Mulder's Refuge Challenge
Wake Up Call
"Wake up, prisoner!" The boot that accompanied that order hit her squarely in the back. Dana Scully moaned and rolled over, struggling to open her eyes. When she did finally pry them open, the dim light in the damp cellblock gave her little with which to work. The guard was silhouetted in glare coming from a single window set high in the cinder block wall. He stepped forward and prepared to kick her again but she quickly got to her knees and then to her feet.
"Where am I?" she asked, holding onto her anger at the rude awakening to cover her fear and confusion. What was this place? Why was she there? Where was Mulder?
The guard sneered at her. "You don't know where you are? You're on death row, little lady," he laughed without any cheer. "You're a traitor, a murderer and you're due to hang in a few hours. But first you have a visitor."
Hang? What was going on? Scully licked her lips, looking around her frantically. She was dressed in a simple shift with no real waistline and absolutely no ornament. Her shoes were canvas slip ons. She reached up to feel her hair and found it shorn almost to her skull. Her stomach knotted and she trembled at the strangeness of her predicament. The last thing she clearly remembered was . . . nothing. She couldn't remember where she'd been or what she'd been doing.
The room she was in was the standard cell in any one of a thousand detention centers she'd seen across the country. It was no more than 9 foot by 9 foot, there was a steel toilet and sink set in the wall and a single cot. One wall was a series of bars set floor to ceiling with the opening holding a big lock. She couldn't remember how she'd arrived there. Again, she wondered, where was Mulder?
There were the noises of several men coming toward her cell. She backed into a corner, not ready to face what was to come. The guard opened the door and walked out. One man stepped into the cell and the door was closed behind him. At first, because of the light, she couldn't see his face. He moved nearer and she almost burst into tears of relief. It was Mulder.
"So, this is the famous Dr. Scully," he marveled. It was Mulder's face, but it wasn't Mulder's voice. Upon closer inspection, she realized her mistake. This man was young, far younger than Mulder had been even when she first met him. And where Mulder's coloring was darker, his hair more of a chestnut and skin more bronze, this man was fair, with blue eyes and a reddish hue to his brown hair. Her heart froze as he stood there and glared at her.
"I really expected someone . . . well, not taller, I guess. Just more imposing. Of course, your prison hairstylist didn't do you any favors," he chuckled as he walked around her, sizing her up. "That dress doesn't really suit you, either. I've seen pictures. You look really good in battle fatigues. But we don't want to scare the guards."
"Who are you?" she whispered, fearing the truth but knowing she had to find it.
"Don't you remember me -- Mommy?" He hurled the endearment like an insult. "I mean, it was a long time ago and well, I can understand how you'd forget about me. I was just a burden, wasn't I? It was so easy to toss me aside, send me off to strangers. Did you go to the bar that night, Mom, to celebrate?" he taunted her. "Did you pick up some guy on the street and let him fuck you senseless that night to help you forget about the bastard baby you threw away?"
Tears were streaming down her face and her breath was catching in her throat. This wasn't possible. She'd dreamed of seeing him again, seeing her baby, her William, but not like this. She had to make him understand. "No," she whimpered. "No, it wasn't easy. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. I did it to keep you safe . . . " her voice trailed off when she saw the anger building in his eyes.
"Safe?!" William roared. "Safe from what? Safe from whom? You handed me over to them, you bitch! Are you going to stand there and expect me to think that the mastermind of the whole resistance is that stupid?!" Quick as a lightning bolt, his arm came up and he backhanded her across the mouth.
She stumbled and hit the wall, but remained standing. Feeling her lip, her fingers came away bloody. He drew back and seemed ready to strike again, but a sudden calm settled on him and he drew himself up taller. "No. It's really not fair to hit you when you're already down, Mommy Dearest. Besides, I have so much planned for you today. I want to make sure you are perfectly aware of every second."
He turned to go, but stopped just short of the door, looking at her over his shoulder. "Oh, and for the record, I think you might change your opinion of 'the hardest thing you've ever done' after what I have to show you."
As he left, she slid down the wall, huddling with her knees drawn up to her chest and gave herself over to her sobs.
A short time later, the guard returned. "C'mon," he said, pulling at her arm to get her to stand.
"Where are you taking me?" she asked, her voice tiny and childlike.
"You're going to see someone. Try to make yourself look presentable," he added with a vicious chuckle.
