Title: Day by Night and Night by Day
Author: dlynn
Feedback: dlynn1...@my-deja.com
Category: vignette, Mulder POV, MSR M/Sk friendship
Distribution: Please, don't forward to Gossamer; I'll take care of that. Others, feel free to link to my webpage. I'd just like to know ... so I might visit.
Spoilers: Post-episode 'Dead/Alive'
Rating: PG
Disclaimers: I wish they were mine ... sigh.

Summary: Hmmm... a dream? No ... a nightmare ... Surely, not a memory?

Author's notes: This would probably be considered part of the Rama series, in that Marty does make a "small appearance." However, it's not necessary to have read "Rama." or 'But a Hope that is seen" in order to understand this story.

Dlynn's novel length, stand-alone, and post-episode stories can be found at http://home.mpinet.net/laster

How can I then return in happy plight
That am debarred the benefit of rest?
When day's oppression is not eased by night.
But day by night and night by day oppressed.
And each [though enemies to either's reign]
Do in consent shake hands to torture me,
The one by toil, the other to complain
How far I toil, still farther off from thee.

I tell the day to please him thou are bright,
And dost him grace when clouds do blot the heaven:
So flatter I the swart-complexioned night,
When sparkling stars twire not though gild'st the even
But day doth daily draw my sorrows longer,
And night doth nightly make grief's length seem stronger.

William Shakespeare [Sonnet 28]
Day by Night and Night by Day

He woke again. Nothing spectacular in that, in and of itself. Really. Just waking. After almost forty years he could hardly say it was a new experience. To wake ... to open his eyes, to glimpse that first sight.

Different though ... each time -- just different.

Mulder licked his lips; his tongue rimmed the circumference of the outer edges of his mouth. Parched.

Barren. Dry as any desert. Saliva that should moisten his mouth and provide a soothing balm was slow in coming. He'd sipped so much water in the last several hours he felt like a camel, replenishing his storage tanks. He hoped it wasn't for another long desert haul.

Enough ... no more travel. He'd had his fill ... in this and any other time zone.

As he blinked, Mulder felt the sticky, grimy, sandy remnants of sleep occlude his eyes. If his hands weren't so damn heavy, he'd raise them and wipe away the grit.

But then if a frog had wings, it wouldn't bump its butt when it jumped, now would it?

So ... he licked his lips and he blinked his eyes and he left his arms where they were, firmly attached to his shoulders ... just north of his hands, lying snug beneath thin, cotton sheets. At least ... that's where they were the last time he looked. But he'd hate to start an unsubstantiated rumor he couldn't confirm. After all ... he couldn't get his eyes 'quite' open, and his limbs had been known to betray him before. And just ... disappear.

Hmmm... a dream? No ... a nightmare ... Surely, not a memory?

Reality had a way of shifting like the desert sands ... into more mirages than a sappy Hope and Crosby 'On the Road' film. And if his eyes didn't deceive him too badly, the man seated in the chair beside his bed couldn't be Dorothy Lamour -- even on her worst bad hair day.

"Man, those desert winds really sandblast everything away don't they?" Mulder murmured, staring at the mirage's smooth, bald head.

"What?" The mirage shifted in his seat.

Mulder finally found the spit he'd sought. His mouth salivated as he smelled coffee's dark rich aroma. "If you're not really there, and that's not really coffee ... I'd ... just prefer not to know, okay?"

"If I weren't really here, and this weren't really coffee, I assure you I'd have picked something that tasted a hell of a lot better than this sludge." Skinner sipped from his cup and wrinkled his nose in distaste.

"Mirages taste better than crap. Don't they?"

"Actually, most have tasted bitter to me, but that's only because I've been deceived so often. Besides what would you care ... you're only a mirage, anyway. Just not as pretty as I had hoped for..."

"Scully's laying down in an empty room next door. Doctor's and AD's orders."

"Uh ... huh. And how much of the 7th cavalry did you have to use to employ that maneuver."

Skinner looked towards the large glass window, partially covered with half-open blinds. "Actually ... it only took one little old lady from the housekeeping staff. She can be ... quite persuasive."

Mulder's gaze trailed behind his boss's, and he caught sight of a small, silver haired woman standing at the window, her nose perched against the glass, laughter lines prominent as they kissed her face when she smiled.

She blew a theatrical smooch in Skinner's direction, waved at Mulder ... and mouthed something? before she drifted from the window.

"Later, Mulder, Marty said later." Skinner answered Mulder's unspoken question.

"Marty? Don't tell me she's just another person I've conveniently forgotten."


"Yeah, the guys ... Frohike and his merry maids were here um... sometime--" Mulder's voice trailed off, but then he shook his head and continued. "I couldn't ... I couldn't remember Langly. I looked at his face ... and drew a complete blank."

Skinner chuckled, although Mulder could see how forced his attempt was. "Must have been pretty bad the last few months, Mulder, to make you forget something that buttugly."

Mulder's chin dropped to his chest and his eyes half closed like the eyelids were now too heavy to lift.

With a weary sigh he blinked again; he noted the scar that was barely visible at the top of his hospital gown.

Hmmm... a dream? No ... a nightmare ... Surely, not a memory?

Mulder cleared his throat as he looked up at Skinner, who'd averted his eyes.

"No ... not too bad at all," he whispered.

Okay ... that did it. Mulder refused to give in to the dead weights attached just south of his shoulders, and he pushed his arms against the mattress, fisting his fingers into the blankets.

He attacked, he propelled, he shoved, and he forced his body to move.

Inches ... a few imperceptible inches and his head was finally higher ... than his chest.

