The Ex-Factor

by Lili Blue

Date: September 1999

Category: S; A, MSR, S/other, M/other.

Rating: NC-17 (but no smut, you little rascals!)

Summary: "As painful as this thing has been, I just can't be with no one

Spoilers: Up to season 6.

Archive: Archive anywhere, as long as you keep my name attached. Please let
me know.

Dedication: As always, many thanks to Leah for editing.

Feedback: YES. What do you think? Email me here: 

Disclaimer: Let me get back my silver-haired wig, Quicksilver T-shirt,
Golden Globe and ask me the question again?

Author's notes 1: It took me a long time to finish this baby. It actually
as a vignette about flowers but I knew I wanted to tell a story with a non
XF character as a central player. I hope you'll like sweet Iris.

** ** ** **

Special agent Fox Mulder wasn't a flower man. Then again, what man is?
Especially not a man in law enforcement, with other preoccupations than
picking up daisies.

The women in Mulder's life rarely received sweets from him. His mother wasn'
t around much. Nobody was around much, if you didn't count the few graves he
had to flower during his existence.

That only left his work partner. The only woman to have ever held flowers
given by Fox Mulder.

Of course, it had taken a terminal disease and a flimsy excuse for him to
dare the move. Dana Scully probably never realized the capital importance of
his gesture.

People think flowers are delicate, fragile and soft. They're wrong.

Flowers can be tough and stubborn. They grow in places you could never
imagine finding them. They pierce their way out of the ground and proudly
stand before the world, like tiny soldiers of color.

Flowers fight rocks or unfertile soils; they resist biting cold, suffocating
heat, slapping rain. They have thorns and use those spears to frighten
their predators.

Some flowers are vain, willing to be the prettiest, with the largest petals,
brightest color or the most sickening smell. They lure insects into carrying
their pollen and preserve their species.

Flowers can be wrong as well.

They let opportunities slip between their leaves and die prematurely from a
bad choice of place: too much shade, not enough light; deprived of the good
nutrients from the ground.

They can be eaten by four-legged animals or be savagely cut and put into
fake arrangements and bunches by other animals, the bipeds.

Like the former, they have a determined life span. They lack eternity. They
fade and wither until they turn into dust.

Still some flowers dry arrogantly, cheating death by remaining beautiful in
their sleep. They live on forever. Or almost.

One thing is sure, flowers are truthful. They would never betray their
fellow plants.

Fox Mulder had pondered about all this and had become wary of flowers and of
their hidden significance.

Until one day, when it all changed. He couldn't know it yet, but flowers
would become markers of the finest and darkest events of his life.

He had arrived late to the office on purpose, not offering peace with
freshly brewed coffee but with a fresh sunflower behind his back. There is
nothing that could describe the tell-tale looks he received on his way to
their office.

He bluntly gave the strange ray of golden nature to Scully and she was
stunned at first, then pleased. There was a little light in her eyes and a
tiny smile at the corner of her mouth.

Her investigating self inquired where he had been able to find a sunflower
in January and he sadly remarked she was being too rational to enjoy it
properly. So she just sat there, looking at the generous, happy flower with
a funny expression plastered all over her freckled face.

Then she asked why. He just didn't know why. He saw it, thought of her and
bought it. Wasn't that what normal people did? He thought she liked
normalcy. As he gave her no answer, she shrugged and went to get some water
to fill a tall glass.

The sunflower awkwardly stood out of its makeshift vase. Its weight made it
bend to one side. Scully secured it against the wall and the flower gained a
little more dignity.

"There, perfect."

"Yeah," Mulder added, "perfect."

They both smiled, though not at each other. Then they went back to their
business, as usual.

Little did Mulder know this would be THE day.

*** ***

Later that very same day, Mulder was right behind Scully as they crossed the
Hoover Building parking lot. She was carrying her leather briefcase and the
flower he had given her. Mulder caught up with her.

"Hey, Scully, would you wanna.... You know."

She looked at him with that bored, sleepy look on her face; the one she must
have when she wakes up in the morning, one second after her eyes open and
she still hasn't stroked them with the palm of her hand.


"I.... I was just trying to find an acceptable excuse to come see you
you know, spend some time with you."

She didn't look too amused but she played the game anyway. She recognized
the effort it was for him not to lure her to some curious place with him but
to ask her, straightforwardly.

"Like what Mulder, bring wine and a movie?"

"A movie?"

"You know, video. It was invented for lazy bums who cannot get themselves to
walk to the theater."

That got him a hint of a smile even though her joke was half-serious.

"Who told you I don't go to the theater?" he leered.

She rolled her eyes up to the sky, through the concrete ceiling. They had
both stopped in front of her car.

"This is ridiculous."

"Are you not-so gently telling me that I can't come tonight?" He looked like
a dejected boy, the one who always gets picked last when school sports teams
are formed.

"What I'm saying is that I get enough of you all day at work, Mulder. I need
my time, my space."

"You opened the door when he came to you," he spat out. The boy looked hurt
and leaned his back on the hood of her car.

"That would be...."

"Eddie. Van Blundht, the wunderkind."

"Mulder.... My door is always open. Even when you're drunk, it's 3:00 in the
morning and you're here to drag me through Texas."

"Just for business, then. But not for pleasure."

She looked down at the flower she was still holding.

"What's *pleasure*?"

"Something I want us to learn to share," he sharply replied.

She looked mildly shocked, dismayed.

"No, no. Not that way.... I meant.... " The boy hadn't made it to the swim
and was drowning.

The coach took pity on him.

"All right, come over tonight, we'll talk some more."

She shooed him away from the driver's door, opened it and threw her
briefcase on the passenger's seat. She carefully put the flower down on the
dashboard then turned to Mulder but he was already gone.

She saw him stroll away, his long legs scissoring their way quickly towards
his own car.

*** ***

Nothing in the world would force Mulder to pass on an invitation from
Scully. So at 8:00 PM sharp, he knocked on her door.

He had brought some strawberry cheesecake with him and was working hard at
leaving thoughts of case-files back at the office. His social skills were
rusty but the boy had been raised on the Vineyard; he had manners.

Scully's appearance was homey, nice and warm. She wore a black button-down
sweater, low on her hips and low on her cleavage, complemented by a pair of
slim khakis. No, she wasn't barefoot; she wore plain white socks. But no
slippers. Complementing her outfit were her golden cross, her small diamond
earrings and not the faintest excess of make-up was spoiling her classic

Mulder knew she never dressed for him but she wasn't neglecting her looks
and it pleased him.

He himself hadn't conceded to more than a pair of faded black jeans and a
black T-shirt, but he knew she liked it.

They made small talk over dinner, discussing current affairs and various
pieces of news overheard on CNN. Very professional, business-like small

Of course, upon eating dessert, she had to confess she liked lemon
cheesecake better than strawberry.

"See, this I needed to know," he remarked.

"What do you mean?" she spooned another bite in her inviting mouth.

"I mean, I know which painkillers to give you for each and every type of
pain you could be in and, with exact precision how you clean your gun....
which part you dismantle first. But I don't know which color you prefer or
which fruit, who's your favorite painter."

"But you know all that," she objected.

"I know you like black and blue, cherries and yogurt, Matisse, Degas."


"But you've never told me. I guessed, noticed, paid attention. But you never
told me."

"What difference would that make?"

"You never said there was an exhibition in town you wanted to see. Or that
you liked my blue tie better than the red one."

"Mulder.... All your ties are terrible." She sighed. "I don't know what you
want me to say."

"I want us to share things, normal things. Pleasant things like talking
about a book you read or a new recipe you experimented with."

Scully still didn't get his point.

"But we talk about that, Mulder. On the road, on planes, each time we're
together, we talk about things like this. Could you please let me know what
you're getting at?" She sounded a little aggravated.

"You told me you liked the last John Irving book. Fine. You said it was
better than the circus one. Fine!" He raised his voice. "But, dammit, you
didn't tell me how you felt when you finished the last sentence and closed
the cover. If it tickled you inside, filled you with wisdom, sadness or
pleasure. You didn't share the emotions it triggered, good or bad. You don't
share anything." He paused and rested his head in his palm. "I don't really
know you, do I?" he said plaintively. His eyes were rubbed against both the
palms of his hands now, and Scully could figure he was trying real hard to
master felon tears, the traitors only waiting for the favorable moment to
escape their skin prison.

Scully's mind hesitated between anger or comfort. How could he get so upset
over a book? Should she hug him and try to make him feel all better or tell
him to walk away and mind his own business? Neither alternative was doable.
Neither was fair.

"You DO know me, Mulder. I've been your partner, your friend, for years. I
just like to keep some things private, as everybody does. I hope you can
understand this," she tried.

"It's not keeping, it's oysterizing," he mumbled.

"What?" she asked, puzzled.

"Like clams." He rose his head to see her hard face. "Keeping it all bottled
up inside as if you were afraid I would snatch your soul away. I deserve to
know, Scully, I earned that right. More than six years together. I deserve
it," he repeated.

She remained silent. They were both quiet for a moment, not daring to look
at the other from across the table.

"I'm not asking YOU all this, Mulder. Why should you claim it from me? And
what are you giving me in return? The truth about your strange attachment to
Diana Fowley or about my stolen ova? I think not. Just don't ask from others
what you are not prepared to give yourself."

Mulder was sad and relieved. Funny how those two feelings can be siblings

"I have made mistakes. I'm only a poor human bastard. But now, after all we'
ve seen, after all we've shared together, you can have it all, Scully," he
dared. "There is nothing of me I want to hide from you; not purposely
anyway. I'll give it all to you." He sighed heavily.

"What if I don't want it?" she asked softly, tired from this riddle of a
mind game. She knew what he was fishing for and those were dangerous

He exhaled loudly. "Then I doubt this partnership will last any longer."

"Why, Mulder? Why should things change? We have the X-Files back, we work
together. We don't need this cumbersome ordinary crap between us. We're a
team, just not 'that kind' of team. Isn't that enough?" Why couldn't he
accept that she was too scared to love him the way he deserved? Too scared
to hurt him in the process.


Scully frowned, defeated, and her shoulders slumped.

"I don't know what you want from me."

"But you do. That's where the problem is."

She rose. "That's enough now. It's time for you to go home, Mulder."

"Sure," he said, softly. "Sure, Scully. I'll leave you alone." He headed
for the door, unable to bear more of this humiliating rejection.

"Mulder." she called him back. He didn't look at her but opened the front
door. "Mulder!" He stopped.

"It's alright, you know. We're okay. We'll forget about this and go back to
work tomorrow." He turned to her, his face grave and added, "We'll be fine."

"Of course not. We won't be fine, Mulder. It's too late for us to forget
this now. You want to speak your mind freely, then do it. What is it that
you need now, Mulder? What could make you happy?" She looked at him with
compassion tainted by a thin layer of sorrow. Mulder closed the door and
leaned his back on it.

"Anything, Scully. Anything you can give me. I need to be demanding. I want
more than Special Agent Dr. Dana Katherine Scully." He paused and jumped, "I
want something you have not given to anybody before."

She approached him slowly. "What would that be?"

"Give me a piece of your soul. Give it to me Scully...." he whispered.

She shook her head in a lulling motion. "Mulder...." she repeated again, as
it was the only word she knew. "What you're asking me is coming straight out
of a cheap romance novel." She talked with care, but was aware she would
hurt him, regardless of the words she used. "You don't give your soul away;
you keep it for yourself. That's what makes you a whole human being. If you
give it away, you're lost."

Mulder nodded repetitively, absently crumpling to the floor. "You're right,
you're right. I can't ask you for that. I can't ask anything from you...."

"Mulder...." once again. Scully crouched to sit beside him on the hardwood
floor. Mulder head was bent down so that she couldn't discern his features.
She took both his hands in hers and squeezed hard. "It's not you, you know.
Nobody ever has. Nobody ever will. It's just how I am." Mulder sniffled and
ungraciously rubbed his nose on his sleeve. Scully produced a paper tissue
from her pants pocket and shoved it in his hands. "Who I've always been."
Mulder took a moment to compose himself, his face still facing the floor.
She went on. "Who would I be if I spent my time babbling about my inner
feelings all the time? Would I still be the strong, tough woman you've come
to appreciate and trust?"

Mulder began to doubt. After all, her inability to share, her closed heart
was part of her bewitching mystery. His eagerness to dig into her mind until
he found an opening, until she gave in to him, kept him alive. What would he
do when he had found his Grail?

"I'm so pathetic, Scully. I don't know how you can stand me. I can't even
stand myself like this...."

Strangely and in a quite out-of-character way, Scully wrapped one arm around
his shoulders and drew Mulder close to her. It wasn't in her habit to touch
him like that but she couldn't let him leave with nothing. THIS, she could
try to give him. THIS didn't involve emotional sharing. So she held him
close, snuggling awkwardly against his side. He moved a little and buried
his wet face in the crook of her neck.

"Shhh, Shhh." she soothed his hair. "That was nice, giving me this flower
today," she croaked. Mulder's lips were brushing the skin exposed at her
neck and he let the tip of his tongue dart out and dare tasting her. He
lapped and kissed for long minutes, focusing his attention on her throat as
she remained still in his arms. She closed her eyes as he drew his mouth a
breath away.

"Give it to me, Scully. Give it to me...." he whispered in a kiss.

And she did. Because it was easier to give him this physical release than to
grant him the gift of what he really wanted.

*** ***

When he woke up in the morning, Mulder frowned. He didn't recognize his
surroundings and panicked for a short moment. But a female, newly-familiar
groan next to him brought him back to reality. Scully.

The covers went up to her waist and Mulder stared hard at her bare back. She
was asleep on her stomach, her head deep in the pillow. Her hair waved
around her and her tattoo peeked out of the sheets and blanket; she was one
hell of a sexy mess.

Mulder felt his throat tightens. He remembered the night before. You know,
in slo-mo, like in those cheesy movies where they trick you and make you
believe that love actually has the power to slow time down. He remembered
the noises, the smells, the taste.

For Mulder, the night before had been... a rebirth. A fragile proof that he
could still have a chance at some happiness. His life was now beginning. The
woman he was madly in love with - at least, the kind of love Fox Mulder
knew - had shared herself with him.

Scully had been... understanding. She had kissed him some and let him play
with her as he pleased. And he had been pleased. She had insisted they use
condoms and that had been fine with him, although he knew they had no 'real'
use for them. He had been a little put off at first that she owned a
recently dated box but one kiss from her had erased any form of conscious
brain activity for him.

The supple feeling of her skin had left him speechless. This white cream he
had lusted after for years now was branded by his own tanned skin, with his
own scent.

