How Do You Say The Words?

By Jeannine Ackerson

 

Jan 27,1997

Rating: PG.

***Spoiler warning: For the 4th season - Leonard Betts.***

Disclaimer: Scully, Mulder and the X-Files belong to CC, not me. And that's all there is to it.

Relationship: Major friendship, hints at more, but no overt overtures.

Summary: Scully begins to deal with what she fears is a deadly truth, and how to tell Mulder about her suspicions.

As I'm sure half a million X-Philes did as well, I said basically "Oh God" when this episode(Leonard Betts)'s implications were made clear; the pieces of the puzzle were put together. I told myself that I wasn't going to write this, but the feelings I was having just wouldn't go away until I did. So here's my take on what's next...

Dana Scully's Apartment

2:09 a.m.

 

There were two crimson spots on the white pillowcase.

She'd woken up coughing and turned on the light. If she hadn't she wouldn't have seen them until they were dry brown blots in the morning. Her eyes were drawn to them as if she knew that they would be there.

Perhaps she did.

She touched a finger delicately to one spot, turning it up to her eyes and the light. It was what she though it was. Then she felt the thin ribbon of wetness running from her nostril. A finger went up to pull back wet and red streaked. A second finger followed, as if to verify what it was. What it meant.

Not like she didn't know.

She'd known since earlier that evening. Since a mutated killer had confronted her in a Pennsylvania emergency medical vehicle and told her with startling assurance that she had what he needed. And she knew what that was.

Cancer.

She and Mulder had found all the evidence to that hypothesis that she needed. The visits to the oncology wards. Then there was the cooler full of waste tissue and the stolen lung. It was all cancerous. And obviously somewhere in her body some cancerous cells lay.

Staring at the droplets of blood on her fingers, she recalled how horrified she'd been at Betts' pronouncement. If he was right, and she did have . . . But she hadn't let herself think about it at the time.

Then her instincts had kicked in, her only concern had been for her immediate survival. Right then and there. She'd reacted as she'd been trained to do. She'd done everything she needed to do to survive. And he had ended up dead on the pavement and she sat there in the ambulance in semi-shock.

When Mulder had shown up, she'd been a little more in control. She'd taken a seat in the passenger seat of the car and waited for him. When he came and told her that Betts was dead, but his mom was alive, for the time being, she knew for certain.

But she had to ask. She had to ask him if it was cancer.

And he'd said yes. She barely heard him when he told her the type and that she'd been given a clean bill of health. Then he'd told her that she'd done a good job and that she should be proud.

But she couldn't. Because right then she couldn't feel anything. So she'd just said "I want to go home."

And now, staring at the blood that she knew shouldn't be on her fingers, she couldn't help but accept the truth.

She had cancer.

Just like the MUFON women she'd met in Allentown. They'd told her, but she hadn't wanted to believe. Couldn't believe. For her own sanity. And now she had no other choice but to admit that she was just like them. And that she was going to die, just like they were.

For a moment she let the weakness of fear and sorrow overtake her, and she let her head fall into her arms. The tears threatened at her lashes, and she was just too tired to fight them. First one tear, then two streaked down her face, until she'd lost count, and could only feel the hot trails marking her cheeks. She'd finally given in to them, given up the fight against them.

The fight she'd fought against them since she'd asked Mulder to take her home.

Oh God, Mulder, she thought with a stab of bitter pain. He was going to feel so guilty about this. Feel responsible, hurt because of this. She couldn't tell him now. Not until she was sure. But then? What then?

She knew that somehow he hadn't noticed her preoccupation in the car, her lack of attention to his words. He'd just done as she'd asked. He'd taken her home. And hadn't pressed her about it. As usual he was giving her the space that she asked for. But this time she really needed him.

God how she needed him right now. Her head pulled up and her hand started for the phone, but she stopped herself. What could he do for her? Wave a magic wand and make it go away?

No.

All her calling him, asking him to come over, telling him would do would be to scare him and make him feel more pain. And she wasn't going to do that to him. She wouldn't let Them use her to do that to him.

