Title: Melissa's Christmas
Summary: Scully tries to deal with the loss of her sister Melissa during the Christmas holidays.
Dedicated: To all the 'Philes who've lost someone...there are too many of you out there, and I'm sorry.
December 20, 1995
Scully sat in the chair opposite Mulder's desk. Her eyes were unfocused as she stared at the familiar poster: I Want to Believe. Her eyes focused when she heard the door open behind her, but she didn't turn.
"Scully? What are you doing here?" Mulder asked, concern wrinkling his brow.
She took a deep breath. Fight it, she reminded herself as she turned to face him. "I could ask you the same thing, Mulder," she said and her voice sounded weak even to her own ears.
"I just came to pick up something to read," Mulder said, his hand glossing over the shelf and stopping on a thick book about abduction experiments.
"Now that's light holiday reading," she remarked dryly.
He smiled slightly, pure Mulder. But his eyes on her turned serious. "What are you doing here on Christmas Eve? I thought you'd be at your mother's by now."
Scully wanted to close her eyes and put her head down on the desk. But she couldn't. "I'm not going," she said instead.
Why couldn't he leave her alone? "I don't want to," she said, and hoping to end the conversation, stood and reached for her coat. Mulder's eyes were still on her, she could feel them. "What?" she sighed, facing him.
Hid hands went up, defensive. "Nothing," he said, but she didn't believe it. "All this time, I thought you liked Christmas."
"I do like Christmas, Mulder," she said, "I just don't want to deal with it this year."
"I understand," Mulder said and she knew that he did, all too well, and that was why he wasn't going to let her off so easily. "I'm sure Ebenezer Scrooge said the same thing."
"You're one to talk," she snapped, "I'll bet you haven't even called your mother."
"That's different," he informed her after a pause.
"No," she said coldly, brushing past him, "It isn't."
Scully drove home very slowly. A light snow was beginning to fall, but there was no traffic to speak of. Everyone was already settled in cozily with their families or their lovers. Scully dreaded returning to her empty apartment. She blamed Mulder for driving her out of their sterile office.
She parked the car and got out. Standing gave her a head rush and she blinked it away. It had been days since she'd eaten or slept decently. The previous night she'd dozed off on the couch towards the end of a Star Wars marathon, only to awaken at 4 am. If I'm not careful, she thought, I'm going to turn into Mulder. Then again, maybe she already had.
She opened the door to her apartment, mentally sorting through her kitchen cabinets. She'd have some vegetable soup, a long hot bath, and a good night's sleep. That would make everything better.
Scully froze in the doorway and blinked furiously. "Melissa?" Melissa was sitting on her couch. Melissa, her dead sister was sitting on her couch! Scully clung to the door as the blood started rushing in her ears and everything got a little fuzzy around the edges. She was going to faint.
"I'm sorry if I startled you," Melissa said, "I just let myself in... Dana are you all right?"
She could feel the tears in her eyes. "What are you doing here?" she whispered, trying to process what was happening. Melissa wasn't a ghost - she cast a shadow, she was real. But what did that mean?
"We always exchange our presents on Christmas eve, apart from the family," Melissa said, watching her sister carefully. "Are you all right?"
"Fine," Scully said, finally able to close the door and move away from it. Could it all have been a mistake? A big huge enormous misunderstanding? A bad dream? One of those had to apply, because here was Missy, months later, right as rain.
"Are you sure?" Melissa asked. Scully nodded as she mechanically removed her coat. "Nothing's happened?"
A lot has happened, she thought, only able to nod her head dumbly. Dana sat down on the couch, next to her sister, close wnough to feel the warmth emanating from her body. She was real, somehow she was alive. "Oh Missy, I love you, you know that don't you?" The tears started to fall as she threw herself against her older sister.
"I know, Dana, I love you too," Melissa said, somewhat taken aback, patting her sister's hair.
Dana pulled back, sniffling, feeling silly. "I know I don't say it often enough -"
"That's your way," Melissa said matter-of-factly. "And it's all right, Dana. Here. I got you this." She produced a small box.
Fresh tears flooded Dana's eyes. "I didn't get you anything," she said, her voice thick.
Melissa nodded and smiled. "You're busy. I know. I'll just expect double on my birthday." She winked conspiratorily. "Open it, silly."
Dana's hands trembled as she pulled the top off the box and withdrew a bracelet. "It's for good luck and protection," Melissa said. "Put it on."
Her hands were shaking too hard and she felt sick. This was too much. "I'll put it on later," she said quickly, setting the box aside. Melissa looked a little hurt but didn't say anything. "It's beautiful, I love it," Dana said, "But it's too soon to put it on."
"Too soon?" Melissa questioned. "What do you mean? Dana, you've gone pale again - where were you when I got here? What's happened?"
