Date: November 1998 Category: S; MSR, Angst Rating: R - for adult language and mature themes. Keywords: Mulder/Other; Mulder/Scully UST Spoilers: Emily, Fight the Future. Archive: Archive anywhere, as long as you keep my name attached. Please let me know. Summary: Mulder and Scully slowly drift apart. A painful event reunites them after three years. Dedication: To Helene. Many thanks to Leah, proof reader "extraordinaire". And Heather for her support. Disclaimer: Yeah, right. Feedback: Please, feel free to drop me a line. Nice comments and even flames will be appreciated. I believe in constructive criticism and I'm open to any suggestions. Comments: I don't believe Mulder will ever buy Scully flowers... This is the result of a wandering in those dark thoughts. *** *** TOGETHER APART by Lili Blue (1/10) My hand rest on my soft belly and my fingers playfully run on my navel. I think of him. It's been three months since we have come back from Antartica. The frost bite marks are gone from my face and I've stopped throwing my guts up each night. Before, once in a while, especially after a straining case, I used to lull myself to sleep thinking of him. Since the cold, there isn't another way I can actually get some rest. I don't know how, in this lifetime, I will be able to repay him for what he did for me. Fox Mulder is a very complex man and I can honestly say I'm not as easy to read as crystal myself. My partner of so many years. My friend. People often mistake us for a couple. It used to be irritating to me; sometimes just plain funny. Since he went down to Hell and came back to save me, I don't laugh anymore. We could have become a couple, intimate, and concretize 5 years of soft, friendly touch. We had actually started to work on a sketch of this idea before...I was taken again. I wasn't sure I wanted this but I didn't know I didn't want it either. It just seemed natural, a logical flow of our lives. I still want it today. But since we've come back, he's been distancing himself from me. Withdrawing further and further in this little world of his. Oh, he is still concerned and asks about my health and comfort every day that God makes. A real Mother Hen. His little ways of touching me are gone though. I'm not a psychologist but I would dare to say he doesn't do it anymore from fear of hurting me. As if anything could be worse than the ordeal I just endured. Worse than having an alien life form crawling down your throat. Mulder's tone is still sweet and friendly but I know it's fake. He has a lot on his mind and he obviously doesn't want to voice his thoughts to me. He is worried and avoids my touch. I've been seeking counseling since my return but the few persons I talked with didn't seem to comprehend the wideness of the gash left in me. I wanted to talk to Mulder about it but, I don't know, maybe I was too tired to share. And like always, I waited for him to come to me, to open to me first. What a mistake. Mulder came to me, ten days or so after our return from Antartica. "Hey, can I come in?" "Uh-huh..." I replied trying not to drop toothpaste on the wooden floor. He caught me while I was brushing my teeth. He stood there, watching me foaming white. My eyes smiled and I strolled to the bathroom. When I came back in the living room, Mulder was pacing around my apartment, obviously in need to tell me something. I sat down on the couch, curled my arms around my knees and waited. After an hour and a half of this unfruitful game, I sent him home. He played puppy on me. "Scully, I..." "Mulder, just go home. You've been burning holes in my carpet with all that pacing." I held his gaze and he felt more and more uncomfortable by the minute. "If you have something to tell me, shoot. Otherwise, go get some rest." Yeah, right. Like I don't even have something to tell *you*. He gave me his hurt look, the one I know so well. The "you wound me Scully, but I will forgive you because I value our partnership above all else." Or maybe it wasn't this one. Anyway, hurt and frustrated, he left. He left me and I let him go. *** *** On Monday, Mulder simply asked to have the next week off. Deserved recovering time. I thought Skinner was going to choke. It lasted one entire week, from Friday night to Sunday morning (which technically is nine days) and not a single phone call. Really off that fucking week. And our days are numb now. Each and everyday, an exchange of this kind takes place: "Are you okay, Scully?" "Hum? Yes, I'm okay, thanks for asking." "Cup of coffee?" "No thank you, I've had one already. Wouldn't want me to jump on you now Mulder?" I smile playfully at my teasing. Like old times. His face is blank and he goes: "Well, I want one so I'll be back in a sec'." And he steps out of the office mug in hand, his back turned to me, his shoulders slumped. Something very wrong is happening to us. I am not perfect. I'm not extremely expansive about my inner feelings. I am not a saint. And God knows my relationship with Mulder has been a bumpy ride. A real roller-coaster. But this absolutely defies any kind of logic. We should be cuddling now, sharing secrets and reassuring ourselves about the total trust we put in each other. Instead, my partner has turned into a... poster boy for indifference. My beautiful concerned indifferent. How am I supposed to deal with him now? There isn't any hesitation on what I want from him anymore. But I don't want to force myself on him, I don't want to play territorial. I want him to want me. If he doesn't, for now, this will have to wait. If he doesn't want me at all, then I've been living a lie for the past five years. Then I've been dead for the past five years. *** *** I had to flee the room. I don't care it's been my third cup of coffee in two hours. As I lean against the cold concrete of our hallway, the delicious smell coming from my mug doesn't comfort me at all. My heart constricts at the thought of what I'm doing to her. "You've made me a whole person." That's not bullshit. What the hell was I thinking? She does make me whole. But I can't give her more. I've given all I could on that ice field in Antartica. I can't offer anything else. I wish she could understand. You might call me selfish, but this is it. Protecting Scully was as much a feral need as it was a challenge to me. I've completed my ultimate mission. I need to distance myself from all this or I'll die from the worry. I can't allow her to hurt me anymore. Each time she is in