sometimes you can't make it on your own by U2
You think you've got the stuff
You're telling me and anyone
You're hard enough
You don't have to put up a fight
You don't have to always be right
Let me take some of the punches
For you tonight
Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don't have to go it alone
And it's you when I look in the mirror
And it's you when I don't pick up the phone
Sometimes you can't make it on your own
The silence in the car is deafening.
Typically, whoever is in the passenger seat controls the radio and when they jumped into their rental to head back to the motel Mulder assumed Scully would automatically turn on the radio.
Instead, Scully is currently leaning against the window, her face pressed against the glass and her red hair falling in front of her face. He’s pretty sure she fell asleep before he even drove out of the morgue’s parking lot.
She sleeps more than normal now, which he knows is a side effect of the chemotherapy, but it only makes him worry more and the soul crushing realization that this is their new reality.
The car hits a small ditch and her head presses against the headrest before she curls back to lean onto the window, not waking up . His throat tightens and his fingers clenches around the steering wheel tightly when he sees the large clump of red hair remaining on the head rest.
It’s been a little over six weeks since she started the chemotherapy, she insisted on working so instead of fighting her on that he only looked for cases within driving distance from Washington or more specifically only a few hours away from her oncologist.
He knows she’s picked up on this, but the fact that she has not fought him on it scares him even more.
Everything scares him now.
He tries not to show it, tries to put on a brave face for her, but he knows that she sees straight through his act, almost as much he sees through hers, and every time she utters those dreaded words “I’m fine.”
He turns into the parking lot of their hotel, mindful to not jostle her awake. He leaves the car running and goes to check them in, he’s grateful this motel has connecting doors even though he suspects Scully would not appreciate it. He’s hovering, he knows it and she knows it. The fact that the chemo has sucked out most of her energy, that she can’t even call him out on his hovering, terrifies him to his core.
Once he’s checked them in and moved both their suitcases into the adjoining rooms he goes back to the car to see that Scully is still sleeping soundly. She’s curled up on the seat away from the window this time and her new position makes his decision that much easier.
He gently opens the door and crouches beside her. He hooks his arm under her knees and then gently moves her arm over his shoulder. Once he has her securely in his arms he slowly straightens and looks down at her expecting her to wake but her head only burrows into his chest.
Under different circumstances the gesture would have warmed his heart, but he knows her exhaustion is the only reason she has not woken up.
He makes his way into the closest room and gently eases her onto the bed. His heart clenches at the small clump of red hair that remains on his shirt. He doesn’t bother to brush it off but turns his focus back on his sleeping partner, and to his surprise she is still sleeping.
Scully is a light sleep, over the years her ability to fall asleep just about anywhere always amused him, and confused him, given his chronic insomnia, but one thing is anything can wake Scully up. She once grumbled at him for chewing his sunflower seeds too loudly. The fact that she slept through the entire more from the car to the bed is worrying to say the least.
He brushes her cheek with the back of his thumb and frowns when he sees just how much makeup rubs off on his thumb.
He’s once again left wondering how much of her illness is she hiding from him and he wishes she wouldn’t.
He moves her feet and gently eases off each heel, he marvels at the fact that the shoe does fit it in the palm of his hand.
Her toes curl on hitting the cool air of the motel room, but she still does not wake. He gently unhooks her gun from the hoster and places it on the night side table. He looks up at her sleeping face yet again and gently tugs her shirt out of her pants, he won’t go any further but he hopes she will be somewhat comfortable.
He grabs the blanket at the foot of the bed and places it across her sleeping form. He pulls the edges gently around her shoulders, his eyes focused on her sleeping face. He moves her hair out of her face and then gently runs his fingers through her hair. He can’t hold back his sob on seeing a large clump of red strands between his fingers.
“Mulder?” Scully calls out her voice heavy with sleep.
He looks down at her with the same horrified expression his fingers clenched around clumps of her hair.
When she sees her hair in his hands, she visibly gulps but when she speaks her tone is once again impassive and it only irritates him even more. “It’s a natural side effect of chemotherapy. It’s only hair….it’s fine.”
“Dammit Scully!” Mulder all but growls as he gets to his feet. His fingers clenched around a clump of her hair. “It’s not fine! You’re not fine! And it’s not only hair! It’s your hair…it’s not okay, Scully! None of this is okay!”
He collapses on the bed, narrowly missing Scully’s legs, his breathing laboured. “It’s not okay.”
“Mulder.” Scully’s voice is soft as she speaks.
She crawls over to him, her knees pressing against his thigh, her hand curling around his wrist, his fingers still clenched in a fist around her hair.
She runs her thumb along his knuckles until he finally uncurls his fingers. She takes the hair and tosses it onto the floor. She slides her fingers through his own and squeezes them tightly. “It’s not okay….but this is my reality now.”
She emphasizes her point by carding her fingers through her hair and showing him another clump of bright red hair.
“Our reality.” Mulder insists his voice catching in his throat.
He curls his much larger fingers around hers and gently tugs the red hair free. He raises his hand and brushes his thumb gently against her cheek rubbing the make up away to reveal the dark spot under her eyes that she has been trying to hide from him. His name dies on her eyes filling with tears and for the first time since her diagnosis he begins to see how much of a toll this is taking on her and it breaks his heart.
He cups her cheek, his thumb caressing her soft skin, “you don’t have to do this alone, Scully.”
She closes her eyes and he waits for her to inevitably push him away, but she surprises him when she takes his other hand and squeezes it. The silent gesture giving him the encouragement to push forward.