Then in a flash of understanding she realized that *They* had done this to her. To her and Mulder. She would die and They would destroy Mulder at the same time. It was perfect.

With a sudden burst of anger she found the clock at the side of the bed and yanked the cord from the wall and threw it across the room, smashing the plastic and metal parts. Then she huddled back into herself onthe bed, wishing that she didn't know what she knew now.

Suddenly there was a slamming sound at the front of her apartment, and her head came up at the sound of her name being yelled. By a very familiar voice.

"Scully!" Mulder yelled, gun in hand as he raced from the front door. Swiftly he made his way through the apartment, and then to the bedroom. He found her sitting there on her bed, knees up to her chest and her arms wrapped around them. Scanning the room quickly, he realized she was safe, and noted the smashed alarm clock on the floor by the door. Then he put his weapon away, and moved towards her.

Her eyes had been wide as they stared at his form. Like a shipwreck survivor seeing their salvation sailing towards them. She didn't even question what he was doing there. Somehow that just didn't seem all that important in light of the events unfolding around her.

But she couldn't burden him with the knowledge she'd gained. She couldn't tell him. So she dropped her gaze, and her head. Yet somewhere in her soul she knew she couldn't hide for long. Not from him.

Then the bed buckled slightly under his weight, and he tenderly put a hand against her cheek.

"Scully? Dana, are you alright?" he asked, slightly raising her face.

And then he saw it.

The little river of blood from her nose. It was already drying, but the fact that it was there concerned him more than it should have.

"Dana, what happened?"

She couldn't answer him. How do you tell your partner, your best friend that you think you're dying? That some mutated madman told you so, and now you're seeing the signs yourself. But she did let herself meet his eyes, and the concern there flooded over her fears. How could she not tell him?

"Mulder . . ." she began, then paused, trying to figure how to say it.

"Was it the blow to your head?" he asked, moving his thumb over to wipe away the blood still stubbornly clinging to her face. "Is that why you're bleeding?"

She sighed, long and louder than she would have normally. How was it that he could make her feel like she was the most precious, important person in his universe without even trying? It made her feel ashamed that she had wanted to lie to him. To be any less honest than he was. The caring and concern he felt for her only made her more aware of the bond they had. And that bond left no room for lies and half-truths.

Only the whole truth would do.

"Mulder," she began, and took in a deep breath and continued, "when Betts came for me . . . in the ambulance . . . he . . . he told me that I had something . . . I had something he needed."

The words she'd just uttered whirled around in Mulder's head, their meaning still unclear. Then with a sudden clarity he understood. The victims, the blood, Scully . . . cancer. His head dropped as he felt a thousand different emotions flood through him.

God no, not Scully, please no he thought, pleaded with whatever deity could hear him. They had always been afraid that They had done something to her when she'd been abducted. And now . . .

"Maybe he was wrong Scully . . . maybe he just wanted to frighten you, to help him escape," he offered, bringing his gaze back up to hers, his eyes sending hope through them to her as his hands tightly grasped hers.

"I don't think so Mulder," she said, her voice quiet and almost resigned. It was like she'd given up. But he wasn't going to let her. He wasn't going to let her go without a fight.

"We don't know for sure. But if . . . if it is, we can fight it Scully. We'll fight it just like we fight everything. Together. Okay?! You and me. We'll beat this, I promise you," he said forcefully, giving her hands a squeeze.

She wanted to tell him not to make promises he couldn't keep, but then she looked deep into his eyes. Their eyes locked, and long seconds went by as they bolstered each other's spirits, one another's souls with the strength of their partnership, the strength of their bond. They had gotten through so much, survived so much together, maybe it *was* possible, she thought. Maybe they could win.

"Alright Mulder," she replied softly.

With that settled, Mulder pulled her towards him, wrapping his arms around her. Then her arms found their way around him, and they held each other tight. Tomorrow they would start getting answers, begin to fight.

But tonight . . . tonight they would just be there for each other.

And come what may, they would be together.

-End-

To All: Have faith. J.

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