I have traveled far with my new master. This is the farthest that I have ever been from the main house. These weeks of motion have been the strangest in my life. At least as far as I can recall.
My old master was a friend of the one they call Jeffery. The one who seemed to know me from the time before. The one whose eyes looked so very familiar to me.
Many weeks ago, Jeffery came to the big house. He talked with my master behind a closed door for many hours. When they came out Jeffery told me that I was going to go on a trip. That I would have a new master.
I did not understand the concept of "trip" but when I went to sleep that night I felt something stirring in me. Something that I could not place but seemed very familiar. I think the Chosen call it excitement.
The next day Jeffery brought me away from the big house. He brought me into the city, to a very tall building. That is where I met my new master. The one they call Mulder.
The one I call Mulder.
I tried to call him Master but he told me not to do that. I still have trouble remembering though.
Master Mulder brought me to his automobile and drove away from the city. The men at the bridge stopped us and Master Mulder told them that he was taking me up north, to another colony.
Once we were over the bridge he turned to me and said, "That was a lie. You're not going to another colony. You're going to be free."
I asked him what free was. He said it meant that I could do whatever I wanted to. I asked him what I wanted to do but he didn't know the answer to that.
We drove together for many many days. I lost track of how many days. We passed several checkpoints and at each one my master gave the men a card and some papers and the men let us through. We ate in different places every day. I had never eaten anywhere but the kitchen of the big house before. Master Mulder had cards for us and when we showed them to the people in the restaurants in the colonies we passed through, they let us eat there. They also let us put gasoline in our automobile. These cards seemed like a very good thing but every time Master Mulder had to use them he looked around nervously and chewed on his mouth.
Master Mulder told me that he knew me in the time before. I told him that I had no memory of that. He didn't talk to me very much after that. He doesn't seem to talk very much at all.
Our journey took us to an empty place where a building used to be. Master Mulder walked around and looked for "clues" and I sat in the automobile. He didn't find any clues and after many hours he decided that we would leave the place and walk through the woods. We walked for a very long time.
A few hours ago Master Mulder told me that he thought we should probably turn around and go back to the automobile. He kicked a rock and said a curse word. That was when the men came.
The men had guns. They told us that we were on their property and that we should explain ourselves. Master Mulder asked the men who they were. Then the men hit him. They put a black hood over his head and some sort of weapon to his back.
They put a hood on my head also and then they led us through the woods. We marched for many minutes. Then they took us indoors and brought us to a room. They sat us down and tied us to chairs. I think we have been in here for more than an hour.
I can hear Master Mulder next to me. He is breathing very heavily and every few minutes he shouts "Scully!". He says that word a lot. I think we are here to find a Scully. The men keep telling him, "Shut up!" but he doesn't.
I hear some movement. I hear a door opening, a door closing, people moving around. I hear voices.
"Where did you find them?"
"The south corner of the pine forest."
"What were they doing?"
"Just walking around."
Suddenly the blackness covering my eyes disappears. Someone has taken away my hood. The light is so bright that I cannot see anything but white for a few seconds.
Slowly the room comes into focus. The walls are white cement. The floor is white tile with blue flecks. There is an old-looking couch next to a large, strange looking box with a glass panel in the front. I am sitting on a fold-out chair in front of a green table with white lines painted on to it. I think people used to play something called pong on tables like this. The men from the woods are here. They are standing in the corners of the room with their weapons. And there are others.
A female. The only female in the room except for me. She must be a slave. There are only one or two women in each colony who are Mistresses. The rest are slaves. Surely we are not being permitted to meet the Mistress of this colony so soon. But she stands in a strange way for a slave. She stands very straight and tall. Her clothing is worn out and shabby but it seems that everyone in this colony is dressed in this fashion. They must be a sub-standard group.
There is also another man. The man who questioned the men who found us. He must be the High Master of this colony.
He is the one who removed my hood. He stands in front of me and blinks. Then he kneels down in front of me. He looks at my face from very close.
I have heard this word before. It is the first word that Master Mulder said when I was given to him. He said it in the same sort of way.
"What...what are you doing here?"
"I came here with my master. Are you my new master now?"
The man stands back up and runs his hand over his hair. Then he tosses my hood onto the pong table and makes a strange sound.
He looks at the woman and the woman looks at Master Mulder.
"Your master, huh?" he says and turns to Master Mulder himself.
He reaches for Master Mulder's hood but then he stops. He turns back to the woman again and but she does not see. She is staring at Master Mulder still. He swallows and closes his eyes. Then he pulls Master Mulder's hood off of his head.
The woman gasps very loudly and puts her hand over her mouth. She starts walking backwards and ends up hitting the wall. She is very interesting to watch. I have never seen a slave act in this way.
The man is just looking at Master Mulder. He seems very angry. Most of the Masters are angry most of the time.
"Scully!" Master Mulder says again and this time he is looking directly at the slave woman. Moisture forms in her eyes and she shakes her head. He tries to stand up but he is tied down and doesn't get very far. Then the other Master pushes him back down in his seat.
"Sit down," he says. He must be a very high Master if he can tell Master Mulder what to do. Master Mulder looks angry too, though. He glares at the other Master and struggles to get out of his chair.
"Nice place you've got here, Krycek. Love the goons. Very classy."
Nobody moves or says anything for a minute that seems, even to me, extremely long. Then the other Master's face twitches and the woman says "Alex..." and then he hits Master Mulder across the face with his fist.
"No!" the woman yells and then she runs closer. Blood pours out of Master Mulder's nose and turns the other Master's hand black. The woman stops moving when she sees it and stares at Master Mulder.
"Scully," he says.
The other Master, I suppose he is Master Alex, looks at the blood too and then he shakes his hand like he is trying to get it off of his skin.
There is much more moisture coming from the woman's eyes now and her mouth opens but then closes again many times. She makes a sound like she is in pain. Master Mulder says "Scully," yet again and it seems to add to her suffering. I do not understand the source of her pain. She is not being beaten and yet she acts as though she were. She is the strangest slave I have ever seen.
"Get her out of here," Master Alex says to a very large man with blond hair. The man takes the strange, red-haired woman by her arm and he walks her out of the room. She shakes when she walks.
"Her too," Master Alex says to another man and points at me. "Find her a room and...just...just find her a room."
The man unties me and tells me to follow him. I do as asked as it seems to be the wish of both Masters Alex and Mulder.
We walk into a less brightly lit hallway and a few steps ahead I see the woman pacing back and forth with her arms crossed over her chest. The large man is seated on a bench near her. When she sees us she moves towards me.
"Who are you?" she asks me.
"They call me three-oh-eight."
She looks towards the sky and then back at me.
"Look, I'm not buying this. Any of it. Who are you really? And who is that....who is that?"
"I am three-oh-eight and the one I came with is called Master Mulder."
"Master..." She shakes her head. "Look, just stop it. That's not...that's not him and...and this little slave act you're pulling isn't cutting it with me. Who the hell are you two and what are you doing here?"
She is yelling now. I have never been yelled at by another slave before. I do not understand this one at all.
"I do not know why we are here. I think we are looking for a Scully."
God Scully. I'm so sorry. I didn't want you to find out this way. I didn't want it to be like this.
"Who are you?"
I think he's asked me this a few times already. I don't believe this. Who the hell does he think he is? Doesn't he understand what I've been through to get here?
I struggle against the wire holding my wrists and ankles in place but whoever tied these fuckers is one hell of a boy scout.
"Who are you? What are you doing here?"
He notices what I'm trying to do and cocks the gun he's got pointed at me.
"What do you want?"
"I told you. I just wanna see Scully. That's all."
He shakes his head.
"No. No way. Not until I know who...what the fuck you are."
Goddammit. I didn't want to have to explain myself to this bastard. If I could only talk to Scully. She would know. She would understand.
But for whatever reason, it seems that Krycek is the biggest obstacle between me and her right now and the only way to get through him and to Scully seems to be to tell him what he wants to know.
God, she looked so beautiful. And so unhappy, so confused. Because of me. Because of what I am.
"I am Mulder, Krycek. Whether you believe it or not. Frankly, I don't care if you do."
"That doesn't...it doesn't make any sense," he stammers.
"What do you know about the conversion process," I ask. Krycek snorts. Then he walks closer so that he's standing directly in front of me.
"No. That's bullshit. Mulder wouldn't....couldn't..."
He reaches towards my face and wipes some of the thick, oily blood from under my nose with his finger.
"Mulder would never choose this," he says, bringing the gunk up to my eye and then flinging it disgustedly onto the table. "Besides, Mulder is dead. She saw him die. I saw the pictures, I read the reports. He's dead. You're not him. You're not Mulder."
"What makes you think a person has a choice?"
"Everyone has a choice. Everyone has some kind of choice. The Mulder I knew would have killed himself before turning into one of them."
The Mulder he knew? He says this as if he knew me at all. Still, the comment hits a little too close to home. I might not have chosen to be turned into what I am but I did make certain choices. Certain stupid choices. Choices I will not be able to forgive myself for until I can talk to Scully and know that she's been all right. That she forgives me.
"I didn't choose to be turned into this, Krycek. Any more than a slave chooses to be turned into a slave. It happened to me. That's what Scully saw. That's what you saw in those pictures. That thing, coming out of me...That was the conversion process. Not death. Rebirth. Something was placed inside me and it lived there, gestating, until the time came for it to be born. When it tore out of my stomach, that was a birthing process and after that it...it grew back into me. The person you see now is Fox Mulder. All the same feelings, experiences, memories. Only difference is physiological."
He just stares at me for a minute in that Neanderthal way that he has and then sits down across from me.
"No, that's not how it happens. You're lying."
"It's not how it happens for everyone. Only the ones who don't choose. The ones who are chosen. Hence the name, The Chosen."
"Why haven't I ever heard about this? Why haven't I seen it before?"
"I don't know. Maybe you need to get out more."
"How long do we have?"
"Until the rest of your alien goo friends come after you and find us?"
"They won't. I don't want to be found. I took precautions to make sure that won't happen. Look, all I want is to see Scully. That's the only reason I'm here. If you just let me talk to her..."
He shakes his head again and then he laughs. It's not a mirthful sound though. It's a bitter laugh. An angry laugh.
"You wanna see Scully, huh? Well, maybe you should have thought about that five or six years ago."
"Look, you don't know....you don't understand. I did what I had to do. I need to tell her. I need to explain..."
"Explain what? That you're a traitor? A mutant? That you sold her out so that you could get off easy?"
"Dammit, that's not the way it was!"
God, I didn't think I could hate this man any more than I did before, but he's surpassed my expectations.
"Do you have any idea what kind of hell she's been through the past six years? Do you even care?"
"Of...of course I care, Krycek."
The question is, why the hell does he care so goddamn much? Why is this any of his business at all?
"Listen, she seems healthy, she seems...well, I suppose it's a good thing that you found her. She seems well taken care of and I'm grateful to you for that but...but she doesn't belong here, Krycek. I mean, for her health if nothing else. Without that chip she...she could relapse at any time. She needs to be somewhere where they can heal her, where..."
"NO! That's not the way it works," he shouts and he's up on his feet looking for all the world like he's about to hit me again. "I'm not a fucking holding station here, Mulder. You don't just drop her off for six years and then waltz back in like nothing's changed to pick her up and carry her off again! You think that's how it is, Mulder? Just cause you THINK you love her more than anyone could ever love anybody?"
He's got the barrel of his gun against my chest and he's yelling in my face now. Something about this is just completely peculiar, creepy.
"Look, Krycek, I know you guys have been through a lot..."
God knows, they look the worse for wear. Healthy like I said but still, bedraggled.
"You don't know shit about what we've been through. So don't even pretend to understand or to care," he whispers darkly.
"Look, if you'd just let me talk to her, I'm sure we can work all of this out."
He looks at me with more disgust and hatred than I've ever seen from him. And that's saying a whole hell of a lot. Then he spits in my face.
"Go to hell," he growls and leaves the room. He leaves me with his team of thugs.
As he's walking out the door, I call for Scully, hoping that she's still in hearing range of this room. I call at the top of my lungs.
No one answers me.
The first time I met Dana Scully I was twenty-five years old. Bright eyed and full of crap, sure that I was on "the right side" before I realized that the only side that counts is your own side. My assignment at first was only to spy on them, find out what subversive activities they were participating in. I did my job and I did it well. Too well.
I remember the way they were back then. I remember the two of them talking in hushed tones, only to each other even though they weren't alone. I remember being annoyed with her dismissive attitude towards me. I remember feeling the connection between them. I remember feeling like I might as well have been on another planet as far as they were concerned. I remember feeling as though I were watching something intimate, almost sexual when they spoke to each other. I remember that I didn't really care very much.
When I pulled the hood off of that...thing in there, when they looked at each other, it was the same thing. The same fucking thing all over again. Only this time, I did care. This time when that wall went up between the two of them and the rest of the world and I was on the side with everybody else, I cared. I cared so much that I hit him. As if that would make it go away.
So now I guess the question it, if it walks like a Mulder, talks like a Mulder, acts like a fucking Mulder, does that mean it is a Mulder?
God knows that arrogant, obnoxious, sonofabitch affected me the same way a Mulder would. Just being in his presence brought up so many conflicted and twisted feelings that I thought for sure I would vomit from it. All the inadequacy, all the jealousy and the anger and the frustration flooded through my system like water through an old rusty pipe that someone turned on after years of being shut down.
That man turns me into someone I don't like very much.
But really, what kind of reception was he expecting? Red carpets and brass bands? Jesus Christ. How the hell am I supposed to react? For all I know he's a fucking spy.
All I know is that I can't deal with him right now. I just can't.
The room is dark but light is starting to filter through the windows. It's almost dawn. I've spent almost the entire night wandering around campus, looking for Dana.
When I left that Mulder-like thing I found Bryan in the hall. He said that she'd told him she was going home, that he'd walked her there himself. But when I came back here the first time, the place was empty.
My state of panic escalated to a terrifying level and I ran out into the night to try and find her. The longer I went without seeing her, the worse things got. What if seeing Mulder again made her realize that she doesn't really want to be here? What if it made her go insane? What if she left?
I feel pretty close to a mental breakdown myself at the moment. If she's still not home I don't know what I'll do.
I hear a small "I'm here," coming from the couch and I turn around. Thank God. Thank God.
She's curled up in the corner of the sofa, her arms wrapped around her knees, rocking slowly back and forth. She looks so small and damaged. She looks so much like the woman she was five years ago, when she first started believing that Mulder was dead, that it makes my stomach lurch sickeningly.
I sit down on the other side of the couch, wanting to touch her but, for the first time in a long time, not entirely sure how well the gesture would go over with her.
I clear my throat and try to decide what the fuck to say.
"Want me to brush your hair, devotchka?" I end up asking. I dunno. Sometimes she finds it soothing. And it might help me a whole hell of a lot right now. It would be familiar. Something to hold onto.
But she shakes her head no.
"Maybe we oughtta try and get some sleep," I suggest and get another head shake in response.
"You go ahead. I...I can't."
Like I could knowing that she's out here like...this.
"Is it him, Alex? Is it?"
I tell her the only thing that I can.
"I don't know, devotchka. I don't know."
I'm relatively sure that I've been here for three days. It's difficult to tell because there are no windows here. Only three white washed cement walls and one chain link fence that separates me from the rest of the basement. I have a small cot on the floor which is also made of cement, a sink and toilet, and a little furry rodent friend I've taken to calling Krycek-face.
The bastard himself hasn't been down to see me since that first night. The only person I've seen is a menacing looking warden-type guy who brings me food and water at somewhat regular intervals. So far he's given me six potatoes. I'm thinking I get two a day which is where the three day estimate comes from. He slides them through this little door in the fence. Just like a ferret cage. He doesn't say anything. Ever. I've tried talking to him. I've tried asking him to let me out of here, to let me see her, or at least to get Krycek down here so I can spit on him and see how he likes it. But he doesn't respond to anything I say or do.
I've tried screaming but no one hears. No one comes.
When I hear the door opening and footsteps moving down the stairs, I figure it's potato man and that maybe another day has passed.
But the footsteps are different. Softer. Could it be? I try not to let myself hope, but I do anyway. When I see her standing in front of my cell I think that maybe the isolation has driven me insane. Maybe I am hallucinating.
I run up to the caging and press my face against the wire, reach my fingers through the holes, trying to touch her to see if she's real.
It is only when I speak her name that I realize how hoarse and dehydrated I sound.
She nods and says "Yes," very quietly. She's standing several feet away. But she's here. God, she's really here.
And I have no idea what to say to her.
"Are you...are you okay, Scully?"
She looks at me strangely, with an expression I don't recognize, can't place.
"You...you sound like you need some water. I'll be right back."
"NO!" My throat aches with the effort of yelling, reminding me just how badly I do need water but I'm terrified to let her out of my sight now that she's here. What if she never comes back?
"No, Scully, just...just stay a minute."
She stands there with her arms crossed protectively over her chest, mouth drawn in a tight, straight line, looking pointedly away from me and all I can do is stare. She looks so incredibly beautiful. I just want to drop to my knees at her feet and sob. I can't get to her feet though because I'm in a fucking cage.
"I'm....sorry. About this," she says, gesturing broadly at my surroundings. "I didn't....didn't realize."
"That's, no, Scully, that's not your fault. God, I don't blame you. It's not you. I realize that. It's him. He's a bastard, Scully. That's..."
She flinches and shakes her head.
"No, it is my fault partially. You don't..."
"No, I won't accept that, Scully. This has nothing to do with you and everything to do with with with...HIM."
She sighs and finally looks directly at my face, searching.
"You certainly act like him," she murmurs and I notice a tear gathering in the corner of her eye.
"Who are you? Who are you really?"
My heart sinks into my shoes and my mouth goes completely dry.
"I...Sc....Scully?" I whisper and she covers her mouth with her hand.
"Don't you know? Don't you know me, Scully? God, please don't do this to me."
"I saw...I saw you die! I saw it. I saw it."
The pain and anguish in her eyes is almost overbearing. It's almost enough to make me want to look away from her. God, Scully, I'm so sorry.
"You saw...what you saw..." I stammer, sensing the reemergence of an old argument. Do you still hold onto your scientific observation, Scully? Is that still your truth after all of this. I hope so. But I also hope there's room in there for an allowance, an understanding of what I am. What's happened to me.
I wonder if you can see the irony here. I have become the very thing that I struggled for so long to prove the existence of. To you especially.
"And...and, if you didn't die, if what you told Alex is true, then...then where were you? Where, where have you been, Mulder?"
Now I really can't look at her anymore. How can I explain? How could she ever accept this? How could I have possibly screwed up this badly?
"Where?" she whispers, moving closer to the barrier between us. Something in the back of my head registers the fact that she's just referred to my captor as "Alex" once again but I push it down and away before considering it.
Then I realize that if she's gotten her information about me from him, it's no wonder she doesn't know what to think. God only knows what he's told her.
"Wait, wait. What did he, what did 'Alex' tell you?"
"That you told him you were converted. Against your will. That that's what I saw."
I just nod, shocked speechless by the fact that the little shit told the truth for once in his life.
"Is that what really happened?"
"So then, where...where were you, Mulder? I mean why..."
There are a thousand unspoken questions in that one word. Why, Mulder? Why? Why did you let this happen to me? Why did you stay away? Why?
I can't stand to even face her anymore, to see the questions, the confusion in her eyes. I turn around and face the wall and inhale a few times, struggling for the words to explain.
"I uh...when I woke up, after, I had no recollection of what had happened to me. I thought...I thought I'd fallen asleep, taken a nap on my couch."
I laugh a little bit and turn back to her, hoping to see at least one of the corners of her mouth turn up a fraction of an inch. She's still got her arms crossed and now she's frowning. It's getting worse.
"Uh...anyway, turns out I'd been out for weeks. When I finally came to I looked up to see our old friend Smokey, hovering above me. I couldn't believe he was still alive, Scully. Couldn't believe it. I thought maybe he was the devil, coming to bring me back to hell with him."
I search her eyes for a grain of understanding but she's so closed off to me.
"What happened next?"
"Uh...next. Next I flew up out of that bed I was lying on and proceeded to strangle the bastard."
She sighs impatiently and closes her eyes.
"And after that?"
"After that I felt a prick on my arm and I lost consciousness again. And then...then I woke up and he uh...he told me what had happened to me. And...to you."
"He told me that...that you were a slave."
Her mouth drops open a tiny bit and she exhales a billow of air.
"You knew, then. You knew that I was alive, that I was a slave."
"Yes," I whisper, my head ducked down as far as it could go.
"You knew...did you know that I saw, that I thought you were dead?"
"He gave me a deal, Scully," I blurt, now desperate to get it all out and face whatever wrath she might have for me.
"He told me that if I worked for him for seven years and didn't try to find you or anything that after the seven years were over, we'd both be free. And...and he said they'd take the chip out and that they'd cure you so you wouldn't get the cancer. He said they'd convert you and then you wouldn't get sick."
"Seven ye...I was supposed to be a slave for seven years?"
"I didn't...he said you wouldn't know the difference, Scully. That it would be better for you."
I realize how completely lame that sounds and shut my mouth. God, if I say "he said!" one more time I think I'm going to be sick.
"Scully, I just wanted to be able to see you again. To know that you were all right and that we'd be together again. I didn't...I didn't know what else to do. They were going to kill you otherwise!"
"Mulder..." she says again and this time I control the urge to babble out more of an explanation in the silence.
"Mulder, I would have rather died than be a slave for seven years."
I don't know what to say to that. I suppose a part of me knew that to be true but I didn't let myself consider it. How could I?
"Mulder, I can't...even...believe...You've been alive this entire time..."
I just nod, finding myself unable to speak. I bite my lip to keep myself from crying.
"Do you know what I...what....God, Mulder!"
"I didn't...I didn't know what else to do."
"You could have said no."
"Scully, they were taking care of you and...and I just wanted to be able to be with you again. I thought...I thought you'd want that too."
"I did want that, Mulder. When I got my brain back. But by then I thought you were dead."
"I know. I...it wasn't supposed to be this way."
I was supposed to be there when she remembered. I was supposed to take the chip out. I was supposed to be able to show her that I wasn't dead.
"No, I guess if it went the way it was supposed to, I would still be a slave right now. Only a year or so till I get to be 'converted' though so I guess that makes it worth it."
"I...I'm sorry, Scully. I just, I thought it was the only way. I thought I was protecting you."
She nods slowly and then looks away, trying to hide the fact that she is crying too.
After a few moments of painful, agonizing silence she asks, "Why did you trust him, Mulder? After everything."
"I...I don't...I just wanted to be with you again, Scully. I thought it was the only way."
She's quiet again for a moment and she stares at me. Her eyes grow dark and even colder.
"There's always another way," she says with a finality that I suppose signals the end of this conversation. I don't know what else I can say to explain this to her right now anyway. Besides, there are more pressing matters to be dealt with at the moment. Once we have a place where we can just be, then we can work out the past. I can make it up to her. I know that I can.
"Scully, we can, we can leave here you know. We can leave tonight."
"Mulder..." she breaks off into a sigh and shakes her head.
"We can, Scully. Just say the word. I can...I can get you out of here."
"Get me..." She finally smiles and even laughs a small, sad laugh. But it doesn't make me happy. I wasn't trying to be funny.
"Mulder, I think you're the one who needs me to get you out."
"Well, yeah but...I mean, I'm just saying we don't have to stay here."
"This, Mulder, I'm not being held prisoner here. This is my home."
"Your home? Here? With...with, with HIM?"
"Yes, Mulder, with him and the four or five hundred other people who live here. I've been here for five years. It's the only home I know."
"But, Scully, it's...it's KRYCEK!"
She rolls her eyes and puts her hands on her hips and I swear to God, she looks almost offended. I'm starting to think that bastard has been doing a little brainwashing of his own.
"Mulder, what does that mean?"
"Whaddya mean what does that mean? Scully, he...look at me! He's got me caged here like a fucking animal!"
"Mulder, he didn't know. He didn't know what you were. You could have been a spy, an assassin, God only knows what. Look, I'm not saying this was an appropriate way to handle it. I don't condone this but..."
"Scully! That's a load of crap! He's got me in here because he hates me. Because it makes him feel like a bigger man."
"Mulder, please. That's not..."
"Why are you defending him?"
Her face turns red, from anger or embarrassment I can't tell.
"He's been...he's a friend...to me."
"A friend? Krycek?"
"Mulder he...he helped me get through a lot of things. He...he saved my life, kept me from giving up, from..."
She looks down at her hands which are wrung together in a tight knot and I follow her eyes, noticing for the first time two small scars on the insides of her wrists. That can't be what it...
Oh, God. Oh, Scully.
"This is a good place, Mulder. He's doing a good thing. I'm going to get the key and get you out of here so that you can decide for yourself whether or not you want to stay. As far as I'm concerned, you're welcome to."
She turns to go and I feel like this conversation just flew by way too fast. I didn't get to say anything important and I feel as though she's farther away from me than she was before we talked.
"I...I just, I need to ask you...um..."
She turns back to me and her body is still stiff and cold but there is a glimmer of warmth in her eyes. A tiny glimmer.
"Do you think you'll ever forgive me, Scully?"
"I...I can try, Mulder. This whole thing is going to take some time. We...we need some time to adjust."
I nod even though I don't need that time. I know what I want. I know what we need to do. God, I can't waste any more time.
"We can make up a room for you and get you a meal card and all that. Then if you decide to stay for good, we'll figure out something for you to do."
"Will you tuck me in at night?"
She doesn't respond but I guess I didn't expect her to. It's not like she would have before either.
"I'll be right back."
"Scully, you...you look good. Really, really...you look beautiful. I never, never got the chance to tell you that...really."
She gives me a very strange, unreadable look and mutters "thank you". Then she turns around and runs up the stairs and away from me.
"What do you mean she let him out?"
"Um, she, uh...she told us you approved his release, sir."
Jesus Christ. What the hell does that crazy woman think she's doing? I can't even believe she'd have the gall, not only to lie to one of my men but to lie to ME. Right to my fucking face.
I'm going for a walk, Alex. I need a little fresh air, Alex. No, you don't need to come with me, Alex. I'll only be a little while.
And now I'm supposed to stand here and keep my cool and pretend that none of this is anything to panic about.
"Where did they go?"
"I think...I think she took him to a room, sir."
"Probably in Dakin I guess. That's where most of the empty rooms are."
Stupid sonofabitch's been here what, three days? Already my authority has been undermined and the only person in the world who I was absolutely certain would never ever lie to me about anything has lied to me about something. It's gotta be Mulder. Who else could cause so much misery in my life in seventy two short hours?
I can't even yell at these guys for taking Dana's orders without question. I'm the one who trained them to do that in the first place. I never thought she'd use that against me.
By the time I get to Dakin, I can practically feel the blood boiling underneath my skin.
It doesn't take long to find the little shit. He's certainly not bothering with discretion. They've moved him into a room on the first floor and he's sitting there with the door wide open, bouncing up and down on the bed with his back turned. Nice to see that he's made himself at home so quickly. Obviously living amongst the drones has dulled his survival instincts.
"Couldn't you have gotten me a waterbed, Scully?"
"No but I'm sure we can arrange to have you sleep in the river."
His head whips around and he looks frightened for a split second and then cocky as hell.
"What the hell is going on here, Mulder?"
"Looks like I've been upgraded. You know, I'm glad you're here cause I've got a few complaints about my previous accommodations. Is that how you treat all your guests?"
"Just the ones with oil running through their veins."
I hear a sigh from behind me and Dana brushes past me, carrying a bundle of used clothing.
"Oh good," Mulder says to her. "I was about to call security. Scully, I don't mean to complain, but I seem to have a rodent problem in my room."
Such a funny fucking guy.
She looks back and forth between us nervously and sighs again.
"Dana, can I talk to you for a second?" I ask in the flattest, least infuriated tone I can muster.
"I..." she starts but doesn't finish because Mulder can't resist interrupting.
"You don't have to, Scully." He tells her, jumping to his feet in some sort of pseudo-protective gesture. Always gotta stick his huge-assed nose into every stupid thing.
"Mulder, stay out of this. It doesn't concern you."
"Like hell it doesn't! Who the hell do you think you are, barking commands at her like that?"
"Barking co...Mulder, sit down and shut up."
He moves closer so that he's standing right in front of me, eye to eye, his face the only thing in my sight.
"Why don't you make me, tough guy?"
"All right! That's enough!" Dana shouts, tossing the clothes onto Mulder's bed. It takes all the self control I've got not to beat that fucking smirk off his mouth.
"Mulder, these are your keys, your meal card, and your rations card," she says, retrieving these items from her pockets and dumping them on his desk. "Enjoy your stay at the Enchanted Commune. I'll see you both later."
She walks past me again and towards the door and I start to follow her but Mulder jumps between us.
"Wait, Scully, where are you going?"
"I'm going for a walk. Goodbye."
"Wait, I...I'll come with you," he tells her, obviously missing the implication of the word GOODBYE. Then he reaches out to touch her arm but before he can get to her I catch his wrist in my hand.
"Don't touch her," I warn him. His look of confusion and disbelief tells me that whatever these two have talked about today, it didn't include her relationship with me. She didn't tell him. She didn't fucking tell him and now he thinks I'm acting like a psycho and he's got the right to put his hands all over her.
He tries to pull his hand away but I squeeze his wrist tighter.
A look of alarm passes briefly over Dana's face and she glances imploringly at me.
"Mulder, I just really need to be alone now, okay?"
"Oh...uh, okay, of course," he mumbles but I still can't seem to let go of him. I feel like I need to hold him in place until she's out of sight.
When she does walk away I realize that I better forget about Mulder for now and go after her or I'll lose her again. I drop his arm and give him a final glare and start walking out into the hallway. Dammit, she's already gone. She must have run.
"Wait!" Mulder calls after me and this time he grabs my arm. "She said she wanted to be alone."
"Get out of my face, Mulder."
"Leave her alone."
God, this is just too much. It's all just too much.
"Look, I don't know who the hell you think you are but you've got no right, no FUCKING right to talk to me like that."
"Oh and why's that? Cause you're the big boss man? I'm not afraid of you, Krycek. And I'm not gonna let you boss her around and and...brainwash her anymore!"
Brainwash? Is that what he thinks? That she'd only be here with me if I had some kind of Jedi mind control power over her brain or something? My desire to tell him just exactly how much she wants to be here and why is almost enough to outweigh my desperate need to talk to her immediately. But not quite. Not yet. Besides, she should be the one to tell him. Not me. He'd never believe it from me anyway and I damn well want him to believe it.
"Listen to me you son of a bitch," I tell him, pulling my sleeve out of his hand. "As far as I'm concerned, you're lucky to even be alive. Don't test me, Mulder. I'm warning you. Stay out of my business, stay out of my face."
"And I'm warning you, if you do anything else to hurt her, I'll kill you."
"Hurt her? Oh that's rich, Mulder. This coming from the person who's hurt her more than anything else ever has or ever could."
I'm not surprised to feel his fist colliding with my jaw. It's certainly not the first time Mulder has expressed himself to me in this fashion. But I am surprised by the fact that finding Dana is still the most pressing concern on my mind. I don't have time to stand here and fight with him.
"All the punches in the world aren't gonna change the facts, Mulder. And the fact is, I haven't done a damn thing to hurt her. Now don't make me hurt you."
He backs away from me a fraction and runs his hand through his hair. His fingers are splattered with my blood. Great. I wonder if my lip is starting to swell yet. So nice to have Mulder back.
"Just get out of my room, Krycek. Just...go," he tells me, and I do because I'm seriously afraid that if I stay, I might kill him.
It takes me almost twenty minutes to find Dana and when I do, when I call after her and run up to her side, she doesn't slow down even a little bit. Those small legs move pretty damn fast.
She's walking on the trail between the dorms and the lab. I don't think she's going to work though. I think she's headed beyond the lab, into the forest. She has this tendency to run off to the forest when she's upset. Especially when it's freezing out.
"Dana! What the hell was that about?"
"What was what about?" she asks, still walking, still not looking at me.
"You just, just let him go? Invite him to live here? Without even consulting with me about it?"
"He's harmless, Alex."
"Harmless? Dana, we don't even know who he really is, if he's even really Mulder."
"It's Mulder," she says, with a finality that unnerves me.
"We don't even know why he's here."
"It is him and I know why he's here."
"Well, care to share?"
She pulls her jacket tightly around her body as the wind picks up and blows through us.
"He's here to see me."
And this is supposed to put me at ease how?
"To see you."
"Yes, that's what he told me."
"And you just believe him? Unconditionally?"
She finally stops walking and turns on her heel to face me. Some snow swirls around in the air and lands on her hair.
