Disclaimer: The Dynamic Duo, aka Mulder and Scully, belong to CC and 10-13. Do you notice that `Mulder and Scully' sounds fine, but `Scully and Mulder' sounds odd? This is loosely based on the song 'If I Could Turn Back Time' by Cher, no infringement intended.
Author's Notes: Okay, I have been working on my first novel length story and I had to come up for breath. Here is a little something I came up with while I took a break. Please let me know if my efforts are appreciated.XScout@hotmail.com
Turn Back Time
Turn Back Time
In retrospect I can see how it came to this. It is my fault. Words can be as deadly as weapons sometimes.
It never occurred to me how badly I had hurt you, how deep was my betrayal. In hindsight, I can only be ashamed of what I did. I walked into that board room and I was disloyal to the past five years of my life. Disloyal to my personal pledge of never letting anything force my integrity to waver. Disloyal to the man who was willing to go to the ends of the earth for me.
The only thing I wasn't disloyal to was my fear. I let my fear of the unknown override my senses, cloud my mind, forget my principles. I couldn't admit to OPR that I had seen a UFO, that I had been held captive in a cryopod within an alien ship buried in the Antarctic. Who would believe me? There is no basis in science for such a thing, no incontrovertible proof that it could exist. The board of Assistant Directors would have called me crazy. Was that what I was scared of?
Why should I care?
You spent almost an entire decade being called crazy, being disregarded as a cracked genius who chased lights in the sky in search of little green men. You didn't care what others thought, you didn't care if Mother Nature's set of rules was broken. You weren't scared. But I was. I was so terrified that everything I have learned, everything I know to be true in my world, could be subject to such a revolutionary change.
So I denied what I had experienced, practically branding you as delusional in the process. You were hurt and you were angry, but I thought it would pass. No, I didn't verify what you said you saw, but why should that make a difference? How often have I verified what you have seen? I figured that you might sulk for a week, perhaps two if you were being inordinately stubborn, but I assumed that you would come around eventually. As the days passed and you fell back into our normal repertoire of dry wit and constructive arguments, it was easy for me to forget the pain in your eyes as I spoke those words of betrayal.
I review the cases that we have been assigned to since our return from the Antarctic and I am shocked at how obvious the signs were. You went to the Bermuda Triangle in search of a ghost ship, disregarding your propensity for seasickness, not caring that a huge storm was on the way. You didn't tell me where you were going, just struck out on your own. At the time, I chalked it up to another `Mulder Ditch' and concentrated on my usual role of picking up the pieces left over. But it was more than that, wasn't it? You didn't tell me because you assumed that I wouldn't believe you, that I would dismiss your suspicions as absurd and be done with it. You were probably right, I would have. To add insult to injury, I rebuffed your confession of love. I know you meant it, that you were speaking from the heart. I was so relieved by the idea that you were alive, that I wasn't paying attention. You must have seen it as a rejection. A culmination of frustration at your delusional theories and wild stories.
I know that it is hard for you to admit to love, after having been so repeatedly hurt throughout your life by those who were supposed to care for you. Your sister taken, your mother cold and aloof, your father I suspect was abusive both psychologically and physically. Phoebe used you and threw you away when you were no longer a pleasant distraction, Diana is a still sore subject and I can only assume that your parting was not a pleasant one. By snubbing your admission, how much did I add to the painful wound in your heart? How could I have been so cruel?
Then you dragged me out on Christmas Eve to a haunted house where we were deluded by ghosts into thinking that we would kill each other. Why was it so easy for me to accept the idea that you would shoot me? You, a man who would willingly sacrifice himself to save my life, would shoot me in cold blood and then end his own life? It wasn't real, it couldn't have happened, yet as it was happening, I believed unconditionally. Once again, after it was over, I denied what I saw with my own eyes, felt with my own body, claiming it was all in our heads. Your disappointment was obvious, though you only let it show for an instant before bounding off the porch and back to our parked cars. Did you really bring me out there because you were lonely? Or were you trying to make me see that I had been misleading myself by rejecting what my own senses were telling me?
Each case went by with less and less interaction between us. Not just regular interaction, but no more unspoken communication either. Oh, I could claim that it was just because we were following up on different leads, that we were pursuing all areas of investigation and that took us down different paths. But when I told you that Diana Fowley was not who you thought she was, that she was part of the conspiracy, that was when I realized how far our paths had diverged.