"Nothing!" Dana snapped, then stopped. She'd spent months regretting every harsh word that had ever passed between them, and they were fighting. Her tone softened. "I'm sorry. I'm just tired, that's all."
"You work too hard," Melissa said. "How's that partner of yours?"
"Mulder? Hardheaded as usual."
"It's been a tough year for you both. I hope next year will be less traumatic."
"Thanks," Dana smiled. "I'll tell him you said that." Will I? The buzzing in her ears was back. Is this all some horrible delusion? Am I losing my mind?
"Why don't you go change, and then we'll go to Mom's?"
Dana nodded, but was reluctant to leave. What if her sister was gone again when she returned? Burning fear collected in the pit of her stomach. What would be worse, she wondered, finding out I've imagined this, or that I've imagined the last few months? She bathed her face with cool water. The months since Melissa's death had been pretty bad. She and Mulder were constantly sniping at each other, worse than before because it was different. Before it was because he didn't trust her. Now it was as though he didn't care. Why would she have imagined the last few months so horribly?
But why would she imagine this?
Dana had no answers as she stepped into the green velvet dress she'd worn last Christmas. She stopped a moment to put on lipstick because she was very pale, but something deep within her told her to hurry.
She knew in her heart before she emerged from her bedroom. Melissa was gone. The couch was cold and the little box no longer sat on the coffee table.
Her body ached with the loss. Melissa was gone. But she had to know for sure.
Scully ran out into the falling snow without a second though, her breath coming hard as she continued to run, down the street, around the corner...the route seemed endless.
She stopped and knelt in front of the grey stone marker, snow burning its wet way through her dress. A chill wind lifted her hair and made her shiver as her fingers reached out to trace the name carved into the stone. Her eyes were dry. The tears always refused to come in the face of real tragedy.
Melissa Scully. January 21, 1963 - September 30, 1995. May she been remembered.
Dana leaned her forehead against the stone. Her skin was hot next to its iciness. "Oh Missy," she said. "Why is it true?" Her hand stroked the marker one last time, then she righted herself and began the long, cold walk home. She wrapped her arms around herself. She hadn't thought to bring her coat.
Scully felt like a block of ice, inside and out, when she finally arrived home. The light on her answering machine blinked at her, but she didn't press the play button. No doubt it was her mother, reassuring her, telling her to come to dinner, please? She couldn't face them now.
She turned the hot water in the bathtub on full blast and clouds of steam began to rise almost immediately. Scully poured in more of the scented bubble bath than she usually allowed herself and peeled off the soggy ruined dress. Not caring, she left it in a heap on the floor and climbed into the hot bath.
She stared at the ceiling, willing herself to relax. The events replayed again and again in her head and she couldn't stop asking herself why. Why, why, why. It had to be the most horrible word in existance. She closed her eyes to shut it out.
Finally the questions faded from her mind and she felt herself relax. Everything was black but she could see tiny white lights glowing everywhere, like stars. It was a place she had seen once before, in a dream, when she thought Mulder was dead. He had spoken to her from this place.
She felt safe. She could feel familiar people all around her, just out of sight, supporting her. She could feel her father's hand on her back, encouraging her. Then Melissa stepped out of the darkness and came to stand before her in the light. "Melissa," she breathed, awestruck.
"Hello, Dana," her sister said.
"Is this heaven?" she asked, aware she sounded like a little girl appealing to her knowledgeable older sister.
"That's what you would call it," Melissa said. "It has many names."
"What am I doing here?" Dana asked, but Melissa didn't answer. "Am I dreaming this too?" she asked, more harshly, frustrated and needing answers. Still Melissa refused to answer.
"Melissa, you know I love you, don't you?" Dana asked desperately. "I mean, I never said it, until the end, and then I didn't think you could hear me -"
"I heard you. I know, Dana. I've always known." Melissa assured her with that small familiar smile.
"Oh, Melissa, it should be me here and not you." Dana could feel hot tears sliding down her face. "I should be...it should be me who's dead. I'd trade places with you in a minute."
"No," Melissa said firmly. "This is how it is. This is how it must be."
"Are you saying this is fate?" Dana rebelled. "That everything is pre-ordained, that there is no free will?"
"No, I'm saying you're not ready," Melissa said.
Dana quieted instantly. "Were you ready?" she asked. Melissa said nothing, just stood there, silent, watching her, and Dana felt those brown eyes could see into her soul. She had to look away. "What about Mom?" she asked, the dull ache she'd been carrying sharpening into pain so intense she could barely breathe. "She needs you. I only push her away."
"She understands, Dana. She doesn't blame you and she doesn't begrudge you your pain."
"It should have been me," Dana could feel her nose starting to run.
"No. You are needed," Melissa said again.
"How? Why? So I can chase down ghouls and spooks?" Dana asked, feeling that familiar anger welling up again.
"Mulder needs you."
"Mulder doesn't need anyone. He's an island. I can't even reach him anymore."