"Yes I believe him and speaking of not consulting with people, who the hell do you think you are, keeping him caged like a goddamn animal and not consulting with ME about that?"
"I didn't...I didn't wanna upset you. God, Dana, what the hell was I supposed to do with him? I thought he was a danger to us, to everybody."
"First of all, you had no idea if he was a danger or not. Second of all, there's no excuse for keeping someone in isolation, feeding them next to nothing, not even giving them enough water to keep from becoming dehydrated..."
"He seems healthy enough," I mumble, rubbing my chin dismally. I think my lip is still bleeding.
"And third of all, Alex, this has got nothing to do with the safety of the group or anything else other than the fact that he poses some kind of threat to you. Personally." She whispers that last word like it's some kind of profanity. God forbid I should take things personally.
"Oh does he now? I didn't realize that."
She closes her eyes and shakes her head and I feel a sickening heaviness in my stomach all of a sudden. I feel like I'm going to vomit.
"I'm going to keep walking, Alex. And I don't want you to follow me."
"Dana, don't. It's so cold. Just...just come inside."
I touch her shoulder and she jerks away.
"I'll come inside when I'm good and ready. And I won't have you telling me when!"
"Please give Ret some water. I'll be home in an hour or so."
I shrug, resigned to the end of this bizarre train wreck of a conversation and she starts to walk away.
"Devotchka, wait! At least...at least keep warm."
I take off my jacket and drape it over her shoulders. I guess I should be grateful that she doesn't toss it into the snow and spit on it at this point.
I used to come to these woods when I was lonely, when I thought that the pain of missing Mulder would destroy me. The way the ice looks on the tree branches, the sound of the water in the stream that never seems to freeze running over the rocks, the way the air burns the back of my throat when I breathe it in, these things all remind me of that emptiness, that longing. At first I resented the sameness of nature, its refusal to change despite the fact that my entire world had fallen apart. But gradually I came to take comfort in it.
I haven't been here in a long time. It looks different today. I wonder what that means.
I wonder what I'm going to do.
Once upon a time, I would have done anything, killed, died, walked through fire, to see this day. To see Mulder, alive, with me. Here. He's here.
Now all I can think is; How the hell am I going to keep Mulder and Alex from killing each other? And all I can feel is...
Cold. God, it's so cold.
I should really be getting back. Alex is going to start worrying soon. It's been almost two hours.
By the time I get home, it's almost dark out. I pause outside the door for a moment, mentally preparing myself for a continuation of the ridiculous argument from before, but when I walk inside I am surprised to find Alex sound asleep on the couch.
God, what a stark contrast to the ripping mad man in black I was just fighting with a couple of hours ago. He's changed into a pair of beaten up, old, gray sweatpants, and a worn out, burgundy shirt with three buttons at the top, all of which are undone. He's got a book resting on top of his chest and Ret sprawled over his stomach and both dog and man are snoring away, oblivious to the fact that I'm watching them. His hair is a little damp and mussed. Must have taken one hell of a good shower while I was gone.
It would feel so good to lay down next to him, to curl up into him and just forget...everything.
I close the door softly but his eyes flutter open with the sound.
"Hey babe," he smiles at me, his voice scratchy from sleep.
I take off his jacket and then mine and hang them by the door, eyeing him cautiously and wondering when he's going to remember that we were fighting.
He yawns and stretches and rubs his eyes. Then he tells me, "I made pasta for dinner. It's on the stove if you want some."
I walk over to the stove and sure enough there's a pot full of spaghetti with tomato sauce simmering on top.
Who is this man and what did he do with that pissed off guy I was talking to before?
I guess I should be asking but I really don't even care. It's so nice to have some peace.
I stand over the stovetop and start eating right out of the pot, so suddenly hungry that I can't even stand the thought of waiting long enough to get a plate. It's nice and hot and it warms my insides.
After a minute or so I feel an arm around my stomach and a wet head against my neck.
"Jesus, Dana, you're freezing. I wish you wouldn't stay out there so long when it's like this."
"I...I needed some time. To...think," I tell him, my mouth full of noodles.
"And did you?"
Good question. Does it count as thinking if you're more confused after than you were to start with?
"Um...I guess, yeah. A bit. I dunno, you seem a lot more relaxed than I am. Maybe I should have just come back here."
"Well, I've...I've been doing some thinking myself."
"Oh yeah? Anything profound?"
"I realized that there are things, things in this world that are very important to me. And that I have to be careful to take care of those things..."
Oh God. I think I can see where this is going. If he tells me he put Mulder in a cage to "protect me" so help me God... So much for peace.
"I understand that, Alex but..."
"And I'm not going to be able to care for those things if I'm wasting all my time fighting with Mulder."
He kisses my neck and then steps back and to the side so that I can see his face. He looks sincere. God, I hope he's sincere. I smile and shovel more food into my face.
"That's some good thinking there, Captain."
"I also realized that...that I love you. I love you very much, and I should tell you that. So...uh, I love you, Dana. Love you."
At first I'm pretty sure that the last fifteen seconds have been a figment of my imagination. Then I look into those eyes and see that soft smile and the way he's shifting around on his feet and swallowing over and over and shaking and...
God. I am not hungry at all anymore. In fact, I think I want to spit out the food that's already in my mouth. Just thinking about swallowing makes my stomach churn. God.
What if I throw up?
When I was sixteen years old I got my first speeding ticket. I had just gotten my license and I was cruising down the freeway in my father's cadilac, on the way to the beach to meet my friend Sylvia. I didn't realize that I was going that fast. I just wasn't paying attention.
I'll never forget the way I felt when I saw those red lights flashing in my rearview mirror. I was in such deep shit and I had no idea how I was going to get out of it. How I was going to explain to my parents.
Why do I feel the same way right now? Is it because of Mulder? Is it because I'm thinking that there might be another chance for me and Mulder? Do I really think that? Would Alex have even said it if Mulder weren't here? Does it make a difference since I know that he's telling me the truth no matter what brought it on?
He reaches up to his chin in a gesture that says, "you're drooling" and I wipe at my face.
"Here," he points to a spot right under my lip. Then he leans in and licks the dribble of sauce off my chin. And then he's kissing me and the panic and confusion give way for a moment to sheer elation. He loves me. Oh, God, he loves me.
I need to sit down.
My trembling legs manage to carry me over to the couch, which is still warm from Alex's body. I sit down and Ret flops on my lap, looking for more attention. I pet him absently and Alex sits on the floor next to my legs.
I want to talk to him but my throat is so dry and I don't know what to say anyway, so I just sit there. He doesn't say anything else for a long time either and I wonder what he's thinking, what he's feeling. He's probably scared out of his mind.
Then he starts untying my boots. It takes him quite awhile but eventually he gets both of them completely unlaced and pulls them off my feet. Then he removes my thick, wool socks. He laughs when he reaches the thinner, cotton, under-layer of sock.
"Where's your feet?"
"I think they're under those."
He looks up at me with another smile and takes them off. My toes wiggle, happy to be in the open air finally. He takes my left foot in his hand and starts gently massaging the arch and my head falls back against the couch. I sigh with contentment even though my insides are still churning.
I let my eyes close and my brain turn off so that I can enjoy this wonderful foot massage fully. After a few minutes I actually start to feel like I might fall asleep.
But then, from far away, I hear a voice.
"...wanted to tell you that I'm sorry."
"I...I said that I've been thinking about some...stuff. From the past. From our past. And, I just wanted to let you know that I'm sorry for anything I did that hurt you. I...I didn't mean to hurt you, Dana. It wasn't...it was never something I wanted."
It hurts to do so but I open my eyes again.
"I just, I wanted to maybe explain. To talk about it, you know. Because I..."
"Alex, what are you talking about?"
He stops massaging and turns his head up to look at me. He's grimacing like he's in pain. I don't remember the last time I saw such fear in his eyes. Maybe the first time we made love...
"I'm...I'm talking about what I did, Dana. All the things I did that ended up hurting you. Before. Before you were here...you know?"
Oh my God. What is he doing? What is he trying to do to me?
"Alex, wait. Let's...let's not."
"It's not, it's not necessary."
"Does that mean that you forgive me, Dana? That you understand why..."
"Alex, it's not...it's not necessary. My past with you started five years ago."
"My past with you started five years ago. The rest doesn't matter. It doesn't count. So...so let's not talk about it, okay?"
He shrugs and looks down and I swear to God if I didn't know any better, I'd say he looked like he was about to cry.
"Um...yeah, okay. I just thought....well, I just love you, so I...I dunno."
"Alex, what happened to your lip?"
Yes, I noticed it before now. Yes, I have a pretty good idea what happened. Yes, I am desperate to change the subject, even if it makes him angry to talk about it.
"Mulder," he grumbles.
"It's all swollen. We should put some ice on it."
I pull my foot out of his hand and walk over to the kitchen area to find some ice and a bag to put it in.
"Dana, you...you should probably tell him. About us, you know? You should tell him that I'm in love with you."
God, Alex. Please stop saying that. I just don't know what to do with it yet.
"I...I will. I will tell him. I just...haven't had a good opportunity yet."
I grab some ice cubes and put them in a plastic bag and I wonder if a good opportunity for such a thing could possibly exist.
"Just...do it soon, devotchka. Do it soon."
I miss my Alex.
It hit me today, the way most things concerning Alex seem to; sudden and hard. I worked in the infirmary today instead of the research lab. The flu has been hitting pretty hard, especially among the few kids we've got here. I spent the day doing whatever I could to help. It was a busy, stressful day but for some reason, this afternoon as I was taking my twentieth temperature it snuck into my consciousness out of the blue. We haven't made love since Mulder's been here. It's been two weeks already.
And two weeks since Alex told me that he loves me.
I'm not sure why it's been happening, or rather, hasn't been, but I don't like it. We've both been very busy, but we're always very busy. I'd like to believe that it's not about Mulder, but I suppose that's the only explanation. Things have just been...odd between us lately. I don't think either of us has figured out how to just be yet. I think he's afraid to touch me. No, I don't like it.
I still haven't told Mulder about us. Maybe that's part of it too. Maybe some pathetic, denial wracked part of me feels that if we don't actually have sex then I'm not actually hiding anything from Mulder.
The morning after that first strange day, when I let Mulder out of his cage, I went back to his room and asked him something that I'd forgotten about. Something very important. I asked him how in the world he had managed to find us.
He told me about the tape and about Spender and the smoking bastard. He told me that they probably know where we are. I told Alex about that and we've yet to decide what exactly to do about it. Or what it even means. It was a very upsetting thing to find out. But the fact that Mulder told me was the first sign I got that I could really start to trust him again.
And after he told me that he started telling me about his life, what he'd been doing for all these years. How he'd been missing me. The work he'd been doing. The limited information he'd had access to.
I've been spending time with him since then, getting him used to living here, explaining how things work and such. My anger towards him has been waning somewhat and we've been getting along, getting to the point where we feel somewhat comfortable around each other again. And it's been nice. And I'm afraid that if I tell him about Alex, things are going to be not so nice. I don't know why I'm being such a coward about this. I wish I could stop.
He asked me where I lived last week and I just pointed in the general direction of the building like a moron, completely ignoring the one genuine opportunity I've had to explain things to him. My avoidance is starting to annoy Alex.
A lot of things are starting to annoy Alex. Not the least of which, I'm sure, being the fact that we haven't made love in two goddamn weeks. Tonight...tonight I will try. I will try to show him what I still can't seem to say.
God, it's so late already. I've been here forever. I missed dinner I'm sure. Alex is probably over at the lab looking for me. I don't think he knew I was in the infirmary today.
I start to hurry in getting what I need to get done so that I can get out of here and go home. Sterilizing medical equipment is sort of a dull task and as I carry it out I find myself starting to daydream in a way that I haven't allowed myself to in quite some time. I think about him kissing me, touching me, brushing my hair and it makes me so warm inside. God, why have I been doing this to us?
I have to get out of here.
Just have to bring these thermometers back into the examining room and I'll be done. I push open the door to the back room and when I see them there, I feel a sickening knot form in my stomach.
It's Alex. And that...woman. I've only seen her a couple of times since they first got here. Mulder told me a little bit about her, who she was in the time before and why he had brought her with him. Alex hasn't mentioned her at all even though he knew her, said her name when he saw her.
She's sitting on the stool I've been using in examinations all day and Alex is sitting on a chair behind her, his knees around her waist and his hand buried under her hair. He's looking down at her neck intently.
I start to say something but find that my throat is too dry to speak. God, what...
He looks up suddenly, startled. As if I'd caught him doing something bad. Have I?
Then I see the tweezers in his hand and the blood.
"Al...Alex, what are you doing?"
"I'm uh..taking this out," he mumbles, holding up the tweezers. A small, round, metallic chip is wedged between the two tips.
"Oh, no no no. Alex, you're not even wearing gloves!"
Now that I know what's happening, at least on the surface, my near panic subsides and gives way to annoyance and disbelief. What the hell was he thinking?
I walk over to them and he stands up quickly, allowing me access to her. Her neck is bleeding profusely. I take a pair of rubber gloves from my pocket and snap them on, barking an order for Alex to get me some antiseptic and a washcloth.
I start tending to the wound on her neck and Alex stands by, gawking and opening and closing his mouth. Marita still hasn't moved or spoken.
"Marita, it's Dana. How are you?"
When I speak to her she jumps and turns around to look at me. It doesn't look like she recognizes me at all from the past two weeks.
I can't resist glaring at Alex. I can't even believe he tried to do this himself.
"It's...this is how I did yours..." he says in a shrill, defensive tone. Yes, it is. And it went so well that time, didn't it.
"Marita? Are you okay?"
She's starting to breathe too fast and her eyes are tearing up. She looks completely confused and panicked.
"It's okay, Marita. Breathe..."
She jumps up suddenly and grabs at her neck. Then she looks at Alex. She looks at Alex and she looks utterly terrified.
"Alex...?" she whispers. I stand myself and look at him. He's looking at the ground.
"Alex, oh God...what did you do to me?"
She starts pulling at the bandage I just put on her neck and clawing at the skin.
"No, Marita don't touch it," I tell her and, strangely, she listens to me.
"What did you do, Alex? Where am I? What the HELL is going on?!"
I look at Alex again, hoping for some kind of reassurance but none if forthcoming. He's just standing there like a jack-ass. God, what the hell was he thinking?
"Marita, it's okay. I'll take you to your room and we can talk and get you some dinner and..."
"Where the hell am I?"
She's shouting now, and crying and Goddamn you Alex, this is NOT the way I wanted to spend this night.
I put my hands on her shoulders and try to lead her to the door but she jerks away from me, snapping, "Get your hands off me!" and then glaring at Alex herself.
"What the hell did you do to me you sonofabitch?"
"Um...maybe I...maybe I should go," he says. Great. That's just really great.
"Yeah, go. Let me clean up your mess. It's really my pleasure."
"I...I'm upsetting her. I don't..."
And then, as if to prove his point, Marita grabs his shoulders and starts shaking him.
"What the hell did you do to me? Tell me you bastard!"
He pulls away and backs towards the door with a horrified look on his face. I can't even begin to understand what he thought was going to happen when he did this. And I can't keep myself from wondering how exactly these two knew each other. Whatever the relationship was, it doesn't look as though it was a good one. But then why would he feel the need to take her chip out himself?
God, I don't have time to wonder about this. She's crying again and scratching at her neck and Alex is creeping out the door like a little snake.
"I'm...I'll get another doctor or something," he mutters.
"Don't bother. I'll tell her what she wants to know. I'll stay with her."
He nods and stands in the doorway for a moment, just staring.
"I...I'm sorry," he says quietly. And then he leaves.
Marita has collapsed into the chair he was sitting on before and she's sobbing now. I try to hug her but she won't let me. It's going to be a long night.
It's been almost five hours since I left them. About two hours ago I toyed with the idea of going back but I told myself they were probably gone by now and that I would have no idea where to look for them. Yes, I know where Marita's room is. No, I am not a coward.
I'm not. I know that's probably what she thinks of me now. I saw it in her eyes as she watched me leave her there with "my mess". She thinks I screwed things up and then ran away when the shit hit the fan. She doesn't understand.
I had to do it. It was my responsibility. Why doesn't she understand that? We used to be so together on things like this. She used to understand me.
A little voice in my head reminds me that I haven't exactly been open with her, that I might have been better off talking to her about the situation beforehand, asking for her help maybe. But the little voice shuts up fast when the big voice starts thinking about all the other crap I've been putting up with lately. How am I supposed to talk to her about anything anymore? She's never here.
It seems like I've been seeing less and less of her since Mulder came here. And who knows how much of the time that she spends away from me is spent with him. I've been true to my promise to her and stayed far away from him. I haven't even seen him more than once or twice since that first couple of days. But I feel his presence here as strongly as if he'd packed up his stuff and moved into my living room.
She still hasn't told him about us. I don't know how much longer she thinks she can keep it a secret. It's getting ridiculous.
And how long has it been since I finally spilled my guts all over this floor? I'm beginning to think that telling her I love her and trying to apologize for whatever I might have done to hurt her was the biggest mistake I've ever made. She's been so distant since that night.
The most pathetic thing is I keep repeating the idiocy. It seems like every time I see her the crap starts pouring out of my mouth. I love you, Dana. Oh, I love you so much. And she just sits there staring at the wall like I'm reciting tax law to her. Fucking pathetic.
And goddammit, how long has it been since we've had sex again? Oh yeah, since Mulder got here. Funny how that works.
So, yeah, none of this has anything to do with what just happened but it's really starting to piss me off and it's making it difficult to look at anything with an open mind.
Maybe I should tell her about Marita and me. Maybe she'd be jealous. Maybe then she'd start to care about us again.
Not bloody likely. It's not like there's anything to be jealous of. The story's more humiliating than anything else and the last thing I need to feel right now is humiliated.
The sound of the door slamming interrupts my thoughts. Finally.
Ret runs to her and jumps up, putting his paws on her chest and licking her face. Wish it were that easy for me. She smiles and kisses him and then tells him to get down and he does. Stupid dog is more whipped than I am.
She gives me a nasty look.
"Did you eat?" she asks in a thoroughly bitchy tone. I'm sitting at the table so I guess it's a reasonable question but it pisses me off for some reason.
"So what were you doing here all this time?"
She makes a disgusted face and leaves the room.
"I made coffee," I call out to her as she walks into the bedroom. Don't ask me why. I guess to show that I've done something besides brood without her.
"Did you leave any for me?" she asks in that same tone. Then she slams some drawers around.
"There's plenty. It's not very good though."
"Of course," she grumbles. Like it's my fault the coffee maker is from the 1970's, bitch?
Oh God. What the hell is happening to us?
"Where the hell is my green T-shirt?" she shouts, amidst more slamming and banging.
"Under the cushions on the couch."
Right where I stuffed it last time we had sex ten million years ago. I haven't been able to go over there and take it out because it'll just make me think of that and I can't think about having sex with her anymore. It's actually starting to hurt my dick even now.
Just as I'm contemplating burning the sofa she comes running out of the bedroom wearing nothing but a pair of plaid flannel pajama bottoms. No top. No bra. Nothing.
She goes to the couch and starts digging around in the cushions and her breasts are swaying and bouncing and she's taken her hair out of the bun it was in before and it's hanging down her back and just brushing the tips of her nipples which are hard and rosy and...God. What was I thinking about before?
She finally finds the shirt and lifts it up from where it's wedged but before she can put it on I walk over to her and grab part of it.
"Don't," I say, gently I hope.
"Don't what? Alex, give me my shirt."
"Don't put it on."
I tug on the shirt, pulling her closer to me.
"Why? Alex, let go." She pulls on it and I pull back.
"No, Alex, I'm not kidding around. Let go of my shirt. I'm going to bed."
"So what do you need a shirt for if you're going to bed?"
"I can keep you warm. Come here."
I let go of the stupid shirt and move closer to her. I reach out and start to wrap my arm around her waist but she pulls away with a start when my hand touches her skin.
"Don't! Don't touch me."
I step back from her immediately. Far back. She sounds almost frightened. Jesus. I can't deal with this anymore. I don't even know what to say to her. Which is good I guess because she just walks away anyhow, pulling her stupid shirt over her head and disappearing into the bedroom.
I can't even move. All I can do is stand here and stare at the spot where she just told me not to touch her.
And then suddenly, she's back, behind me.
"How do you know her?"
I turn around cautiously, wondering what mood she's decided to switch to now.
"Marita. How do you know her?"
"I thought you didn't want to talk about the time before," I say, snidely I suppose. But what the hell does she care anyway? She's got some kind of strange selectivness when it comes to the past that I can't figure out. Our past starts five years ago. None of the rest matters. Except Mulder of course. He matters. Their past is significant. And now, apparantly, whatever stupid-ass things I might have done that have nothing to do with her matter as well.
"Did she work for them?"
"Yeah, she did. Kind of."
"Goddammit, Alex. Don't play this game with me. Tell me how you knew her!"
I can't believe this. Can't fucking believe it.
"I just did. She was...I dunno, she was just around..."
"How well did you know her?"
"I dunno, not too well."
That's the God's honest truth but she looks at me like she doesn't believe it.
"You're lying to me. I can tell."
"I'm not lying! Jesus, why are you giving me the third degree about this all of a sudden?"
"Because I just spent five hours sitting with this hysterical woman who wouldn't stop ranting about what a bastard you are and how you must have done something awful to her. And I wouldn't have been there in the first place if you hadn't tried to take her chip out all by yourself without even telling me about it and then run out on me when the shit hit the fan. And I know you're hiding something from me, Alex! And it feels like you're lying to me and I hate that!"
I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to do here. I thought I wanted her to be jealous but this is not what I was thinking of. I don't even know what this is. It's like she can't even trust me anymore.
She stares at me for another minute and then storms back into the bedroom. When she comes back out she's carrying my pillow.
"What's that for?"
She just tosses it on the couch and says "Good night."
"Come on, Ret. Time to go night night."
Fucking blackmail is what this is. Like it even matters where I sleep. She won't let me touch her no matter where I am.
"All right, fine. I slept with her. Okay? I slept with Marita a long long time ago. Is that what you wanted to know?"
She's quiet for a minute and her back is turned to me so I can't tell what the hell she's thinking. What's the big fucking deal? I've fucked practically everyone she knows in this place anyway.
"How much?" she asks.
"How much? What the hell does that mean?"
"I mean was it a one time thing or did you have a relationship with her or what?"
Relationship? God, I dunno whether to laugh at that or what. Doesn't she know she's the only person I've ever had anything even resembling a real relationship with?
"I don't know, Dana. It was something in between. Five or six times maybe. I dunno."
"Why didn't you put her in a holding cell?"
"Because she was a slave, Dana! What the hell was she gonna do?"
She nods a little bit but doesn't say anything. She might as well be a million miles away. And I just can't stand it any more. I just can't.
"Dammit, Dana, why are you so fucking pissed off at me?" I ask in a voice that's even louder and angrier than I intended. Not as loud as I'd like to be though. I feel like screaming.
She doesn't answer me. Just stands there with her back turned to me, probably making a list in her head. Reasons I can no longer stand you...
"I don't...I dunno..." she finally says quietly and her shoulders sag. "Did...did you love her?"
Oh my God. That's great. That's so fucking perfect I can't even believe it. I almost wish that I had.
"I barely knew her," I tell her, yet again."She stabbed me in the back," I add stupidly. Like I'm not already dangling out there in the breeze. Maybe I should just hand over my balls right now and get it over with.
"I'm...I'm sorry. I need to go to bed..."
I'm not sure if she's apologizing for being angry with me or for wanting to go to sleep. I'm not sure if this means it's okay for me to sleep in my own bed now.
"All right. I'll see you in the morning."
She nods and starts walking back to the bedroom but then she stops and clears her throat. Something you'd like to say to me, Dana? Anything? Anything at all?
"Alex, you don't...you don't have to sleep out here."
Well, I guess that's something. Not much considering the fact that this is my place to begin with, considering how fucking pathetic I am to let her dictate where I do and do not sleep at night.
"Whatever. It's up to you."
She turns around and smiles a very small but sweet smile.
"Come to bed, Alex."
And I do. I lie down next to her with my eyes wide open and my body stiff as a board and I stay that way for a very long time. I think that she lies next to me, equally awake but we don't touch each other. Her in her pajama pants and her fucking green T-shirt and me in my boxer shorts, afraid to offend her with my nakedness. We don't say another word. And I wonder if I'll ever be able to touch her again without hearing her words ringing in my ears.
Don't touch me, Alex. Don't touch me.
The room was gray and metallic and he tasted blood in his mouth. There were sounds, grinding, crushing, like bones being shredded, ringing in his ears. There were no doors or windows. Rows and rows of empty metal slabs and the man was there, the man who told him that this was a war and that he was on the right side. He was. He had to be.
He was in a suit, starchy and scratchy. Blue and ugly and cheap and a tie for the first time in he didn't even know how long.
Dana...Dana was there. Dana but not Dana. She was Scully. She was Mulder's partner. She was that chubby girl from the autopsy bay. She was a problem. She was a necessary casualty. She was laid out on one of the slabs, naked, her belly bloated with an unnatural pregnancy, her eyes open but glazed over.
He stood at her feet and told her, calm, cold, "Spread your legs, Miss Scully."
The man behind him handed him an instrument, a metal device with sharp points and hard edges, a whirling, gouging piece of hell. He dropped it on the floor, preferring to use his own hands.
Hands. Two again. More of him on the outside, less on the inside.
Her knees bent up and thighs spread apart, exposing herself completely to him and to the man.
He hesitated a moment, frightened, unsure. How could this possibly be right? His father...he didn't understand.
"Do it, Alex," the man behind him whispered urgently. He didn't suppose he had a choice.
He reached up with both hands, digging into her impossibly stretched, impossibly wide vagina. He groped around inside, sloshing through blood and bodily fluids, high and deep in her, in this place that was supposed to be full of life and pleasure but now, dead, rotten, until he felt it. A tiny foot. He grabbed hold of it with both hands and pulled as hard as he could.
She looked down at him with a blank stare of incomprehension. It must have hurt, he thought, but she didn't cry.
The small life came out in his hands, bloody, mucus everywhere, gaping, shrieking mouth. He pulled more, trying to dislodge the thing from her body but the cord was endless, clumpy, tied in knots.
He wrapped his hands around the neck of the half-dead, half-human thing and when it still breathed, he cracked the skull on the floor like an egg, watching as the green fluid flowed onto the tiles, burning everything in its path.
He tugged at the cord like a rope in a tug-of-war and soon another creature came out of her and then another and another and he slaughtered each one in succession without remorse.
The sounds and the smells, nauseating. He felt as if he were on the verge of vomiting from it but he couldn't stop himself from pulling the little monsters out.
Her eyes grew bloody, dilated and she sat up as he murdered her children and asked him calmly, "Why Alex? Why?"
He couldn't answer her because he didn't know.
I wake up screaming and thrashing in damp, tangled sheets. Alone.
"Dana?" I call out again, my heart pounding so fast I can barely catch my breath. She's not here. God. Oh God.
Nightmare. It was just a nightmare. Another one. This was the worst one yet. The most completely nauseating. Usually my nightmares are based on things that have actually happened, things I've done to her, things I've seen done to her. But this one...
Where the hell is she? I roll onto my side with a groan and try to rub the sleep and confusion out of my eyes. Then I look at the clock.
Great. It's almost noon. I must have fallen asleep at dawn or some stupid thing. The last thing I remember is lying awake next to her for hours after that awful conversation about Marita and thinking I wasn't going to get any sleep at all. I guess I was wrong.
I roll out of bed and head to the bathroom for a shower and a shave and then remember the goddamn meeting. It was supposed to start forty-five minutes ago. All the committee heads, me, Scully and Mulder are supposed to be discussing what duties Mulder should be assigned to now that he's decided to stay here. I was all ready to have him taking out the trash but I'm late and they probably started without me.
Why the hell didn't she wake me up?
I brush my teeth quickly and pull some clothes on, forgoing that shower and trying to ignore the sweat clinging to me from my turbulent sleep. This meeting is more important than being powder fresh.
I make my way over to Patterson as quickly as I can, distracted but still haunted by the images from that dream. When I enter the building and see Dana, talking with Roseanne in the hallway outside the conference room, I have to hold myself back from running up to her and crushing her against me.
Instead I walk calmly towards them, trying not to let the relief at seeing her perfectly healthy show on my face. I'm still kinda pissed off at her, after all.
When Roseanne sees me coming she ducks back into the room, touching Dana on the shoulder briefly before she goes.
"Why didn't you wake me?" I ask her, more out of breath than I realized.
"I left for the lab at six am. You were finally asleep so I figured I'd let you be. Didn't realize you'd be comatose till the afternoon," she says quietly, with a smile. She's holding a clipboard against her chest and kind of rocking back and forth on her heels with a coy little expression. I don't know quite what to make of it.
"Well, what did I miss? It's not over already is it?"
"No, we haven't even started. Everyone's waiting inside for you."
"Oh...well, thanks. Thanks for waiting."
"Alex, why wouldn't we?" she asks with such tenderness in her voice that it makes me ache for a better time. A time when I would have felt comfortable kissing her right now, pressing her against the wall and sharing her warmth. Then she reaches between her chest and the clipboard and pulls out a small, folded piece of paper. She hands it over to me and smiles again. Then she turns around and walks back into the conference room.
I unfold the paper and stare at the words, not entirely sure if they're really there.
Is this a joke? She wouldn't be that cruel would she? I guess the only way to find out is to go down there tonight and see for myself.
I've gotta hand it to Krycek. The little bastard has kind of a nice place here. All right, so he didn't build it or anything but still, he's running it pretty well. Certainly not the lap of luxury in terms of material things but I've felt more comfortable here the past few weeks than I ever did in that colony.
I've been eating decently and sleeping relatively well. The people here have been very friendly and nice to me. There's an indoor track for me to jog on which is what I'm stretching in preparation for right now. And best of all of course, Scully.
I think she's forgiving me. She's been warming up steadily since that first day, spending time with me and talking about what she's been doing all this time, what this group is really about. I still don't completely agree with their tactics but I'm starting to understand why she stays here. It's seeming more and more like the best of all the evil choices out there.
My biggest problem so far has been boredom really. With no work and no real focus I've been starting to go stir crazy here. Scully's visits are the brightest parts of my day but I don't see her as often as I'd like. But that's going to change now. Because of what we decided at the meeting today, I'm going to be seeing a lot more of her.
It was my idea. Scully's been telling me about her work, her search for a cure to the cancer threatening to return to her body and the bodies of many of the other women here. I was reminded of how it felt to watch her almost succumb to that illness so many years ago and why I'd agreed to the stupid deal in the first place. So that I'd never have to see that again. I'd do anything, anything at all to keep her from having to go through that. She asked me if I knew anything about the cure but all that I could tell her was that there is one. And that the conversion process leaves the converted immune.
So today when the question of what I am most qualified to do was raised, I suggested that maybe I would be most useful to everyone as a lab rat. Scully's lab rat. I'm the only person they've got who's undergone the conversion and the answer to the questions she is asking are contained in my body, in my blood. I'm certain of that.
Scully agreed and so did everyone else. Except Krycek. He thought I should do something more along the lines of hard labor. Probably wanted me to take out his trash or something. But after Scully pointed out that this might be the only hope she had he gave me a nasty look and acquiesced. It's become abundantly clear to me that he's got some very strong feelings for her although I've yet to figure out the exact nature of those feelings. Whatever they are, they forced his hand. Keeping her healthy was more important than his resentment towards me.
It surprised me to say the least. Not that he's grown to care for her after all this time. Who in their right mind could spend any time with Scully at all and not care? What shocks me is that he supposedly cares enough to put her interests ahead of his own. It shocks me and it makes me nervous because I can't help wondering what he's really planning. I just cannot buy this selfless act. Not from him.
Doesn't matter though. Scully and I can handle whatever bullshit he tries to pull. We're gonna be stronger than ever.
Well, I know we've still got a ways to go. She's still a little distant and closed to me. Christ, she hasn't even told me where she lives yet. I guess she's afraid of me showing up at her place at 2 am the way I used to, frantic and needing her help. Not this time, Scully. It's gonna be diffr the guardrail down to the indoor swimming pool. The water is glowing.
And then I see her.
She must have turned off all the lights except for the one in the pool. She's in a swimsuit. A black one with a zipper down the front. It looks about twenty years old. And so does she. I don't know how she's managed to keep such a youthful appearance with all the crap she's been through. But I swear, she looks younger than she ever has. And more beautiful.
She's walking around the edge of the pool and when she reaches the deep end she dives gracefully into the water. She starts doing laps, back and forth across the pool and I feel somewhat at a loss. Should I say something? Go down there? Or just stand up here in the shadows ogling her? She seems to be enjoying a private moment of peace and I don't want to disturb that but I also am starting to feel a bit creepy just watching her without announcing my presence. Of course, I could just leave.