Five years ago, in a dark motel room with the rain pounding outside, I promised myself that I would never do anything to lose the trust that you had put in me. That day, as I sat at a cluttered desk in the office of three paranoid writers, I discovered that I had lost your trust. At first I was hurt, then I was angry that you would so readily disagree with me, refute my evidence that Diana was one of Them. I can't help but laugh bitterly at myself now. Talk about a hypocrite. I can sure dish it out, but I can't take it. I was too busy thinking about myself, about the links to my cancer and the microchip in my neck, to realize how badly you were hurting. Your father's part in the conspiracy was revealed, your foundation shaken to the core by secrets uncovered in those few days. When I thought you were off gloating that you had finally been proven correct about the existence of extra-terrestrials, were you instead crying desperately for the loss of almost everything you held dear?
We got the X-Files back, and if anything should have been able to snap you out of your depression, certainly that should've. Our first case was evidence that this wasn't true. I saw that you were floundering, trying too hard to be cheerful, despite your lack of enthusiasm. Every case we have investigated since reassignment has been brought to us by someone else, never based on your own suspicions. Arthur Dales told us of the disappearance of his neighbors and the water creature we subsequently found. We were victims in a coincidental bank robbery that was none of our doing. Skinner was the one who assigned us to the case where we would go undercover as a married couple. Even a woman you met over the Internet was the source of one of our cases. Were you afraid that I wouldn't have agreed to investigate them if they were grounded upon your conjecture, that I would consider them to have less merit if they came from your mind?
Then came the last one. The one that brought everything to a head. This was wasn't your choosing either. It was brought to us from Violent Crimes. You thought the killer was some sort of genetic experiment gone awry, a scientist who tested himself. I disagreed. Not because there was anything concrete to refute your theory and not because I had a more reasonable explanation. I disagreed because I wanted to. Because it had become so ingrained in me, that I automatically discounted your words. The thought shocks me, but it is the most painful truths that we must accept to become stronger.
You got angry.
Usually you would counter with some supposed evidence, some insignificant clue that only you had picked up, or, as you had of late, just silently accept my opinion and continue to work on your own. But not this time. It had been building up for months and finally the dam burst. You yelled, your face red, your chest heaving. You paced around the motel room, your hands waving about as you shouted that I was blind, that I couldn't see what was under my own nose. You weren't talking about just this case.
I don't know why I said what I did. I told you that you were being childish and that if you wanted to indulge in this fantasy, you could go and investigate on your own. It was said in the heat of moment, I never actually meant it.
I can count on the one hand the number of times I have seen you become violent, the majority of those involving my well-being. It has never been directed *at* me. I know you don't want to be like your father, that your temper scares you and that is why you keep a tight rein on your anger. You turned on me and told me that if that was the way I wanted it, then that was the way I'd have it. For a moment I thought you might hit me. You must have seen the fear in my eyes, because you hastily backed away, your own eyes reflecting horror that I would entertain such a notion. Pain and anger were coursing through your veins and yes, you needed an outlet, something to lash out at. But you would never, *ever*, let that be me.
You proved that by whirling around and, with a soul-rending cry, you rammed your fist right through the motel window, glass shattering outward onto the walkway. Blood and sweat dripped from your hand, pooling on the carpet, your eyes wide and dark, emotionless, as if everything had drained out of you in the moment that your knuckles split as they came into contact with the glass.
I was too shocked to even make the transfer into `Doctor Mode'. By the time I got past my astonishment, you were out the door and driving away in our rental car. All I could do was sit on your bed and try to understand what had just happened, the cold night wind seeping in through the broken window. You walked out that door because I swore that I didn't care. But the moment you stepped out of that room, I lost everything.
A half an hour later, I was still there when the phone rang. I numbly answered it. It was Frohike. He said he wanted to talk to you and I told him that you weren't there. Then he asked me where you were. I didn't know how to reply to that, so I remained silent. Never let it be said that Melvin Frohike isn't intuitive. He knew something was wrong. What happened, he wanted to know. You had just called him and told him that you wanted him to run a search on someone, as though it was just something you wanted for the case. But he said that you sounded like you had been crying or were on the verge of tears.
