Religious Rites (PG-13)

Scully had noticed Mulder’s discomfort about this meeting with Father McCue, but she had put it down to his avoidance to anything religious.  However, that wouldn’t account for this near panic when she hung up with the Father and told him they had an appointment for pre-marital counseling tomorrow evening.

“Okay Mulder, what’s wrong?  Father McCue shouldn’t be nearly as frightening as the people we normally associate with.  What’s up?”  Well levity wasn’t helping.  If possible he looked even more upset.

“Scully,” he hesitated yet again, “When we first started talking about getting married you didn't mention any priests.”

“Well, I guess I didn’t, but you knew I was Catholic.  I thought you’d know I wanted to get married in the church.  Look, we don’t have to have a big wedding, Mulder.  Family alone is fine with me.”

“That’s not . . . Scully, that’s not it.”  He took a deep breath.  “I can’t get married in the church.”

“Does it offend you?  You’ve never – “

“Scully, I’m divorced.”  There, he’d said it.  It was out in the open.  He watched her face grow still, all animation, hell, all life, leeching out of it.

“What?”  Even that one word seemed strangled.

“I was married, very briefly, years ago.  But I’m afraid Father McCue  - “ 

“Forget Father McCue.”  She interrupted, “I think I need a few answers.”  She was struggling for some composure and losing rapidly.

“Anything Scully.”  He wanted to reach out, touch her but fear held him still.

“Anything?  Anything!”   She heard her voice go up and turned from him losing her struggle.

“Scully, please.”  He reached toward her and she rose abruptly, putting distance between them.  This was going to be worse than he had imagined.  He stood as well and she put her hands out as though warding him off.


“Scully.”  It was only one word, but it was also a desperate plea for understanding, forgiveness.

“When?”  He stared at her for a moment before he understood her question.


“For how long?”

“Three months.”  That stopped her.  Three months?   That was hardly a marriage.  He could see some of the stiffness leave her shoulders.

“What happened?”

“It was a mistake, a horrible mistake and we realized it immediately.   We never even went on a honeymoon; instead we went to Vegas and got a divorce.  None of our friends even knew.”

“Are you still in contact with her?”  At that he looked away, hard question to answer.  “Are you?”

“I wasn’t.  I hadn’t spoken to her, even thought about her in years.”

“And now?”

“Scully, it’s Diana.”

“Dia - ” The way the color drained from her face it crossed his mind she might faint.  Just as quickly her face flushed bright red.  “Get out.”

“Scully please.”  He reached for her then but she moved farther from him.

“Get out of my apartment.”

“You can’t mean that.”  She looked him straight in the eye then and he was the one that flinched from the look.  Oh god, what had he done?  She was so far beyond angry he wasn't sure she knew the way back.  "Scully, I can’t go.  Not now.”

“I want you to leave here.”  She hadn’t moved again, but she had never seemed more distant from him.

“Scully, please!”  He realized he was actually terrified to leave.  Everything he wanted in life was in this room.  Could he really have destroyed it so completely?  She was trying hard to keep her face impassive, but she wasn’t able to hide the pain in her eyes, not from him.  Just a few months ago he would have said he couldn’t know her any better.  But becoming lovers, finally, had brought them so much closer it was as though they’d barely known each other.  Now, looking at her, one would think they were strangers.  She hadn’t responded to his entreaty.  No, that wasn’t strictly true.  She hadn’t responded verbally, nevertheless, the response was plain.

Mulder closed his eyes against the sight of her, his shoulders slumping.   He walked to the door, his feet feeling like lead.  At the door he turned back one last time, his eyes begging for a reprieve.  None was forthcoming.

Scully managed to hold herself together until the door closed behind him, then the trembling that had begun in her hands turned to full-fledged shaking and was taking over her whole body.  She collapsed on the couch, somewhere in the back of her mind wondering if she was experiencing a seizure or a stroke.  Her next realization was that tears were flooding down her face but she wasn’t able to lift her arms to brush them away.

She was aware next of the darkness of her apartment.  It had been light enough outside when they arrived not to need to turn on any inside illumination.  She wearily lifted her arm to see her watch  - 3 a.m.  Had she slept?   She didn’t feel rested.  It was more like she’d just switched off.

How could he have done this?  How could he have kept something this important from her?  Because it wasn’t important to him?  Her brain traitorously questioned.  No!  If he’d made such a commitment it had to have been important.  For three months?  She shook her head violently.  Length of time doesn’t matter - he married her.  Doesn’t it?  Doesn’t it really?  She picked up a book from her coffee table and threw it forcefully across the room where it hit the wall and fell to the floor.  It didn’t help, not much anyway.  She collapsed back on the couch, the little spurt of energy she’d felt gone.  Would she ever have the energy to actually stand, dress, go to work?   She shuddered again at the thought.  Work?  In that little office, with him?  Tears formed in her eyes again.