danger, I lose a little bit of myself. Each time she suffers, I die. This has to stop. Of course there is this way she looks at me. Beautiful little bit of femininity. Her chin up, her crystal eyes firm and steady, her arms crossed over her chest. "Mulder?" She had been watching me. I cowardly give her a sheepish look, and go back into the office. *** *** I will never forget the day Mulder met her. He had gone out, rushing through our half an hour lunch-break to bring us back some good Italian food from Marcello's. He'd been a pain in the ass all morning, so I told him this would be his way of buying himself a truce. He had frankly looked pissed but obeyed anyway. *I* can be a real pain in the butt too when I want to. He came back, forty five minutes later - I should have killed him just for that - with a silly, beaming grin displayed on his face. I could have slapped him. "Mulder, it better not be cold!" "Nah, you can use the microwave from the cafeteria if you need to." "I thought the whole point of ordering lunch was to avoid going to the cafeteria..." "Well," he cockily replied, "I won't let your whiny complaining ruin my day. I've met someone... quite special today." His eyes glittered from excitement. Pencil. Poke. Eyes. "Oh, promising date, Mulder?" Shut up, you idiot. "Very." And with this, he held me out my cold lunch and went back to... whatever he does when he pretends to be doing paperwork. I don't swallow nor digest cold food very well. It tends to remain there, heavy on my stomach. *** *** I never thought I could be attracted to anybody but Dana Katherine Scully. Not that I don't fantasize about other women, God knows I do! No, I meant genuinely drawn. Clara is pretty. Not model gorgeous but womanly exquisite. Her hair is a slick shoulder length of maple syrup. Her eyes are like coffee. She sometimes nibbles on the small lower lip of her smiling mouth. She is not very tall, although taller than Scully. Well, she isn't a thing like Scully. The way we met was awfully banal. Customer in a restaurant meets waitress working in the aforementioned restaurant.. Don't begin to pick on her because she is a waitress. You thought I went more for the brainy type, didn't you? Well, Clara might not hold a P.H.D but she retorts with smart wit many people could envy her. I asked if they had anything low fat because my partner was a real nuisance when she picked on her food, she smiled and said that if she was my partner, she would never refuse anything I would offer her. I frankly laughed at her flirting. After fifteen minutes of small talk during her not-due-now-but-taken-anyway break, I asked her out. She said yes. Life can be simple sometimes. I crave simple. Although the restaurant didn't do low fat and I knew Scully would be pissed. *** *** Should I feel betrayed? The man told me I completed him after all. Not a fucking love declaration but close enough. Oh, yes, I made him a whole person. Guess we're gonna be crowded in there now, aren't we? He spent the afternoon whistling under his breath and was out of the door at five sharp. I just let him go. I even said "have a good time, Mulder." Geez, how much more hypocritical can I get? What do you want me to say? Or do? Run after him? Cry for him, beg him to stay? Pledge him my eternal love and devotion? Well, this isn't Barbara Cartland. So, no, I won't. I'll just remain alone and muse over my fate. It's just a date after all. It's not like I haven't seen him with other women before. Hell, I've even been with some men. Curiously, this is different. I'm losing my half of the whole. *** *** Tonight was our third date and I regressed back to High School. I drove her back to her place and kissed her goodnight. On the mouth! Wow. Jesus, I can feel the pimples crawling back up. We're taking it slow. And we both seem to be enjoying the pace. I neglected my email and the Gunmen left exactly 23 messages on my machine, insulting me for not showing up at their private screening of "Star Trek: First Contact". Sorry, I had some first contact of my own to establish. No message from Scully. Strange. I'm about to turn forty, I know we will someday have to deal with an invasion of extraterrestrial entities, colonization might have already begun. And I'm putty in the arms of a woman. I will turn bald soon enough and buy a Labrador. I scare myself. But the idea of a stable family appeals to me. As I try to get some sleep, lulled by the smell of my leather couch, I think of her. I should call her. She might worry. I should ask about her. We haven't talked all week-end. Scully. I'm done protecting you. *** *** I sip a my hot cocoa. I feel like I regressed back in high school. Jealous because the guy I love has run with another girl. How pathetic is that? I drape the afghan closer to my chest and sigh. I am not some teenager suffering from puppylove sickness. I'm an educated adult, madly in love with her best friend. Mulder's touches and innuendos used to make me think it wasn't unrequited love. As a tear drops into my mug, adding its saltiness to the creamy, sugary brew, I bleed. *** *** I hate the look he wears on his face, each morning of every single day since he met her. Radiant. And it's not just the after sex glow. I'm not even sure they have gone this far yet. But he's falling in love. And I'm falling from grace. I shouldn't have those thoughts. After all, he is nothing to me but my partner of five years, my best friend. Really, nothing. Christ, I'm going insane. I'm not strong enough to fight for him. It's like your mother's favorite piece of jewelry. It is supposed to be given to you someday. Mulder was my jewel. He could have belonged to me. I feel I've been cheated. *** *** I am so stupidly happy it's not even funny. Clara and I became intimate last night. After 3 weeks of dating. It was slow and burning. Not the best sex I've ever had, but she is energetic and inventive. This could lead to a long term exploration of many amazing lovemaking possibilities. She tasted good. I chew on my pencil, close my eyes and try to recreate the first time I lay my mouth on her skin. I hear a coughing and Scully is there, eyeing me. Her sadness is so transparent it hurts. She hands me a report I have to approve and goes back to her desk. Yes, I did get her a desk. I am not that insensitive. Or maybe I am. I realize now that her sorrow mirrors my happiness. I understand Scully suffers from my attitude. But the heavy burden of our years comes