As they walked down the hallway, passing other cell blocks, the prisoners all stood and watched. "There goes the great Dr. Scully," she heard someone jeer and others took up the call. "Hey, resist this, whore!" "Guess you can't hide forever, huh?" "When you get to the gallows, mention my name -- you'll get a good rope!" The last was followed by cackles of laughter all the way down the cell block.
They turned a corner and she was pushed inside a room. It was larger than her cell but had only a table with two chairs. There was a door on the other wall. It opened and someone else stumbled in.
When the other person looked up, recognition was immediate. "Mulder!" she cried and launched herself into his arms. She caught him off balance and he took her shoulders to steady them both, but instead of returning her embrace, he dropped his arms to his sides.
"Scully," he said, evenly. "I wondered if they'd get us both."
"Mulder, what is going on? Where are we?" she asked frantically. "Why are you -- why are you acting like this?"
"What's going on? C'mon, Scully. This isn't a time to joke," he bit out, shaking his head in disgust.
"What are you talking about? Mulder, I have no idea what is going on! Where are we? Mulder, this place -- I think, I think I just talked to William!"
Mulder rolled his eyes. "Oh, so the great man deemed to come down to spit in your eye personally, did he? For me, he sent his lieutenant. But then, I was just the sperm donor, isn't that right, Scully?" The bitterness in his tone caught her completely off guard.
"Mulder, I never -- Mulder, you are William's father. I never considered you -- "
"Damn right about that!" Mulder spat out before she could continue. "You never considered me. You saw the same things I did, Scully and what did you do? Ran off to be a doctor. 'Oh, I'm helping people, Mulder'," he belittled her. "Hell of a lot of good it did when the whole world got hit with the shitstorm!"
"No," she pleaded. "No, Mulder, it wasn't like that -- "
"'I don't want the darkness in my home'," he sang in a mocking voice as he stepped toward her menacingly. "'I can't come home' -- remember that, Scully? Guess that was just another time you 'never considered' me." He spun on his heel and started pacing the room. "So now here we are. We're going to die today, Scully. Was it worth it? The whole planet is in ruins, our son is the leader of the alien invasion but oh, you got to be a doctor! Are you happy?"
"But I -- I wanted to fight, Mulder. I was just -- I was just so tired and so hurt and I just wanted to rest . . . "
"Well, we're gonna rest tonight, baby! That's for damn sure," he laughed bitterly. "Why didn't you let me fight, Scully? Back then, when it could have made a difference. Before the first wave, before they got hold of our son and twisted him into this monster. Why did you rein me in? Why did you domesticate me so that I was impotent before the real threat even arrived? What I really want to know, Scully, is why the hell didn't you help me fight them??"
"Mulder, I don't know what you're talking about," she objected. "I never stopped you from . . . I never . . ." The look of total disgust he was giving her was the sharpest of knives cutting her very soul. "Mulder, please. I love you."
His eyes went wide and his face flushed. "Fuck you!" he said. "Fuck you to say that to me now -- when it's too late! Why didn't you say that to me 20 years ago -- hell, why not 2 years ago? Why now, little miss perfect?!"
She was finding it hard to speak as the sobs shook her body to its very core. "Mulder, please. I'm sorry. I know I never said the words, but I meant them. I thought you knew I meant them. I've loved you for so long."
He just glared at her and shook his head. After a moment, he walked over to the door he'd entered and rapped on it. "Guard. I've had enough of this play date. Stop the torture already. Just hang me."
"Mulder, no!" she yelled. "No, Mulder, please. You have to forgive me! Mulder don't go -- please, you need to understand. I did consider you. I was terrified of losing you. I was terrified -- "
The guard entered and took Mulder by the arm. He turned to her one last time. "Did it occur to you when you were handing my son off to be adopted -- that you were giving them exactly what they wanted? Did that thought ever cross your mind, Scully? Maybe for just one moment?"
Before she could answer, he was gone.
Her guard took her back to her cell, but she hardly remembered walking there. Time had no meaning. She sat on the cold cement floor, sobbing so hard it hurt. What had she done? What had happened? She wasn't at all surprised when the guard was back again, opening the cell door.
"It's time," he told her. For a fleeting moment, she thought she saw a touch of pity in his eyes, but it was quickly gone.
The chanting and jeering started anew as she was walked down the hall again. They walked past the room where she'd last seen Mulder. She glanced furtively at the other prisoners, hoping to catch sight of him again. He wasn't in any of the other cells. For a brief moment, that gave her hope.