She certainly didn’t want to see him tomorrow.  She placed a quick call to Skinner’s office and left a short message that she would not be in the next day.  How was she going to tell her mother that the wedding was off?

Was it off?  That part of her questioned again.  Of course it was!   How could she possibly spend her life with a man who would keep something this crucial from her? 

“You’re thinking about one of the girls you brought with you.”   Gibson Praise’s comment rang in her head.  “She’s thinking about you too.”  What had they been thinking about each other?  Mulder had been thinking about Diana, hadn’t he?  She hadn’t been giving him any particular thought so it had to be Diana.  Had he been thinking about their lives together, their nights together?  Comparing . . . She shook herself again.

But could she live without him?  Live without . . . even if she didn’t marry him could she work with him?  Did she want to?  How had her life fallen apart in such a short amount of time?  She had been so happy just earlier this evening, planning her life with this man she thought she knew so well.

She hadn’t known him at all.  She rose from the couch and headed to her bedroom.  It was nearly four a.m., but she didn’t have to get up in the morning anyway.  She tossed and turned until nearly six before finally drifting into a restless sleep.

The sound of another voice woke her.  Was someone here?  No that was her mother leaving a message on the machine.  She hadn’t even heard the phone ring.  Her mother - she had to talk to her, tell her that she wasn’t getting married.  Not over the phone, she couldn’t do this over the phone.   She needed to actually talk to her.

That forced her out of the bed.  She dressed quickly and got out of the apartment.  She didn’t want to be here, hell she didn’t want to be anywhere.  This pain had become physical.

She pulled up in front of her mother’s house, though she didn’t remember the drive.  She moved stiffly to the door and rang the bell.  She heard her mother move toward the entrance, she still didn’t have a clue what she was going to say to her.

“Dana!  I wasn’t expecting you.  I left you a message to . . . Dana?  What’s wrong?” Mrs. Scully had her arm now, drawing her into the house.  “Is it Fox?  Is something wrong with Fox?”  It was obvious something was wrong, something was devastatingly wrong.

She seated her daughter on the couch, watching her closely.  “Dana, I’m going to fix you some hot tea.”

“The wedding is off Mom.”  There, she’d said it.  Maybe she could leave now.

“We can talk about this in a minute, Dana.  Just sit here, let me get your tea.”  Dana sat back, almost relieved that she didn’t have to be on her feet again so soon.

Mrs. Scully left the room, glancing back at her traumatized daughter again before moving into the kitchen.  After a quick phone call she prepared the tea and hurried back to her daughter’s side.

“Dana, take this.”  She put two capsules in her daughter’s hand as well.  “Drink it slowly.”

“I’m fine, Mom.”  A patent lie, but Mrs. Scully let it go, for now.  After a quick look at her mother’s face, she did go ahead and take the capsules.  She didn’t have the strength for an argument right now anyway.  Once the tea was dutifully consumed Scully did feel a little calmer, steadier.

“Now, Honey, tell me what happened.  Did you and Fox have a fight?”

“I can’t . . . I can’t talk about it.”

“Dana.”  She took her daughter’s hand.  Nothing is this bad.  I know how much Fox loves you and how much you love him.  You need to relax and think clearly about whatever this is.  You and Fox need to talk this out.”

“No!  I don’t want to see him.  I can’t.”   She shuddered at the thought and Maggie’s concern grew.  This was her calm, rational child.  Something had completely destroyed her.

“Okay, okay Honey.  Just relax.”

“You need to start canceling the plans.  There won’t be a wedding.  You need to call . . . “ She stopped, confused.

“I’ll handle all of that Dana.  Don’t worry about any of that now.”  She turned as she heard the knock at the door.  Well, Fox had wasted no time getting here.  Now she hoped calling him had been the right thing to do.  “Dana, wait here.  I’ll be right back.”

Scully nodded, her eyes already closing.  Maggie stood watching her for a moment, then at the next insistent knock moved toward the door.  “Fox, thank goodness.”  She touched the man’s arm, trying to draw him inside.

“She’s here?  Is she okay?”

Maggie shook her head, “No, she’s not okay.  She doesn’t look any better than you do right now.”   He gave a sad chuckle, but didn’t enter the house.  “Fox?”   She realized suddenly that he was waiting for an invitation, as though unsure of his welcome.  “Fox, please come in.  We need to straighten this whole thing out.”