It had been good. It was no use avoiding this issue. It had been good sex.
Great sex for him, and, as he was observing her satiated form this morning,
great for her as well. She was fearless. She did things.... God....

Scully groaned again and rolled on her side, her back to Mulder. He crawled
next to her and pressed a good-morning kiss on her spine, below her neck.
She awoke with a start.


"Humpf...." was all she managed to answer.

"Good-morning," and he planted another wet kiss on her skin. She shivered.

"Stop that!" she playfully exclaimed.

He gratified her with a thousand of butterfly kisses. Scully's head found
its pillow back and the woman abandoned herself to Mulder's desires.

*** ***

While Scully was in the shower, Mulder was trying to put together some kind
of breakfast for them. She had asked if he wanted to shower first but he had
replied with a goofy grin that he'd rather wait until he came back to his
place because his stuff was there and he didn't want to smell all girlie
with her flowery shampoo.... blah blah blah. Right. The truth was, he just
wanted Scully's scent to linger on him a little longer.

Scully couldn't believe he had made her scrambled eggs. And that they were
good. All this domesticity was a lot to handle at 8:00 in the morning.

Mulder seemed happy and contented. He couldn't wipe a silly grin off his
face. A genuine Mulder smile. God, the bastard could be so gorgeous, you
would forget your own name. His black jeans - the only concession to decency
he had made that morning - didn't look lonely on his otherwise bare body.
They fit just right. Scully couldn't help but gaze at his lean form. At
least, she was getting something right out of this new form of partnership.

Scully rose to put their dishes in the sink. Mulder hopped behind her.

"What do you want to do, today?"

"Aren't we already kind of late for work?" Her practical answer didn't stop

"I meant, like, for lunch or dinner. There is this fabulous new Italian
restaurant I would like to take you to."

"That sounds awfully like a date, Mulder." Scully's heart was tight and she
didn't know how to let him down gently.

"Awfully?" He was already hurt.

"I can't, Mulder, not today. Anyway, we'll se each other at work all day.
That should be enough."

Mulder sneaked up on her and encircled his arms around her, resting his
palms on her stomach.

"I can't get enough," he sadly said. He meant it, of course.

"Well, Mr. Mulder, you'll have to make do with this for today. I have other
plans for tonight." She turned and kissed him softly on the mouth. He was
pleasantly surprised, but still annoyed.

"You do?"


"Ooh, la, la, Scully," he said as he turned her over, pushed her to the
counter then began to devour her right ear. "Do you think I could go with
you to see the momster? Hold your hand tonight?" He could be such a silly

"I can face my family without you, I'm a big girl, you know. But thanks for
the offer."

"This is going to last, isn't it? This, between us...." Let me introduce you
Insecure William Mulder. This charming young man has no difficulty living up
to his first name.

"Are you asking me if what we had last night was just a one night stand?"

He hesitated.

"It wasn't, Mulder. It wasn't a one night affair. You can breathe now."

"Thanks for being you," he answered, slowly. "For being honest."

Disturbed by his words, she disengaged herself from his grasp. "Mulder, let'
s get ready. We have to go now."


And they went.

*** ***

Journal of Fox Mulder - Entry # 2546

I don't suppose for an instant that she thinks I fell for it. She indulged
me. This is all wrong. This isn't her and she is doing IT for me. She is not
enthralled about it. Not like I am.

Well, physically she surely enjoyed it. After all, we were both rusty in
this domain and the connection of our warm bodies ignited delirious sparks.
She came for me. Oh boy, she did. She came while I was inside her. There is
no way in the world I could describe how that felt but right. It felt right.

Still, I believe her mind, her spirit tells her she shouldn't be doing this.
But I'll be damned if I listen to her conscience, or to mine for that

God knows I will take all advantage of this situation. I will treasure the
little she gives me. I will work at making it grow big, strong, steady.

I will make her love me.

*** ***

It was really awkward. Not him being at her side all the time; that was
everyday life. But him being there as her lover, not her partner. Him
trying to touch her as much as he could; her trying to gently rebuff his
attempts the best she could. Professional to the nails.

Of course, after a few days, Mulder learned that it was no use to push her
too far. So he played smoother. Got her coffee right. Didn't ditch her in
ten days. Actually considered her theories before destroying them and
proving her he was right. Sometimes.

And he was rewarded. She wasn't spare of her space or of her body. Mulder
camped out at her place almost each night as they hadn't been called out of
town on a case yet.

The mother inside Scully fought this odd situation so she was able to enjoy
feeding him, caring for him and not strangle him when he acted like a sick
puppy. She resisted those impulses because of the warm buzz it gave her. As
a doctor - even a forensics pathologist - and a federal agent, her heart
always went out to those she had to protect. And God knew Mulder needed
that. She just wondered how she was going to protect him from her own

Still, she was getting used to him that way. She enjoyed the attention he
gave her, the stamina he put into their frantic lovemaking. But Domestic
Mulder grated on her nerves.

They rarely talked about this strange relationship growing between them. It
was implicitly trusted that it was built to last. Those nights, you mainly
heard grunts, whispers and watery sounds. No deep conversation. He was good
in bed for one sick puppy.

*** ***

He was sweet, you had to give him that. Trying real hard at making her
happy. Even in the middle of Arizona.

"What are we doing here, Mulder? It's so hot; even for that time of year, it
's unbearable."

Aggravated Mulder peeked out. "We were assigned here, Scully. I'm sorry WE
had to drag OUR sorry asses here, but Skinner was.... "

She interrupted, "I know, I know." She put her hand on his forearm. "I'm
sorry for lashing out at you. I just," she looked up at him, softly, "I can'
t wait to go back home." She couldn't wait for a nice bubble bath, a little
'Bach' and a little peaceful solitude.

"I can't wait to go back home with you, too," naively said Mulder.

Scully sighed and took her hand away. "Yeah. Let's wrap it up here and go

Mulder smiled. The poor man had it all backwards.

*** ***

They went on with their reenactment of 'The Odd Couple'. Except that only
one of them wore ties, it was pretty much the same. Unconditional love and
obnoxious behavior all rolled into one. Of course, Mulder was more on the
side of love. Which left Scully as the bad gal.

They had both passed difficult weeks. Another brush with death had left
Mulder in the hospital, with a concussion and two broken fingers. Another
dance with a mad man had left Scully with one more emotional scar. Another
encounter with representatives from the consortium of powerful men
conspiring with extra-terrestrial forces to save their own asses had left
Mulder empty and lost.

And the pressure put on the secrecy of their involvement with each other
weighed tons on the tall agent's shoulders.

That they were able to do anything - to lie, to kill - to save the other was
common knowledge. Or you'd have to be blind. Their enemies had used the
nature of their bond to hurt them in the past. The revelation of their
intimacy wouldn't entice them to act differently from before. They knew
where to strike to put them down.

As to the bureau.... Well, their bosses had seen them do worse and had been
forgiving. Skinner would cover for the partners, like he often did. And
screw them if they couldn't understand. There was always a way for those who

So Mulder wasn't able to understand why Scully refused to cry out to the
world that they were together. He fiddled with the idea of renting some air
time on the radio and announcing the brilliant news to every living soul on
the East Coast. Of course, one look at his stern partner would kill this
idea right on the spot.

He resented her 'not-on-the-job' policy. Any comfort from her at those bad
times would have been more than welcomed. But, no. They had to wait until
they were hidden to hold each other in solace or offer words of sweet

Mulder hated the idea of not being good enough to be the official man in her
life. There was no other way to interpret the boundaries she carefully
established on their relationship. He just wasn't worth of it.

*** ***

He wasn't entering her. What the fuck was he doing?

"Mul.... der, what.... are you.... doing?"

He was still behind her, holding her flushed body close.

"I need to.... talk to you about.... something."

"Now?" she grunted loudly. "Just shut up and.... do it, dammit!"

He let his aroused body brush hers and rolled away from her. She tried to
steady her breathing.

"We need to talk."


"Yes, now. Really talk."

"I don't believe this." She got hold of a previously discarded bed sheet and
covered her form while Mulder put on his cotton boxers in false modesty.
"You sure know how to pick your moments." She was angry.

He stared at her intently. "I want to tell people."

"Tell people what?"

"About us. I can't hide what we are anymore."

"We're not hiding!" "Stop the melodrama, Mulder", was on the tip of her

"Oh really," his voice croaked. "Can I hold your hand in public? Can we go
out to have a romantic dinner? Does you family know?"

She closed her eyes.

"Are you ashamed, Scully?"

"What?" Her eyes snapped open. "You mean, of you, of us?" He nodded. "How
could you think that?"

"It has crossed my mind."

"There's nothing to it, Mulder."

He eyed her, somewhat quizzically. "Ok, I accept that. Then why the secrecy?
Don't you think people already suspect it? What difference would it make?"

It would make it real, thought Scully. But she had no answer for him. She
couldn't refuse him this request. She found difficult to refuse him anything
these days.

"Ok, let's go public." He smiled so hard, she felt she had landed in bright
Las Vegas.

One more wall was down. Scully was scared. She needed her fortress back.

*** ***

- 4 days later -

"No, no, no!!! Don't use that with this plate, you'll scratch it. Let me do
it," said Scully, grabbing a porcelain plate from the hands of her partner.

He laughed a little and let her do the work. Mulder always reacted like an
elephant in her china kitchen and it drove Scully mad.

"It went as well as it could, don't you think?"

"Mom wasn't very surprised. She surely had some idea all along."

"Your brother almost choked on his food, though," Mulder commented. Scully
put away the last dish, turned the water off then wiped her hands dry.

"You know, at least he shut his big mouth, and we can both be grateful for
that." She didn't need her brother to remind her this was a mistake.

"Oh, yeah." Mulder took her hand and led her in the living-room. They sat on
the couch, close, their bodies touching like the official couple they now

"We have to tell Skinner," Mulder remarked.

"Don't you think he knows by now? I don't think there is much we hide from
his hawk eye, willingly or not."

"We still need to 'tell' him."

Before Scully could even whine a protest, Mulder pinned her down and they
were roughly making out on the sofa.

Sometimes, at night, Scully wrote in her journal.

*** ***

Dana Scully's Journal - Entry # 1234

I thought Bill was going to kill somebody yesterday. Preferably my partner
in sin. His face turned white then scarlet. Her twisted his napkin between
his fists and chewed on the inside of his cheek while Mom squeaked in

I know my mom appreciates what Mulder did for me. I also know that, at the
same time, she resents him for what he did. My best guess is that she is
happy I finally found a man. Any man. Who would have thought that my mother
would be glad I'm getting some.

It's a crude way to define what Mulder and I have together. But I don't
really see how else to present it. We're not engaged, God forbid. We don't
live together even if he stays at my place often and his clutter drives me
insane. We never date in the typical sense of the word.

But that man, Mulder, is so eager to please me that I can't help but let him
satisfy his desires and mine. He is so sweet. He treats me nicely and still
makes me laugh. I like him. Of course I do. Mulder is so easily likable, it'
s unsettling. He cares for me. He's brilliant although aggravating at times.
He has a sexy mind. And one gorgeous body.

There must be some love in there hidden somewhere, in this relationship.
Some kind of everlasting compassion and caring.

I'm just afraid the fool is falling in love with me. In the current
situation, with the threat of a cruel invasion upon our heads, how are we
supposed to make things work? This is not a Jane Austen novel where the hero
and heroine fall into each other's arms and live together forever, in bliss.

He gets mad when I look at other men. I feel wrong when he looks at other
women. Especially after the "Diana incident" and the loosening of the
threads of our mutual trust. I wonder if what we're into now is just one way
to reassure ourselves that our closeness will remain. I need to be cautious
with what I give here.

A few times, I thought about leaving him. But there is this pull, this sense
of danger and excitement that always has me gravitate around him. Like a bug
is attracted to the blue light even though it knows it will burn its wings.

I don't know how I will ever be able to flap my wings and fly away. Maybe I
won't. But maybe the need will be stronger than the desire and I will make a
life for myself. Only myself.

God, I really don't want to write about how the Bureau reacted when we broke
the news. I'll spare you this odd humiliation, journal.

*** ***

Every day. As in all the time. His hands on her. His mind teasing, his
fingers groping. She realized she liked him better when he remained a sexy
mystery. This ordinary life was getting to her head.

'I gave up a career in medicine for the challenge of the FBI. I remained
your partner for the thrill of passion. I don't really fancy eating Kraft
dinner with you. I don't like when you mess up my bathroom. I don't ever
want to go by your name.'

Dana Scully thought all this as she watched her partner sleep, in one ratty
hotel in Nowhere-close-to-exciting, Utah. He lay on his stomach like a dog.
Unaware of her slipping into his room, he slept, peacefully. She was still
strong on the above-mentioned 'not-on-the-job' rule but she couldn't resist
teasing her instincts by admiring him in secret.

Of course, she knew he did the same sometimes. Watching her sleep.
Reassuring himself that she wasn't gone.

And once they were back in D.C., the sex was wild, raw from the wait. She
had her own personal, totally unethical, reasons to maintain this
heart-strangling rule.

She thought back at their day. Another investigation that lead them nowhere.
Common enough lately.
She was sick of Mulder worrying about her well-being, worrying about all of
his moves and words as if they could affect her so deeply. He was afraid of
being wrong. Of being right. He had lost his edge.

Scully kicked herself mentally and reminded herself of her last autopsy.
Sloppy because she was drooling and dreaming over her partner's firm butt.
Gone was the time when only his rueful theories were turning her on. Where
had her concentration and focus gone, anyway? Down the drain of sexual haze.

*** ***

- 5 weeks later -

"I'm sorry," Skinner almost whispered, "there is not much I can do about

"'Clouding our judgements?' 'Not our minds on the jobs'!" Mulder tossed away
the report he was holding. "I can't believe this load of crap!"

"Mulder," admonished Scully, "calm down."

He was so nervous, he could have broken his seat armrest with one hand.
Scully stopped him with one of hers.

"What do you mean, calm down; those bastards are separating us, Scully!" He
was indignant.

"Agent Mulder," followed A.D. Skinner, "I know you've been down this path
before. But this is not gratuitous torture. They have valid reasons to
reconsider your partnership."

"May we ask what they are, Sir?" cautiously asked Scully, her grip still on
Mulder's hand in a vain attempt to tame the fox's anger.

"Since you've announced your personal involvement with each other, your
resolved case load has decreased. Your results are not as sharp as they were
before. The precariousness of the X-Files department is not a novel issue ,
we all know this."