It's not a fully conscious decision on my part but I do end up watching, spying I guess. My limbs just don't seem to want to carry me down there and my throat won't form the words to get her attention. She's just so stunning.
And then I see him.
I recognize him from the way he swaggers towards the water's edge, clad in black as usual. He looks completely out of place with his buckles and boots and ever-present attitude in this womb like atmosphere of serenity Scully has created. And he watches her. I watch him watching her. And I wait.
After about four more laps of double voyeurism Scully stops swimming and stands up in the shallow end, near the edge. She jumps a little when she sees Krycek hovering there like some kind of freaking psycho stalker and my heart starts beating a little quicker. What the hell is he doing anyway?
"How long have you been standing there?" she asks, running her fingers through her hair, breathing heavily.
"'Bout four laps."
"Why didn't you say something, Alex?"
"I didn't wanna disturb you," he says with a snotty, sarcastic affectation in his voice. It's a little difficult to judge her facial expressions from above but she looks completely puzzled by the comment or the tone. Maybe both.
Something very strange is happening here. Something that's starting to scare me. The way he's acting towards her...it's almost as if he has some kind of sick fixation with her or something.
"Disturb me? Alex, I asked you to come down here."
Her voice is soft and sweet.
Asked him to come here?
"Yeah. What for?"
Same question I was about to ask, Krycek. Work? Maybe she's got something she needs to discuss with him about the meeting today? She ducks her head and runs her fingers in a trail through the water's surface.
"What do you think, Alex?" she whispers but the acoustics in here cause her words to reverberate off the walls, echo in my ears. I should leave. This is something private, something that I have no right to be watching. It's not about work. Scully doesn't use that tone of voice to talk about work. In fact, I don't know when I've ever heard her use it. I should go. But I can't. I can't.
"I honestly have no idea, Dana."
God, I still can't get used to hearing her call him that. Or him calling her Dana.
"Dana, I don't really know what you want from me anymore so you're going to have to be a little more direct if you don't want me to screw it up."
She snaps her head up and looks at him with a heart-breakingly sad expression. She looks so totally vulnerable, half naked and soaking wet, letting him stand there and say these things to her like that. I've never seen her so vulnerable.
Then she walks over to the steps leading into the pool and sits down on the first one, leaving half of her body out of the water.
"All right. What's wrong?" she asks and he snorts.
"Where would you like me to start?"
"Anywhere. I just want to know what's on your mind. I just...I just want to get things out in the open and get through them."
Goddammit, Krycek. What ever your stupid problem is, get over it. Can't you see how upset she is?
"Okay, fine. Have you told Mulder yet?"
Told Mulder yet? She ducks her head and sighs and I get the impression that she hasn't told me. She hasn't told me a lot I'm starting to think.
"Not...not yet. I..."
"I haven't had the...the time. I will, Alex. I will."
"You said that to me two weeks ago, Dana. And I said fine. But it's getting ridiculous. It's not fair to either of us."
She clutches her knees to her chest and shivers, almost her entire body in the open air now. My stomach drops and I'm starting to feel very sick. Oh, Scully. What are you doing?
"I...I know. I will tell him. Tomorrow. I promise."
Too late, Scully. Too fucking late.
"All right then, you mentioned time before. You haven't had 'time' to tell him. Well, what have you been doing with all your time, Dana? Cause you sure as hell haven't been spending it with me."
She's fucking him. Oh God. She's fucking him. How could I not have realized? How could it have possibly taken me so long to pick up the clues?
"I've been working, Alex. Taking care of sick kids and spending nights at the lab. Trying to find a cure for cancer. Not to mention the resistance liaison committee which you put me in charge of. And for God's sake, Alex, you're not home any more often than I am."
Home? As in her home and his home? Together? No, that can't possibly be. She would have told me if they were living together.
"Maybe so. But, Dana, when we actually are home together..."
Together. Home together. Jesus Christ, Scully. Jesus Christ.
"Well, when we are together nowadays those three little words from last night seem to be the rule of law."
"Three little words? Alex...what..."
"Don't. Touch. Me," he spits out viscously, his arms crossed over his chest.
Okay, so, they've been fucking. She hasn't told me and that sucks but maybe...maybe she's trying to end it. Maybe that's why he's so angry. Maybe she hasn't bothered to tell me because it's not a big thing and she wants to just break it off so that we can be together. Maybe...
"Oh, Alex," she sighs and stands up, getting out of the pool completely and walking up close to him.
"And even though you only actually said it once, you've been radiating that attitude for two weeks. So you've gotta understand if I'm a little confused about what you could possibly want from me now."
"Alex, I'm...I'm sorry I said that. And I'm sorry that we haven't been taking enough time. I was very angry and confused last night and I felt like...I don't know, I just felt like you were hiding something from me."
He kneels down and picks up one of the towels she brought with her and wraps it around her shoulders. Seeing him touch her makes me want to vomit.
"Alex, I just couldn't understand why you'd do something so foolish. And do it alone. I mean, I can see why you'd want to be the one to do it but, why didn't you ask me to help you? I would have helped. I felt like you were purposely trying to shut me out."
"I just...I didn't feel comfortable asking you for help, Dana."
"But why? Because you had a past with her?"
She's moving closer. She's so close to him. I don't think she's trying to break up with him anymore.
"No, Dana, it's got nothing to do with her. It's...it's us. It's you and me. I feel...I don't feel..."
He runs his hand through his hair and looks down at the ground. Sad. He looks sad. Or as close to that as I've ever seen him. Maybe he'll break up with her. Maybe...
"God, Dana. You've just been so closed off to me lately. I feel like I can't even talk to you anymore."
"Oh, but Alex, you can. I want you to."
She touches his arm and then moves down to grasp his hand in hers. Why am I still here? God, I really think I'm going to throw up. How can this be happening? I keep waiting for it to end but it doesn't.
"I miss you, Alex. I miss talking to you and I miss...everything."
"God, devotchka, I miss you too," he croaks out.
De what? God, I don't even wanna know.
"Alex, let's...let's just be together tonight. Let's just forget about the past two weeks and start over."
I don't understand this. This can't be Scully. Maybe she's a clone. Maybe he's drugging her. Maybe...
Oh God, he's kissing her. He's got his hand on the back of her head and his tongue down her throat and they're both moaning and clutching at each other and I can't watch but I can't look away either. The stupid, revolting kiss seems to go on forever and every noise they make, every sigh and every slurp and the sound of her wet bathing suit sloshing against his leather jacket, it all echoes through the room and through my head. It's the loudest fucking thing I've ever heard.
God, Scully, how could you? How could you do this to me? To us? We were so close to this. This should be me kissing you. Me.
She finally breaks away from him and starts walking backwards towards the edge of the pool, tugging on his hand.
"Come into the water with me, Alex."
She lets go of his hand and goes back into the shallow end. Then she starts unzipping her suit.
I need to go. God, please just make me go. I can't stand here and watch her strip for him.
"Aren't you coming?"
"Dana, are...are you sure? Because if not I..I mean I really can't take this anymore," he sputters out, breathless. Yeah, poor guy. Two weeks is a real fucking long time. Fucking asshole.
"I'm sure, Alex. I'm so sure, it hurts," she croons in a voice I once thought only porn stars and phone sex operators actually used. Then she crosses her arms over her chest and pulls down the straps of her suit.
I try to look away but....
God, she's so fucking beautiful. I can't stand it. I can't. How is this happening? How can this be fair?
"Careful, it's very....very wet," she says, tossing her discarded bathing suit out of the pool and onto his boots. I look over at him for the first time in a long time. He's got his jacket off already and he's working on his shirt. He's moving so fast and frantically he looks like he's about to fall down.
She's laughing as she watches his desperate struggle to get naked in a hurry.
"Take your time, zhivotnoye," she giggles. Zhivotnoye. Sounds like Russian. I want to know what it means. I wonder if it means bastard. I wonder if it means back-stabbing, lying, murdering, sneaky motherfucker.
"You laughing at me, woman? You have any idea what it's like having blue balls for two weeks?"
"No, I don't, Alex. Why don't you tell me. Tell me how much you want it. Tell me how you need it," she murmurs in that...that voice again. She flips onto her back so that she's floating in the water. So that her breasts are peeking out, looking right up into the darkness where I'm standing. I feel my cock stiffening in response despite what's going on in my mind, in what's left of my heart.
I can't look at her anymore but when I look at him I feel even sicker. He's naked now and hard as I am for her. And looking at her like a fucking animal about to devour its prey.
She's really gonna let him fuck her.
Maybe it's a good-bye fuck. Maybe it's just one last time before she dumps him on his ass and comes back to me. Maybe...
God, has it only been two weeks? It feels like forever.
Forever since I've seen him like this. Naked, oh I have seen him naked many times. It's hard not to when you're living in a dorm room with someone. But naked and flushed and aroused and smiling...finally smiling, that's something else entirely. Something I have missed more than I even realized.
I can barely even talk. I'm actually choked up.
"God, devotchka, I've been going crazy wanting you. I haven't been able to think about anything else."
He sits down on the steps and gestures for me to join him. When I swim over there he grabs me and pulls me onto his lap. I am expecting to be thoroughly ravished but he just holds me there against his chest, cradling me between his thighs.
"I miss you," he whispers into my wet hair and I wrap my arms around his neck.
"I miss you too, Alex."
God, I miss him so much. It feels so amazingly good to be close to him like this. I can't believe I've been denying myself, denying him for so long.
I turn into him for a kiss and feeling his tongue softly filling my mouth sends a tremor through me like nothing else has ever been able to do. How could I have told him not to touch me? No matter how angry I was, it was a horrible and idiotic thing to say. I couldn't bear it if he never touched me again.
"Mmmsorry, Alex," I whisper into his ear and he pulls me closer. "I'm so sorry I said...what I said. I shouldn't have."
"S'okay. It's been hard for you lately."
"Well, either way, I just shouldn't have said it. Period."
I don't think I realized how it would effect him. Didn't realize that he would take it to heart. Stupid, stupid thing to do.
"S'okay. Just...just don't say it again, okay?"
God, he sounds just like a little boy. It still astounds me sometimes how vulnerable he allows himself to become with me. It makes my heart twist into many strange shapes.
"Never," I promise him with another kiss. "Never ever."
I want him so much. I can't stand it. I just want him.
"Now, let's start over, Alex."
I turn around in his lap and climb on top of him, straddling him, reveling in the feel of his cock pressing up against me under the water. I lean in and start biting and licking the side of his neck and find myself rocking against him almost unconsciously. I think I'm ready to just take him inside right now.
But he pulls back from me. He doesn't seem as desperate as I am. Maybe he's still afraid because of the way I've been pushing him away.
I take his hand in mine and run it wantonly up and down my body, trying to encourage him, show him how badly I want his touch.
"What do you need, Alex?" I ask, dragging his fingers back up to my mouth and taking his forefinger between my lips. I suck on him greedily, thrilling in the way he stares at my display, wide-eyed and open-mouthed.
He swallows and closes his eyes. Whatever it is it must be good. I've never seen him look so embarrassed to ask for something like this.
"I just...can I just hold you for a minute?"
"Hold...um...sssure. Yeah. Okay."
I'm thrown for a minute but try really hard not to let my disappointment show. It is really sweet and I love being held by him. It's just, well, I suppose I'm feeling a bit impatient for the main event here.
I take a deep breath and un-straddle myself. I sit on his lap with my legs closed this time and he pulls me against his chest.
"Is this okay?" he asks, squeezing me tighter and tighter.
"Yeah. Yeah, it's nice."
It is nice but he's starting to crush me. I try to relax and listen to his heart beating against my ear. It's beating so fast though. And I'm starting to have trouble breathing.
I let him clutch me in his deathgrip for a couple of minutes, afraid to tell him that I'm going to start choking soon and actually enjoying the closeness despite all of that. But before too long I start to feel my chest constrict and begin worrying about physical harm. Death by Alex hug.
I clear my throat and cough a bit but he doesn't seem to notice. He's still squeezing the life out of me, breathing heavily into the top of my head.
"Huh? Oh. Oh God, I'm sorry," he stammers, loosening his arm significantly. "Didn't mean to asphyxiate you there."
"S'okay," I sigh, snuggling up into him. We sit in silence for awhile, hanging onto each other and just enjoying the way it feels and I'm so grateful to be with someone so wonderful. This was a very good idea.
"God, Dana, I feel so weird. This is all just so weird."
I have to laugh at that. There's nothing about this life we're living that *isn't* weird.
"I mean this whole past year has been weird to begin with for me," he continues and I realize suddenly that yesterday was our anniversary. A year ago yesterday we made love for the first time. I can't believe we spent it in such a horrible way. Thank God we're making up for it now.
"I mean I...I never expected this to happen to me, Dana."
"Well, I never would have expected it either. But I'm glad it happened. So glad."
I start kissing his neck again, unable to help myself, and try to focus on that particular part of his body to restrain myself from reaching down and grabbing his dick.
"I just don't know what to do with myself sometimes," he goes on, seemingly oblivious to my ministrations. "I guess sometimes I feel like if I squeeze you hard enough, I won't lose you."
I stop what I'm doing and pull back to look him in the eye.
"Alex, I don't want to lose you either. Don't you believe that?"
He doesn't answer me which is pretty terrifying to me. Have I been that reserved? That distant? Or is it that he's much more insecure than I ever would have dreamed?
"I just hope you never feel like you *have* to stay with me," he says quietly, almost as if he doesn't want me to hear him. I don't know why he would think that I'd ever feel obliged to be his lover. Because he saved my life? Because I owe him? I can't believe that he would even consider that.
Or is it something even worse? Something he'd never say. Does he think I'm afraid of him? That I'd fear for my life if I left him?
I turn towards him and take his face in my hands, smooshing his cheeks together with my palms.
"Alex, we're in this together. Okay?"
He shrugs and I almost laugh out loud at what a pathetic picture he makes with his squished, frowning face.
"And that's what you want?" he asks through his fish-shaped lips and this time I do laugh.
"Yes! Alex, yes. I want this. I want you."
I punctuate the statement with another kiss but when I pull back he's still got a skeptical look on his face.
"Look Alex, I'll tell you what. If I get miserable you can kick me out okay? That way it's on your shoulders."
"Well, that's a pretty big responsibility. How will I know?"
"You don't think you know me well enough to tell when I'm miserable?"
"I dunno, Dana. You've seemed pretty miserable to me for the past two weeks."
"Not with you, Alex."
"Alex. Listen to me. I don't want to go. I don't want to go ever."
He opens his mouth to voice another protest but I cut him off with a kiss. Mostly because I want to kiss him but partially because I want him to stop talking now. I just want to forget about all of this and go back to the way we were. Just for one night.
"This is just weird for me, Dana," he says again when we break apart. "I've never been in...."
He stops himself from finishing that thought and it makes me unspeakably sad. He's starting to feel like he can't say it anymore. Probably because of my underwhelming response. Sometimes I don't know what's wrong with me. Why does this all have to be so confusing?
"I've never felt like this before. And I don't really know how it's supposed to be. How I'm supposed to act..."
"You've been doing just fine, Alex," I whisper into his ear and he shivers a little. Whether it's a response to the seductive tone I'm attempting to affect or the fact that half his chest is out of the water I'm not sure.
"God, Dana. I'm sorry. I don't know what's wrong with me."
"Nothing's wrong with you."
I run my hands over his smooth, hard chest and down around his thick, muscular thighs. Nope, nothing wrong here.
"You're perfect, Alex. Perfect."
He smiles for the first time in a long time, appeased by my honest but utterly shameless flattery. Well, it worked didn't it?
"That's what I keep saying," he tells me with a grin. "But nobody believes me except you."
"Hmmm, mysterious. Maybe you are brainwashing me."
"Maybe. Guess there's no way to tell huh?"
"Well, they say ignorance is bliss..."
"And are you blissful?"
"I don't know. I'm too ignorant to figure that out."
I wiggle out of his embrace and swim away from him, feeling suddenly playful. He looks after me with a pout.
"Where do you think you're going?"
"Swimming. Isn't that what people are supposed to do in pools?"
He looks down and skims his fingers over the surface with a very phony and very silly frown.
"Well, there are other things to do in pools, you know. My Dana voodoo doll would know what to do."
"Yeah, she's a little clothespin with red hair drawn on in crayon."
I have to stop swimming around because now I'm really laughing and I might drown.
"Well, sometimes brainwashing just isn't enough. Sometimes a guy needs a little extra help. So whenever I get horny I just put her next to my dick and you miraculously appear."
"Alex, you're supposed to leave the toys for the kiddies," I tell him between giggles.
"Yeah, well she hasn't been working lately anyway. I think the magic's worn off."
"Or maybe you're just a nutcase."
"That's always a possibility I suppose."
We both laugh and it feels so good. So so good to be like this. I think it's been just as long since I've laughed like this as it's been since we had sex. I didn't realize how badly I needed it.
I don't think I recognized the value of silliness until Alex and I got together. I'm pretty sure he didn't either.
I look over at him still sitting on the steps, half in the water, half out, and I wonder if it's possible that he's *still* nervous about really touching me.
"What's the matter little boy? Why're you still sitting on the steps? You scared of the water?"
"Nope. I'm scared of what's in the water," he says and lunges at me unexpectedly. He grabs me around the waist and lifts me up and I shriek like a thirteen year old girl. He spins me around and I wrap my arms around his neck to keep from flying away.
"You know there's a monster in here," he growls into my ear. "A horny pool beastie."
"I don't believe in mon...monsters!" I attempt to pronounce through my giggles. "And if I did I wouldn't be afraid like you, ya big baby."
"Oh, that's a mistake, Dana. The pool beastie is very dangerous. He takes pretty little girls like you and does this..."
He shoves me against the wall and starts playfully gnawing on my neck. It tickles and it's warm and I can't stop laughing and squirming and fruitlessly trying to push him away so that I can catch my breath.
He finally stops but I barely notice because I'm still giddy and practically hyperventilating. I hear him say something but I can't quite tell what it is.
"Hmmwha...what?" I ask, trying to catch my breath. He's staring at me very seriously all of a sudden.
"I said you're beautiful," he whispers roughly. "The most beautiful thing in the world."
Before I can respond to that statement beyond gaping at him he's kissing me again, so softly and so sweetly it almost breaks me. I tangle my fingers in his hair and pull his head closer and our mouths open, tongues touching lightly. I can't stifle the groan that comes from somewhere in my chest and travels out of my mouth and into his. He always knows just what to say to turn my insides out.
Could I say it now, I wonder as we kiss and kiss and kiss. Could I?
We break apart finally and I lean back and catch sight of the stars above us. I'm hit with a rush of memories and feelings starting with the first time we came down here and continuing over the years we've spent together, as friends and most recently, lovers, over all the Tuesdays we've spent here talking and making love and just having fun. I could say it. Maybe...
"Alex, do you ever think about that first night when we came here?"
I take his face in my hands and point it upwards and he smiles.
"They look better," he says. "Not as good as you though."
"No, I'm serious. That's all I could think that night, you know. You kept telling me to look at the stars and all I wanted to look at was you."
He drops his head and looks into my eyes and I melt yet again.
"Of course. How could I not?"
"God, Alex, I was such a wreck back then."
"Still beautiful. Always," he whispers, leaning in for another kiss. This kiss is hungrier, more passionate and sloppy than before. His tongue thrusts in and out of my mouth in an imitation of what I'm now about ready to die for and I clutch at him needily.
"So, where's this pool beastie?" I ask as he nips at my chin and neck.
"Pool beastie? Horny monster? I keep waiting for him to come and attack me but here I sit, getting kisses from boring old Alex."
He smiles, seeming to have regained his sense of humor as well as his confidence, thank God.
"Ah, I see how it is. Well, you've gotta do something to summon the monster, Dana. He doesn't just appear out of the blue."
"Oh, I see. What should I do?"
"Well, he might like it if you kiss my neck like you were doing before. I think I heard him stirring around when you were doing that."
"Is that so? He likes when I kiss *your* neck?"
He nods quickly with that, "you know you wanna" grin and I find myself giggling again.
"He's kind of a voyeur."
"All right, well, I suppose it can't hurt to try..."
I rake my teeth over the skin on the side of his neck in an attempt to be seductive and he moans in response. I can't carry on that way for very long though. I'm laughing too hard.
"Ya know, I don't think you're taking the beastie very seriously," he tells me through his own chuckles.
"Oh, I didn't realize he was a serious beast."
"He's very serious."
I try to swallow down my laugher but find that I can't. It's an amazing feeling, not being able to stop laughing.
"This is very bad. You know what he does to little girls who laugh at him?"
I shake my head, anxious to find out the answer.
He reaches down and starts tickling my stomach mercilessly. I try to get away but end up backing against the wall and trapping myself against him.
I end up laughing so hard that I'm crying. Shrieking and squealing and wriggling.
"Stop!! Alex, I ca...I can't breathe!"
He stops tickling but I'm still pressed between his body and the side of the pool. Not that I'm complaining.
"Are you going to take the beastie seriously from now on?" he asks, his fingers dangerously close to my abdomen.
"Yes," I say but can't help snorting afterwards.
"You know what else he likes that might counteract the effects of your mockery?"
"If you like, lift your legs up and wrap them around my waist."
"Oh, he likes that, huh?"
Interesting. I must test this theory. I wrap my arms around his neck and lift myself up, naturally buoyant because of the water, and tangle myself around him. Oh yeah. That definitely works for me at least. Alex makes a sound somewhere between a moan and a laugh and presses himself against me. He's hard again. Or still. Not sure if he has been this entire time or not. I was too distracted by his goofing around.
"So, this beastie as you refer to him, is he completely aquatic?"
"Completely? No, I don't think so," he says, rotating his hips tantalizingly. "I've seen him a few other places around here."
"Well, I guess what I want to know is, how long do you think he could hold his breath under water?"
He smiles and thrusts more deliberately against me with another laugh/grunt.
"I see how it is," he whispers wickedly, his lips close enough for kissing. "Unfortunately I think he breathes air primarily. Maybe if you got him some diving gear."
"Yeah, I know. He's not a very effective monster."
"Well..." I pause to press my mouth against his briefly but as soon as I make the contact his lips part and our tongues meet in a frantic, wet tangle.
"Mmmwell," I continue as his kisses move across my face and over to my ear. He starts sucking on my earlobe and licking around the whorls and I lose my train of thought again.
"It sounds....ughmmm....it sounds like he's not really ...oh...a monster at all."
The tongue bath stops abruptly and he gives me a look of mock incredulity.
"Are you questioning the beastie's existence?"
"Well, that's the worst kind of offense. You know what the monster does when you question him?"
"He lifts you out of the water like this."
Sure enough, he lifts me up and tosses me onto the ledge of the pool. It's freezing and the ground is hard and uncomfortable and I shriek in disapproval. I know where this is going though and I'm not about to get back into the pool and miss out.
"And then he comes around and starts biting your thighs," he tells me and begins doing just that.
"Well, so much for counting on you as a...mmmmprotector."
"Oh, I'm helpless against the horny beast," he murmurs against my leg. I start to forget about the discomfort in the rest of my body very quickly when I feel his teeth and lips brushing against the insides of my thighs, higher and higher...
"Now do you believe in the beast?"
"Or am I gonna have to continue this demonstration?"
Oh God. Please continue.
"There is no monster. Just the lunatic I share a bed with."
"Well, now the monster's really pissed. He doesn't like when you call me names. I think it's time for a lesson in monster manners."
"Yes, you've got to learn to be polite to the monster. To respect and worship him."
"Yes, he won't settle for less. Otherwise he might do this..."
"I think that's a bit muuhhhh, oh God..."
Oh God. Oh my God. He's there, finally. My legs snap open as far as they could possibly go immediately, reflexively, when I feel his tongue working slow, delirium-inducing circles around my clit. Words cannot do justice to how good this feels.
I lean back on my elbows, preparing myself for the orgasm I am on the verge of already and then suddenly, he's gone again.
"And then he'd just stop randomly and then you'd be really sorry," he says with the most insufferable grin I've ever seen.
Oh, Alex. You little bastard.
"Ss...so what?" I pant in a pathetic attempt to appear unaffected.
"So what? Well okay then. If you want to keep disrespecting the monster you'll have to pay the price."
He looks up at me, waiting for my surrender. I sit up and take his head in my hands. I consider shoving it back between my legs but think better of it. Not ready to give in just yet. So I dunk him instead. He comes back up spitting and shaking his head like a wet dog.
"Now you're *really* in trouble, woman."
He gives a little growl and starts at it again, a little slower this time. He laps gently at me everywhere but *the* spot and my whole body turns to jello and my hips jerk and twitch against him. Too good. God, it's too too good. I can't believe how long it's been since I've felt this. I feel like I'm gorging after a two week hunger fest.
When he starts thrusting his tongue slowly in and out of me I'm reduced to whimpering.
"Oh Gahh....Don' sstop," I beg, shamelessly and of course, he does.
I try to stare him down and he grins at me like the big jerk that he is.
"So you see, it might be for the best if you just appease him."
"You think you're just the most adorable thing in the world don't you?"
He chuckles from deep in his throat and licks his lips. God, those lips. I find myself just staring at them, willing them back between my legs.
"That's what the monster tells me. He likes me. Because I worship him."
"Well then, I guess you two don't really need me if you've got each other."
"Oh but Dana, we've been so lonely without you."
"You sure? Cause I could just take care of things on my own..."
His eyes light up and sparkle with dewy excitement and he nods slowly in approval.
"I think the monster would like that a lot."
I run my hand through my hair and slowly down to my chest. Taking my breast in my hand and rubbing the hardened nipple between two fingers feels startlingly good and I moan with absolute abandon. I watch him watching me and it feels even better.
"Does this monster of yours like this?" I ask him, making something of a show out of myself.
"Mmmyeah, he's real happy. Do it more."
I run my hand down my torso and start brazenly masturbating right in Alex's face. His gasping and panting are almost as loud as mine as he watches.
Sometimes I can't even believe the way he makes me act. I'm usually very quiet when I do this. Leftover pubescent guilt or something. But now I'm mewling like a porn star. Because he likes it. Because I like that he likes it. Because turning him on turns *me* on more than anything in the world.
After a little bit I start to feel that familiar tingle and I know that if I keep doing this, I'm gonna end up making myself come. I'm not gonna be able to help myself.
"Oh, Aleeex," I whimper and he grabs my hand and pulls it away. He takes the two fingers I was using in his mouth and sucks on them. His eyes flutter shut and he moans, devouring my taste. It's unbearable.
"God, Alex, please..."
Without another word he grabs my hips, pulls me forward and finishes me off with his tongue. My orgasm is so powerful and so fast. It feels like falling out of a window. It feels like dying. I think I finally understand what the hell that means.
When it's over I slide back into the pool and into his embrace. He holds my shaking, spent body for a long time.
"Good?" he whispers into my ear.
"I saw stars."
"Hey, whaddya' know, me too."
We both smile and I feel him pressing against me again. God, I want him inside me. I want him in me right now.
And lucky for me, he wants that too.
I lift my legs and wrap them around his waist and he needs no further encouragement.
"Bozhe Moy," he grunts as he pushes into me. I'm pretty sure that means "My God". This translation thing is all about context.
It's been so long that it actually hurts me a little bit but more than that it fills me with a sweet, tingling thrill that I can't begin to describe.
He starts out slowly, trying to draw it out, but I have no patience left. I urge him on by digging my heels into the small of his back, pulling him deeper.
"More," I whisper into his ear and it seems to be all he needs to hear. He starts fucking me, fast and hard, slamming me against the wall, and I throw my head back and moan.
No matter how we start it always ends like this. We can be tender and loving, we can be silly and carefree, we can be passionate and intense. But when we get to this point we can't seem to stop ourselves from going at it like dogs in heat. There's a place we bring each other to, a desperate, crazy place, and we never fail to get there together.
"Feels so good...you feel so good," he croons and I grab a hunk of his damp, mussy hair and pull his face to mine. His tongue darts around inside my mouth and then slides down my throat and I love it. I really do. I feel like he's everywhere.
I remember a conversation, a long long time ago, when Roseanne told me what it was like to have sex with Alex Krycek. She said that the whole world seems to disappear. That the only thing that exists is you and him fucking. That it's like being swept up into a tornado. Her words, not mine. I remember thinking how silly it sounded and yet finding myself unavoidably intrigued. I think I know what she was talking about now. I like to believe that what I've experienced with him, what I am experiencing right now, is what Roseanne described times twenty. Times one hundred thousand. I think that it is. Because he didn't love Roseanne.
He loves me. Me.
And everything else disappears. I look up at the stars in the sky but they don't register anymore. All I see and hear and feel and taste is Alex. The smell of his sweat, the scrape of his teeth and tickle of his tongue against the skin on my neck, the quivering of the muscles in his arm as he holds me up against him, the smooth heat of his chest, his heart beating against my breast, his throat, Adam's apple bobbing as he sucks in sharp, heaving breaths, his sex, pulsing, thrusting inside of me. This is what I feel, what I am.
I don't feel the cold that I know must be hitting the wet, exposed, upper part of my torso. I don't feel the grinding of the skin on my back against the cement of the pool side.
I feel...oh, I feel...
I feel my hands resting on his shoulders and I feel the early tremors of an outstandingly long and delicious orgasm wracking my body. I dig my nails into his flesh, drawing blood, marking him. Mine. He is mine.
His teeth are clamped tight on the side of my neck and when he slides his hand down my back to clutch my ass, he growls and shakes his head like a puppy chewing rawhide. It should hurt but it doesn't. It pushes me on even further. And then I feel his fingers moving down, exploring. He reaches the place where we're joined and feeling him touch me there is enough to end things for me.
"Oh God, Alex, oh MY GOD," I cry out and he pounds into me like a lunatic. I come twice and sometime in between I feel him expanding and exploding inside me. His orgasmic scream reverberates in the room and it's just about the loudest thing I've ever heard in my life.
As he's coming down he holds me against him and, continuing to jerk into me, whispers, "love you, love you, love you." It makes my chest constrict in that now familiar combination of panic and joy and delirium. I think this is the first time anyone has ever said that to me and meant it in this kind of situation.
I cover his face and his neck and those beautiful eyelashes with kisses and sag against him.
"Thank you, Alex," I murmur into his ear and he squeezes me tighter. We stay like that for a few minutes in silence and then I hear a noise. A small, thumping sound. Almost like someone's here. I lift my head and look around nervously and so does Alex.
"What's that?" I ask.
"I think it's the pool monster," he tells me with a grin. I think I'm too tired and spent to care. I think I'm dazed enough to believe him.
"Let's go home, Alex."
I think that I used to take a drug called valium. It made me feel calm which is something I needed at the time. It also had a tendency to garble things in my mind. I would take a memory and it would float in my consciousness for a bit and then I'd try to put it back but it would disappear, or reappear but in the wrong place. I think that's how it felt anyway. It's so hard to remember.
Anyway, it's the closest thing I can find to relate to the way I've felt for the past two days. Valium minus tranquillity. And with extra doses of confusion. I think.
There are pieces in my head, and like the jagged bits of a jigsaw puzzle, they are starting to organize themselves and transform into a whole picture. But the process is slow. And painful. Every few hours I regain a painful moment from the life I had, the life that is me. Was me. Things are so different now.
Where do I fit in this new world? No one has told me. Not here. I don't fit here. It hasn't taken long for me to figure out that much. I remember enough of the time before to know that Marita Covarrubias should not be sleeping on a lumpy dorm mattress and wearing someone else's clothes. Eating tasteless mush for breakfast in a loud, ugly, crowded cafeteria. Alone because the only people I know are the doctor who started giving me some kind of primitive, slave reconditioning therapy yesterday and Alex. Alex. Alex sent the doctor. And that woman who said her name was Dana. I think I used to know her face. He sent them and that's why I don't trust them. I don't trust anyone here. They're all working for him.
But what else is there? I don't know.
I don't know who's fault it is that I'm stuck here. Faces creep up on me, new ones every hour. Enemies. So many enemies. Alex...
And then I see him, standing on line to receive his crappy breakfast. Fox Mulder. Fox Mulder is here too. Fox Mulder brought me here. I think.
I see us in a car, I hear him talking to me about going somewhere, but I don't know if we were coming here or going somewhere else. It makes the back of my eyes burn to try and fit the memory into the rough timeline I have established.
No matter. I know Fox Mulder. I trust him. I think. I did. Maybe.
He walks past the table I'm sitting at and I try to make eye contact with him. It doesn't work. He doesn't see me. Maybe it's not Fox Mulder. Or maybe it is and he never knew me at all. Maybe I imagined the whole thing.
