Among the Ashes

By Mary Kleinsmith (

Category: Post Ep for The End

Spoilers: The End

Summary: Mulder's calm couldn't last forever

Rating: PG

Classification: MTA, SA, MA

Archive: Yes, anywhere

Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, and everything related to them belong to Chris Carter and 10-13, with magic added by David and Gillian. I'm only borrowing them.

Feedback: Please, please, please, please, please, please, please?

Among the Ashes

After all these years, you'd think she'd be used to the phone ringing at all hours. But the one single person who'd call her at 3:30 am was most certainly not the head security guard of the J Edgar Hoover building

"Special Agent Scully?"

"Yes, this is she."

"Agent Scully, this is Jim McClellan at the Bureau." She waited for him to say something more, but nothing came.

"Is there a problem?" Scully asked, only too aware of the late hour and oddness of it all.

"Yes. . . sort of, anyway. The janitorial staff and fire department are trying to clean up what's left of your office. By the way, I'm really sorry about the fire," he added in a compassionate voice.

"Thank you. I'm afraid most of the bureau doesn't share your condolences, but they're appreciated nonetheless." The guard didn't seem to know how to respond to that, so she added, "What's going on with the cleanup?"

"Nothing at the moment, Agent. Nothing at all. Agent Mulder is here, Ma'am, and he won't let anybody into the office to work. Even threatened to shoot one of them, although I think he was kidding." The nervous chuckle showed that maybe he wasn't quite as sure as he wished he was.

"No doubt," she responded distractedly. Damn. She should have known that this was going too well. Mulder had seemingly dealt with the destruction of the X-Files with calm, speaking quietly when spoken to. By all appearances, he was fine right up to the time she'' dropped him off at his apartment.

"Agent Scully?" She realized she'd missed his last few sentences while lost in thought.

"Oh, sorry, Jim. What was that?"

"I asked if you can help us."

"Yeah, no problem. I'll talk to him."

"Should I put Agent Mulder on the phone?"

"No, that's okay. I'm coming in. Give me about twenty-five minutes."

Scully scrambled out of bed, grabbing for jeans, a baggy sweater, and her sneakers, not even bothering with the niceties of socks, underpants, and bra.

She hardly remembered the drive to the Bureau; one moment she'd gotten into her car, and the next was suddenly pulling into the Hoover Building parking lot. Her mind had been on her partner, but she couldn't say for the life of her what those thoughts had been.

The corridors were darkened, and while her logical mind knew it was energy conservation, she couldn't help but feel in it a sense of . . . mourning? Yes, that was it. But whether it was mourning for the death of her division or merely its temporary closing remained to be seen.

At this time of day, she didn't need to wait long for the elevator, nor did she encounter another person until arriving at the basement level. She exchanged a nod with the security officer before proceeding down the hall toward their office.

The door was open, couldn't even be closed truth be told. It was too badly damaged from the flames and water. The lights weren't working either, but those in the hall spilled into the office, illuminating in particular the kneeling figure on the floor. His hands were moving, collected, it seemed, but she could not see specifics.

"Mulder?" she uttered quietly, not wishing to startle him.

Mulder squinted up at her for just a moment before turning back to his task. "What are you doing?" she added, struck by the look of loss she'd glanced in his eyes.

"I can save them." The comment was so low she almost didn't catch it, but it was enough to draw her eyes to the fragile objects he held in careful fingers. To anybody else, they'd simply be the charred remains of paper, but she knew that, to Mulder, they were his life. Mulder had turned back to the rubble, as oblivious to Scully's presence as he'd been earlier that evening, when she'd taken him into her arms in this very office.

Kneeling beside him in the ashes, she'd laid a gentle hand on his arm. "Mulder, let's go home."

"No!" he exclaimed with more energy than she thought he was capable. "It'll be gone by morning, Scully."

"What will be gone?" As she spoke, she noticed that he was placing each piece of blackened paper in its own clear plastic protective cover.

"The files!" he said with frustration. "We can put them back together, Scully, but only if we have all the pieces." The desperation in his voice was evident, his voice cracking with emotion.

"Mulder, we don't even know if the X-Files division will exist after this. What good will all this be?" He'd continued working while she talked to him, not seeming to hear until he responded.

"You don't understand." He turned desperate, pained eyes to her. "I'll do it on my own time if I have to. I need them." He turned away once again, adding, "she's in here," and then even quieter, "and so are you." It was a barely choked-out near-sob, and Scully's heart went out to him.

"How about if I help you. It'll go faster that way."

His eyes wore a pleasantly shocked expression as he nodded to her, and she left the room for a few moments, pulling out her cell phone.

It took longer than she would have expected for Skinner to answer his phone, and when he did, he didn't sound the least bit groggy from sleep. Still, there was decorum to be followed.

"I'm sorry if I woke you, sir." She didn't identify herself, and he didn't need her to.

"That's okay, Agent Scully. I wasn't able to sleep anyway. What's happening?"

"Sir, I'm at the office, and Mulder's trying to see if anything can be salvaged, but the crew here wants to clean up. Could you possibly ask them to hold off for a day or two?"

"Scully, what was left in that office is just ashes."

"With respect, Sir, Mulder doesn't think so." There was silence on the line, so she resorted to a word she rarely used. "Please?"

"Very well, Agent Scully. But be sure that he realizes that anything he may recover is still Bureau property."

"How can that be, Sir, since there wouldn't have been anything recovered if Mulder hadn't stopped the cleanup?"

She heard Skinner sight deeply. "Very well, Agent. Point taken. Just keep him out of trouble."

"Yes, sir," she responded with a relieved sigh. "You'll call to stop the cleanup right away?"

"Sure. After all, I've got nothing else to do." He sighed again, and Scully thought how she'd never before realized just how often he did that. "Are you still taking a few days off?"

"Yes, sir. We'll see you after that. And thank you, Sir."

"You're welcome, Scully." The connection was broken as she returned to their office.

Scully fought to keep her eyes from tearing as she observed her partner. His nervous energy having been exhausted, he lay curled on the dirty floor, sound asleep. His last few minutes hadn't been as worry free for him as she'd hoped, as evidenced by the tears lying unabashedly on his cheeks. Had he been unconvinced of her motives when she'd left his side? Or just dubious that she would be able to convince anybody of the need for more time to see what could be recovered of what had formerly been the X-Files?

"C'mon, Mulder," she whispered to him for the second time that night. "I'll take you home."

Mulder was groggy, but wasn't about to be pulled away so easily. "No. . . Have to stay . . ."

"I called Skinner, Mulder. He's going to give us time."

Her partner peered up at her blearily. "Skinner?"

"Yeah. He told them to hold off cleaning up until you were through here." He looked like he wasn't sure he believed her. "It's true. You can sleep, Mulder. We can deal with all this tomorrow."

Mulder rose unsteadily to his feet, not resisting when Scully supported him at his elbow. She was surprised at just how much of his weight she needed to bear. Then Scully finally got what he'd been unable to return when they'd stood here earlier this evening. Mulder faced her, and took her in his arms in an embrace that comforted them both.

"I'll do it, Scully. I'll bring them back from the ashes and it will be a new beginning for the X-Files. No matter how long it takes."

"You don't have to promise me anything, Mulder. You see, I trust you."

The End.