handful of diamonds in the wake of the setting sun, and the sky was the colour of amethyst. Night was settling over the city. Mortals slept and ghosts climbed into their beds. Skinner watched until the lights blurred and he shivered, but not with the cold. First Mulder, dead from an assassin's bullet. Scully vanished without a trace. He wanted to believe they were together, but could not bring himself to make that leap of faith. Just another damn X-File, he thought.
Yeah, I know ... it's sucky. But hey, it's been hot here. And I can't write anything for "The Stone Giant", and I was bored, and suffering from a surfeit of angst ... so there. Terri Monture "Men and animals are floating thru the sky Every month or so a new one passes by Forms a circle and the planets in the air Find a newspaper and it is printed there I'll tell you why tomorrow ..." -- Husker Du