That wasn’t possible, he understood that.  Obviously Maggie didn’t know what was going on.  But at least he knew where Scully was, that physically she was okay. 

Maggie watched the younger man move toward the living room.  There was no spring in his step; it was as though all the hope had been drained from his body.  She hadn’t seen him like this since . . . since Dana had been returned to them.

He stopped when he spotted Scully on the couch.  She’d fallen asleep or passed out.  He turned to look at Maggie.  “I gave her something to relax her.”  He nodded.  “Can you help me get her upstairs?”

He nodded again, slipping his arms under her knees and back and lifting her gently from the couch.  He followed Maggie up the stairs and laid her on the bed.  He stood over her for a moment, until Maggie touched his arm, then he followed her from the room.

She led him into the kitchen and poured him a cup of coffee.  “Talk to me Fox.  What happened?” 

He hung his head.  Would this woman hate him too?  “Mrs. Scully   - “

“Maggie.  Fox, we agreed on Maggie.”  He tried to smile at her but he couldn’t sustain it.

“I blew it.  She’ll never trust me again.”  He shook his head.

“Fox, there wasn’t another . . . she didn’t find you - “

“No!  Not like you . . . Maggie, I’m divorced.  I never told her, never mentioned that I had been married.  But the meeting with Father McCue . . . “

“Oh Fox.”  She glanced back at the stairs, no wonder she was distraught.  “That had to devastate her.  Why?  Why didn’t you tell her?”

“Would you believe I forgot?”  He looked at her hopelessly.


“It wasn’t anything I ever thought about.  The marriage lasted less than three months.  It doesn’t even appear in my service record.  No one knew - it was just a mistake.  A ‘youthful indiscretion’.  I suppose we could have gotten an annulment, but who knew that someone like me was going to fall in love with a woman with a Catholic upbringing.”

“Fox, I . . . this would be upsetting to anyone, but she’s . . . this has upset her so much more than - “

“Has she ever mentioned Diana Fowley to you?”  He broke in.

“Diana?  Wasn’t she your partner before Dana?”  The light dawned and Maggie’s eyes widened.  “Oh Fox!”  

He nodded miserably.  “I hadn’t seen her in nearly ten years.  When she showed up at the Bureau and I saw her, it hit me like a ton of bricks - that I had never told Scully.  It just wasn’t important.  I kept thinking there would be a good time, but it never . . . if it weren’t for Father McCue . . . “

“Don’t blame him, Fox.  A divorce is not the kind of secret you can keep from someone you love, a spouse.”

“What can I do to get her to trust me again?  How can I prove that Diana meant nothing to me?”  He was leaning forward now, begging for her help.

She’d seen him this torn up before, standing with her, surveying the headstone for Dana’s grave.  She had never met this Diana, but it didn’t matter, he didn’t love her - not like he loved Dana.   Surely when Dana calmed down she’d see that.  People did make mistakes and this one was a doozy, even for Fox, but still . . .  “I don’t suppose Diana could talk to Dana, tell her - “

“Diana’s dead.  Right after Scully rescued me - when she returned from Africa.  Diana was found dead, murdered.”  Maggie crossed herself and spoke a few words that Mulder couldn’t hear.

“We’ll have to give her a little time, Fox.  That’s the only thing I can think of right now.”


Scully was in the hall outside of his apartment.  Her key wouldn’t fit.  She’d let herself in this door dozens of times, what was wrong with it?  Had he changed the lock?  Why would he do that?  He’d never tried to keep her out before. He’d given her the key to this place ages before she had done the same for him at her apartment.

There, finally.  She stumbled into his apartment.  He wasn’t here; all of his stuff was gone.  The couch, the fish tank, gone - just bare walls.  He wouldn’t leave her.  He had to have left a note, something.  He wouldn’t just leave.

She checked the other rooms - empty, all empty.  Where had he gone?  She had to find him; she had to tell him . . . something, something very important. 

There was no sign of him.  It was as though a man named Fox Mulder had never lived here, never existed.  But he did!  He had, hadn’t he?  This man, the man she thought she loved - he wasn’t . . . he wasn’t a fantasy.  He couldn’t be.  She couldn’t feel this way about an illusion - she couldn’t!  But there was no Fox Mulder.  She sank down on to the floor.  Had there ever been a man like Mulder?  Could there have been?  She’d never felt for a man like she felt for this one.  Maybe that proved he didn’t exist.  Maybe she wasn’t capable of loving a real man, so she’d created . . . Mulder.

