It took Scully a moment to catch her breath as she laid on the cold concrete floor staring up at the worn brick walls. She felt something warm, wet, and cold across her chest and staining her clothes. What had happened?
Everything had happened so fast.
They rushed into an alley chasing the supposed ghost only to be ambushed by three men. They had been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Damn their carelessness. Gunfire had rung out through the warehouse. Who was firing at them? The force of bullets knocked the breath out of her and she fell. Neither Mulder nor Scully made a habit of wearing bulletproof vests under their suits unless the situation required it. She thought this was no different. They had just been checking out a lead. But then the bullets and gunfire rang out.
Scully had felt like she had been punched repeatedly in the chest with multiple punches but it hurt so much more. She remembered briefly the agonizing pain of being shot in the abdomen with Ritter’s bullet. When she regained consciousness, what had probably been a moment, blood stained her white blouse. Something was wrong, so very wrong. Her medical mind realized that with the severity of what likely happened, what should have happened.
She should be dead. Very dead.
Her hand searched her chest automatically, feeling the hot, sticky blood before she spotted Mulder on the ground gasping for breath. Everything else was forgotten. A moment of deja vu overtook her. His hand was reaching out of her desperately. The bank. That robber. Pressing her hands against Mulder’s chest to keep him alive.
The pain she felt was momentary and she pushed herself up sluggishly. Her chest ached as she crawled to him. She should be dead, her rational mind screamed. But she was fine, right? She was moving and breathing, albeit it painfully, but she was moving. Scully took Mulder’s hand as he struggled to breathe. With a doctor’s eye, she noted multiple gunshot wounds peppered across his chest.
“No, no, no,” she whispered. She ripped off her own jacket and pressed it against his chest. “Mulder, I’m here. I’m here, you hear me?”
“Scully.” He winced. “I was wrong, huh?”
She cupped his face and whispered, “Move as little as possible. Keep your eyes focused on me.”
“You’re shot too…” he whispered. He raised a shaking hand and tried to check her. She pushed away his hand and it fell limply to his side. “Scully?”
“No. I’m okay,” she answered. She continued to push away his wandering hands and tried to check his wounds. “It’s nothing. I’m okay.”
She ripped open her shirt and saw a large, gaping wound near his heart. She was so focused on Mulder that it escaped her attention when he peeled back her blouse slightly. “You were shot. Scully, you were shot. I see the blood. But you seem okay?”
“ I am okay. I’m fine, Mulder..” It wasn’t a lie. She was breathing was becoming easier and she felt better. There was just a dull ache in her chest. She forced a comforting smile. “I was a joke, baby. I swear. I promise I am fine. Move as little as possible.”
“You’re terrible. Not a joke.” He coughed. Blood dribbled from the corner of his lip. “Scully, you are hurt.”
“Mulder, let me take care of you!” She snapped.
“Just keep pressure on it. Isn’t that right?” He coughed and blood trickled down his lip. She heard sirens in the distance. The back up they had called for. His eyes were glazed and tried to focus on her face. “Scully, I don’t…”
“I don’t want to die.”
“I’m not letting you die, Mulder.”
He closed his eyes. “I feel cold.”
Before Scully could answer she felt Mulder shiver and curl into her. Then she felt it again. The same sensation she had felt in Brooklyn New York when she witnessed Fellig die and she survived. “You aren’t.”
“You know,” he whispered. “I suspected, Scully and I knew deep down.”
“Not now, Mulder.”
“There was no way you should’ve survived that.”
Scully was not listening. She could feel Mulder’s heartbeat slow beneath her fingertips. What a feeling of agony it was to start your partner’s heart in the Arctic to only feel his life die away in some warehouse in Washington? The sensation increased and it was almost smothering in the back of her mind and she could feel it all around her. Scully couldn’t breathe. She remembered Fellig’s ramblings about trying to capture death on film, to see it. Maybe it wasn’t about seeing it and looking it in the eye. Maybe it was something else.
“Mulder,” she whispered desperately, “I love you. I won’t lose you.”
“You can’t fight death, Scully.”
I did, she thought impulsively, and so will you. “Close your eyes, Mulder.”
“Close your eyes.”
“Scully,” he admonished. Even near death, he was a stubborn bastard. His eyes rolled back into his head. “I hardly think this is the time.”
She bent forward and kissed him. She could taste the coppery tang of his blood against their lips. For a moment, both of the breathes caught between each other, the suffocating feeling burst, and his breath hitched. This is it, Scully thought, this is the end.
But miraculously, he continued to breathe. His breath was stronger and more labored. She hastily reached for his pulse. It thundered with renewed vigor. Before she realized it, emergency support services descended upon them and loaded them both up to the nearest trauma center.