That hope was dashed as she stepped out into the sunshine. It was a crowded courtyard to the prison. There were people, but they were all prisoners, haggard and beaten. Still, they fell silent when she walked among them. A wooden scaffold was erected at the far end but she could make out Mulder climbing the steps. His hands were bound to a manacle that encircled his waist with chains dropping down to shackle his feet. He had some difficult making it up the stairs but when he got to the platform, he stood defiantly erect, staring out over the crowd. The noose next his head swayed slightly in the breeze.
She was shoved from behind and she fully expected they would make her climb the stairs and meet her fate next to Mulder. So when she started in that direction, she was surprised that her guard grabbed her and roughly brought her to a place directly below the scaffold. When she looked up, she saw that William was on the platform, standing next to Mulder.
Her son looked down on her, hatred in his eyes. "You told me this morning that giving me away was the hardest thing you'd ever done, Mother. Well, let's see if we can top that, shall we?" he yelled at her. Stepping over, he took the noose and pulled it over her former partner's head. With a smile, he tightened it around his father's neck. "Don't close your eye's, Mom," he warned.
"No, William, don't do this!" she shouted, but he just looked down at her without pity or remorse.
"You made this bed, Dana Scully. Now you have to lie in it."
"Tell me one thing, Scully, before I die," Mulder asked quietly. "Did you ever really love me?"
Before she could call out to him the guard at his side released the latch and the section of platform fell, Mulder falling right after it. Where she stood, she could see him as he fell and then she heard the bones in his neck snap --
She shot up off her the hard surface of her desk, screaming his name. Her officemate, Dr. Brady, looked over at her with a raised eyebrow. "Everything all right, Dr. Scully?" she asked without expressing any real concern.
Where was the courtyard? Where was the scaffold? She looked around her, immediately recognizing her office at the hospital. She must have fallen asleep after staying up the night with Christian.
A dream, it had all been a dream. Or was it a vision? A vision of hell, her own personal hell, of that she was certain.
Her panicked breathing was slow in calming. She sucked in a lungful of air and realized she had to get home.
"I -- I have to leave," Scully stuttered and immediately got up, gathering her purse and jacket.
"Have a nice day," the woman said before going back to her notes.
Scully was running for the parking lot when she remembered her cell phone. Without even looking, she hit the buttons for Mulder's number and while trying to locate the key to her car door, she waited for him to pick up. It rang four times and went to voice mail. She unlocked the car and tossed the phone on the passenger seat. In seconds she was out of the parking lot and headed for home.
"It was just a dream," she kept repeating aloud as she drove down the dusty highway. The late snow had finally melted and the first signs of spring were visible across the vacant fields. "It was just a dream," she said, closing her eyes at a stop sign, but the images from that dream kept hammering at her mind. William, looking exactly like his father -- except he hated her. Mulder, asking her if she ever loved him. Mulder as the platform dropped from under him, as the taut rope effectively broke his neck --
She had to stop thinking of it! It was going to drive her mad. But it was all she could think about. "It's just your subconscious," she told herself, speaking as if she were talking to Mulder or anyone else in the car. "You're feeling guilty about the fight the other night and you're still scared over what happened to Mulder and that girl."
Oh yeah, her mind chanted back silently. Then why did William make such an unexpected appearance? She shook her head and counted the miles to their home.
When she arrived at the gate, she saw Mulder coming around the house in his running track pants and sweatshirt. Forgetting that she had ordered him to take it easy today, she stopped the car and without bothering to turn off the engine and take her keys, she launched into his arms.
"Hey, whoa, lady, do I know you?" he teased before he managed to rear back enough to see the tears in her eyes.
"I love you, Mulder. You know that, don't you? I've loved you for so long," she rambled, burying her face in his chest.
He stroked her hair gently but his was obviously confused. "Ah, yeah. I know you love me, Scully. I love you. Now what brought all this on? What are you doing home? I thought you were working till 7 tonight."
"I . . . I . . . I need a cup of coffee," she finally said, pulling her composure around her.
He quirked an eyebrow at that request but nodded. "Well, I think there's still some in the pot. C'mon, the sun is nice but the wind is chilly." He shivered and she hugged him tighter as they made their way up to the porch and into the house. "Oh, damn, I left the can running," she said and turned to go back out.
"No," he stopped her. "Go pour the coffee. I'll get it." He was giving her curious looks, as if he wasn't certain what she would do next. She couldn't really blame him.
