Missing scene for The Truth
The apartment is completely silent save for the shuffle of John’s shoe scraping the linoleum in the kitchen as he leans against the counter. The air is thick with a nervous tension as Monica sits with Gibson at the kitchen table, the table where she and Mulder had sat just months before bickering over the details of a case.
Numbness would be a welcome feeling in this moment, one she wishes she could find and hold on to. If she were numb, she could easily pretend that this was all a nightmare, and that the threat of him spending the rest of his life in prison wasn’t precariously dangling before her. It would be too easy to convince herself that she is sleeping in bed, her subconscious running amok in her dream state, rather than perched on the end of her couch clutching a throw pillow like her own life depended on it. She would wake up with a tear soaked pillow, chastising herself for allowing her fears to penetrate the few hours of slumber her body and mind so desperately needed. She would send him a quick, encrypted email to make sure he’s all right, only slightly embarrassed that her words were laced with loneliness and longing.
Instead, her muscles ache deeply with exhaustion, reminding her that she is, in fact, awake and present in this moment. This is real.
Please Lord, she pleads silently. Please spare him. Have mercy on him. Have mercy on me, I can’t do this alone. Please, Lord, I beg of you. Have mercy.
The ringing of the phone breaks the uneasy silence with a deafening alarm. Her eyes follow John as he walks swiftly to her landline, lifting the phone from its cradle. She takes a deep breath, mentally preparing herself for the worst.
“Yeah,” he answers gruffly.
In an attempt to read his body language for an answer, she watches him intently. Her heart drums behind her ribs, sending a dull vibration throughout her chest with every beat.
“I’ll tell her,” he says. Her stomach flutters as he bows his head slightly.
“Who was it?” She asks. There’s a glimmer of hope in her voice that she can’t seem to keep from seeping through.
No, no, no. I’m not ready, she thinks to herself. Please, not yet. Her heart starts to pick up its pace as John continues to face the wall away from her. He can’t look at her.
“Agent Doggett,” she nearly whispers.
He slowly turns to face her, his eyes finally meeting hers. A furrow forms between his strong brows before he finally says, “Death by lethal injection.”
He spoke the four words like a physician informing their patient of a terminal illness. Inform with compassion quickly and to the point, then treat. Rip off the band-aid, then tend to the ailment. In any other situation she would probably appreciate his bedside manner, the way she could practically hear his heart break for her as the words left his lips, but right now she couldn’t comprehend anything.
The words enter her consciousness without fully registering for a moment. It’s as if she’s been suspended in time, frozen in the small space she inhabits, the numbness she’d longed for finally settling over her. For a fraction of a second that’s all they are, just meaningless words, noise.
An intense whooshing sound fills her ears, like the rush of waves crashing against the rocky ocean shore, already beginning the dreaded process of pulling her back into the present.
An unseen weight settles on top of her body, while her stomach suddenly feels weightless. She feels uneven, unbalanced, her equilibrium off kilter. The muscles in her chest tighten like a vice around her heart as a rush of heat prickles up the back of her neck.
Her eyes begin to burn with newly formed tears as they puddle above her lower lashes, Johns form just a few feet in front of her blurring, bleeding into the background of her living room.
Death by lethal injection.
Her brain screams for oxygen as her lungs take in quick, shallow breaths. Suffocating. She can’t remember how to breathe. Darkness forms at the edges of her peripheral vision as she feels each cell in her body begin to crack and splinter, spider webbing, like when too much weight has been placed on an iced over lake in the middle of winter. Her world is fracturing under the weight of the words. Her hand finds its way to her face as it twists in agony, a silent sob ripping from her throat.
The tears come too quickly now, too quick for her to hold them back. Any strength she has left is melting away with the tears as they stream down her face, her faith settling into a puddle in the palms of her hands.
John takes a step back as Monica rushes to her, kneeling beside the couch, her hand rubbing circles in the middle of her back.
This can’t be happening, Scully thinks. Not again. No person should have to go through this even once, let alone this many times. How many times can a woman be expected to bury the man she loves? She can’t lose him again. She can’t bury him again. She’d barely survived watching his casket lower into the ground last time, this time would surely end her.
