Title: At the Beginning
Author: XScout
Rating: G
Classification: VR
Spoilers: Redux II
Keywords: Post Episode Story
Summary: When Scully thinks that the journey is over, Mulder tries to convince her otherwise.

Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully are CC, 10-13, and Fox’s. Some people have all the luck. The song ‘At The Beginning’ by Richard Marx and Donna Lewis is owned by 20th Century Fox Film Corp. and Atlantic Recording Corp.. Infringement is never intended but disregarded nonetheless.

Author’s Note: Please, if you bothered to read it, let me know. I would kill, well mame at least, for some feedback. Archive anywhere, just let me know.XScout@hotmail.com




Mulder walked into the hospital room quietly, not wanting to disturb it's occupant. He stood just within the doorway for a moment, enjoying the sight of the petite redhead fussing over her suitcase. Could it have been just a week ago when this same woman was wasting away from a debilitating disease?

Dana Scully turned around and let out a startled "Oh!" She brought her hand to her chest and closed her eyes, a smile spreading across her face. "Mulder, you caught me off guard. How long have you been standing there?"

"Long enough to see you pack your Victoria's Secret underwear." Mulder grinned, waiting for the inevitable retort.

"And you know it's from Victoria's because you shop there often? Just couldn't handle boxers or briefs, huh?" Scully giggled at the thought of her partner trying on lacy undergarments.

Mulder decided to let her win once and moved to another subject. "So, you ready to go?"

"If I have to look at another hospital room again, it will be too soon. I don't understand why *you* have such an affinity for them." She gave him a sly glance as a look of feigned innocence passed over Mulder's face.

Scully pushed down on the pile of clothes overflowing from the suitcase and firmly closed the lid. "Well, that does it."

Mulder reached for the baggage and was swatted away by the tiny hands of his partner. "I can do it," Scully insisted. Mulder stepped back and swept his arm out towards the luggage in a gesture of submission. A smile crept across his face at the familiar tone of strength underlying Scully's words, a tone that had been missing far too long.

She picked up the suitcase and strode out of the room without a second glance behind her, Mulder following happily. They made the rounds, thanking all the hospital staff who had been so helpful and supportive. Each nurse and doctor was kind and wished their ex-patient luck, but all secretly awed at the miraculous recovery.

After saying their good-byes the two FBI agents walked down to the parking garage and loaded their luggage - Scully's suitcase and Mulder's overnight bag. Mulder then surprised Scully by opening the passenger door and gracefully motioning her inside. She grinned at his playful gentleman act and sank into her normal 'shotgun' position.

Mulder started the car and they left the parking structure, heading for Margaret Scully's house, where Dana would spend a week relaxing and recuperating. They drove in comfortable silence for a while, only the radio and the faint humming of the air conditioner making any noise.

A half an hour later Mulder noticed that Scully had lapsed into a hunched over position which, after four years of partnership, he had come to recognize as a depressed Dana Scully. However, there was something different this time, an air of defeat hung on her like a shadowy cloak. Mulder couldn't understand what had caused such a drastic shift in her attitude but intended to rectify the situation, post haste.

"You okay?" He asked, the quickly added, "And don't tell me you're fine because I know you're not."

Scully's chin raised a bit and she was about to utter a remark concerning a certain man and his annoying habit of overprotectiveness, when suddenly all the air seemed to escape and she deflated.

"It's over," she whispered.

"Excuse me?" Mulder turned down the radio and pulled over to the side of the road to give his partner his full attention.

"It's over," she repeated in a voice that was barely audible.

"What is?" Mulder eyed her with concern. Did she mean her cancer? Her worries? Their partnership? What?

"Everything. We've arrived at the end. You found Samantha, Cancerman is dead, Blevins was the mole and he's dead, my cancer is gone, Kritschgau revealed the truth about 'aliens', and any pertinent evidence has been destroyed. Our search is over, our quest is finished." She sagged back in her seat as if this realization was not only emotionally, but physically, draining.

Mulder stared at her for a moment, absorbing this information. "But...I..." He shook his head, speechless. He finally cleared away most of the haze that had suddenly fogged his brain and spoke. "What does that mean?"

"It means that there is no point in going on. It means that it is time to accept the fact that there is no need for the X-Files anymore. Don't give me that look. You know as well as I do that we should both have climbed the Bureau ladder by now, settled down and raised a family with whomever we were lucky enough to find. Now we can do that, we can lead a normal life without having to check behind us constantly." She implored him with her eyes to understand. Instead it looked as if she had just told him that she never wanted to see him again and then slapped him in the face for good measure.

When he didn't say anything, she continued. "Don't take this the wrong way, I love working on the X-Files. I have never been so challenged and intellectually stimulated as when we're working on a case. When Skinner shut us down I couldn't stand being back at Quantico, it was so mundane. All the other agents seemed so fake, they didn't really care about their work, and that infuriated me."

She took a deep breath and rushed head on into her next point. "Mulder, working with you has been the most satisfying and unique experience of my life. You showed me things I never dreamt of, you taught me that emotions are not detrimental as long as you don't let them rule you. You taught me to trust my instincts and myself. I learned the true meaning of 'trust' and the importance of the truth. You are my partner. That is synonymous with best friend. I wouldn't give up a day of the past four years, even knowing what I know now. Because for every hurt and hardship there were more times of laughter and love.

"But now there is no truth. Only half truths that will never be solved because they only half exist. I want nothing more than to go down to the basement of the J. Edgar Hoover Building and go digging through those dusty files for an unexplained case but I'm afraid that I won't have the willpower. Right now I feel as if I could take on the world but how will I feel a week from now? A month? A year? Will I still be willing to fight a battle that is over?"

