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The door opened slowly. Scully hesitated on the threshold clearly fatigued, her eyes were glassy and almost half-closed. She was barely able to stand. Eventually she forced herself to walk into the office, almost reluctantly, looking about the place as if she had never been there before, yet seeking sanctuary. She couldnít get out of the meeting with Blevins quick enough. They had been understanding, even sympathetic, but it had been too much. She did not want to break down in front of them, to appear weak, to allow them to see the pain in her eyes. They might have been colleagues, but they were strangers. She shivered suddenly, involuntarily, and sat down heavily in Mulderís chair, no longer trusting the strength of her legs to keep her upright. She felt all her remaining energy drain away.

Scully wanted, needed to rest, desperate to sleep and forget, at least for a time. She badly wanted out of the nightmare, but her body was her own worst enemy. The anxiety she self-diagnosed; the restlessness, the palpitations, the hot flushes. It allied itself to the exhaustion and sense of frustration. She eased back in the office chair. Not the most comfortable, still it had to do. She couldnít get up right now. Minutes passed. She sat unblinking, breathing hard and wide awake.

Scully grimaced a little and shifted uneasily, troubled by something, annoyed now by the familiar bulge in her back. She leaned forward, reached around, unholstered her weapon and delicately placed it onto the desk with the grip facing her. Her gaze dropped and narrowed. On the desk, beside an open packet of sunflower seeds, Mulderís discarded reading glasses lay open. It brought it all back. She reached out to touch them with fingers that trembled. A laboured, quivering sigh deeper than despair escaped her lips and her eyes closed tightly as the tears came. She cried for Mulder alone, still unable to grasp the meaning of his death. She wept silently to herself, unwilling, even now, to let the grief overwhelm her.

A drop of blood splattered the desk top. Her eyes opened in resignation of yet another nose bleed. She left it, uncaring. Mulder was dead, she was dyingÖ

Everything dies.

Cancer. A frightening word in itself, difficult enough to accept in the natural course of events. Her terminal condition forced upon her simply to make Mulder believe the liesÖ sacrificed at a whim. Just to prove a point!

Death. What was it really like? She had seen it, thought she knew it, but could you actually feel it?

Everything dies.

Another drop of blood splattered the desk top. For a long time her tired mind remained numbed. She regarded the automatic almost totally detached. Mulder had shot himself.

Everything dies.

Blood again dropped onto the desk - she was oblivious to it. Scully tentatively touched the handgun again, her fingers ran lightly over the rough surface of the grip. She withdrew her hand suddenly, but only for a moment. Drawn like a magnet she picked the weapon up and studied its clean blunted lines intently. She frowned as she dropped the clip to check the rounds and rammed it home with practised skill. She drew back the slide out of trained habit even before she realised she had done so, and let it spring back forward with a pronounced click. Her jaw muscles tightened with the knowledge that the gun was now loaded and fully cocked. She stared at the far wall, her eyes clearly focused now.

Skinner appeared at the door. He had heard the familiar sound of metal on metal and froze at the sight before him. He caught his breath. "Scully?" The only response from her was a couple of rapid blinks. "Scully, what are you doing?"

Her head moved in his direction ever so slightly. Skinner came into the office and inched toward the desk. "Scully, put the gun down."

Instead she looked hard at it as she began to turn her hand around. "Dana!" Skinner spoke sharply as an order and she hesitated. Her hand started to shake but Skinner saw that her finger had found the trigger and was resting on it. He continued to move to the desk. "Put the gun down, Dana. Please."

His plea struck a chord. She looked up at him with such an expression of incomprehension, child-like innocence and profound grief that he was stunned and moved by it. The blood trickled freely from her nose but she didnít even seem aware of it. "Scully, letís talk about it. I understand."

She was now visibly trembling, her hand shaking, mind racing, obviously caught in a painful vice of indecision. Would she do it in front of him?

At the side of her face the gun wavered. Was there pressure on the trigger? Skinner couldnít take the chance. He thought he saw her begin to depress.

"For Godís sake, no!"

He launched at her, his hand outstretched for the weapon. He got a hold of her wrist as he knocked her out of the chair. The gun went off, shattering something somewhere. They crashed to the floor. Skinner tried not to fall on her and he twisted his body to one side as he got the gun away. She didnít struggle at all, in fact, she was quite passive. He leaned on his elbow, turned her face toward him and searched her eyes with concern. "What?" she asked foggily, almost drunkenly. He took out his handkerchief and tried to stem the flow of blood from her nose. Finally she put a hand on his arm.

"Okay?" he asked in a low voice.

She tried to speak, couldnít and looked at him blankly.