between us. It is too much to handle. I'm too young to stop living, young enough to build myself a new life. I need a fresh start, a clean cut from my past. I must be stupid somehow because I still cling to some remnants of my former life. Like the X-Files...and my partner. At least for now. I still have work to do, answers to find and people to help. Or do I? I know now that my sister is alive. Even if she doesn't want to see me, it still is some sort of closure. I have made peace with some of my demons. Scully is a living reminder of the rest of them. I won't allow them to get to me anymore. *** *** His brilliant mind is distracted. I know he thinks of her. Like I think of him. A constant oppression in my chest; I can only breathe when he's not looking. He chews on one yellow, worn pencil, a sly smile on his face, his eyes unfocused. I am in danger. I won't be able to trust Mulder's protection anymore. He will not be able to watch my back as he used to. Will I be able to go on that way? Part of our unspoken deal was our willingness to die for each other. Mulder isn't even willing to get me a damn cup of coffee these days. Have I turned into a gigantic, repulsive monster? Am I the only one who hasn't noticed? He doesn't touch me, doesn't caress me with his eyes now. Hell, he doesn't even pat my back anymore. Last week, we were out in the field, in Virginia. We parked near the crime scene and a local detective was there to point out the exact spot. Instinctively, I waited for Mulder to motion me towards the place, a hand softly resting on the small on my back. As pushy and cliché as it was, I loved it. But he nodded to the detective and passed right next to me, following the tall officer inside the damn building. I just remained there, frozen. The worst is that he didn't realize I wasn't on his heels. I composed myself and joined them a minute later. He ignored the whole fucking incident. Okay, it might have been meaningless to anybody - it obviously was to him - but it hurt me. I have lost him. *** *** I lie in Clara's welcoming bed; she breathes softly at my side. It's time for us to get going. It's Sunday but we have planned to eat outside then go watch a local ball game. Ordinary bliss. "Hum... Fox..." Uh, yes, she is allowed. "Mulder" sounds too much like Scully. And Fox can be a very sexy name when said with passion. I caress her. "Yeah, babe, we have to get up. It's almost eleven." She shoots me a "but-I-wanna-cuddle" look and I playfully frown. "Alright, alright. Come here, you big man." She draws me on top of her and, well, the rest is private matter. After showers and coffees, we head out to Georgetown to have a delicious lunch at one of our favorite places. I'm really beginning to think of us as a couple; we have favorites, a song we dance to, a blanket we like to share. Wonderfully scary. Clara teases me sometimes about my work and my mysterious partner. I'm so reluctant to answer her that she often drops the subject by herself. She doesn't need to share the horrors I've seen, the deceptions I've endured. Clara doesn't know much about me, now that I think of it. But she is patient. I play with my food and she gently asks: "I'm... going to see my parents next week-end. Want to come?" My fork falls into my plate with a chunky sound and she smiles at the disconcerted look I must sport right now. "It's nothing official, you know. But they live down in Virginia and I thought you might enjoy the trip. Plus, two days without you would make this week-end long... very long." Her voice is almost sultry. Guess I'm going to met her family after all. Later, we snuggle against each other on the stands, cheering for the team representing Clara's neighborhood. We hold hands and screw the Syndicate, I'm happy. I wonder if they will let us be. I haven't had a real case to investigate in months. No leads, no informants, no chases. The need to uncover conspiracies fades everyday. They will let us be safe. *** *** His energy used to be focused on his work, hence on me. Now he cannot get out of the office soon enough, knowing that she will be waiting for him at home. Home. Less than four months after they first met - I will spare you the exact details, but I've counted the days -, they moved in together. I almost laughed. Of course, he didn't bother to tell me; I found out when he had the change done on some administrative papers. Two days later, he asked me for his old spare key back. Had to give it back to the landlord. I used to cherish this key we shared. He didn't give me a new one. I didn't ask for my spare key but I know it's gone from his keychain. Of course, I was sick when they asked a few friends over to christen their new home. Funny how I have this tendency to be sick or at my mom's each time Mulder socially invites me anywhere. Not that he does it very often anymore. I've never met her. There is no need. I know what she looks like, Mulder exhibits a fucking photograph of her on his desk. It took me five years to get a desk. She is pretty but not too much, enough to look lovely and relaxed in the picture. She doesn't seem much taller than I am; her hair is brown, shoulder length and slick. "Nice catch, Mulder," I would say if I was one of his buddies. Not that he has any. Not that I am one. Am I jealous of this Clara person? I should be, shouldn't I? Maybe I don't have the energy to let jealousy consume me. He put his trust into another heart. I don't think I'll find any other heart in the whole fucking world to give my trust to. Maybe I should subscribe to "American Singles" and see what they have to offer. Might not be that easy to find another dark, brilliant lanky man to fight with. Maybe I need my cancer to grow its black death back into me to force his attention on me. God, what an horrible thought... We were so close to each other at that time. I know Mulder still cares. Sometimes, he looks at me when he thinks I don't notice and he is haunted. Does he resent me this much that he can't open to me but prefers running forward? *** *** It's been five months with Clara and something is indubitably wrong. Oh, I love her and we're good together. Too good. I can't concentrate on what I do anymore. Guess that's why I was a loner all these years. I take this back. I wasn't alone. Never. But it was a different kind of relationship; a lonely companionship. I should be at peace with my work though. No exciting cases in weeks. Only one trip to Nevada and I couldn't