God, I want to go home. Wherever that is. It's not here. Somewhere else.
The man who may or may not be named Fox Mulder sits down at the table behind me, his back to mine, and I hear him sigh. I have to talk to him. I don't know what else to do.
I stand up and take my tray over to his table. I sit down across from him but he doesn't look up. He's pushing around the gray, lumpy pile that I think is oatmeal on his plate. I clear my throat and he shovels a forkful of the awful gunk into his mouth. Angrily I think. I think he's angry.
I don't know why he'd be angry at me. I can't remember doing anything to hurt him but that doesn't mean it didn't happen.
"Enjoying your mush?" I ask in a voice so quiet and frightened it disgusts me. This is not me. Have I changed this much?
"Scully..." he starts and then looks up at me. I think he thought I was her. He looks confused and disappointed and relieved.
"Are you...are you expecting her? I can go..."
He laughs but not in a ha-ha way. He laughs the way that Alex did when I asked him about his arm. I think he thought I knew. I think he thought I had something to do with that whole mess. Maybe I did.
"Yeah, we have a date," he mutters, looking towards the door. I haven't forgotten sarcasm.
He doesn't look so well now that I'm really looking. Dark circles under his bloodshot eyes, permanent grimace, and he keeps clenching and unclenching his fist on the table. Angry wasn't a sufficient word. He looks ready to kill. I don't remember him ever looking like that before.
"Look, did you need something from me?" he asks suddenly. I'm glad that I'm not completely thrown by the question. Hostility is something familiar. Fox Mulder is something familiar.
"No, not really. I just thought maybe we could talk. I don't really know anyone else here."
I do know him. I do. God, please let me know him.
He shrugs and takes a big gulp of what passes for coffee here.
I take a deep breath, trying to force the question out. It sounds so idiotic though. So pathetic.
"You...you know me, right? I mean, I'm not imagining that, right?"
"Yeah," he grunts, picking at a piece of browning fruit. He obviously couldn't care less but he does recognize me. That's enough.
"I mean, not from now, from...from the time before. We knew each other."
He nods, looking confused and annoyed.
"I just wasn't sure. I...things are still a little confused in my head."
He sighs and looks even more annoyed but I don't care.
"So, you brought me here right? When I was a slave?"
"Yeah, yeah, listen, what...what do you remember about how you got involved in all this, Marita?"
"Well, I have these memories but they're sort of disjointed. It's hard to put it all toge..."
"Did you know Alex Krycek before?" he asks, interrupting me, suddenly interested in *anything* I might have to say.
That I do not doubt for a second. The memories are too vivid to be hallucinations.
"Well what, what do you remember about him?"
I don't know why he wants information about Alex and I don't care either. I think that I used to give him information a lot. He cared once about what I could tell him. I'm not sure what to tell him about Alex.
"He was...he was part of the group. Sort of. We worked together. I suppose..."
"Well, but, what kind of person do you remember him being?"
The question sets off a whole new flood of images. Alex showing up in my hotel suite in Khazikstan, brandishing a semi-automatic, threatening me, panicked, sweating, telling him that I was on his side. We could bring them down together. I told him that. I wonder if it was true. Bringing him to my bedroom. I think the thought of making those old bastards beg for mercy turned him on more than I did.
And then other times. Just a few. I was only in Russia for a week or so.
Then the last. My apartment in New York. The door of my apartment in New York. Out there in the hallway because he couldn't wait anymore. And then leaving him asleep in my bed. Sneaking out like a thief in the night. Stole the one thing he had in the world.
"What? Oh...he...desperate. He was a desperate person."
"Desperate? Desperate how? For what?"
Mulder's leaning across the table now, his pathetic breakfast forgotten. His leg is bouncing up and down. Nervous habit maybe. He looks ready to lunge at me. He looks ready to strangle me. I can't figure out why.
"For everything. Power, money, respect, revenge, sex, everything. Always running from one desperate situation to another. He told me he'd come out on top. I guess he has in a way."
"So, you knew him well, then?"
"Well? No, not really. We were lovers. Sort of. For a little while. I never really knew him though. I don't really know. I just don't know..."
His eyes get wide and even more confused and he just stares at me for a long time.
"So...why are you telling me this if you don't really know?"
"Because you asked me! I'm just telling you what I remember but it's a little fuzzy. I told you."
I'm starting to feel anger rising in me. I like it. It's good to feel something again. Anything.
"So what, what are you still doing here anyway, Marita? What's here for you?"
That just about does it for me. I thought maybe this man could be a friend but he's sounding more and more like an enemy with every passing moment.
"What am I doing here? YOU brought me here! Why don't you tell me?!"
He chews the inside of his cheek and stares out the window, apparently not wanting to look at or answer me. After several moments of silence during which I begin to formulate the seeds of a plan to kill Fox Mulder, he turns back to me.
"Do you speak Russian?" he asks inexplicably.
"The language. Do you speak it?"
Is that why I'm here? Am I his personal translator?
"I worked for the UN. I speak a lot of languages. Russian is one of them, yes. Why?"
"What does 'zhivotnoye' mean?"
"It means 'animal'," I tell him, out of curiosity more than a desire to be helpful. There's got to be a reason he's asking me this and I think I should try to figure out what it is.
His jaw clenches and he swallows. The answer seems to piss him off. I'm glad.
"Then, what about 'divotka'?"
"'Devotska'? Is that it?"
"Yeah, that. What does it mean?"
"It means a little girl. Why are you asking me this?"
The sound of plastic and glass hitting the ground as he sweeps the contents of the table onto the floor with his arm is the only answer I get. After that he gets up and storms out of the cafeteria. A few people stare after him but he doesn't seem to care.
That went well. Very pleasant.
I don't think I'll be talking to Fox Mulder again for a long time.
In the novel "Cat's Cradle", Kurt Vonnegut described something called a Karass. This Karass is made up of a collection of people whose lives keep tangling up with your own for no explicable reason whatsoever. Vonnegut said that these people were a team, created by God to help you get something important done.
Scully is certainly part of my Karass. And so is that smoking bastard. And I realized a long time ago, much to my dismay, that Alex Krycek was also part of this group. Although I can't for the life of me figure out why I've been cursed with such a karass. What *am* I supposed to accomplish with these people?
I wonder what happens if you kill a member of your Karass. Or two of them even. Or all of them. What would happen if you killed all of them?
This is one of the many questions I've spent the past twelve or so hours pondering.
The truth is though, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't imagine murdering Scully. Or even hurting her. And killing Krycek would hurt her, for whatever ungodly reason. So I can't really do that either. That doesn't leave me with many options.
Suicide started looking rather appealing early this morning, as images of the two of them fucking seemed to overwhelm my consciousness. But upon reflection, it seemed a bit too pathetic. Not to mention melodramatic. And then she'd know. And so would he. They'd know how much they were killing me inside and I can't think of a worse bruising for my pride to take.
So, instead of a grand gesture I've chosen to carry on with the day as planned. As if I hadn't gotten my heart shredded last night.
I went to the cafeteria and had breakfast. Had a normal conversation. Okay, it wasn't exactly normal. Come to think of it, it wasn't even a conversation.
What was my point again?
Oh yeah, normalcy. So, now I'm going where I'm supposed to go. Today is supposed to be my first day working at the lab. With Scully. It's where I'm expected to be and I plan on handling myself with class and maturity and, well, pride. More pride than Scully seems to have these days. What happened to her dignity? Her inegrity?
I will not stoop to their level. I will be better then that.
That's the plan anyway.
I will not drop to her feet and beg her to leave him. I will not yell, stomp my feet and make a scene. I will not cry when I see her face.
I repeat those sentences over and over on my walk to the lab. And when I get there I've almost got myself convinced that this is possible. And then I hear them.
No, not *them*. Scully, yes. But not him. She's talking to another woman. They're standing over a huge basin, washing equipment and chattering. I think the woman's name is Roseanne. I've seen her around before.
I walk in and slam the door behind me. Just announcing my presence. Not making a scene. Honestly.
They both turn around and give me irritating smiles.
"Hi, Mulder," the traitorous, back-stabbing bitch says and I give her a phony grin back. Okay, this is gonna be more difficult than I thought.
"Um, I guess we should show you around, huh?"
"Oh, can I do the grand tour?" Roseanne asks, batting her eyelashes at me revoltingly. Why is this woman here? Maybe if I ignore her she'll go away.
"So, Scully, what is it exactly that we're going to be doing here?"
She looks confused. We've talked about it before, I know. Hell, this whole thing was my idea. I just didn't expect someone else to be here.
Scully's cheeks are pink. And her eyes are sparkling. She's glowing. Beautiful. Beautiful bitch. I love her. Dammit.
"Well, we're...we're going to be doing research on your physiological make-up, Mulder. Like you suggested..."
"And when did 'we' come into play, Scully? I thought you were driving this project."
I glare at Roseanne and she shifts around uncomfortably. I think maybe I might be overreacting just a tad. It's not her fault. I don't even know her. I really oughtta calm down. Maybe I shouldn't have even come here today.
"Well, I am, Mulder. Roseanne is my assistant."
"Yes, assistant, Mulder. She's a scientist. What exactly is the problem here?"
"No problem, Scully. I just wanna be sure that I know exactly what's going on here. I don't wanna be left in the dark about anything."
"I'm gonna go...clean the microscopes," Roseanne mutters and makes a quick exit. I guess that's what I was going for although I can't say why.
"Mulder, we talked about this. Why are you being so rude to Roseanne?" Scully whispers to me in her most nagging tone.
"I'm not being rude."
"All right, I'm not entirely *comfortable* with her being here, that's all."
"I thought it was just gonna be us. That no one else would be around getting in the way."
"Mulder, she works here! She won't be in the way. She'll be helping."
I think I should probably go. This is not working out the way I wanted it to. Not at all.
"Mulder, I don't really see the problem. I know you can play nice with the other kids if you try."
She smiles at me after her little joke. I've never actually wanted to hit her before. Never ever. The thought is so abhorrent to me. And yet, right now...
I have to get out of here.
"Play nice, right. Hey, maybe they'll even let me join the swim team," I grumble under my breath, making my way for the door.
I feel her tiny fingers surrounding my arm and I jerk away reflexively.
"Mulder what...what's wrong?"
I look down into those eyes, eyes I thought held the answers to all of my questions, my truth, my salvation. Last night I saw those eyes gazing at one of my worst enemies. With lust. Maybe even love. And I can't keep quiet anymore.
"Were you ever gonna tell me, Scully? Or were you just gonna wait till I made a complete fool out of myself?"
To her credit, it only seems to take her a few seconds to figure out what I'm talking about. It's quite obvious when it hits her. Her eyes squeeze shut and her whole body seems to deflate.
"Oh...Mulder, I wa...I was going to..."
Right. I heard that story. Just couldn't find the time.
"Scully, do you know...GOD! Do you know what I went through to get here? What I wanted to...the whole...whole reason I came here?"
"Mulder, I know you came here for me. And I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I haven't been completely honest with you. I guess...I guess I was just afraid. I'm really very sorry."
"Sorry. You're sorry. Sorry you didn't tell me you were FUCKING Alex Krycek?! Sorry that wasn't the first goddamn thing out of your mouth?!"
What was that I was saying before about not making a scene? God, Scully, just leave me alone. Just let me get out of here before I say something *really* stupid.
"Yes, Mulder, I am sorry. It's not exactly the easiest thing to say. But I...I don't have any excuses. I'm sorry."
I don't even know what to say. She looks so sad and remorseful and embarrassed. Maybe she didn't tell me because she really is going to break up with him. Maybe he's got something he's holding over her head that's keeping her with him. Or he's brainwashing her.
God, what is wrong with me? Am I so pathetic that all she has to do it look at me a certain way and I turn into a pile of delusional mush again?
"Scully, I just don't understand why. I mean how? It's...God, Scully, it's Alex Krycek!"
"So what does that mean?" she asks, indignant all of a sudden. Why did I even ask. I can't stand here and listen to her defend the bastard.
"Mulder, you don't...you don't know him anymore. I don't know if you ever did. He's been...he's been there for me. He's a good person. Not the person you think."
I wonder if they have a bucket around here for me to hurl into.
"So, what Scully, you screw a guy and all of a sudden you know everything about him?"
Now she looks downright pissed off. I'm glad. I want her to feel what I'm feeling. Of course, to truly accomplish that would take a hell of a lot more. First I'd need to get some woman she absolutely despises to have sex with me right here on the floor in front of her.
"Is that what you think, Mulder? That I'm just screwing him like some kind of whore?"
I wish that's what I thought. I wish I could tell her that I thought that. That would really hurt her. But I can't. I know that's not who she is.
"No...Scully, no. I just...I think he's probably taken advantage of the situation. Of...of you."
"Oh, so now I'm some pathetic damsel, so distraught that she can't make any kind of decision for herself? Is *that* what you think? That I have no will of my own?"
Why does she have to twist my words around like this? God, she's always done this. Never listens to me.
"He killed my father, Scully..."
She doesn't have a snappy comeback for that one. I'm half expecting her to feed me his line about it but she just turns away and starts fiddling with some thermometers on the table next to the basin.
"Look, Mulder, I don't know what you expected. You disappear for six years. Six *years* Mulder. You let me think you're dead and I'm supposed to what? Wait my whole life for some heavenly visitation from you or something?"
"Well, I just didn't expect it to come to THIS, Scully!"
She turns around quickly and I notice that her eyes are watery. I wonder if mine are. I really hope not.
"I am sorry that I didn't tell you about this sooner, Mulder. But I am *not* going to apologize to you for moving on with my life. Just because you happen to disapprove of whom I've chosen to move on with."
Well, that's very logical. Her thinking is so precise. I'm so impressed with her ever-present ability to cut through the bull and get right to the heart of things. Too bad she's gotta cut through my soul as well.
"I grieved for you for five years, Mulder. Wouldn't let anyone get in, get close. And a year ago I finally decided to move on. To try to get some of the happiness I thought you would've wanted for me."
A year ago? Has she been fucking him for a whole year? God...
"Scully, of course I want you to be happy. That's all I've ever wanted."
"I know that. And it's been hard. But I have been. I have been happy."
What am I supposed to say to that? Am I supposed to stand here and begrudge her her happiness after everything I've done? Everything I've screwed up.
"He really makes you...happy? After everything he's done?"
"Yes, Mulder, he does. He's good to me and he's done wonderful things for the people here."
All I can do is stare at her. Watch this crap pour out of her mouth and try not to regurgitate my breakfast.
"I...I need to go."
I need to go far away. I don't want to be part of the Alex Krycek adoration society. I don't want to listen to this anymore. I don't want to see her every day and know who she goes home to at night.
"Mulder, I'd...I'd like you to stay. I mean I hope that you won't leave because of this."
Dammit. Why did she have to say that? Just let me go, Scully. Kick me out. Do something horrible so that I can hate you.
"I just...I like having you here, Mulder. I've missed you."
God, shut up, Scully. Shut up!
"And we could really use your help. I could."
"What's this? The great Doctor Scully needs *my* help?"
She smiles at me and my heart twists into a knot. What am I doing?
"And I always thought Dana Scully needed no one's help."
"Well, you know, finding a cure for cancer and all. It's hard work."
I find myself smiling back at her like an idiot and I just have no idea what to do. This feels so good.
"So, will you stay?" she asks me and I shrug and nod and then she's hugging me. She's hugging me. It's so good. God, it's been so unbearably long since she's been in my arms. All the walls I've spent the past night building to protect myself from her come crashing down and she's everywhere inside me again.
Why does she have to be so...so Scully?
Why does she have to still care about me?
Why is it my fate to love this woman?
I guess those are pretty stupid questions. The most important thing is, will I ever be able to stop hugging her? Will I ever be able to let go?
I don't think so
About eight years ago I met a woman in a bar at O'Hare International Airport who told me her name was Susan. She was pretty and I was lonely, on a layover between California and New York. It was a very busy, insane time in my life. I barely had time to breathe, let alone seek out sexual partners. Susan came on to me pretty blatantly and I was just tipsy enough to let my defenses down long enough to invite her back to my hotel room with me.
We had sex and it was pretty good. Not a life-altering experience but it passed the time while I was waiting for my flight and gave me the brief illusion that I was achieving human contact. Then I fell asleep. That was my mistake. She was still in the room. Don't know how that happened.
I woke up to the sound of shuffling papers. She was going through my bag. In retrospect, she was probably looking for cash. I was pretty well dressed at the time, silk and leather and all that, and she looked like a K-Mart kind of gal. But I was guarding some pretty dangerous secrets. I was being pursued by some pretty dangerous people. I thought maybe she was working for my enemies. I thought...No, I didn't think. I reacted. I shot her in the head.
In my most recent recurring nightmare I am standing over Susan's body, watching the blood drain out of her forehead as her face slowly morphs into that of the woman sitting across from me right now. The most disturbing thing about the dream is the way I feel watching her die. Not the horror one would expect but rather an almost perfunctory regret. A great big cosmic whoops. Similar to the feeling I got looking down at Melissa Scully's corpse. Wrong sister. Whoops. Better haul ass.
Of course in my waking hours that incident haunts me as a near death experience might. A near death experience that one doesn't recognize as such until long after the fact. Like when you're in a car accident, one caused by your own stupidity, clumsiness, recklessness, whatever, and maybe you hit your head or something but it's not too serious and you get home and go to bed and wake up in the middle of the night and go "Shit, I almost killed myself." I've been doing that every day, for years.
There was a brief period of my life when I was at peace. When colonization began, when the world outside was losing all remnants of sanity and stability, I was slowly stabilizing internally. Finally there were no more secrets, no reason to murder a woman who decided to go through my belongings. I was free. It was liberating, seeing everything going to hell and knowing that I would be okay. Better than ever.
I kept that peace, that freedom, for quite a long time. I lost it when I fell in love with Dana. When I realized that there were more secrets to keep, more parts of myself that needed to be forgotten. I want her to love me for all that I am but I know that she can't. She knows it too, which is why she won't let me talk to her about things like this. I live in fear of the day she remembers who I used to be. She can never accept it, but it is a part of me.
I've lost the peace and the fearlessness but I've gained so much. I suppose terror comes with any goodness in a person's life. The terror that you'll lose that goodness. My father told me it was always better to be poor rather than rich. A poor man only has envy to worry about but a rich man lives in fear of the world.
Sometimes, though, sometimes I realize that the good outweighs the bad. At moments like this. Moments that my nightmares can't touch. But even now, sitting in the cafeteria and watching the woman I love scarf down a sloppy Joe with a smile on her face, there are some things I can't forget.
Dana is a really messy eater. I don't always notice it but it's hard to miss the saucy globs on her chin and the mystery meat under her fingernails today. You'd think she was the one with only one hand to work with. It's the cutest thing in the world.
She notices me staring at her from across the table and raises a curious eyebrow. She'd think I was the biggest sap ever if I told her what I'm thinking. Either that or she'd think I was criticizing her dining habits. So I don't say anything but continue to watch surreptitiously around my own lunch.
One of the things I've discovered since I've fallen in love is that being in love makes you feel the exact opposite way a normal person would feel in any given situation. A normal person would think this was pretty gross and probably find another lunch companion. But I've never been a normal person and now I'm pretty much certifiably insane. Good thing we don't have a loony bin around here.
"So, what are you working on today?" I ask and she waves her hand dismissively in front of her face as a response.
"The usual, you know..." she shrugs. I guess that I do. I've been trying not to think too much about it. I've been avoiding asking her about it. But the fact is, Mulder's been spending every day for the past two weeks in that tiny lab with her and I can't stop wondering, worrying. She doesn't talk about her work as much as she used to, doesn't share the details of her days quite as easily.
She told me he found out about us although she doesn't know how. I knew he would. I knew she wouldn't get the chance to tell him. I'm not sure why it makes such a tremendous difference to me although I can see why it would piss him off. I guess I just wanted her to be proud of it, something to present to him as part of who she is now, not something she has to bury like a dirty little secret.
Anyway, it doesn't matter now. He knows. I asked her how he took it and all she said was "well". What that might mean is anyone's guess. One thing's for certain though. He's not leaving.
We've managed to avoid each other for the most part and when we do see each other we barely grunt in acknowledgment which is why seeing him stride purposefully across the cafeteria towards our table is so completely shocking to me.
At first I'm afraid that he's got some "important" thing or other to discuss with Scully and that he'll drag her back to the lab before she can even finish her lunch. But he doesn't. Instead he looks directly at me and asks, "Scully, would you mind if I talked to Krycek alone for a minute?"
Dana looks as taken aback as I feel and slightly terrified as well.
"Would you mind?" he asks, shifting his gaze to her and affecting some kind of revolting whipped puppy expression.
"Um..." she looks up at him and back at me, fear definitely the predominate emotion in her eyes now.
"It's okay," I tell her, not particularly wanting her in his presence if I can help it. She nods slowly and untangles herself from chair and sandwich, backing towards the salad bar but continuing to watch us with every step. I suppose she thinks she's being subtle, hiding behind the soup buckets like that. She'd have made a terrible spy.
I wonder what she's expecting. A junior high lunchroom brawl maybe. As much as I'd like to sucker punch the bastard until his face turns blue, I vowed to myself that I wouldn't let myself lose control like that again. Especially not in such a public venue. I refuse to have my authority undermined by that black-blooded, pathetic mutant.
"So listen, Krycek, I wanted to talk to you without Scully because..."
His eyes dart around nervously and he spots her watching us and focuses on her for a minute. He's still standing over me, looming like some kind of albatross.
"Why don't you sit down?" I ask but it's not really a question. He does, bringing us eye to eye. I push my tray away, not wanting the remnants of my lunch between us. For some reason the congealing sloppy sauce feels like a weakness.
He sighs and shuts his eyes and I notice that his skin has turned a sickly shade of green. He's quiet for a ridiculously long time and if I had a watch on, I'd be staring at it.
"Mulder, what's the problem here?" I finally bark out, a bit louder than I intended to. His eyes pop open and he looks like he's just been roused from a nightmare.
"Krycek, look I...I know that you and Scully have a...special situation here..."
Well, looks like the nightmare has only just begun.
"Special situation," I repeat, uncertain that I've heard him correctly. We find ourselves staring across the table, each silently daring the other to clarify. He breaks first, clearing his throat to diffuse the tension.
"Anyhow, for reasons I have yet to comprehend, she seems happy with it." He looks down at his hands and adds quietly, "With you."
Damn straight, mother-fucker. Knee-jerk reaction which I struggle to keep from showing on my face.
"So, um, I think that we need to come to some sort of understanding."
"What kind of an understanding?"
"A...a truce I guess you'd call it."
Truce? Are we at war? We haven't even spoken in almost a month. Cold war maybe.
"What would that entail exactly?"
He looks confused and glances over at Scully again, as if he were seeking out her assistance. Did she put him up to this? Perhaps. More likely though, he's doing it to impress her, because he thinks it's what she wants. Show her what a big man he is. In any case he doesn't seem to have put much thought into this because he doesn't have an answer at the ready.
"I just...I think that we need to act our age here, Krycek. Not like a couple of teenagers competing for her attention."
He leans back in his chair with a self-satisfied expression, waiting for me to snap, to become that teenager. I won't give him that. As adept as he is at bringing me to that place inside, I will never show it. It's a constant struggle. I suppose that's why I've been avoiding him to this degree. I'm not sure how to explain what he does to me. I guess it's sort of similar to the Johnny Birch situation.
Johnny Birch went to my elementary school. He was the coolest kid in the 5th grade. All the girls showed him their underpants at recess and he could eat worms without wincing. I idolized Johnny Birch and he thought I was a piece of crud, not worthy of being wiped from the soles of his penny loafers. I followed him around like a goober, copied his style of dress, his irritating Euro-trash syntax, everything. Nothing was good enough for him though. He went to a different junior high school and I ended up being pretty popular myself once I got away from Johnny. But he had a girlfriend at my school and sometimes he'd come and visit. Whenever he was in the building it was like a force field of dorkiness overcame me. I reverted to my groveling, loser self and had to spend lunch time in the restroom, hiding from my peers lest I completely humiliate myself.
Long, stupid story but it's the best analogy I can come up with at the moment. Mulder brings me back to a time when I killed people for going through my shit. He brings me down.
"I've got no problem with that, Mulder but you've gotta understand something here. Things are different. She's different. You can't expect your relationship with her to go back to the way it was."
"I...I know that. She seems...happy," he winces around the word again but adds, "That's all I care about. All I ever cared about..." and then looks off at a distant spot on the wall.
"Well then we don't have a problem, do we."
"No I, uh, I guess not."
I wait for him to leave but he lingers annoyingly.
"You're a lucky fuck. I hope you realize that," he finally says. This is an interesting truce.
"I don't need you telling me that, Mulder."
He laughs and I realize how defensive and snappy I sound.
"Relax, man. This is what I'm trying to tell you. You don't have anything to worry about."
"I just want you to understand that this is serious. It's not a game to me. I love her."
Mulder makes a disgusted, constipated face and chews the inside of his cheek. I don't know why but it felt really good to say that to him. Finally.
"I realize that. I...I love her too," he sputters and I feel like pummeling him again. "That's why I...I'm willing to let her go." How generous of him. How kind.
"I don't think you've got a choice."
He stares blankly at me for a second and then nods pitifully.
"Look, I...I'm not asking to be your best friend here, Krycek. I just think that, for her, we should try to be civil to each other."
He stands up and extends his hand and I don't have a choice really because I think everyone in the place is watching us by now. I shake his hand briefly and the place goes deathly silent except for a small "Oh my God," emanating from somewhere near the salad bar.
I can't help but chuckle at that. Mulder sits back down and people start talking and moving again, crisis averted.
"Look, I'm willing to work with you here, Krycek. I mean I want to help in any way I can."
"*Any* way? How do you feel about being a test subject in the bioweapons department?" I'm only half joking.
"So you guys are really trying to develop a biological weapon here? You think that's a good idea?"
"It's the only way to get rid of them, Mulder."
Even he's got to realize that. He doesn't seem to though. He's getting that constipated look again.
"Get rid of them at what cost, though?"
Is this part of our truce too? Does shaking his hand give him permission to question everything I'm doing here?
"At any cost."
"Do you realize how dangerous this is to your group, Krycek? To the people developing the weapons, the children who are living here..."
"We're taking the necessary precautions."
The whole point is to develop a toxin that *isn't* dangerous to *us*. Of course if we're successful, Mulder would certainly be at risk.
"I just wonder if you might end up destroying yourselves before they even get to you."
"Well, what do you suggest, Mulder?"
Why is he still here, talking to me? I think our "truce" would go over a lot better if we just kept on avoiding each other.
"I dunno, Krycek. Look, I'm not trying to antagonize you here. I'm just wondering what your overall plan is."
"Overall plan? Mulder, I'm just trying to keep this place going. To keep these people alive."
Short-sighted perhaps but it takes up virtually all of my time.
"You're working for the rebel aliens aren't you?"
The distaste in his voice is a palpable presence. I can hear the accusation, unspoken but overwhelming. Most of the work we do for those bastards involves murdering people like Mulder en masse.
"You think that's gonna help you, in the long run?"
I have a sudden and vivid memory of finding out that Mulder was "dead" all those years ago. I remember feeling angry, remorseful that he wouldn't be able to show up at my door and tell me how much better he could be running this place. I remember feeling like his death had taken away a bit of my hope. God, what a fucking idiot I was back then.
"It's helping us now. They're giving us the supplies we need."
"For how long though? I mean do you really trust them? Do you even know why they're using you to do their dirty work? It's not like they couldn't do it themselves. And much more efficiently."
Does he think I haven't thought about these things? That I'm some kind of mental incompetent? For God's sake, it's not like we've got a plethora of choices, here.
"So how do you think we oughtta get the stuff we need to live, Mulder? The food faeries?"
"You've got a farm here, Krycek. I think you could do all right without them at this point."
"Until they kill us for turning our backs on them."
He's talking again but I can't listen anymore. I need to tune out for a second and try to get myself together. There's this ringing sound in my ears, the beginnings of a hellish headache I'm sure, and the old phantom pain is back for the first time in months. He's making me physically ill. God if it weren't for Dana, he would have been dead on arrival. I take a few deep breaths and shred the napkin on my lap into a million and one tiny strips and start listening again.
"...so I'm just wondering if maybe you've become a little complacent here. Used to the status quo, you know? I mean it makes sense. You've got a great thing going here and of course you want to keep it that way. All I'm saying is..."
"I *know* what you're saying, Mulder."
Now please stop saying it. God, where the hell is Dana? Still at the salad bar, waiting for the foodfight to start I suppose.
God, where does he get off anyway? Criticizing me for working for the rebels when he's been spending the past six years doing paper work for the goddamn colonists. I hate him.
"Maybe you should start by figuring out why the smoking s.o.b. has been letting you guys carry on for so long. I know someone who might be able to give you some information about that."
Jesus, is the room pounding or is that my skull? Where IS Dana?
"And who might that be?"
I don't know whether to laugh or spit. I laugh.
"I think you can trust her, Krycek. And I think she knows a lot about them."
"Yeah, she's really good at making you *think* she knows a lot. She doesn't know anything. And if she did, she wouldn't tell me about it. And anything she might tell me would be a lie anyway."
I have been meaning to question her though, nevertheless. She's been pretty coherent lately from what I hear. I need to figure out what the hell to do with her.
"Well, that's my suggestion anyway. I think she could help you. You're the big boss man around here right? You could make her talk, King Krycek." He makes a familiar smart-assed face and picks a tater-tot off of Scully's tray and pops it into his mouth.
"She's coming back you know."
"Yeah, well, she doesn't like tater-tots anyway."
"Yes she does."
He laughs and finally, FINALLY, stands up and starts to walk away.
"You know, for someone as fortunate as you are, you're pretty uptight," he tells me as he passes me.
I feel something on my head and start to swat, thinking it's some sort of insect. Then I realize it's Mulder's hand, ruffling my hair.
"You oughtta try smiling once in awhile," he says jovially. I have a gun strapped to my boot. I could shoot him in the back right now as he's walking out the door. It would be so easy. If only...
"What the hell just happened here?"
If only this woman wouldn't cry if I murdered him.
She sits down next to me this time instead of across and takes my hand in hers. I feel like pulling her into my lap and squeezing her so tight. I don't want her to go back to the lab. To him.
"I'm not sure. First he wanted to be my friend and then he wanted to tell me everything I'm doing wrong."
She chuckles and shakes her head in a mixture of amusement and disbelief. I wonder what it would take to get her to tell me what I'm doing right.
"Hey, you wanna go home and take the rest of the afternoon off?" I lean over and whisper in her ear. I give her my best "fuck me" look but really I'd just like to crawl into bed with her, wrap myself around her and have her touch me, hear her tell me that she thinks I'm the best thing since sliced cheese.
"I can't, Alex. I'm kind of in the middle of something. In fact, I should be getting back."
"You sure about that?" I try again, kissing her neck this time for emphasis. She leans into me and sighs, with arousal or regret I'm not sure.
She turns to me for a brief kiss and then she's on her feet and on her way out.
"You did a good thing today, zhivotnoye," she tells me and then she walks out the same door Mulder went through five minutes ago, leaving me with a pile of uneaten tater tots.
Tomorrow is my birthday. I'm going to be forty-three years old. I almost made it through another year.
The first time I realized that I was dying of cancer it came as something of a shock. There had been hints, yes, subtle clues dropped throughout the years that such a thing might occur as the result of my abduction. But still, it wasn't something I seriously considered as a possibility. Until it became a reality.
When I came here, when I had my chip removed, I knew that it might return. It was a risk I took, knowing the potential outcome and fully prepared to face the illness again if need be. For the first two or three years, every month that went by without a sign of it seemed a blessing to me. A gift. But I still felt the threat looming. After four or five years the fear started to recede somewhat. I figured that if I were going to get sick again, it would have happened already. A few of the former slaves here had gotten it but not all of them. I thought I was one of the lucky ones.
For the past year or so my worries about the cancer returning have been relegated far to the back of my consciousness. I've continued to work for a cure, for the benefit of the unfortunate individuals who have gotten sick, but I'd generally grown to believe that I was immune. It had been so long. And Alex...being with Alex makes me feel invincible sometimes. But I'm not.
I got a nosebleed this morning.
I woke up with a headache. No, it was something beyond a headache. I felt like my skull was breaking into a million tiny pieces. I think I was actually crying in my sleep from the pain. When I opened my eyes I saw that Alex was still sleeping and quietly rolled out of bed and made my way to the bathroom. I splashed some cold water on my face and as I stood there, hunched over the sink, I watched as splotches of red began to stain the white porcelain. All I could think about was how I'd have to scrub those stains off and where I might be able to hide the towel I'd use so that Alex wouldn't see.
