Sent: Monday, November 27, 2000 9:23 PM
Title: Bells For Her (1/1)
Author: Tara Avery
Spoilers: Nothing recent.
Classification: MSR, A
Summary: You have her face and her eyes, but you are not her.
Disclaimer: Not mine. I'm stealing stuff from all over the
Feedback: Welcomed, adored, kissed and framed at:
Archive: Just let me know where it's going, please.
Hearty Thanks To: Livia Balaban for the beta (something soothing
will be forthcoming, my dear) to Cofax for asking some questions
and Kelly Keil for the Ouch.
Bells For Her
* * *
can't stop what's coming
* * *
Memories rise, bubbles of precious oxygen surfacing, surfacing,
leaving him to drown. At least, that's what he's afraid of.
He's afraid that each time a new memory escapes from behind the
walls he's erected, it will never come back. Surfacing only to
flee. It will be the end. What he's most afraid of is that
someday he will have nothing at all left to remember.
His memories of her are the most dangerous. They are wrapped up
in a simultaneous pleasure and pain so intimate that most times
he remembers her, he is left shaking afterwards. The best
memories are like fine chocolate melting under his tongue.
Completely smooth. Slow and thick and so good he never wants it
to end. But it does end. It's there and then it's gone, just
like she was.
That, of course, is a memory he would sooner forget.
(He reached over to embrace her and found only her warmth left on
the blankets. He waited for her to get back from the bathroom.
Then he waited, thinking she would surprise him with breakfast in
bed. It didn't occur to him to think about the lack of kitchen
He stayed in bed until her side had been cold for many, many
hours. He stayed in bed, waiting, because he couldn't bear to
think of the alternatives to washrooms and breakfasts. He waited
an eternity to hear the familiar click of her key in the lock.
She went to get bagels. She went to buy groceries, he
rationalized, because there wasn't anything edible left in the
He waited until the phone started ringing and people started
demanding to know where he was. Where she was. He got out of
bed at last. His tongue felt swollen and fuzzy, stuck to the
roof of his mouth. Poison, he thought. Sedatives. The wine in
the restaurant. The lock on his front door had been picked, none
too expertly. A set-up to make them think it was a random
He waited until everything around him became a hideous shade of
She was still gone, though. Nothing he did now was going to
He tried not to blame himself.
* * *
bells & footfalls & soldiers & dolls
* * *
She remembers, too.
Everything except him.
With lips loosened by cocktails of drugs she might have
recognized at one time (mixed with others not even the most
current medical journals were aware of), she talks. She
remembers. And as she does so, every memory of him is stolen by
doctors with bland faces and vacant eyes. They leave other
memories in his place -- memories close enough to the truth to
terrify her, but far enough away that she won't ever go back.
Without him there is too much darkness in the world. Without
him, all she remembers is the pain. And there is so much pain.
Whereas he hides every memory behind an impenetrable wall, afraid
of where those thoughts might take him, she is excited and
stupid, babbling like a madwoman. Nothing is too small, nothing
too inconsequential. Kisses and love and conspiracies and the
brand of her favorite tea are all the same now.
They are making her into a madwoman, and they know it. They're
proud of it, actually. There is some sick pleasure in watching a
previously calm, collected, polished woman laughing and
gibbering, delirious and unaware of her own nakedness. One of
the doctors cleverly nicknames her Ophelia, and it sticks.
She has been violated before, but never like this.
When she dreams ...
She sees herself as though from a great distance. She is
surprised at the physical changes. She's grown even thinner -
the bones jut out in her face, giving her a skeletal appearance.
She looks like the walking dead. Her hair is longer, lank,
hanging past her shoulders. It is more than a half year's
She looks like her sister.
(Two girls in white lace dresses. It's Easter Sunday. The
family will be heading off to mass soon. The elder pushes the
younger, who is sitting on an old tree swing. The air is cool
against the younger girl's cheeks. Her toes reach skyward,
forward, higher, toward the endless blue. They look very
similar, these siblings with their identical coloring. They are
They do not yet realize that one day in the future the elder
sister will throw her life down in place of the younger: the
victim of a silenced bullet meant for an FBI agent, not a
Who's to say that if that elder sister really knew the future,
she wouldn't have just pushed a little harder, a little higher,
pushed until her little sister stopped laughing and started
That's the funny thing with death, with murder.