A week later, Scully held a bouquet of sunflowers in her arms as she stared nervously at the hospital room door handle. She managed to convince (and ward off any unwanted medical attention) that the blood on her was that of her partner’s. Her own gruesome bullet wounds faded to annoying scratches within days. But to her horror, just like Fellig, they remained scars and reminders of her new reality. Her immortality. It all confirmed the truth she tried to will away. She winced at the thought and decided to not bring it up when she Mulder. At least the sunflowers provided an adequate distraction.
After trying to summon a moment of courage, she opened the door to find her partner uselessly flipping through the channels.
“They ain’t got shit here, Scully. They had a marathon of Highlander but I turned the channel.”
“You aren’t subtle at all,” she replied warily.
“I haven’t seen you in a week.”
“I needed time,” she answered honestly. She sat on the edge of the bed and squeezed his hand. “To process everything.”
“I see.” Mulder lowered the volume and sat up in the hospital bed easily. He winced a little but that was to be expected. “The doctors are confounded. There was a bullet that pierced my heart, Scully and yet here I am. And then there is the matter of recovery. The docs said they’ve never seen anything like it. I have. It’s like yours was, isn’t it?”
She placed the sunflowers aside uselessly, unsure how to answer. “I’ve reviewed your charts myself.” After a moment of hesitation, she unbuttoned her blouse slightly and guided Mulder’s hand to the multiple puckered scars. “Do you feel those scars? I can’t explain it, Mulder. We both should be dead but we’re okay. We’re both okay.”
He sighed and glanced at the sunflowers. “You saw Death, didn’t you? Whatever happened to you…”
“I felt Death,” she corrected. “And yes. I think so. I don’t know. I wanted to deny it. But I can’t deny this, Mulder. Whatever happened…” She gestured between the two of them. “I can’t deny it.” Months of anxiety poured out as she bit her lip and eyes watered. Mulder grabbed both of her hands. The words bleed out like a broken confession. “I’m a monster, a freak.” She tapped the back of her neck. “This, barren womb, and now this.” She gestured to her chest. “What a fucked-up world huh?”
“No,” he urged. He forced her to look at him. “Never. I don’t know what it is. I can’t explain it either, Scully…not yet at least, but you aren’t alone. We’re in this together. You saved me. Remember, I wouldn’t face the darkness without anyone else but you.”
“How, Mulder?” she yelled. “How do you know we’re going to be okay?”
It was quick and he grunted slightly with discomfort but the kiss silenced her. It was everything she had thought of and more. The spark of electricity, the heat of life, and the promise of another day. “Because of what you said,” he whispered. “I may have been dying but I heard every word, Scully.”
“What was that?”
She licked her lips in memory. Mulder chuckled slightly. “I love you too. The strange thing about being on the brink of death does to you. Scully, I don’t know the future. I can’t explain what happened to me or to you but I have a feeling and I think we both know the truth.” He tilted his head as she lowered her eyes, refusing to look at him. “Would it really be such a bad thing, you and me, stuck side by side forever?”
“I don’t know if I want to live forever,” she whispered.
“What about with me? Would that really be so bad?”
“Mulder, I can’t discuss this right now. I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around the fact that I was shot in the chest, I was dying, and yet, I was up, breathing, talking, and walking by the time the EMTs got to us. I had to lie about the holes in my blouse. I am surprised they even bought it.”
“Then don’t. How about living just for the present? You and me, huh?”
“I could bear the thought, the pain of losing you,” she whispered. “I was selfish.”
“You saved me, Scully.”
“I love you,” she continued.
“And me too.” Her eyes shot up and he gave her a small smile. “Don’t look so surprised. Look, well figure this out. Don’t we always, Scully?” He leaned back into his hospital bed and guided her with him. She remembered how he used to do this with her during her cancer treatments. Scully would always find some sort of peace, strength, and hope in moments like this with them. “Easy,” he hissed as her head rested against a tender part of his chest. “Still healing.”
“You’re fine. Move as little as possible and we are comfortable.”
This was very unlike her to show weakness but for the moment, she let herself show it. Mulder sighed trying to get comfortable trying to this new thing between them. “I don’t know what happened with us,” Scully told him.
“I think we do but what matters, I think, Scully is what you said. We live for the present and we take day by day.” She took his hand and squeezed it. “Besides, I’m rather excited about the future.”
“Why is that?”
“I get to kiss you a lot more now.”
Scully laughed and for the moment, their unknown future seemed a little brighter as he stole another kiss to silence her laughter.