Feria #40
by not jenny

The baby wears a stupid cap, but Scully doesn't notice things like that anymore.

Take an order, jot it down, bring out the plates. Occasionally spit in a particularly ornery customer's soup du jour. Top off everyone's coffee, call the men 'honey' and 'sweetie' and the women 'dearie.' Don't get too close, don't give a damn.

Her life is simple, now, uncomplicated. Just the way she wants it.


At night, she lies in bed and does the math: two years, nine months, three weeks, four days, and fourteen hours since she last sang to the baby. One month later, and Mulder was in her apartment, crying and screaming. "How could you," he yelled, his voice harsh and breaking, "How could you? How could you?" Slumped to the floor, he sobbed and couldn't meet her eyes.

Two years, eight months, three weeks, three days, and eleven hours since she walked out of her own living room. Since she drove away without looking back. Since she broke Mulder's heart.

(Not hers, neither of them; maybe they never were.)


She cried herself to sleep for a week after she left, then put her military upbringing to good use and pulled herself up by her bootstraps. Picked an ID from her collection, one even Mulder didn't know about, and set about creating a new life. She decided to wait tables because it was something she'd never done before.

Because soup or salad is not a life or death decision.

She broke a plate on her first day, when a dark-haired man carrying a baby sat down at one of her tables. His nose was too big, and he told stupid jokes. The baby wore a bunny hat. She dropped a plate and spilt a pot of coffee on the counter before realizing that the man's eyes were the wrong colour. That the baby was a girl. Bumming a smoke from another waitress, she went outside for a quick break.

And it burned, when she first inhaled, and she was alive.


She doesn't drop plates anymore, or notice dark-haired men with babies. She does her job, goes home, comes back again in the morning. Her life is easy, now, if not particularly exciting.

A small apartment, barely furnished, on the Jersey shore. No car, but a vintage red bicycle with a metal basket for groceries; her legs have never been so toned. She carries a spare gun in her purse along with a new identity and her work apron.

Elizabeth Ann Travers, 5'2", brown hair and eyes. Feria #40 and a standing prescription for coloured contacts under the name of Amy Lynn McCarthy.

Dearest Dana no more, no longer anyone's everything.

It's far easier than she ever imagined, all this deception.


"Our soups today are chicken noodle and cream of broccoli, and the specials are on the second to last page of your menu. Can I start you with anything to drink?"

And his hair is specked with grey, this man, and the boy at his side is colouring furiously. His hair is specked with gray, and his nose is too big, and he tells stupid jokes. He flirts with her, starts to call her Scully.

The boy interrupts, asking for a milkshake.

The man calls her Scully, his dark eyes twinkling, and she falters. Scribbles on her pad, 'choc shake,' scratches at the page with her pen. Draws an alien head and heads for the kitchen.

Two years, nine months... Two years, eight months...





"Mulder, no. Just don't." And she turns, spilling the boy's milkshake, she spins and falls to the floor.

He's talking, and there are all these words she no longer recognizes. And he grabs her, hugging her so tightly it hurts, and then they're kissing.

They're kissing, and it's Mulder.


She sits next to the boy, hands tightly clasping Mulder's across the table.

"Sky." The boy pushes his colouring book towards her, pointing at a purple and red scribble in the top right corner. "Sun." She starts to cry when he points out the clouds, the grass, the blue and orange tree.

She remembers everything.

Her sister dying in her place. Her son, moving his mobile, kidnapped. Mulder, dead and buried. And she tightens her grip on Mulder's hands, squeezes until he pulls away in pain.

"Jesus, Scully, you been working out?"

"Mulder," her eyebrow quirks of its own free will, "I have to get back to work."


She dips the washrag in the bleach, holding it down until she can feel it burning under her skin. Scrubs the counters, the sinks, the tables. Her hands are dry; they bleed. The bleach stings her eyes.

She does not look at table 13.

Everyone she loves dies, so she doesn't love anymore. She is not strong enough, not nearly enough, to survive killing anyone else; it's simple, really, her philosophy: no love equals no pain. The equation for safety.

She writes out their check, scrawling "compliments of the house" at the bottom.


And when she looks, an hour later, they still haven't left. They sit, the big-nosed man and the smiling boy, and they wait. Mulder and William. Sitting in her diner, crayons sprawled all over the table, waiting.

She darts outside. Lights her cigarette; inhales.

Something feels wrong.

She sits on the back step and begins to review the evidence. Placing the facts in little plastic baggies in her mind. One: a man and a boy. Two: in her diner. Three: waiting. And that's when it hits her, the truth; that's when it all becomes clear.

This is too easy. Too simple. Mulder should be mad, upset, emotional; something, at any rate, and not this shell of a man ready to kiss and make up. Nothing this easy is true. This isn't real; it can't be.

Looking in the window, she tries to read the man's lips. "We're almost-"

She is right. This is wrong.

She stands up, wipes off her hands, and heads back inside. Her gun is in her apron.


This time they almost got me, she thinks, I almost believed.

Trust no one, Mulder used to remind her. Trust no one.

She takes aim and shoots, two explosions in the silent room. Two bodies down. She wipes the gun and, leaving it on an empty table, walks out. Time to start again.

Mulder would be so proud.

The baby at the next table starts to cry, and Scully wonders what his mother was thinking, dressing him in that silly hat.


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