get away from Scully soon enough to be able to whisper loves to Clara on the phone. God bless cell phones. I mostly do research work, help the Violent Crimes Section now and then. I admit it, the X-Files are slowly dying. It makes me sad but often, death is what it takes to be reborn. Still, I miss the thrill, the adrenaline of the past years. Maybe a good, juicy case could motivate my rusty brain, my old body. *** *** It had to happen. Mulder got sloppy. A gruesome but stimulating investigation. The first in weeks. He failed to notice a tiny detail that delayed the arrest of a kidnapper. We lost two days. It almost cost the life of an elderly woman, a fragile granny abducted from her home. She was so weak when we found her, we all thought she was as good as dead. But Mulder was frantic and mad and he rushed her to the hospital, not even waiting for the paramedics to arrive. She survived. Not especially because of his actions, but I think it was the only way Mulder could have faced himself in a mirror after this fiasco. And it happened, that Thursday night. A loud pounding on my front door woke me up and I sleepily answered the door, not even thinking it could be him, not even bothering to look through the peephole. Maybe I am the one getting sloppy. Half a second after I had opened the door, he was in my arms, holding me tight in a desperate hug. There, I must have lost the manual on "how to breathe in ten lessons". Guess the human body is a fine machine because I survived. Drops of pure agony wetted my cotton shirt and I let him caress my neck, bury his face in my hair, cling to me. Feel my love. Feel my love, was all I could think of in his arms. Feel my love, Mulder. Let it soothe you, envelop you in a safe blanket. I stroked his hair, ran my fingertips on the soft skin of his burning neck. His body married mine and we were one. No words were said. I knew what he was trying to forget. My heart swelled with proud love at the idea that I was still the one he needed to go to. Even if it had taken a crisis situation for him to remember me. Our silent communion lasted for hour-long minutes and we stood there, on my threshold. We have a history of hallways. Then he disentangled himself from my offered love and, without even looking at me, rushed out of my life, away from me. I remained stiff, still in awe of such a display, my skin electrified from his touch. My own tears spiced my skin and I fooled myself into hoping for more. He had came back to me. He would come back to me. Only, not again for three, eternal long years. *** *** Clara sleeps as I watch the rain nourishing the earth. I shiver so I bring the comforter closer to my skin. Doesn't help. I hardly believe myself. I don't really know why I couldn't seek comfort in Clara tonight. Holding Scully was...soothing. Her warm little body snuggled against mine. Such an amazing experience. She washed my pain away. I almost loved her then but I can't let go of my resolutions now. So I do what I have to do. What will set me free. I crawl back into bed. "Clara..." "Hum?" "Clara?" "What? Some people do sleep, you know." "Marry me." Jesus, she's awake now. She sits up and reaches my face with her left hand. "You serious?" "Marry me." She smiles, strokes my cheek with her soft thumb and I have won my rest. *** *** And there she walked. A perfect grace. She holds his hand and looks up in his eyes. Full of promises. Fucking wedding. I hate weddings. Rectify this, I don't dislike them but I particularly loathe Fox Mulder's union to Clara Nolan. "It should have been me" isn't singing in my head but it should. And why on Earth did he invite my mother? But she loves him so she couldn't refuse although she looked hurt. So my mother sits there, in this church, softly crying over my aborted future. She does it because I can't. People must think she is just sentimental but I'm no fool. Walter Skinner is here too. His wife is with him and during the ceremony, he asks for her consent then comes to me. I am not seated because they asked me "bride or groom" and I said I didn't belong there. I'm standing, my back against the farthest wall of the building. Skinner leans besides me and says nothing. I sigh and he surprises me by taking hold of my tiny hand in his strong one. He knows. He brushes my skin slowly and I almost cry. I lean into his bulky form for a second, as a thank you. He strokes my hair and then goes back to Sharon. There was a time when Mulder would have burst out from repressed jealousy at this sight. But now... Clara is pretty in her tasteful champaign colored gown. She has tiny white flowers in her hair and anybody else would look ridiculous but she doesn't. Mulder is the most gorgeous sight I have ever laid my eyes upon in his black tuxedo. Shiny shoes and banana wide smile reflect his state of mind. And the way his hair stands still, with only one wild lock falling onto his forehead, it's eerie. I imagine it would taste of chocolate in my mouth, soft, pliant and silky. A guilty pleasure. I had this crazy wish that Mulder would come ravish me the night before his wedding. He would force himself in my apartment and on me. His hard body would fuck me against the wall. And I would let him. And after that, each time he would hold his wife, he would embrace me. Each time he would kiss her, he would feel my lips. Each time he would have sex with her, he would make love to me. Oh, of course, it was just a wish. Their hands are joined now and shine from the gold. "You may now kiss the bride." I have to get some fresh air. I run out of the church, and like an idiot, I have to come back under the porch because it's pouring out there. I feel I just stepped into "Four weddings and a funeral." Except it's just Mulder's wedding and my funeral. I hear some ruffling noise and I know they're coming out. I quickly attempt to compose myself. Mulder steps out of the building, holding hands with his bride. And I am the first thing he sees. His smile freezes and fortunately for both of us, people surround Clara with congratulations and she doesn't notice. Mulder's eyes are soft and I feel like holding my hand out to him as his twitches towards me. Unfortunately, happy guests jostle him and the connection is broken. Goodbye, Mulder. *** *** I am scared and excited at the same time. I feel the warmth of Clara by my side and the rest of the world is one dizzy fur ball. I don't even know who's here or not but I know most of the guests