Title: Promises
Author: Phenyx

Summary: Set years in the future, Scully comes to the aid of Mulder and his daughter, who are grieving over the recent loss of his wife.

Dana Scully was wrenched from her sleep by the screeching sound of her telephone ringing.

"'Lo?" she answered groggily.

For a brief moment there was only silence, then a small voice said "Aunt Dana?"

Scully was suddenly wide awake. She glanced at the luminous digital clock on the night stand. "Sam? Is that you? What wrong?" It was past midnight and although Sam was only four, she was not the type to go and play on the phone without permission.

"Well..." the small voice quavered. "I had a bad dream..."

"Sweetheart," Dana began warily. "Where's your Dad?"

The child began to sob "Oh, Auntie Dana, he's downstairs. He's talking to himself and I'm scared."

Dana got up and started to get dressed as she talked. "SShh. It's going to be okay, Sam try to calm down. Exactly what is he doing?"

"He's been drinking and now he's talking to nobody and I'm afraid. He always keeps his gun locked in the hall closet because it's safer. But he won't put it away tonight. He always puts it away. Mommy said that its better to be safe than sorry and even though I'm never allowed to touch it, It's safer to be locked up and..."

Dana interrupted the little girl's ramblings. "Sam? Sam? Just listen to me okay?"

After a hiccupping sigh the child replied, "Okay"

"I'm going to come right over, Alright? I'm going to hang up for just a minute. I'll call you right back on my cellular phone, okay? Where are you exactly?"

"Upstairs" was the reply.

"Good you stay right there and answer the phone on the very first ring. Do you understand me?"

Once she had the child's assurances Scully hung up the phone and dashed for the door. From the sounds of it Mulder was losing it. Scully had been expecting this a lot sooner. The past few weeks had been terribly hard on everyone. Scully just prayed that the situation wasn't as bad as Sam thought.

Once in the car, Scully immediately dialed the number. As promised, Samantha answered the phone before it had finished its first ring. Dana asked if the situation had changed at all. The little girl said no. Dana then began talking about anything and everything, only half aware of the answers. She just wanted to try to distract Sam and calm her down a bit.

Scully, on the other hand, wanted to cry. She wanted to cry for Samantha. She wanted to cry for Mulder. And she wanted to cry for herself. God help her, she was feeling sorry for herself. She had just lost a dear friend. But poor little Samantha had lost a mother. Mulder had lost a wife. Dana didn't think she had much right to pity herself at this point. As she and the little girl chattered away, Scully's mind drifted back to that day only three weeks ago.

Mulder and Scully had just come back from lunch and were talking in her office. Since her promotion, they hadn't been able to work together much. They still saw a lot of each other though. They had lunch together at least once a week and Scully spent an embarrassing amount of her free time at the Mulder residence.

Dana vividly remembered the conversation, a debate on the pros and cons of chunky peanut butter, that the two had been engaged in when the phone rang.

"Mulder." He had answered as he done for years.

"Yes..," he answered cautiously. "Yes."

Dana could tell that something was very wrong by the sudden look of shock on Mulder's face.

He swallowed hard "There must be some mistake ."

After a moment he said, "Of course. I'm on my way."

His hands were shaking visibly as he replaced the receiver.

"Mulder? What is it?" Scully asked with concern.

Silence lingered for several heartbeats before he answered. "That was the police...There's been an accident. They want me down at Memorial Hospital."

Dana had driven him down to the hospital in silence. Mulder just stared out the window. Every few minutes he repeated "It's a mistake, that's all."

But there had been no mistake. The officer that met them at the hospital told them the entire story. Tess and Sam had been running some errands. Another car had run a red light and had struck the driver's side of their car at nearly 50 MPH demolishing that portion of the vehicle. Even though she had been wearing a seatbelt, Tess had been killed instantly.

Samantha however, had been sitting on the passenger's side of the car. The child safety seat had protected her from any serious physical damage. However, it had taken the rescue team nearly twenty minutes to get her out of the mangled car. By that time Samantha had been trapped with her dead mother for half an hour. She had been hysterical and the paramedics had been forced to sedate her.

Mulder had listened to the officer. He then quietly demanded to see his wife. Scully cried silently as she watched Mulder give his beloved Tess one last kiss. He had then stood straight up, closed his eyes for a moment, and sighed. When he opened his eyes again, Dana tried to read his expression but his face was blank. Without another word he turned and left the morgue.

He had gone straight to Samantha's room, scooped the sleeping child from the bed and had left the hospital without a word to anyone.

At the funeral two days later, Mulder had stood stoically before the coffin. There had only been a handful of other mourners present. Dana stood next to him and had tried to comfort him but he wouldn't let her touch him. He stood there with that blank stare plastered on his face. Samantha had spent the entire time crying pitifully on her father's shoulder. Mulder had carried her the entire time but hardly seemed to notice her presence.

Dana had thought that Mulder was simply in shock. Given a day or two he would accept what had happened and then he would begin the normal grieving process. However, on the following Monday morning he had been in the office as usual. Dana had tried to talk to him but his reactions had been withdrawn, he had calmly thrown her out of his office. He had said some pretty nasty things to her too.

Despite everything, Dana had tried to stay as close as she could, stopping by the house every night. Even though Mulder had been totally disinterested in anything she tried to do, Samantha needed her. Every night for the first week, the little girl had cried herself to sleep in Dana's arms. Dana had shed her tears at the same time.

