Of Ladies Most Deject and Wretched

Originally Posted: 22 June 2002

Summary: It wasn’t a question worth answering…post Orison.

Authors: Circe Invidiosa and Helen Quilley
E-mail: invidiosa@gmail.com
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Orison
Archive: Yours for the asking
Disclaimer: We make no claims on the characters or the show. They are property of Fox and its companies.
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Carol A. for the beta.

In the bathroom, Mulder quickly tossed a bunch of what looked like Scully’s most used toiletries into her overnight bag. He tried to avoid the candles and the hair products lining the floor around the bathtub. He tossed her things on top of the array of casual clothing he picked out for her for the next couple of days. He’d picked out her necessities: toothbrush, toothpaste, brush, shampoo, deodorant, makeup bag…It would only be a couple of days, he told himself.

Mulder came back into the bedroom to find Scully the way he’d left her. She still sat on the bed staring at her Bible. The blanket had fallen from around her shoulders and pooled around her hips. Her lips were parted and she frowned at the old worn book in her hands. It was the same expression she wore only hours ago when she faced Pfaster.

He put the bag down and stepped over books and shards of glass. He stood in front of her and put his hand over the Bible to take it from her. She gasped and clutched the book to her chest as
if she was trying to protect it from him, as if whatever force she thought was working through her would return if he took it away from her.

Mulder looked down hard at her. She didn’t return his gaze, he assumed out of embarrassment. Sighing, he sat down heavily beside her on the bed. He reached around her and pulled the blanket back up around her shoulders. His hand came to rest on the back of her neck. The commotion of the CSU from the other rooms pulsated in his ears and his mind begged her to say something before he did.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

“It’s okay.” Was it?

A moment passed before she said, “You didn’t answer my question.”

It was true. He hadn’t. It just didn’t make sense for her to ask whether or not it was God working through her when she killed Pfaster. Instead he had told her it wasn’t the right time for this. Then in an effort not to face the question himself he busied himself with packing her things while watching her out of the corner of his eye.

He had expected this to go very differently. He didn’t know what he’d find when he burst through her door. All he knew was that if he had found her in a worse state, it wouldn’t have been Scully who pulled the trigger.

When he neared her to take the gun from her, he had expected to see a glassy stare in her eyes, or worse, tears. He didn’t expect the cold stare. He didn’t expect her to hand him her gun and to tell him so rationally that he should call an ambulance.

Finally, he said, “It wasn’t a question worth answering.”

She shook her head. “Don’t minimize this, Mulder.”

“I’m not minimizing anything, Scully. I know you knew what you were doing. I know you knew I was there. I know you knew he was unarmed. I know you didn’t care. And I know that you didn’t have a choice.”

She huffed sarcastically. “If you’re saying I knew and didn’t care, then how could I not have had a choice?”

He looked at her incredulously, but she continued to stare at the Bible she was still clutching. Before he could formulate an answer, she said, “And who am I to make that choice, Mulder? We
convict people for this kind of thing all the time. How is this any different?”

Pleading with him suddenly, Scully looked at him and continued, “Tell me this is different, Mulder. I *need* to know that this is different.”

He was taken aback by the urgency of her need. He didn’t want to listen to this any more. He didn’t know whether to hold her or shake her. He just wanted to get her out of there and to somewhere where they didn’t have to see the wreckage of what she just went through or face the consequences of what she did and his failure to protect her again.

He tried to take her hand. She flinched when his hand closed around hers and tried to compose herself. He wasn’t sure whether she was flinching at his touch or at her own physical pain. He turned her palm over and gently pulled up the sleeve of her oversized pajamas to find welts, cuts, and embedded glass down her arm. He felt the frustration and anger returning as he imagined what must have happened in this room.

“Look at this, Scully,” he said, running his finger down the side of her arm. “Look at this room. Look at what happened, and then you tell me how you had a choice. *You* tell me how this isn’t different.” He stared at her, daring her to answer him.

“I just want this to be over,” she whispered.

“We need to have someone look at this,” he gestured toward her wrists and arms. “I’ll check with the officers and see if we’re clear to go, then we can head over to the hospital. Why didn’t you show the paramedics?”

“No, Mulder. I can do it. I don’t want to go to the hospital.”

He tried to repeat himself. “Scully, we should have you-”

She cut him off before he could continue. “The paramedics have already looked me over, no broken bones. I’ll just be bruised and sore for a while.”

Incredulously, he added, “Scully, you have glass embedded in your arm and a possible concussion. I’m not going to take this lightly.”

The weary, vacant look in her eyes told him she didn’t need any more battles tonight. “Let me help you then,” he conceded. She stood letting the blanket fall again to the bed and walked quietly toward the bathroom. He walked behind her without speaking his concern that she was still holding her Bible.

Before following her to the bathroom, he stopped to talk to the investigating officer to let him know that they would be a few minutes longer. The officer just nodded sympathetically. Mulder half wished the officer had more questions to keep him from entering the bathroom.

Scully was putting the seat down on the toilet when he entered the washroom. She sat down placing her Bible on her lap. She held a pair of tweezers and a washcloth in her hands. He closed the door behind him to give them some privacy.