Given the choice, nobody really wants to die in the place of
another, no matter what the Bible says.)
* * *
you don't need my voice, i said, you have your own
* * *
"What if there were no such thing as aliens?" he asked her once.
"What are we doing in this crummy hotel room then?" she retorted,
gagging on a mouthful of Chinese food even he had to admit was
nearly inedible. And he wasn't picky.
Another time he asked, "Why is the sky blue?" and she told him.
He had known the answer, of course. He was full of quirky
knowledge like that. He just liked listening to the way she put
all those words and facts together so beautifully. Some people
were artists who could smear colors on canvas. She was an artist
with words -- and she didn't even know it.
If anyone had bothered to ask -- and no one did -- he could have
told them without hesitation that the thing he missed most about
her was not the way that she smelled or her hair or even the
color of her eyes, but the incomparable power of her words.
And sometimes he missed the feeling of her body lying warm and
lovely in his arms -- but that wasn't something he would ever
have told anyone about anyway.
Some things were beyond mere words. Even hers.
* * *
brothers & lovers
* * *
Once upon a time a man and a woman courted each other for seven
years using only words and glances and furtive touches. His hand
on the small of her back was as intimate as a kiss. When she
brushed a lock of hair from his eyes to check for possible head
injuries, it was an 'I love you'.
Finally, the woman decided to stop courting. To stop being
furtive and to start loving. She decorated her apartment with
candles. She scattered rose petals on the kitchen table. She
put the best sheets on the bed and then, feeling that she was
being presumptuous, stripped them and changed to the second-best
sheets. She chilled champagne and baked hors d'oeuvres.
When he came to the door, expecting a quiet dinner, he was
wearing a grey t-shirt and worn jeans. She felt suddenly out of
place in her cashmere sweater and silk skirt. He joked about it
gently "I didn't realize it was black tie" and they both laughed
She spilled champagne all over her silk skirt and had to change
into jeans. She thought the appetizers tasted like cardboard and
she burned the lasagna -- "just the edges, Scully. It's
delicious. Don't worry. You know it beats McDonalds any day of
When she tried to light the candles, her hand -- the same hand
that could wield a scalpel or a Stryker's saw without
flinching -- shook so badly she burned her fingertips.
"It's okay," he tried to tell her.
"It's not," she breathed, sinking into the chair farthest from
him and burying her face in her hands. "I don't know how to do
this. I don't know how to do this with you."
"It's okay," he repeated. He knelt beside her and rubbed her
back in big, comforting circles. "We don't need to know what to
do right away. Just being together like this is nice. It's
taken us seven years to come this far. We can't expect to cover
the rest of the distance in an evening."
"But the stupid lasagna--"
"It doesn't matter, Scully. What matters is that we are here,
the two of us, and there is nothing between us. There are no
pressing cases. There's no tragedy. We don't need lasagna or
candles or champagne or any of this."
She took a deep breath and offered him the barest hint of a
smile. "You'll think I'm a bad cook."
He chuckled lightly. "I imagine you make up for it in other
areas of expertise."
He grinned, eyes twinkling with amusement and a little mischief.
"I meant like being an investigator. A doctor. A partner. A
friend. And maybe I meant a little of that other thing, too.
Not that I have any first hand experience --"
"We can remedy that, I think."
"I hoped you might say that."
And so it went until the day she disappeared.
* * *
and now i speak to you are you in there?
* * *
It happens as quickly as an arm grabbed in a crowd of milling
holiday shoppers. It happens in the space of a heartbeat, a
second which encompasses a million years dying. There is a
supernova of confused recognition in his eyes, a hopefulness, a
shadow of something akin to madness.
"Excuse me," she says, politely, even though her first instinct
is to run -- run -- run until men can't hurt her, break her, rape
her. There are reasons she chooses to live alone. Her past is
not a pretty one.
"Don't you know who I am?" he asks in a voice of shattered glass.
Perhaps she should recognize this voice. Perhaps she should be
happy to hear it. She is none of these things. It has been a
long time since she heard the voice of any man without a secret
tremble of fear. She's wondered if she should see a
psychiatrist, but hasn't. It seems like too much trouble. And
she's never liked doctors.