Pulling off her coat, she hung it on the hook by the door and walked back into the kitchen. It was warm and sunny in the mid-afternoon light and she smiled as she took two mugs from the dish drainer and filled them both with coffee. Mulder usually went through at least two pots a day, so the brew was relatively fresh. After adding her favorite creamer from the refrigerator, she sat down at the table with an audible sigh. The dream was fading as she relaxed in the comfort of their kitchen, but the thoughts the dream had stirred up were still circling her mind.
"There, the car's off, I put your keys on the hook by the door and thanks," he said, taking up his mug from the table and sitting down opposite her. "Now -- what the hell, Scully! Want to tell me what just happened?"
She chewed on her lip a moment, gathering her thoughts. "I had a dream."
"Last night?" he asked, confused.
"No, just a little while ago," she admitted. "I guess, I guess I didn't sleep that well last night, knowing I had this surgery planned -- "
"Scully, this isn't about the surgery, is it? I got your text that it went well -- "
"No, it's not about Christian. The surgery did go well. We won't know for certain for a few more weeks, but for now, it looks like it was successful. That wasn't it. Please, Mulder, let me get it all out before you ask all the questions, OK?"
He winced in apology. "Sorry. Continue."
"So," she started again, taking another sip of her coffee to strengthen her resolve. Now that she was seated in their warm and cozy kitchen, drinking coffee, looking at Mulder, she couldn't help but wonder if she was overreacting from the stress of the last week. "So," she said once more.
"We've established the 'so' part, Scully. You had a dream -- "
"Yes. Mulder it . . . it was a nightmare. And I can't remember all of it, but parts of it . . . " She chewed her lip. "I don't even want to go into it. But it's made me think."
She saw him stiffen and lean back. He was preparing himself for -- what? Thinking back on the events of the last few days, could she really blame him for being fearful of her thoughts and actions? She reached a hand across the table and took his fingers, not letting go.
"I think I've been a fool," she said plainly.
He nodded but didn't change his expression. He was waiting for the other shoe to drop.
"Mulder, what have you been doing all this time -- about . . . 2012?"
She would have laughed at the look on his face if the subject matter had not been so serious. He sputtered and sat forward, leaning on his elbows.
"What -- why are you asking that?" he finally managed to get out. He chewed on his lip nervously and tried to pull his hand out of hers but she held fast and wouldn't let him go.
"Mulder, I feel like we should hold this conversation in a seedy motel room, but do you remember what I told you 6 years ago?"
He licked his upper lip and shrugged. "Six years ago all we slept in were seedy motels, Scully. But somehow I don't think you're asking if I remember the time you asked me to help you dye your hair and I said I didn't have the right credentials for the job."
She smiled before she shook her head. "No, a few months before that," she prodded.
He nodded and drew in a deep breath. "You asked me why I thought you would accept defeat when I couldn't. You told me that I could only fail if I gave up. And that I couldn't do that and you couldn't do that either." He said there, looking at her warily, waiting for her response.
Again, she smiled at him but this time she reached over and touched his cheek. "I think, for a while, I'd forgotten that conversation. I'd forgotten that promise. I've spent so much of the last few years trying to hide from everything, I think I ended up hiding from you -- from myself."
"What are you saying, Scully?" At her impatient look, he shook his head. "I'm not trying to be obtuse, I just don't want to jump to conclusions here and misunderstand what you're saying. Tell me, Scully. What do you really mean?"
"I want to fight the future, Mulder. I want to believe again. I want to know that if you and I are on the same side, there's no way we can lose. I'm not helping you fight when I'm at that hospital. I guess I'm trying to say . . . I'm sorry. I'm sorry if I've locked you away here and kept you all to myself and brushed aside what's coming just so that I could have a few moments to . . . forget all the pain." She wiped angrily at tears she didn't want to show. Clear-eyed once more, she looked at him and smiled. She stuck her hand out as she had so many years before. "Agent Mulder. I'm Dana Scully. I've been assigned to work with you."
The grin was slow as it spread across his face, but he took her hand in his and squeezed it. "So, who did you piss off to get stuck with this detail, Scully?"
"Personally, I think it was fate," she replied.
"So, what happens next?" he asked, still holding her hand.
"I email Father Ybarra and tender my resignation. I'll give the hospital two weeks to reassign my patients and then we get to work," she said with a shrug. She stood up and kissed him on the forehead, preparing to leave the kitchen.
"Are you ever going to tell me what caused this change of heart?" he asked when she was at the doorway.
"Let's just say it was a wake up call and leave it at that."
The end, until the next movie . . .