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Strange Trails

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It was quiet in the car. It was a comfortable quiet. They were comfortable being quiet, it was how they processed the inevitable. The radio crackled and screeched in search of a signal, it reminded Mulder of when they’d lost nine minutes, they’d gotten soaked, he’d marked the ground with an X. We Were Here. He’d screamed it at the sky. Mulder turned it off in frustration so all that was left to fill the silence was the rhythmic pounding of the rain against the roof. The windshield wipers worked back and forth, a metronome ticking away their precious seconds. Scully’s eyes shifted beneath her eyelids, as she pretended she could sleep. It was nine minutes to the hospital. He reached over to thread his fingers through hers. She only barely squeezed back.

It was quiet in the waiting room. It was a solemn, painful quiet. A kid whimpered over a shattered knee, a teenager with his head in a bucket, an elderly couple with watery eyes, arms interlinked and a newspaper spread over both their knees. And them. They looked out of place in their rumpled business suits. They had been here seven years ago, questioning and accusing, young and wry and badly dressed. Cutting up a monkey corpse and cutting into each other. They were better stocked, with a better lab. Scully’s results were due within minutes. Her hand stilled his as he picked at the broken seam of his blazer, but he could feel her trembling.

“It’s going to be fine,” she whispered, unconvincingly. Mulder breathed deeply through his nose and pressed his lips to the centre of her forehead, and prayed to a god he didn’t believe in that she might be right. The nurse called Scully’s name, they both stood up.

It was quiet in the doctor’s office, but his thoughts were loud and overwhelming, the walls feel tight around them. The doctor’s name was Poppy Green, she looked barely out of high school. She brimmed with nervous energy as she handed Scully her results.

“You’re an experienced medical professional, Doctor Scully, so I don’t doubt you’ll understand the numbers,”

Mulder didn’t dare to breathe as she read. He didn’t notice when the doctor slipped out the door. Scully went stiff beside him, her eyes glassy, he felt the edge crumble at his feet.

“Mulder,” finally, came her strangled gasp. What did she need? Air, water, fire to burn the earth with? “I need a hug”

He obliged, god, did he oblige. She shook in his arms and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to let her go. Not if the cancer was-

“I’m pregnant,”

His brain seemed to stutter and stop. He realised, as he finally let out that breath, she was laughing. And crying. Laugh crying. And so was he. He realised there were no words which existed to express what he was feeling. So they were quiet.