It went on for quite some time. Much longer than the ones I got the first time around. Much more blood. The headache was a warning I suppose. It didn't come out of the blue the way they used to. That might be a good thing. Might make it easier to cover it up when they do happen.
The thought of keeping such a massive secret from Alex is so upsetting but I don't know what else to do. His reaction to the news would be more difficult to deal with then the illness itself.
I remember Mulder's denial, his inability to conceive of the potentiality of my death. Sometimes I felt like shaking him, smacking him upside the head and screaming at him, "I'm DYING! Don't you get it?"
It was frustrating but it worked for us. Avoidance was the hallmark of our relationship.
Alex doesn't do denial. He'd accept it. He'd believe it and fully understand what it meant. And then he'd probably go insane.
I'm certain that he'd blame himself. He's the one who took the chip out, after all. Cause and effect. That's how his mind works. He wouldn't consider the fact that I chose this path for myself.
Then he'd try to formulate some sort of plan of attack. A way to kill the disease, force it from my body through sheer will alone. And when he realized he couldn't, he'd blame himself for that too.
And then he'd decide that I shouldn't be working in my condition. That I shouldn't be doing anything at all. He'd keep me in one of those life-support bubbles if he could. He'd drive me mad with his worry and overprotectiveness and feelings of helplessness. We'd both be miserable.
If I'm going to die, I want to spend my final days on Earth in relative peace. I want to enjoy what I have without mourning the inevitable eventual loss of it. I want Alex to enjoy me without that doom hanging over our heads.
And most of all, I want to find a cure. I will find a cure. He'll never have to know about this. I won't let him ever feel this pain.
After the bleeding stopped I came straight to the lab even though it was barely the crack of dawn. Now that I'm here, I'm not entirely sure what to do with myself. I feel so close to a breakthrough but I've felt that way for ages. I've been sitting at my desk since I got here, reading through the data Roseanne has been transcribing by hand for the past six months. We decided to stop relying on those old, rickety computers a long time ago. I know that the answer is in these pages somewhere. It's just a matter of putting two and two together.
I hear the door opening and closing and footsteps headed in my direction. Too heavy and loud to be Roseanne. I suppose it's Mulder.
Ret stirs out of his slumber in the corner and stands up when he hears the sound. I'm not sure why I decided to bring him to work with me today. I suppose I just wanted the company. I told him about the cancer when we were walking over here. He took it well.
Mulder makes his way through the tangle of microscopes, tables, tissue samples and other assorted paraphernalia and reaches my little thinking corner of the huge room. Ret starts growling and baring teeth immediately and it occurs to me that Mulder's never met my dog.
"Ret, no! Sit."
He does and Mulder looks back and forth between us, perplexed.
"Sorry, he's a little protective."
"You have a dog, Scully?"
He gives me a little sardonic smirk.
"Ret, meet Mulder. Mulder good. Good Mulder."
He laughs and kneels down to pet him. Ret pants and bobs up and down happily, placated by my positive response to Mulder's presence.
"Hey Rhett. Where's Scarlet?"
"Not that Rhett, Mulder. R.E.T. Ret, short for Ret...iculan."
I suppose I'd almost forgotten the significance of that name, the significance Ret had in my life when I found him in the first place. Mulder seems to understand immediately. He smiles softly and actually looks a bit embarrassed.
"That's...that's a good name."
Ret rolls over onto his back and wiggles his legs in the air.
"He wants you to scratch his tummy," I tell him. I leave them to play together and go back to my reading. They seem very amused with one another.
After about twenty minutes or so I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn around to a very sheepish looking Mulder.
"Scully, I...I wanted to give you something," he mutters, hands shoved into his pockets. Shit. My birthday. What could he have possibly gotten me? It's not like he could've popped off to the mall and grabbed a bottle of Chanel No. 5.
"When I woke up from...whatever happened to me, I found this in my pocket. I kept it this whole time because it reminded me of the way things were. The world, when it was sane. And..."
He clears his throat and meets my eyes. His gaze seems to go right through me. I see another life in there.
"And you. It reminded me of you. Gave me hope."
He pulls his right hand out of his pocket and holds it out in a fist. I open my palm underneath him and he drops the tiny piece of paper into my hand.
"Happy Birthday, Scully. I hope this gives you hope, too."
He kisses me on the cheek oh-so-briefly and then goes back to Ret, crouching down next to him.
I stare at the tattered object and try to decipher the writing on it. It's held together by several pieces of clear tape. In fact it's almost completely covered with the stuff, giving it a laminated appearance. But I can see the places where it was torn and worn out.
Discount Multiplex. That's what the words on the top spell out. A movie theater. It's a stub from a movie. The date is barely legible but I think the year is 1999. I remember. We were in New York, working on one of our last cases. It was winter. Only a month or so before it began. I don't remember the details of the case. All I remember is Mulder dragging me to the theater when we'd wrapped things up and were waiting for the next flight out of Laguardia airport. There was a light snow falling. We had five or six hours to spare and he said he'd been wanting to see this since the summertime. The movie, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Discount show because it had been in the theaters for months.
It was the stupidest movie I'd ever seen. But I liked sitting in the artificial heat of the theater, next to Mulder and hearing him laugh at all the awful jokes, sharing the big bucket of popcorn, butter grease dripping down our fingers. It was fun. It was the last fun we ever had.
"Thank you, Mulder," I whisper, clutching the ticket in my hand. And then I begin reading again.
This is the most ridiculous display I've ever been witness to in my entire life. Even for Alex, this is absurd. I woke this morning to the sound of someone pounding on my door. I dragged myself out of bed even though it was a revolting hour to be awake and discovered three large, gun-toting men dressed in black standing in the hallway.
I was still in my pajamas but the rude bastards didn't seem to care or even notice. They barged into my room and told me to put on my shoes and a coat. I asked them what this was about but they refused to say another word. They marched me across the snow covered grounds in my nightgown, boots and a hideous secondhand parka with a gun digging into the small of my back all the while.
I suppose it shouldn't come as a real surprise to see where they've taken me. The man sitting behind the desk has his back turned to me but I know who it is. It could only be one person. If the goons hadn't given him away, his ridiculously neat office would have. Everything labeled and separated by name and color, placed carefully in little baggies with labels. God, he's gotten worse. Most anal-retentive thug I've ever known. He may think he's something better now, but he's not. Not to me. I remember now. I remember everything. Nothing but a thug.
He turns around like some pathetic villain out of a James Bond movie and nods at his personal MIB's.
"It's okay," he says with a wave of his hand and the trio exits. He looks me up and down with an eerily blank expression. I wonder if he's going to shoot me.
"Sit down," he tells me cordially, as if he'd invited me over for tea.
"Is there a special chair his holiness would like me to sit in?"
I take the fold-out chair across from him and cross my arms over my chest. This better be damn good.
"Now, isn't that more comfortable?" he asks.
"More comfortable than what? Being dragged across campus in my pajamas at gunpoint?"
His lips quirk in a strange distortion of a smile. Must be so amusing for him to finally be able to wield this kind of power over me. Over anybody. King Alex, ruler of the biggest pile of manure left on planet Earth.
"What is this about, Alex? What's so important that you had to drag me out of bed at the crack of dawn before I've even showered? Not like there's ever any hot water anyway."
"Oh, I'm sorry, princess. Are the conditions not to your liking?"
"As a matter of fact, no, they're not. I've been meaning to discuss my accommodations with you. I'm certain there must be larger rooms on this campus. With private restrooms and kitchens..."
His fist slams down on the desktop in some sort of attempt to appear menacing. The little jar of pencils he's got on the corner tips over, spilling out a dozen or so neatly sharpened Number 2's.
"Listen to me. This is my place. And you are privileged to live here. Lucky. Lucky that I'm *allowing* you to stay."
Privileged? What a joke. Living here is my punishment. For what, I don't know.
"Alex, what do you want? Why did you summon me here?"
He leans back in his chair and gives me a creepy once-over. It's a good thing he's only got one good hand. I'm quite sure if he still had both he'd be rubbing them together wickedly.
"Let me ask you something, Marita. You're a free woman..."
Am I? That's an interesting take on the situation. I suppose freedom is relative.
"You're not a slave any longer, you seem to be readjusting well, you look healthy. Good actually, you look quite good. You're strong and you seem to have yourself together again. You also seem very unhappy with your surroundings. So...what are you still doing here?"
"What am I still doing here? Alex, I don't see as I have much of a choice. Where else am I supposed to go?"
That's why I'm really not free. Why I never have been and never really could be.
"You've been in contact with someone. Haven't you."
It's not a question. He knows. Of course. Was there ever any doubt that he would have me followed every second? What is it that I'm supposed to do in this situation again? Alex isn't supposed to know yet for some mysterious reason. But I obviously need to offer some sort of explanation here. Damn him for putting me in this situation. Damn the both of them. And Mulder, too. All of them. All the men. Things may appear to change but they never really do.
"Contact? Alex, I don't know what you're talking about," I lie, pointlessly. There's always the off chance that he's bluffing I suppose.
"Oh come on, Marita. You go wandering off into the woods and you think I'm not gonna have someone watching your every move? God, do you even realize how severely you're risking the safety and security of this place?"
"Alex, calm down. This isn't anything for you to worry about."
"Who is he? What does he want with you?"
Is there any reason to lie? I don't even know anymore. I don't even really care. I'm so tired of it all.
"I don't know his name. He works for a relative of mine who wanted to get a few messages to me. That's all."
"Alex, do you insist on knowing the details of everyone's personal life or just mine?"
"Not everyone's personal life is putting the entire group at risk."
"So that's the way it works here? We all sacrifice our privacy and freedom for the sake of the group?"
"That's about the sum of it, yes."
"My word. What a good little Communist you are."
His eyebrows raise and his upper lip twitches just a bit. He's trying not to give it away but I've obviously managed to get under his skin. I can't believe he's still sensitive about that. It's not like the word has any meaning anymore.
"We do what we have to do. To survive," he growls through clenched teeth. "If you don't like it, leave. But if you plan on staying, you better damn well tell me who this man is or you'll have to make other arrangments."
Well, there it is. Tell Alex the whole story or get thrown out right now. Which would get me in more trouble? Giving away the secret too soon or getting myself booted? The latter could cause a lot more problems for me.
"I told you. He works for a relative of mine. Someone who wanted to contact me. Someone who wants to help you."
He looks incredulous for a second and then bursts out laughing. He looks almost startlingly young suddenly even though his laughter is out of bitterness rather than mirth. He really hasn't aged all that much. Those crow's feet around his eyes have gotten deeper and more numerous and he's got a few tufts of gray in his hair but he's still got that same ageless quality.
"Look, believe me or don't. It doesn't make any difference to me."
"Why would any relative of *yours* want to help *me*, Marita?"
Why indeed. Perhaps because he's always thought of Alex as his own child. More so than either of his daughters. I suppose he always wanted a son.
"I don't know, Alex. You knew him better than I ever did."
He chews his lip and knits his brows, pondering that one for a minute or so. The curiosity is too much for him to last much longer.
"Well, who the hell is it?"
"Your old friend, Alex. The only person who's ever given a damn whether you lived or died."
He still looks completely confused, the idiot.
"I'll give you three hints. British, ancient, and insufferably pretentious."
His eyes widen in shock and then quickly narrow in suspicion.
"He wants to meet with you. He says it's not time yet, though."
He sighs then pushes his chair back and walks around to the front of his desk. He leans against it and runs his fingers through his hair.
"How is he related to you?" he asks me quietly. He's very close to me now. So close that I can smell him. No cologne around here for the dandy boy. Just him. Smell is the most nostalgic sensation. The scent of Alex brings me back to a very dark place.
"He's my father."
"Wha..what?" he chokes out around a nervous laugh. I'm actually a bit surprised he didn't already know that. I thought the old coot had told his little protege everything about everything.
"Okay...so..." he stammers, trying to get his wits together again. "So, have you actually *seen* him? Have you talked to him?"
"No. This man gave me a letter from him though. If you read it...well, it couldn't be from anyone else."
"So you're sure you can trust this man?"
He sighs and looks up at the ceiling with a grimace.
"Well, where is your fa..father?"
"I don't know. The man won't tell me. He doesn't want me to know yet."
Another sigh and some fidgeting. Poor Alex. I've never seen him quite so frazzled.
"All right. Um...there's an executive committee meeting Thursday morning. I want you to be there. But I don't want you to tell anyone what you just told me. Not until we know more about this."
Perfect solution. A committee meeting. He's such a bureaucrat at heart.
"So what will I be doing at this meeting?"
"Just...just be there."
"Aren't your "executives" going to wonder what the hell I'm doing there?"
He shakes his head dismissively and walks back behind his desk.
"You're there because I asked you to be there. That's all," he tells me, sitting back down and waving his hand in front of his face. He looks down at the papers on his blotter and starts shuffling them around. I guess this is my cue to exit. But there's something important that we haven't discussed.
"Are you going to tell Scully about this?
He looks up and cocks his head to the side.
"Are you going to tell Scully?"
"Scully's not your problem."
Not yet. That's not to say she won't ever be. I've seen them together. She's got her hooks in him so deep he'd need a back hoe to dig them out. It's a mystery to me what they could possibly see in each other. She's certainly not his usual type and God knows, he's not hers.
"She doesn't like me very much, Alex."
He laughs out of genuine amusement this time.
"What do I look like? The community guidance counselor? That's just the way she is. She's quiet, reserved with a lot of people."
"Not with you though I suppose."
"Maybe she's jealous?"
"Marita, just do me a favor and don't even talk to her okay?"
My goodness. How utterly paranoid. I wonder how much of his former life he's shared with his new girlfriend.
"What haven't you told her, Alex?"
"It's none of your business what I do or don't tell her. I just don't want you saying anything about anything to her."
Well, she hasn't exactly made herself available for chatting. What is he so damned afraid of? Looks like I've discovered another weak spot in his arsenal.
"Why would I say anything?"
"Just...just don't! I don't want you or anyone else saying something that might hurt her."
He sounds close to panic now. Good. He needs to know he's not the only one with power around here.
"Aw, don't worry Alex. I won't hurt your widdle wuv muffin."
"All right, go take your shower, Princess. We're done here."
I suppose we are. For now. But I have a feeling the fun has only just begun.
"So why'd you leave for work so early this morning?"
Dana looks up at me, her mouth full of the Irish Stew I've been spending the last two hours cooking for her birthday dinner. It's her favorite. Well, her favorite thing I can make with the limited ingredients available. Her eyes flicker and reflect the dim light coming from the utility candles I snuck out of the warehouse this morning. She chews, swallows and takes a drink of water. Then she wipes the corner of her mouth with her napkin. The whole process seems to take an inordinately long period of time.
"I needed...I had to fix the pipe again." Her eyes drift down to her plate as she speaks. "The heat wasn't working when I left yesterday so I figured I'd go down there early and get it going before everyone else got there."
She's lying to me. I just know it. It's all over her face. She's the worst liar in the world.
I suppose I've got no right to be angry about that. When she got home earlier the first thing she asked me was what I had done today. I didn't tell her about Marita. A lie of omission, which is really just as bad.
I wanted to tell her. I still want to. I want to know what the hell she thinks I oughtta do about this whole thing. I need to know. I've always needed her advice, her input, before I even realized that I needed her. But trying to explain my relationship with that man, with Marita's goddamn father for Christ's sake, would be very difficult. I'm sure Dana remembers him. I'm sure she wouldn't trust him. I could never explain why I do. Not without telling her things she refuses to hear.
And frankly, telling her about my meeting with Marita would mean telling her about the pathetic little show I put on. She'd be disgusted to hear how low I've sunk. How far into the mud that woman drags me.
And of course, I'd have to leave out the part about Marita's veiled threats towards the end of our conversation. Threats to tell Scully the things I've been trying to tell her for months. Things she won't let me talk about but, for all I know, might be dying to hear from someone else. And that would be the end.
So, I have my reasons for keeping my secrets for the time being. I suppose she has hers. The problem is, her secrets have the potential to completely destroy me. She has that potential. I've only just recently realized that.
I've had my eye on Mulder lately. Ever since that so-called truce of ours. He told me he was willing to let her go but I've seen no evidence of that. All I've seen is him sniffing around her like a stray dog looking for food, putting his mangy paws all over her as soon as I take two steps away. Not that I expected him to keep that promise. Not that I believed a word out of his mouth that day. The whole thing was just impossible to swallow.
Dana might think that he's the good guy here, the innocent, pathetic, smitten ex-love who only wants what's best for her, only wants to be her friend. But I know what he really wants.
So, maybe it's paranoid for me to analyze everything she says and does. Maybe I shouldn't feel like my heart is being gouged out every time she fudges the truth a little bit. And maybe if the former love of her life wasn't spending more time with her than I am, things would be different. I guess there's no way for me to know, because she didn't lie to me a single time before he came here.
Still though, I'm not entirely sure this has anything to do with Mulder. I'm not really sure what it's about. I just know that she's hiding something.
"This was really good," she sighs, leaning back in her chair, her plate completely empty. Then she belches. For some reason it makes the lie seem less important. I can't imagine her belching like that in front of anyone else.
"Thank you, Alex."
"You're welcome, Burpee."
She throws her napkin at me and giggles.
"Let me get you your present."
She looks me up and down as I stand up, intending to go back to the bedroom and get her gift. Her expression distracts me. She's still hungry.
"Don't go anywhere," I tell her. And don't lose that look. I lean down and kiss her softly. I only meant it to be a peck but as soon as my lips touch hers her mouth opens up and I feel her tongue pressing insistently against me. Her hand snakes around to the back of my head and she grips me tight.
"Lemme...I wanted to get your present..." I tell her as she starts kissing and nipping at my ears and neck. She shakes her head and makes a pained sound.
"Don't. Don't go."
"I was just...it's just in the bedroom."
"Don't. Just, God, don't go," she whimpers.
She stands up, pressing her body into mine and pushing me backwards. I fall back into my chair, and she kisses me again. I suppose there will be time for presents later.
Her tongue twists and pokes in my mouth and she starts unbuttoning my shirt with frantic, clumsy fingers. She's shaking. This isn't right.
Don't get me wrong. Horny Dana is not something I've got a problem with. Ever. And she hasn't been making an appearance as often as I would have liked lately so this should be making my day. But there's something about this particular brand of horniness that strikes me as odd. It's almost as if she's afraid I'll disappear if she doesn't take me right now. As if we'll never be together again. It reminds me of the way she makes love to me the night before a battle.
"Dana, Dana, slow down," I pant, feeling her nails rake across my chest and her teeth digging into my jaw. Well, my mind may be protesting but my body's going right along with the plan.
I grab her two hands in my one and she pulls back and shakes her head questioningly.
"What? What is it?"
"I dunno. You tell me. Where's the fire?"
She blinks at me a few times and I notice that her eyes are dilated and dark. Wild.
"Alex, please. Don't. Just let me. Please."
She runs her fingers through my hair, over my face, and says it again. Please. God, my baby. My sweet devotchka.
Before I have time to react her tongue is back in my mouth and her claws are all over me. Soon she's pulling impatiently at her own clothes, and I help her with those. I end up latching onto a tiny hole in her blouse and making it ten times bigger in my haste to keep up with her frenzied pace. Her jeans and socks come off more easily. Thank God she took off her boots earlier.
And then she's standing before me, completely naked, and, as always, I'm reduced to a blathering idiot at the sight of her. My beautiful, tiny goddess. Her body is as flushed as her face. Red splotches all over her skin to match the gorgeous red hair flowing over nearly half of her. So much hair. It almost dwarfs her.
She climbs onto my lap, straddling me, and my hips jerk upwards. I can feel the heat, the white-hot intensity of her through my pants and shorts. She hooks her feet around the legs of the chair and starts rocking against me, pressing my face between her breasts. I lick and suck her skin obediently, feeding her need and finding my own growing with every passing second.
"God, Alex...inside. Now."
Now? I resist the urge to look at my watch. But I'm pretty sure we've set a new record. Least amount of time to pass between the kissing stage and the fucking stage. Well, okay, there was that first night...
I suppose I've waited to long to make a move because she's taken the initiative to reach down and unzip my pants. Before you can say "foreplay", she's got my dick in her hands and she's pulling on it, rubbing it against herself. And then she's there, rising up and sliding down all around me and God, it feels good.
As expected, she starts moving immediately, bouncing up and down in hard, fast thrusts that cause the chair to rock and slam against the floor on its uneven legs. She braces her hands on my shoulders which are still partially covered by the shirt that I can't believe I'm still wearing, and digs her nails in.
She throws back her head and cries out at the top of her lungs and I wrap my arm around her waist to keep her from falling.
"MmmmAleeexx," she moans, kisses me and kisses me. God, she's going so fast and it's so good, so fucking *hot* in there that I don't know if I can last.
"Devotchka...sl...slow," I try but she shakes her head violently and goes even faster.
"Need you. Alex. God...need you so bad."
Her eyes are closed. There are tears running down her cheeks. She's crying. My God. She's crying.
"Shh, shh, I'm right here baby," I whisper against her mouth. Her teeth grip my lower lip savagely and she grabs a fistful of my hair.
She starts shuddering and rocking, and I feel her tightening around me. Twitching with the beginnings of an orgasm.
"Oh God, need you, need you...AlexAlexAlexAhh," she drifts off into a long, keening cry and I feel her coming around me, tightening and pulling me deeper. And then I let myself go because I can't stand it any longer and it's over anyhow. I groan and squeeze her tightly against my chest as I shoot and spasm inside of her and she sags against me, suddenly lifeless as a ragdoll.
Her head lolls on my shoulder and her arms wrap around my neck as I come down from my orgasmic high. God, what the hell was that?
"I'm sorry," she murmurs quietly into my neck. I take her chin in my hand and pull her face up so that I can see her. Her eyes are downcast and her cheeks are red. She looks totally embarrassed.
"No...no, don't be. Don't be sorry. Don't ever be sorry. I'm here, devotchka."
She smiles weakly and nods. I wonder if I will ever be able to completely understand her. I do understand need, though. I understand that it creeps up on you sometimes and there's nothing you can do to hold it back. I understand that it's not something Dana likes to admit to having. In fact a declaration of need is probably more difficult for her to make than one of love. Well, maybe not. It's a nice thought, though.
In any case, she's made herself very vulnerable and that is something I can appreciate. Knowing that she needed me that intensely, for whatever reason, for whatever brief moment in time, is certainly something to be happy about. So why do I feel this sense of dread coiled in the pit of my stomach?
"Are you okay, Dana? Really?"
"Yes. Yes, I'm fine. Thank you, Alex."
She's taken to thanking me after sex lately. Another ever-since-Mulder's-arrival oddity. Almost as if I were doing her a favor. Almost as if she expects me to leave her any day now.
I kiss her softly, gently, and she responds in kind.
"Do you want your present now?"
She nods enthusiastically and grins. I stand up with her still wrapped around me. Thankfully she's light enough that with her arms and legs around me, I can hold her up. Of course I can't hold my pants up, and they fall to my ankles. We both laugh at the sound of the metal on my belt clanking on the floor. I kick them off to the side and carry her to the bedroom.
I lay her down on the bed and she curls up under the covers as I finish undressing.
"Okay, now close your eyes," I tell her as I fish around the drawer in the bedside table.
"Why? What are you gonna do?"
"God, can you ever just do something without asking a million questions?"
"Well, I just did you like that," she laughs and closes her eyes.
"Okay, now gimme your hand."
I crawl into bed on her right side and she holds out her right hand.
"Nope, other one."
"If it comes back slimy, it's going in your face," she says, thrusting her left hand in my direction. I slide the ring on her finger-the one meant for wedding rings because even though marriage between us human drones is illegal and not really practiced anymore, even in our little outlaw community, there's still a part of me that holds onto the tradition as something meaningful.
"Happy Birthday, baby."
She opens her eyes and looks down at it and so do I. It's not bad looking really. I was pretty surprised at how nicely it turned out. It's just a small piece of sheet metal with a piece of blue glass, melted and shaped into a circle, embedded in the center. I thought the blue would match her eyes. It does. I thought it would look huge on her finger. Boy, does it ever. She'll never forget that she's wearing it.
She gasps when she sees it. Really gasps. Like she's frightened.
"Is it too tight? Pinching you?"
She's quiet for what seems like a lifetime, holding her hand up to her face, examining it. I come dangerously close to blurting out "It's WHAT dammit?" but she saves me.
"It's beautiful. God, Alex, so beautiful. Where did it come from?"
"I made it."
She looks back and forth between my face and the ring.
"You did? You made it? How?"
She kisses my shoulder, gently reminding me that one-armed guys aren't known for their welding skills.
"Well, not completely by myself. I got all the stuff together and brought it down to the shop and the guys there helped me with it."
"Alex I...I can't..."
Oh God. Please don't tell me that you can't wear it. Please don't say that it's too similar to a dead custom you have no interest in perpetuating or that you're not ready for such a serious gift or some other bullshit.
"I can't believe you did this. Wow."
She's still staring at it and she's smiling now. My panic attack is slowly abating.
"Does that mean you like it?"
"I love it, Alex. God, I love it."
Jesus Christ. She's crying again. Maybe this is a birthday thing or something. I've spent six birthdays with her though, and I've never seen her this emotional.
"What's wrong?" I ask, even though she's smiling through her tears.
She pauses for another endless minute and I find myself idiotically holding my breath.
"...it. Love it," she finishes and kisses me.
Her eyes are gushing with tears now and maybe it's the idiot male in me, but I'm totally confused. I kiss her eyes, wishing whatever has her in such a state far far away.
"Shh, don't cry, baby."
"I'm sorry. I just love it. I don't even know...I don't know what to say."
"You don't have to say anything. Just wear it."
Every day. For the rest of your life. Maybe we should glue it on.
"Mmkay," she sighs, snuggling up to me and tucking her head under my chin. I wrap my arm around her and pull her as close as humanly possible. She sniffles and snorts against my chest and continues to hold up her hand and stare at the ring. She really does seem to like it.
"It looks good on you."
"I love it. You're so sweet, Alex. So good."
Sweet and good. Two words I never thought I'd hear associated with my name. I guess she really has turned me into a sap. I just wish I could believe it as strongly as she seems to.
"You've made me so happy," she says and then laughs.
"Nothing I just sound so...silly. Like a soap opera actress or something."
"No, it doesn't sound that way at all. Not at all. I wanna make you happy. That's all I want."
She nods and snorts some more and starts running her hand over my chest. We both admire the way the silvery metal looks, reflecting the moonlight and gliding over my skin. Damn, we are a soap opera.
"I love you...Destiny," I say melodramatically, and she laughs. "Or was it Montana? Blaze? What chick are you again?"
We chuckle together at our ridiculously sappy moment and then go back to looking at the ring and the way it glimmers as she touches me. Everywhere.
All things considered, I think I've been handling this relatively well. At least I had been. Until this past Monday. Until I saw that damn ring.
It's really amazing what kind of suffering a person can grow accustomed to. I remember a story from my criminal justice class, a story of a man condemned to a life in prison. He spent twenty five years behind bars and then suddenly, when he was sixty-two years old, he was granted parole. He'd gotten so entrenched in prison life, so damned terrified of facing the outside world, that he killed himself on the day he was supposed to be released. At least I think that was from my criminal justice class. Might have been a movie though...
Whatever. The point is, after a certain amount of time human beings can get used to just about any situation, no matter how miserable. So I suppose it's not much of an accomplishment on my part that I haven't felt like shooting myself in the head for the past week or so. Instead of wallowing in self-pity for the past two months, I've been settling in, exploring my surroundings, meeting some people, getting used to it.
And yes, that includes Scully and Krycek and their...whatever it is that they do. After talking to her about it that first day I realized pretty fast that the situation wasn't likely to change any time soon. Particularly not if I continued to stamp my feet about it like a petulant child. That tactic never worked on Scully before and I think I've finally learned that it never will. Instead I've tried to accept it. Tried to get used to it.
I even made a peace offering to that son of a bitch. Held out my hand and he shook it, sealing the deal. I think I told myself that I was trying to do the right thing and I guess that I was. In a way. Mostly I was trying to make Scully happy, make her see that I could handle this, that I could be the friend to her that I was before. I didn't really consider Krycek in the equation which shouldn't really discount it as a worthless gesture. Should it?
I suppose it should, since I didn't mean a lot of what I said. I won't ever be able to give up on Scully. But I'm willing to wait for her. I'm willing to sit patiently and endure the situation for as long as it takes for her to realize. To remember who she really belongs with.
At least I thought I was willing. Until I saw the ring.
I guess it must have been a birthday gift. She didn't have it on on Friday, when I gave her my gift. But Monday morning, there it was. Sitting on her finger like the Jolly Green Giant's wedding band.
I told myself it was just a ring and didn't comment or ask her about it. But I know who gave it to her and I know what it means when a man gives a woman a ring and puts it on that goddamn finger. And suddenly she went from being his misguided and confused girlfriend to his ready, willing and able wife. And I decided that I couldn't sit on my ass waiting for her anymore.
I've been too complacent. Of course, that complacency has given me the opportunity to spend more time with her. She seems to feel more comfortable with me now than she did when I first got here, and it's been so nice just working with her again. Getting our old rhythms back, getting in synch again. I don't want to lose that.
I honestly don't know what to do. All I know is that I've been having heart palpitations and felt consistently on the verge of vomiting ever since I saw that monstrous piece of jewelry.
It changes everything. Again.
I didn't sleep last night. Tried to, but after six hours had passed I realized it wasn't going to happen and got out of bed. I walked around the campus for awhile, looked at the stars in the sky and the snow on the ground, the buildings that used to house young, idealistic college students and now contained bitter, weary resistance fighters, and I wondered how in the hell we all ended up like this.
Sometimes I think there might have been something I could have done. But there probably wasn't. It's really nothing but egotism to think that there was.
As the sun was rising I wandered back to my dorm but I didn't return to my room. Instead I walked through the darkened, mostly empty halls. Scully would have laughed but I swear I felt the ghosts of those college students walking with me.
I went down to the basement for the first time. Most of the rooms were recreation rooms, similar to the one Marita and I were brought to on that first night. Almost all of the doors were wide open. I chose to fully explore the one that not only had a closed door but a lock as well and a sign that said "No Trespassing".
Well, what's the point of exploring if you're not going to find anything interesting?
Truth be told, I didn't find much. A lot of broken, useless crap mostly. But hidden among the trash was a treasure. A cassette player. The cord was still intact and there were a couple of tapes in a garbage bag next to it. I grabbed them all and by the time I was done, realized it was almost time to go to work at the lab.
I hadn't figured a way out of this hellish situation but I had found something that might make her smile.
I brought the radio and a few of the tapes to work with me and tested it out before anyone else showed up. It worked. It didn't work great but it worked. I left it on the wooden table Scully likes to use and when she comes in, it's the first thing she sees. The damn ring is the first thing I see.
Then I see the rest of her. It's still sort of strange for me to see her coming to work in a pair of beaten up old jeans and a sweater. I keep expecting her to dig up some discarded Donna Karan suit and a pair of those twelve inch heels she used to wear. And her hair, who knew it was so curly? Seven years together and I never saw it in its natural state. She's got it up in a bun today, held together with a pencil.
She glances at the radio and then at me and I grin excitedly. She takes her sweater off and pulls a white lab coat over her pink T-shirt. Who knew Scully wore pink?
"Where did this come from?" she asks and I get up from the stool I was sitting on and walk over to her.
"I found it in the basement."
"Yeah, the basement in the building I live in."
She crosses her arms over her chest and turns so that she's facing me directly. She looks vaguely suspicious.
"I went exploring."
Oh, it's reprimanding Scully. My favorite.
"What? It was just sitting there."
She's shaking her head but I see the hints of a smile tugging on her lips. She's easier than she used to be.
"Just sitting there huh? I'm surprised you're the first person to have found it."
"Well, it was kind of hidden."
"The door was kind of...locked. Look, Scully, it's Megadeth!" I hold up the tape as a distraction, knowing full well that it won't work.
"Mulder, did you...you went into *that* room? The one with the No Trespassing sign?"
"Yeah, I was wondering about that. Why's it locked up like that?"
"Because, Mulder, it's connected to a tunnel system which is now blocked up but Alex likes to keep it locked. For security, Mulder. I can't believe you...nevermind. Why should I be surprised."
"Well it's silly to have it locked. There's lots of cool stuff in there."
"Cool stuff, huh?"
"Look, Scully, The Village People! God, I wonder who had this mix of music."
"And why in the world would they leave it behind?"
"It still works, Scully..."
She sighs but her arms are uncrossed now. And we're close to a full-fledged smile.