"I don't know what you're so afraid of, Dana," Melissa shook her head slightly, "The world is filled with wondrous sunlit variety that silences the trifling darkness. You have seen. You have faced the horrors with unflinching bravery. Be brave enough to begin to forgive yourself and celebrate the love others hold for you. Instill in them not only your trust but your belief and they can never destroy you."
Tears slipped down Dana's face. Oh Missy. The pain was unbearable. She could not speak.
Melissa was fading back into the starry void now, volumes of empty black space between them. "Remember, Dana, it is not where you are going, but the discoveries on the journey that are supreme."
Dana thrust out her arms and screamed for her sister to return to her.
"The journey," Melissa repeated softly, and was gone.
Dana opened her eyes, feeling weak and alone. The water in the tub was cold and clammy against her skin, most of the bubbles evaporated. Maybe I was dreaming, she thought, releasing the water from the tub and enveloping herself in her robe. But she knew it hadn't been a dream, the way she had simply known other important things in the past.
"The journey," she whispered to herself, thinking about her sister's words. She had no choice but to believe them - there were some things even a skeptic didn't question - but it would be hard for her to accept them.
She wandered back into the living room. It didn't feel as cold or forbidding as it had since the day Missy died there. Scully knew she should call her mom and pressed the playback button on her answering machine.
It wasn't her mother. "Scully." Mulder's voice filled the room, gruff. "If you're not going home for Christmas and you can stand the company..." he drifted off, uncertain of what to say. "I bought you a present." She held her breath, waiting. The message didn't end. Finally he said, "You shouldn't have to be alone." Several more seconds of silence. He muttered something unintelligable and hung up.
Scully rewound the message, but couldn't decipher his mutterings. She dressed and put on her coat and headed for Mulder's.
He looked surprised to see her when he answered the door in sweatpants and a ripped T shirt, his hair going every which way. "Hi," he said, "I didn't figure you were coming."
"I just heard your message." Scully admitted, awkward and embarrassed. "Maybe I - should just go."
"No," he said and touched her arm. The old spark between them flared and she returned to face him, her eyes wide. Mulder released her immediately. "Come in. Pardon the mess," he said, not sounding like Mulder at all.
They sat down together on the couch and Mulder pressed the mute button on the TV. Then he realized that was silly and turned it all the way off. "You look like you've had a rough night."
"It was interesting," Scully said, her usual protective walls in place. She smiled self-consciously and the walls cracked just a bit. "I'm feeling better now."
Mulder nodded and they both looked away. "Anyway, I got you a present," he said and rose to pick up a box from the desk. He returned to the couch, jostling her, and put it into her hands. His eyes were bright. "Open it," he urged.
She did, shaking the small box open. Scully drew in a harsh breath when she saw the tiny bracelt inside. Hot tears flooded her eyes. "Mulder," she said, because it was all she could say.
His fingers worked in the palm of her hand as he turned the charm over. "That's the Navajo word for 'journey'." Scully shivered violently and Mulder looked at her. "Cold?"
Scully shook her head. Mulder finished quickly. "I didn't even see it there when I bought it. I called Albert Hosteen and asked him what it meant. He said you - both of us - have a long journey ahead before we find our truth."
Scully opened her mouth and tried to speak, but no words came out. "Oh Mulder," she finally managed, "I was just going to get you a tie."
"It's all right," he told her as she started sobbing. He pulled her against him and held her close and safe.
"What a year," Scully said, and was finally able to look ahead and not back. She wiped her eyes and her nose on her sleeve.
"We'll find the truth," he said, certain.
"Not too soon." Scully said, and he looked at her. "It's all over when we find the truth."
Mulder nodded. In the silence, somewhere a clock started to chime midnight. "Merry Christmas, Scully," he said and kissed her on the cheek.
She hugged him tightly to her. "Merry Christmas. And thank you, Mulder. I owe you...so much." She jingled the bracelet in her hand.
Mulder fastened it about her wrist. "The journey," he mumbled, tracing the word, his fingers lingering on her sensitive skin.
Scully jumped up, her mind elsewhere, remembering the message on her answering machine and consequently her family. "Can I use your phone?" she asked. Mulder nodded, and turned on the TV, trying not to listen.
"Hi, Mom? I'm surprized you're not at midnight mass...no, I'll go in the morning. I just wanted to say, Merry Christmas...and I'm sorry...no, Mom, I am...no, I'm at Mulder's...Ok. OK. Bye." Scully pressed the 'end' button.
"What'd she say?" Mulder asked casually as Scully joined him on the couch, nestling her head into his shoulder.
"She said the same thing that M - she said she understands. And that you need me." Scully said slowly and waited for him to deny it.
He never did.
Please let me know what you thought - I welcome all comments, and critisms. Did you like my attempt at a "Blessing Way" type monologue? Even if you just wanna talk, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org