come from Clara's side. We exchange our vows, then the rings. I'm so proud I can still stand up on my cotton legs. Her smile holds me up. Then I kiss the bride. In a haze, people laugh, clap and we exit the church. And there she is. Her hair is frizzy and wet from the rain. Her eyes are black and sorrowful. Time stops and the rumble is gone. There is just us. I want to hold out my hand to her; make sure that she'll be okay, let her know that I'll be alright. But I'm pushed aside by some joyous guests. It's the last image of her I have. I will keep it inside of me for a long time. *** *** It's been exactly three years since the 25th of November. I've stopped counting the days but I remember the anniversary. "More tea, Dana?" "No, thank you, Mom. I'm okay." What's one more lie? My mother shakes her head and I know she doesn't understand me. Doesn't understand why I'm still single after all this time. No picket fenced house, no dog, no doctor of a husband. She doesn't comprehend why I still dream of him. She hates him because he walked away. I've never told her the truth even though I know she believes Mulder and I were involved back then. And that he broke my heart when he cheated on me. She just cannot grasp it's this, and so much more. Mulder didn't have my body to betray. Just my soul. Two weeks after his wedding, Mulder asked for a reassignment. Field office in Boston, closer to his mom. What a joke. The Mulder I knew wouldn't have stood more than a day there. But it's been years. I guess he must be in professional bliss. A least. I've kept the X-Files open. I still have answers to find and to tell the truth, I feel closer to him that way. I accepted his transfer, wished him the best of luck for his new life and watched him go. I must be have turned into a wimp because I didn't fight for him. I smiled, said I would keep his nameplate as a souvenir and almost pushed him out of the office. Go away Mulder, go live a good life for the two of us. Go be happy. I remember the first and only phone call we shared during all these years. *** *** Of course, I needed to hear her voice. I had to call her but could only resolve myself to do so after two months. The silences between us were anvil heavy. "Hello?" "Scully?" "Dana Scully speaking, yes." Professional always. "It's me...Mulder." I don't know why but it seems she has forgotten the tone of my voice. "Oh, well, how have you been?" "Good, I've been doing good. What about you?" "..." "Scully?" Too long a pause. "Uh-huh, I've been great." "Good. So, how's work?" God, why is it so hard? "Exciting. The X-Files are fine, I've had challenging cases to work on and my new partner is a gem." Swallow, Mulder, swallow. A gem. No more spookiness. A gem. "Ah, that's great, great. I didn't know you requested a new partner." I can't help it. "Well, a good F.B.I. agent needs someone to watch his back. And Robin is extremely considerate and protective of me." Low blow, Scully. Hurts. "Yes, we all need that once in a while." "Was there something you needed to tell me?" She's right, I need a reason to call now. "No, I..." She cuts me. "Well, if you don't have anything important to tell me, I have work to do." I don't know if I should strangle her or weep. "Scully... I...I miss you." There. It's out. "Goodbye, Mulder." Just a click. Dead line. "Bye, Scully," I whisper. I rest my chin on my arm and close my eyes. This is so wrong. I miss her so much. Then Clara enters in the room and I remember why I'm here. *** *** I replay this conversation and still wonder why I was so harsh to him. "Because he had broken you heart, Dana. And you were just trying to protect yourself." I turn to look at my mom and I realized I've been talking out loud. "Tell me, sweetie. Please, I need you to confide in me." And I tell her the whole story. There isn't much to say really. Afterwards, my mom remain silent. I can't help but thinking that she is judging me. "Dana, why didn't you tell him how you felt? It might have changed everything!" Easier said than done. "You don't understand, mom. He should have known. Our trust in each other ran so deep, he should have been aware of it." "Love is blinding, sometimes. And you just can't see it even if it's displayed right in front of you." "Oh, he saw it okay when that slut dragged him to her bed." I can't believe I just said that. "Please, don't be bitter, honey." I remain silent. "I think you have mourned long enough. Go out, meet people, have some fun, for Heaven's sake! You are not his widow." I softly laugh at this. If only you knew, I'm dead inside. I mourn a future I held in my hands and blew away. I'm so myself, at him. At her. "I don't think you realize, mom. It's over for me. There can't be anybody else." It' s a very strong statement and I know I've shocked her immensely. "Dana, don't say that! You're young enough..." "No, no, I'm not. But I'm not that unhappy, you know. My job is holding me together. I have a good career to build." "How is Agent Burns?" "Robin? He's actually doing great. His wife is expecting again. He wants me to be the child's godmother." "It's very thoughtful of him." "He's a good agent. I'm proud if his work." "But...?" Mom, you know me too well. "Well, he's not..." I close my eyes. *** *** Three years. Three years of waking up next to Clara. Sharing a bathroom and a coffee pot at breakfast. Three years of sharing a postal address, of going out with mutual friends, of nice lovemaking. I turned forty in her arms. She still has nine years to catch up with me. Clara is growing prettier everyday. She took a good position at Borders downtown, and found herself reading books all the time because she loves being able to give advise to her customers. She always liked human contact. My work is...okay. The challenge is less but it is safe. That's all Clara asked from me. That's all I've ever wanted. I'm in peace at last. When my mother was doing fine, she hoped for grandchildren. "Anytime soon", she made me promise. Now, she's gone. Rest in peace, Mother. I never expected children, considering... But I would be elated to become a father. Clara is still on the pill. I don't think she is ready yet. But I am. I remember how deeply I had wanted another woman's child a few years ago. And how desperate I was because she couldn't conceive. I've heard twice from Samantha. Time is helping us growing closer. As it drew Scully and me apart. Scully. I miss her. Everyday created by this Universe, I miss