Subject: Bereft
Date: Wednesday, February 09, 2000

TITLE: Bereft (1 of 1)
AUTHOR: Dawn
EMAIL: sunrise@avenew.com
ARCHIVE: MTA, Xemplary, Gossamer - others are fine, just let me know
SPOILERS: Sein Un Zeit
RATING: PG
CLASSIFICATION: SA
KEYWORDS: Fill in the blank, Mulder/Scully UST
SUMMARY: Bereft - lacking something needed, wanted, or expected. A
glimpse into part of Mulder's difficult night.
DISCLAIMER: Mulder, Scully, and Skinner belong to Chris Carter and 1013
productions. If Chris wouldn't leave such tempting blanks, I wouldn't be
here filling 'em.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: After killing off Teena in my own little universe, it
was too tempting to write Mulder's reaction in the 1013 domain. Many,
many thanks to my fabulous betas -- Vickie, Laurie, Nikki, and Donna.
Having your input not only makes for a better story, but a lot more fun
as well. Love ya, guys!

Bereft
By Dawn


Though armed with science, logic, and common sense, in the end she
simply held him. Mulder's tears, hot and hard as bullets, scalded the
sensitive flesh of Scully's neck and traced a path of fire through her
already raw emotions. His chest vibrated with violent sobs that rose
from a dark place she'd glimpsed occasionally, but never with such
clarity. His arms clutched her to his body with the frantic desperation
of a drowning man blindly seeking salvation, and despite a crushing
sense of inadequacy, she tried to grant him the little she could.

"It's okay," she murmured, laying her cheek against the crown of his
head and rocking gently back and forth. "It's all right, Mulder, let it
go. Let it all go."

By the time the storm of his weeping tapered off to an occasional
shudder and hitch of breath, Mulder was reduced to a limp tangle of long
limbs -- a counterpoint to the muscles in Scully's back, which felt
stretched to the breaking point and thrummed with tension. She ran her
fingers soothingly through damp, spiky hair and ducked her head to peer
into his face.

"Hey, partner. How about moving to the couch? You look like you could
use some sleep."

The waning light cast an impassive mask over Mulder's features but the
abrupt clench of muscle was palpable. He jerked backward, breaking the
circle of her arms as he lurched to his feet.

"I can't do that, Scully! Not now. I...I have to think, to figure things
out."

Pacing now, he prowled around the room, aimlessly picking up and
replacing objects without ever really seeing them. A cut-glass
paperweight from the desk. His favorite text on alien abductions from
the bookshelf. The worn basketball perched on a corner of the coffee
table. Lifted, fingered absently, and discarded, until something in
Mulder's hands halted the incessant motion and he went very still.

Scully rose from her chair, wincing when she recognized a photo was the
catalyst for Mulder's abrupt switch from agitation to immobility.

THE photo.

"Why did she do it, Scully?" he asked, index finger tracing his sister's
impish grin. He raised impossibly green eyes to her face, bewilderment a
thin veneer atop the other, more complex emotions beneath.

Scully pressed her lips together, searching for a response. Mulder's
question could be interpreted so many ways. Why did his mother kill
herself? Why did she get rid of her children's photos? Why did she leave
the cryptic message on his answering machine? Given Mulder's fragility
she was loath to seek clarification.

Instead, she captured one hand and tugged him over to the couch. He sat
on the edge of the cushions, elbows braced on knees and head cradled in
his hands. Withdrawing from her in an attempt to maintain a tenuous
grasp on his grief. Scully kept her voice low and soothing as she sought
to navigate an emotional minefield. "Mulder, when people are upset,
confused, they often behave uncharacteristically -- even irrationally.
Your mother had received devastating news. It must have been a terrible
shock."

Mulder remained silent and, she thought, unresponsive. Until she saw a
flicker of movement and realized he was almost imperceptibly shaking his
head.

"No," he muttered, dragging his palms down his face and peering at her
over his shoulder. More vehemently. "NO, Scully."

At the sight of her puzzled frown he hunched his shoulders and shifted
his focus to the floor. "Don't you see? This isn't uncharacteristic
behavior, not when you take a closer look. She was never there for me in
life, why should her death be any different?"

Scully gaped at his rigid back, speechless. Mulder had always been his
mother's staunchest defender -- making excuses for holidays spent alone,
pointing to her fragile health when she failed to show up at his
hospital bedside in North Carolina. And Alaska. And Tennessee. In her
opinion, Teena Mulder had been an emotionally cool and distant mother;
and Mulder, like many children raised in a less than nurturing
environment, overly solicitous and protective where she was concerned.

He'd never openly criticized his mother in her presence.

Never.