"That is such bullshit, Sir; I will fight this decision; there is...."

"You want my personal advice," cut in Skinner, "let it be. It will be better
for everybody."

'Thank you, Sir,' silently thought Scully.

"Better? You must be kidding? I can't believe you of all people are
advocating.... that!" Mulder spat out.

"Listen to me, you go separate ways. Then you do your job. You work at
proving to them how much better you were while partnered together. Show them
you're a team, the best there is. Win your partnership back."

Mulder was baffled. Both men turned to Sully, who had been quiet during the

"Scully...." softly asked Mulder.

"I think he's right," her voice broke.

"You want us apart?" he croaked. He just couldn't hear this.

"We haven't been really at the top of our game, lately. I'll admit to that.
We need to find our markers back. The time apart will do us some good."

Mulder couldn't do anything but stare at her. At her beautiful features
contorted. Her mouth twisted in a disgusted grin. His brows frowned; his
head cocked slightly to the side, incredulous.

Scully rose and put her hand on Mulder's forearm.

"Thank you, Sir. Please, inform us of our reassignments as soon as

Mildly taken aback by the young female agent's attitude, Skinner nodded. "I
will, Agent Scully."

Scully ushered her partner out of the room. Dazed, like a zombie, Mulder
followed her down to their office, obedient, almost knocked-out.

This was going to be hard to forgive.

*** ***

Journal of Fox Mulder - Entry # 2653

I'm not really good at being loved by people. I try to trust them and give
them a part of myself, but every time, they betray my kindness. Either they
screw with my mind or they let me down.

Scully has just done both. I slept in my apartment tonight. Scully kissed me
goodnight and let me leave her arms without a faint protest.

"'Apart will do us good', bullshit. Scully is afraid of what I'm asking. Of
the wholeness we have when we are together. She is looking for a way out of
our.... relationship. And like an idiot, I'm always trying to dig a way in.

I wonder when the big invasion will occur. They will unleash their hounds
and their viruses and we will be whipped away from the earth.... Maybe I'll
never see it happen. Maybe I won't live long enough.

But for the moment, my having a future with the stunningly stubborn AND
beautiful Dana Scully is the only important thing there is. She used to lose
at this game I called a life. I would go hunt pointless clues and she would
remain behind. Not anymore.

She's the one thing I can't afford to let go now. And not just because she
is a tiger in the bedroom. But because, each time I lay my fingertips on her
skin, I am reminded that she once cared. That she was there for me. And that
she stayed. The only one.

I will follow her on whichever path she has decided will be good for us. And
maybe, down the road, I will bend it.

*** ***

The partnership was broken. Scully was assigned to a good position, while
Mulder remained on the now unstable X-Files, dreading the coming of an
eventual new partner. She became 1st assistant to the Bureau's head
forensics pathologist. Don't let yourself be fooled by the title, the job
came with huge responsibilities, work in the field and her own personal
assistant, a green young agent, with sharp looks and a sweet eagerness to

She didn't know how to make her partner - wait, ex-partner - understand that
he didn't have to call her every two hours or pop up in her office when he
felt like it. Yes, she had her own office although she mostly spent her time
at Quantico. Or on the field, giving body to her medical knowledge by
helping in violent crimes investigations.

It had only been two weeks and Mulder was lost. There was this ache that
never left him. He paced around in circles in his tiny basement office, like
a leopard whose freedom had been denied. He had one thing on his mind:

He couldn't wait for the end of the day, when he knew he would have a chance
to be with her. One night, out of the blue, straight from his heart, he had
asked her to move in with him. Well, technically, for him to move in with
her, as he wouldn't impose the odd sadness of his on anybody and especially
not her.

She had eyed him as if she was having an OD on crack. Her eyes huge, her
mouth agape.

"You can't be serious. "

"Come on, it'll be fun. I promise not to mess up our place too much and to
help with dinner once in a while."

Her shoulders slumped.

"Mulder, this.... this is a very big step. We can't take this lightly."

"As idiotic as it sounds, I want us to be together and...." his hand reached
to her face, "I want to live with you."

His eyes were so bright with unshed tears. His boyish and sincere expression
was Scully's undoing. His palm rested on her cheek.

"I want to live with you," he repeated. "I need to be at your side; without
you I'm lost, unfinished. I'm not able to cope with being away from you
anymore. I want to wake up next to you. Share a bathroom with you.... Don't
smile at me!"

But she couldn't help it.

"Mulder, your bathroom habits make me smile, not you." She came closer to
him and rested her head on his chest, tucked under his chin. "That was some
declaration, you know. Thank you."

Mulder held his breath. "Was that a yes?"

"As long as you promise to lower the toilet seat down, you're in." She felt
him quiver against her. "Mulder...?" His body was lightly shaking. "God,
this mean so much to you?" she asked softly.

Even though he couldn't comprehend why she seemed surprised, he answered.
"It means the world. " He let his tears wet her hair as she held him.

He bought her roses the morning after. A dozen scarlet beauties, like drops
from her hair. She stared at the flowers glowing, diffusing their maddening
perfume in her living room. The roses showed no sign of withering.

After three days, Sculy threw them away.

*** ***

Journal of Dana Scully - Entry # 1472

I can't believe I let him trick me into this. I wanted that time apart. But
I couldn't deprive him of this seemingly vital element in his life. Me,
myself, and I; Dana Scully, the one and only. Fool.

What do you say to such a man when he tells you he is nothing without you?
Get real, Dana, you did this to protect him. I most certainly does not want
to go identify his body at the local morgue, a corpse from a single gunshot
to the head.

And as much as his dependence scares me and touches me, I understand him. I
understand his desire for a more complete, adult relationship. This clinging
to me.

Our minds have been lovers for many years now. Now our bodies. Soon, he will
be begging one more time for my soul and this is when I am going to hurt him

The weeks have passed and I have gone deeper into this numbing. He is okay
with having scraps of me because he is afraid of pushing me further. Still,
I feel I'm giving more and more to this. "US".

You know what, fuck this psycho-babble BS, I need to admit to myself that I
don't distance myself to protect him but to protect my own self. I'm so
afraid of loving Mulder like he wants me too, it sickens me.

I would like to whisper to him insane declarations of love when our bodies
merge. I would love to give him back all he has given me. The tenderness,
the trust, the adoration.

It's not that I'm unable. It's not that I don't want to. But I'm just scared
shitless from his overwhelming potential of love. I've seen Mulder's naked
soul more times than I can count.

Not a pretty sight.

I don't think he would cope with what's on my mind.

Still, each night, day after day, he holds me tight like I'm going to vanish

into thin air. As if touching me acknowledged that I am real. He talks to me
in hushed tones, telling me how happy he is and how beautiful I am. I let
him do the talking.

He hasn't said yet that he loves me. There is no need for those words. I
know he does as I sure know he is at a loss about what I am feeling. I let
what he gives me do the trick for both of us. This huge amount of care, of
unleashed love is enough for both of us. I can't involve myself deeper.

I'm afraid that if I let go, there'll be no turning back. I need to think
that I'm in control. That I can decide if things will last or not. I can put
my physical life in the hands of my partner but I find I have a hard time
trusting my lover with my emotional life.

*** ***

- 4 weeks later -

"Fox Mulder on line two," said Patrick Breker, Dana Scully's ever present

Scully rolled her eyes and took the call. Patrick turned his back to her and
resumed whatever he was doing.

"What now?" she abruptly asked.

"Yeah, well, I was wondering if you could buy some juice and some beer for
tonight, I'm gonna be stranded in that damn office until late tonight. I
have some research to finish and I was promised results around 8:00 PM."

"You were supposed to buy some yesterday."

"Please, could you?" he whined. How pathetic.

"Fine. Is that all you need?" He could tell she was upset.

"Gee, because you women are liberated doesn't mean you can't go buy
groceries from time to time."

"Do you really want me to answer that ?"

He chuckled. "No, not really. I'll see you tonight, sweetheart."

"Right." And she hung up. And exhaled loudly.

Patrick turned back to her. "Ah, the joys of married life." he joked.

"I am 'not' married," she groaned. "Although it does feel like it, dammit."

Patrick snorted. He ran one strong hand through his thick dark hair.

"Do you know I've never lived with any of my girlfriends?"

That was new. She rarely discussed anything personal with her devoted
assistant. She never questioned why he was here. He was polite, efficient
and good-looking. What more could you ask?

"Never kept them long enough?"

"It's not in my habit to 'keep' people.... It just never came up."

Scully smiled a little. "You're still young, you have time."

"28 is not that young, thank you very much." Patrick tried to look deep
inside her blue eyes. "What's it like, I mean, to share everything with

Scully's face tightened. "I wouldn't know." She spoke the truth. She didn't
know why she confessed to this young man what she couldn't even tell her own

"i'm sorry, I didn't mean to.... " He felt like an idiot. "I didn't mean to
into your personal life."

Scully walked to his desk and put her hand on his forearm. "It's not you.
You see, what Agent Mulder and I have is.... special. But I wouldn't say
we share everything."

He looked up at her and barely concealed his amazed adoration at her

"You need to preserve yourself," he commented. "Need to preserve your
identity. Give too much to people and you'll only end up being hurt in the
end." He had spoken softly, like a whispered confession.

Scully smiled widely. "You're very wise for your age, Patrick." She patted
his forearm then went back to her desk.

*** ***

- 3 weeks later -

"I told you we're going to be late and we have excellent seats!"

"Mulder, look, I don't want to go! Can't you ask one of the Gunmen instead?"

"But it's you I want to be with. I even bought you flowers!" He raised his
voice from a child in need to an angry adult. "Doesn't that count?"

Sculled eyed the luminous daffodils. "For what purpose? Did you think I
would bend your way because of them? You're full of crap, Mulder."

"I bought this extra ticket for you! The Knicks, for God's sake!"

"No, you bought it for YOU. I don't give a shit about basketball and it's
not like you don't know it." She stood on her ground, her full mouth and
determined eyes holding him at bay.

"But I've been so busy lately.... We hardly do anything together anymore."

"How is that different from before?"

"You know what I'm saying. The X-Files are so demanding and those trips out
of town. I just wanted us to enjoy something together."

She sighed.

"Can't you come just to make me happy, for once?"

"I thought that's what I was doing each and every night, Mulder. Wait, it's
been more like once a week lately...." she snapped.

His face twisted in disgust. "You're a bitch."

"And you love it. Come on, just go now, you'll miss the game." She shooed
him away.

"Yeah, don't wait up." He grabbed his keys and stormed out of the apartment.

Her heart heavy, Scully found her way to the sofa and slumped ungracefully.
She didn't have the courage to be with him tonight. To see him look at her
with open love and unconditional trust.

Not after what had happened in the confines of her office today. Not after
that damn sweet kiss.

The boy had left her so confused. His crush on her had seemed pretty obvious
from the start. One healthy adoration. Scully had been careful not to let it
slide into dangerous grounds until today.

The office was very quiet and for once, their load of work was quite small.
Scully was simply doing some personal research about how to identify
different kinds of dust and earthy materials. Engrossed in her work, she
hadn't notice the dreamy eyes of her assistant.

She rose up to open one of the steel file cabinets and browse through
different dossiers. Patrick followed her without a sound and when she turned
back, he was in front of her, hovering. She gasped in surprise as he
captured her lips with his own. It was a swift move, precise but not
forceful. God, he tasted good.

When he withdrew, her mouth was left open, her breathing harsh. He looked
straight into her eyes.

"Don't. I won't tell you I'm sorry, because I'm not. I won't tell you it was
wrong, 'cause it's not."

She just looked away, speechless. And then his tongue played with hers
again. She closed her eyes and let her hormones do the trick. He was soft
and pliant. Warm. Patrick let his hand run down her cheek, her neck, to her
breast. Her moan resonated in his mouth. He withdrew a little and bit her
lower lip.


"Shhh.... I'll go now." He kissed the corner of her mouth. "I'll see you
tomorrow." In an instant, he was gone. And Scully was left standing against
the cabinet, stunned and flushed.

She blushed again at the thought. She didn't know why she wasn't mad at him.
She was his superior and his conduct had been totally inappropriate. He had
taken something he had no claim on.

The truth was, she was flattered. She felt more confident and the idea that
she was still attractive to younger males left her mind comfortably numb.
And Patrick wasn't asking her for anything. He didn't judge her, he didn't
suck her life out of her until he possessed her totally. What an exciting

She thought of Mulder and their argument earlier. How she had been rude to
him for no reason and how empty her life had been, even now that they were
sharing the same address.

She had made no concessions about his moving and kept all of her furniture
right in place. He had only brought his computer, some of his books and his
clothing with him. There was no 'Mulder-feel' to her apartment at all.

Worst of all, since he was now working alone on the X-Files and had declined
all offers of a new partner, his workaholic self had returned. One cannot
fight one's true nature, so he spent hours out in the field, hours they used
to share. He came home exhausted, doing alone a job that used to belong to
both of them. He was tired.

He wasn't so eager to please her anymore.

Scully sighed. Her eyes fell back on Mulder's flowers again. How stupid can
men be? Poor Mulder.

A shrill shook her out of her reverie. Her cell phone.

"Dana Scully."

"Hi Dana, it's Patrick."



"I got a call from Violent Crimes, they want us up in Maine tonight. A local
figure was found. beheaded. They need our expertise."

"Where are you?"

"I'm still in the office."


"I booked us a flight in two hours. Do you want me to pick you up on my

Her place was absolutely not on his way. She dropped it.

"Okay, sure."

"Good." His voice did not falter a bit. "See you in thirty."



Scully stared long at the telephone. She took one long, deep breath then
headed for her room to start packing.

*** ***

Sorry about that...
My devoted editor pointed out a few more mistakes... Please, use this
version to archive.


When he arrived home way after midnight, Mulder unlocked their door
cautiously. He was surprised that she had all the locks on, but after all,
one is never too safe.

The apartment was dark and quiet as expected. He made his way to the
kitchen, turned on the bright light and went to pour himself a glass of

Then he spotted the Post-It ® note stuck on the fridge.

Had to go to Maine on a case.
Call you later.

He sighed loudly and shook his head. Now of all times. He felt guilty of
having left her after their earlier fight; he felt guilty he had enjoyed the
game. He wanted to make it up to her and not lose any more time.

He turned the light on in the living-room, sat next to the telephone and

When he woke up, around 7:00 AM as usual, his nose was buried deep between
the couch's cushions; his pants were itchy. One quick glance at the time,
one to the answering machine which light wasn't blinking.

No Scully.

His shoulders slumped, Mulder strolled to the bathroom.

