The woman in front of her, the woman unbuttoning her blouse and kissing her lips, wasn't just someone. That, perhaps, made this situation heavier than it should have been.
It started, arguably, in a car. Scully's car. Diana had information, or thought she did. They told no one, just went to Maine on a tip and women's intuition. When Scully crumpled, crying, on the gravel in the parking lot of a cheap diner, Diana picked her up.
What happened next was textbook, perhaps. It was what John Doggett, in the deepest recesses of his mind, probably expected would happen for him. Instead, it was about these two women, and nothing else.
This was the elevator; it was a hospital stairwell, and eventually it was Diana's apartment. It was never Scully's place.
They were quiet, discreet, and mutually private. Intimate but never divulging.
Then Scully found Mulder in a field. Dead.
She came home but didn't go to her apartment. She went to Diana's.
Drunk on wine and determined not to think, it was sex like good porn.
When Diana called her Dana, she let her see the tattoo.
She has been here before, watching his burial from a distance. She remembers it from dreams, ones she had when she first left him, first abandoned him for her own interests.
She pinches herself. Please God, let me wake up.
With a jerk, she did. Startled herself awake just as the first clump of dirt hit the coffin.
From behind her, an arm clutched at her waist. Thin yet defined, the hand carefully moisturized and tipped with a professional manicure. It squeezed, the muscles asserting themselves and reminding her of the strength.
Diana Fowley had to admire that about her lover. A woman of certain tastes, who could run to beat the devil and succeed, even in high heels.
Under the surface, Diana and Dana were a lot alike. Both pledged fealty to lost causes. Both had harbored deadly secrets. Both loved one Fox Mulder, now deceased.
Deceased. Diana blinked against the dull light coming through the curtains. She'd been dreaming.
The clock read 7:15. The funeral was in less than two hours.
She sat up slowly so as not to disturb Dana. Better to let her sleep for awhile. If Diana had dreamed of the funeral, Dana would be dreaming of death itself.
A low moan and furrowed brow seemed to confirm that.
Diana made her way into the bathroom, turning the tap so that the water would scald her skin. She didn't want to feel this tired acceptance, or relive that dream one more time. She wanted to be fresh and alive.
Dana Scully woke up feeling rather hung-over.
The space next to her in the bed was still vaguely warm, and the sound of the shower told her that Diana had just gotten up.
She rolled over onto her back and stared at the ceiling. She'd been dreaming...something. A pounding headache reminded her that it had probably been the merlot. She hadn't drunk so much since Eddie Van Blundht....
Oh, but it hurt to think of Eddie. Or rather, Eddie as Mulder. Hell. It hurt to think of Mulder.
The sun wasn't shining, and she found that she wasn't surprised. The sun never shone when there was a funeral. It was poor logic - there had to be funerals everyday, somewhere in the world, surely the sun would shine for some of them - but she couldn't think of coffins and
headstones and mourning relatives without thinking of overcast skies. It had been raining when her father's ashes had been scattered.
She let her thoughts linger on ashes and Ahab, on pride and daughters and sons. She touched her still-flat stomach, for once glad that there would be no child to stay strong for.
Yet, she thought. Yet. She had, after all, already gained two pants sizes. Diana hadn't noticed, or chose not to say anything.
She ran her hands up to her breasts and back down. Diana must have noticed.
The shower stopped, and she lay listening for her cue to go in and brush her teeth. They were intimate, but they were still private.
On a chair in the corner, a black suit lay ready to wear. Hanging up on the closet door was a
similar suit, longer and more tailored.
Dana had gone in to take her shower, and Diana sat on the edge of the bed in bra and panties.
She debated pantyhose and went for trouser socks instead.
She picked up a strand of pearls, nearly throwing them down in revulsion when she recalled who had given them to her. She didn't want reminders of him today, Fox's day. She pulled open a drawer and dug around, finally coming up with a black velvet ring box. Inside was the very simple diamond engagement ring.