her. I didn't think it would be that hard in the beginning. Every petite figure I see, she floats back in my head. Clara lets me zone out like this and I'm grateful she doesn't ask questions. She tolerates that I had a life before her, as I do with her. Funny, the relationship I have with Clara. No passion, but security. No challenge but cuddling. I have come to trust her with my heart. She is sweet and good to me. She never hurt me, and I never will. Or so I thought. *** *** TOGETHER APART by Lili Blue (6/10) "Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to..." "Oh, stop it Robin, your singing is... downright awful." I tease but my smile is genuine. And he knows it. "Happy Birthday, old Dana." "Watch it." I remember another birthday, a long time ago. Another small cake, another candle to blow. "You know, Robin?" He raises an eyebrow at me. Good man. "I'm glad you're here. I'm happy with your work." I must have struck him blind because he needs to sit down. "Why, thank you partner." "You're welcome. Partner." I sigh. I've been surviving without him. *** *** "No, but yes, yes, I told you that... Uh-huh...sure." I try to manage this conversation, the cordless phone stuck between my neck and my shoulder as I move around big stacks of folders. I go through our drawers and frankly, I'm amazed at all the clutter marital life accumulates. I hate this spring cleaning, especially the administrative papers, but somebody has to do it. "I'll put that in my report. No problem." Then, I find it. Oh. My. God. "Hum, I gotta run. I'll get back to you on this, okay? Yes, sure. Bye." I hold the brochures in my hand, disbelieving. Inside, I find an appointment card and tests results. From last October. A few days after my birthday. I shake my head and can't believe what she has done. I sit on the couch and wait for her to come home. "Hey, Fox, why don't I smell anything good coming from the kitchen," she teases. "Fox? Where are you?" She enters the living room of our small Brookline house. She finds me there, and the sight startles her. Guess I must look as mad as I feel. "Care to explain this?" I throw the brochures at her. The papers fall ungraciously to the floor. She gasps. "Fox, I..." She covers her mouth with one hand. Her eyes betray the panic of a deer caught in headlights. I raise my voice, as well as my body. I tower over her. "Did you go through with it? Did you? When was it, that week-end you went down to visit your parents?" "Fox, please, don't be mad..." "Oh, sure, why should I be mad? I fucking trusted you! You, bitch!" I'm furious, and godammit, it is my right to be mad. She loses her balance and falls to the floor; she sits there, sobbing. I have all the answers that I need. I leave her and run to our bedroom. I grab a few clothes and go back to the living-room, looking for my shoes and wallet. She is there, in the hall. She leans on the wall and her ankles are twisted. Her neck seems to hurt as she frowns hard in distress. She's still crying. I have no compassion towards her whatsoever. "Fox... Hear me out. Please." Her voice is a whisper. The last thing I hear before I'm out of there. *** *** I can't stop crying. The salt irritates my cheeks, but what do I care? It should have remained the only secret I would ever keep from him. I knew that trust is the essential basis for all of Fox's relationships. But you can count his friends on one hand. He doesn't give his trust easily. I'm not even sure I ever had it. Such an awful mistake, destroying my marriage like you can clasp your fingers. God, I call that a mistake! I must be heartless. I was at the time I did it; feeling simply devastated. And I wasn't ready. It never occurred to me that Fox could have wanted it this much. But, Fuck it! He deserves to suffer for the crap I had to put through the last few months. I never really had all of him although I gave him all of me. I can only weep now. So I sob, cry, throw my fists against the walls. *** *** My driving to her place is...erratic. Thanks to the guy who invented donuts that actually distract cops from chasing after lights-burning mad crazed drivers like me. I park right in front of her building, and it's stupid but I don't even take the time to compose myself a decent face. I just need to see her. Feel her. Smell her. Hell, I just need to think there is somebody on this Earth I can trust with all of my heart. I'm not even sure she's the right one anymore. But I want to believe. I also want to dig myself a hole big enough...or crawl inside a mouse lair and die... I want to crawl in Scully's lair. Voices can be heard through the door and for the fist time in hours I realized that years have passed. She has a life I'm not the center of anymore. Who the fuck do I think I am? I've never been the sun of her universe. I was the dark side of the moon. Hell, I knock. "Hi," I lamely say as the door opens. "Oh," the woman says. Then, "It's been quite some time." Her features are soft and she is still beautiful. Warm memories of her flood me. "I don't want to intrude. I've come here to see..." "I know, come on in." She's inviting me in. More than I hoped. "Thank you, Mrs Scully." "Dana is in the kitchen. I'll go get..." But she stops at mid-turn. Scully stiffly stands in the middle of her living-room, a spatula covered with red sauce in hand, an inscrutable look painted on her delicate face. Blue grows wide and there isn't even the faintest trace of a smile on her lips. Fuck. "Hi," I manage. So much for Oxford-educated conversation. Mrs. Scully hints at her daughter that she should leave but red hair shakes no. Scully glances at me sideways. Fuck, fuck, triple fuck. Hell has just frozen. Tell me why I'm here again? I stand in the hallway and Scully comes closer but still not at arms length. She radiates beauty, more now than ever. Or maybe it has just been a long time. It would take more than a lifetime for me to forget her freckled face and she often visits my dreams. Her hair floats like a gray cloud and I clutch at her chest. It's not such a good idea to go there now. "Why are you here?" Trust Scully to be blunt. "Something...I need to talk to you about." Geez, I can usually form elaborate sentences. She holds her stare high and piercing. "About work?" "No. I... It's, it's personal." God, I'm pathetic. "I think you should leave." I deserve this. From the other end of the room, I can feel Mrs. Scully tense. "Scully..." "Now." I feel my hand was just caught in