All the little things
The missing scene where Scully tells Mulder she’s in remission. As blogged so eloquently by @sunflowerseedsandscience
Noticed the @2momsmakearight has a missing scene challenge too, so here’s my shot at that.
If she could have breathed him in, his essence, she would have. Inhaled with all her might and held her breath for days. But the tumour had all but destroyed her sense of smell. Still, she knew he was there. She could feel him at the deepest level, in a way she would never have been able to explain in a report.
“Mulder?” Her voice broke over the incessant hum of the hospital room.
She heard his shirt rustle as he moved in the chair. “How long have you been here?”
He sat forward on his elbows, and mussed his hair. She noticed how long and elegant his fingers were. Piano hands, her mother would say. His right cheek was lined from the vinyl of the high-backed chair. His tie was loose around his neck and his collar unbuttoned. Somehow, it seemed fitting that he should be suited up, however creased. Fox Mulder wore a suit well. She thought about how the pleated waistband of his pants sat snug against his hips. She’d always had a thing for hipbones. Rubbing a thumb over the rounded knob of bone, spreading her palm flat across a taut stomach. She’d had enough time recently to think about all the little things she would never do again and that had been one. It was the oddest things that struck her. Of all the horrors she had seen in her professional life, the simple cruelty of her reality had been by far the worst.
She reached out her hand and touched his. His fingers curled around hers with such tenderness that she could imagine him as a lover, how gentle, how considerate, how reverential.
“I tried to go home, Scully, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bear to go back and sit in my apartment. I…just need to be here some more.”
She tried to roll herself further to the side of the bed, to close the distance between them. There had been times in their relationship when that distance had seemed so vast it could never been reduced; when their differences served only to convince her that they would pull each other apart, unstitch, if one of them didn’t relinquish their hold on the seams of the partnership. But there were other times, more often recently, when she had felt his presence like a second soul, when their similarities had knitted together the edges of their resolve and they had worked as one.
“Mulder, I have something to tell you.” She squeezed his fingers. He rubbed his face, his jaw clenching. He might be the psychologist but she was well versed in human reaction and paleness, shallow breathing and tension were all classic signs of the fear response. The Mulder fear repertoire also included impulsiveness, shouting, thumping walls or people and guilt.
“No wait, Scully. I want to speak. I’ve been sitting here waiting for you…to wake up. I’ve been rehearsing this all night. I…can you let me go first?” His eyes clouded and she scooted closer to him, close enough to pull him forward and drop a kiss on his forehead. He sat back and the look he had on his face all but burnt her heart out. His eyes were red with early tears, his nostrils flaring as he tried to control his breathing, his stubbled chin set firm.
He shuddered out a breath and steepled his hands over his nose and mouth. His brow creased and she knew the skin there would be soft. She had an impulse to cover it in kisses, press her lips there long enough to imprint herself on his brain. Instead, she stored the image in the place where she kept her dreams and hopes and simple wishes.
“I…we don’t do this talking thing very well. We excel at things unspoken. But since you’ve been in here, it hit me…” he broke off to issue a gentle chuckle, “too late of course, that there are too many things left unspoken. Not the big things, the declarations of love or the promises to continue the quest, but the hundred thousand other minutiae that make up a life.
He sighed and looked at her. “I can’t imagine never asking you again if you want cream in your coffee, or calling you on a Sunday morning to see if you’d seen the article in the Post, or telling you that Skinner wants to see us in his office in five minutes, or watching you sign your name at hire car desk where you’d have to stand on tiptoe to reach the counter, or hoping you’d say yes to adjoining rooms, or wondering if you’d belt me if I offered to carry your bags.”
He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and she saw how his shirt sleeves were rolled to his elbows and the tendons in his forearms flexed. “Mulder, you don’t have to do this.”
“But I do, Scully. That’s just it. The big things have remained unsaid for a reason. The big things are measured by the way you’ve changed my life and I hope I’ve changed yours. By the way you’ve made me work for everything, by the way you’ve opened your eyes to the truth even when it hurt so much. But the little things, they cut deep.”
She shifted, trying to get the pillow out from under her head, so she could sit up. He stood then, took the pillow from her and placed it up against the headboard. He slipped his arms under hers and around her back and gently turned her from her side so she could sit up. She felt her breasts crush against his chest their hearts joining momentarily and hoped he did too. He pulled the sheet and blanket up over her chest and tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear. She was touched by his gentleness, his silent ministrations, his patent concern for her comfort even during his own distress. His eyes continued to well with tears and she noticed the tremble in his hands.
“Mulder, I thought about the little things too.” She clasped her hands in her lap and snorted out a laugh. “All the time. How I would miss the way you stand you’re your hands on your hips when you’re frustrated, the way you chew on your bottom lip when you think too long, the vein in your temple that throbs when you’re angry, your Dad jokes and innuendos and hand in the small of my back.”
Tears tracked down his cheeks now and he looked away, desperate to retain some modicum of dignity. “Scully…”
She put a finger to his mouth. “Shh. It’s okay.” He broke into a choking sob and she let him cry it out. He shook against her, his forehead burning into her chest, melding their skin together.
“Scully, I can’t do this without you. I can’t.”
“You know what? You could if you had to.” She kissed his forehead, savouring the taste on her lips, she kissed his cheek, his stubbled jaw, the soft lobe of his ear and she whispered, “but you don’t, Mulder. The cancer is in remission. I’ve been trying to tell you. I’m okay. I’m okay.”
She felt his grip tighten on the back of her neck, she felt his shoulders heave upwards, then drop just as quickly, releasing his pent-up tension.
“The chip worked?” His voice cracked in astonishment and for the longest time he remained silent, her head tucked under his chin, his head thrown back. His shoulders wobbled and his chest expanded and he laughed and he held her close and the bed creaked as his laughing turned to crying.
She snuffed into his neck. “We don’t know if it was the chip, but the fact remains that I’m going to get better. And we’re going to get the chance to say all those little things, Mulder.”
She let him sink into her, revelling in the heat of his breath in the hollow between her neck and her shoulder. She brushed her fingers over the fine hairs at his nape. She bunched the fabric of his shirt in her hand and settled to the rhythm of his sobbing. She lost track of time, but her eyes grew heavy and she had to push at him to get him to release her.
“I’m tired, Mulder.”
“Have I ever told you how your top lip curls so sedately round your teeth when you yawn, Scully? And how you make this tiny noise when you’re entering REM sleep, like a snuffly puppy? And how your pinky finger sticks out a little when you hold a spoon to eat your yoghurt?”
“A snuffly puppy, Mulder?”
She closed her eyes and let him talk. He told her all the little things. And she thought about all the little things that she would tell him later. And later and later.