Skinner set his styrofoam cup onto the small bedside table; he eased from his chair and crossed to the bed before Mulder could wave him aside. Or rather ... before Mulder could think of waving him aside. Damn the dead weights.

"Switched colognes, Sir," Mulder muttered into Skinner's chest as the AD leaned over the bed and grabbed him by the forearms, hefting him as though he weighed no more than a bird mirage. "It works for me, Sir ... but then again, I've been dead for three months. I wouldn't go by my olfactory testimonial."

"Shut up, Mulder."

Mulder felt his backside snuggle up to the pillows behind him. Skinner moved away from the bed. He sat down in the chair, and Mulder punched the small button, which raised the head of his bed. Finally ... sitting up.

Mulder didn't feel quite so vulnerable.

And that's all that mattered ...right. To not feel so vulnerable. So exposed ... so what? Frightened.


Skinner's eyebrows raised in query as he gestured to a second cup of coffee seated on the small table on wheels.

Mulder braved a smirk; at least he thought he did.

Facial muscles didn't respond as he hoped, either. "If that tastes as bad as I hope it does, I'd kiss ... what's his name ... um, Kersh, for a taste, Sir."

Mulder closed his eyes. He felt the muscles in his neck tighten and the grimace upon his face. And with slow and plodding effort, he raised his left hand from beneath the covers. His eyes opened and he looked at his hand ... the way it shook, the way it shimmied, the way it did exactly what he wanted it to do, as it moved forward towards the table and nirvana sitting on its Formica top.

Skinner's body leaned forward ... and then as though he thought better, sat back.

"Good call, Sir, I think I'd like to try this solo."

"Say the word, Mulder," Skinner said, acknowledging Mulder's plea for independence.

Mulder's hand clasped the styrofoam. His fingers wrapped around the warm, porous cup. Hesitating, he allowed his palm and his fingers to adjust to the texture and feel.

Finally, firm in his resolve, Mulder began the arduous trek to his mouth.

"Careful, Mulder, it's still damn hot," Skinner said, his tense body language evidence of his desire to help, no matter what his agent wanted.

Mulder's mouth closed over the rim of the cup and he slowly and gently tilted the bottom upward. The hot liquid scalded as it slid past his tongue. He closed his eyes; he inhaled the aroma; he felt the warmth seep down his esophagus. And he opened his eyes.

"And the word is ... the sweat off Frohike's ass would taste better than this. I think I'm gonna come."

"Don't you think that's more information than A.D.

Skinner really wants to hear?" Scully asked, her smile evident in her voice, if not upon her face, as she stood just inside the threshold to his room.

"He asked," Mulder said. "Besides, Scully, he's just a mirage. Just like you ..."

Scully insulated herself behind her mask, but not before Mulder noticed the confusion in her eyes as she looked at their boss. Skinner just scooted back his chair, uncrossed his long legs and stood. He paced to the end of the bed. The steely glint Mulder knew so well focused upon him.

"Mulder ... behave. Or I'll have to send Marty in here to kick your butt."

At the mention of the custodian, Scully smiled -- the mask temporarily laid aside.

"I think I can handle him, Sir. I've had eight years of experience putting up with his crap."

Skinner edged through the doorway. As the AD walked behind her, his fingers brushed Scully's. Mulder felt the saliva depart from his mouth again when Scully returned the gesture, squeezing Skiner's hand.

With the quiet 'snick' of the door closing, Scully stepped farther into the darkened room. Instead of choosing Skinner's chair, she settled for a much smaller, upright seat and positioned it as close to the bed as she could. Just as before ... as she'd been the last several times he remembered waking, Scully settled herself across him. Her head nestled over his chest, right above his breastbone, and her breaths began to coordinate with his heartbeat -- in tandem -- lub dub, exhale out, lub dub, inhale in.

Mulder breathed in the fresh scent of shampoo, and he brought his right arm forward, to slide it across the crown of her head. His left hand -- the one that had gotten its sea legs treking after coffee -- came to rest on her forearm that encircled his chest. He gently stroked her soft, downy sweater, then allowed her to move her arm so that she might slip her fingers into his.

Their fingers tangled together -- like limbs, sweaty, satiated ... hers soft, his angular ... brushing against each other ... his knee insinuated between her legs ... tangling in contented afterglow.

Hmmm... a dream? ... a nightmare ... no! surely, please God, a memory?

"Mulder, do you want to talk about the baby?"

Mulder tightened his grip on her fingers and smoothed restlessly at her hair. Another thing he'd forgotten?

Had he known? Should he know ...?

"Scully ... I--"

"Mulder, it's all right. Really. So much, you've been through so much," she whispered into the scratchy cotton of his hospital gown.

Mulder looked at the door and frowned. The place Skinner had just been ... Then his gaze was drawn once more to the window ... to the small, little old lady with silver-white hair who peered at them with such pleasure. And he felt his life ... laid across his chest in supplication. He felt as though the old woman urged him to ask.

"Scully, how long?" he whispered.

"About seven months."

"Seven months ..." Mulder tried to wrap his mind around the concept. Scully, pregnant for seven months. "I guess we can rule out the pizza man."

Scully chuckled.

"Actually, I think it was during our Thai period," she said as she gave him a gentle squeeze and raised her head from his chest. Tears pooled in her eyes crystalline, salty testimony to the depth of her feelings -- and dripped down her cheeks, onto her mouth.

She leaned forward and captured his bottom lip with her own. Her lips, moist from her tears, reminded him of sunflowers ... and sweet -- a dichotomy his brain refused to analyze as he opened his mouth to her and took his fill for the first time in months.

the End

Author's Notes: I'll leave all the "how-to's and wherefor's" for someone else to write. For me ... it's enough that he's home and that they are together.

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