"Itís okay," he told her and continued to wipe the blood away. Her eyes closed tightly as she battled either pain or tears; she shivered in spasm, then started to cough and Skinner knew she was choking on her own blood. He got into a kneeling position and lifted her to sit with her back against his inner thigh for support. "Itís okay. Itíll be all right," he promised her, putting a steadying hand to her neck. She suddenly took hold of his arm and buried her head in his shoulder. He put his arms around her to comfort her and her desperate response made him hold her tighter. After a while her tautness eased as she regained some control and she drew away from him.

"Iím sorry, IÖ"

"Itís okay." He gave her the handkerchief and again searched her eyes. "How are you feeling?"

"It -" her voice trailed away. She held the handkerchief tightly, as if her life depended on it. There was blood on his shirt. She seemed embarrassed. He helped her to her feet, righted the chair and sat her down. Skinner took the seat across from her.

"Iím sorry," she said again. Her eyes were red, puffy, her face a greyish colour. He told her that no apology was necessary, but she didnít seem to understand. She sat stock still, unblinking, an expression of profound sadness on her face. "Iím sorryÖ"

Everything dies.

She looked ill, and it frightened him. Skinner picked up the phone and punched an extension. "Kimberley, Iím in Mulderís office. I need the paramedics. No, itís Scully. And youíd better get Karen Kosseff down here."

Kosseff and the EMTs arrived together. Skinner drew her aside to explain. She nodded without comment, then walked to the desk. She knelt down beside the chair. Scully turned to her somewhat stiffly, even a little defensively.

"Dana, you need to rest."

Scully closed her eyes briefly. "I know. I canítÖ" Her reply was almost inaudible. She looked down.

"Will you let us help you?"

Scully met her gaze; saw the concern and compassion. She wasnít quite sure what had just happened. It was confused, disjointed, maybe even misunderstood but it had alarmed them, and her. She didnít want to admit to needing help and had enough sense to know the stupidity of feeling any resentment because of it. She acquiesced and let herself be guided by others. These at least were friends. She pursed her lips and nodded. Kosseff touched her on the arm, got up and moved out of the way to allow the EMTs to do their work.

"How is she?" Skinner asked quietly.

"Sheís in shock."

He nodded. "It seemed so. I canít believe she tried to -"

The councillor politely cut him off. "I think itís an understandable reaction under the circumstances. We all harbour these tendencies when in the deepest despair. With a gun Dana had the temptation and the handy means to do it. Most of us donít."

Skinner nodded and watched as Scully was placed onto a stretcher and a sedative administered. Kosseff continued. "While the impulse is there and very compelling, generally thereís no real intention of acting upon it. I see no reason to believe any different with Dana."

Skinner looked back sharply. "What makes you think so?" He had always held the impression that Scully never started something she never intended to finish. To Kosseff the reasons were perfectly clear.

"Her strong morality. Her religion, her personalityÖ the repercussions on her family. This was just a moment of weakness: ĎWhat does it matter, Iím dying anyway.í Itís called the ĎRational Suicide Impulseí. To some a logical ending. The only conclusion. The stress she is under must be unbearable."

Kosseff was well aware of Danaís self-confessed anxieties and her fears. Theyíd spoken of the nightmares and the unexplained feelings of guilt and grief; the recent, uncharacteristic and disconcerting sense of claustrophobia and painful, fragmented flashbacks that struck suddenly in increasing frequency leaving her tired and irritable with an inability to concentrate. She no longer actively sought the company of friends and it seemed there was no man in her life. There was, however, Mulder, who filled a certain void. The bond had been deeper than they really understood. But now Mulder was gone.

The councillor had taken note of Scullyís conscious decision to come back here when it would have been easier to stay away. Like a moth to a flame. Surrounded by all his things, reminders of their times together only acted as fuel to feed the fire which led to the thoughts that tempted her. There was no shame in any of it, only pity.

"Will she be all right?" Skinner asked and instantly regretted the question. Scully was dying for Godís sake, and all his attempts to help her had been callously brushed aside by those responsible. Kosseff understood the meaning, sensitive that he was upset and affected and she took the question at face value. She was a keen judge not only of people but what made them tick, especially in the difficulties they often had in expressing emotion.

"She needs sleep more than anything right now." Kosseff explained softly.

"And later?" Skinnerís eyes drilled into hers.

A look of motherly concern flashed across Kosseffís face as they followed the stretcher from the room. "Mr Skinner, itís really too early to speculate." There was a slight edge to her voice, betraying the fact that she was struggling with her own composure. They would do what they could, offer their support but the decisions lay elsewhere. "Itís all up to Dana, now." she said and Kosseff knew for certain that Scully needed something tangible to latch onto, not empty supposition.

--end of file--

C L Goodwin 1998