Now she stands speechless, trapped in a department store with a
wild-eyed man clinging to her arm.
"Scully, it's me. It's Mulder. It's me."
She draws her eyebrows together, concerned and confused.
'Scully' seems like a familiar name, but not one she has ever
been addressed by. She thinks, perhaps, it is the surname of
some friend or Sunday school teacher from her childhood.
"I'm afraid you must have me confused with someone else," she
finally says, pulling her arm back as gently as possible while
still remaining adamant that he let her go. His fingers cling
for a moment too long, then drop away to hang limp at his side.
He looks from her face to her arm to his hand, as though he
doesn't understand the connection.
She shakes her head. There is such longing in his voice. She
wishes for a moment that she could be his Scully, because it
might erase some of the pain she sees in his eyes, the anguish
etched into his skin. He wears a tattoo of pain. Even she can
see that. No one deserves that kind of suffering. "That's not
my name," she states calmly. "I'm sorry."
She turns away, pretending to look at a display of brightly
colored terry towels.
"But you are," his voice pleads behind her. "You have to be.
You have her face, her eyes. You have her voice."
"I'm not her," she protests without turning. "I sincerely hope
you find her, whoever she is, but I can't help you."
* * *
can't stop loving
* * *
When he first sees his Scully -- *his* Scully -- in the
department store, he thinks he's hallucinating. There she
stands, so calm, carefully testing the difference between two
brands of towels.
He needs to touch her. He grabs her arm. He wants desperately
to ask her where the hell she's been and how she could've
forgotten him, left him, but the words don't form. Didn't she
know that he would keep looking for her forever? He had devoted
the first half of his life to his sister -- he certainly wasn't
afraid of devoting the second half to his partner.
There is a mirror behind her. When he grabs her arm, he catches
a glimpse of a strange, gaunt man with wild hair. How'd that
beggar get past the security guards? he thinks, until he
recognizes himself. That beggar's hand is touching his Scully's
He meets her eyes and nearly weeps. After all his searching, his
despair, there is nothing in her eyes, except, perhaps, the
indignation of being touched by a stranger. The humiliation of
being singled out by a madman.
He doesn't blame her.
It isn't until she finally walks away, hugging two plush yellow
towels to her chest, that he realizes she isn't coming back. Not
now, not ever. He's found her only to lose her even more
completely. He wants to shout 'what have they done to you?' to
the heavens, to her, to make her understand, but there is nothing
Rather than deterring him, the expression in her eyes drives him
* * *
can't stop what is on its way
* * *
She drives home very slowly, much to the dismay of the drivers
behind her. She doesn't even hear them honking. There is
something about the man in the department store that makes her
uneasy. He is a disruption in her otherwise simple life. She
has never cared much for disruptions. She doesn't like
surprises. Her own car distresses her. When she left the mall
and walked into the parking lot, she'd been looking for a Ford
Taurus, not her sporty Neon.
It's not only the car. When she pulls into her driveway, her own
home looks alien to her. But there -- there is her name above
the mailbox, and her cat sitting in the window, waiting for her.
She knows the dog will be waiting at the front door, ready to
bowl her over and plaster her hands with slobbery kisses.
She examines the name above the mailbox and says aloud, "You see.
You see, my name is not Scully." But even these words ring false
to her ears.
There are no messages on the answering machine, but then, there
never are. The cat and dog weave around her legs, threatening to
trip her until she pours food into their bowls. She drifts from
room to room turning on lights to make her home feel more lived
in, less empty.
She walks into the living room last. A large Christmas tree is
pushed into one corner, decked with paper rings and strings of
popcorn and cranberries. She wonders who it was that thought of
putting popcorn and cranberries together on a Christmas tree.
They seem to have nothing to do with one another.
She kneels down to plug in the strings of multi-colored electric
lights, and she pushes the one professionally-wrapped package
under the tree. She knows there are two yellow towels inside,
but there is no one else to give her gifts, and she'd like to
have something to open on Christmas morning.
There are no photographs in her house. This has never upset her
before, but now, looking around her living room, seeing nothing
except cliched prints on the walls, and three stockings hanging
on the mantle (one for the cat, one for the dog, and one for
herself) she feels terribly lonely. There are no faces to
comfort her. There is nothing familiar.