"Mulder, we've got a lot of work to do today."
"How long has it been since you've heard honest to God music, Scully? Come ON!"
Her eyebrows are almost up to her hairline but she's laughing a little bit. Houston, we have contact.
I pop the tape in and hit play and the familiar, if slightly warped by time, strains of Macho Man fill the lab.
Now she's really laughing and I start dancing around like a goober, singing and clapping.
"Dance with me, Scully."
I turn up the volume and hold out my hand. She walks towards me and says...something. I can't hear her over the music.
"What did you say?"
"I SAID SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE."
Thank God for that.
She starts taking her coat off again and I clap and hoot like a drunken stripclub patron. She smiles big and wraps it around my neck. I tug on it while it's still in her hands and soon we're slow dancing in a completely inappropriate way. Inappropriate considering we're listening to the freaking Village People anyway. But nice. So nice. Not as close as I would like. She's still maintaining a certain degree of personal space, proper for a married woman such as herself. But I've got my arm around her waist and I'm holding her hand. Feels just perfect.
I'm afraid my dancing skills have diminished somewhat though and I end up practically tripping over her.
"Sorry, it's been awhile."
She laughs and says...something else.
"I said JUST STAY OFF MY TOES!"
"Oh, oh, those are your TOES?"
YMCA comes on next and I know all the words to this one. Can't believe I remember them after all this time. But I do so I start singing them into her ear. She responds but, of course, I can't hear her. It's probably just as well.
She rolls her eyes and leans over to turn the music down some. Her chest brushes against my arm briefly and I notice, not for the first time, that she isn't wearing a bra. Shit. I guess it's a good thing we're not dancing *that* close.
"Did we ever have this much fun working at the FBI?" she asks.
I try to look into her eyes but with those sneakers she's wearing, they're about level with my naval. Well, not really. She's not *that* short. But I wouldn't be able to see them unless she craned her neck pretty extensively.
"I always had fun with you, Scully."
"Mmm...maybe not always. But most times. Most of the time I had fun just being around you."
"Right. Most times at my expense..."
"Oh, Scully, that is a *total* lie!"
"Lie? What lie?"
"I never made fun of you. Never. Your memories are obviously clouded by time."
"Mulder, forget memories. You were in the clouds the entire time I knew you."
"See, there you go again. Remembering things entirely wrong. If you'll really look at things objectively, you'll see that I was right all along. Wasn't I?"
She grumbles something unintelligible, even though the music is relatively quiet now.
"Wasn't I, Scully? I mean jeez, just look around!"
She laughs through her nose and that soon gives way to an actual giggle.
"Yes, Mulder. I suppose you were."
"What was that, Scully? I didn't hear you." I tease, even though I heard her loud and clear this time.
She throws her head back and shouts through her laughter.
"I said YOU WERE RIGHT! Yes yes yes, you were RIGHT! Are you happy now, Mulder?"
I can see her eyes now and I look down into them. I guess my expression must be pretty serious because she stops laughing and looks back.
"You know, I am. Right now, I am happy, Scully."
She stares silently and the Village People continue to sing on in the background. We're not dancing anymore.
I don't think I've ever wanted to kiss her as much as I do right now. I could. God, it would be so easy. So easy and so incredibly difficult. What would she do? Kiss me back? Slap me? Cry?
Probably not. Probably not any of those things. She'd pull back and calmly tell me that she's involved in another relationship now. That I can't just take those kind of liberties the way I used to.
Except I didn't used to. In all those years, I never actually got to it. I wonder why I feel so much braver now.
Her skin is flushed and I don't think she's breathing. It's one of those moments. One of those do or die moments that always seemed to fall apart for us in the past.
Not this time.
"Dana, are you..."
Crap. Motherfucker. This can't be happening. But it is. He's standing in the doorway. Krycek. Standing there looking at us and she's pulling away from me now, of course. Fiddling frantically with the tape player, turning it off, turning an even brighter shade of pink.
"Are you gonna come to the meeting or what?" he asks, obviously disgruntled but trying very hard not to show it.
"Meeting...I...oh, yeah. Yeah. I was just...I guess I forgot that was today."
"Well, it is. We're waiting for you."
"I...I'm sorry. Just let me..."
She looks around helplessly for something to do. I see her sweater sitting on the table and hand it to her. I glance in his direction and see that he's very pointedly *not* looking at me. No, he's looking at her only. Staring really. Staring daggers.
I'm almost sorry. For her. I'm sorry that she's going to have to hear about this from him. But I'm not sorry it happened. Nothing could make me sorry it happened.
She grabs the sweater from me and pulls it over her head, causing her already loosened bun to come completely on done. The pencil falls to the floor with an almost embarrassing thunk.
"I'm...I'm ready. Let's go."
She hurries off to join him but before she leaves the room she turns back to me.
"I'll see you in a while, Mulder."
I nod, smile, wave.
Then they're gone and I'm not sure how I feel. I think I still feel good. I think I still feel happy.
The snow is melting again. The thaw has come a little early this year, don't you think? It's so nice to be able to sit outside like this in the middle of March. I hope that whatever you're doing today, you're doing it outdoors.
How peculiar to be writing you a letter. How silly to be writing to you about something as mundane as the weather. I know that I'll be seeing you in a matter of hours. We'll eat dinner together, as always, and on a normal day I would be able to discuss simple things like the sun and the grass with you. But we haven't had a normal day in a very long time, have we Alex?
Do you know what the strangest part of it is? The thing that I miss most of all is the fighting. Do you remember when we used to fight? When it was possible for us to resolve every difference through a few hours of raised voices and thrown crockery? Even after Mulder's arrival, things were difficult, yes, but we still managed to work through it. The fighting was more painful, more deeply personal and wounding, but it got us through. The making up was well worth the struggle to get there.
But as the weather changes, so do we. I thought we'd fight after you found me dancing with Mulder. I expected you to feel threatened and angry and I was prepared to deal with that, to attempt to allay your fears about the situation. I was almost looking forward to the opportunity to hash it out. Perhaps if forced to explain my feelings to you, I might become more clear about them myself.
I've never known you to sulk, Alex. I'm not even sure if that's what you're doing. All I know is that you've barely spoken to me since that day. We sleep in the same bed, share the same space, and yet you've hardly touched me in weeks. And I miss you terribly.
I didn't mean to lie to you. When you asked about that stupid radio, I suppose those old, dormant instincts to protect Mulder kicked in. I told you I'd found it myself, and I could tell from your expression that you didn't believe me. Such a small, meaningless detail, but to you it seemed to make all the difference. You didn't ask me about anything else. Did you just assume I'd lie again?
Despite the fact that you'd been insistent about my attending that meeting, once I got there, you completely ignored me. I had a report to give, but you never asked for it.
Marita was there but she didn't say a word. Why was she there, Alex? You never told me. I know you've been spending a lot of time with her. Business, you say, and I believe you. I do. I wish you'd tell me what kind of business, though. I wish you'd share your life with me again.
I trust you, Alex. I know that I can. Do you know that you can trust me? Can you?
I wish you'd just blow up at me already, put me out of my misery. Or just let it go and talk to me again. Please. It's already been almost three weeks since that day. I don't know how much more time we've got.
I'm dying, Alex. Did you know that?
No, you don't. Because I haven't told you. Because I'm afraid. Not afraid of dying. No, that's another lie. I am afraid of dying. I am so afraid, Alex. But what scares me more is how much I've disappointed you, my love. This illness is only my most recent failure. The final insult. The thought of leaving you behind is more terrifying than anything in the world.
You'll be all right though, won't you? You've survived so much. I know this won't-couldn't be- your undoing. I hope that you'll take care of Ret for me. He needs somebody to love.
I have to go now, Alex. My head is hurting terribly, and I am starting to see white spots on the paper. Please know that nothing, no one, could ever change what you are to me. I will die with you in my heart, even if I have left yours.
Roseanne is here. I have no idea how long she's been watching me but when I finish the letter, I look up and there she is, sitting across from me at the picnic table.
I fold the paper I'd been writing on into a tiny little square and put it in my shirt pocket. I wonder if anyone will ever read it. I wonder why I even wrote it. Not to give to Alex, certainly. Therapy? Perhaps, but I haven't found it to be particularly therapeutic. I wonder if I should burn it.
"What's that?" Roseanne asks after I've concealed the letter. She's brought her lunch out on a tray and half of it is gone. She must have been here almost the entire time.
"Nothing. Just some notes."
She nods but her nose is twitching. I guess I can't lie to her either.
"You seemed pretty engrossed. I said hi when I sat down but you didn't even hear me, did you?"
"I...I was just concentrating on those...notes."
God, my head really is pounding. I can barely even focus on her. Every distant, minute sound is amplified in my brain. Rustling leaves sound like the beat of a snare drum. Those white dots are covering Roseanne's face.
"Dana, are you okay?"
Why is she talking so loudly?
"I..I'm fine. I'm fine."
She leans across the table and places her hand over mine. For some reason the gesture startles me, makes me jump.
"Are you sure? You look really pale and tired."
"I'm fine. I just, I have a little headache, that's all."
She shrugs and starts eating her sandwich again, thankfully opting not to pry any further. As much as I like, and trust, Roseanne, next to Alex, she's probably the last person in the world I'd want to burden with my illness.
Is this conversation over? I hope so. I need to go...somewhere. Anywhere. I can't talk to anyone anymore.
"I'm gonna, um...I have to go back to the lab, Roseanne. I'll see you later."
I start to stand up, but she clutches at my hand.
"Wait wait wait, Dana! God, I feel like I haven't talked to you in ages. Stay for a minute."
"I really...have to..."
"Have to what? Come on, Dana. I miss you."
I miss her, too. I really do. I've barely even thought of it until just now, but we've been drifting apart over the past few months. Since Mulder. Since I started drifting apart myself.
I sit back down and rub my temples, hoping to ease the pain enough to clear my head, to make me somewhat coherent.
"I'm sorry, Roseanne. I've just been...things have been...well, I haven't had a lot of time."
"I know. It's okay."
"How have you been?"
"I've been good. Fine. A little lonely but..."
"Well, jeez Dana. This place isn't exactly overflowing with attractive, intelligent, eligible men. And the two best looking guys here are...well..."
Mine. Mine? They're not mine. Neither of them are mine anymore. Mulder never really was and Alex...oh, Alex.
"They both love you, Dana. Not that you don't deserve it, but it's just totally unfair to a single girl such as myself."
She laughs and I manage a weak smile. You wanna trade, Roseanne? Please?
Maybe when I'm gone she'll be able to take care of Alex for me. Perhaps he could even grow to love her, to forget about me.
"Mulder's not...well, he's single, Roseanne."
She continues to laugh and shakes her head.
"Dana, are you insane? The man has no interest in anyone, anything, other than you. Believe me, I've tried to...expand his horizons."
I don't really know what to say about that. I just wish that things were different somehow. For all of us.
"Dana, are you sure you're okay? Are you nervous about that raid or something?"
Her jaw drops and her eyes bulge out of her head like a cartoon character.
"You're kidding right?"
"Have you been living under a rock for the past week?"
"Well, like I said, I've been sort of busy. I haven't really been talking much to anyone."
"Not even Alex?"
Especially not Alex. I can't respond to her beyond shaking my head and looking away. I hope she can see that this is the last thing I want to talk about right now.
"Dana, aren't you supposed to be his second in command? I mean, even if you guys are having problems..."
"We're not having problems!"
She pulls back from me, startled at my outburst. I didn't mean to sound so defensive.
"Okay, Dana. You're not having problems. So why didn't he tell you about this huge raid he's been planning with Marita and this mysterious contact of hers for the past couple weeks?"
Marita? Contact? God, Alex. What in the world have you been keeping from me?
"I suppose...we've been very busy."
"Jesus, Dana! They're going to one of the main facilities. This is a huge deal! I can't believe he hasn't talked it over with you. What the hell is wrong with him?"
"Wh...when is this supposed to happen?"
"In like, five days!"
Oh, I'm getting dizzy again. I wish she'd stop shouting.
"I...I need to go, Roseanne. I'm sorry."
"You need to go kick his ass is what you need to do."
I smile and lean across the table to kiss her on the cheek. I'm struck with an urge to collapse sobbing into her arms but thankfully restrain myself.
"I'll see you later, Roseanne. Thank you."
I've never been nervous knocking on the door to Alex's office before. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever knocked on this door, period.
He grumbles something incomprehensible on the other side of the door, and I take that as an invitation. I've got to admit that when I step inside, I'm shocked. I've never seen this place in such a state of utter chaos. Papers, books, and maps lie strewn across the desk and the chairs. File cabinets are open, their contents disheveled. Alex sits amidst the mess, scrawling madly on his notepad. Planning. Without me.
I clear my throat, and he looks up with a start. I feel as though I've captured him in some sort of infidelity. Silly but just the same...
His tone frightens me. It's not questioning, not surprised, not angry or irritated, not tender or concerned. It's blank. Empty. A dull statement of fact. Dana.
"Hello, Alex. Can I sit down?"
"If you can find a place to sit."
I lift a pile of papers off the chair in front of his desk and put them on the floor. He winces but doesn't reprimand me, so I take the seat. I feel alarmingly like an errant child sent to the principal's office all of a sudden.
"Alex I...I wanted to ask you about something."
God, that face. He's a rock. No expression whatsoever. His hands are folded together on the desk in front of him. Human and inhuman sides joined.
"I heard something about a raid today, Alex."
Still nothing. I fight the urge to squirm around nervously.
God, it's Alex. Alex for goodness sake. I shouldn't feel this way. How did things become so completely wrong?
"Is...is there going to be a raid?"
"Well, would you like to tell me something about that?"
"What do you want to know?"
"I want to know..."
I pause and take a deep breath, stopping myself from spitting out the tirade I feel bubbling under my surface.
"What I want to know first is why you haven't told me about this already."
He sighs and leans back in his chair. Signs of life?
"You've been busy. I didn't want to bother you."
"Bother me? Alex, this is part of my job. Not just my job. My life. Now I want you to tell me what's going on. Where is this raid?"
In lieu of an answer I receive a stack of papers shoved in my general direction across the desk. There's a rough map of the Southern territory, which increases in vagueness the further South it goes. Somewhere near the bottom is a red circle around what I believe used to be the city of Boston.
"Alex isn't this where the rebel aliens have their colony?"
"Is this...this isn't who you're attacking, Alex."
"Yes, it is."
"I don't understand. Alex, this is where all of their warehouses are. This is where we get our supplies from. What's going on here?"
"They've been lying to us, Dana. Getting us to do their dirty work and giving us trinkets in return."
"Trinkets? Alex, they've been keeping us alive!"
He shakes his head and looks at me with...pity? Is that pity? As if I'm a fool for not knowing what he knows, not understanding why he wants to throw away our one helpful alliance and make yet another set of enemies.
"They've been holding out on us, Dana. They have the things we need, the things we've been working our asses off trying to find. They've had them all along. All we're doing is taking what we deserve. Payment in full."
"What are you talking about? What do they have?'
Would it be the end of the world if I reached across that desk and strangled him? Somehow I have a feeling it would be, but it's a temptation nonetheless.
"Could you be more specific, please?"
"They have the technology we need. To make a weapon. To get rid of them. All of them."
"If that's true, why wouldn't they use it themselves?"
"Because it would kill them too if they released it. They haven't figured out a way to immunize themselves."
"So you're going to take this from them and set it loose? You're going to completely betray the only ones who've helped us at all, Alex?"
He gives me that pitiful look again, and for the first time all day, my headache abates and is replaced by nausea. Who is this man? Where is the Alex I know? Did I kill him by simply dancing with another man?
"That's not all they have."
Dammit. This is completely ridiculous. I can't believe he's playing this idiotic guessing game with me.
"What else do they have, Alex?"
"The thing you've been working to find since the day you got here."
A twitch of fear and hope works its way through my veins.
I barely manage to whisper the word. How could that possibly be? It couldn't. Could it?
"How...how do you know that they have that?"
"Someone told me."
"Someone told you. That's great, Alex. You're going to throw our one alliance down the toilet and risk everyone's lives for something 'someone' told you?"
And all for the sake of finding a cure. That's what it is, more than the weapons. I know him well enough to understand that. He's willing to risk everything, including his own life, to find that cure. For me. For what he views as a potential threat to my well being. That is what frightens me most of all about this. And it enforces my decision not to tell him that I am already sick. God only knows what he would do.
"It's someone I trust. And they're not our only alliance."
His head drops, giving me the sneaking suspicion that this someone is Marita.
"There's a man. A man I used to work for. We've been in contact. He's offered to help us."
"And he's the one who's given you this information?"
"This man, he has an English accent?"
His eyebrows raise in surprise, which is answer enough for me. I know this man Alex seems to have deemed worthy of trust. And I'm nearly speechless with shock at the thought of risking so much on his word.
"What kind of proof has this man given you, Alex?"
He shakes his head dismissively as if this were an absurd request.
"I trust him, Dana."
"And that's enough for you?"
I can see that there's no point in arguing the issue with him. He seems to have made up his mind.
"So, when are we leaving?"
"End of the week. You don't need to come, Dana. I'm just taking a small group."
I nod my assent, and we lock eyes for the first time. It might be my imagination, but I think that I see something soften in him. I suppose he expected an argument. I wish I had the strength to argue. I wish I felt well enough to believe I'd be an asset instead of dead weight.
We stare at each other in silence for what seems like a very long time but might only be a moment or two. Yes, he is behaving like an insufferable bastard, but there is someone I care about in there somewhere. Someone I want to touch.
I run the fingers of my right hand over the ring sitting on my left hand and feel my heart begin to race remembering the night he gave me this gift. How would he react if I reached across the barrier between us and grabbed his face, brought his lips to mine where they belong? Would it melt this cold, dead facade away? Would it convince him to believe in me again? For a moment I think maybe it would.
But it passes. He looks down at his papers again, dismissing me. I get up and start for the door. Is he watching my back with sad, lonely eyes?
I turn around quickly, hoping to catch him, but his head is still hanging over his desk and he's started writing again. I feel a pang of desperation and need so strong that I can't ignore it and walk away.
"I miss you, Alex," I whisper so quietly I think he might have missed it.
He didn't. He looks up and suddenly his face is new. Soft and kind and terribly unhappy.
So different than when I first walked in here. So full of pain and love and just plain old raw emotion.
"What's happening, Alex? I thought we were past this?"
His eyes slip shut, and he rubs his hand over his face.
"I dunno, Dana. I just...whatever you think of me now, whatever kind of man you think I am, there's one thing that's always guided me through every situation."
I walk back to the desk and tentatively place my hand over his. He doesn't pull away, thank God.
"What does that have to do with us, Alex?"
"I'm just trying to protect myself, Dana."
He takes a deep shuddering breath and looks up at me with the eyes of a frightened rabbit.
"From what you have the potential to do to me."
Hearing that feels like a white hot poker piercing through my chest, puncturing a heart I thought had already been broken a thousand times over.
"I would never hurt you, Alex."
He nods, but I suppose we both know that that's a lie. I already have hurt him. Not willingly or purposefully, but I have.
"I'm sorry, Alex."
I squeeze his hand. He lifts mine to his lips and plants a soft kiss on my knuckles.
"I am too, devotchka. I am too."
"So, what do we do?"
"Just...keep going I guess."
Just keep going. I suppose that's a start. He drops my hand and replaces it with a pencil, looking back at his work.
"I'll see you tonight," he says, and this time I do leave because I don't know what else to say. I don't know how in the world to make it better. But at least I have a little bit of hope.
Just keep going. In retrospect, that seems like a pretty stupid thing to say. There were so many other options, things I could have suggested that might have prevented us from reaching this point.
For instance, I might have said, "Why don't we start with you telling me what the hell is going on?"
Maybe I just didn't wanna know. Maybe I already knew and couldn't bear to hear it.
The signs were all there. She's been distant and peculiar for so long now that I can barely imagine her any other way. She's been disappearing for long periods of time with no explanation, quite frequently, for at least a month. Catching her in his arms was really just the icing on the cake.
But I still refused to believe it. When she came to me that day, I honestly thought she was being sincere, that maybe I was being paranoid and insecure. I thought she wanted to try. And I have been trying. For the past week, I've been trying my damnedest to make things right between us, despite the fact that I've been busier than ever planning this raid, despite my suspicions and my fears. She seemed to be working with me, even allowed me the privilege of making love to her a couple of days ago. I thought we were hitting another upswing on this fucking amusement park ride from hell we've been on for the past five months. I guess I was wrong.
Sometimes I wonder if she thinks I'm the stupidest person who ever lived. Did she think I wouldn't figure it out? I used to be a freaking spy for God's sake.
No. After tonight, I guess it's safe to say that she wants me to find out, but she doesn't have the balls to say it to my face. That's what makes me saddest of all. I expected so much more from her. I thought she was brave.
I'm not a real stickler for rules. I haven't abided by them, and I haven't really set too many of them. As far as I'm concerned, most of them are hypocritical and unimaginative, more of a crutch for people who can't distinguish between right and wrong for themselves than any kind of safeguard. Not that I'm the most reliable source on this subject...
In any case, the point is that Dana and I don't have too many rules in our relationship. Most of our expectations for each other have gone unspoken. In all the time we've been together, I've only had one real demand, one simple courtesy that I've asked of her.
No, it's not fidelity, although I'm starting to think it might have been a good idea to negotiate that right up front rather than blindly expect it from her.
The rule is that the night before any kind of battle, raid or other potentially life-threatening situation, both of us leave work early, eat dinner, talk, and go to bed. Together.
I told her that I needed this very early on, before we even lived together, and she's always been very accommodating. So much so that I came to believe that she needed it herself.
Another mistaken assumption.
I'm leaving tomorrow. The trucks are all packed up, the plan is set, watches synchronized and all that crap. I conducted our last minute strategy session in a frantic rush, skipping over some important points in my haste to get back here and cook what may well have been my last meal with Dana. May have been if she had shown up.
The first few hours weren't too bad. I was a bit early, it turned out, and I spent the extra time preparing our food to perfection. By the time I was done with dinner, she was a little late but I figured if I kept it in the oven, it'd still be warm when she got home.
It's burnt now. Burnt to a pathetic, blackened mess. Been that way for about six hours. I don't even remember what it was anymore.
I have to say, those six hours were the longest of my life. I went through several stages when I realized she wasn't coming home. First, denial. Yep, any minute she was gonna walk through that door, all apologies and reasonable, believable explanations. That faded into anger at about nine or ten o'clock.
How dare she blow me off like this? Could she have forgotten? What kind of bitch...
After a few hours of infuriated pacing and chair kicking, I started to get worried. What if something had happened to her? Surely she couldn't have forgotten. Surely she couldn't be doing this to me on purpose. Things have been strained between us, to say the least, but still, she'd never go out of her way to hurt me. She must have been injured or in some kind of trouble.
That's when I decided to look for her.
I hadn't wanted it to come to that. I suppose denial still had a pretty strong hold and a huge part of me was still waiting for her to come back on her own. But I couldn't just sit here if she needed my help.
The first place I went was, of course, the most obvious. If I'd just gone there in the first place, at five or six when she was supposed to come home, maybe things would be different. Maybe I'd have been able to leave here in my happy, deluded little world.
But I didn't make it to the lab until about one o'clock in the morning. I guess it's the stalker in me that wanted to peek through the window rather than knocking at the door. The stalker and the realist, the one who knew from the start what was really happening.
She was there, all right. Looking post-orgasmically happy and disheveled and for a moment I was actually relieved. She was okay. Thank God she was okay.
And then I saw him with the same nauseating look, leaning over her. She jumped into his arms and I watched them hugging like a couple of lovesick teen-agers for as long as I could stand it. Maybe I was waiting for them to stop. But they didn't stop. They just kept hugging and laughing and jumping the fuck up and down and I finally gave up. Completely.
And now, almost two full hours later, I sit at what used to be our kitchen table, still waiting for her to come home. But this time it is with acceptance.
Her bags are packed and piled in the hall outside the door. If she doesn't make it back before I leave, there will be no need for a gory scene. She'll see them and understand that I'm finally giving her what she wants. For the first time ever, I believe.
Perhaps I'm being too kind, letting her off too easy. Maybe I'd be better off pretending I don't know and just carrying on, making it as difficult as possible for her to be with her real love. But sadly, I don't have that in me. I couldn't bear the torture myself.
No, the time has come. There is nothing left to say, no pain left for us to inflict on each other. I only hope that losing her doesn't destroy me.
In the end, the answer was so simple it was difficult to comprehend the amount of time spent finding it. How could I have overlooked something so basic, so fundamentally obvious, for so very long? I suppose I knew that the solution was in Mulder's blood but who would have guessed that it would be the blood itself?
It doesn't matter anymore. We found it. A way to convert without the conversion. The right mixture, the right temperature, the right everything. That's all that counts.
There will have to be more tests of course. We'll need to inject the serum into someone infected with the cancer first. A human guinea pig. I've already resigned myself to that fate because I am almost completely certain it will work
I should have told Alex I was going to be late. It must be at least four in the morning. The moon is gone already and the night is at its darkest point. The only sound on campus is that of my feet making contact with the frosty grass as I make my way home. He must be worried.
It doesn't matter. Once I tell him where I've been, what I've done tonight, he'll forget. He'll be happy. Euphoric even. And best of all, my discovery will surely be enough to stop him from going on this fool's mission tomorrow. It will have to be. I'm not letting him go without making love to me properly, and there's just not enough time left. He's supposed to leave in two hours.
When I get into the dorm, I feel like running up and down the halls, pounding on every door and waking the world to tell them all that I did it. I finally did it. But there's only one door that's really important and I find myself bolting up the stairs, taking two at a time, to reach the fourth floor and my home.
In my excitement and haste, I almost trip over the pile of garbage bags sitting in front of our door. Maybe Alex has been doing some cleaning. It looks like a lot of stuff to be throwing away though.
I step over them, making a mental note to go through them tomorrow and make sure he's not tossing anything we actually need, and unlock the door.
All the lights are out and the room feels very empty when I step inside. He must have gone to sleep already. I close and lock the door behind me and start making my way through the dark. When I reach the bedroom door, I hear a noise, something like a sigh, coming from the kitchen area. I spin around, startled.
Silence. Deafening, eerie silence.
I grope around in the dark, searching simultaneously for a lightswitch and the small pistol I keep strapped to my boot.
I clutch the weapon in my right hand and hit the switch with my left. The small, dim bulb of the kitchen lamp flickers on and, relieved, I let out a gust of air. It is Alex.
"Why didn't you answer me?" I ask. He shrugs, not averting his gaze from the table top.
"Why are you sitting here in the dark?" I try again, putting my gun back where it belongs. Still no answer.
"Alex, you're not gonna believe what happened tonight," I blurt out, simply bursting with the need to share the good news with him. His eyes dart up and he sniffs, sneers. There is something dangerous in those eyes tonight.
"I'm...I'm sorry I'm so late, Alex but there's a reason. A very good reason."
"Really," he says but it's not a question. It's that same barren tone he used with me in his office the other day.
"Yes, really. I think that...I think we found it Alex."
I can't stop myself from running over to him and wrapping my arms around his shoulders. He might look irritated now, but when he understands...
"Alex, this is so exciting!"
I lean around and kiss him on the corner of the mouth, wanting to just fall into his lap and be surrounded by him. But his body goes tense, hard and cold, and he flinches.
"What did you find, Dana?"
"Alex, we're saved. I'm saved," I whisper into his ear, and he jerks away.
"What are you talking about?"
"I found it."
I move so that I'm kneeling on the floor in front of him, so that I can see his face when he understands.
"A cure, Alex. I found a cure."
His eyes get wide and I laugh, just laugh. It feels so real saying it out loud like that.
"Are you sure?"
"Pretty much absolutely."
I lean in to kiss him full on the mouth, but this time he stands up and walks away from me completely, leaving me sitting on the floor alone. He turns his back on me and rests his hands on the ledge of the sink. More silence.
"Alex, aren't you going to say anything?"
I'm not going to die, Alex. Don't you care?
Of course, he doesn't know how close I came. Still, I thought he would be ecstatic. He's wanted this as badly as I have for some time.
"I'm glad. I know you've been working for awhile on this. Congratulations."
"Glad? You're glad? Congratulations? Alex, don't you understand what this means? Don't you see how much this will help us?"
"Yes, I know what it means. You did a very good job. It won't go unappreciated."
I don't even know how to respond to that. Not just the words, but the tone. Even that day in his office, I don't think he was this cold to me. This couldn't be just because I was late. Not now that he knows why.
I stand up and move behind him, wrapping my arms around his waist and snuggling my head into the crook of his shoulder.
"Alex, what's wrong? Aren't you happy about this?"
I feel his chest rise and fall heavily as he sighs.
"I've gotta go soon. I need to get ready."
"Go? Alex...you're not still going are you?"
"But Alex, we have what we need from them. You don't have to go anymore. That's what I'm trying to tell you. Why don't you just stay here with me?"
I reach my hand through the buttons on the front of his shirt and caress his stomach lightly. I feel the muscles twitch under me, andwed over one too many times."
"So you're going for vengeance? You're risking your life and the lives of all those people to prove that nobody fucks with Alex Krycek?"
He looks up at the ceiling and laughs shortly through his nose.
"Something like that..."
"Alex, you can't..."
His head drops down, and his eyes meet mine from across the room. He's so far away now, and he looks angry. Very, very angry.
"What are you doing here, Dana?"
"What am I...what do you mean, Alex? What's the matter with you?"
"Did you miss something on your way in here, Dana? Maybe I didn't make it clear enough."
"Alex," I breathe, growing more and more alarmed and confused as his voice raises.
"Do you want me to write it out on a piece of paper for you?" he roars. His eyes squeeze shut, and he inhales sharply. His rage is frightening, but at least he's showing me something. It's better than the cold shoulder.
"No, Alex, I want you to talk to me. I want you to tell me what's wrong."
"Where do you want me to start?"
"Wherever you need to start."
"Well, we don't have much time, so I'd better just stick to tonight."
Tonight? Is that what this is? Could he possibly be this angry because I'm late? I realized he might be worried or a little irritated, but I figured once I told him why, he'd realize how important it was. Of course I also thought it would stop him from going and that missing this night together wouldn't be such a huge issue.
"Alex, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I wasn't here tonight. I really am. I thought that when I told you...I just thought we'd have more time."
"Well, that's where you're wrong, Dana. We don't have any more time."
His voice is cold and flat again, and it is with a terrifying finality that he reiterates, "None."
My heart drops into my stomach at the sound of that word because all at once I realize that he is not just referring to our time tonight. There's something much bigger happening here, and it's finally starting to sink in through the delirium of my discovery.
"Alex, why didn't you come down to the lab if you were waiting for me?"
"I didn't come at first because I wanted to see how long it would take you to come back on your own."
A test? Is that what this was? What the hell kind of game is he playing with me here?
"But when I started to hear the birds singing I got a little worried. So I did come down to the lab, Dana."
"You did? I didn't see you there."
"No, I'm sure you didn't. You seemed quite distracted. Quite happily distracted."
"Yes, Alex. Because I was working."
He winces and spits, "Working on what exactly, Dana? Is the cure for cancer in Mulder's pants?"
I can't stop my jaw from dropping to the floor at that one. I think I'd slap him if we didn't have a table between us.
"Just what am I being accused of here?" I manage to choke out through my anger and confusion.
"All I know is what I saw. Again."
"And what exactly was that?"
"You and...him. Pawing each other at two o'clock in the morning, seven hours after you were supposed to come home and be with me."
"Alex, that was...it was nothing. It was a hug. We were hugging because we were happy about finding a cure. I can't...I can't even believe I'm having this conversation. You're being ridiculous. Again."
He just stares back at me with those unblinking eyes and that gaping mouth, the crease above his nose deeper than ever. Disgust. That's what that look is. Disbelief and disgust.
"I'm going to sleep, Alex."
I start to walk, on shaking legs, towards the bedroom. He sighs heavily behind me.
"I think you're still missing the point here."
"Alex, where's Ret?" I ask, suddenly realizing why the place seemed so empty when I came home. No slobbering mass of dog jumping on top of me when I walked through the door.
"He's in Bryan's room."
"What the hell for?"
"Because, he and his owner don't live here anymore."
I spin back around to face him again and goddamn him, he actually looks smug. His arms are crossed over his chest, and he's fucking smirking at me.
"What are you doing, Alex?" I ask quietly, fear clamping my chest in a vice-grip.
"I'm sorry. I thought it was obvious by now. I'm throwing you out...Scully."
"You're...what? You're not...Alex, no."
"Your stuff is outside already. Feel free to take any room you'd like just as long as it's not in this building. You can keep your job and everything else. Just stay out of my way."