*** ***

"Mulder." He looked down at his watch. 4:55 PM.

"It's me, Scully." As if he couldn't recognize her voice. He let it go.

"Where are you?" Old habits die hard.

"In Maine." Right.

"How's the case?"

"We're almost done with the forensics examinations. I think we'll take a
flight back tomorrow morning and let the VCS agents take it from here."

" ---- "


"It's almost 5:00, Scully." So?

"So what? It's snack time?"

"Forget it. I'll see you tomorrow."

"Sure. Bye, Mulder."

He hung up.

Christ, what a fucking bitch she could be. Not feeling one moment sorry for
his harsh thoughts, Mulder cursed under his breath.

When had it turned so wrong? Things had been okay in the beginning but now,
their relationship was so strained, so dull, he couldn't believe she was
still allowing him to live with her. It was obvious that she barely
tolerated him. Mulder, the afterthought.

Of course, his being always on the road didn't help. He let himself think
that maybe it was all his fault, that he had let her down and his lack of
presence didn't help forge a solid relationship. People divorced for such

All right. He made the promise to himself to work harder. Not on the files
but on what could be salvaged with Scully. He promised himself to put a
smile back on her pretty face.

Little did he know somebody was applying for the same job.

*** ***

- The same night, somewhere in Maine. -

His thick finger traced the loop formed by her tattoo.

"What a beautiful design. Just like you."

"Flattery will get you nowhere, young man."

"Hum.... But I'm thinking about that place...." he protested. "It's wet and
warm, hot even, and tight. "

She laughed.

"You're an animal!"

"Oh, yeah." And he bit in her shoulder. "You bring out the best of me,
milady." He bit again.

She roared. "My little panther," he added. She tensed. Mulder used to call
her Tiger. What was it with Men and feline metaphors?

"Sorry. Please, don't think about him; this is our time."

"It's just.... I don't do this sort of thing. Usually. I'm not like that. I
't know what I'm doing here." She rolled on her stomach, offered. She
crooked her neck to face him as he went back to caressing her freckled skin.

"I know you don't. But you haven't become a tramp to me now. Just a stunning
woman with needs and desires."

"I don't even know what I need...." She sighed in the mattress.

"Let me provide you with a sample, dear customer...." And he rubbed his
erection against her back.

"Such quality service...."

They laughed and had sex for the third time that night.

*** ***

Mulder put down the phone in its cradle and smiled. Her flight was landing
at 9:35 AM in Washington National Airport. He grabbed his key and headed
towards the nearest florist. After all, it would only be fair to try to make
up with Sully using the same device that had contributed to the blossoming
of their partnership into romance. Well, some sort of romance.

So, a fresh sunflower resting on the passenger seat, he drove to the

He arrived pretty early. A cup of coffee in hand, he paced through the vast
hall, his eyes constantly glancing at the arrival board. His impatient
behavior and the sunflower he held granted him of some puzzled looks from
men, some smiles from women. He looked like a geeky teenager on Prom night.

Time had just come to make things right.

Around 9:45, the passengers from her flight began to exit. Nervous, Mulder
kept fidgeting with the flower, also twisting his left foot in a frantic
movement. After a few minutes, her spotted her. She held her briefcase and
looked radiant, relaxed and soft. She was engrossed in a conversation with
her ever faithful assistant and Mulder was grateful she had found such a
good partner.

Willing to surprise her but not to appear too eager, Mulder didn't leap
towards her but simply waited for her to come down the obvious exit path
determined by white and yellow pickets.

Her pace was slow and when Breker leaned down to whisper something in her
ear, both stopped moving altogether.

Mulder's foot stopped its nervous tap as well when he saw Scully raise her
face to Breker's and kiss him with her open mouth. The young man embraced
her and their kiss deepened. She let her briefcase slide down to the floor.
He buried one hand in her hair, playing with strands, while his other hand
rested on her lower back. When they separated a few seconds later, she
kissed his cheek and both were smiling smugly.

At the closest morgue, a devoted employee begun to fill a form for Fox
William Mulder.

*** ***

He died.

There was no other way to put it. His trust in his loved one, his open
heart, his flicker of happiness; all was crushed and erased by that vision.
There was a tightness in his chest; as if Modell, the pusher, was willing it
to explode. Implode.

The vision was eerie. It was not true. In a blink, Mulder thought back to a
time when he had accused her of being a dirty little spy, taking down little
notes, conspiring against him. He has seen the hurt in her face then. Their
trust had been reestablished shortly afterwards. Always shaken, but always

Until now. This feeling of exclusivity, that no one could insinuate doubt in
their bond, was gone in a haze.

Scully bent down to pick up her briefcase and when she rose up, the first
thing she saw was Mulder's face. He was standing a few feet away but she was
able to see the raw hurt and disgust on his features. Oh, shit.

Her mouth twisted and she tensed. Patrick felt her discomfort and looked up.

"Oh, shit," he murmured.

Swiftly, Scully disengaged herself from Patrick's grip but didn't dare to
move further. She took in Mulder's clean shaven face, his best suit, the
sunflower he was holding. God, he had come to surprise her, to make things

His eyes were dark and burning like coal; as if a total eclipse of the sun
had come upon them.

Scully's teeth left an indent on her lower lip. What a royal fuck up. Mulder
's eyes narrowed and his head bent slightly to the side as if he was asking
Scully to rewind time, to tell him he was mistaking, to tell him she didn't
have another man's taste in her mouth.

Scully swallowed painfully and she frowned. 'I'm so sorry, so sorry
she thought.

She wasn't denying it; she wasn't slapping the bastard's face or jumping
away from him. She just stood there, black pain painted all over her
beautiful face.

Mulder turned his back to her and quickly looked for the nearest exit door.
As he spotted it, his legs went in motion by themselves and he practically
ran away. In his haste, he jostled an old lady who yelled after him. He didn
't care. He dropped the sunflower in a garbage can as he passed. He didn't
care. He hurt his left shoulder as he forced the door to open. He didn't

Scully watched him run from her. She couldn't believe she was going to let
him drive in his state of mind.

*** ***

Patrick had asked where she wanted to go. She chose the office. She wasn't
really ready to face home right now. On the way, she was awfully quiet. And
Patrick couldn't blame her.

Later, that evening, when she had enough courage to go back to her
apartment, she wasn't surprised to find the place empty.

She quickly went to crash into bed. She couldn't cry. She tried, but she
couldn't cry. Her heart had been displaced and strangled her throat. Still,
tears would not come.

*** ***

Mulder didn't go to his office, nor to Scully's apartment. He drove for some
time, then decided to park along the Potomac, close to the Lincoln Memorial.
He bought himself a cup of coffee and sat on the cool steps of the monument.
Oblivious to the constant ballet of hurrying tourists, he sipped the bitter

By 11:00 PM, he had drunk his 12th cup coffee but had absorbed no solid food
during the entire day. His hands were slightly trembling so he buried them
in his pockets. It was a warm night; only a faint breeze cooled the air.
Time for a walk.

Mulder watched cars pass again and again as he strolled along the Arlington
Memorial Bridge. After a while, he stopped and leaned heavily on the
railing. He watched the swell of the river, its darkness tempting like a
gaping mouth. Such an hypnotic sight. The flow, up, down. Whirlpools. Mulder
rested his head on his forearm, over the railing.

"You don't have to do this, you know."

Mulder turned his eyes to the source of the soft and silky voice. It
belonged to a petite young woman, with straight blond hair tied up in a
ponytail. Heavy black make-up around her eyes ate at her face. She wanted to
appear cool and in control but her face betrayed worry.

She put one small hand on his shoulder. "Surely, there's somebody who can

How could she know? Did it show that much? Then, he understood. He chuckled

"No, no, don't worry! This isn't a re-enactment of 'It's a wonderful life'.
I'm not about to throw myself off that bridge."

She looked relieved and took her hand away.

"That's good."

"I'm sorry I gave you that impression. I was just... thinking." She leaned
back on the cold railing. "What are you doing out here at this hour?" asked

It was her turn to let a snort out. "What does it look like, honey?"

Mulder took in her looks. All in black, with cleavage showing and a very
short skirt with a slit up one thigh. High heeled black pumps. Oh.

"Sorry," he said sheepishly. She laughed.

"Don't be!"

"You're so young...."

"Hey, shouldn't you be at home with the wife?" She bit her lip. " Sorry,
that was uncalled for," she quickly added. He shrugged. "Boyfriend
problems?" His eyes widened. "Okay, girlfriend problems." Mulder remained
silent and turned to stare at the water again.

"Care for a little company, sweetheart?" She came closer and brushed his
thigh with her hip.

"Sorry, I'm not interested."

"Come on, I'll make you forget all about her." She let her fingers run down
his arm.

"I don't think you can." He shook his head.

"Try me." His eyes were so sad, empty in the might. She was sorry she
pushed him around like a sex bully. "Listen, forget it. I hope you get
better. Bye." She squeezed his arm and went her way.

Mulder was left alone with liquid thoughts, as dark as the river below.
Suddenly, he turned to where he had seen the girl leave and saw her bent
over a car door, probably discussing prices with a potential customer.

He reached her in a few quick steps. "Let's go."

"Hey man, I was there first," snapped the irritated driver. The young girl
was eyeing Mulder strangely.

Mulder reached in his pocket, took out his badge and displayed it in the
driver's face.

"You get the fuck off now or I'll make sure you'll spend the night inside
four thick, cold walls."

"Fuck," the girl whispered under her breath.

The driver didn't think twice and left.

"You fucking Fed, couldn't you mind your own business?" She was meanly
upset. Her temper cooled down when she saw his expression.

"How much for the whole night?" he asked in a whisper. She walked closer to

"You're not gonna turn me in?"

"How much?"

God. It was like her "Pretty Woman" break. The worst was that she really
didn't know how to answer this. Surely her pimp would be pleased. But still,
what did she care about the bastard anyway. She looked up at the tall,
gorgeous man with the sad eyes.

"Eight hundred."

"Deal." She couldn't believe he would pay her that much.

"Ok, I.... let's go to my place, ok? Got a car?"


She grabbed his hand. "Let's go."

*** ***

Their drive was silent, except for the few directions she gave him and one
stop at an ATM machine. Once arrived, she grabbed his hand again and he
followed like an obedient dog. Surely, the man wasn't doing this very often.

Her place was small but not tacky.

"Could I see the dough?"

Mulder shoved the bills in her hand.

"Thanks, honey."

She ordered him to sit on the couch and relax while she was going to freshen
up. He took his jacket off, laid his weapon, badge and cell phone - turned
off - on the coffee table.

Mulder wondered what he was doing there. The lamps were down to a soft
orange light.

She came back a few minutes later, her face devoid of make-up; now he could
see she had pretty brown eyes. She wore a light white robe in something
synthetic similar to satin. It was nice and simple; not many of her
customers had seen that item. She had let her hair down on her shoulders.
Mulder noticed her bare feet and her toes, painted with a metallic gray

"Do you want something to drink first?"

"Sure. No alcohol, thanks."

"Your call."

She came back with two Coke cans and glasses and sat on the couch next to
him. What an awkward situation. Domesticity with her clients was not
something she did well. She settled the beverages on the coffee table and
raised her hands to his shirt collar, starting to undo the buttons. She let
her hands trail on his chest but a large hand stopped her.

"No," he said firmly. "You don't have to do this."

What did he mean? 'This', the 'stripping him thing' or 'this', the 'deal
thing'? She was pretty confused.

"I don't even know your name." 'What does he care,' she thought but
answered anyway.


"You real name," he insisted.

"It's my real name. What's yours?"

He just told her.


"And you're questioning MY name?" His eyes lit up a little. She smiled.

"How old are you, Iris?"

"Old enough; is this a real badge?" she indicated the leather wallet on the

"It is."

"Real gun as well?"

"It's all genuine."

"And how old are you, Mr. F.B.I?" she bounced his question back to him.

"Probably old enough to be your father...." he joked.

"You're not 'that' old, gorgeous." He tensed. "Hey, what's going on?" she
touched his arm and he flinched. "Fox?" He winced. She didn't know what she
had done wrong.

Mulder ran his hand through his unruly hair.

"This money I gave you.... Could it be only for us to talk? For you to be
there? And stay?"

Now, that was interesting. A twisted "Pretty Woman" story. Iris hated that

"Just talk?"

"Just talk."

"But I could make you feel so much better, sweetheart."

He cut her off. "You can talk about whatever you want . Tell me whatever is
on your mind. I just don't want to be alone...." He closed his eyes and
his head back on the couch.

Whoever had hurt him, Iris felt like strangling the bitch. Who was this
strange man who had to pay a working girl to be his friend?

"I can do that." But she felt lost when it came to actually talking. After a
few minutes of embarrassed silence and sipping Coke, she asked: "Mind if I
turn the TV on?"

"No, do whatever you please."

She settled for a rerun of an informercial about a magic hanger.

"Don't you have cable?" Mulder asked.

"No. I'm trying to save money."

There you go. Conversation.

"What for?" She muted the TV.

"This," she gestured from her to him then back to her, "isn't exactly a
career plan."

"What are your plans?" He seemed genuinely interested. 'How disappointed he
will be,' she thought.

"Not to be doing this for the rest of my life."

"Who are you working for, your boyfriend?" She felt weird at his question.

"Are you sure this is not your job talking?"

He smiled.

"No. I've paid, I have no intention of sending you away."

"My boyfriend has nothing to do with this job." She sighed. "He's a sweet
idiot. And pretty immature too." She thought for a second. "I work for a guy
named Carl." She settled her feet on the couch, facing Mulder.

"Does he treat you okay?"

"Oh, he's not abusing me, if that's what you think. He just threatened to
kill me if I left the business." Her voice was quivering a little and those
raw wounds saddened Mulder.

"Have you gone to the Police?"

She smirked and rolled her eyes. "And tell them what? That I'm a hooker who
thinks her pimp is a bastard? You think they care?" She sounded bitter and
frustrated. Mulder stiffened at her words. She noticed.

"What about your family?"

"My family.... I only cared for my grandfather. He never judged me. All the
others did. I am insignificant to them."

Mulder smiled sadly. "But they're family. They should support you. Whatever
you do."

She snorted.

"I'm a fifty bucks hooker, sweetheart. I blow men for a living. Sorry to
crush you illusions."

"You don't have to be so crude about yourself." He paused for a moment as
she looked away. "I'm sorry, I have no right to judge you."

She turned back to him and smiled smugly.

"Yeah, who are you, really, to judge me? You're paying a prostitute and won'
t even lay your hands on her!" Her tone had been playful and Mulder didn't
take it the wrong way.

