A possible element of squick. Crap title. Also, sap.
But, you know, getting in practice! Writing something! Don't I get points for shit like that?
Lucid dreaming, Mulder calls it. All she knows is that it is one of the recurring dreams, one she used to have a lot a few years back, but at least it's not the awful dream. Not that one, thank God.
This dream is from a real memory. They have been staying at her grandmother's house for a couple of months, just her mother and brothers and sister. Her father has only been here for a week and today he has to go again. Everyone seems to be angry about something. Billy and Missy whisper in corners and tell her she's too young to understand.
It is early in the morning. Mom has stayed home today and he is walking her to the school gates to say goodbye.
Snow is shaken from a pale grey sky, thick and gentle like blossom. Cars crunch past in slow motion and for once the noise of the people is louder than any traffic; squealing children and adults and the soft thock of snowballs thudding into trees and walls.
Her boots are bright red against the white that is almost up to her ankles. For a while she walks backwards to fool anyone who might be following them into thinking she was walking the opposite way. Her footprints leave scuffed zig-zags in the snow and -- she remembers this part very clearly -- he laughs when she tells him what she is doing.
No one else is there; she can't say why that should be, she only feels the fierce, wrong satisfaction that she has him to herself.
She remembers him only at skewed angles and in odd snapshots: His big, cold hand, dwarfing her smaller one. She can't remember why there are scabs on his knuckles. The swiftness of his walk and how she had to stride to keep up. The gleam of the buttons on the jacket of his uniform and the twist of the gold braid on his cap badge. She's sure he must have had his overcoat on, but in the dream he's in his dress uniform.
And he's tall as a house and smarter than anyone in the world and she wants to point him out to the other children -- who aren't quite enemies but won't be friends either -- that this is her father and he's going to sea, to the war, and that's a million times better and braver than working in some boring automobile factory like everyone else round here.
A sudden lurch in her dream and she's by a pair of gates, feeling small, alone. Her face is wet and seared by a rough northerly wind that wuthers through the iron bars.
Now he's there. She can't see his face but he's there. A tide of children flows past him; he is a rock and his hands on her shoulders are her anchor.
She must have been crying a while because he is frowning at her and she's trying to stop but painful sobs keep pushing to the surface like bubbles bursting. He's telling her to be brave, he expects better, Scullys don't cry over little things like this.
Then he's promising her he'll be back, and he'll bring her presents but all she wants to do is make him stay. She knows she has to make him stay.
But instead she straightens up and makes the effort to stop shaking. "There's my brave girl," he says, "there's my Scully" and that steadies her as always.
Suddenly everyone else is gone and they're alone in the vast, silent blankness of the snow. She shuts her eyes. He squeezes her shoulders, presses chapped lips to her forehead. Then he pushes her away, gentle but firm.
Five steps and she turns to look back; a darting glance.
But when she looks, he's already so far away, just a retreating speck and even though she knows she'll see him again eventually, it feels like the most terrible thing in the world. She can feel the tears pressing.
She almost blows her dribbly nose on her mitten but Missy says that's disgusting, so instead she sniffs back hard, and feels something running down the back of her throat, warm.
Too hot. She judders awake, gasping for breath and squeezing her eyes against the pain. Burn of acid in her mouth.
Hell is an idea first born on an undigested apple dumpling, according to Melville and Mulder.
Or in this case, on Thai takeout grabbed after a 15-hour day and eaten in an uninterested hurry.
She keeps her eyes shut because there's still that horrible ache tight and deep in her chest from that image of him retreating into bright white.
"M'okay, Mulder," she murmurs, twisting to face him. "Just that dream again. Not as bad as the one where --"
Her arm reaches out, encounters nobody where there should be somebody.
She almost doesn't want to look but her dry eyes unglue and there it is.
White sheets and an empty bed. Two months since a cold day in Raleigh, North Carolina, and she has yet to sleep a full night through. Anger is a cold block in her gut.
She forces herself to finish the sentence because she has to keep saying it to believe it.
" -- the one where you died."