"I can't believe this. I can't believe you. I can't believe you're doing this!"
And doing it so damn easily. Negotiating it like a business arrangement or something. Can't he see that he's killing me all over again? Isn't this killing him? I want to shake him, to smack him back into the Alex I know, but I'm afraid there's nothing left of him anymore.
"You're gonna just...just give up on us? On me? Because you misinterpreted a perfectly innocent hug?"
"It's not just the hug, Dana. Do you remember what you told me that night in the pool?"
"Which night? What are you talking about?"
God, this is so completely surreal. I feel like the universe is disintegrating under my feet. What in the world is happening?
"You said that if you weren't happy, if I knew that you weren't, that I had your permission to throw you out. So, here we are."
"I never said that I was unhappy! I never said that! Never..."
I feel tears of panic and horror burning the back of my throat, trailing down my cheeks, and I wipe them away frantically. Why should I let him see me break when he couldn't care less?
"You don't have to say it. Don't you think that I can see it, living with you every day? Dana, the only two times I've seen you happy in the past five months have been the two times I saw you in his arms."
Bastard. Goddamn you, you bastard. Why are you doing this to me?
"I can't believe this. I can't BELIEVE it! You wanna know something, Alex? I wish that Mulder and I were fucking so that I'd actually deserve this kind of treatment. But we're NOT! We're not doing ANYTHING!"
Oh God, I'm really losing it. I've gotta get out of here before I start hyperventilating.
Deep breath. Don't let him see you hysterical.
"It doesn't matter if you are or not," he says, quiet and calm. Fuck you, Alex Krycek. Fuck you.
"No, obviously it doesn't."
"The point is that whether you can admit it to me or yourself or anyone else, you want to be with him. You're only happy when you're with him."
The sun is coming up. He has to leave on his stupid, pathetic little adventure and I can't be here anymore. I just can't.
"You're going to be unreasonable no matter what I say, Alex. There's no point in even talking about this anymore."
We stare each other down, and I wait for a long moment, the longest in my life, for him to put an end to this. But he doesn't, and the knife cuts a little deeper.
I can't even wipe the tears away anymore because they're coming too fast.
"Have a nice trip," I tell him, walking quickly past him and to the door, taking pains not to let any part of me touch any part of him. I swear the doorknob burns like fire when I put my hand around it.
"Have a nice life," I whisper, and my voice cracks irreparably.
"I just can't live like this anymore, Dana. I'm not trying to hurt you," he says softly, and it's just the final twist.
I pull open the door and step through, closing it quickly behind me so that I don't have to look at his blank fucking face anymore. This time I do trip over the stupid pile of garbage bags in the hall, and it finally hits me that this is really my stuff. All of it.
I let myself collapse into the junk, let myself really cry now because I know he's not going to open that door until he's sure that I'm gone. I find myself leaning against the door, whimpering, fucking whimpering like a whipped puppy, touching the wood, wishing I could go back to the other side. And then I hear him.
Or rather, hear what he's doing. Breaking glass, cracking wood, smashing things. He's in there smashing things, tearing our home to pieces. I take no comfort in the fact that his stoic facade has cracked. In fact somehow, it only deepens the agony. And the most miserable thing of all is that even though I hate him more than anything right now, I'd give the world to go in there and be able to make him stop. To comfort him and make it all better.
But I can't make it better. And I fear that I never will be able to again.
A bluish-black fluid swirling in a glass tube in my hands as I turn it over and over and over. Reminds me of one of those relaxation, lava lamp type things businessmen and shrinks used to keep on their desks. How can something so simple hold so much hope, so many answers?
I couldn't sleep when I got home last night. Well, technically, this morning. Not that this is anything new, but this time it wasn't an insomnia born of anxiety and melancholy. I was just too excited to let myself rest.
I walked to the lab at the crack of dawn, anxious to continue the work Scully and I started last night. I couldn't really do anything without her here though, so I've spent the last two or three hours staring at the strange gelatinous substance and marveling at how much the two of us can accomplish together.
Roseanne showed up about fifteen minutes ago, and she's joined me in my staring and marveling. I don't think she's completely fathomed it yet. I think she wishes she'd been here last night. I'm glad she wasn't. It was our moment, mine and Scully's.
"Do you think anyone will volunteer?" she asks after several moments of awed silence between us.
"I don't see why not. Anyone who's sick will probably be willing to take the risk."
And hell, it's not like we've got any shortage of sick people around here. We've got lists upon lists of people who've come to us with symptoms. People who've come to us for help. Help that we haven't been able to give beyond taking some blood from them and handing them meager supplies of medication to lessen the pain a tiny bit.
"I think they'll be lining up outside the door, Roseanne."
She nods in agreement and then shakes her head in disbelief.
"This is unreal, Mulder. You guys are just...wow."
"It was mostly Scully," I tell her, honestly. Scully has been working hard on this for as long as I've been here, but for the past month or so she's been going after it with a ferocious tenacity. And this past week has been the absolute height of that. I really didn't provide much more than fluid. And encouragement. And an annoying voice, second-guessing everything she said. I guess it was just the right combination.
"That's not really true," we hear a voice muttering from the doorway. We turn around and both of us break into spontaneous applause at the sight of her.
Our savior. My Scully.
My Scully who...who is always beautiful to me but right now looks like a pile of shit. I have seen her suffering the most abysmal lows of a lifetime and yet, I have never seen her in this kind of a state. She's always been meticulous about her appearance, even under the most dismal of circumstances.
Today her hair is hanging in clumps around her face, tangled and greasy. Her eyes are surrounded with dark, raccoon-like circles. Her jeans are dirty, and her shirt is buttoned wrong.
But there's more to it than just the superficial dishevelment. There is an energy surrounding her, an aura of defeat and disappointment. An atmosphere of death that is completely inconsistent with the moment, dissociated from any reality I understand right now.
"Stop it guys," she grumbles, staring at the floor and holding up her hand to stave off our appreciation.
Roseanne runs over to her and gives her a bear hug, to which Scully barely manages to respond. Her arms hang limply at her sides and she doesn't smile.
"Dana, I can't believe it! Aren't you excited?"
"Yes. Yes, it's very exciting," Scully intones in a flat deadpan. Roseanne pulls back from her and takes a good look at her face for the first time.
"Dana, what's wrong? You look like hell."
"I'm fine. I just...I didn't get much sleep."
She walks past Roseanne and sits down at the table across from me.
"I'm fine, Mulder. Have you prepared the injection?"
"Not yet. I figured we'd make some kind of announcement first and ask for a volunteer. I thought you'd want to call a meeting. Gather the people on the list and..."
"Just prepare the injection, Mulder."
"You don't want..."
"Just prepare the damn injection, Mulder."
Roseanne and I exchange a glance fraught with worry and confusion. She walks over to the sink, takes a needle out of a sterilization jar and brings it over to me. I dip the point into the test tube and fill the syringe. Roseanne stands behind me and watches silently. I can feel her nervous breath on my neck.
"Well, I guess all we need now is an arm."
Scully begins rolling up her sleeve, and a horrible truth starts to dawn on me. Something I suppose I must have known in the back of my head. Must have. How could I not have?
She drops her naked arm onto the wooden table with a terrifying thump, and all three of us stare at the white skin and the bluish veins for an interminable moment.
"Are you going to do it or not?" Scully finally asks. The syringe is shaking in my hand. I'm afraid I might drop it, or crush it.
My throat refuses to strangle out anymore than that syllable.
"Give me the injection, Mulder."
Has she looked like this all along? Has she been this sick for all this time? No, I would have noticed that. Surely, I would have noticed.
God, Scully. How could you not tell me?
"Dana, what the hell are you doing?" Roseanne whispers, sounding as mortified as I feel. I suppose she was in the dark as well.
"I want you to give me the injection," Scully intones again.
"But you...oh my God, Dana. You...why didn't you tell me?"
I'm glad Roseanne is capable of asking these questions because I seem to have lost the power of speech altogether.
"I didn't want you to worry," she answers. As if this explanation will suffice for either of us.
"Does Alex know?" Roseanne asks, and I feel like slapping her for giving voice to my worst fears. For making me feel a sickening jealousy when all I should be concerned with is Scully's health. Could she share this with him? With him and no one else?
"Just give me the damn injection!"
She slams her arm down emphatically, rattling the table. Roseanne and I exchange another nervous glance. The excitement I could barely manage to contain just five minutes ago has transformed itself into absolute terror.
"Scully, are...are you sure? There could be side effects. I mean, we don't really know what this is gonna do."
"Side effects? Mulder..."
I look at her bloodshot eyes and sunken cheeks and realize that what I said earlier applies just as much to her as anyone else. Whatever side effects there may be, they can't be worse than dying of cancer.
I swallow a mouthful of bile and reach for her arm. With shaking hands, I plunge the needle into her flesh and share my blood with her.
Metal. It was everywhere. Shiny, silver sheet-metal. The floors, the walls, the ceiling. It was like running through a tin can. The bastards just loved metal. He could see himself reflected in every direction. Sweaty, bloody, gripped with a lunatic desperation.
They were losing. Lost. Devastated.
Even with the extra troops, sent by the old Brit to help them out, there simply weren't enough of them. There could never be enough.
He'd seen so many die in his lifetime. Should have been able to stand the sight but couldn't. Not when they were his men. Not when this was his fault.
So he ran. For his life and theirs. To give their deaths a meaning. He ran through the cold, inhuman hallways, through the stench of smoke and death, over piles of fallen bodies. He would find what they came for. He would find it if it killed him.
Dead. Brittle and broken.
She held the ends between her fingers, watched her reflection in an unfamiliar mirror tacked to an unfamiliar wall in an unfamiliar room. Her new home. Her bags on the bed and floor, still packed even though it had been two days already.
He usually trimmed it for her. Straight lines all across, an incredibly steady hand. He loved to do it. To caress the fiery strands and cut away the fragile, splitting bottoms.
Her eyes traveled from the tips of her fingernails down, over her palms and the white expanse of her arm. Her veins. A bandage just below the underside of her elbow. White gauze to cover the puncture wound left behind by the needle that gave her new life. New hope.
But what hope was there for her when he would never want to touch her hair again?
Another wave of nausea. The third since she'd gotten the injection. Side effects already?
Cold steel blades and a heavy black handle, resting on the dressing table in front of her. She ran her fingers tentatively over the sharp metal, wrapped them around the base.
Perhaps she could do it herself. Perhaps she didn't need anything from him anymore. Perhaps a part of her new life would have to be letting go. Letting it all go.
She brought the blades to her hair and started cutting.
Sharp needle, steel blade to the back of the neck. Green fluid oozing from the wound as the man falls to the ground in the doorway. The third guard he has had to kill to get to this room.
Always, he remembers this as an easy task. Forgot again how much strength and precision, how much intensity is required. They don't die easily.
Already exhausted from doing this so many times, he stepped over the fallen body, only mildly distracted by the way the blood scorched a hole in the floor.
It was the room, the one that had been described to him so many times. It was all here. Everything. Everything and nothing. A cure that had already been discovered and a weapon that would be useless if they didn't get out of here alive.
Cold, so cold he could see his own breath. The room, bigger than he'd been told. Huge. Endless. Equipment covered in frost and glass cabinets filled with mysterious substances of varying color and size. Labels in a language he never learned to read. How was he supposed to find it?
He pulled the tattered piece of paper out of his pocket, descriptions and codes that were supposed to lead him to it. Caught a glimpse of his watch, the time. It was almost time. The whole place would be going up in flames in a matter of minutes.
Flashes of panic, white-hot and sickening. If only she were here. She could help him figure this out quickly, calmly.
No time to think of her either. Another one of his bridges, burned beyond recognition.
Palms pressed against the glass, the handle not turning, plastic fist through glass in desperation, releasing who knows what into the air he was breathing. Pulling vials and jars frantically, dropping some onto the floor. Not this one. Not that one. All of them cold as ice, burning his skin.
Footsteps behind him.
Blond hair and icy smile. She would help him. Someone had to.
She held up a paper-thin, plastic card. Walked calmly towards one of the cabinets and slid the key through, gaining entry.
She knew. Right away, she knew which cabinet held the weapon. Rows of small tubes filled with a reddish, thick-looking fluid. Not enough in itself but mixed with what they already had, it would be. It was the substance they needed, the missing link. The one thing in the universe that might make all the loss worthwhile. That might redeem him.
How did she know?
How did she know so quickly?
Realization crept into his consciousness as he approached her. But too late. She was already pointing a gun at him.
She'd cut too much. Almost to her shoulders, and uneven. No more straight lines.
She looked ridiculous, like a child who'd had a mishap with a pair of scissors. Too much hair, too thick and long to cut precisely. How did he do it?
She tried to shorten the longer patches to match the shorter ones but only succeeded in shortening them too much.
Frustrated, she slammed the scissors down on the table. Tears clouding her vision for a moment. A blessing really. Couldn't bear to look at herself any longer.
But, no. To cry again would be to admit defeat. The reaction had been understandable at first. Natural. But now, pathetic.
Rubbing her fists against her eyelids, an attempt to banish her weakness. She could do this. Had to. Such a simple task. Surely she couldn't have become so dependent.
Deep breath and the metal in her hand again. No reason to try and maintain her appearance anymore. She'd already destroyed the cut. Better to be different, new.
She brought her hand up to her chin, captured a chunk of hair between her fingers, and started to create.
He'd been here before.
Not physically here, but internally, emotionally. This was too familiar to be surprising.
She'd done it to him again. He was her fool. Again. The difference, significant. This time she was taking the entire world down with him.
Who was she working for this time? The smoking bastard? The colonists? Rebels? Or was she only out for her owseless now. Even to her.
Hatred. That was her only reason. For whatever alliance she might have formed or what she might hope to gain from this. It didn't matter. She was filled with hatred and resentment. That was the true motivating factor behind this.
She wanted him to suffer. It was as simple as that. Or as complicated.
He wondered if her father was a part of this betrayal. If this had all been an elaborate trap, setting him up like a hunted animal.
Either way, she was probably protected.
Time. He had so little time. There was no way to salvage the bio-weapon, no way to save any of his men. No time. Getting himself out of the building had to be his only priority.
She stood in the doorway, armed to the teeth. Blocking him. Mocking him.
He told her that the place was set to explode, that they would both die here together if she didn't let him pass. Strangely enough, that seemed to be her plan.
He wondered briefly if he deserved this.
But still, he wasn't willing to give up. Even now when there was nothing left.
Overpowering her turned out to be relatively easy. He was halfway out the door when he heard her call to him from where he'd shoved her on the floor. He was holding her gun.
"You're going to lose everything, Alex."
He turned to her and said, "I already have, Marita. I already have."
And then he shot her dead.
New style, but old as well. Familiar. Too familiar.
She'd done a decent job this time. Chin length bob. No frills. A little more curly than she'd kept it but it was the same, more or less. Scully's hair.
It was still wrong.
She needed something else. Something even simpler, colder, more harsh. Straight lines.
It would make her far less attractive. She found that this thought was actually a motivating force.
She moved the blades a little higher, then higher still. She cut a line just above her ear. Shorter than it had ever been.
When she was done, she barely recognized the woman in the mirror. There was a pile of hair, covering her feet and the floor surrounding her.
This road had a name. Back when it was a major interstate highway and not a path of decomposing rubble.
They don't know that it still exists. There aren't any checkpoints on it, no signs of colonization at all. Other than the fact that when I look out the window, all I see is a deep, black, emptiness. It's a secret road.
But it hasn't always been this way. Once upon a time it carried vacationing families, returning college students, grandma and grandpa and their clunky old motor home. It had tolls and exits with little blue signs to let those folks know that there was another Stucky's coming up soon, another Texaco.
I used to take this road. From Boston University to my father's house in Connecticut. Not often. But sometimes.
What the hell was it called?
I look through the passenger side window and out into the night, searching in vain for a remnant, a clue. Bryan drives on relentlessly. We stopped to camp on the way here, but we're going straight through to get back home. Three nights. There's enough of us left to take shifts. Ten. Ten people. Two trucks.
God, there is nothing out there. What the hell was the name of this stupid road?
"Bryan, what was this road called?"
He drums his fingers against the steering wheel and then shrugs.
"I dunno, Boss. Don't remember."
I wonder if anyone else remembers. I glance towards the back of the truck, but the three men traveling with us are sleeping. Three men. Five in this truck and five in the other. We left with over one hundred. Almost one fifth of our population.
Why can't I remember? Was it a number? 84? 91?
My eyes squeeze shut in frustration, but when I feel tears building behind the lids, I open them quickly. It's just a stupid road. Nothing to cry about.
I wish we had some music. A tape player or even a radio station that plays something other than news reports that aren't true, tailor-made to appease the drones in their servitude. It's so damn quiet out here. So dark.
I wish they'd talk to me. I wonder if they're even sleeping or if they're just pretending so that they don't have to deal with the awkwardness, the unease of looking at their leader and wanting to kill him. I wonder if Bryan feels it too.
He hasn't been saying much to me either, but he's a pretty quiet person in general. Does he hate me the way the others do now? Will he defend me when we get back and my lynching party begins to form?
I wish that we didn't have to go back, that we could just keep driving until we fall off the face of the Earth. Or into the ocean maybe.
But at the same time, I can't get home fast enough. Can't help but wonder if I'll be able to stand the next two days of waiting to get back. To her. To my love, my life.
Will she still be there, or has she given up? Have I lost her forever? Oh, devotchka, what have I done? To you, to myself, to all of us.
Let's see. What have I done? Alienated the only person in the world who gives a shit about me, the only person I've ever loved. Probably sent her into the arms of another man, if she wasn't there already. Led a fifth of our population to their deaths. Murdered a woman out of pure spite. Ended a perfectly good symbiotic relationship with the one group that has been able to help us.
All in a day's work I suppose.
"Do you think it was a number?" I ask out of the silence. Bryan nods slowly.
"Yeah...yeah, I think it might have been."
I wonder if she'll forgive me. For anything. Even one thing would be a blessing.
I wish there was some way for me to contact her. Cell phones would be nice. Or maybe psychic messages. A singing telegram. I'd be willing to try anything if it meant being able to tell her that I'm sorry. That I love her. That I'm the biggest fuckup who ever lived but if she'd take me back, I'd do the best I possibly could for her. That even if she would be happier with Mulder, I still want her. I still want her.
I close my eyes again, hoping for sleep to overcome me, but this time I see Marita's cold, dead eyes behind my lids. When I open my eyes, I feel her behind me and turn around quickly in my seat.
Will she haunt me forever?
Will she come to me in dreams? I'm just waiting for the first nightmare where Dana's body crumples to the floor instead of Marita's.
It might as well have been Dana. Might as well.
God, two more days. I don't know if I can stand it. I wish I could remember the way she smells. I lost it to the stench of burning bodies.
"What the hell is the name of this stupid road?"
Bryan looks over at me with some concern. My eyes are tearing again. I turn away from him and stare out the window.
He clears his throat and drives on.
The night seems to grow even darker.
"It's not that bad, Boss," he says after several moments of silence. And I laugh. And eventually, so does he.
Not that bad. Could it be any worse?
My blood is flowing through her veins. Funny how the intimacy of that gesture has only just occurred to me, three days after the fact. I suppose I've been too worried, too sick to my stomach and ravaged by sleeplessness, to really think about much at all.
But now, tonight, my head is slowly clearing. It's finally warm enough for me to run outside at night without dressing like an Eskimo. I can't even see my breath tonight. And the sky is so clear, it's really quite beautiful.
But I can't enjoy it. Not really.
I haven't seen her since we gave her the injection. We decided it was best not to make any kind of announcement until we knew for sure that the cure was working, and we won't know that for at least a few more days. It's too soon to do any kind of bloodwork on her, so there hasn't really been anything for us to do at the lab. No reason to see each other.
No reason for me to ask her if she's all right.
Of course, if I had any balls, I'd just go right up to her door and knock. But that would mean seeing the place she lives, the room she shares with...him. I don't know if I could stand it. And it would also mean talking to her which, frankly, scares me to death right now.
I'm just not sure how I would react to another "I'm fine, Mulder". And I know that no matter how terrible she looks, how dreadful she is feeling, that's the reaction I would get.
I'm afraid I'd smack her. Or kiss her. And I don't even know which would be worse.
My running path ends near the cafeteria. There are still a few lights on inside, even though it must be after midnight. I could go for a glass of water and maybe some fruit.
Hell, who am I kidding? I could go for a fucking quarter pounder with cheese and extra large fries from McDonald's right now.
But water and fruit will have to suffice.
I stretch for a minute then head inside. There's only one other person here besides the guys I hear cleaning in the kitchen. For a minute I don't recognize her.
She's sitting at a table that could probably seat twenty, next to a window that she is staring out of intently. A cup of coffee sits in front of her, untouched. Ret is under the table, curled up at her feet. She has no hair.
Well, that's not entirely accurate. She's not bald. But in contrast to her formerly waist-length style, this new, short cut has the same effect.
She looks different. Very very different. But a little better than last time I saw her. A little healthier. Not much, but a little.
I briefly consider leaving, but that seems so overtly cowardly. I've got to talk to her. Or at least try.
She doesn't really look like she feels like talking though. Maybe I should just go. She hasn't seen me yet.
Shit. This is stupid.
I approach her quietly and sit down across from her. She doesn't look at me, but she obviously knows I'm here. Or that someone is.
"Think it'll storm tonight?" she asks.
"I...I dunno," I respond with my usual cleverness. "Does it do that a lot in the spring here?"
She shrugs and continues staring out the window. A couple of lights go out, and the sounds of water running and plates clanking continue to echo from the kitchen.
"It's getting pretty warm, huh?" I continue the enthralling weather discussion. She nods.
"S'that why you cut your hair?"
She finally looks up at me. Our eyes meet for a minute before she glances at her cup.
"Do you want some coffee? I'm sure they've still got some."
"No, no thanks. It looks nice."
She looks up at me again and smiles faintly.
It really does, now that I look at her. Doesn't distract from her face the way the other style did. She looks a little older, a little harsher. But still beautiful.
"I'm kind of surprised to see you here," I tell her. "Usually I'm the only person awake at this hour."
"Well, Ret needed to be walked and I...I didn't wanna be inside."
I nod. She takes a sip of her coffee, scowls.
The question I dread asking seems to be making itself unavoidable. I can't sit here staring at her for another minute without knowing.
"How are you feeling, Scully?"
"I think so. A little nauseous but...I think it's working."
Relief washes over me. She's not going to die. And she didn't say the word "fine" even once.
I look past her a bit and notice a small, mustached and aproned man standing in the kitchen doorway with his hands on his hips. He looks a bit irate.
"Scully, I'm getting a very definite vibe from our host over there."
She turns her head around and waves, rising to her feet.
"G'night, Louis. Thanks for the coffee."
The man nods and waves happily, bidding us good-night. I stand up too, taking Scully's cue.
"Night, Mulder. Come on, Ret."
She starts heading for the door, Ret following closely at her heels.
"You want me to walk you back to your place?"
She spins on her heel and stares at me, startled, almost frightened.
"No! No...no, I...no."
"Are you sure? It's kind of late."
She sounded pretty damn sure, Mulder.
What the hell am I doing?
"No, that's okay. I think I might walk around some more anyway. Night."
She turns around and starts walking again. I should let her go. I have to let her go. Why can't I let her go?
"Well, wait. Where are you gonna go?"
I start walking next to her, not daring to look at what must, by this point, be a very irritated look on her face.
"I, I dunno. Maybe to the barn to see the animals. Maybe the pool. I dunno, Mulder."
I cringe involuntarily at the word pool, but continue relentlessly.
"That sounds nice. Why don't you let me come with you?"
"I'll be fine. Ret's with me."
She pauses and runs her hand through what's left of her hair. Her left hand. That damned ring reflects the fluorescent light right into my eyes.
"You don't need to take care of me, Mulder."
"I know, I know that," I answer, a little bit too quickly perhaps. "I just don't wanna be inside much myself. I thought we could walk together."
She chews on her lip and continues to pointedly avoid making eye contact as she considers this suggestion. Am I making her uncomfortable? Does my behavior seem inappropriate?
"Um...I suppose, I suppose that would be all right," she finally responds.
We walk out into the night together.
We wander around for a long time, not speaking. I just don't know what to say. I feel like my insides are about to jump through my skin.
Still, it's not an uncomfortable silence. It's very peaceful actually. Very nice.
Eventually we end up in front of one of the dorms. She stops walking.
"I'm gonna bring Ret inside. I'll be right back."
She unlocks the front door of the building and disappears inside with the dog before I have a chance to ask any questions. Like, why is she dropping Ret off here instead of her place?
By the time she comes back out I've just about got myself convinced. For whatever reason, she isn't living with him anymore.
She stands in front of me with a completely enigmatic expression and a sweater she wasn't wearing before she went in there. She folds her arms across her chest.
She's not wearing the ring anymore.
And then she says something that causes my entire universe to spin on its axis.
"Mulder, do you think we could go back to your place?"
The Buddhists believed that there is no real self. That what we are as human beings changes so vastly, so frequently, that there is nothing inherent inside of us that remains throughout our lives. Nothing to mark us as the same person at thirty as we were at six. Every day is another reincarnation.
Being raised as a Catholic, I've always had problems with this concept. No self means no soul, and no soul means...well, something bad, that's for sure.
But there are no Catholics anymore. No Buddhists either. No organized religions at all. People might still hold onto their faith, but they keep it hidden now. Private.
I started my life as Dana Katherine Scully. Bright if somewhat ordinary girl. A tomboy who decided to join the FBI and kick some butt.
One day Dana Katherine met a man named Fox Mulder. And then she turned into Scully. A quiet, hard and lonely woman. Desperately in love, but too repressed and afraid to do anything about it. Fighting a losing battle with forces unknown.
Then they came and took Scully away. Turned her into twenty-four-a slave with no thoughts, no feelings of her own. She had flashes, brief reminders of her former life, but essentially her only purpose was to serve.
Alex found twenty-four and he turned her into his Devotchka. Resistance fighter, lover, doctor. A new woman, rebuilt from the ashes.
But since he left, Devotchka has been changing again. Turning into someone else. A new self. New blood, new hair, new emptiness.
There is less inside me right now that is recognizable than there was yesterday. And yesterday I was a completely different person than I had been two days ago.
I don't know who I am today, but three days ago I most certainly would not have asked Mulder to take me to his room in the middle of the night. But nevertheless, here we are.
He works the lock on his door, trembling like a frightened rabbit. I am not afraid. I feel so calm it's almost disturbing. Eerie.
I should be scared. Nervous. Careful, at the very least.
"Has anyone else moved onto this hall?" I ask as he continues turning the key back and forth, not making any progress in the door opening project.
"Uh..no, no. Just the one above."
"Right above your room? Or down the hall more?"
He stops moving and stares at me for a second. I laugh at myself for the paranoia.
"Never mind. It's not important."
"I think they're down the hall," he tells me quickly and then adds, "Way down."
I can't help but smile at his exuberance.
Finally the door pops open and he steps inside. I follow him and close it behind me, lock it. He fumbles around for the light switch on the wall but I catch his hand.
"Don't. There's enough light coming from the moon."
He's got a big window next to his bed and the curtain is pulled back. The moon is full and it does light the room. Enough for me to realize how small the place is. Just room enough for a small dresser, closet and...the bed of course.
I've seen it before. I'm the one who brought him here. I suppose I just wasn't thinking about it.
"Well, I'd offer you a chair..."
We both chuckle and I sit down on the bed, my back against the window and my legs dangling off the side.
"I'm sorry, Mulder."
"Sorry for what?"
"For...this," I make a broad gesture with my hands.
"You don't have anything to be sorry for," he says quietly and sits down next to me. "I don't need anything more than this."
"I should see what I can do about getting you another place, though. Really, I should've done that a long time ago."
"No, Scully, most of the other rooms I've seen are like this. It's really okay."
My room is bigger. Much, much bigger. But it's not my room anymore, so I suppose I've got nothing to feel guilty about.
"I'm hardly ever here anyway," he tells me, and that makes me wonder.
"Where do you go, Mulder? I usually only see you in the lab."
"Oh, I dunno, I just poke around."
"Scouring for more tapes to listen to?"
He smiles at the memory of that day and so do I, even though it reminds me. That was the day I really lost him...
"Make any friends?"
"Oh yeah, you know me. The social debutante."
I laugh a bit and then frown at the pang of sadness I feel.
"I miss you, Mulder."
"I...I miss you too, Scully. A lot."
"I mean I miss...us. You know?"
"I know. Believe me. I know."
I hear him take a deep breath and let it out slowly. He seems closer to me than he did when he first sat down.
"Can I confess something to you, Mulder?"
"Sometimes I wish that things hadn't turned out this way. Sometimes I wish...I wish so very hard that it would all go away and that I could have back what I had."
"I think everybody feels that way sometimes. I feel that way almost all the time."
How do you stand it, Mulder? How will I?
"I feel that way right now, Mulder."
I shift a bit, turning myself towards him so that I can see his face, and the bed creaks noisily underneath me.
"Well, you're already halfway there." He points towards my hair with a small grin.
"Yes, I suppose."
"It looks great. Really."
"I'm sorry, Mulder. We shouldn't have...not..."
"Not your fault."
"Yes, yes it is. I should have said..."
"No, Scully, I knew. I knew."
"Why not, Mulder? Why were we so stupid?"
I know the answer to that already though. Fear. Just fear.
Is he moving even closer or is that me?
"I dunno, Scully. But even if we had, we'd still be in the same situation right now."
"Mulder, let's...let's forget about right now. Please."
My hand moves, seemingly of its own volition, towards his face. I find myself stroking his cheek, running my fingers through his hair. It looks silver in the moonlight.
"Help me forget, Mulder. Please."
Forget to remember, Scully? Or forget to forget?
"You know, Skinner's going to have your ass, Mulder. You were supposed to have those reports to him over a month ago."
She whispers these words quietly, seductively, close to my mouth.
It makes me sad to hear Skinner's name. I've never been able to find out what became of our old boss and friend. I still hold out the hope that he is alive somewhere, thriving, fighting...
But that's not a world I'm supposed to be thinking about right now.
This is weird.
But I don't care. I just don't care. I can play along with this game if that's what it's going to take.
"Re...uhm, reports? Scully, you can't, you can't put the truth in a neat little report."
"The truth? The truth is what you want it to be, isn't it Mulder?"
She's kissing my chin.
There should be a voice in my head telling me that this is not right. But there isn't. I suppose sometimes fate conspires to bring you to a certain point and you've got no choice but to go with it. Sometimes you've got to take the chances you are given, the doors of opportunity that open quickly and snap shut even quicker.
Sometimes desperate men make desperate excuses.
"What's it gonna take for you to believe, Scully?" I try to whisper, but it comes out more like a high-pitched squeal. She doesn't seem to mind.
"Proof, Mulder. You know that."
Her tongue circles my ear and I shudder involuntarily. I don't know how I'm going to possibly be able to make this last.
"All you're giving me is speculation."
I close my eyes and she kisses the lids with her gentle, sweet lips.
"You were there, Scully. You saw the same thing I saw. How can you still deny it?"
Behind my eyes, this room is no longer what it is. It is another hotel room in another town, on another case. And Scully is sitting on the hotel bed with me, telling me that I'm delusional, challenging me with her expression.
"I saw something. I'm not going to just assume it's extraterrestrial. I saw lights, that's all."
She nips at my nose. I laugh nervously and clutch my blanket for dear life.
"It could have been an experimental aircraft," she mutters into the crook of my neck.
"Maybe it was the Goodyear Blimp."
She chuckles and the sound vibrates against my skin. Pulses against my veins. Her fingers tangle in my hair and she starts sucking on my Adam's apple. I open my eyes again and the first thing I see is red.
"It's against Bureau policy for FBI agents to fraternize in hotel rooms this way."
"Well then, we'll have to keep this meeting classified, won't we? And refuse to answer questions about it if we're asked."
"Are you sure you wanna risk your job for this?"
She answers me by running her tongue up my neck and then slipping it between my lips. I grab the back of her head and pull her against me, surrendering all hope of common sense.
We kiss slowly, lingering, exploring. All those years of imagining what this would be like, all the different fantasies I've had, and I never once pictured it like this. Why would I?
But still, it is wonderful. It is beautiful.
This is what I was missing for all those years. This is the taste and the feel that I ran from like a startled rabbit.
She is the most amazing thing I have ever known.
She starts unbuttoning my shirt with cool, steady hands. I am shaking like a leaf. No, this is definitely not how I'd imagined this.
But that doesn't matter anymore.
For once, for tonight, I can only think of the here and now. Scully may be trying to forget the present. I will try to forget the past and the future.
