I can’t accept knowing how I will die. It’s supposed to be a mystery. I’m not supposed to know. A car accident. A gun shot or a paper cut or… I’m not supposed to know how it ends – how I end. But I do. I look in the mirror every morning and all I can see is the cancer that’s killing me. I can’t escape it. Everything is cancer. Every headache. Every nose bleed. Every funny taste or strange smell. Everything. It’s always my cancer, pushing into my brain and killing me. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to feel my life ending. I try to ignore it. I feel fine. I work and eat and sleep and I feel fine. I tell Mulder I’m fine, but he doesn’t believe me. He never has – he’s afraid of my death as much as I am. I try to hide my fear from him, but he knows. I don’t want to be alone but I don’t tell him. I can’t tell him how much I need him – how much I rely on his strength to see me through now. Because I don’t believe I’m fine either. I saw the dead girl, saw her message on the mirror. She is me and she is dead. Those who’ve had the visions were all dying. I can’t ignore what’s happening to me. I’m dying. And I’m afraid.
Lying next to you, listening to the rain fall against the window pane, I think about the last nine years of our life. We have come so far together - so much farther than either of us would have ever travelled alone. I can’t remember my life before you, Mulder. But I don’t feel as if I have lost myself. The opposite is true - I found myself in you. Hard science and facts - that’s what I believed in. If it couldn’t be explained with science then it couldn’t be accepted. Believing was unthinkable - belief made things real and unexplainable things frightened me. But you taught me that not believing doesn’t change anything. It only makes the fear stronger. I’m not afraid of our future, Mulder. Looking at you, feeling the weight of you next to me, I know whatever comes we will face it together. I think of your hand on my face, holding me and I smile because I know when you touch me that nothing can hurt me. Mulder, no one has ever been as strong as I know you are. Even now, when you believe you have found the truth you’ve searched for, you won’t quit. You still believe we will find a way to save ourselves. And I believe in you. The road ahead of us is dark and uncertain. The monsters still exist. But I am not afraid, Mulder. I’m not afraid because as long as we believe the same thing, there will always be hope.
She had approached life as if invincible. It was neither hubris nor naivety - she simply lent no consideration to the frailty of flesh. She was strong, independent, intelligent and capable. She was a survivor - if anything, the last four years had proved that.
But whatever she may have believed before, the brilliant horizon of hope and possibility had been darkened with the certainty of uncertainty.
In the beginning, she regarded the translucent xray film as the picture of death. The tumor was inoperable. Untreatable. It was bomb, fuse lit and unstoppable. The only variable was time. She warred within, the two halves of her taking up arms for control. Skeptic Fighter, screaming for battle, blood, sweat and tears, urging her into combat, versus Doctor Scientist, silently pushing the reality of cancer to the forefront of her thoughts. The inevitable struggle of a mortally-wounded soul - fight heroically to the end? Or conceed defeat and bow out of tragic misfortune. The latter would have been the obvious choice given the evidence in hand. The xray, the science, the horrific image of a dying Penny, struggling for last breaths as the very same demon conquored her.
Only one thought could end the war - Mulder. More than any fear of death, she feared for him - for what would become of him. He would never accept he was powerless to save her, to protect her. He would blame himself for not being able to stop the demon. For four years, he disregarded himself anytime her safety and well-being had been compromised. He loved her. She was as certain of it as she had ever been of anything. He didn’t need to declare it - somethings a woman just knows. She was as important to him as any truth he had ever dared to seek and she couldn’t bare to think how her death would crush him. The pain only rivaled by the knowledge that she would have to say goodbye - to look into the depths of his hazel eyes and tell him he would have to continue on without her.
Once again, he gave her the resolve to hold on. She would fight this thing. She was no hero but she would never give up. How many times had Mulder’s strength and courage sustained her? How many times had he appeared out of the darkness, reaching into the black and pulling her back to life? She owed him more than a quiet retreat. She owed him everything - her very life. And she would fight the monster threatening her life now with every breath left in her chest. She would fight for Mulder. She would fight for them both.