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TITLE: One Last Plane Ride
AUTHOR: Gabi Fisher
SPOILER WARNING: none that I know of
CLASSIFICATION: VA
SUMMARY: Who knows. When someone comes up with a good summary, let me know. All I can say is that this is not a happy story (note the 'A' above...)
DISCLAIMER: Only in my dreams do the contents of this story belong to me, and since I am unfortunately awake, they belong to CC and the gang down at FOX and 1013. Maybe one of these days they'll stay mine... We'll have to see...

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thank you Annmaree for everything! I love you!

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For Scully, her red-eye Thursday morning flight was the longest plane ride of her life. In comparison to past trips she had been on for assignments, it was short, but the two hour flight felt more like two years. She couldn’t concentrate on anything, so she didn’t even bother. Instead, she just sat and stared out the tiny window at the clouds below. They looked nothing like the fluffy, cottony masses seen from the ground, but more like a thick, opaque smoke; a barrier between herself and the real world. The barrier broke when the pilot announced their impending descent and the clouds grew smaller and fluffier as the plane neared the ground.

Waiting until most of the passengers had cleared the aisle, Scully pulled her only bag from the overhead compartment and slung the bag over her shoulder. She walked off the plane with as much confidence as she could muster, which was not much. Three days prior, Scully had received a phone call she had never expected to get. Mrs. Mulder had called her, asking her to come down to Martha’s Vineyard. She would not tell Scully why, but would only say that it was important. Her flat, emotionless voice gave Scully no clue as to what kind of news she was in for.

Scully was among the last of the passengers to disembark and had to maneuver between happy, laughing, hugging families and friends. In the back of the airport “lounge,” distanced from the rest of the crowd stood a solitary figure.

At first, Scully was not sure who it was, but soon recognized it as Mrs. Mulder. The two women weren’t exactly sure how to greet each other, so they shook hands, uncomfortably. Scully noticed that Mrs. Mulder seemed to have aged ten years in the few years she had not seen her.

“Sorry I am so late, but this was the earliest flight I could arrange. You didn’t have to pick me up, you know. It’s 2:15. You should be sleeping,” Scully said.

“It’s no big deal,” Mrs. Mulder assured her, though her tone suggested otherwise. “Besides, I felt I should tell you as sooner opposed to later.”

Scully wasn’t sure if she really wanted to know what Mrs. Mulder had to tell her, but it was too late to turn back.

For a moment, Mrs. Mulder looked uncomfortable, but it passed quickly and was once again replaced by her emotionless mask. She took a deep breath-or was it a sigh? Scully didn’t know and really didn’t care-and plunged in, “Last week fox died.”

Scully’s heart stopped, or so the thought, and struggled to breathe. “How?” she barely managed to croak. Tears began streaming down her cheeks and she briefly wondered how Mrs. Mulder-his *mother*--could continue to remain so emotionless.    

Quietly, she replied, “He shot himself.” Silently, Scully just shook her head as if by doing so it would not be true. Mrs. Mulder pulled something from her purse and handed it to Scully. “He had left that by his … side. I can only assume as to what is said in it.” Mrs. Mulder did not even bother to conceal the hard, hateful edge to her words.

Wordlessly, Scully took the envelope and turned to leave. She had reserved a car and a hotel room because she was almost certain she would be staying for a few days, at least. Still as held together as when she had first arrived, Mrs. Mulder simply said to Scully’s fleeting figure, “The funeral is on Friday. Noon at St. Peters,” before turning to leave as well.

Once in her rental car, Scully stared at the blood spattered white envelope in her hands. The memories she had tried so hard to put behind her all rushed back to her. Every case they had worked on together; his constant wisecracks; the occasional hours they spent together off-duty; his support for her when she was in the hospital after abductions, kidnappings, and cancer treatments; the times when she had to be strong for him; his countless theories for every case; her constant need for proof; the never ending quest for his sister; the last few weeks they had worked together; their last fight; the last words she spat at him before walking out of the basement office for the last time, leaving the Bureau forever; the look on his face that day when he realized she was serious; the repeated messages he had left on her machine before she had moved out of town, pleading with her to come back. Each and every look and word that had passed between them in the six years that they had worked together flashed through her mind.

For the first time since she had quit the FBI, Scully began to regret her decision. Maybe if she hadn’t quit, Mulder wouldn’t have killed himself, Scully kept thinking. If she had just been there for him, he wouldn’t have felt he no longer had a reason to live, part of her thought. The rest of her countered that thought by saying that Mulder had always been heading down the path to self-destruction, and it wouldn’t matter if she was with him or not, it was inevitable.

Finally, with shaky hands, Scully tore open the envelope Mrs. Mulder had given her. She had to hold it slightly away from her to prevent her tears from smearing the penned words. It was undoubtedly Mulder’s handwriting and Scully had to take several breaths before she was able to begin reading it.

Scully-
It is almost ironic how even now, I can’t call you Dana. Only in times of need did I call you that. Now, however, I don’t need anything. I know what I have to do, I just have to act on it. By the time you read this, I already will have, and no longer will I be haunted by the demons that have cursed my life. They have pushed me to the point that I can no longer deal with them. My life has been unbearable lately, especially since you left. For so long you had been my driving force, my reason to live, that when I lost you I didn’t know what to do. My entire life had lost its meaning, for you were my reason to live. Knowing that you would be there for me no matter what, the demons had relented to tormenting my dreams only, but they have since found their way back into my days. I have transformed into a solitary zombie who even Skinner is tentative to approach. I can not live like this. The quest, the Truth, even Samantha have paled in comparison to what haunts me. They have lost their importance. It is eating me from the inside out and I can not bear it. I have no other choice. I only hope that you understand that I don’t blame you for any of this and neither should you. It was entirely my choice, so I ask that you do not take responsibility for it, though I’m sure you will anyway. Please don’t let this consume you as I let Samantha’s disappearance consume me. It isn’t worth it. Know that I loved you always.

            -Mulder

When Scully had finished reading it, she placed the letter gently on the seat next to her, she buried her head in her hands and cried. Long after she stopped, she sat, just staring out the window and thinking. She let the memories of herself and Mulder flow through her mind, taking pleasure in the experiences they had shared. Eventually, she was ready to go. She left the parking lot with the faintest smile.

* * * *

At the funeral the following day, she was one of the few in attendance. She saw Mrs. Mulder, though neither woman spoke to the other. The Lone Gunman, with whom she exchanged condolences, were also there. AD Skinner had said nothing to her, but hugged her after the services, and gave her a look that said, “Everything will turn out alright eventually, just wait and see.” To that, she quietly replied, “Thank you.”

The service was fast, and no one stayed long afterwards. Scully threw one lone white rose onto the casket before the first dirt was thrown down. She watched as the hole was filled with dirt, a part of her being buried along with Mulder.

Scully left, returning to her home, continuing on with her life. She had been able to pack away her memories of Mulder into a box in the back of her mind. That way she could go through it when she wanted, but also able to live her life without being held down by the past in the way Mulder had. It was the means to an end of a chapter of her life. By far the longest, possibly the one that had shaped her most, and most likely one of the best, but as with everything, all good things must come to an end.

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