the cookie jar. Except that here, it won't be just a slap on the wrist. Her icy refusal of even pronouncing my name is a potential life threatening injury. "I..." "You have no business being here. Just go." I can't even shoot her my best puppy look. That boyish expression that used to get me anywhere, mainly out of Scully-trouble. I invented the puppy eyes and she invented the raised eyebrow. It was a game. Tonight, she won't play. She's shutting me out and God knows I can't blame her for that. I performed the ultimate ditch on her three years ago. I'm paying for my foolishness now. So I just leave and as I turn my back on her and open the door, I hear her sigh. I replay that sigh in my head all the way down to my car. I'll wait, Scully. *** *** TOGETHER APART by Lili Blue (7/10) The bastard's got some nerve. My mother looks at me and waits. "All right, just say it." "Dana, did you take a good look at him? It's obvious that he drove down from Boston. Did you see his eyes?" "So what?" I can be so obnoxious sometimes I could slap my own cheek. But I've always been good at protecting myself. "He hurts. Badly. Something terrible happened to him and he came here for your help." I can't refrain from lashing out. "And I should just do what? Take him in? Patch him up like I used to do? Well, excuse me but I do recall that you were the one telling me to move on. And I did." Of course, my whole face, even my body language must contradict what I just lied. I want to run after him but I won't. I can't anymore. Let him suffer like he did me. My mother shakes her head and strolls back to the kitchen. I helplessly slump on my couch, bring my cold fingers up to my eyes and vainly try to appease the pounding in my temples. I love him. My mother left after dinner and I'm glad she didn't bring this up again. But she evidently was burning to reprimand me. She only wants what's good for me, but Christ, she has the worse timing with her counseling. I lie on my couch, tuck the afghan over me and try to sleep. Saturdays are always hard on me. No work to concentrate on. I don't see many people on week-ends, sometimes don't even speak not anybody but the occasional store-clerks. Loneliness creeps inside my bones very easily. Today, I'm gonna go to the gym and sweat out my repressed anger at Mulder. I can't believe he just showed up like that. Totally out of the blue and needy nonetheless. So fucked up. He never did need me when he was all right. Only when in utter despair. Doctor Scully was always required to patch patient Mulder's soul. Right. I leave half of my bowl of cereal sitting there, on the counter. I'm not that hungry. I grab my car keys, duffel and coat and I'm out. As I exit my building and sniff the fresh air, trying to remember exactly where I parked last night, I see him. Well, his head anyway. Idiot. He must be freezing. I cross the street to evaluate the damage. He's sound asleep, sitting in his car. His window is rolled open all the way down and his shoulder leans on it, his sleepy head covering his arm. I slightly touch the tip of his nose. Moron. He is indeed frozen. The debate between my evil self and the doctor in me is quite short. "Mulder...Wake up. Mulder? Come on, stupid. Wake up!" I shake his body and slowly, he comes back from la-la-land. According to the subtle beard he wears, this imbecile waited for me all night. His eyes look up at me. God, I still love him. *** *** I don't exactly know how it happened, but I find myself sitting in Scully's kitchen, a blanket that smells like her tucked around me, a cup of coffee in hand. She sits on the other side of the table, leaning back in the chair, her arms crossed over her chest. And she just waits. Hot coffee slowly replaces cold in my veins. I don't know how to tell her this. So I just do it, bluntly. "She killed it." Must have been miles away from what she expected me to say because she frowns, her eyes wide and she slightly bends her head to the side. She's ready for me to tell more. And I spill my guts. It's easy, they've been in my throat since last night. I feel tears threatening to flood. "She killed our baby, Scully. It's gone. Gone." Christ, it's hard. My head falls in my hands for support. I hear a ruffle of clothes and I feel her standing next to me. No touch though. Her voice is soft. "Was she careless? Did she leave him...unattended?" I repress a sob. "She got a fucking abortion! That's what she did! She took a fucking appointment and she killed our child!" I yell at the top of my lungs now. Scully must be scared because she backs away. I get up and begin pacing around the kitchen. Scully stays put, her back leaning on the counter. I can't meet her eyes yet. "I didn't even know she was pregnant. I have nothing against abortion, Scully, it's part of our rights but...Fuck! It was my child and I didn't know! How could she make such a decision without telling me! It wasn't a fucking one night stand, we're married, for God's sake!" I don't think I've ever sworn that much in my entire life. I sit back down on the chair in defeat then raise my eyes up to Scully's, begging for understanding. "I wanted a baby so badly..." I manage to say between two sobs. "So badly, Scully..." "I know, Mulder, I know what it feels like." And I realize that she does. My wife has an abortion and who do I go to pour my heart out and whine like a sissy? A women who cannot bear children. I must be the most insensitive asshole on this Earth. "I'm sorry, Scully. I know you do." She leaves the room for a minute and I miss her instantly. She comes back with a tissue and takes a seat besides me. It's gonna be a long day. *** *** TOGETHER APART by Lili Blue (8/10) What has Mulder done to deserve such suffering in his life? What have I done to be a part of it? I can't believe that bitch stabbed him this way. Mulder has always been protective of children. Partly because of his lost sister but also because he is genuinely found of them. That was proven to me more than once on cases. And then there was Emily. I never considered that Mulder could have had a problem with me being barren. But he genuinely shared my pain. How could that slut have carried a part of him inside her and get rid of it? What could possibly be wrong in her mind? In her heart? Maybe there wasn't such bliss in their marriage after all. I have to ask. "Mulder, how was your relationship...with her?" I can't bear saying her name and I'm not sure Mulder could stand it either. He