TITLE: The Walking Wounded
AUTHOR: winter baby
FANDOM: The X-Files
SPOILERS: all things
SUMMARY: all things introspective.
+  The Walking Wounded  +
[ Daniel ]
My daughter is here with me despite her anger and stubbornness, which in her case always go hand in hand. The hospital room is cold, but Maggie doesn't say anything so I figure it must be me. I'm old and sick, and I'm dying. She sits by my bed, her nose buried in a magazine because she's still mad at me, but I think at least she's here and that's got to be some kind of progress.
I haven't seen her in ten years and she won't even look at me. She resents me because I asked her to call Dana, and I have to admit that was a mistake on my part. I shouldn't have dragged Maggie into this. This is what drove her away from me in the first place. This is where all her anger comes from.
The glossy paper of the magazine ruffles as Maggie turns the page and I try to sit more comfortably on my lumpy hospital bed. She is the first one to look up.
Dana stands in the doorframe, and I can see out of the corner of my eyes Maggie looking at me looking at her. She clutches her magazine with tense hands and gets up to leave. My daughter doesn't want to be in the room when I talk to Dana. Maggie thinks I will say all the things she knows I want to say. I've been waiting since I heard that Dana was in the hospital this morning; I've been waiting since she left me ten years ago.
You look beautiful.
I've missed you.
Don't ever leave me again, please.
But I don't say anything, because it would be a mistake. Maggie storms out and I don't stop her. I feel guilty for being such a lousy father but Dana is here and all thoughts of my daughter fly away.
Dana asks me about how I am and how I ended up in D.C., but I don't have time for small talk or games, so I press Dana about her life now at the FBI; I tell her that she's made all the wrong choices, leaving me, leaving medicine, and from her discomfort and confusion I know that I can't be totally wrong.
You scare me, Daniel, she says and I know. I know that I scare her. I think that maybe I always have, even back then when we felt guilty about being in love but so happy it almost didn't matter.
Dana tells me sadly that she regrets ever coming to see me and voices her concern for my health as the only reason she came at all.
I look at her with desperate eyes, not even bothering to hide the longing in them anymore. After all these years, she is close enough to touch, and so I do.
I touch her one more time, because I can feel that this is the end. I say to her that she came here because she wanted to and that has to say something, doesn't it?
She doesn't answer but just stares at me with her fathomless blue eyes and gets up to go, just like I knew she would.
Don't ever leave me again, please.
But still I don't say anything, and I let her walk out of my life once more.
[ Scully ]
Daniel just died in there, and he would have stayed that way if I hadn't given everything of myself to bring him back.
I walk out of Daniel's room, and I try to wipe the image of him on his deathbed out of my mind. He used to be such a strong man, but now he's so fragile that he's breaking apart right in front of me. He's dying, this man that I used to love so much simply for his strength. And maybe a part of me still does, but I can't get involved in this all over again. He's already told me of the lives I've ruined.
You've come at such a strange time, I said to Daniel before his heart just stopped. If he'd known the things that I've been through, if he'd known what Mulder means to me, maybe he wouldn't have said the things that he had to confuse me so, but he did and I can't just forget them.
He asked me what I wanted, as if it were so simple. Ask me a question and maybe you'll get an answer.
Then again maybe you won't.
I want everything I should want at this time of my life, I say. Maybe I want the life I didn't choose.
I don't know if that's the truth, but I guess it needed to be said aloud although I'm not certain if I'm ready to deal with what it means.
Then he touched me and held me again, like he used to when I had loved him with such abandon I scared myself.
He started to die just then. I saved him using all the miracles of modern medicine. Afterwards I fled to my car.
Outside, raindrops fall like tears.
I don't belong here, I say in my head, remembering how the last time I had involved myself in this man's life people I didn't even know had gotten hurt.
I had seen the look in his daughter's eyes. No wonder she hates me; I'm the other woman who broke up her family, who drove her mother to hate her father, who turned her father into a stranger, and I'm back in her life to destroy it again now that he's dying. I would hate me too and I think maybe I already do.
I feel the guilt of it all weigh upon me, like the raining sky of a broken world upon my back. And it builds on top of itself, the tragedies of the years gone by coming back to me so clearly, I can't tell which is the past and which is now. Usually when I feel like this, burdened under such remorse, it becomes almost unbearable. I find myself in the wooden comfort of a church, confessing my sins to stranger in a booth.
Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.
My sister is dead because of me.
My daughter is dead because of me.
Daniel is dying because he can't let go of our past.
Each death or dying moment cuts into me like a knife, and everything good in me seeps out of those sins like blood through a wound.
Maggie is hurt and angry because of me.
Barbara Waterston had to divorce her husband because of me.
I'm an adulterer.
I'm a murderer.
The knife digs deeper and I feel my sins grow to an insufferable size.
I don't think I've ever missed Mulder as much as I do now, but he's far away in England, chasing crop circles and other things to feed his obsession. He's always had such horrible timing; I need him now and he's not here.
I remember Colleen, the woman he sent me to for his UFO information, but I remember her words better.
You may want to slow down.
She reminded me in some ways of Melissa, and in some ways she didn't. I decide to see Colleen instead of going to a church even though I am not sure why.
Maybe it's because I miss my sister.
Her house is warm and comforting, filled with symbols of a different belief. Colleen explains to me about mysticism and auras and things I already know because after all, I am Mulder's partner. But she also tells me that Daniel is dying because he can't let go.
When we hold onto shame and guilt and fear, she says, it creates imbalance, makes us forget who we are.
I sigh and she thinks it's because I don't believe her, but I do. I sigh because she's talking about me and she doesn't even know it. Colleen tries to convince me that Daniel will get better if he'd just admit his shame and lies. I feel the doubt creeping into me; this most likely won't work with him.