"Marry me," Fox had said, almost as if he'd never doubted she'd say yes. For that confidence alone, she almost told him no.
She slipped it on a chain, clasped the chain round her neck.
Black pants, white shirt, black jacket. The uniform she'd worn for years now meant something
She wasn't mourning herself or her integrity. She was mourning Fox Mulder.
Dana came into the room, nearly blushing despite her white terrycloth robe that covered everything. Diana wanted to smile, but felt as though the black she wore weighed her down. She felt drawn to the woman in front of her and at the same time sickened by the depth of emotion that they reluctantly shared.
She kissed Dana's forehead, not trying for something else. It felt wrong this morning, where it had felt right and passionate the night before.
Dana nodded. "Okay. Aspirin?"
"Yes. I'll get it."
An excuse to get out of the room. She didn't want to interrupt whatever ritual Dana had prepared for herself, to gear up for this horrible day.
The aspirin was in the linen closet.
Scully had worn black so often since Emily's death that it meant very little. It was no sign of mourning any longer, just a part of her sacrifice. She gave up color for practicality.
Mulder had dared to tease her once. She'd shot him down with a cold look, and from then on he said nothing. Black was a way of life for her, for him.
She wondered what he would say about her thickening middle. She refused to dwell on it.
He didn't like the way gold looked on her, and she didn't wear jewelry much anyway. Part of her wanted to see what earrings made of alien implants would look like.
A laugh escaped in the guise of a sob. She wouldn't cry, she wouldn't cry, she felt tears running down her cheeks. She wanted to wear makeup, but decided against it. She would probably cry harder.
Fully dressed and coiffed, she was ready to face the day. Or Diana, at any rate. Scully found her in the hall, standing tall and imposing next to the linencloset.
"Aspirin." She held out the bottle and tipped two into Scully's hand.
Mindful of the child she carried, Scully dry-swallowed one of the pills and pocketed the other.
"Do you want me to drive?" Diana was all business.
Scully, on the other hand, was shaking ever so slightly. "No, I think we should take separate
Diana nodded. "I can't be graveside, you know."
"No, you can't." Diana was dead, to Skinner and Kersh and the Gunmen. To the syndicate, who would undoubtedly be spying. Scully watched Diana's face, registering every small change in her practiced countenance.
"Will you be alright?" Scully refrained from touching her.
Another nod. "I've been dead for a year. This is just another day." She paused. "What about you, Dana?" A pointed look at Scully's waist.
A voice screamed it her head, Scully my name is Scully not Dana just Scully.
I even made my parents call me Mulder.
Scully ignored the voice and the look. "I'm fine." It was her Mulder voice. Mulder, I'm fine. The doctor said I'm fine. Go to Oregon, I'm fine.
Her chin shook, and Diana clasped her hand.
They had to leave.
Funerals struck Scully as being pretentious. She'd gone to her first one as a child of nine or ten, for a grandfather she'd met just once. The open casket and weeping old ladies seemed routine, like wearing black despite feeling nothing and saying the rosary on your knees dutifully. She didn't fear the body, as Bill had, or revere it as Melissa had. Instead, her curious hands itched to touch it, smear the coroner's makeup, look into the lifeless eyes.
The memory sickened her as mourners poured into the chapel. There was to be a prayer service, and the casket was up at the front. Closed. Mulder had been too ravaged to be presentable.
She tried to quench those thoughts. She'd spoken them aloud the night before, and Diana had bitten back a bitter laugh. You sound like Teena, she'd said.
She wavered between Melissa's and Bill's reactions now, before settling on the old instinct. She wanted to touch him, take off the tailored suit he was dressed in and run her fingers over his body. She wanted to catalogue the pockmarks and the gouges, she wanted to remember what they had done to him. She wanted more than an autopsy would give her; she wanted him whole and real for the last time.
Scully looked around, acknowledging Doggett and Reyes, holding Frohike's pitiful gaze. She didn't want them to know what she was thinking. She hoped no one could tell.