She moved to the door of the apartment and opened it.  The hall wasn’t there, she was standing outside of their office in the basement, but his name wasn’t on the sign.  She opened the door and walked in.  A storage room, piled high with boxes and files.  The dust was thick; no one had been in this room in years.  No Mulder, again no sign that he had existed.  Where the hell was Mulder!  She hadn’t created him.  He wasn’t a figment of her imagination.  Her imagination wasn’t that good, not to create a man like him.  A man so different that . . . so different that he was the only person in the world she couldn’t live without.

She was at her desk now, she knew it was hers but she hadn’t been there before.  People passed by, but they seemed insubstantial somehow.  She didn’t attempt to interact with them, they weren’t important, nothing was important.  She was alone, so alone.  She tried to open a file lying on her desk, but couldn’t touch it.  Her hand passed through it as though it had no mass.

Then it hit her; she had no mass.  She wasn’t whole, she wasn’t real.  She never had been and without him, she never would be.

She’d known other men.  If Mulder existed as she remembered, she’d spent many more years without him than with him.  The same was true of him.  What happened to her before she met him didn’t affect him.  So the same thing would be true of him.  What did that mean?  Why was that important?  There was no Fox Mulder.  There was no . . . she collapsed onto the floor in tears, sobs shaking her body. 


Mulder sat at the table, his head in his hands while Maggie moved around the kitchen.  She looked at him often; her heart aching for the pain these two were in.  It had taken them so long to accept their feelings for each other.  She’d known this man loved her daughter since her strange disappearance years ago.  His pain and guilt at that time had been undeniable.

Dana had taken longer.  She’d always been reserved, even as a child, slow at making friends.  As the moves became more frequent, the stays shorter, she’d quit trying to make friends, staying closer to Melissa and the boys.  That was their life, but Maggie had been saddened to see this withdrawal and the fact that it had continued into adulthood.  Dana had loved Fox for years.  She just hadn’t recognized it, admitted it.  But Fox was the person she had called when she’d been diagnosed with cancer, when she’d found Emily.  That was more than partnership, even if she hadn’t been able to admit it to herself.

They were meant for each other.  The connection between them was so strong.  Of course part of that came from the kind of work they did, but they were so in synch, moving in tandem even when they were apart.  Maggie sighed, she believed Fox when he said he‘d forgotten to tell her.  As hard as that was to understand, he wasn’t lying.    He’d made a mistake years ago and put it out of his mind.

His head shot up suddenly and he looked in the direction of Dana’s room.  “Fox?”

He looked over at her, “I think . . . something’s wrong.”   And he was moving toward her room.  Maggie followed close behind him.

Mulder opened the door to her room and hesitated.  Tears were streaming down her face but she was asleep.  He moved toward her, then stopped and turned to look at Maggie.  “Go to her Fox.”

He nodded and took her into his arms.  “Scully, wake up.  It’s okay.  Scully, please.”  He wiped the tears from her face.  “Scully?”

She opened her eyes then confused.  “Mulder?  Mulder!”   Her arms went around him and his arms tightened around her.  He drew a deep breath.  “You’re not an illusion.”

“No, Scully.  I’m here.  Please, let me stay.”

She looked up then as through remembering, or simply understanding something.  “Did you love her?”

He hesitated, thinking of how to say this.  “I thought I did, at the time.  At least for a little while.  Scully, I didn’t know any better - I hadn’t met you.  I didn’t know what love was.”

“Then it shouldn’t affect me.”  His eyes widened, was she going to forgive him?  Mrs. Scully back out of the room.  They didn’t need her.  Neither seemed to notice.  “Mulder, is there anything else I should know?  Any other wives, children?”

He gave a kind of laugh, “No Scully.  No wives, no children.  I found out I wasn’t the husband kind of guy.  Maybe you’re right to back out now, Scully.  You know me better than anyone.”

She shuddered then, at the memory of life where he didn’t exist.   His arms tightened around her, trying to comfort her from whatever.  She nodded, “I do.  That’s why I want to marry you.  I belong with you.”

“Scully, what . . . what happened?”

“I . . . I saw the other side; life without you in it.  We’re adults Mulder, we’ve both had other relationships.   I might have overreacted a bit to your news.   She’s not someone I thought was right for you - “

“She wasn’t.”  He interrupted.  

She gave him a quick kiss, “Glad you finally came to your senses.   Don’t worry about a religious ceremony Mulder.  We’re already married, this is just to legalize it.”

His eyes slid closed and she felt his body relax against hers.  She smiled into his chest as he pulled her close.