“Let me help you.” He begs silently, willing her to open her eyes and look at him. “Let me in, Scully.”
When her glassy blue eyes finally meet his, his heart clenches in pain. Her voice pained as she whispers softly. “I don’t want to die.”
He presses his forehead against hers, both of them trying to control their own breathing and emotions. He wants to promise her the world, promise her that he can fix this, but this is not one of their cases, this is her health and he is powerless to do anything about it.
Instead he has to watch her wither away in front of him. But he will be damned if he would let her do this one on her own.
He takes their clasped hands and presses his lips to her knuckles, then tugs her into his arms, in which she comes willingly. He can practically feel the tension ease out of both their bodies as they continue to hug.
She gives him a watery smile and something is on the tip of her lips but then she releases a loud wide yawn right in his face. Her cheeks pink up in embarrassment but Mulder only kisses her knuckles again before he releases his hold on hands.
“You should get some rest.” He says softly as he brushes away the tears on her cheeks. Neither of them move from their position on the bed, her knees pressed against him, her hands resting on his thigh. “Do you need help?”
Her entire body tenses at his question and he takes her hand in his again, trying not to break the connection they made, “I can’t fight this for you, but I can at least help you in other ways. Let me help you, Scully. Please.”
“It’s not your battle to fight,” Scully protests weakly. But to his surprise and despite her words, she doesn’t pull away like he expects but instead looks at him tiredly. “Can you get my toiletry bag from my suitcase? I need to take some of my meds and I…I need to take them on a full stomach.”
“Done. I saw a deli across the street, how about a sandwich and soup?” He offers her and she nods tiredly in agreement.
He sits in her bed watching as she slowly gets to her feet and makes her way unsteadily towards the bathroom.
He frowns at how unsteady she is on her feet and quickly grabs the motel phone, after making a short call, he orders their dinner, grateful this particular motel does have a kitchen.
He then goes to her bag and quickly pulls out her soft cotton pyjamas, not her usual wardrobe which only makes him frown, she always seems to be cold lately despite the warmer than normal spring they are experiencing.
He waits until he hears the shower running before he knocks on the door lightly, “Hey, I’m just putting your pjs on the counter.”
He hears the faint thank you before he closed the door shut. He then wanders off to his bedroom through the connecting door deciding to only change out his suit into his own pyjamas not wanting to shower in case she calls out to him. Not that he thinks she would, if she needed his help.
Almost 15 minutes later their food is sitting on the line table in her bedroom when she finally emerges from the bathroom. Her face is now free of makeup and he can see the dark circles under her eyes more prominently and his gut clenches. He can see her shiver as she walks across the room, her hair limp around her face.
She rubs her arms as she makes a beeline for the food, he places all her medication on the table not exactly sure which ones she would need. She nods to him in silent gratitude, and they go about having dinner.
She doesn’t eat her sandwich, but he decides not to push his luck to try and get her to eat more. At this point he’s grateful she has not kicked him out of her room yet, this is the first time in weeks they have dinner in one of their motel rooms. She always claims exhaustion the moment they arrive, but as he watches her sluggish movements he is certain it was never an act.
She sits under a few blankets the cup of soup close to her chest as she sips it sparingly, despite the warm liquid she still shivers every few minutes
“Still cold?” He asks softly, the first time either of them have spoken since she walked out of the bathroom.
Scully nods as she puts the empty bowl on the bedside table and then tugs the old fleece blanket higher up her body. “I’m sure the heat will kick in eventually. Thanks for dinner, Mulder.”
He knows a Scully dismissal when he hears one but when he sees her shiver yet again despite the mountain of blankets covering her he quickly makes his way towards his room. He comes back a few seconds later with his old Oxford hoodie in his hands and makes his way to the head of her bed.
“Arms up, Scully.” He demands.
“Mulder, I don’t…”
“Up!” He says more forcibly already raising the hoodie towards her, she sighs but raises her arms nonetheless.
He tugs the soft material over her head allowing her to slip her arms through the sleeves with ease. The hood catches on her head but she leaves it, she is practically drowning in the hoodie.
He gently tugs the hood down, mindful of her hair and once the red locks spring free his smile widens. He caresses her cheek, before he pulls back, “Better? Warm?”
She raises the collar of his hoodie to her nose and sniffs it lightly then burrows herself deeper into the hoodie. She looks up at him and smiles softly, “thank you, Mulder.”
“Any time, Scully.” He replies. He squeezes her foot before he walks towards the connecting door, and switches off the lone lamp on his way.
He stops at the door to look back at her and smiles sadly when he sees she’s already asleep. He leans against the archway, his eyes never leaving her sleeping form trying to savor these moments before...before she is no longer there for him to enjoy her presence anymore.
He eases himself off the archway about to make his way to his room, drown his sorrows under the lukewarm motel shower when her weak voice calls out to him. “Mulder?”
He’s at the head of her bed in a flash, “Hey, I’m still here.”
What do you need? He thinks silently, hoping she will ask him without prompting.
“I can’t...I’m...I’m cold.” She whispers, her blue eyes flutter open as she looks up at him. “Can you...would you hold me?”
Her voice is meak as she speaks, her eyes slam shut almost as though she is afraid he would reject her, when he would give her the world if he could.
“Of course.” He replies immediately.
He walks around to the other side of the bed and pulls back the blankets to slide into the bed behind her. He wraps his arms around her waist and she shuffles back against him, her arms hooking around his in a tight hold. She hums softly in approval. “Thank you, Mulder.”
He won’t let go.
In that moment, he prays to a god that he does not believe in, and prays for a miracle that he won’t ever have to let go of her.