a/n: here is the last chapter of this story. I'm sorry it took me so long to get it up. hopefully you are still interested in reading and are happy with how it ends. there's a bit of angst up ahead, but it will all work out in the end. tell me what you think, and thank you for those of you who have stuck with me this long.
"Are you ready to do this?" Mulder and Scully, hand-in-hand, stood in front of a seemingly harmless looking building of offices. She would make her trek up to the fifth floor alone. Suite 507.
Scully took a deep breath. The words, 'I'm fine' were on the tip of her tongue, but she knew she couldn't give Mulder that answer. Two weeks after her move to Philadelphia, he had shown up on her doorstep with all of his stuff and told her of his new job doing child development research at the University of Pennsylvania. It was the perfect ending, the happily-ever-after they both had been looking for.
But it didn't last. Now that they were living together, Mulder was noticing more and more how depressed Scully was. He had a hard time connecting with her on the same level that they had achieved during their time as partners. Mulder was smarter than to expect that right away, but it was hard to contend with the fact that things were just… different. Their touches. Their glances. Their unspoken communication. Something was in the way; something was blocking the relationship Mulder knew his girlfriend wanted to have with him. And one night, after much stewing, he addressed her about it.
"You have to be kidding me," she immediately responded, just as he'd expected her to.
"Scully, please just hear me out—"
"No, Mulder. I don't want to hear this. I'm a medical doctor, don't you think I would know if I were depressed?"
"No, I don't think you would. I think you would bury the thought so far deep in the back of your mind that you could fool yourself into thinking you were okay. But you're not okay."
"That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. I know you're missing the FBI, but that doesn't mean you can go around profiling everyone you come in contact with."
"I've been thinking about this for a long time. You don't see it, Scully. You don't see how sad you look. The passion and the fire in your eyes… it's gone. And I love you too much to—"
"Stop it!" she interrupted again, yelling. "You don't know what it's like to be me, Mulder! Day in and day out wondering how many times you've fucked up. Knowing how many mistakes you made—how many lives you could have lived and being stuck in this one. I hate it! My life was forever changed before I left you and then I threw away five years of it by leaving you. Do you know what it's like to feel that your daughter doesn't deserve you? That your daughter deserves a mom who isn't too sad to take her to the park, or play dolls with her, or… Mulder…" she had begun hyperventilating and fell to her knees, "Mulder I can't breathe!"
He'd held her shaking body all night, hands on her shoulders, sitting with her between his legs, hoping the feeling of his chest expanding and deflating against her would encourage her breathing to become regular. She fell asleep not long after she fell to the ground, but she was not getting rest. Mulder hadn't expected the dam to break this quickly. She was too strong, his Scully would never have broken so easily.
Maybe she wasn't his Scully anymore. Maybe his Scully had been lost somewhere while they were chasing mutants and her ovaries were getting stolen from her. Watching one daughter die and another grow up without a father. Being cheated on, being abandoned… the longer he thought about it, the more Mulder blamed himself. He was ready to pack up and leave her life like she had done him, until small feet stirred down the stairs.
"Mulder?" Sam was rubbing her eyes. He'd put her to bed that night before Scully got home from working a late shift, more than thankful that she hadn't been witness to her mom's outburst… particularly because of the things she had said.
"Hi," he tried to pretend that sitting on the living room floor with her sleeping mother was totally normal.
"What are you doing on the ground?" she asked anyway.
"Just… uh… too tired to make it up the stairs. Sleeping on the floor isn't good, though. I don't recommend it."
"You're silly," Sam seemed satisfied with that answer, sitting down right next to them and curling herself up into Mulder's side. When he moved his arm from around Scully and put it around her daughter, he knew he woke her up. Maybe she needed to hear what was going to be said.
"You love your mommy, don't you sweetheart?"
"Yes!" Sam nodded her head enthusiastically, obviously wondering why Mulder would ask her such a stupid question.
"Good girl," Mulder pulled her closer and kissed the top of his head, "And Mommy loves you too."
Later, after Mulder had put Sam back to bed, Scully was sitting on the couch with a cup of tea, ready to end the conversation that had begun much before that night. She let Mulder start, though, remaining silent after he sat down.
"I want you to talk to someone."
"Nobody's going to understand."
"I used to hear that all the time when I was doing an internship with a psychologist during college. You don't think that a stranger is going to believe what you say. You know that there are bigger problems in the world and feel your mental state is trivial compared to those things."
"And I'm a doctor, Mulder. I should be above this."
"You're a mother, too, Scully. You heard Sammy say herself that she loves you, you know she does. You are a good mom. But you have to do everything you can to fix you now."
And that was what led them to Dr. Crawford.
"Hi Dana," the doctor greeted her once she stepped into her office. There was no long couch for her to cry on, which was a good sign. She wasn't exactly sure what she had expected. Scully was still shocked that she had agreed to do this. But she could see the argument Mulder made. And she wanted to feel better.
"Dr. Scully," she couldn't help but say as she shook the middle-aged woman's hand. She couldn't shake the need to be respected, even as she was supposed to be most vulnerable.
"I'd prefer to stick to a first-name basis, if that's okay with you. You can call me Heidi," Dr. Crawford offered. Scully was unsure, but didn't feel like fighting. Nodding slightly, they continued.
"Alright Dana, maybe you can tell me a little bit about why you're here. You can share as much or as little as you're comfortable with."
"Well…" Scully was surprised at the overwhelming need to cry at that moment. She had never felt immediately defenseless with anyone, not even Mulder, before. Gripping the edge of the chair, she tried to sort through her feelings. As the tears kept themselves at bay, Sam flashed through her mind. She had to do this, for her. She had to get better to give her daughter the life she deserved.