"I'm pretty pathetic, ain't I?"

"Who hurt you this bad?" she asked softly. He looked at her pale skin, her
small nose. Her innocent eyes.

"Has she been seeing someone else?" she ventured. Mulder's eyes widened and
he frowned. "I take it she did." Iris moved aside on the couch until her
left side was entirely in contact with Mulder. She put her feet on the
coffee table, one hand on his thigh and rested her head on his shoulder.
"Tell me about her."

"I.... I went to pick her up at the airport this morning, to surprise
her.... And
I had this stupid flower with me. And there she was, kissing him and
whispering things in his neck...." He stopped, closing his eyes. Iris wiped
one lone tear from his cheek.

"Oh, sweetheart...." She moved her hand from his thigh to his waist. Mulder
began to sob quietly.

"I'm so fucked up.... "

"No, honey," Iris whispered in his shoulder. "Shhh, shhh...." Iris' heart
out to this strange man with the long limbs and the sorrowful eyes. "You
smell of coffee." Mulder's left hand went to her face and he stroked her
temple. Their embrace tightened. Mulder's sobbing was more vocal now. He was
choking on his breath and his body shook like a tormented leaf in a storm.

"I hate her.... I hate her for not loving me...."

Mulder buried his wet face in the crook of her shoulder.

Iris kept on whispering soothing words until her desperate customer calmed

Tired from this emotional outbreak, both lost souls fell asleep in each
other's arms.

*** ***

When Scully woke up the next morning, her bed was empty; she was completely

When Mulder woke up, Iris was lying next to him on the small couch. He
wondered how they had made it through the night on this uncomfortable junk
furniture but still, she slept. Her face was relaxed and smooth in her
slumber, like the child she remained under her perverted veil of make-up.

Mulder thought back to a time when there would have been no hesitation to
ravish her. A time before he sold his soul to a red-headed devil. A ball
formed in his throat and, as his infallible memory made him relive the
horrible scene of Scully's treason, Mulder jerked out of the couch, ran to
the bathroom and emptied his guts into the toilet bowl.

Startled awake by the sudden loss of him, Iris followed Mulder into the
bathroom. She found him bent over the toilet, his head down. From the sound
of it, he was crying like a baby.

Iris shook her head in defeat at the sight of this fragile man. An adult who
was sick and emptying his alcohol-free stomach. She wondered if she would
ever found a man who would love her so much, he would get physically ill at
the simple thought of something she did wrong. Men were usually pigs. But
sometimes Iris loved them.

She grabbed a washcloth, dampened it and crouched next to Mulder. She
cradled him against her and leaned against the cold wall. She slowly rubbed
the wet, fresh material over his livid face. His breathing slowed down.

"I'll pay you extra for the care," he whispered. She chuckled.

"No, that one's on me."

"Thank you. Some image you must have of law enforcement...."

She smiled but before she could respond to him, both heard a loud banging at
the door.

"You freshen up, sweetheart, and I'll be right back, okay?" He nodded and
she kissed his forehead. Mulder watched her leave the cramped room, then
heard some rustle coming from the living room. He rose up and leaned on the
door frame. She opened the front door.

"What the fuck have you been doing all night?" asked a rude, gravelly voice.

"And good morning to you too," answered Iris.

The man probably entered the apartment as Mulder heard a door closing.

"The girls told me you've been away all fucking night; who do ya think
decides when you're on and when you're off, bitch!"

"I had two customers and the second one paid for the entire night, you
asshole," she spat out. Mulder winced.

"How much did you make?"

"Six hundred." Smart girl; Mulder smiled at her boldness. He heard a rustle
of paper.

"There, you keep that."

"Thank you." Her tone didn't leave room for anything but sarcasm. Of course,
the bastard had taken his wide share.

"I hope he was good and you had fun, baby...." Mulder felt the tension rise.

"Yes, Carl, he was better than good. I came again and again when he fucked
my brains out like a real man; not that you would know about that...."
choked back a frank chuckle.

"Yeah, well, you shut that ugly mouth of yours and I wanna see you tonight
on the spot. You wear that red skirt of yours. Show your body off a little

"Sure thing."

"Ciao Cindy, you made good money. Keep it coming." He sounded like an
affectionate father proud of his little girl's achievements and Mulder felt
a shiver down his spine.

Iris closed the door and turned back to find Mulder already in the living
room. His face was still bleak but he didn't look too sick.


She shrugged. "Gotta go with what the males like." She seemed uncomfortable.
"Do you want some coffee, or something?"

"No thank you. I have to go."

"Okay." Iris seemed disappointed. She saw Mulder tense and look around in
the room. Anticipating his question, she pushed away one cushion, picked up
his gun, badge and cellphone then handed them to him. He seemed relieved.
"No need to have the masses panic," she commented.

"Thanks. So I was that good, uh?" They both smiled.

"You have no idea...."

"Really, I don't...." They laughed but as Mulder was getting ready to leave,
Iris grew serious again.

"Promise me to talk to her, okay? Don't go doing something stupid."

He sighed. "I don't know what I'm gonna do."

"You'll find someone else to console you and you'll fall in love again. They
all do," she added quietly.

"That's highly unlikely." His face was so dark, she felt inclined to believe

"Well, you don't do anything stupid, okay?"

"You said that."

"Then you heard me. And if you need anything, talk or something, you call
me, okay?" She couldn't believe she was giving him her home number. Mulder
stared at the number written on a page torn off "Cosmopolitan". He got a
card from his wallet, took the pencil she was handing him and wrote his
cellphone number on the back. He almost wrote his home number too, but of
course, he couldn't anymore.

"There. You call me if you need anything. If you are in trouble, use that as
a connection. Don't hesitate. Call me." Iris clutched the small card in her
tiny hands and wrapped her arms around herself.

"I will."

He was standing near the door now, his hand reaching for the handle. Iris
just looked at him, then left for the kitchen. "You talk to her, you hear
me, Fox? People make mistakes. Don't shut her out." She raised her voice a
little. "And if she's not right for you, let her go."

Mulder remained inside a little longer, then quietly closed the door after

When Iris finished her coffee and re-entered her living-room, her peculiar
customer was gone. She smiled as she saw he had left her an extra bonus of
two hundred bucks on the coffee table. She grabbed the bills but didn't tuck
them in her wallet; she went to her bedroom and stuffed them in an envelope
to deposit in her savings account.

Surely, this beautiful man wouldn't need those precious dollars to buy
anymore flowers for his cheating girlfriend.

*** ***

Scully was worried sick. He hadn't come home during the night; he didn't
answer his mobile or his office number; he had his gun with him.

Would he do something rash, irrational and stupid? Would he punish her by
hurting himself? Didn't he know she was already in hell?

It was funny how it didn't seem that important on the moment. How she didn't
think of the consequences.

Now, she just couldn't believe God had let her do such a deceiving act. How
would she face her faith now? How would she face the man she loved, the man
she kept hurting with her selfish incapacity to give?

It wasn't the physical act in itself that bothered her. She was just human.
But her shredding of the trust he had put in her. The unspoken rule that
said their relationship involved exclusivity.

Scully couldn't stop thinking about the events of the last few months. How
Mulder had tried really hard to make it work and how she had treated his
effort lightly, dismissing any attempts at getting closer, pushing away,

All she had been able to do was to concede him every important demand even
though she knew they weren't ready. Living together? What a farce. How can
you live with somebody who adores you when you withhold your heart from him?

Oh, she screwed up. Big time.

Tossing in bed, Scully took all of what was left of her resolve and got up.
She tied her terrycloth robe around herself and padded softly to the
kitchen. A noise at the door startled her and she went to open it.

"Jesus, Mulder...."

God, he looked defeated. He was not shaven, his body clad in rumpled
clothes. The ones he was wearing at the airport.

She came closer to him and he flinched. She stopped. He closed the door and
without a single look at her, practically ran to her bedroom. She followed.
He stopped a little at the door, sniffing the air, looking around shyly.

Scully painfully realized he was fishing for evidence of her treason. In
their bed. She shivered.

Silent and his back to her, Mulder grabbed his sports-bag from the closet
and started to throw on the floor some of his best clothes, still on their
hangers. He ripped them away from the wires and began to stuff his bag.

Scully sat quietly on the edge of the bed and watched him pack his life. His
moves were harsh and rapid; she unconsciously began to cry. She let the
tears she had been unable to face before fall free.

Mulder made a quick trip to the bathroom, grabbed a few of his toiletry
things. He also packed some of his favorite books and the picture of his
sister Samantha he had put up on Scully's dresser.

When he was done, he picked up his bag and shook it a little so things would
fall into place. He stood up straight and turned to her.

He was tempted for a short moment to go to her and comfort her as she looked

He nodded at Scully and passed by her. She rose after him.


He stopped in his tracks. Her turned slowly. "I'm just going, now, you see.
I won't burden you anymore."

"Mulder, please...." Words died in her throat.

"Please, what?" His stare was cold and daring. "I'm done here. I'm going."

"Please...." She was begging almost; her hand twisting the panels of her
with white knuckled fingers. "Don't leave like this; I need to talk to

He looked at her as if she were mad. He was furious, his eyes on fire, his
mouth open as if he was on the point of throwing up.

"Now, of all times, you want to talk," he whispered to himself. He raised
his tone. "Well, I don't want to hear you now. I don't give a shit about
what you have to say." He screamed. "I couldn't care less about what you
think!" With another grimace of disgust, he turned on his heels and made his
way through the door.

She remained standing in the room, helpless, her vision too blurry to follow
him anywhere. She let her salty tears roll and irritate the fragile skin of
her cheeks. The lump in her throat prevented her from making any noises.

She felt so hindered when he was there. She wanted him to leave her alone.
She wanted him to stop being so caring, so loving. She wanted him to think
of her as a normal girlfriend, in a normal relationship; not the love of his
life, the one he would die for. That was for work partners only.

She wanted to stop living through him.

Why, now that he was gone, couldn't she remember how to breathe on her own?

*** ***

After a quick enigmatic call to Skinner explaining he was going to be a
no-show at work today - and yes, call that a sick day - Mulder checked into
a hotel. Radisson, Marriott, YMCA, whatever; he wasn't staying for long.

In the unfamiliar shower, he let the powerful spray of hot water pour on his
shoulders for what seemed like hours. Then he carefully shaved, combed his
hair; finally put on a clean T-shirt and a pair of jeans.

He picked up his service weapon and his ankle holster gun and eyed them for
a long moment. Too tired with life as it was to try to end it all, he put
both items if the small safe in his room.

Outside, ironically, it was a beautiful day.

Mulder bought a local newspaper then got in line at Starbucks. Short minutes
after, - it was ten, the crowd was tolerable - Mulder was relaxed, a fresh
brew in hand. He scanned the classified for rents.

His old place was already rented; the building's occupants being too glad to
lose such a noisy and strange neighbor.

Before noon, that day, Mulder had signed for a new apartment in a nice small
brownstone. After all, he was a nice young man, a federal Agent with money
and good looks. He went back to the hotel, checked-out then drove to Scully'
s. He knew she'd be at work, doing whatever she fancied with her friendly
partner. He let himself in using his key and went straight to the kitchen to
get plastic bags and a little cardboard box.

Less than half an hour later, any trace of his life at Scully's had been

Mulder had to get rid of his keys so he let them drop in her mailbox. They
made a jingling sound. He sighed.

It was a gorgeous day outside.

That night, after spending an exhausting day trying to convince her A.D.
that she had valid reasons for letting her assistant Patrick Breker leave
and train a new assistant, Scully found Mulder's keys at the bottom of her
mailbox. She choked her sobs back and wondered when she would find enough
strength to forgive herself.

She found him crouched, leaning on her front door.

"Go home, Patrick."

"I want to know why you fucking thought you had the right to request my
reassignment." His tone was stern.

She let him in and closed the door.

"It was just a smoke-screen; I tried to ignore what I really felt. I'm sorry
I used you that way. It didn't bring me anything but the greatest pain of
them all." She faced him. "I'm sorry, Patrick. It's over."

He looked crushed but he didn't yell or cry. He bit his lips in a fashion he
had seen her do so many times before. Mulder used to do that as well.

"That's it, uh?" She walked up to him and embraced him. "I'm so sorry.." The
sobs she had been holding back flowed free. His tightened his hold. "He's
gone, ya know.. Gone.." She hiccuped. "He'll never forgive me. I love him.
Love him." Patrick swallowed strongly. She was million miles away from the
free woman he had held in her bed a few days ago. This new Dana Scully was
weak and full of regrets.

"You shouldn't have played with us...." he said, sadly. "Not if you loved

She murmured: "And he'll never know...."

Patrick made sure she was secure, asleep in bed, before he let himself out
of her life.

*** ***

When Iris came home in the early morning, she was tired and badly in need of
a hot shower. She checked her messages while discarding her clothes.

Her boyfriend's voice. "Can we meet for lunch?" Lunch. Sure.

When the second message came up, she was greeted by the smooth voice of her
new F.B.I. friend. "Fox...." she whispered. He had a new place and just
to give her his home number and address. Just in case. Iris exhaled loudly.
Too bad the gorgeous one was lovestruck with another woman.

She thought about him a lot while under the shower spray.

*** ***

Mulder had to occupy his time. So he went to buy basic furniture, linen,
kitchen gear and crockery. Anything to get his mind off his loneliness. Days
passed by.

He hadn't seen Scully since that fateful day. No even passed by her once in
the headquarters halls.

The closer he had come from going over this again was on a Thursday. Mulder
was surprised when the main entrance officer had called him saying a woman
named Scully was there to see him. Surely, Scully still knew her way around
the building. He had been relieved to see Margaret Scully approach.


He embraced her gently and they made their way to an empty meeting room.

"Can I get you some coffee, tea or anything?"

"No, Fox, thank you." They both sat down around the large wooden table.

"Has she sent you to talk to me?" Her eye betrayed the reality of his words.
"Because she should not even bother."

"Not exactly, Fox. I think she wanted me to see how you were doing." How

"To see if I do get some sleep? If I have suicidal tendencies?" He was
getting upset; Margaret remained patient.

"She didn't say it like that, but. Wouldn't you be worried about her?"

He paused.

"Of course, I would. But I would never have done to her what she did to

Margaret just couldn't argue when he was so right. She hadn't come to see
him to apologize for her daughter; she had come out of concern. She had
known Mulder at the time Dana had been taken away and second to her
disappearance, her betrayal was the one thing she knew Mulder would not get

Her voice was gentle. "There is no excuse for what she did, but we both know
it was a stupid mistake. And we both know that she is sorry."

