By Leia Fee
Mulder dead? No. I won’t believe that.
My first thoughts on hearing the news could have been lifted straight from a pyschology textbook. Denial. But then it wasn’t the first time we’d been through this, so I think I can be forgiven for at least hoping Mulder might have pulled the same trick twice.
My second thought as always was to look to the other two. After all this time, their reactions, their thoughts are as familiar as my own. Mulder used to say (and how it still hurts to use the past tense) that we were like a hive mind. He’d watch in absolute fascination as we finished each other’s sentences, bouncing thoughts and ideas off each other so easily simply because we know each other so well.
So I could guess immediately that Frohike would be fighting down some comment about this not being the first time we’d done this routine. Just as I could guess that Langly’s reaction would be instant and emotional. I was already moving when he fell, but Frohike got there first.
For someone who forgets to eat more often than he remembers Langly is surprisingly heavy and by the time we got him sat on the couch and calmed down a bit I was ready to collapse myself.
Instead I fetched Scully a drink and cleared another chair so she could
She started talking and her voice was so quiet and toneless it didn’t sound like her at all.
Frohike kept the drinks coming and once Scully ran out of words he just gave her this huge bear hug until the tears stopped.
I found I envied him the confidence to do that. My family were definitely not the hugging sort. And Langly’s even jumpier about physical contact than I am. Sometimes I think Frohike is the best adjusted of the lot of us – weird as that sounds.
We kept talking and we kept drinking until, at about 2am, I noticed that Langly had managed to stagger off somewhere and went to check on him. I found him out cold on the bathroom floor and had one of those awful gut-freezing moments that scares you instantly sober as I wondered just how much he’d drunk. Once I realised he was all right I did a quick risk assessment of the merits of trying to move him to his room versus the odds of me dropping him on his head if I tried. I’d had quite a bit of the scotch too after all. I settled for fetching a blanket to drape over him.
Frohike had hijacked the couch in my absence and was stretched out and snoring. Scully looked half asleep herself but looked up as I came over and gave me a little smile.
“You guys have been wonderful tonight.”
“We didn’t do anything.”
“You were here. That’s enough. And you did so much to help when…”
When we still thought he was alive, I finished in my head. Her voice caught in her throat and I wished again that I had Frohike’s confidence, to pull her into the hug she so clearly needed. I settled for touching her shoulder lightly.
“Do you want to stay here tonight? I can roll Frohike off the couch. Or since neither he nor Langly seem to be going anywhere there’s two free beds.”
“No. It’s all right. I’d better get back.”
I called her a cab, watched her get in and waited until it pulled away. Then I went back inside and slowly locked the door.
I was tired, but knew I wasn’t ready to sleep. Not yet. Even half drunk, and physically exhausted as I was I knew I would just lay awake, running this over in my mind. Was there anything more we could have done? If we’d tried a bit harder, worked a bit faster, could we have got to him in time?
Intellectually I know that we did all we could. Emotionally… I want—need—someone to blame. And there isn’t anyone. So I examine our own actions over and again. Looking for some fault, something we did wrong or didn’t do at all. Anything. I know it’s irrational but I can’t help myself.
Frohike would tell me to buck up and snap out of it, I know. Sometimes bad things do just happen for no good reason. But I like reasons. Explanations. I’ve spent the past decade of my life doing nothing but track down explanations for the bad things. It’s too much a part of who I am to stop now.
I tidied up the mess we’d made, washed up the glasses and turned off the electronics that didn’t need to be on overnight. Make-work, and I recognised it as such, but the mindless activity served to calm me enough that I felt I had some chance of getting to sleep. I checked on Langly and Frohike then headed for my room.
To my surprise I did sleep. In fact I slept far later into the morning than usual. Normally Langly crashing about in the kitchen on a coffee mission wakes me up. That morning it was almost silent. I assumed Langly and Frohike were still asleep, but when I finally got up they were both sat at the kitchen table.
“Hey, Byers.” Frohike made some attempt at a normal greeting on this nowhere-near normal morning.
Langly looked up from his full coffee mug to wave vaguely. “There’s coffee in the pot.”
There was. It was cold. Langly had obviously been staring at his cooling coffee for some time.
“Scully get home all right?” Frohike asked.
“Yeah, I called her a cab.”
“She could have stayed here.”
“I told her that. She wanted to get back.”
Frohike nodded. “I hope she’s going to be all right.”
“She will be.” I was certain of that. Scully’s a survivor.
And so are we. We got through the funeral. We got the next issue out, though that week was a hard one.
We’ll manage. We always do.
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