Dana had liked Tess a lot. The two women had never had much in common, but they both relied on each other's understanding and friendship. Dana had been Mulder's *best man* at the wedding and had been in the waiting room when Samantha was born. Dana had always admired Tess's ability to accept the unique relationship that she and Mulder shared. Most women would probably have felt threatened by Dana's presence, but not Tess. She had been a very special person. Dana was pulled from her thoughts as she reached the house.

"I can see your car!" Sam squealed happily.

Dana stepped from the car and glanced at the bedroom window. She could make out the small silhouette waving frantically at her.

"I can see you too sweetheart." Dana waved back. "You hang up now and go back to bed while I talk with your dad, okay?"

"Alright," the little girl yawned. "Everything's gonna be okay now right?"

"Sure," Dana replied with a confidence that she didn't feel. "Good night" Dana terminated the connection and watched the window until the light winked out. She then walked up the walk to the front door. Without bothering to knock she tried the door. It wasn't locked. That in itself was unusual for Mulder.

Scully entered the house and went looking for Mulder. She found him in the living room. The room itself was immaculately clean. No books or magazines out of place. No papers lying around. There * was* a blanket and a pillow on the couch. On the coffee table there was a nearly empty bottle of Jack Daniels. Mulder himself was crouched in the corner, his head hung low. In one hand he held an empty glass and in the other, his Glock 19.

"Mulder?" Dana asked gently. "Are you okay?"

When she got no response, she crouched down next to him and gently put a hand on his shoulder. He flinched away fast, as though he'd been electrocuted.

"What are you doing here?" he asked defensively.

"Samantha called me," Dana replied as gently as she could. "She was worried about you."

Mulder slowly stood up, leaning against the wall for support.

"Go home Scully." Mulder sighed.

Scully looked into his eyes, hoping to read his thoughts. However, she could read no pain or depression in his eyes. There was only blankness. That blankness worried her.

"Mulder, what are you doing?" She ignored his previous comment.

Mulder didn't yell or even raise his voice "Getting drunk." he said flatly.

"Yes, I can see that." After a moment she added. "It won't help you know."

"Nothing helps. Everything hurts. Now just leave me alone." He walked over to the table, picked up the bottle and downed the remaining liquid within.

"I'll leave.. if you really want me too. But first, give me the gun. I'll give it back to you on Monday."

"No, just leave...Now." He stood in the middle of the room with his shoulders slumped defeatedly.

Scully thought, * this isn't working. try another approach*

She strode up to him and said angrily "If you think I'm going just walk away and let you turn Sam into an orphan, your kidding yourself!"

"You'll take care of Sam. You won't let anyone hurt her." He said morosely.

"You're damn right I won't! I won't let you hurt her either." Dana yelled. "That child has just lost her mother, I won't let her lose her father too."

Dana took a step toward Mulder, intending to wrestle him if necessary. But in that instant, Mulder's attitude changed violently. He whirled around to face Scully and she suddenly found herself staring down the barrel of Fox Mulder's gun.

"Get out NOW!" Mulder screamed at her.

For one brief moment, Scully was truly frightened. She flinched a bit before she could stop herself. She knew that her fear was reflected in her eyes but she refused to back down.

They stood frozen, Mulder pointing his gun at Scully's head, for several heartbeats. Then, the gun began to waver. A look of great sorrow came over Mulder's face and he dropped the gun to the carpeting and stared at it as though it were a snake.

They were both obviously shaking.

"Oh Scully, " Mulder whispered "I nearly killed you. I'm so sorry."

He backed himself into the corner and began to curl into a fetal position.

"It's okay." Dana soothed. She knelt down and slid over to the gun, separated the clip from the barrel and slipped each piece into a separate pocket. She then knelt beside Mulder and tried to comfort him.

"It hurts, Dana. " He began to rock back and forth, clutching his midsection as though he were in physical pain.

Dana put her arms around her old friend and listened patiently as he began to babble incoherent phrases. She swallowed back her own tears and allowed Mulder to mourn as he should. Finally he let down all his defenses and simply cried silently on her shoulder, breathing in deep hiccupping motions.

Several hours later, Dana woke up in darkness. She was sitting on the floor in Mulder's living- room with her back propped against the wall. She was going to be really sore tomorrow, but it would be worth it. Mulder lay, curled next to her, on the floor.

Dana looked up to see Samantha standing in the middle of the room.

"Sam, its late," she whispered.

"I had a bad dream." the little girl answered. Dana hoped that the child's trouble sleeping was only related to the recent turmoil in her life and was not a hereditary trait.

"Come here," Dana said quietly. "And bring that blanket from the couch."

Samantha brought both the blanket and pillow and handed them to Scully. Scully propped the pillow behind her head as Sam curled up next to her on the available side.

Scully gently covered herself and Sam with on part of the blanket and tucked the other end around Mulder's sleeping form.

As the two began to drift off to sleep, Dana said "Your dad is going to be okay, Sam."

"I know." was the sleepy reply.

"You can always count on me for anything. You know that don't you?"

"Yes." The little girl yawned.

"I'm your friend. I'll always be here for you, I promise," Dana added.

This time there was no answer. Samantha was fast asleep.

Several minutes later, as Dana began to drift off too, she heard Mulder say "Can I count on that promise too?"

"Haven't you always?" she smiled.

"Ever since the day I met you," he replied.

"Go to sleep, Mulder " Dana sighed. Everything would be alright now. They still had a long way to go, but the hardest part was over. They could all start to heal now.

"G'night, Dana."

"Night, Fox."

Then there was silence.

The End

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