"Mulder," she said softly, laying her hand on the taut muscles between
his shoulder blades. "I know how much you're hurting right now, but you
shouldn't see this as a rejection. She..."

He evaded her touch, launched himself to his feet, and resumed pacing,
hands plunged deep into his pockets. "Then why don't you tell me how I'm
supposed to see it, Scully? She *destroyed* all her pictures of us! And
then she... she.... And she didn't even leave a note, an explanation!
She took the coward's way out and just... just..."

He slumped against the wall, forehead and palms pressed to plaster and
eyes tightly shut. "I'm furious with her, Scully." He ground the words
out between clenched teeth. "Isn't that pathetic? My mother just killed
herself and I'm so pissed I could..."

He whirled, scooped up the paperweight and sent it careening to the
floor where it shattered with a spectacular crash. Scully reached his
side just as his fingers closed around a ceramic mug holding pens and
pencils. One small but strong hand clamped onto his wrist and the other
cupped his jaw, directing his wild-eye gaze to the steel of her own.

"Mulder. Stop."

The fury drained out of him as abruptly as it appeared, his eyes two
open wounds. "My family is *gone*, Scully. She left me here, alone, and
she didn't even leave a note," he choked, swiping impatiently at fresh
tears with the back of his hand. "She was all I had left. She should
have had something, *anything* to tell me."

"Oh, Mulder." Scully's own voice was thick as she curled her fingers
around his neck and guided his head to her shoulder.

"She was my mother," he wept, as she ran her thumb over the soft skin
and shushed him. "She should've had something to tell me."

"Maybe she did, Mulder," she murmured. "Maybe she just couldn't find the
words."

Somehow she guided them back to the couch. Though much more subdued than
his earlier breakdown, Scully sensed Mulder's silent tears mourned more
than just his mother's passing. She left him long enough to fill a glass
with cold water, which he accepted gratefully. They sat side by side,
Mulder sipping and staring blankly into space with swollen, red-rimmed
eyes.

"I always dreamed that one day I'd bring Samantha back home," he said
quietly. "After she was taken I'd lie in bed at night, listening to my
parents fight, and picture in my mind what it would be like. I'd make
her wait on the front porch while I went in and called Mom and Dad
together for the announcement. I'd tell them I had a big surprise and
then I'd go get Sam and bring her into the room. Mom would pull Sam into
a hug, just crying and calling her baby over and over again. And Dad
would put his arm around my shoulders and tell me how proud he was of
me, that he never doubted I'd find her."

Mulder set his empty glass on the coffee table and reclined until his
head rested on the back of the couch. "Some nights that dream was the
only thing that held me together. I've kept it alive, my own private
search for the Holy Grail, for twenty-five years." He chuffed a bitter
little laugh. "A lot of people tried to kill that dream. I never thought
my mother would be the one to succeed."

Scully mirrored his position, her shoulder companionably brushing his.
"Maybe it's time the dream stopped being about making other people
happy, Mulder," she replied, turning to study his profile. "Maybe it's
time for a new dream. Could be that's what your mother was trying to
tell you."

His sucked his lower lip into his mouth as his eyes blurred with tears.
"I don't think I know how."

He curled toward her, mutely seeking the comfort of her arms. Scully
wove her fingers through strands of dark hair, blinking hard as his body
shuddered and trembled.

"You'll figure it out, Mulder. I'll help you," she whispered, the words
rough with feeling. "You're not alone, I'm here. I'll always be here."

Mulder's fingers tightened until she was certain there would be bruises
on the skin near her waist, but she continued to pet his hair and utter
soft sounds of reassurance. Scully had no idea how long she held him
while his sobs slowly tapered off, his body grew heavy, and his grip
went slack. Time turned fluid, no longer a constant, measurable
commodity to be given consideration. All that mattered was the silk of
hair beneath her fingertips, the steady puffs of breath warming her
skin.

Full darkness had descended, and the muted glow from the desk lamp
caught the sparkle of a single tear on Mulder's flushed cheek. Scully
brushed at the moisture with a gossamer touch of her thumb and absently
brought it to her lips.

Salty. Bitter. The dark taste of mourning and grief.

Paradoxically, her own sorrow slammed down upon her with a crushing
weight. Using the brutal autopsy instruments on the mother of her best
friend. Watching the light in Mulder's eyes slowly die as she delivered
the cruel truth. Hearing the desolation in his ragged sobs while
powerless to take away his pain. Scully closed her eyes tightly but
could no longer prevent her own anguish from escaping.

*We've tasted too many tears, Mulder. Our own, and each other's.*

Inexplicably, the priest's words at her father's funeral echoed in her
thoughts.

*Sorrow and weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the
morning.*

She had the feeling Mulder would find joy much slower to arrive.

End

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