You came here looking for answers, she says when she sees my hesitation, and you want something to take back with you. Everything happens for a reason.
Outside, the rain has stopped and I decide to go back to the hospital. Something needs to be done because I can't keep things just hanging like this. I need closure. I need to talk to him.
But when I get there, flowers in my hand, Maggie informs me angrily that he's in a coma. I saved him but I didn't wait to see how he was. Daniel's alive but unconscious.
She accuses me. Blatantly.
Do you have any idea the hell you created in our lives? Maggie hisses. I start to explain but she won't listen.
Don't try to be reasonable with me, she says. I am so sick of being reasonable. You moved on but we've had to live with what you left behind.
The knife digs deeper and the blood flows faster.
I leave because she asks me to. Outside on the streets, I am led into a temple by a mysterious woman who has been protecting me all day, someone trying to teach me how to slow down. The temple garden is delicate, like its Eastern origins. Inside, a fat and perpetually smiling Buddha sits in darkness before me, beckoning me with its benevolent mouth.
God has never spoken to me before and it might not even be Him, but it has to be something.
My past plays out in front of my eyes, every sin and guilt once again flashing before me, along with other memories that I can't let go of.
Daniel lies at the end of a long line of recollections, and I can see every bit of him, inside and out all at the same time. His disease blackens his heart like pestilence, coursing through his body and weakening him.
I now see his disease for what it really is but something tells me that Daniel won't.
[ Maggie ]
The things this woman has done to my family and I keep letting her come back. Now she brings with her this strange man who calls himself a healer to my father's deathbed. I don't know if I believe any of this but we've tried everything else and nothing's worked. Every minute he's getting worse and now I'm just desperate. Let this healer do whatever he does; it couldn't possibly hurt now.
The doctor protests but I silence him by saying that I approve. All I want is for my father to come back and I really don't care how.
[ Scully ]
I surprised myself today. If someone had asked me yesterday if I believed in charkas or healers I would have said no. But now...
So many things have happened that's left me in such a mess I'm not sure of anything anymore. I don't know if what the healer did will work. I did all that I could, and now there's nothing left but the waiting.
I make myself tea in the kitchen with my robe wrapped tightly around my body. The apartment is warm, the familiar surroundings comforting in their steadiness.
God might be speaking to me again, or maybe I'm just dreaming.
I realize I'm not in my apartment anymore but in a hospital room. Not Daniel's, but mine from over two years ago. The woman dying in the bed is me, and the cancer in her is a silent threat, stealing her life bit by bit. I stare down at this sick woman, red hair pasted against her ghostly pale skin and she turns, words upon her cracked lips.
Speak to me.
Her voice is not my voice and I don't understand what she means.
I wake up, the phone ringing in my ear and it's Maggie needing me to come to the hospital right away. She says nothing more and hangs up. Her abruptness echoes in my tired mind.
The hospital feels empty and Daniel is awake. I sigh with relief and step into his room. He lies there waiting for me and laughs about last night. He calls it crap and I defend it.
But he doesn't want to talk about that; he wants to talk about us. I tell him that there is no us.
It's time, I say quietly, that you took responsibility for the hurt you caused in your family.
I pass this burden of guilt to him. I no longer want it or have the strength to carry it. The knife will go no deeper than this but I still feel it there. I know that I always will.
It's no accident that you got sick, Daniel, I continue. You've been running from the truth for ten years.
Dana, his voice is nothing but a whisper, it was only to be with you. You were all I lived for.
I tell him that this is the reason why he's back, to make it up to his daughter for hurting her like he has. He thinks Maggie has put these words in my mouth but I tell him no.
I'm not the same person, Daniel. I wouldn't have known that if I hadn't seen you again.
I am happy with my life, I realize, clarity pushing through. Daniel had asked me before what I wanted, and now I know that the answer is nothing. I have what I want and what I want will be coming home from England soon.
I get up to walk out and realize that Maggie's standing in the doorway. I don't know if she heard what I said but I hope that she will be happy.
I leave and silently pray that Daniel will find a better way. I ask God or Buddha or Whoever that his better way leads to his wounded daughter, away from me. I pray that he forgets about me and moves on with his life.
Because finally, I think I can too.
Outside, in a throng of people, I spot the woman who has saved me and led me for the past two days. I push through the crowd and when I reach her I realize that it's not her at all.
He's come back to me.
When I ask him what happened he tells me disappointedly nothing, that there were no crop circles. I feel sorry for him but glad that it has brought him home sooner.
Maybe sometimes nothing happens for a reason, Mulder.
He's confused and I offer him some tea.
At his apartment, I make our drinks and tell him what happened to me with Daniel. And Mulder, in one of his rare moments of consideration, actually listens. I talk all day and he listens all day and well into the night. He thinks that my life has changed and secretly so do I, but I don't want this to seem like a major event so I gloss over it. All I want now is for things to be calm again.
We sit on his battered couch with our half-empty mugs of green tea, the glow of the fish tank lighting our corner.
I once considered spending my whole life with this man. What I would have missed, I say thinking out loud.
Mulder tells me philosophically that we can't know how many different lives we would be leading if we had made different choices. The truth of his words flows over me gently. All of a sudden I'm so tired. I realize that I barely had any sleep at all last night.
My voice is slow and drowsy.
What if there was only one choice and all the other ones were wrong? And there were signs along the way to pay attention to?
I lean up against Mulder, feeling his warmth and taking comfort in his strength. I never realized how a man is perfectly built to rest upon like this.
Mulder answers my question but his voice grows dimmer and dimmer. I stop listening to him and the darkness of the night washes over me like a wave. With my last bit of consciousness, I can feel him touch my face softly and pull a warm blanket over my body.
I let it cover me and heal me of my sins.
[ end ]
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