35) things you said that made me feel real Turn-about is fair play homeskillet! 😘
Thank you so much for the prompt! No fluff this time :D
Deep in the night,
they find her. They always find her.
She cowers when they tear and gnaw at her; her skin falling off, her resolve diminishing into darkness. A darkness where she can’t even hide. All she can do, all she needs to do is fight. So she struggles, she screams and thrashes around.
Until she finally wakes up.
Panting heavily, her heart racing, pounding, racing, trying to escape her chest. Trying to escape this reality. What is real, she thinks, counting to ten (like she’s learned since she’s been… back) and feeling her breathing return to normal ever so slowly.
Scully needs to remember this. Just a nightmare. None of it is real. She repeats these words, mouths them to herself here in the dark, but they feel hollow. There are no pictures, nothing to cling to or be angry at. Just feelings. And Dana Scully has never been good with handling feelings.
“Scully? You awake?” The knock on her door is soft; so soft she would not have heard it had she been asleep.
“I’m awake.” She lets him know, hoping he’ll just stroll in. This is the first time they’ve had adjoining rooms while on a case. Sometimes they’re not even on the same floor or in same building complex. Mulder opens the door and strolls in as if it were the middle of the day and not dead night.
“Can’t sleep?” Scully asks him before he can say anything else; question why she’s awake at this hour. She’s seen herself after her nightmares; the tear-streaked face, the pale complexion. It’s dark here in the room with the only source of light a sputtering street light outside. He’s walking closer to the bed and Scully thinks back to their first case when he let her have his bed while he told her about his sister’s abduction. Right now she hopes he doesn’t want her to return the favor.
“I haven’t been sleeping well.” He pulls up a chair and sits close to her bed, but not too close. She can see him better now; shadows playing on his face, his eyes alert and curious. But she keeps quiet. Scully can tell he wants her to admit the same. She flushes with horror thinking he might have heard her scream out from her nightmare. The first few nights her mother had stayed with her and after her Melissa. Both, with teary, pitiful eyes had told her about her night terrors. What are those dreams about? Her sister had wanted to know. Scully had not told her. Could not tell anyone.
“You could watch some TV?” She offers. “I was about to turn it on myself.”
“Hm.” The chair squeaks as Mulder stretches out his legs, almost touching the bedpost. “Does this happen every night, Scully?” The gentleness in his voice surprises her as much as his question and she startles.
“What do you mean?” Scully wills her voice to be steady, to be strong.
“Scully, come on.” He leans forward, his elbows on his knees. His face is still so far away it seems, yet she feels like he’s invading her personal space.
“I have nightmares from time to time,” she admits, “Everyone has them.”
“Not like this.”
“Well, not everyone has experienced what I have, Mulder.” She doesn’t mean to sound so irritated and she almost apologizes. Almost.
“I know that, Scully,” his voice is so soft, like a caress and she immediately feels the anger subside again, “I just – maybe you should have taken some more time off.”
“No. I want to work. It… it helps.”
“Can I help you, too?”
“Just… can I stay here? Just for tonight? I’ll behave.” Mulder promises with a chuckle.
“What do you mean stay here?”
“In this chair. Just… just in case.”
“Mulder, you need to sleep. You can’t sleep in a chair.”
“Watch me.” Another chuckle. “Please, Scully.” His voice is pleading and she’s glad now that it’s too dark to see his face. She can hear everything she doesn’t want to know in his voice. Her mother told her how much Mulder suffered when she was gone. She’s never seen it; has not seen a difference in him in the daylight. Now, though… now she understands.
“All right,” she settles back down, facing him. “You can stay.” Her voice is barely above a whisper; she can’t speak these words loudly, afraid they might sound like defeat. Mulder’s even, certain breathing is a peaceful lullaby, rocking her back to sleep.
They’re back. Laughing at her in the darkness, their hands reaching for her. Grabbing. Tearing at her arms, scratching her skin.
“Scully, hey, it’s all right.” The voice is above her, somewhere, and she gasps. The hands, though, they’re still there. The darkness keeps its hold on her, tries to drag her down.
“It’s all right, you’re here. You’re here with me. It’s Mulder.”
If only her eyes would open, she thinks, reaching out her hand. Something tender brushes her cheek, then the other one. Warm. Warm and solid.
“Open your eyes, Scully,” the voice is closer, drowns out the darkness and pulls her up, “Look at me. This is real. I’m real.”
“Mulder?” She mumbles, her eyes blinking furiously, waking up.
“Yes, it’s me.” The relief in his voice is palpable and finally her eyes snap fully open. There he is; his face close to hers. So close he’s almost blurry.
“Just a nightmare,” he assures her; the same words she used to calm herself earlier, “You had a nightmare. It was not real. None of it is real.” She can only nod. If she opens her mouth now, even if just to say thank you, the tears will flow. She is not ready. Not ready to let him see him like that.
Without another word, he puts his arms around her tightly, holding her. They’re lying there entwined, touching in places they’ve not dared feel before, breathing in the same air.
“I’ll be here.” He whispers against her mouth and Scully closes her eyes again. This is real, she reminds herself; he is real and I am.
We are real.
Scully sleeps and this time there’s no nightmare.