Word Count: 2000+
Summary: Mulder becomes his own x-file. (Scully and Mulder’s ghost and believing)
AN: Alternative title: Bruce Willis was dead the whole time! That said, I swear to god neither Haley Joel Osment nor pottery wheel scenes make an appearance in this fic. Also, this one’s kind of creepy, as it was originally intended for Halloween. Just a forewarning.
And if I make my bed in Sheol
Mulder dies on a Tuesday. His autopsy is conducted on a Wednesday and his funeral is on a Thursday.
He is standing in Scully’s kitchen come Monday morning.
Scully pretends she can’t see him. She eats her cold cereal and drinks her milk (because osteoporosis strikes one out of four women and it’s best to start early, it’s best to start now) and resolutely refuses to go insane.
She can see the patterned kitchen tiles through his feet.
She leaves for work.
He is sitting on her doormat beside the newspaper when she comes back. A headline peaks through his knee.
Scully steps over him. Throws her keys onto the table.
Wonders if this particular manifestation of grief is unique to her.
She eats cold spaghetti standing over the sink. He leans against the refrigerator and watches her. She can see a magnet through his collarbone. A picture of her nephew through his sternum.
She goes to the bathroom.
This is fine, she tells her reflection, this is normal. This is the grieving process. She rests her head on the sink, porcelain soothing her cheek.
I am a scientist, she whispers. To the faucet. To the soap dish. I am not insane.
“You aren’t real,” she says to Mulder when she comes out. He is standing in her hallway. The crown moulding shows through his shoulder.
She crawls into bed and shuts out the light. But even in the dark she can see him; he glows faintly, like a tired firefly.
She closes her eyes.
When she wakes up, he is still there, watching her from a chair. “You don't exist,” she says, but goes into to the bathroom to change anyways.
He is still there when she eats breakfast. And when she unloads the dishwasher. And when she leaves for work. And when she comes home.
A week later, and he is still there. Scully has stopped telling him that he isn’t real. Talking to one’s delusions is probably not the best route to mental wellness.
She is washing the lettuce when it happens. He is perched on her kitchen counter with the granite pattern showing through his thighs. His voice is quiet, like it’s in her head, and loud, like it’s in her ear.
You know, Scully, the least you could do is acknowledge my presence.
He is wearing the suit he was buried in, collar unbuttoned. Scully can see the y-incision she made during his autopsy.
She drops the lettuce.
After all, I have managed to contact you from beyond the grave.
Scully picks up the lettuce and puts it on the cutting board. Walks to the bathroom. Locks the door.
She wasn’t with him when it happened. She wasn’t there to yell at the EMTs, or ride in the ambulance. She didn’t perform CPR. There were no hospital rooms or bedside vigils. She didn’t hold his hand.
Afterwards, she had insisted on performing the autopsy. He looked smaller in death. (She had wanted to climb up onto the table, curl herself around him. Just for a little. Just for a bit.)
She still has the autopsy tape. Now she sits on the edge of the bathtub and plays it over and over again. Her automated voice bounces off the tile. It does not waver.
Her y-incision was textbook perfect.
There was no foul play.
He is sitting on her bedspread when she comes out. The paisley pattern shows through his knuckles. The lamp shines through his head.
I didn’t mean to— Oh hell, Scully, I never meant to make you cry.
Scully goes to the closet. Pulls on her bathrobe.
“You are not real,” she says. “You are a figment of my imagination.” She lies down and shuts off the lamp.
Mulder’s smiles slashes across the darkness like a knife.
I knew you’d say that.
He tries to convince her.
He talks incessantly. He offers up opinions about everything, from dinner to case files. He stands backlit by the microwave and tries to seduce her into his way of thinking.
You broke the heel of your shoe clean off that one time in Texas. And it was hollow, remember, with that weird Styrofoam filling inside and I said, Scully, if we ever needed to hide something this would be the perfect place, and you said, whatever you say Mr. Bond, and I called you Ms. Moneypenny for the rest of the day. Remember?
The microwave beeps and Scully pulls out her instant dinner. She doesn’t seem to have time to cook, anymore. She’s always working (only she can’t quite remember the specific case).
You cry out for me in your sleep, Scully. All the time. Scully, please say something.
She settles in front of the TV with a tray. She decides to eat the peas first.
It starts as a complete accident. Scully is cutting carrots in the kitchen. Mulder is somewhere in the living room, watching the game. (She leaves the television on all the time now. Even when she’s not watching it. Even when no one’s watching it.)
When she slices herself with the knife, she yelps a bit. Just a bit, just quietly, but he hears anyways. There’s a lot of blood, and when Scully sees his look of horror she opens her mouth without thinking.
“It’s nothing, Mulder. I just nicked myself. It’ll stop in a second.”
She’s rummaging for band aids in the bathroom cabinet when she realizes. She spins around and there he is, lounging against the doorframe.
Does this mean you’re going to start talking to me?
Scully can see the doorjamb through his ankles. “I-”, she starts. He looks happy, ecstatic even. (Scully, we lost nine minutes!)
“You’re dead,” she spits finally, “I buried you.”
And then she’s crying too hard to speak. Crying and screaming that she hates him, she hates him.
(Because he died, he left her, with the whispers and the rumours but no proof behind them, all her memories strictly professional, a working relationship, the long looks he gave her nothing but empty promises. Left her, with a gravestone she doesn’t visit and a great love she never had.)
Mulder looks on helplessly, standing half-in, half-out of the bathtub.