This moment, this gift, this is the reason for everything that has happened. This gives purpose to all of my mistakes.
We lie down together on the bed, facing each other, slowly removing each other's clothing. When we are finally completely exposed to each other we begin touching, tasting, testing for sensitivity.
It feels good when she touches me. Physically good. But that is really a secondary concern. The most important thing is that I am touching her. Finally.
When I roll over on top of her she sighs, and the sound gives me hope. Hope that there is beauty and love left in this world. Hope that after tonight, our first and last together, we will still have something special. Something truly unique.
"I wanna make love to you, Scully," I whisper.
She murmurs her assent into my shoulder.
I love her more than life. More than any word or action could ever express. And in this moment, on this night, she is mine.
I will never be able to thank her enough for this.
I sink into her with ease, achingly slowly. She moans softly and runs her fingers down my back.
Before I can move, I have to tell her. She has to hear it from me, finally.
"I love you, Scully."
"I love you, too."
Effortless. So simple. Why is it so much easier to say when it means goodbye?
I feel a wracking sob building in my chest. All the lost opportunities, chances I've had to say those words. To Mulder. To Alex. Even to my mother. How could I not have realized how good it would feel to just say it already?
I swallow it down, but I can't stop the tears from trickling out of the corners of my eyes as Mulder moves inside of me.
Mulder. Mulder is making love to me. And it's just the way I always knew it would be. He is so gentle, so full of his own brand of worship, it's almost heartbreaking.
So many times, we have come so close to this moment. So many times, I almost reached out to touch him, to tell him.
I feel his mouth on my face and realize that he is trying to kiss away my tears.
"Don't cry, Scully. Don't be sorry."
At least I don't think that I'm sorry.
But as my body begins responding to Mulder's, building slowly to climax, I feel a sudden sense of panic. And guilt. Would I feel guilty if this didn't feel good? Does it not count as sex if you don't have an orgasm? What kind of twisted morality is that?
Or is it just that deep down inside, I was hoping this would be a horrible experience? That when it was over, my situation would be more clear cut?
Is it really a betrayal if you've been essentially discarded by the person you're cheating on? Is it even cheating? I suppose that it's not, technically. And for some reason that makes it even worse.
God, I miss him.
But these are ridiculous questions. The point is that I am making love to Mulder and it feels good. Alex should be the furthest thing from my mind. The fact that making love to Alex makes me feel free and alive and that this experience with Mulder is tinged with death and loss shouldn't even be an issue. Should it?
Mulder moans into my shoulder and I feel him shuddering, close to his own completion. I reach around and grab his backside, pulling him closer to me, deeper inside of me, and rub myself against him. My orgasm is slow and sweet and when I come, my tongue is in his mouth.
He follows shortly after, whimpering out my name and another declaration of love.
Yes, it is good.
Why do I wish that it hadn't been?
This is the last time I will ever kiss Scully. This is our goodbye. And our hello.
I will hold her now, curled against my chest, as she purrs happily in a post-coital stupor. But she will leave and she will not be coming back. It's only a matter of when. And how.
Will she give me an entire night? Or will she leave within the hour? Maybe she'll fall asleep and wake up in my arms.
I almost wish that I could delude myself into thinking I could change this situation. If I were a different kind of person, perhaps I could change it. Perhaps I could beg and guilt her into staying with me for longer than just this night, this moment. Maybe, once upon a time, I would have done just that. But I can't bring myself to that level of idiocy. Not after everything we've been through. To have a shell of a relationship would only cheapen what we've experienced together.
So I will hold her now because I can. And when she says that she has to leave, I will let her. And I will know that we've had our moment of release, of communion. And that we will move on. We will have to.
I only hope that this night will not be something she looks back on with sorrow. I will hold it in my heart forever.
I was wrong. She did spend the night. She stayed with me until the sun came up. I think she even fell asleep for a few minutes. But as soon as the light started pouring in through the window, she was wriggling out of my arms and pulling on her clothes. I almost asked her if she was going to turn into a pumpkin if she didn't get home before six A.M., but thought better of it.
Once she'd gotten herself ready to leave, she turned back to me with a sad, apologetic little smile. I was still lying there, prone and naked, emotional wounds gaping, and she leaned over me and planted a chaste kiss on my cheek.
I think there was a thank you in that kiss. And some kind of regret over having to leave. But she didn't say anything in actual words before she walked out the door. And we haven't spoken since then. It's been almost two days.
Tonight I will see her again. When we first injected her with the serum, we decided to run the tests to determine whether or not the cure worked as soon as it was viable to do so, and that turned out to be this evening, at eight o'clock. It's seven-forty-five.
Roseanne and I are already at the lab, waiting nervously for her arrival. Well, I'm nervous, anyway. Roseanne looks more tired than anything else.
I think my anxiety stems more from uncertainty about Scully's health than about the state of our relationship. I think that I know what to expect now where the latter is concerned. I might wish that it didn't have to be so, but wishing cannot change the reality I have come to accept over the past couple of days.
The reality is that Scully is not the same person I used to know. Although I will always love her, she is not the person I fell in love with. And she's not the person who fell in love with me. I miss that person. I miss her more than anything else I've lost from my old life, and I wish that I hadn't been forced to say good-bye to her two nights ago.
Hell, who am I kidding? I said good-bye to her six years ago. The person I made love to, the person who I shared a fantasy with, an indulgence, is also not the person I used to know. She was just pretending to be. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist, or even a trained psychologist, to realize that if the person you're sleeping with has to pretend to be somebody else in order to go through with the whole thing, your potential for future encounters is pretty limited.
Yes, it makes me sad. Yes, it makes me bitter. Yes, I have considered taking a scalpel to my throat on more than one occasion this weekend. But the longing, the desperate aching for her, it's not as bad as it was before. It's less of a rampant desire for a person who remains forever out of reach and more of a nostalgia, a mourning for a lost love.
And I do know that no matter what there is to say about our night together, the person she is now is still a person who loves me. That has remained, although it's slightly mutated.
"Test tube for your thoughts?"
I stop staring blankly at my fingers, and look up to see Roseanne standing over me holding a plastic, Tupperware-like thing with a bunch of dirty lab equipment in it.
Before I can form an appropriately cagey response, Scully makes her grand entrance. She looks only slightly better than I feel. But not as bad as she did the last time I saw her.
Unwillingly, my eyes dart immediately down to her finger before she even opens her mouth. She's wearing it again. I'm not surprised.
When she does begin to speak, it's all business. It's all about tests and blood and her good old science. And that's fine. I don't think I could stand anything else from her right now. Especially not in front of another person.
But I will be able to, eventually. Sometime soon, I will be able to be her friend again. I know that because when she stands next to me, when she looks me in the eye and smiles, I don't feel the typical jilted lover response. I don't want to scratch her eyes out of their sockets or tear her heart out and stomp on it. I only want to start the tests so that we know for sure that she is getting better. And so we do.
And three hours later, I know two things. First, and most importantly, she is getting better. There are no traces of the cancerous cells left in her blood. And secondly, I know that Scully and I can still work together reasonably well and with minimal discomfort. In fact, in some ways, I feel more comfortable with her than I did before.
Maybe we'll be okay. Maybe I won't die without her. Maybe.
I remember a time, not so long ago, although it feels like a lifetime, when I returned to her feeling proud. I walked through this very door, wounded and bloody but smiling, and staggered my way into the lab. And I showed her what I had done, what I'd accomplished. Then I collapsed.
She took care of me then, tended to my broken body. What will she say now when it's my spirit that is mangled?
I have nothing to show her this time. No victory trophies, no fancy injuries to "ooh" and "ahh" over, nothing but a story of devastating loss. And my regret. My deep fear that the way I left things will forever color the way she looks at me, the way she feels.
It's dark out now but not so late that she'd be asleep. Thankfully, I've managed to sneak over here under the cover of night without being seen. There weren't enough of us coming back this time to warrant a welcoming party. I don't think anyone even noticed the two pathetically empty trucks pulling into the parking lot. Still, it's only a matter of time before the few men who've returned start talking. I need to get to her before anyone else does. Not that I'm going to tell her lies about what happened. I want to tell her everything, if she'll let me. But I need for her to hear it from me.
When I find her, she is not alone. Roseanne is sitting at a desk, writing something, and Mulder...Mulder is there, standing next to her, talking to her. All at once I remember why I threw her out in the first place and everything that I was afraid of hits me in the gut like a brick. I was right. She is sleeping with him. She is.
But then she looks up and sees me standing there in the doorway and our eyes lock tightly and no...no she isn't. No.
I peripherally sense Roseanne walking towards me, touching my shoulder, asking if I'm "all right?" I can't answer her though. I can barely even see her. All I see is Dana, her body frozen in place like a wind-up doll that's just wound down, but her eyes are traveling over me. Telling me things.
And then Roseanne is leaving, the rubber of her shoes squeaking on the tiled floor, but Mulder stays. He looks back and forth between us, nervous and questioning, guarding her like her fucking dog does.
"It's okay, Mulder," she whispers, her lips barely moving. He purses his lips and glowers at me but he does start walking. As he passes me, I think he mutters something derisive under his breath, but I don't really hear it.
Finally the door shuts behind me and we're alone.
The momentum that carried me back home kicks in again and I find myself being pulled across the room towards her. When I'm standing just a few inches away from her she also asks, "Are you all right?"
I start to nod, yes. Yes, I'm all right. But I'm not really. Not at all. And soon I'm shaking my head no and before I can even consider my actions, I'm on my knees in front of her, grabbing at her legs like a lost child who's finally found his mother in a shopping mall.
She's still not moving. She feels stiff and cold. Resistant and afraid.
"Dana...oh God, Dana. I'm so sorry. So, so sorry. Oh, God."
My voice sounds ragged and broken, even to my own ears. I sound pitiful. I am pitiful. And she does take pity on me. After a few moment's hesitation, I feel her hands in my hair, slowly stroking, and I don't think I've ever experienced anything as comforting as this.
"Sorry, m'sorry...so sorry," I repeat endlessly. There is so much more that I want to say, but these are the only words I seem capable of forming at the moment.
She kneels down in front of me and caresses my cheeks with her fingers.
"It's okay. Alex, it's okay."
"No, no it's not. It's not okay. I was stupid. Stupid and wrong and I do trust you, Dana. I do. I was just so scared, I was so...I thought you were gonna leave me and I was scared so I just...I thought...God, I'm so sorry..."
"Alex, shh, it's okay."
She plants a kiss on my cheek and it should be enough to quiet the stream of incomprehensible nonsense that has started to come from my mouth. But it's not. There's just too much I need to get out.
"No, no, Dana. I could have died. I almost died and all I could think was that if I had died those would have been the last things I said to you and they were so wrong and so stupid and I just couldn't stand that and if...I don't want you to be unhappy, but if you're unhappy, you know, I can change. I can. I can change if it'll make you happy."
"No, no, Alex. God. Don't change. Please. Don't."
She takes my face in her hands and moves her mouth dangerously close to mine.
"I screwed up really bad, baby," I whisper against her lips.
"It's okay. It's okay."
She kisses me. Or I kiss her. Somehow we are kissing. And shaking, oh God, she is shaking as much as I am.
There is more, so much more that I need to tell her. But even more than that, I just need her. I need to feel her, to bury myself inside of her so deep that I might never find the way out.
I kiss her with that need and I think that she feels it too. She's moaning and digging her nails into my scalp and we're both breathing way too fast. Too, too fast.
"Alex...Alex," she sighs and then starts pulling at the buttons of my shirt with a sound that makes me think of a dying animal. Something like a sob or a squeal or a...God, does it even matter? She's desperate for me. She still wants me.
I pull her body tightly against mine and blaze a trail down her neck with my tongue. She wriggles and gasps in my embrace, so responsive to the slightest touch that it boggles the mind. She doesn't just want me. She wants me more than she ever has before.
"Missed you, devotchka. So much."
"Mmoh God. Me too. Me too."
She runs her hands over my chest, grabbing and scratching greedily, and then down and around to my ass, my thighs. My head drops into the crook of her neck and for a moment I'm still, panting and selfishly basking in the sensation of having her touch me everywhere.
But soon the temptation of her skin calls to me and I start pulling at her shirt, untucking it from her jeans and reaching my hand underneath. Her stomach is quivering and hot. Thank you God, she's not wearing a bra. Her nipples are gloriously hard and when I run my thumb over one of them, she practically screams.
I kiss her again, if you can even call it a kiss. It's more like a frenetic knashing of teeth and tongues and lips. My hand is shaking so hard that I'm amazed when I manage to get the fly of her pants undone. She may have foregone a bra this evening but she's got a pair of panties on and they are nothing but an obstacle at the moment.
I can't get them off quickly enough to suit my needs so I just plunge my fingers under the waistband. She's already wet. So, so wet. I slip two fingers inside her and caress her clit with my thumb.
"Oh my God," she croons, rocking against me with her eyes squeezed shut. I feel her hands at my waist, struggling impatiently with my jeans. I would help her, but my hand is otherwise occupied. Soon enough, though, she manages to work her way in. Soon enough my cock is in her hungry little hands and she's grabbing and pulling at me clumsily. I'm afraid she might hurt me.
"Dana, Dana, I wa...wa..."
"God, just fuck me. Fuck me, Alex."
It suddenly occurs to me that we are, in fact, kneeling on the floor of the lab, under the harsh glare of fluorescent lights, behind a door that is closed, but not locked. I guess it's too late to worry about that now.
I take my hand out from between her legs and pull her pants and underwear down to her knees. We've encountered a familiar problem here. Those damn boots. Ah, well. She knows now that I can do it better than this. I don't need to impress her with my prowess this time. I just need to be inside her. Now.
She turns around and bends over, offering me the easiest method of entry at this point, and I take it.
Oh. Oh, God. Yes.
This is it. This is where I belong. This is who I am. How could I have even considered anything else?
"Alexxx," she hisses, grinds into me, and then again. "Alex Alex Alex," almost as if she were expecting someone else and is pleasantly surprised to discover that yes, it is really me.
I don't even bother with trying to take it slow. Gentleness can come later. Right now all that I can do is slam into her again and again, grope around between her legs and hope that this feels half as good to her as it does to me. Nothing. Nothing could ever be this good.
Sooner than I even expected I feel her tightening around me. Her breath comes in short, hyper little pants and she grabs my hand and presses it harder against her clit.
"Alex, Alex, I'm...oh..."
One more particularly deep, sharp thrust and she's crying out wordlessly, her spasms pulling me even deeper still.
Then she's pulling my hand away, overstimulated, but still bucking back into me. So close, so good. She is so good.
I reach around for something else to grab onto. For her hair. Her hair.
Her hair is gone. Oh my God. Her hair.
"Whu...where...hay...hair?" I choke, confused and terrified.
I still don't understand but it's not enough to stop the tidal wave of my orgasm. I come into her with a long, low groan of relief and ecstasy and so many other things that I could never put to words.
I drape myself over her, needing to collapse, to lie down and wrap myself around her and sleep for about a century. But we're still on the stupid floor and now that my sexual energy has been spent my knees are starting to hurt.
Dana is giggling.
I nuzzle the back of her neck with my nose, still missing the hair but loving the smell of her skin post-sex.
"Let's go home, baby."
Home. Yes, this is my home. It's strange to find it the same as I left it. The same as he left it. The ghost of the last night we spent together here still lingers. We'll have to do something about that.
We walk to the bedroom together, undressing in silence, and I remember the first night we shared this bed. That night was a beginning, and I think that this one is as well. The similarity is actually quite remarkable.
I wriggle out of my clothes first and crawl under the covers to watch him, just as I did on that night. But that time I had to pretend I wasn't looking. I didn't want to make him feel uncomfortable. Tonight I gaze openly, and he gazes right back.
He stands naked before me, and this time I don't have to tell him to take off his prosthetic. He sighs with relief when the straps are completely undone and I realize he's probably been wearing it for all these days. The skin underneath looks red and irritated.
"C'mere," I tell him, and he climbs into the bed next to me. We curl around each other, snuggling deeper into the covers. For a few minutes we just hold each other, basking in the small sanctuary we've found together, glowing because we've managed to find our way back.
But there are still things to work through before we can face the rest of the world again, before we leave our cocoon. There are things that I need to tell him, and I sense there is much he needs to tell me.
"Alex, what...what happened?"
He sighs heavily, and I feel his hand clench on my shoulder.
"I screwed up. I screwed up really bad."
"You didn't find what you were looking for?"
"It's worse than that, Dana. We lost a lot of people. A lot. And the rebels...I dunno what's gonna happen, Dana. I think I just made us a whole new set of enemies. And we got nothing. Absolutely nothing."
I'm not surprised enough to have any kind of reaction to this. I pretty much expected this kind of outcome. I could have told him that. I could have stopped this. But I didn't. Because I couldn't tell him anything.
"What about your friend, the British man, and his group? Didn't they help you?"
"They tried. It was pretty much a hopeless fight, though."
"Do you think they'll be able to help us now? I mean with supplies and such..."
"I don't know. I made plans with some of his men. He's going to come here in a couple of weeks for a meeting between both our groups. Maybe we'll be able to work something out."
He doesn't sound very encouraged by this prospect. I get the feeling this other group is in the same kind of shape that we're in.
"Alex, I'm sorry. I should have said...well, I had a feeling this might happen."
"I wouldn't have listened."
He may have a point. Still, I should have told him how I felt about this. If things had been different, if I'd told him about...
"Alex, I've got something I need to tell you."
"What is it? You're not gonna cut more of your hair off, are ya?"
He runs his fingers through what's left of my hair and kisses me on the forehead.
"No, no it's...Alex, I was, I was sick. Before. I'm not anymore. But I was."
"Sick? Sick how?"
God, I'm still afraid. I don't know if I can say everything I need to say without breaking down and sobbing.
I reach down to the floor next to the bed, where my discarded pants lie in a heap, and start fishing through the pockets. With sickening butterflies in my stomach I hand the crumpled piece of paper over to him. I'd been planning to throw the letter away ever since I wrote it, but couldn't bring myself to do it for some reason. Now I know why. It's so much easier to give it to him than it is to try to explain.
He sits up and starts reading, his brow getting progressively more furrowed as he goes along. Soon enough his mouth is set into the deepest frown I've seen in quite some time. My heart does a little flip-flop in my chest, and my stomach continues to twist.
A look of sheer terror crosses his face, and I'm sure he's reached the words, "I'm dying, Alex."
When he's finished, the letter drops from his hand and flutters down to his naked chest. He doesn't look at me for a long time. When he does, his eyes are wide and moist.
He makes a strangled, squeaking sound in his throat, then shakes his head and looks down again. He picks up the letter, swinging around so that his legs are hanging off the side of the bed and his back is turned to me.
"How long have you known you had cancer, Dana?"
His voice is so cold. So similar to the way he sounded that last night. He's shutting down again, forcing a distance between us.
"A couple, about two months."
"I...I didn't tell anyone, Alex," I offer lamely. As if this excused my silence. I just don't want him to think this was an issue of trust. That there was something unique about him that made me unable to share this.
But, of course, the next thing he asks is, "Why? Why couldn't you trust me with this?"
"It wasn't about trusting you, Alex. It was about me and my fears and knowing what it would do to you if you knew. And what that would do to me. And you were so far away from me, Alex..."
"I was far away because I knew that you were hiding something from me."
Chicken. Egg. Who knows where it started. I should know better than to use our problems as an excuse.
"It just would have..." His voice cracks a bit and he pauses to clear his throat. I can practically feel the pain, the hurt coming off of him in waves. "It just would have helped us a lot if I'd known what was going on with you."
"I know. I know that. I'm sorry, Alex. I don't know what to say."
His back is so tense. Stiff. I want to touch him, but I don't know if he wants that anymore.
"So this cure..."
"It worked. I tested it on myself. And it worked. It's gone, Alex. I'm not sick any..."
"You tested it on *yourself*?"
At this he finally cranes his neck around so that he can look at me. He looks positively horrified.
"It...it worked, Alex."
"I'm glad. But you know what? It might not have. Just getting the fucking injection might have killed you for all you knew! I can't..."
He turns away again and leans his elbow on his knee, resting his head on his hand. I watch him run his fingers through his hair five or six times in a row.
"I can't believe you didn't tell me," he says and then he stands up and walks out of the room.
I lie in bed and listen as he paces around the living room, opens and shuts the refrigerator, runs some water in the bathroom, and finally seems to settle on the couch.
I want to go out there more than anything in the world, but I know that he needs to be away from me for a little while, to process what I've told him and decide if he can even face me again knowing how I've been lying to him.
The knots in my stomach have multiplied exponentially and my throat and mouth feel dry as a desert. I don't think I've ever been so tense in my entire life.
I don't think I can handle losing him again.
I wonder if he even knows what it does to me to think of it. I wonder if he has any idea what I've been through since he left.
Suddenly my mood shifts from apprehension to anger. He left me. Just left me without even giving me a chance to explain, and yes, he's sorry and yes, I understand why. But I really don't think he knows how it made me feel.
But how can I tell him without bringing what happened with Mulder into it? How can I tell him anything when he's sitting out there in the living room like a coward? Shutting me out again.
I manage to keep myself from storming out there and demanding a confrontation for just long enough. After about fifteen minutes he comes back to bed.
He climbs under the covers next to me, but he doesn't touch me.
"I can't believe you went through this alone," he whispers, staring at the ceiling. He sounds so lost and afraid that my anger begins to dissipate quickly.
"I wanted to be strong. For you, for myself...I guess I just made a bigger mess of things in the end."
"No, it wasn't just you. I wasn't really there for you to tell. I was far away. You're right."
"I guess we both made a lot of mistakes."
"Do you think we can get back what we had?"
"No, Alex. I think that...what I hope is that we can have something even better."
"Where do we start?"
"I think we've already started, Alex. I just, I need to know that you're really there. That you really do trust me and that you won't...that..."
"I know you're sorry, Alex, but it scares me how easily you can turn cold on me. I know that it's just a defense mechanism, but I want...I don't want you to have to defend yourself with me."
He turns slightly to his side and looks into my eyes. I think I must be crying because I feel his fingers running over my cheeks, wiping away the tears.
"I didn't realize. I didn't know it hurt you so much. I do trust you, Dana. And I don't want to feel like I have to protect myself from you. But I need you to tell me what's going on with you, too. I need to know things like...well, like when you're dying of cancer, for instance."
I suppose it is a definite sign of progress that we both chuckle at that. I feel a nagging bit of remorse, though. Full disclosure seems to be his desire for our relationship. I suppose that's always been what he wanted. It's what I want as well, but there is still one thing I can't bring myself to tell him. Not out of fear of losing him or any kind of fear really, but out of a desperate need to protect him.
Telling him what happened between Mulder and me would serve no purpose other than unburdening my own guilty conscience. It would hurt him so badly, so deeply, and there's no need for him to know. There's no reason for what happened to effect our relationship in any way. It doesn't have to and it won't. I won't let it. He'll never have to know how I managed to close that door in my life.
He wraps his arm around my shoulders and pulls me into an embrace.
"I'm just glad you're okay," he whispers and kisses the top of my head. "You are, right? Honestly?"
"Yes, getting there."
"You will tell me if you're not?"
"Yes. I promise. I'm sorry, Alex. So sorry."
"I am too. For everything..."
"Don't be. Please."
I'm starting to wish he'd just stop apologizing already. I understand that he's sorry. He understands that I am sorry. We are two sorry individuals. Should be the end of the conversation.
But once again, he manages to read my mind and dredge up the one issue I'm still dreading talking about.
"So...in that letter you um, you said some things about...about not really...um," he picks up the paper again from where I'd placed it on the bedside table and begins reading aloud over my head.
"I thought we'd fight after you found me dancing with Mulder. I expected you to feel threatened and angry and I was prepared to deal with that, to attempt to allay your fears about the situation. I was almost looking forward to the opportunity to hash it out. Perhaps if forced to explain my feelings to you, I might become more clear about them myself."
I just nod, knowing full well where he is going with this and fearing the minefield we'll be walking through.
"So, do you...do you have anything to say about that?" he asks, putting the letter back on the table. "Do you want to hash it out, Dana?"
"I...don't...I was...I think, I think that I am a lot more clear on my feelings than I was when I wrote that letter."
"And they are?"
"They are that...that I want to be with you. That I'm only happy and truly myself when I'm with you. That you make me feel....everything. You make me feel alive, Alex. There's nowhere in the world I'd rather be than right here, with you. Nothing could ever change that."
He lets out a heavy sigh which could either be relief or irritation. Have I dodged the issue in his eyes?
No, it is relief. He squeezes me tight and says, "That's all I need to know."
Yes, yes it is.
We hold each other in silence for a long time, and eventually he seems to fall asleep. God knows, he needs a good night's sleep. Just as I'm feeling like I might doze off myself, he starts talking again.
"I need to tell you something, Dana. Something...kinda bad."
For some reason the first thing that pops into my head is that he's slept with Marita. The urge to vomit, followed immediately by the urge to kill someone that this thought induces in me are enough to tell me that I've made the right decision in not telling him about Mulder.
"I did something...bad. Just, bad."
God, he didn't. Did he? Please, Lord, don't let me be a hypocritical, psychotic bitch if that turns out to be what it is. Please?
"Do you want to tell me about it?"
I run my hand over his cheek just as he blurts out, "I killed her."
Should I be worried that I'm relieved? Probably. But I am. It doesn't even really matter who he's talking about.
Oh yes, very relieved indeed. Twisted. But I'm also afraid all over again in a new way. What could have driven him to this?
"Why, Alex? What did she do?"
"She...she must have been working for someone else. I don't even know who. Maybe just herself. Maybe the smoking bastard, I don't know. But I had it. We had it, and she threw it on the ground, just threw it away. She didn't even want it. God, I don't know what the hell she wanted."
"Had what? The weapon?"
"Yes. The weapon. The only thing that might have made this whole thing worthwhile."
I knew something like this would happen if he let himself trust her again. I knew it down to the very core of my being. And again, I didn't tell him. I didn't make it clear. I didn't stop him. Not that I would have, but "I told you so" isn't even an option here. I didn't. And it's finally becoming clear what a hideous mistake that was. It's finally becoming clear that whatever happens between us has ramifications beyond what bed I sleep in and whether or not my hair is short.
And I am so glad that we've got this small chance to work through everything before we go out there and face everyone else. Before the shit really starts to hit the fan. We need to be together. Really, really together, if we're going to make it through.
"I didn't have to kill her though, Dana. It wasn't self-defense. It was just...just murder."
"But, Alex, if she did that, she might have done more..."
"Don't. Don't try to justify it. I wasn't thinking about anything like that when I did it. I wasn't thinking at all. I just wanted her to die."
"Do you see, Dana? Do you see what kind of a person I am? Who I am inside? What I turn into when I'm not with you..."
His breath hitches in his chest, and I run my hand over him, trying to soothe.
"No, Alex, that's not...not what you are. You felt bad about this on your own, didn't you? Otherwise you wouldn't have even told me."
"I felt bad because I knew I'd let you down. Because I knew I was turning back into something you'd hate."
"But that's what I'm saying, Alex. You didn't turn into that. Maybe you tried. Maybe you wanted to go back to the past, to being the person you used to be. Because you were afraid of the person you'd become, the feelings you had and how you were hurting. So you tried to become what you used to be. But it didn't work did it? Because that's not who you are anymore. No matter what you've done, the fact that you're sorry for it, that you're even considering the question of whether it was the right thing to do, it just shows how much you've changed."
He just stares at me for a minute, probably wondering where this burst of insight has come from. But his eyes tell me that I am right. We've been through something very similar, the two of us.
"But...I did it. Doesn't that frighten you? Doesn't it make you wonder..."
"Shh. I love you, Alex. I love you. Alex...I love you."
He looks so shocked, so startled and confused, that it makes me want to cry. Didn't he know? No, how could he? God, could I be any more idiotic?
Then he smiles. His eyes start to water and he looks so unbelievably happy that I want to kick myself in the head for not saying it sooner. For not saying it the first time I felt it, all those years ago.
"I love you," I tell him again, and then again. I'll say it all night long if it will make up for all the times I should have, but didn't.
"I knew...I knew they were going to take you," he croaks in a tear-saturated voice, and it occurs to me that this is the first time I've seen him cry. Really, really cry. And it also occurs to me that whatever he tells me now, it doesn't matter. I'm not afraid to hear it anymore.
"I helped them. I stopped Mulder from getting to you in time. The chip, the cancer, Emily...all of it. I could have stopped all of it."
Of course, he is overplaying his importance in the grand scheme of all that. I have no doubt that all of those things would have happened whether or not he was ever even born. But he feels responsible, of course. Complicit. And he was. I kiss him on his cheek, which is moist with tears.
"I love you, Alex."
"And your sister. I was there, too. I could've stopped that. And it was supposed to be you. I was supposed to help him kill you. And we would have. If you'd been the one to walk through that door, he would have shot you and I would have let him."
God, I've been so afraid to hear this for so long. Not because I couldn't believe it was true, but because I've known in my heart that it was true and I've been terrified that when I heard him say it, I wouldn't be able to forgive him for it. That I wouldn't be able to love him the way that I do.
What I was unable to realize until this moment is that I forgave him for it a long, long time ago. I think that I forgave him for it the day he pulled that blade out of my hand and stopped me from slashing my own wrists.
I don't need to be afraid of who he is or who he was anymore. I love him without condition and, for possibly the first time in my life, I let myself feel that. I let myself open up to the freedom of unconditional love.
"I love you," I murmur into his chest.
"I killed Mulder's father. I killed...I've killed so many people."
"I know. I love you. Love you."
I kiss him on the lips this time. His mouth is soft and pliant, his body trembling. Teardrops fall from his eyes and his nose and into our mouths.
"I'm so sorry, Dana. I'm so..."
"I know. I know. I forgive you, Alex. I love you."
"I know you think I'm brave and strong, but I'm not. I wasn't. I was scared. I'm always scared..."
"I don't care. I'm scared, too. And you're strong for me now, Alex. Stronger than I've ever seen you."
"There are other things..."
"Do you want to tell me?"
"I want to tell you everything, but..."
"Nothing could make me stop loving you, Alex. Nothing."
And that is true. I have nothing to fear from anything he could tell me. I know that he's been needing to say these things for quite some time. So, I let him, even though it makes no difference to me now. I curl up on top of him and listen to a litany of misdeeds, endless and mindnumbing, and eventually I fall asleep in his arms, the sound of his voice lulling me into a peaceful dreamworld.
I threw up again this morning.
That makes three times in the past week. I remember when I first got the treatment for the cancer, three weeks ago now, I felt nauseous. A side-effect of the treatment that disappeared after a couple of days. When this new bout started, I thought it was more of the same side-effect at first. I was nervous about all the injections we've been giving out at the lab lately. Would everyone begin feeling as sick as I do?
I don't think I've got anything to worry about as far as that is concerned, though.
After these "side-effects" began recurring, I ran a battery of tests on myself. On my blood, my DNA, everything. That's when I realized something very strange. It seems that the serum has somehow caused a series of unexpected events to occur inside my body. Most importantly, and most inexplicably, it seems to have caused the regeneration of some of my ova. It has made me fertile again.
This news is something I will need to share with the entire group. There is surely hope in it. We don't have very many children here. The ones that are with us were, with one or two exceptions, alive before the invasion. None of the former slave or clone women have been capable of conception up to this point. We are a dying civilization. Just the way they wanted it.
But now, if this treatment effects others the way it has effected me, we may have a cure for infertility as well as cancer. We may have a new hope for humanity.
Unfortunately, what is good for the rest of the group has the potential to devastate me on a very personal level. That's probably why I've been avoiding the issue, refusing to allow for the possibility, even in my own mind. But the fact is, I've exhausted every other option. There is one more test I will have to take.
We're having a community meeting this afternoon. Alex has been back for almost two weeks, and news of what happened has filtered through to everyone. People are not happy with him. People are not happy. I can sense the discontent every time I am in a public place. I hear them talking in the cafeteria. I see them frowning when we pass. It's time to deal with it.
It's time to deal with a lot of things.
We've been happy, Alex and I. Living in our little bubble and waiting for it to pop. Knowing that it would, sooner or later.
I thought that when we reached this point, when it was time to rally the troops and try to put our floundering community back on track, that we would be together. And we are. For now.
We will be for this meeting because I won't tell him about this until it's over. After we've thrown ourselves to the wolves.
I will have to tell him, though. If the test turns out to be positive, which I am beginning to believe it will, I will have to tell him, sooner or later, that I am pregnant. I will have to tell him that there's a pretty good chance he isn't the father.
And I don't know what we're going to do about that. I don't have any idea.
End Of Book Two
Continued in Book Three