Whispers in a White Room
by Fox Mulder
From: "William Junior" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: [RatB-K] SHORT FIC: Whispers in a White Room Date: Monday, October 08, 2001 5:57 PM
Whispers in a White Room
By Fox Mulder
For Alex & Wildy
The boy slips into the quiet room, his eyes sharp and alert, moving his slim body through a small gap between door and frame with one furtive, hurried glance behind.
The corridor is hushed, still. Perhaps a dozen feet away a pair of nurses are conferring with a doctor, his bald head catching and throwing back gleams from the overhead flourescents. None of them look up; no one sees the boy.
He closes the door behind him.
And then there he is; he moves through the still air of the private room as if it were water and he moving toward air; he approaches the bed and its pristine, antiseptic whiteness. Toward the pale, still figure lying amid pillows and hospital blankets, turned on his side and unmoving.
"Hey," the boy whispers, but his voice is husky and broken. He tries again. "Hey. Fox."
There is no answer. The boy had not expected one.
He moves closer, perching on the edge of a chair near the bed and taking one of Fox's pale, unmoving, waxy hands in his own. Fox's eyes, so deep and dark, are open but unseeing. They are lightly glazed.
"Hey, Fox," the boy begins again, "I mean, I know you can't hear me, but. .." He frowns, biting at his lower lip. "But you're in there somewhere, right? I mean, you have to come out of it."
Again, no reply. The boy feels tears start behind his eyes and shoves them brutally back, angry at himself for this weakness.
"I don't really know you, Fox," he says softly. "But I know what they've done to you, all right? I just wanted- I just wanted to see your face and tell you it wasn't your fault. You hear me? *It wasn't your fault*."
Silence. The boy brushes a lock of dark hair back from his forehead and listens intently to footsteps from the corridor; they pass on without slowing and he turns his attention back to the silent, still form. Fox's eyes are on him, but they do not see him. The boy knows this - he has seen catatonia before.
"I-Fox- damn it!" The boy shakes his head, and when he looks up again his face is almost pleading. "You're one of us, Fox, one of the survivors. You gotta be tough. You gotta." He swallows. "Look, I live with my big brother. . . he's. . . well. . . they're training me, man, just like they're doing to you, I mean, look." He half-turns in his chair and raises his shirt, displaying for the unseeing and catatonic boy a welter of fresh scars, reddish-pink against his boy's flesh. "It hurts, Fox, dammit, it hurts so much, I go away sometimes. I used to." Another frown. "My life is just one big black hole, Fox, some deep nightmare I can't ever get out of. Don't you think I want to go where you are? To hide from it? But I *can't*, man, and you can't, either. You gotta be strong."
Now the boy is crying. He resigns himself to this, just as well as he resigns himself to whatever punishment might await the sight of his clogged nose and reddened eyes when he gets home. But he has learned well, has been taught well, and so he simply presses on, holding Fox's hand tightly in his own. Martha's Vineyard hospital, this is, November 1973, and Fox has been here just over twenty hours. The boy knows this; he's seen it before. The lights, time folding in on itself. His mind had simply shut down.
But he has to come back. He has to.
"Fox. . ." The boy begins again. "Listen to me. Sometimes you're out there, and things happen to you, and you just want to fold up. To fucking die. But if you just. . . hang on. . . it washes over you, like a wave. You like to surf, right? If you hang onto your board and try to fight it, you're going to get knocked off and splattered every which way. You have to ride it, Fox, ride it, and once it's all over you're still there. You dig? If you come out of it you're strong, and the next time they try and knock you down you're twice as strong. Shit, man, please. Do what I do. Enjoy the fucker, kid, prove to yourself that you can do it. That you're still alive. Once you learn how to do that, you're free. You can take anything they throw at you and still keep standing. I know you can. I know that about you. Listen to me, please. . . you're one of the shining ones, Fox. One of the ones they want me to be like. I know you. Please don't give up."
The boy's head is down, the tears coming in a humiliating flood, and he barely notices that the hand in his own has twitched. But he is a sharp boy, quick on the alert, and his head comes up suddenly like a deer scenting fire and meets with his own a pair of eyes that now sparkle; a pair of eyes that are perhaps dull but completely alert. He gasps, in spite of himself.
"Fox. . ." He says softly. The footsteps are back, hurrying this time, and the boy knows that he must get out of the room before too long. This is forbidden, this visit, this glimps into what perhaps might have been, but he had to come. Had to. And now Fox is looking up at him with wide moist eyes.
"What. . . where. . .?"
"Shh," the boy tells him. "God, you're all right. Thank God. Someone will be here soon."
"What. . . what's your name?" Fox whispers.
The footsteps, closer. The silence spinning out. And just before the knob is grasped roughly and the doctor and his contingent of nurses barge in, their faces still and shocked with mute disbelief, the boy grasps Fox's hand, half-rises from the chair to kiss the other boy's cheek, and whispers in his ear:
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