"I'm sure she is, poor little thing" Mulder quipped without humor.


Mulder swiftly took her hands in his. "Mrs. Scully, I have the greatest
affection for you. Don't force me to lose this as well."

"What about your job, Fox? Your quest?"

"You know, I told your daughter once I couldn't do this without her. I still
believe it. I've let the X-Files go."

Maggie Scully was genuinely surprised. "But, but.... All your work? Your
for Samantha? And about what happened to Dana when she was taken?"

"Scully already has some answers; maybe she still can't face them. I think
you should ask her someday."

Maggie was silent.

"I'm tired of it all, you know. It's time to grow up and realize that there'
s nothing I can achieve to stop all evil from happening. Especially alone."

"Oh, Fox...." Maggie felt her heart tighten at this admission of

Maggie rose from her seat and walked to Mulder. He stood up and she hugged
him tight. She was small and frail in his embrace, much like Scully had

"Take care of yourself, Mrs. Scully."

'Stay alive, Fox. Stay alive', Maggie thought.

*** ***

Iris had a day off. Don't smirk, these things happen. Her boyfriend had
gotten on her nerves the day before, so she ditched him for the day.

She wondered how he was doing. Sweet Foxy FBI agent. She was sure nobody
cooked for him. He probably lived on take-out. Well, at least, he'd like
what she had in mind.

It was a nice building. A nice hallway. All nice and neat. Then this.

'God, what a mess. Has he been burglarized or what?' was the main thought
that flew in Iris' mind when Fox Mulder opened the door of his apartment.


"Hi." She dangled a brown bag full of Mexican take-out off before his face.
She wore a flowery skirt at ankle's length and a snuggly black T-shirt.

"What.... What are you doing here?" Poor Mulder really looked beat. He wiped
his hands on his worn sweat pants.

"Walking on the wild side," joked Iris.

"Yes, I...." Realization downed on Mudler as he followed her eyes to the
battlefield behind him. "I really have to fire my maid...."

She smiled. And waited. After long seconds, he let her in.

"It's a nice dump you have," she commented, smiling.

"Yeah, well...." said Mudler, running around the place picking up offending
clothes and leftovers from. everywhere. Oh, hell, he threw it all through
his bedroom door. "Never been too good at cleaning after myself, anyway."

Iris was already in the kitchen.

They ate in silence, mostly content to have a companion smart enough to
respect the need for quiet.

When they were done, Iris salvaged his kitchen. The poor room looked decent
after a while and Mulder watched with amusement how Iris had made herself at

There was a worn pillow and a cotton comforter tossed on his couch. As they
sat down, Iris went:

"Don't you use your bed?"



They looked at each other, smiling.

"How's work?" She tried.



"Caught any bad guys?"

"Yes. And no. I've been reassigned to Violent Crimes. The adjustment is
difficult." He passed. "Iris, you know that I'm not gonna ask how's YOUR

"Same old crap...."

"Why do you put up with this?" His voice was edgy, abrupt. "You could do so
much more...."

"Could I?" Her voice was both sad and hopeful. "Like what, a secretary?
Bullshit." She paused. "I don't have a degree, you know."

"There must be something you like doing."

"I love children. I'm good with them. But I'm not qualified in anything."

"It has crossed my mind. But isn't that what you're saving for? Getting

She was lost in her thoughts. "Maybe."

"Then do it. Drop this hell of a job you do and get back on decent

"It's easy for you to say that. You have a good job, a solid career." She
saw him smile. "How can I fill all those wasted years of my life on a
resume?" She was defeated. Then: "Decent tracks.... Wherever I go, I'll just
a whore."

She closed her eyes.

"Wherever I go, I'll just be a fucking loser in love with a woman who
betrayed him." He said it with such self deprecation that at the sound of
his voice, Iris opened her eyes and gazed at him.

Mere seconds later, they were both dying from fits of laughter.

"How pathetic can we be? Really." she asked. She took his comforter and
wrapped herself in it.

"So, tell about this mysterious boyfriend of yours."

She giggled, and they had a good time together.

*** ***

Dana Scully had nothing against slicing and dicing. After all, she had
chosen this unusual path of a career. With the full knowledge of all it

Who would have known that years with Spooky Mulder and his strange X-Files
would have spoiled it for her.

Scully was bored out of her mind.

Everything reminded her of Fox Mulder. From the statutory yellow pencils -
those he used to chew and play with - to the FBI logo on the stationary. She
could feel him around her when she inhaled the dark aroma of coffee; she
felt his hand on her back each time she leaned in her armchair.

Her new assistant was totally boring. Her cases were just totally dull.

There wasn't one single pore of her freckled skin that didn't regret her
stupidity. Each and every single day was filled with regret. Borderline on

Waking up. Showering. Eating breakfast. Dressing. Driving to work. Working.
Eating lunch. Or not. Working. La la la. Working. Driving home. Eating
dinner. Washing up. Brushing my teeth. Brushing my hair. Jammies on. Into
bed. My eyes open.

My eyes open.

One day she resigned.

*** ***

Mulder eagerly awaited Sundays. Iris was always off on Sundays. Figures.
Hard to escape from your wife on a Sunday. It's easier to say you're staying
late at the office during the week.

They became friends, the cop and the hooker. Life can be strange sometimes.
She took him to the zoo, he took her to art exhibits. She babbled about her
idiot of a boyfriend - the one she was thinking of dumping; he mused aloud
on the reasons of human existence.

She always found a way to make him laugh.

She was not to become his Samantha. Mulder didn't want Iris to come into his
life as a substitute. Still, he felt a brotherly care for the small woman.
There was no denying she was attractive; it just wasn't his trip. He was
happy just being with her, sharing his thoughts, trying to give some sense
to the words "self-esteem".

At first, Iris had developed an obsession for his hands. His large,
protective hands. She wanted nothing but to feel them on her skin. All over.
After a few months, now, she was content when he held her in his arms as
they innocently snuggled, watching a movie or the latest game. She had faced
that he only saw her a some kind of a sister, not an object of desire. She
was fine with it. She had plenty to deal with at work.

She moved her hips until she was cradled between his legs and adjusted her
head on the plane of his shoulder. He tightened his grip.

"You okay?"

She moaned okay and closed her eyes.

"How are you supposed to lust after Will Smith if you close your eyes?" he
asked, gently.


"Iris, is there something wrong, you've been so silent all day...."

He muted the TV and caressed her thin hair.

"I've been feeling.... strange all week. I might coming down with


"Also, I.... I've been thinking of dumping Ronnie." Mulder cringed at the
name. It reminded him of the poor teenage vampire in Texas as well as of
Iris' clueless boyfriend.

"Why?" Because he's a loser who doesn't deserve your kindness. Mulder had
the urge to scream.

"Because he's a loser who doesn't deserve me?"

Mulder laughed. She went "What?" She nudged his side. "What?"

"Do what you think is best for you. I've always told you that."

Iris kissed his cheek. "Ill see to that."

They remained together, quiet.

*** ***

Scully wondered about lots of things. If Mulder had heard about her
resignation. If it had meant something to him. If she was a coward, taking
the easy way out.

Her mother asked her why she wasn't going after him, fighting to win him
back in her life. Scully didn't know. Maybe she wasn't worthy. Maybe she was
right to let him go. At least, she couldn't hurt him anymore.

Maybe she was just trying to avoid the fact that she missed him terribly.

Her days were empty but quiet now. Away from the rustle of the bureau. There
was so many things she could be doing; still, she stayed home and waited.

What could she do? What could she do?

On a Saturday, she came out of her shell. She put on a pair of jeans and a
shirt and grabbed her keys. She walked to the nearest subway station then
exited at the Smithsonian. She had always loved the Mall during week-ends.
The calm in the air. The carefree families playing with their dogs. The
handsome joggers.

She found a spot she liked and sat down. The sun made her frown and she put
on her sunglasses. A group of young college students playing football was
giving non subtle glances in her direction.

On her right, a small girl, probably no more than four years old was running
around in circles, chasing her older brother who had snatched away her doll.
The girl stumbled and fell loudly in the grass. She began to cry as loudly
and her brother stopped, concerned. The mother of these two hurried to the
girl and examined her offered knee. It was no more than a scratch and the
girl was giggling again. The mother hugged her baby to her chest.

Scully let this vision out of her sight, lay down on her back and spread her
limbs, brushing her bare forearms in the cool grass.

Mere seconds later, a young man was shadowing her sun, hovering.

"Are you okay, 'mam?" She smiled.

"Yes, thank you. I'm really, really okay."

"We were wondering if.... Do you want me to bring you back some lunch, or
something to drink?" He was shy and awfully cute.

"You're very sweet, but no, thank you. Thank you for asking."

"Welcome!" He walked back to his friends, disappointed but not bitter.

Scully knew what to do. There was a way now.

*** ***

Mulder had never seen her in such a state. She had come knocking loudly on
his door at two in the morning, not quite waking him up but doing a fine job
with the neighbors. Her face was red, puffy and make up free.

He let her in and she waited for him in the hall, until he closed the door
and turned to her to finally speak.

"I'm pregnant, Fox." Her voice hushed the words as if they burned.

"What?" He came closer to her. "How? Who?" He just didn't know what to say.
He had always been under the impression that, due to her particular line of
work, Iris was very aware and careful about these things.

She seemed offended by his words.

"It's Ronnie's, what do you think? I don't fool around." There was a
strangeness to her words, no doubt about it.

"But I thought, you and Ronnie."

"It's over, YES." She emphasized the last part. "I'm 5 weeks pregnant."
Saying it again rocked her to the core. "God.... I'm pregnant...." She
looked for
support, her arms absently moving in the air, and Mulder caught her before
she slumped to the floor. He led her to his couch and they both sat down.
Her head was down, she couldn't meet his eyes.

"Iris, what are you going to do?"

"I fucked up, didn't I?"

"Iris. Are you keeping the baby?"

"I don't know." There was no better comfort than his arms. She needed this
right now. For once in his life, Fox Mulder had no plan, no ideas, no
theories as to what was best to do. He kept stroking her head.

"I don't know what to do...."

"Well, first of all, you're not working tonight. You're staying here."

She looked up at him and for the first time noticed a small red gash on the
side of his cheek.

"Jeez, when did you get that?" He smiled at the concern in her voice.

"Last case was a little rough."

She let her finger trail the healing scar. "You scare me sometimes. To know
you're out there, putting yourself in danger that way."

"Because you're not? I think of you going out there every night with those
men...." She tensed but Mulder put a protective hand over her belly. "This
gonna have to stop. Are you going to tell Ronnie?"

"No." She shook her head in exasperation.

Mulder's body tensed; it gave her the impression he disapproved.

"No," she insisted.

"But, he's the father. He deserves to know."

"When we broke up, it wasn't pretty. He said things.... Let's say I'd rather
not have him know about being a father. He wouldn't assume anyway."

"Seems like you're making the decision for him."

She disentangled from him. "You can't understand because you're a good man
but some people don't give crap about children. I don't want my child to be
a burden to anyone."

Mulder smiled. "You're keeping it, aren't you?"

She smiled back. "It seems I'm quitting it all, just like you said." She
paused. "Carl isn't not going to like it."

"I'll talk to him."

"I can handle myself."

"I'll talk to him." Mulder's tone was firmer this time. "He'll leave you

"You've been dying to do this for a long time, haven't you?"

"Yes. I had to hit myself each and every night on the head to remember you'
re a person of your own. And you're entitled to chose your own path. Now, I
believe you've chosen the right one. And I'll beat the hell out of Carl if
he doesn't accept this."

"Yeah, I'll send my Daddy the cop give him a piece of his mind." She
giggled. "You're so protective of people. It's no wonder you're in law

Mulder was silent. Then, "Is this how you see me? A father figure?"

"No," she replied, a little too fast. "But am I entitled to anything else?"
Iris only felt pure hatred against Dana Scully at this very moment. She
hated her for taking away from her the chance to be loved by Fox Mulder.

He slept with her, his body close to hers, that night. They didn't make
love, that was not to happen. Mulder just relished her warmth, and he slept
without nightmares, his fingers unconsciously grazing at the supple skin of
her belly.

There was a tiny life in there. Waiting to come out to a world inadequate
and beautiful at the same time. How amazing.

Iris snored softly and buried herself in her pillow. She was now lying on
her tummy and her back was surely going to be sore in the morning. Mulder
smiled again. He had never smiled that much since... Scully.

He thought about her a lot. Still, it was becoming less of an obsession than
the constant presence of her smell, taste and voice which had been floating
in his mind the weeks after their separation.

Now, Iris' youth and energy formed a healing balm. He rubbed his emotional
wounds in it as often as he could. She was so pretty. Smart in her simple
way. It was shameful he couldn't give her more of his heart.

*** ***

"Dr. Scully?" She tucked a long strand of hair behind her ear and looked up
from the medical file she was browsing to the voice behind her.


The young intern smiled.

"Dr. Thomas is waiting for you in room 207. She has a case that would
enlighten your training, it seems."

"I'll be right there, thank you."

Scully took a deep breath. Her residency was fulfilling parts of her life
she had thought extinct. There was the challenge, the novelty, the smiles.

As she made her way through the pediatric unit, Scully felt at ease. She
felt good about herself in a way she had not for a long time.

Ironically, Mulder would have been proud of her. She was sure.

*** ***

Iris didn't want to know what Mulder had said. The fear on the face of her
ex-boss was worth anything. She was free. Mulder hadn't said much. Just that
if Carl approached her again, he'll kill him. And it seems he had just found
a convincing way made of cold steel to convey the message.

Mulder tried to be there for Iris as much as he could. But there were
problems the young woman couldn't share yet, especially financial issues.
She was reluctant to dig into her savings. But without the work, what else
was left? How was she going to raise her child by herself if she wasn't
working? She would never get any education and she had no skills of any
kind. Some days, she wondered if keeping this child was such a good idea,
after all. She was only 22.

Until Mulder took her doubts in one hand and swept them away.

He came by, one Saturday morning. She was showing now and the first thing he
did was to warm his hand against her rounded belly. He always made her

He had brought loads of cardboard boxes with him and he said her
neighborhood was no decent place to raise a child.

Iris had to sit down.

He was offering her to move in with him.

She just had to nod and was packed before the end of the day.

This strange man, Fox Mulder, with all his quirks, his weird beliefs and his
broken heart was to become the epitome of domesticity, caring for woman and

Iris couldn't believe she was so lucky.