Suddenly, the dog starts to bark madly at the front door, and she
can't remember why she was so sad.
She screams when she opens the front door a crack and the body of
the man in the department store falls forward into her immaculate
foyer, coughing raggedly. She freezes, unable to move until he
lies still, and she realizes he has passed out.
* * *
you have her face & her eyes but you.are.not.her.
* * *
He wakes to an unfamiliar ceiling. In fact, he is in an
unfamiliar bed, with unfamiliar sheets in an unfamiliar room. He
can't remember how he got here, why he isn't in his own
apartment. Then -- Scully. He followed her home, waited. He
was cold. Tired. Hungry. He just wanted to know that she was
happy. He just wanted to know that she was safe.
For a long time he had watched her sitting alone in her living
room. She's happy, he'd told himself. You can leave now. Leave
her alone. Leave her to this life.
And then she had started crying.
He'd never been able to watch Scully cry.
He watches the dapples of sunlight on the ceiling for a long
time, unsure of what he should do. He examines the possibility
of hoisting himself out the window, leaving without a trace.
Finally, she takes this decision away from him by pushing the
door open a crack and whispering, "Are you awake?"
"What possessed you to follow me home last night? I should call
His voice is weary. He stares at the ceiling to keep from
looking at her. "Why didn't you call them last night? I can't
think of any etiquette that demands a single woman put up a
disheveled madman on Christmas Eve."
She pushes the door open a little further, until her whole torso
is leaning into the room. "What was her name? The woman you're
"Your name, you mean?"
"I told you -- I'm not her."
"That's her first name?"
"Her last name. Her first name is Dana, but I never call her
that. I call her Scully."
The name 'Dana' hangs in the air, but there is no recognition in
her eyes, no matter how hard he looks for it.
"How -- how long have you been looking for her?"
"Two and a half years. She was kidnapped."
She pushes the door open the rest of the way and inches herself
into the room, keeping her distance. "Why?"
"Because. Because we were involved in some business that some
men in power didn't like. We were taking steps to save the
world, I suppose. In real life, no one really likes a hero."
An incredulous laugh escapes her. "To save the world? What were
"We were FBI agents."
"But you're not anymore?"
"I didn't have time for the FBI. I had to find her. I have to
find her. And here you are, living not fifteen minutes from your
old apartment. Hiding in the light. That's the way they work."
"I told you--"
"I know. I know. You're not her. I think a DNA test would
"You've got to be kidding. I own a house. I pay taxes. I have
a birth certificate. I have nothing to do with kidnappings or
He pushes himself up against the headboard and looks at her
carefully. She's beautiful, wrapped in a cranberry-colored silk
robe, hair long and loose about her shoulders. "You're right,"
he finally says. "You're right. I'm sorry. I'll leave now.
Thanks for not calling the police."
"Are you sure I can't get you coffee or toast or something?" He
can hear the edge in her voice that says 'leave, please, leave
before you make a scene' and he smiles. There are traces of
Scully in that tone. But only traces.
"No, I'm fine, thanks. I'll just -- I'll just be leaving." He
pauses for a moment, hunched over himself, perched on the side of
the bed. Taking a deep breath he straightens and nods at her.
"I'll take you to the front door," she offers weakly.
"No," he presses. "Please don't. I'll just let myself out."
He walks past her, but doesn't look at her. Looking only causes
a deeper pain. This woman is merely a ghost of his Scully, but
at least she's safe. At least he can go knowing that she is
alive and safe in the world. Merry Christmas, Mulder.
"You still -- you love her?"
He turns and meets her eyes. Eyes that are Scully's eyes, but
not. There is no snap of fire or determination or ambition in
these blue eyes. He hardly recognizes her at all. "I loved her
very much, yes, but she's gone now."
"She's gone now," she repeats slowly.
She follows him listlessly down the hall, one hand clasping the
front of her robe. The dog perks up her ears but doesn't bark.
The cat ignores the stranger in her home.
He is shaking by the time he reaches the front door. His hand
trembles on the doorknob. Without turning he asks, "Why is the
Before she has the chance to answer the door closes behind him.
Some things are beyond mere words.
* * *
* * *
Thanks for reading: firstname.lastname@example.org
All recognizable lyrics are from the Tori Amos song, "Bells for
Her." No infrigement intended.