Story Archive

Messenger II --

by gizzie


Summary: Mulder learns a painful truth
Rating: PG, for some bad words.
Disclaimer: they're not mine, if they were, Mulder would be handcuffed to my headboard, and I would not share... and I'm looking real hard at Byers these days, too. Leave me alone, CC, I got no one else to play with.
I made up Washington Commons Park. Misspells, typos, and grammatical errors are mine...hey, it's something.
Please read "The Messenger" first, this takes place several hours later, and picks up in "Memento Mori" when Mulder is badgering poor Nurse Clueless over Scully's empty hospital room. Read it and weep......
Mucho thanks to everyone who patted me on the head for "The Messenger", and asked for more. I hope this makes you hurt. I am amazed that Byers has so many fans, Bruce Harwood should be proud that he's made such a minor character so intriguing.
"If you love me, let me know"
The Messenger II-- Revelation
"Dana Scully's supposed to be in her room, where is she?"
"She's not there?"
"No, what happened to her?"
"I don't know!"
I'm scaring her, and I'm scared shitless.
"Well, who the hell DOES know?"
It's Byers, tearing down the hall toward me, escalating my fear.
"What happened to Scully?"
"I got to her."
"Where is she now?"
He motions me to follow, and points to another door, futher down the corridor. I open the door, and Scully turns and meets my eyes. She's ok, and my knees buckle , even as I smile softly, reasssuringly. She turns back to Penny Northern, stroking her sunken cheek with the back of her fingers.
"Dr Scanlon isn't coming back?" Penny rasps.
"No," Scully says softly, "I don't think so, Penny"
"Dana..." she pulls a shallow breath; it is clearly an effort for her to speak "I want you to get well... you've been such a comfort. You've got to be the one... you can't give up hope."
"I haven't... I won't."
I pull the door softly closed, and sag against the wall in relief. Byers back is to me, head bowed, his hands shoved in the pockets of his trenchcoat.
"You told her everything?"
He shrugs. "I told her what I know." Clipped... strained.
"I can fill her in later."
He nods, does not turn. His shoulders are shaking.
"After you left, I found....."
"Don't ever ask me to do anything like that again, Mulder."
He sounds terrified yet, and I laugh, clap a hand to his shoulder "Didn't you ever play 'Keep Away', Byers....?"
He yanks away violently and turns on me, one fist raised, and for a second, I think he's going to deck me. His eyes are wild, glassy... has he been crying??.....and I see what I hope is not hatred in his eyes.
Of the three Lone Gunmen, I know Byers the least. Langly is kinetically, manically paranoid, often babbling just to hear himself make a noise, convincing himself that he really exists. Frohike is a diffrent breed of cat, the rare individual who can worm his way into your heart, even as he is quietly picking your pocket. But Byers ...Byers is just THERE, a mandroid of information, yours for the asking, he KNOWS stuff, he just DOES. Once, on one of our rare leisurely lunch breaks, Scully and I had walked to Washington Commons Park, and as we watched the ice skaters on the public rink, Scully had gasped, pulled my sleeve and pointed. It was Byers, gliding and twirling as gracefully and effortlessly as I bounce a basketball. I could only have been more surprised by Frohike at the diving pool in a Speedo. You never know.
"Byers!! Hey!!" I raise my hands defensively, and he deflates, backs off. "Are you OK?"
"I don't mean the break-in, Mulder." He shakes his head slowly, looks at the door to Penny Northern's room. He is flexing his right fist, while his left thumb and little finger play a curious little twisting game with the plain gold band on his third finger. He is still agitated, there's the twitch of a muscle spasm in his left cheek, and he's breathing in short, gasping little breaths. "I mean Agent Scully ...don't ask me to go to her like that again. I won't. I can't." He will NOT look at me.
Shit. My mind pounces, leaps, and I am stabbed with an unexpected pang of jealousy. "Byers, are you in love with Scully?"
"Jesus, Mulder....NO! Oh, man...."
He wheels and starts away,but when I grab his arm, he finally looks me full in the face, and the unfathomable pain in his gentle brown eyes twists my gut with sympathy. What the.....?
"Byers, what is it? Tell me...TRUST me....."
He studies me... measuring...calculating. Now his right hand is playing with the gold band, twisting it, pumping it up and down his finger in a way I'm finding strangely, disturbingly sexual. He makes a decision, slumps one shoulder into the wall, and sighs softly.
"Her name was Cinnamon." I startle, and he smirks "Yes, that WAS her given name....and you thought 'Fox' was bad."
But it wasn't her name that had caught my ear. "Her name WAS..." Past tense. Of course. And, chicken shit that I am, now I'm sorry I asked.