There will be no saving him this time, neither with her loyalty or her science. There will be no one to beg, bribe, or plead to. The bottom line has been signed with his blood, this is the end. The finality of the situation registers like a kick to the gut, a pitiful moan escaping her lips as she folds into herself more, her stomach convulsing as her arms rest against her legs.
Everyone remains stricken into silence until her sobs slow to hiccups and ragged breaths. They don’t say anything, as there are no words that would serve justice to the situation. Nothing to sooth this pain away, or even curb it momentarily. They are all completely helpless.
She can feel them staring at her even after they’ve backed away, silently agreeing that space was what she needed right now. It was then that she realized it was entirely possible to feel alone in a room full of people. She felt too exposed, too vulnerable. Her fight-or-flight response engages, and she pushes to her feet on shaky legs, the soft couch suddenly feeling like quicksand that would swallow her whole. Out of the corner of her eye she can see Monica look away, whispering to John, her mouth moving in slow-motion, while john has suddenly taken a fascination with the toe of his shoe against the short grain of the carpet. Gibson still sits at the table, his back turned to her.
She crosses the floor to her bedroom, the faint calling of her name sounding thousands of miles away as she closes the door behind her and leans against it for support.
The lame attempt at solitude to process everything quickly backfires and her relief is short-lived, as her bedroom is full of scattered articles that had belonged to him. Belonged. A pang of horror slices through her as she realizes that she’s already begun to think of him in past tense. He’s still here, she thinks. He’s still breathing, his heart is still beating.
The bright red numbers on the alarm clock catch her eye, the hours of the late evening glowing into the darkness of the room, reminding her that in a short time that will no longer be true.
In just a few short hours the process of his execution will begin.
He will be made to lay supine on the gurney, with his long runners legs laid straight before him. The position will be somewhat foreign to him, as he always preferred to pull a leg up when in bed with her, his shin touching her calves. He will be strapped down, his arms that used to hold her late at night outstretched away from his body, no way to comfort himself, or shield himself from the horrors to come. To monitor his heart activity, an electrocardiogram will be attached to him. She used to press her hand over his chest to feel it beat in time with her own. Two IV lines will be inserted into his arm, one as a backup in case the first attempt fails. One must always have backup, she used to remind him on the rare occasion he had ditched her to chase a lead alone. He hates needles. He used to flinch every time she had to stick him for one reason or another. A saline drip will be administered, a harmless preview of what is to follow. A tease. A warning. Once the signal is given, sodium piothental or pentobarbital will be injected into the line, darkening Mulder’s beautiful and passionate brain into an unconscious state. It is then that pancuronium bromide will be injected, paralyzing his muscle system, stopping his breathing. Finally, the potassium chloride to stop the beating of his heart, the same heart that would lull her to sleep as she lay there with her head on his chest, inducing it to cardiac arrest.
A hitched breath breaks free from her chest as she collapses onto the edge of her bed. Their bed. She had considered it their bed since the first time they had slept together, purposely refraining from saying ‘my’ when referencing it, that sentiment was not lost on him. He’d unknowingly staked claim on all that was hers early on, and she willingly gave it to him, anything, everything. He’d claimed her heart from the second they’d met, and she handed it over on a silver platter of naiveté and innocence. What’s mine is yours, until death do us part.
Images of a younger Mulder sitting in the basement office flicker behind her eyelids as she presses her face deep into his pillow to muffle the sobs that wrack throughout her body. His enthusiastic smile, his fear of deceit hidden behind wire rimmed glasses. Her knuckles fade white as she grips the pillowcase while she remembers him perched atop a motel bed as she brings him a tray of cheese and wine. The feeling of the grin that spread across her face, as wonder and amusement spread across his. The memory of waking up to his brushing hair behind her ear and kisses pressed to her cheek send waves of nausea rolling in her belly, the bile rising to burn her throat. She can still hear his whispered “I love you, Scully,” in the back of her mind, through the muffled wailing of her own voice. The sight of him holding their newborn son for the first time, the tiny bundle in his arms, and him singing ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ to him later that night during a midnight feeding. She can still feel the overwhelming love spread warmly throughout her, even now as her head pounds harshly with every whimpered cry.