"Where this all started is a little messy for me. Umm… a little more than ten years ago I left a career in medicine to join the FBI. I started as a professor at Quantico, but I was then assigned to a unit called the X-files."
Instead of taking notes like Scully was expecting her to, Dr. Crawford listened very intently to her story. She soon began to feel more comfortable around the woman.
"My partner, Mulder, believed very strongly in the strange things we investigated. I'm not going to get into all the weird things I've seen with you, but during our investigations I ended up… I ended up being kidnapped. My sister was killed by a perp who was trying to kill me. I got cancer. I found a daughter I don't even remember having only to watch her die… I'm sorry," Scully began to realize how much she was sharing. She'd gotten good at avoiding that. Everything she and Mulder had been through on the X-files was too incredible for most people to accept—even Scully sometimes.
"It's okay, Dana. You don't have to feel embarrassed here," Dr. Crawford reminded her. Getting another grip on her emotions, Scully began again.
"And five years ago, I don't know what happened. I gave up. I was offered a job in Salt Lake City and I took it. I left everything behind and I told Mulder not to have any contact with me."
"Why did you do that? Was Mulder the reason you left?"
"No. I mean… I guess he could be. But it's not like that," it was a question she hadn't really thought about.
"Tell me what it's like."
"When we were partners… Mulder was everything to me. He got me through some of the roughest times I've ever faced. He was my best friend—someone who I knew cared about me all the time. And I left him."
Scully didn't even know she had been crying until Dr. Crawford handed her a box of tissues.
"And last year, he came back into my life. We started a romantic relationship, and I've moved back East. I thought I was getting happier. But… Mulder's right. A lot is different."
Scully and the doctor spent another hour sorting through some of her emotions—including those she hadn't allowed herself to feel after all these years. They talked about her childhood, her careers, her divorce, her daughter, and Mulder. The sixty minutes flew by, and soon they came to the end of their session.
"Well Dana, I think we've opened up some avenues of conversation together that are worth exploring a little further. I know you weren't exactly sure about this type of therapy, but I know that I would really like to see you again," Heidi told her. Scully dabbed her eyes and nodded, surprised at how much better she was feeling now to have some weight off her chest.
"I also would like to discuss with you some medicinal options. Now, I know that you mentioned you weren't keen on being prescribed—"
"No drugs," Scully knew what her doctor was getting at.
"I just think you should keep the option on the table," Dr. Crawford tried to convince her.
"Heidi… this is hard enough for me. I never thought that I'd seek counseling for… depression," it was still hard for Scully to say the word. "The drugs… they would just make it all too real. And I need to hang on to some sense of normalcy."
"If you're sure you can begin to get better at a rate you're comfortable with without them, then I'll respect your decision. But the point of this therapy is for you to begin to function again, and if anti-depressants would help you do that, then I don't think you should take them off the table."
"Thank you, Dr. Crawford. I'll think about it. Just… not today."
Mulder was waiting in the lobby when Scully emerged from the back. She didn't expect him there, and she wiped furiously at her eyes.
"Hi," he opened his arms for her. She felt better about walking into them. She laid her chin on his chest and craned her head up to see him.
"I thought I told you I'd take a cab home?" In the back of Scully's mind, she knew that he wouldn't listen to her.
"I just wanted to make sure that you were okay," Mulder explained, folding his hands around her, resting them on the small of her back.
Taking a deep breath, Scully nuzzled her face into him, right below the ball of his collarbone.
"Everything's going to be okay."
One year and nine months later, 6-year-old Sam was twirling around outside her mother's dressing room, admiring the way the tiny pearls on her white dress looked in the glow of the Christmas lights.
"Look at you, pretty girl," Mulder was almost stunned to see her looking so beautiful. Though his bowtie was too tight and he hated tuxes anyway, all of the discomforts of the day were forgotten when he saw her. She was beyond pretty. She was heart-stopping and he couldn't imagine his life without her.
"Get out of here, Mulder, you can't see Mommy yet!" Sam had been warned by her mom and grandmother that Mulder would try to bend the rules and sneak a peek at the bride before the ceremony. It was one of the reasons she was outside of the dressing room in the first place.
"I didn't come to see Mommy, I came to see you," Mulder scooped her up, delighting in her gleeful laugh. There was nothing like that sound.
"You look very nice, princess."
"Thank you," Sam laid her head on his shoulder. Mulder couldn't see her lasting more than an hour at the reception, but Maggie had agreed to take her for the night.
"How does Mommy look?" Mulder asked deviously.
"I can't tell you," Sammy laughed.
"If she looks nearly as pretty as you, I'll be the happiest man alive."
Maggie, having heard her soon to be son-in-law's deep voice outside of the door, picked that time to make her presence known.
"Sammy, don't wrinkle your dress," Maggie smiled at her granddaughter and Mulder.
"Sorry Mrs. Scully," Mulder set Sam on the floor.
"It's Maggie, Fox."
"You know, Dana is right behind that door. I don't think it would be wise for you to break tradition," Maggie warned.
"I know. I just find it hard to stay away from her."
"You'll have your time, Fox. Lord knows you've earned it."
He did. They did. And when they were dancing together for the first time as husband and wife later that night, he hoped it would never end.
"This feels so… right," Mulder let his new wife know, kissing her rouged cheek. She had been glowing all night, and her happiness was directly responsible for his.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, Scully began crying, though she tried to hide it.
"This almost… this almost didn't happen."
"Shhh. It did happen. It was meant to happen."
"I just never expected to be this happy."
"We deserve it."