Sent: Tuesday, October 10, 2000

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. <g>
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

"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

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.