The only thing she didn't take with her - on his request - was a bunch of
plastic colorful flowers that used to brighten her small living-room. He
didn't like flowers. The only item she would not be allowed to bring 'home'.
"The hell with flowers," she said. I have you, she thought.

*** ***

He was fidgeting with the envelope. The white paper was all torn from his
nervous handling.

"Open it, now! For God's sake. I'm dying here, Fox."

They sat down around the kitchen table. He ripped the envelope open. Iris
closed her eyes as he read the test results. He laughed.

"It's a boy! It's a boy, Iris. A little boy." He practically ran around the
table as she stood up and he engulfed her in a tender embrace, her swelled
belly coming softly between them.

At this moment, there was nothing Iris wished more than this child to be

"A little boy," she repeated.

That night, Iris' eyes remained open. She was supposed to be asleep in her
room, Mulder's former study rearranged for her needs. Resting, her mind
clear, her body heavy. But she was awake. She caressed her full breasts and
her rapidly swelling middle. Sometimes, just thinking of him would arouse
her to the maximum. She read it was pretty common for pregnant women to be
horny. But Cosmo didn't have any answers for her deviant experience of
sexuality and Mulder's vow to remain sexually faithful to a traitorous

So she stayed in her room, aware that he was just behind the wall, breathing
and warm.

As much as she had appreciated his generous offer at first, Iris let
confusion invade her thoughts often now. Where did she stand in Mulder's
life? Where were they going with this imitation of a couple? What would
their life be like when the child would be born? Mulder was so in love with
the baby already. Talking to him and buying stuff for when he'd be home.
Leaving his hand on her skin for hours until he felt the little one kick.

She rose from the comfort of her bed. Her feet bare, she made no sound when
she slipped in Mulder's bedroom. He was on his side, breathing softly.

She climbed in his bed. "Fox.... Fox.... Wake up."

"Hum...." He opened his heavy lids and, mechanically, his hand turned the
bedside light on. "What? Are you okay?"

"Why do you keep me with you?"

If she was lucid, he, on the other hand, wasn't really out of slumber. He
frowned: "What?"

"Why am I here? I'm not your daughter or sister and I'm certainly not your
girlfriend or your wife."

"Iris, it's.... 2:00 in the morning."

"What am I doing here, in your home, with you?"

Mulder sighed and cleared his throat. "Because you needed help and I could
help. Because I need to know I'm doing something good in my life."

"Right. So I fit right into your complex of overprotective guilt. But what
do YOU get out of this?" She closed her eyes.

His shoulders were slumped as he spoke the truth. "I want somebody who will
love me, unconditionally." She opened her eyes wide.

Oh, God.

He went on.

"Him. The baby."

Oh, fuck.

"I want to be his father and know that he will love me with all his heart.
That he won't betray me. That it'll last forever." He paused as she
carefully wiped unnoticed tears falling free on his cheeks.

"God, Fox...."

She tucked his head under her chin and he rested on her breast, his hand on
its usual spot. Iris felt tears threaten as well. He was doing it all for
the baby. It made her sound like a disposable convenience. She cried, still
and silent against him.

They slept close to each other from that time on.

*** ***

"The doctor will see you in a few seconds." The nurse looked the man up and
down. Nervous, running around. Typical expecting father.

"You don't understand. She's too early so I drove her here. And her Ob/gyn
doesn't even work for this hospital!"

"Calm down, calm down. We have plenty of competent obstetricians here. You
sit down now and the doctor will come to see you after I prepare your wife,
okay? She's only a few days early, the risks are minimal." She patted his


The waiting room was deserted apart from old issues of "Parenting" or
magazines of the same genre. Mudler was too nervous to even consider holding
one in his hands, less alone read a line, so he kept pacing around the room.

He heard a squeak as the door was pushed open.

"Hello, I'm Doctor...." And a loud, throaty gasp. He turned around. Fate is
just cruel, sometimes.


He stopped his pacing and nodded.

"Doctor Scully."

Saying she was surprised was just visualizing the tip of the iceberg. She
was shocked out of her pretty mind.

"What are you doing here, Mulder?"

"What does it look like? I'm waiting for a baby to be born."

She swallowed hard and glanced quickly at the file she was holding. Iris
Mill, 22 years old, first child. She looked up at him, expectantly.

"She's early," he said, worried and sighing. He sat down on of the yellow
plastic chairs. She studied him; his concern was genuine and she could
remember a time when it was exclusively directed at her. His brows were

"Ms. Mill should be ready in a few minutes. Do you want to attend the

"I.... He hesitated. "No. I'll wait here. I'll just get in the way." He was
too apprehensive of the whole situation; too afraid he'll lose control.

"Well, I'll keep you informed." She turned her heels quickly, leaving him
there, alone.

He released the breath he didn't know he was holding.

God, she was still so beautiful. Her hair was longer, it brushed her
shoulders now. She had it held in a low ponytail. Her face was slick and her
figure a little fuller than before, like in their early years.

"Why now," he mused out loud.

*** ***

When she came out of the room, Scully leaned against the nearest wall, her
head tilted back.

'Why now,' she thought.

He had matured. There was more gray in his hair. Still, he was as slender as
ever and he smelled so good.

Who was this Iris who had bewitched her Mulder?

"Annie, where did they take Miss Iris Mill?"

It seemed that fate awaited behind room 3-b. Iris Mill was a petite woman,
with blondish hair and a regular face. Her pregnancy accentuated her
childlike rounded features but still, she was very, very pretty. She was
very young as well.

"Miss Mill," she icily said, "I'm Doctor Scully." The young girl nodded, her
face tense in pain. "I'm going to deliver your baby." Iris' eyes rolled. She
had figured out that part; why would this doctor Scully be here otherwise?

Oh, no. That was too eerie to be happening right now.

Dr Dana Scully. Mulder's lost love.

Scully watched the eyes of her patient grow incredibly wide. So Mulder had
talked about her. Very well.

Iris remained silent but Scully felt uncomfortable under her gaze. The nurse
was active around both of them, getting it all ready, monitoring the

"I believe Fox Mulder brought you here." Iris nodded.

Are you in any way related? Who is he to you? Who are you? Scully had all
these questions pop in her head but she knew it wasn't the time or the
place. So she took the young woman's hand in hers and went: "Let's have this
baby now, shall we?"

Iris smiled then yelped when another contraction struck. Scully wiped the
young girl's forehead with a soft hand.

And the show was on the road.

*** ***

The nurse found Fox Mulder sitting with his head between his legs, his hands
crossed on his neck. He was breathing softly.

"Mr. Mulder?"

He raised his head, his face eagerly hopeful.

"Is she...."

"Yes, and the baby is one healthy boy. Congratulations. The mother is
waiting for you. Follow me."

Mulder couldn't remember how he got there, but he did. The first thing he
saw when he entered the room was the radiant face of Iris, flushed and
sweaty. He followed her gaze to Scully's arms. His former partner was
holding a tiny, ugly crimson shrimp. The boy. Iris' son.

Mulder held out his hand then brought it back to his chest. Scully
understood his claim and carefully placed the baby in his arms.

God, he was indeed ugly. Full of wrinkles and almost purple. But then he
moved his arm, opened his mouth and emitted a sharp little cry. Mudler was
crying. There wasn't a more beautiful sight.

Scully's hand went to her mouth as Mulder turned to Iris and smiled. He
walked to her and sat down on the bed, still reverently holding the boy.

"He's beautiful."

She gave a hearty laugh. "You're kidding." Mulder laughed as well. The baby
yelped, and they laughed harder.

Scully was about to vomit so she quickly and silently left he room.

*** ***

Scully didn't need to review the birth certificate. She has seen Mulder
attentively fill Iris's administrative papers. He was concentrating a lot,
his brow sharp, his breaths long and deep.

Alien words written in black ink, on an immaculate white sheet. "Father: Fox
William Mulder." Who would have thought that the Mulder genes, the one
supposedly passing muster, would merge with the cells of a young, fragile
creature like Iris Mill.

God, she was so young.. A child herself, giving birth to the most precious
baby on earth. Scully closed her eyes, and let the pain boost her
imagination. So Mulder's skin had brushed with another one of the female
species. Now the pale girl knew how he smells - like leather peppered with
lime - and the way his eyes explode in bright colors when he climaxes. The
taste of his semen and that thing he does with his fingers inside..

Scully had turned and turned the question in her head and, months later, she
still didn't know why she had sought another taste. If she was unhappy for
the rest of her life, fine.

A baby.

Scully wondered if the boy would be as bright and sensitive as his father.
Surely, he would be loved and cherished. Mulder would protect him against
any harm. Like he had done for her.

Like she had failed him.

She couldn't believe he had named his son Daniel.

*** ***

The tiny angel slept.

Every hour or so, Mulder left his bed and went to check up on him. He sat on
the carpet, close to the crib, his chin resting on his arm and watched the
rounded face in oblivion, the chest rise peacefully.

The whole room smelled of baby powder and it soothed Mulder's senses. The
sweet memory brought out by the odor was the essence of comfort.

Mulder felt soft arms snake around his waist as Iris sat beside him. She
placed her head on his shoulder.

"Come back to bed, Fox. He's not going anywhere."

"Shhh," he hushed. But he didn't protest when she took his hand and led
them back to the bedroom.

Mulder lay on his back, still thinking of the precariousness of life. Iris
snuggled under the covers, reassured by Mulder's warmth.

The baby slept, and so did his parents.

*** ***

Iris delicately put the baby down in his crib, hopped to the living-room,
grabbed the phone and answered curtly: "Yes?"

"Miss Mill?"


"Hello, I'm Dana Scully, the doctor who...."

"I know who you are. What do you want?"

Scully was taken aback at her stern voice but it shouldn't have been that

"I was wondering if you knew how I could contact Agent Mulder out of work, I
tried his office and.."

"It seems to me that you already got his number."


"I see. Could you take a message for him?"

"I'm not Fox's secretary."

"Well, I...."

"Good day, Miss Scully." And she hung up.

Iris' hand was still on the receiver, trembling slightly. She bit her lip.

She couldn't wait for Fox to come home.

When he did, fumbling with his keys and opening the door with his shoulder,
she met him with a kiss on his cheek. She helped him with the bags he was
carrying while he remained on the threshold, eyeing her curiously.

"You okay?"

She nodded with a smile.

"Yes, little Danny is asleep. Did you have a good day?"

"So-so. You?"

"Fine." She clenched her teeth and made her way to the kitchen.

Dinner went fine as well. Mulder worried about Iris' mood; Iris played

Each night, before going to bed, the parents spent a few minutes watching
over their precious gift. Sometimes, they sat down next to him; sometimes
they stood, Iris's back snuggled against Mulder's chest.

That night, Iris just popped in to see if the baby was okay, then left to
get ready for bed. Mulder arrived in the bedroom when she was just going out
of the bathroom.

"What's wrong, Iris? Please, talk to me."

She sat down on the comforter, grabbed a pink tube of cream and squeezed a
drop in each of her palms. She massaged them together slowly. Mulder was
hypnotized by her hands.

"Nothing, why do you think that?"

"Because you're distant with Daniel. And with me."

"I'm not. Just tired I guess."

"Did something happen today?"

She was really annoyed now. "Nothing! Just drop it and let's sleep, ok?" She
slipped under the sheets and turned on her side.

A few moments later, the light was out.

"Goodnight," he tried.

She never answered.

*** ***

The sun hadn't really woken up. It was dancing around, chasing the moon
away. Fox Mulder awoke in bliss. His body felt relaxed, warm and tingly.
There was a buzz in his head, a throbbing in his legs.

Oh God, that was good. Yes, yes. Keep going. Mmm.

He reached down and caressed her hair, stroking softly.


"God, Iris, what are you doing?" His voice was hoarse, broken from the

She let his cock slide out of her mouth, then licked her lips. She closed
her eyes and rested her cheek on his thigh.

Mulder was still painfully aroused.

"Iris, Iris...." his hand still on her head.

She turned her face, soft against his flesh, and began to kiss the base of

"Jesus," he hissed.

She made her way up along him, kneading against the slit at the top of his
length with her tongue.

It was so good. So wrong.

Mulder sat up abruptly and gently pushed her face away from his lap. He drew
the sheets over his lower half.

"Look at me."

Salt burnt her skin; silent tears. He traced their paths with his fingers.

"This is not what I want from you." It was not the right thing to say,

"Why? Why can't you let me love you?"

He sighed.

"I do love you, Iris. You're Daniel's mother."

She jumped away from him.

"That's all you see, isn't it? The empty receptacle that carried the
treasure of your life. Well, let me remind you that this child IS NOT
YOURS! You don't share one gene with him and your signature on a piece of
paper won't change that." She was out of breath; both ashamed at her words
and pleased that she hurt him like he did her.

"It doesn't make any difference for me. I love him as if he were mine and
you know that."

She regrouped her arms around her legs, for protection.

"You're not listening, Fox. I know you care; you just don't let me care for

"We do live together and take care of each other" He just didn't get her
point. Why did she feel she had to pleasure him that way? They were happy as
they were, weren't they?

"I want more, Fox. All the touching, the cuddling, sleeping together
chastely for months. We're fooling ourselves" She spoke in a whisper, her
fingers scratching the cap of her knees with her nails. She was looking
straight at him.

Mulder crawled to her side of the bed. He stopped a few inches from her, his
head down. The sheets were bunched around his hips.

"I can't give you more. That was taken away from me. I'm sorry." And he
really was.

Iris left the bed, stood up straight, tugging at her nightshirt.

"Then why did you let me fall in love with you?" He looked up at her in

She sighed deeply, cleared her throat. Her voice came out hard and low then.
"Your bitchy ex-partner called for you last night. Doctor Dana *fucking*
Scully." Mulder's watery eyes widened. "You better call her today; she wants
to talk to you."

Iris swallowed hard and almost ran to the bathroom. Mulder heard the lock
being turned. And sobs. Loud and heartbreaking. He remained in the bed,
shaken and unable to attempt anything. There was no comfort he could give
her because Iris was right. He had tried to ignore her feelings even tough
they had become more and more obvious as months flew by. The love, the
adoration she held for him was hard to hide sometimes. She was so young and
vulnerable. How could he tell her that Scully had ruined true love for him?

They were partners, Scully and Mulder. For six years, she patched him,
killed for him, lied for him. She was always by his side. Then, one day, he
asked for more. He took it from her, almost against her will and it wasn't
long after that she betrayed him and left his side.

Mulder learned all his life never to make the same mistake twice. Always the
hard way. Still, sometimes, life doesn't repeat itself.

Mulder put his boxers back on and went to pound on the bathroom door.