The headache pierces behind her eyes, temporarily halting the tears the seemed so unending just moments before, and she forces herself up and towards the bathroom in search of Advil. At least this is one pain she can dull. The mirror creaks quietly as she opens the cabinet, her swollen eyes closed to avoid her reflection illuminated by a small night-light in the corner, and she feels aimlessly for the short plastic bottle. Her fingertips lightly graze across the antiperspirant, the extra bottle of body wash, and settle at the small cluster of pain reliever bottles. The bottle of Advil sits short next to the bottle of Vicodin that she’d been prescribed after the birth of William. She fingers the cap of the prescription bottle momentarily before pulling it into the palm of her hand, vaguely remembering the ache in her lower abdomen as she rocked their son to sleep. She’d refused to ingest the narcotic, choosing to take over the counter pain relievers instead.
The mirrored medicine cabinet left ajar, she sits on the edge of the bathtub, giving the orange bottle an instinctive shake. The pills rattling against themselves sound strangely similar to the sound of a baby’s rattle, a toy she remembers using to captivate a baby William. The memory of the smile that would spread across his small face as she shook the toy, the smell of his baby shampoo as he waved his arms in the air to grasp it, the squeal of joy he would emit all crashed over her. The overwhelming need she felt in those moments for Mulder to experience the life they had created nearly broke her. So badly she wanted for him to see what she was seeing, to feel what she was feeling. He’d missed out on so much of the miracle that was theirs when he went into hiding, and she’d missed the look of awe that she knew he would wear in those moments. They had found the truth they had spent so many years seeking; the truth was in their son.
The raw, sensitive skin around her eyes burns as new tears make the familiar path down to her chin, as she lowered herself to the tiled floor, the guilt she felt too heavy to bear. The guilt of giving up their son, of failing to keep him safe, of failing Mulder. He’d struggled to keep her safe for all of those years that they chased the elusive truth, and now that it was her turn to reciprocate, to swoop in and save the day, she failed. Again. She’d followed him for years, blindly most times, riding solely on her faith and trust in him. They’d always had each other. She’d followed him to the ends of the earth, to the darkest places where monsters slept and waited to pounce, always at his side.
She could follow him now, one last trip into the unknown.
The cap slips off easily.
Visions of him strapped to a gurney, of their son in the arms of strangers, of FOX WILLIAM MULDER written on a headstone, of herself alone at her kitchen table flood her vision as she pours the pills into the palm of her hand. She can’t do this alone. This fight isn’t one to be fought solo.
The last pill slides down the length of the bottle slowly, as if giving her time to reconsider, then nestles at the top of the heap in her hand. Her fingers wrap around them, feeling the weight and girth of them. The hard edges dig into her skin. Good catholic women don’t take their own lives, but maybe God could make an exception this time.
“Oh, God,” she whispers through gritted teeth. She leans her head back against the lip of the tub, “Please forgive me.”
Her eyes trail to the small empty cup at her sink.
There’s a shuffle in her bedroom followed by a whispered, “Hurry.” Then a tall figure is hovering in the bathroom doorway.
In the dim light she can see that it’s Skinner, his shoulders drooping with defeat, with Gibson standing back a few feet in the shadows, and she closes her eyes. She’d forgotten the telepathic prodigy was even here, and, of course, he would interfere. This is her choice, damnit. The only thing she can control in this convoluted disaster she called her life.
Fuck you, kid.
She hopes he hears that.
She flinches a little as Skinner’s fingers wrap around her wrist, pulling her hand towards the toilet, turning it over while prying her fingers open. It sounds like rain as the pills land in the water of the basin.
“No,” she whimpers, her head dropping to her chest.
His arms encircle her, lifting her into his embrace. She remembers being carried this way by her father when she was a child. Whenever she’d gotten hurt, he’d scoop her up into his arms and hold her until she’d felt better. Skinner carries her into the darkness of her bedroom, and lays her gently on her bed. A blanket is pulled over her as she cries into his pillow, still damp from earlier tears.
“It’s not your time, Dana,” he says quietly as he begins to walk away, Gibson already at the door. “It’s not Mulders either. Come out and talk when you’re ready. We have a plan.”