Missing

Title: . . . missing . . .
Author:
Fandom: X-Files
Character: Dana Scully
Rating: SFW
Summary: Counting the days.
Notes: Post-series Scully angst.

“This your first tattoo?”

She sits backwards in the chair, her arms crossed beneath her chin. She has worn a low-backed tank top just for this occasion. She hadn’t expected to talk, but this artist is young and curious.

She says, “It’s my second.”

The needle starts to buzz. She winces in anticipation. “William—is he your husband?”

She closes her eyes as the slow drag of the needle begins. “No,” she whispers. “He’s my son.”

***

Things she misses.

She misses her apartment, her mother, Mulder’s fish tank, William’s morning noises. She misses Frohike’s leers and Langly’s t-shirts. She misses wearing a badge and being an authority figure. She misses doing good, being good, feeling good.

She misses Skinner’s gruff voice and Monica’s wide smile and Doggett’s soft drawl. She misses her baby. She misses her friends.

She misses her hair.

Mulder dyed it the second  night, a dark brown that made her skin look sallow. She bleached his hair and they talked about him growing a beard. They talked about where they would go and what they would live on and who they would try to find. They did not say “home” or “friends” or “family” or “worry.” They did not say “William.”

She misses William. He had soft little feet and curious fingers. He had bright eyes. He loved to smile. He would smile at her when she was feeling the worst, as if he knew he was the only joy she had. “I love you, Willie,” she would whisper and he would gurgle and laugh. “I love you more than anything. Anyone.”

But it had turned out to be a lie.

***

Mornings, she rises too early and showers, puts on a uniform and flat-soled shoes, and serves coffee and pancakes to truckers, travelers, drifters like herself. People who know not to ask questions like “Where are you from?”

Sometimes a stranger to the life comes in and asks. She says, “Kansas,” sometimes. Or “Florida.” Or “Vermont.” She likes to say she’s from Vermont, and she invents a life for herself there: hippie parents, growing up in a maple-tree forest, enjoying the colors of a Vermont fall.

She does not say “San Diego” or “Georgetown.”

“You married?” they will say with a glance at her finger for a glint of gold or a untanned line.

“No,” she will say, and it is the only part of her day that feels real.

***

She misses shoes.

Soft leather. Chunky heels. Buckles and ties and straps over her ankles. She misses silk hose and garter straps. She misses tailored suits and lacy underwear. She misses satin pajamas.

She misses her bed. She misses feeling warm.

***

“What happened to you?” the tattoo artist asks, and she closes her eyes. Talking is difficult—adrenaline rushes through her body from the small patch of burning skin. It is almost like sex, if sex involved more blood and pain. Her fingertips tingle. Her toes clench.

“What—what do you mean.”

“You’ve got all these scars back here.”

She remembers pain. Too many kinds of pain. The creature moving up her spine and the insinuating voice inside her head: “Precious love, good girl, fine little niblet for me to have, crunch your bones, dear heart . . .” The slice of the knife and the sound of Doggett’s gun before pain erased everything.

She misses Doggett.

“Impromptu emergency surgery,” she says. She misses telling the truth.

“Shit,” the artist mutters. “You’re a freak, girl.” The buzzing goes on.

***

There was a time when she missed nothing, when she had all that she could ask. She was pretty, young and smart, and life was only to be lived.

Now she is tired. She frowns too much. Her mind feels soggy and barren, like peat. Get up, pour coffee, make change, go home, lie down, try to sleep, try to get through the night without weeping.

Repeat.

Repeat ad infinitum.

She has no place to turn for comfort and even if she did, she has no words for her grief. Only that she misses.

***

She misses Mulder.

“Don’t wait up,” he said. “I won’t be long.” He kissed her. “Love you.”

“Love you,” she said. She didn’t wait up.

He didn’t come home.

There wasn’t enough money to pay rent much less bury him, so she had to declare him a ward of the county and let him be buried in Potter’s Field.

She placed the cross in his hand and bent to whisper, but no words came.

She left that town. She never looked back.

***

She goes to church and cannot pray.

***

The day is coming and with each day she is more helpless. She doesn’t know who to talk to. Who to trust. She starts at every stranger and wonders is this the day they’ll kill her.

She misses feeling calm.

She misses sleep, and good dreams, and warm tea in jade cups while Mulder’s voice rubs against her ear.

She misses her mother.

***

“Do you have somebody to help you take care of this?” the artist says.

“No.” She stares at the sample art hung on the wall. Mermaids and skulls and dragons. But she had chosen a simple alphabet and black ink, nothing that would challenge a tattoo artist of any skill.

He touches her neck. His touch is light. “You’ll need help.” It’s in his voice that she may be fifteen years older than he is but he’ll still be happy to take her home and put lotion on the tattoo until the skin is soft and healed. His home will be a small apartment, a studio maybe, smelling of pachouli and pot, and he will have the Grateful Dead on LP. He will have friends in bands and stale pizza in the fridge. He will give her the book that changed his life and it will be one she’s read before.

For a moment she wants to go home with him, to lie in his bed—which will be a creaky futon—and let this boy try to make up for all the things she’s missing.

She misses being touched. She misses her name on another’s lips.

“I’ll be okay,” she says and rises from the chair. “Thank you. You do beautiful work.” She pays her bill, tips him more than she really can afford, and leaves the tattoo studio, to count down the days until the end of the world.

e n d

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