Eventually Scully slows. Quiets. His concerned face peers down at her, exactly the same as always, only now she can see bottles of shampoo through the curve of his jaw.
“Are you fucking haunting me?” she asks, finally.
Mulder grins, a tiny Mulder-grin. Looks that way.
Scully leans her head back against the tile and laughs.
“How did you know I could see you?”
You looked right at me, the first time. God, Scully, you should have seen your face-
“How did you get here?”
Not sure, really. Don’t remember much from, you know, immediately after.
“Is there a God?”
I- I don’t know.
Well, evidence seems to suggest there is some sort of afterlife-
“Is Melissa there?”
“Am I dead too?”
They talk until dawn the first night. Mulder can’t seem to get enough of it, is starved for human interaction. Scully curls into her pillows while he flits from the nightstand, to the dresser, to the closet, and back around to the foot of the bed.
I’m not sure I can actually leave, you see. I can get around the apartment complex – and I swear your second-floor neighbour’s dog can see me, it barks like a mad thing whenever I get close – but whenever I try to follow you to the Bureau I just can’t. Which is unfortunate, because if I should be haunting anything it really should be the basement-
“Mulder,” Scully says tiredly. It is five-thirty in the morning. “Come here. Sit.”
He stops moving, looking sheepish. Sorry Scully. I’ve just- I can’t exactly sit now. It’s more of a hovering, you know?
“Try,” Scully orders, and pulls the covers up to her chin. Mulder pauses by the window. Dawn filters through the blinds behind him. “Goodnight Mulder.”
He stares and stares as if she were the aberration.
Eventually they fall into a routine. Scully lugs casefile after casefile home with her, the pages scattered across the living room for Mulder to peruse while she’s at work. At night they argue about goblins and swamp monsters, the possibility of Bigfoot, the genealogy of Nessie. They argue about Mulder’s incorporeity, its potential relation to water vapour, to Plato’s perfect Forms. Mulder draws his fingers back and forth through Scully’s palm until shivers pour down her spine.
They play chess sprawled across the bed, Scully moving Mulder’s pieces for him. They test Mulder’s influence on household appliances (he can flicker light bulbs but the microwave is beyond him), leading to the conclusion that he is a form of energy. “Of course, that’s not to say this isn’t all still some delusion I’m having,” Scully says tartly after Mulder goes on a particularly long rant about quantum mechanics.
Mulder falls in love with a haunting case from Memphis, talks and talks and talks about it until Scully agrees to investigate. Once there, she feels silly and out of place without him, a poor man’s Clarice Starling.
They agree its best she doesn’t go away again.
“Dana, have you been away on a case recently?” Scully’s mother frowns as she sits down at the kitchen table.
“No,” Scully says distractedly. Mulder is making faces at her from beside the breadbasket and she is trying to chastise him with her eyes.
“Dana,” Mrs. Scully’s voice is sharp, “all the plants are dead and you have next to nothing in the fridge.”
“Oh yes,” Scully says vaguely. Now Mulder is flickering the hallway light. “I’ve been busy. I’ll have to go shopping tomorrow.”
Her mother touches her arm. Her hand is very warm. “Are you alright, Dana? You’re so much in your own head lately. I know that grief can do that. When your father—”
“I’m fine, Mom,” Scully says firmly, clasping her hand. “I’m getting through.”
Mrs. Scully visits for another hour, chatting about Charlie’s latest exploits, showing off new pictures of Matthew (look Dana, he’s gotten so big). Scully tries to pay attention, she does, but then Mulder begins to interject with his own comments and it becomes hard to keep track of what she should be responding to. It’s a relief when her mother finally gathers up her coat and purse.
“Take care of yourself, Dana,” she says seriously, cupping Scully’s cheek.
Mulder flits over as the door closes. It’s funny to think that you should still technically be in mourning, isn’t it?
“Yeah,” she agrees.
Mulder grins. Here I thought you were going to lecture me about being a possible manifestation of your grief.
“Oh,” Scully says, throwing the lock, “no.”
Mulder stops to peer at her very closely.
You aren’t sad, are you Scully?
She turns to face him, surprised. “No. Why would I be?”
Mulder blinks. He is quiet for a long time. And then, slowly: No reason, I guess.
As the weeks pass, Scully goes in to the office less and less. It just makes more sense to stay here, where she can have Mulder’s input. Besides, he gets lonely without her. (It’s just so boring, Scully. Maybe if you had fish or something. Hey, do you ever wonder why I ended up haunting your place and not mine? It would have been fun to do sight gags with the leather couch. Yours is too serious to walk back and forth through.)
So she goes in Mondays to collect her work for the week, then leaves at noon. No one so much as glances at her askance, although one day Skinner lays a heavy hand on her shoulder. She develops a routine, going out every Tuesday to collect groceries, and Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays for a run, but other than that she sticks close to the apartment.
Eventually she buys a treadmill.
It takes her a while to work up the courage. But when he first died she cursed herself and cursed herself, and the memory of that grief is just enough to make her do it, now that she can:
“I love you, Mulder. I have for years.”
Mulder stops perusing the x-file she’s laid open for him, an indescribable expression on his face. At first Scully thinks she’s made a huge mistake, somehow read him wrong all these years, and then—
I love you too.
Later, over dinner (Scully eats while Mulder sits across from her), he says:
Maybe you should go out. You know, like to a movie or something.
Scully stares at him. “What would be the point?”
There is a moment where she thinks he might look stricken, but the pattern of the refrigerator magnets behind his face keeps her from reading his expression properly. When he next speaks, his voice is chipper enough.
Yeah, there wouldn’t really be one.