But Byers is talking now, his eyes focused over my left shoulder, seeing nothing but the reeling mind moments of his not so distant past. She called herself Monny, and they met in jail, when they'd both been arrested at a PETA demonstration that had gotten out of hand. I can't picture Byers in jeans, let alone in jail. They'd had a short, intense courtship, and he'd acquiesced to a gown-and-tux- formal church weddinmg, despite his own atheism. They'd honeymooned at Disney World, where she'd made eyes at the Lumberjacks manning the Runaway Mine Cars, and talked him into growing a beard. He talks of the first, cold water flat apartment, her experimenting with sprout burgers and tofu chili, the hamsters he bought her, that promptly escaped and took up residence in their bedroom wall, where they kept them up half the night with the chew, chew. chewing of t he cheap, salty plaster. And her nasty case of food poisoning, which tests revealed not to be salmonella at all, but an unplanned and joyfully anticipated honeymoon-conceived baby.
But the nausea and fatigue were relentless, and she even ate meat for the first time in ten years, trying to maintain her strength. She had a backache all the time, and was destined to spend her last trimester in bed, when, in a rage of pain and blood and tears, she lost the little boy that would have been Jeffrey Douglas Byers III.
Byers pauses, draws a deep quavering breath, and rubs his eyes with a fist. The gesture is so innocently poignant, that my own breath hitches in my chest, and I fight for control, for strength... for him.
"Byers...." I clasp a comforting hand to his shoulder, but he shrugs away. "Byers, you don't have to......"
"Yeah, I do, Mulder." He breathes deeply, unconsciously rubs the beard at his jawline with the gold band on his left hand "They found the cancer two monthes later." He smiles bitterly "We thought we were pregnant again.....fooled us, huh?" His voice cracks and breaks, and he turns away, embarassed by the tears tracking slowly down his face. I chew my lip and study the fascinating assemblage of the fire extinguisher hanging by my head, anything so I don't have to look at the raw, ravaged pain on his face.
"It was bad, Mulder...I mean, I know it can never be easy,. but.....the chemo made her SO sick, the cancer was so invasive, she was skin and bone in a month....and dead in one more. Her mother said we were lucky it was fast." He shakes his head, defeated, once again twisting the wedding band "I didn't feel so lucky. I just felt cheated." He looks at me, and his soft brown eyes are muted and dull with grief "One year, Mulder...that was it, from the time we met, 'till I scattered her ashes in the *fucking* year." He clasps a hand to his forehead and squeezes, his eyes shut wearily and he gives out a soul shattering sigh. "Sometimes, I'm not even sure it happened."
"I'm...I'm sorry" It is so lame, I'm such an idiot... and I'm so scared.
Byers looks at the door behind which we have left Scully and Penny, Penny dying, Scully's future uncertain.He shakes his head slowly back and forth "I'm sorry I got so angry with you, Mulder. But I can't do this again. I can't watch someone I care about waste away. I *can't*. " His eyes well up again, and he wipes an impatient hand across his face. "Jesus, I haven't cried this much in....." he stops and I almost hear that computer brain of his boot up...then he smiles, and it is good and cleansing and makes MY eyes smart "Fuck, I never cried this much...maybe I should thank you, Mulder....except I still kinda want to punch your lights out for putting my ass in the line of fire back there."
"Take your best shot" I have an almost unbearable urge to hug him ...but I can't.....WE can't. We just don't. So I extend my right hand, and he grasps it in a warm, tight soul-brother clasp.
"You're a real pain in the ass, Mulder."
"Yeah, and you love me for it." I laugh, but his eyes sober .
"I do, Mulder," he says softly, and my throat closes up, "and I love her. I'm not IN love with her, no. But I DO care about her, and I care about you...and I care about you two, together." He waggles a vague hand between me and the door. "Carpe diem, Mulder. You never know." He twists the gold band off his finger and presses it into my palm. "Carpe diem."
He turns and walks away from me. His shoulders are slumped with fatigue, but he holds his head up, and his step is unburdened. I watch 'till he gets to the end of the corridor, and sensing this, he turns....and raises his left hand, a simple, easy salute.
I find a chair and settle in the hallway outside Penny Northern's room. I'll sit in vigil, and wait for Scully, whatever it takes.
You never know.
"Enjoy life....this is not a dress rehearsal."
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