Skinner arrived, harried and exhausted. He stood next to Scully and squeezed her hand. She resisted the urge to lay her head on his chest and cry.
Already crying and asking her daughter if she needed anything, Maggie Scully knelt in the pew and said a Hail Mary.
Scully didn't know if she could take it. The minister said his piece, then asked the eulogist to come up. John Byers stood behind the lectern, Mulder's ghost in a black suit. Talked about the quest for truth in all things, avoiding Scully's eyes till the very end, when he talked of life renewing itself.
Diana was a Mulder by marriage. It was a distinction that even the more well-known Mrs. Spooky would never have.
A bitter part of her wanted to shout that out as the crowd exited the church. She wanted to tell every one of those pallbearers, those men who distrusted her and tracked her every movement, Walter Skinner with his proud posture and mournful gaze. Diana Fowley Mulder, thank you very much.
She didn't say a word. She watched Scully exit last, reluctant to get in the car and go to the burial site. They shared more than Mulder himself. They were sharing his death, his quest, his truth. Diana wondered how much Dana knew. She wondered about the child.
She remembered talking about kids once, in the giddy beginning of their short marriage. Three, he said, I want three. Girls, she said. No, boys, so we can play basketball, two on two.
Diana Fowley Mulder.
She gave it up, and for what? Years of watching psychic children give their lives for a dead cause? Being sacrificed at the altar of that cause? She thought of Scully, tired and seeking comfort when everything failed her. In a way, she envied that. Dana could be weak now, she could lay down and rest. Diana was still a pawn, and even undercover she knew they were watching. There was no comfort to be had. She'd sold her soul.
From a safe distance and through binoculars, Diana watched the funeral. Watched the minister's lips, "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust." She focused on the casket, wondering wildly if they could really trust what they knew, was it really Fox inside or just a pile of dust?
She remembered the day she left him. It had been curt, her final farewell. No real warning, just an offer to serve as a Bureau liaison in West Germany, and divorce papers already drawn up. She made it easy for him, no claim to the rumored Mulder riches. She had pretended her way through a wild affair, complete with hotel receipts and flower deliveries.
He forgave her. He didn't know how to hate her. He didn't have room for more of it. When Gibson Praise turned up, it was an excuse. Her time was coming to an end and it was her last chance.
Scully had hated her. It had been mutual, though more bemused on Diana's part.
She watched Dana through the binoculars. Leaning slightly on Skinner, bending down to sprinkle dirt on the casket. Her hand would be dirty; Diana wondered if she would have the presence of mind to wash.
She didn't love this woman. She shared something with her, and that was different. Tonight they would sleep in different rooms, different apartments. Tomorrow, though. Tomorrow.
Diana didn't think about it, but tucked away the promise. She needed to be touched, to know that she was alive and not in a pretty silver casket six feet under. She wanted to touch something alive, blushing flesh, watch eyes that would be watching her.
A light rain began to fall, cold and stinging and for the first time, tears streamed down her face. She could feel the rain, after all.
What about Mulder?
Scully brushed her hair back from her face. Skinner looked down at her, the question already written on his face.
He pressed his lips together.
"I'll be fine."
He offered his arm, and they walked away from the open grave. She kept her hand balled into a fist, the dirt packed into the creases of her palm.
So this is what it felt like to leave him in the ground.
She thought she might be numb. Between the graveside and her car, there was no sound. Condolences from a few of her colleagues and Mulder's old friends were lost in midair. Her eyes, focused on the car ahead of her, missed a crying Melvin Frohike and the more solemn Byers and Langly. She didn't want to deal with anyone, she wanted to bury herself in Mulder's bed.
Her mother came up to her and whispered. Scully heard nothing. Skinner asked if she was okay to drive, and the answer was clear when she pulled out her keys and unlocked the door.
Over her head, Skinner exchanged a look with her mother. She felt it, and looked up at them both. Defiant, she climbed into the car.