There were few words spoken while Mulder and Scully washed away what evidence they could of Donnie Pfaster. Mulder carefully rolled her sleeves up. The blood was dry now and ran all along the inside of her forearms. For some reason, her right arm seemed much worse than her left. Mulder thought that it almost resembled a roadmap – the welts that were forming in earnest now could be the mountainous regions, the blood the wiry roads spreading across vast land. He could feel his frustration building again as he thought of her struggle with the monster.

He was sure she’d be pretty uncomfortable for a few days. The shards of glass were fairly large and Scully was able to remove them with the tweezers from her left arm. She had to have Mulder’s help with her right arm. When all fragments of glass were finally removed, Mulder carefully patted her wounds with the washcloth until the dried blood disappeared. He was tired of seeing blood on her.

Mulder disinfected and dressed the wounds. He watched her and it worried him that she wasn’t looking at him. Kneeling, looking up at her, he was beginning to feel like a bystander to a gruesome accident waiting for some sign of life from the unfortunate victim. When she didn’t respond to his gaze, he followed her line of sight. She was staring at the mound of candles by the bathtub.

“Such a waste to throw all those away,” she murmured. He wasn’t sure if she was talking to him or if she even remembered he was in the room.

“You don’t have to worry about cleaning this place up. I’ll take care of everything.”

His voice seemed to rouse her. She lifted her head suddenly and watched him for a long moment then quietly shook her head. “You don’t have to take care of me, Mulder.”

“Christ Scully, don’t…” he started to argue. If she told him she was fine he was going to put his fist through her other mirror. He tried to start again. “If I don’t, who will?”

She squinted hard at him for a moment, trying to grasp the badly timed humor. He gave her his best winning grin and she managed to smile back, but he winced when the split in her lip began to bleed again.

He tried to dab her lip with the washcloth, until she stopped him. She took his hands and held them in her lap atop the Bible.

“I’m not okay, Mulder,” she whispered.

He closed his eyes. “I know. But you will be.”

He very carefully brought her hands up to his shoulders and she closed them behind his neck. He slowly encircled his arms around her and held her tightly to him. He worried that he might be hurting her, but if she didn’t complain, he wasn’t going to let go until she did.

“I’m glad he’s dead,” she murmured into his ear after an eternity. The words tumbled from her like a child confessing her worst secret.

“So am I.” Partners in crime and not for the first time.

She pulled back from him. “But it’s not right. I don’t know how you can defend my actions.”

He tried to carefully hold her so that she couldn’t pull back any further. “The same way you’ve defended my actions in the past. And I deserved it a lot less. Scully, you have been through a horrible trauma that you can’t deny. No one is going to begrudge you for the life of this worthless shit. He would have killed again. He would have tried to kill you again. I know that and you know that. It’s a fact. And in that respect, you saved lives tonight, you saved your life. To me, that’s all that matters here. And that’s why I can defend you.”

“It’s not that simple, Mulder.”

“I know. But you can argue with me until Judgment Day, Scully, and my opinion is not going to change.”

He had hoped she would accept his justification. And for the first time he felt hopeful when he saw tears were in her eyes. She reached up and held his face in her hands. She leaned forward and pressed her lips to his, letting the Bible fall to the floor.

He gently kissed her back, hoping she would let him know what she could endure. When she released him from the embrace and she pressed her forehead against hers. Their moment was interrupted by a knock on the door and a muffled inquiry about their status.

Mulder yelled towards the door, “We’re fine.” The irony of his words struck him with Scully’s small laugh.

He stood up, and with a soft touch on her shoulder said, “Let’s get out of here, Scully.”

Scully grasped his hand and she nodded. He watched her rise uncomfortably then walk stiffly past him out of the bathroom.

Relief swept through him knowing that they would be leaving soon. He couldn’t wait to get out of there, especially this room that Pfaster intended for Scully’s final tortures. He looked about the room, ignoring Pfaster’s preparations, to make sure he had taken everything she would need. It would only be a couple of days, he told himself again. But his eyes fell onto the book that had dropped to the floor.

It had fallen open to the floor. He crouched down to pick it up and glanced at the page, reading the words:

Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the Devil,
walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

He snapped the Bible closed. It mocked him even now as he sought its comfort. It had never held any answers for him, why should it start now? He wondered what answers Scully had been able to take from it after everything she’d seen and been through. Why could she accept these words so easily and not his? He was jealous of her God. He wished she had a reason to put every ounce of her faith in him alone. But no matter what he wanted, he could never let her lose her beliefs.

His thoughts were disrupted by Scully’s voice. “Mulder, are you ready? What’s wrong?”

He turned to face her holding the book behind his back. She was still in her pajamas, but now she was wearing sneakers and her coat over her shoulders. She carried her bag in front of her gingerly with her bandaged hands.

“What are you doing, Mulder?”

“I wanted to make sure I got everything.” He walked towards her and handed her the Bible. “You might need this.”

He watched her take the book and placed it in her bag. She held out her hand to Mulder. He took her outstretched hand and kissed it lightly. He took the bag from her other hand and ushered her out of the room. He flicked the switch on the way out, momentarily immersing them in darkness before they walked out toward the light filling the doorway.


Authors’ note: the Bible passage is from 1 Peter 5:8 and the title is from Hamlet, Act III Sc.I