Oh God. *I* made you cry. My heart constricted and it was all I could do to ask the little gnome what information he had given you. He explained that he had searched for the addresses of a storage warehouse where you believed the killer kept his laboratory. Also where the killer was hiding. I asked him to repeat it to me and I jotted it down on the stationary the motel provided, my fingers trembling. I thanked him and promised to tell him what happened later.
I didn't have a car, you had taken the rental. So I did the most expedient thing - I commandeered the motel manager's. He protested until he saw the gun I was fingering and then he handed me the keys without another word. Breaking every speed limit in the country, I made it to the warehouse in record time. The only other sign of life was your car, parked the far end of the lot. Running towards the storage compartment closest to the vehicle, my heels clicking loudly on the asphalt, I found the door that you must have gone through. I could tell by the red stains gracing the knob.
I entered cautiously, my gun held ready, my senses alert. Scanning the dark shadows, I found no sign of the killer among the conglomerate of lab equipment. Or you. Then I heard a noise. It sounded like a cross between a cough and a wheeze. Moving in the direction of the noise, I came upon a sight that made my heart freeze in my chest.
You were lying on your back, a pale shaft of moonlight from an elevated window highlighting your face. Your eyes were closed and your mouth open slightly, a piteous gurgling emerging. Dark gray in the shadows, your chest was splotched with black liquid, which was spreading across the concrete beneath you. I absorbed all this in seconds, yet it seemed like hours that I watched you, your body oozing life. My brain kicked into action and I was kneeling by your side, my hands hovering over you, unsure of what to do. Fear and despair were crashing over me like waves, robbing me of intelligent thought. A soft groan pushed up through tortured lungs brought it back to me.
I called 911, telling them an officer was down, to send an ambulance. Directions to our location, an assurance that they would hurry, and I hung up. I took stock of your injuries next. It looked as if something had ripped your chest apart; chunks of torn flesh, the gleaming white of bone. I had nothing to bind the wound with, nothing to alleviate the pain, nothing but myself to offer as comfort. I pulled you into a sitting position so that I could crawl around behind you and let you lean back in my lap. All I got for my effort was an agonized groan.
That is the only sound you have uttered since my arrival here. I glance at my watch, wondering what is taking the ambulance so long. It has only been a few minutes, but they drag on for so long that I wonder if we are perhaps the only two people in the world. Not quite an inaccurate description, since I am holding the extent my world in my arms. I rock you back and forth, whispering into your hair apologies that I was too stubborn to say before.
Your voice is so broken, so resigned, that I almost break down. "I'm here." My hand caresses your cheek in reassurance.
"Don't... leave," you gasp.
"I'm not going anywhere, Mulder." I have to bite my lip to keep the tears at bay.
You lean your head back against my chest so that you can look up into my face. "When you... stop believin'... n'me?"
I can't hold them back any longer. I start sobbing, my body shuddering with the power of my cries. I know it is painful for you, but I can't stop. All I can think of is how much I have hurt you, how much I have caused you to suffer. If I could find a way to change things, I would.
If I could turn back time, I'd take back the words that hurt you so badly and position myself by your side. I would stand in that board room and shout at the top of my lungs that the aliens were coming. I'd demand immediate action be taken to further investigate Roush, the corn crops, gas tankers, bomb sites, anything and everything related to the ordeal we went through.
"Never, Mulder," I sob, "I never stopped believing in *you*. I stopped believing in the possibility of the extreme. I was afraid, scared that my world would come crashing down if I accepted the idea of something outside my realm of science. I know now that isn't true, that I can go on living in a world where both science and the paranormal exist." I take a deep breath to calm my nerves as well as to lessen my crying. "But I can't go on living in a world without *you*. Mulder, I'm so sorry, I never meant to hurt you. I betrayed your trust and I don't know how I can ever gain it back. I have nothing to offer you but my love.
"All I can do is ask that you forgive me."
Your weak fingers close around mine and I can feel the clamminess of your skin. "Always... forgive you." I don't know how you manage it, but you bring our entwined fingers up to kiss the back of my hand, letting me know that I am truly forgiven. "M'sorry I didn't... see how scared... you were. But Scully... don' be scared... be okay... we're t'gether."
I smile. You're right. For the first time in months, we really are *together*.
I can hear sirens in the distance. We can make it through this.
Do you know how hard it was for me not to make this a character death story? You know me, I can't help writing them, but I refrained myself. Aren't you pround of me? *g*