"Iris, let me in."

"Go away."

"Please, let me talk to you."

"Just go."

He tried to turn the handle and surprisingly, it opened the door. She was
sitting on the floor, her back against the tub.

"You're ashamed of me. I'm not good enough. Just a whore." He sat down next
to her.

"That's not true, Iris, you *were* a whore."

"But I'm still dirty for you. That's why you don't touch me."

Mulder took a sharp breath.

"It did bother me. That you sold your precious body. That you had so little
self-esteem to sell out what can be plain physical pleasure but can also be
an act of love. But that time is over now. We've all made mistakes in our
lives. Never doubt that you're a good person, a wonderful mother. Don't
dwell on your past."

Iris wiped her eyes with the back of her small hand.

"Thank you." She paused. "But you still live in your past, don't you?"

"I told you some about my history with Scully. From a certain invasion that
never came," Iris smiled, "to the events that led me to meet you. I...." He
didn't know how to do this. "It's not.... I.... it's...."

"I love you so much," she said at the exact moment he blurted out, "I'm
still in love with her."

Mulder winced and Iris closed her eyes.

"I'm sorry." You couldn't know who uttered those words first.

"I love you," she said in a shy, quiet fashion. "I find you damn
attractive.... You're smart and you're good to me. You're good with Daniel."
She paused a while then, "I love you, Fox. I want you." She smiled at him.
"There, I said it. God, I'm not so sure I feel much better now."

Mudler was torn by this open-hearted confession. Pure sincerity was
plastered over her face and for an instant, he wondered if it wouldn't be
easier to just give in and live the heat of the moment. As he entertained
the thought, he felt nauseous. How could he betray the trust this young
woman had placed in him by giving her only a part of himself?

He crawled on the cold tiled floor and kneeled before her. She had her legs
up close to her chest. He placed his arms around her and rested his head on
the top of her knees. He spoke slowly.

"I used to be so selfish, you know. I would use people, manipulate them.
Even if I was told I had many altruistic qualities, I know I was just a
self-centered arrogant bastard. Then Scully came to me. I used her too. But
it came to a point where I could have died for her if she asked me to. When
we became involved, I tried hard to be good to her. To correct my flaws, to
be kind and attentive to her needs. I thought that's what all women wanted.
Until, one day, she ruined flowers for me."

"Yes, what is it with you and flowers anyway?"

"I figured I could make her happy. So I tried to give her the sun. It paled
in comparison to all we had experienced together, but I believed she would
enjoy things being normal for a while."

"You never did ask her why she slept with that guy, did you?"

"The funny thing is, I don't even know what actually happened with him. And
sex is just sex. But seeing them, tender and affectionate to each other like
two newlyweds.. I couldn't stand that. I couldn't believe she felt this need
to seek for someone else. I couldn't believe she betrayed her essence, her
integrity to get laid in some ratty motel. I guess I just didn't try hard
enough. At first, I thought I wasn't worth her love." Iris shook her head.
"I know. I'm over that now. Maybe it wasn't the right time for us."

"And now is the time." Her voice was slightly shaky. She didn't want to lose
him that way.

"I never said that," he whispered, his voice clear if low. "I'm over what
happened. I can't say I'm over her. I don't think I ever will. It's twisted
isn't it? That I believe I love her so much, she can destroy me with one
snap of her fingers. I know I gave her everything. And I can't get that
back. Not yet."

"You can't give it to somebody else." Iris' hands frolicked in his hair. The
tip of her fingers massaged his scalp and she stroked the heavy, spiky
strands with care.

"Not yet," he said.

His "I'm sorrys" were muffled against the cotton of her shirt.

*** ***

Later, that same day.

"Yes. Yes. Uh-huh. I'll see you then." He hung up and turned to his

"I have to go. Some business to take care of."

She nodded and he stepped closer then dropped a kiss on the warm forehead of
the baby she was carrying. He murmured in his tiny ear, "I'll see you
tonight, sweetheart." He turned his gaze to Iris. "Bye." He squeezed her
hand before leaving.

Iris settled down on the living-room comfortable couch, the baby resting on
his tummy, sprawled over her stomach.

"Daddy loves you, sweetheart. Daddy loves you." She lulled him to sleep;
knowing fully well where the caring father was going.

*** ***

They met in a relatively quiet coffee house; after all, it was in fashion.
The place was impersonal and held this feeling of déjà-vu most chain
restaurants have.

Scully had arrived first and she was nervously playing with the hem of her
jacket, waiting for him to appear. When he did, she put both of her hands on
the table. She needed to be strong.



He sat facing her, obstructing her view of the other customers.

"You look good." He only nodded. He wasn't gonna play easy. That's what it
looked like from the outside. Inside, he was just trying to prevent any
plain look of adoration to show. She was still pretty in her shy, classic
way. Her fingers were ring free. Still, he didn't have such a hard time
playing down.

"How's the baby?" she offered. Mulder bit the inside of his mouth and
decided to get into the game.

"He's wonderful."

"Well, that's good news."

"Why am I here?" he said, gently.

"Seeing you, in that hospital. A lot was left to be said."

"I've done okay without you." Mulder winced internally as he recalled saying
those words, in another context, to another woman who had betrayed him as

Scully was struggling hard to remain in control of her emotions.

"You're a father now. You must have met Iris a very short time after we...."

"Broke up," he finished for her as she hesitated. "You can say it, that's
what normal people say."

"She's really young. What does she do?"

"She's a good mother."

"Does she have plans for a career yet?"

"I know she's young, Scully. What's your point?"

"Nothing," she sighed.

"You just can't believe I'm alive, can you? That's why you sent your mother
to check up on me. To see if I was up to putting a bullet through my


"Let's go outside," he took her hand. She followed him.

Once outside, they walked in silence until they reached a small park,
deserted by its habitual screaming toddlers and chatting mothers. They sat
on a wooden bench, not too close to each other.

Finally, she spoke.

"I'm glad to see you're not hurt. It felt strange not to watch your back

"It felt strange not having you around," he nodded. "But I've kept myself
alive and kicking."

They remained there, drinking in the other one's presence for at least five
long minutes.

"Why did you call your son Daniel?"

"Well, we.... Oh." He smirked. "Nothing like that." 'You presumptuous little
bitch', Mulder thought, bitterly. "Daniel was Iris' grandfather. She adored


"You didn't seriously believe I'd name my son after you? Come on Scully, you
left me."

"Technically, YOU left." Her voice was had a shuddering quality.

"Yeah, right after you betrayed me by fucking another man!" He couldn't
believe her audacity.

Scully buried her head in her hands.

"Everyday single day, I live to regret this mistake."

"You call that a mistake?"

"Blunder, bullshit, unbelievably stupid error. There's no word for it. I can
't begin to tell you how sorry I am...."

"Hold that thought." His voice was deep and full of authority. "I didn't see
you feel sorry to be in his arms that morning. So what, are you sorry I
found out?"

"No!" She was on the verge of tears now. "I just can't believe I screwed up
the only good thing that ever happened to me. I hate myself for that"

Mulder was slightly shaken by her confession. Still, he doubted.

"Scully, you acted like a bitch most of the time we were together. I don't b
elieve you were very happy with me."

"I didn't let myself be," she admitted. "As if I couldn't give too much
because I was afraid."

"Those are lame excuses."

"But nonetheless true. I never meant for THAT to happen. I wanted us to be
happy. I just didn't know how."

Mulder leaned back against the bench, his expression unreadable. "You know,
it was easy. You just had to trust me like I trusted you."

"I trusted you. Just not emotionally."

They waited in silence for the other shoe to drop. But Mulder had nothing to
add and Scully was empty from the loss of so many confessions.

"I've been alone since then." Since their reunion, Scully had been the one
strong enough to instigate the dialogue.

Mulder sighed, warm air passing through his confused nostrils. Alone.
Ironically, she had been faithful to him now that they were separated.

Scully was gazing at him with a look he had never seen on her porcelain doll
face before. She must love him. After all this time, now, she loved him. And
the feeling was new to both of them.

Mulder cleared his throat. "Would you like to see the baby?" God, what kind
of an idea was that?

Scully's face lit up.

"Yeah, I think I'd like that."

And they went.

*** ***

Iris paced like a lion in its golden cage. She couldn't believe Fox had
brought this whore in their house. And that he let her touch Daniel.

She heard happy sounds coming from the living-room.

"He's such a big boy now. Hi, Daniel. Hi, baby. Hmph"

Mulder snorted. "He's usually nicer than this."

"YES!" thought Iris. My son doesn't like the witch. Now full of courage,
Iris came back in the room where Fox Mulder and his ex-lover were sitting.
She saw Fox holding Daniel up, tiny back against broad chest, showing his
son off.

"Now, there, come to Momma," she quickly said, snatching her baby from his
father's embrace. She grabbed one of his soft toys and then sat down on a
plump armchair with the tiny man against her, as far away from Dana Scully
as possible.

"You have a beautiful boy, Iris."

"Yes, WE are very proud of him."

Mulder remained silent, watching the two women size each other up.

"So, how did you two meet?" What a peculiar question. Mulder looked

"Well," Iris began but was shortly interrupted by Mulder.

"Iris used to deliver pizzas at my place. We became friends."

Scully shook her head slightly and Iris could see she was not buying it. It
was time to stick her claws in the flesh.

"He's lying," she said, calmly. Scully looked interested and Mulder alarmed.
"He met me right after you cheated on him." Scully flinched a bit. "I was
the hooker he picked up for comfort that night."

"Iris!" Mulder's voice was raw and Scully looked pale and stricken.

"And yes, we did became friends," she added. "And I make him happy like you
never did."

Scully stood up on cotton legs and, pretending she was in control, headed
for the door. She couldn't look Mulder in the eye. Both Mulder and Iris
followed her in the hall, apprehensive of her reaction. She faced them

"I'm glad," she said, nodding at the baby Iris was still holding, "that at
least something good came out of that fiasco of mine." She looked dignified
and Mulder suddenly realized why she had wanted to meet with him. Make sure
he was doing okay was one thing but it was something else. Something inside
of her, something she had lost. If she forgave herself, maybe she could let
herself be forgiven.

Aware of the silent dialogue uniting the two ex-partners, Iris turned around
and left to hide in the bedroom, as she had done before. The baby merely
grunted in protest at the heavy drops falling on his forehead.

Scully opened the front door and pleaded with her eyes. Mulder followed her
outside. The exited the building together and sat down on the stairs next to
each other. Scully squinted in the sun. Her eyes were slit and her nose
wrinkled. She looked like a kid again.

"I'm jealous of her, you know. Passionately so. But I'll be okay."

Mulder remained silent. His face was smooth and rested, as if delivered from
a burden. Scully raised one hand to his face.

"I love you, Mulder. Entirely. I'm sorry it took me so long to realize it."
She took her hand away and tucked it under her other one, resting on her

Mulder couldn't take his eyes off her face. He couldn't blink.

"I love you because you tried your best to love me. Because you survive what
I did to you. Because you took care of Iris and her kid." His brows reacted
strangely. "Daniel is not your son, is he?"

His "How did you guess?" came out as a whisper.

"Gut feeling. But it doesn't matter for you."

"You're right."

They paused for a little while again. The sun was stronger now and a
facetious wind kept playing with Scully's hair and messing Mulder's dark

"Do you love her?"

He took some time to think about it; she took it as a good sign.

"In a sense, yes, I do. But of course it's not...." She smiled. "Not the way
I loved you, Scully." Her smile faded "Not the way I'll always cherish our
time together. You were my one and only partner. I'll have those memories
for the rest of my life. I'm glad I'm one of those lucky bastards who found
real, true love at least once in their lifetime."

Scully had stopped breathing altogether. He had buried it in the past; he
was done with her now. The reason he had accepted to see her was to make
peace with his demons. How can you exorcise love? At least, you can try.

Mulder rose up, his hands tucked in the tight pockets of his jeans. All of a
sudden, it was all clear. He knew what to do. The right thing.

"Be happy, Scully. We all deserve to be." She stood up next to him now,
shocked and afraid it was the last time she would ever lay her eyes on him.
His strong face, his lean body. He was saying goodbye.

A magnetic whirl of attraction drew their faces closer and he granted her
lips a tender kiss. Under the warm pressure, her mouth opened and their
tongues gently played with each other for a long moment.

He back away a little, kissed her on the cheek.

"Goodbye, Scully." He kissed her once again, but on the forehead, like he
had once done when cancer had nibbled at their lives.

"Goodbye, Mulder." They both smiled; Mulder genuinely, Scully mimicking his

Wild plants grew on the sides of the brownstone building. Mulder went down
the stairs to pick something from the small patch of flora only to deposit
it on Scully's palm, closing her hand like a loose fist around it.

Then he went back in, back to the most important persons in his life.

Scully sat back down on the cold stone. The wind was stronger now. She felt
the chill creep from her toes to her heart.

She looked at her hand. There she found a tiny daisy, not withering yet,
still full of life.

*** ***

That night, a young woman named Iris was thoroughly loved by the father of
her child. As she lay naked, close to him, her mind wandered. It was not
important that he loved the other woman. He was with her now. And she will
not ask too much. She will not leave. She'll patiently accept all his flaws
like he did for her.

They'll be happy at last.

*** ***


By Lauryn Hill

It could all be so simple
But you'd rather make it hard
Loving you is like a battle
And we both end up with scars
Tell me, who I have to be
To get some reciprocity
No one loves you more than me
And no one ever will

Is this just a silly game
That forces you to act this way
Forces you to scream my name
Then pretend that you can't stay
Tell me, who I have to be
To get some reciprocity
No one loves you more than me
And no one ever will

No matter how I think we grow
You always seem to let me know
It ain't workin'
And when I try to walk away
You hurt yourself to make me stay
This is crazy
This is crazy

I keep letting you back in
How can I explain myself
As painful as this thing has been
I just can't be with no one else
See I know what we got to do
You let go and I'll let go too
'Cause no one's hurt me more than you
And no one ever will

No matter how I think we grow
You always seem to let me know
It ain't workin'
And when I try to walk away
You hurt yourself to make me stay
This is crazy
This is crazy

Care for me, care for me
I know you care for me

There for me, there for me
You said you'd die for me

Give to me, give to me
Why won't you live for me

Care for me, care for me
I know you care for me

There for me, there for me
You said you'd die for me

Give to me, give to me
Why won't you live for me


Author's notes²: Lauryn Hill's music didn't inspire this story; in fact, I
got her CD the day I finished writing it. But this song touched me. I couldn't find any material more appropriate to illustrate my point.

Thanks for reading.


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