A look of pure terror filled Mulder's eyes and his voice broke in panic. "But there's still so much more out there. We still don't know if Kritschgau was telling the truth. We need to investigate 'ROUSH' and reveal the human experiments being performed. There are still unexplained cases on murders, mutants, ghosts, and the like. Aliens are not the only cases we deal with.

"If you want you can take a vacation, think it over. Or maybe you can transfer to Quantico temporarily and decide whether you want to be there on a permanent basis. I could spend the time up in Violent Crimes while you decide."

"Mulder, I don't..." Scully began.

"Please, don't leave me." Mulder reached over and gently grasped Scully's hand. "I know I'm a pain in the ass to work with and you're sick of having all your scientific beliefs shot down but...I need you. You are my better half, I'm not complete without you at my side. Now, I don't want to make you feel obligated to stay with me, in fact I know that you're loyal to a fault, but I can't go on if you aren't there. The X-Files mean nothing to me without you." His voice trembled and tears were beginning to form in the corners of his eyes.

"You are my best and only friend. God, friend doesn't even start to describe you. Soulmate is a better word. You make me feel whole, life is bearable as long as I know that you're there beside me, ready to catch me if I fall. I bask in the sunshine of your smile, the sound of your laughter is music to my ears, and your voice a balm for my soul. The night before the hearing, when I came to your room, I was lost, remember? But not because I didn't know what was going to happen in that meeting, and not because I didn't know whether or not to take the deal I was offered. I was lost because half of me was dying with you, my heart felt as if all the life was being crushed out of it. I cried for the loss of half my soul."

It was Scully's turn to be speechless. A tear escaped and traveled down her cheek. She felt the warmth enclosing her hand and thought of how empty her life was until this strange and unique man entered it.

Silence settled upon them and the soft melody on the radio drifted up to fill the void.

‘We were strangers
Starting out on a journey
Never dreaming
What we'd have to go through
Now here we are
And I'm suddenly standing
At the beginning with you.’

Scully was brought back to their first case together. They were strangers thrown together by mysterious forces, never imagining what they would have to face. And now, after all their trials and tribulations, despite repeated attempts to separate them, they were still together. Even though it seemed like an end, perhaps it was actually a new beginning.

‘No one told me
I was going to find you
What you did to my heart
When I lost hope
You were there to remind me
This is the start.’

Mulder thought back to his first meeting with his partner. He never expected her to last through their first case, he didn't realize that she was going to be in his life for so long. He couldn't know that she would become a part of him, that his heart would belong to her. Even when he was drowning in the thick sea of dispair, after a hard case or after having the rug of truth pulled out from under him again, she was always there to pick up the pieces and remind him that he had reasons to continue.

‘Life is a road
And I want to keep going
Love is a river
I wanna keep flowing
Life is the road
Now and forever
Wonderful journey.’

How could she even think of giving this up? She had been traveling the road of life without fear. She didn't want to take any detours, she enjoyed the road she was on. She had someone who loved her with his heart and soul, someone who saw past her attractive shell to see the beauty within. She wanted that love for the rest of her life, now and forever.

‘I'll be there
When the world stops turning
I'll be there
When the storm is through
In the end I want to be standing
At the beginning with you.’

Now that the journey appeared to be over, the world settled down, and the storm had passed, he was still here. He intended to be there for her until the end, until everything was finished and they had to start again. Starting over together was not as daunting as beginning anew alone. He wanted to start again with her.

'We were strangers
On a crazy adventure
Never dreaming
How our dreams would come true
Now here we stand
Unafraid of the future
At the beginning with you.’

They had begun as strangers and set out on an insane journey into the unexplained. She had never hoped that her dreams would come true and she would find unconditional love. He had never dared to believe that he'd find his sister and lose his heart in the process. They were standing on the edge, unafraid of a future as long as they were together. The past was but a memory and the future was the beginning of a new adventure.

‘I knew there was somebody somewhere
Like me alone in the dark
Now I know my dream will live on
I've been waiting so long
Nothing's gonna tear us apart.’

He had been alone for so long, a lone wolf who shied away from others for fear of being shunned. An outcast who had spent so much time in the dark that he felt there was no possible way to escape. But someone else felt his need, someone else understood his quest and made it their own. She had made his dream her own. He had waited so long to find love and now that he found it, nothing was going to make him let go.

‘Life is a road and I wanna keep going
Love is a river I wanna keep going on
Starting out on a journey
Life is a road and I wanna keepgoing
Love is a river I wanna keep flowing
In the end I wanna be standing
At the beginning with you.’

Scully realized that her life had become a journey, through the mined fields of government conspiracies, through the joyous pastures of solving the case and saving a life, wading through the river of love that traveled with her. She wanted to stay on this road and when she finally reached the end she would not be alone. Together they would take a different road and the journey would begin again.

Mulder squeezed her hand and smiled hesitantly. Light once again shone in her eyes and she sat up straighter. She raised her hand and gently caressed away the tear that had found its way down Mulder's cheek. She let her palm rest against the side of his face and soothingly stroked her thumb along his cheekbone. He laid his hand atop hers and leaned into it. Then he lowered his arm so that their hands were nestled together between them.

Leaning forward at the same time, as if of the same mind, their lips met. Only momentarily but in that instant two souls collided and melded into one. They separated and leaned back into their respective seats. Not saying anything, nothing needed to be said - they knew.

Mulder shifted gears and pulled out onto the road. Scully reached over and entwined her fingers in his.

She smiled, "What a perfect beginning."