Vague plans had been made to gather at Maggie Scully's place, but Scully rolled down her window and asked her mother to make excuses for her. She had no strength for dealing with the sorrowful looks and pitying whispers.
The rain fell more steadily as she drove to Alexandria. It became unclear whether she was blinking back tears or raindrops.
She climbed the stairs to Mulder's apartment and let herself in. A rush of stale air reminded her that it had been two weeks since she last came by to feed the fish. They were floating dead in the tank.
Dead. Death. Dying.
She killed them through neglect.
A punch to the gut. She ran to the bathroom and retched.
Diana watched Dana climb into her car amidst disproving and worried looks, and knew exactly where she would go. Diana wanted to follow her, but she had other things to do first.
One by one, the cars filled and pulled away. The Gunmen were the last to go. She wondered if they even guessed that she was there, and what they would say if they knew.
Probably wonder what her ulterior motive was.
She swallowed that thought, knowing she would deserve the accusation.
When their van finally left the scene, Diana made her way to the grave.
Fox had come with her to her mother's funeral. He'd walked boldly and carelessly, his wide gait carrying him faster than seemed proper for such an occasion. He fidgeted throughout the quiet outdoor service, not ever looking up at the casket or any of Diana's family. He nodded when introduced and seemed an impatient child. Diana hated him for it then.
When the first few X-files had taken them to cemeteries, Fox became a different person, intrigued and eager to dirty his hands. Again like a child, but an excited one. She wondered if Scully had seen him like that, wondered if she'd come to enjoy it. Wandering out into thunderstorms to chase the next big thing, all night stakeouts that turned up nothing, digging up a coffin to compare notes on long-dead victims of various unexplained circumstances.
She wished he were here now, next to her instead of six feet under.
Diana pinched herself, listening to the clumps of dirt hitting his coffin. Was it the dream again? God, let it be the dream again.
She stood behind the headstone, watching the last of the earth settle as the diggers finished their work. She laid her hands on it, smooth gray granite, hard and cold. It bore his name but it wasn't part of him. She wanted to touch him and sobbed aloud thinking of it. Nights before the X-files, before the smoking man, before divorce and Berlin.
Flower petals lay on the ground, freshly fallen from a bouquet or sympathy arrangement. She bent over to pick them up and held them to her lips, whispering a promise before throwing them. The wind caught one, pink and bright, carrying it away from her.
She couldn't stay long; she'd risk being seen. As Diana left, back through the maze of headstones, she wondered which one was hers. She wondered if at least her former self could spend eternity with her former husband.
Diana left without looking for it.
She stood at the desk, looking out the window. Sticky residue from masking tape still marred the view.
That residue struck Scully as especially sad, like a lover's dog-eared novel on the nightstand. It was something essentially Mulder, and it was waiting for him to come back and cover it with yet another X to signal his informant.
She'd come here once before, thinking he was dead, and ended up pointing a gun at Skinner. She'd sat there, on the couch, holding Mulder close to her chest while he wept for his dead mother. Scully had come to this apartment ready to bare her soul, and had fallen asleep on that couch, only to wake up to Mulder watching her.
She rubbed her stomach and sat down. Somewhere in the distance, a siren screamed.
There wasn't anything she hadn't experienced in the last eight years that didn't begin and end with Mulder.
She wondered how she was supposed to get past that.
A light rapping at the door startled her. No one knew she was here, though it probably wouldn't be hard to deduce. She thought it would be the Gunmen, or maybe Agent Doggett coming to collect her.
Watch out for Scully, she might crack.
Diana stood in the hallway.
It was wrong, all wrong. That wasn't her space, it was Mulder's, it was Scully's, that damned bee and Mulder I can't breathe I think I'm going into anaphylactic shock....
Diana reached out to brush the frantic tears from Scully's face, and Scully recoiled but didn't slam the door. It was almost an invitation, and Diana took it.
"I just need a friend, Diana."