looks at me in the eye for the first time. "Good. We trusted each other. Or so I thought." I don't know if he realize how cruel his words are to me. So he trusted her. For the longest time, I thought I was the only one to hold the key to Mulder's ability to trust. "Are you mad because she betrayed your trust?" "No, I'm mad because of the baby that will never be..." He closes his eyes and he is sincere. "Do you have any idea why she did this? Not telling you?" He doesn't need my answers. He has to find his own. "No... I guess she wasn't ready. She's been taking the pill since we met and it was okay because we were both clean, and you know how they make you take those blood tests before your get married and...we were okay and..." God, he's rambling. His head rests on his forearm, laying on the kitchen table. His face is turned towards me. "Mulder..." "After a while, I told her we didn't need birth control because...we would see where it would take us and I put my trust in her. She said she wasn't ready yet. She wanted to wait a few years, wait until we'll be settled and sure of our situation and stupid excuses like that..." I can't resolve myself to touch him to ground him like I want to so I just nod. "I thought she was ready. I was. I guess pills aren't exactly the most secure control. Or I don't know..." His voice has a strange tone. God! "You don't think she...Are you sure the baby was yours?" I don't want to be rude but... And he closes his eyes. "Yes, I'm sure. There is no way she could have done that." "Like there is no way she could have terminated her pregnancy?" Sorry for playing with your mind, Mulder. He remains silent. "Why did you come to me?" He looks at me puzzled, as if I have asked him "why is the sky blue and why does the sun shine". It used to be evident but it isn't anymore. "You were the only one I thought of." He swallows hard and his answer satisfies me enough to prevent me from going deeper into this. "Did you ask her to explain? What did she say?" "I... I was angry when I left. I didn't listen to her. I just wanted to come to you and forget about her." He wanted to come to me. Come to me. To me. Oh, Mulder... Then, I make one of the hardest decision of my entire life. "You have to go back to her. She is probably devastated, Mulder. Go back to her." I have his full attention now. He looks at me as if I have just grown a second head. "Are you saying I should go comfort her? If she's in pain now, she deserves it. I don't give a fuck." "You have to hear her out. Ask for her reasons. Calm down and try to understand why she did this and why she didn't think she could talk to you about it." "You don't understand, she..." "I do understand, Mulder. But she is your wife. She made a mistake but still, at least, give her a chance to explain herself." How can I be so calm, blatantly lying to him and willing to strangle the bitch, I don't know. "So you think I overreacted? Fucking overreacted? You call that a *mistake*? She KILLED OUR CHILD, Scully! You of all people should know how that hurts." Yes, I do and I don't need you to throw into my face that you married somebody else and conceived a child with her. Twice in one day. Fuck you, selfish bastard. "This discussion is over. Go back to Boston to pick up the pieces." And I leave him there. I close the door of my bedroom and as I suspected, he doesn't follow me. I let myself fall heavily on the bed and close my eyes. A minute later, I hear the front door being slammed. I won't cry. I won't cry. I won't cry. Mulder is a psychologist. A good one, except when it concerns people close to him. He was lost today and he came to me for answers. I'm no shrink but I tried the best I could. So why does it feel like I've failed? Why couldn't I just tell him what I really thought? Why did I have to lie to him to set him straight? How could I send him back to her! *** *** It's been hardly twenty-four hours since it happened. A lifetime has washed over me. As if I had never left her. Still precious and wise. I had my reasons to leave Scully; today I had one to find her. I don't think I'll need more to go back to her. I feel dizzy. I guess that's what happen to people when they discover that their body has been married to someone for three years but their soul belong to someone else. I am the one who made THE fucking mistake. Back to square one. As I drive through Connecticut and totally ignore the landscape, I wonder again and again why I am going back to Boston. Because Scully told me so and she's rarely wrong. Because I need to know why my wife didn't love me enough to tolerate my life inside of her. Anyway, I drive. When I enter what I thought of as our home, the quietness is roaring in my brain. Half a bag of nachos lie on the kitchen counter and the living room is empty. I go in our bedroom, where we most probably conceived the life that won't grow. She is curled up on the bed, over the comforter. Her feet are bare and she must be cold. The floor is an impressive battlefield, strewn with tissues. A reminder that she does suffer, eaten by her conscience maybe. I don't know if she feels remorse, regrets or if it was just another formality for her. As much as she is my wife, I don't know her. And she doesn't know me. She stirs and I sit at the edge of the bed. Her eyes flutter open and she begs. Silently. I nod. "I'm sorry, Fox... So sorry... I didn't mean for you to find out this way..." I try to keep my voice steady and it's a shame I didn't major in Drama. "I don't want excuses. I want answers." She hesitates. "I wasn't ready. I thought you were not ready. I panicked. I'm not...I've never liked children very much. Maybe it's because I'm an only child. Or because I couldn't stand such a responsibility... Who the hell knows?" "You do. Only you." There, we're talking, I'm giving her a chance. Be proud, Scully. "There are other reasons... I can't talk about them right now. I need time, Fox. I need to find my pace." "Sure, whatever." I couldn't care less at this precise moments. I have all the answers I needed. I realize she means next to nothing to me. "I won't ask you to forgive me." You could swear her tone is begging for it though. "But don't shut me out. I will explain. We will get through this." Her eyes appear misty with sincerity but I've seen too many lies in this lifetime to be fooled. She comes closer to me and I flinch at her presence. She attempts to touch my arm but I push back too quickly to hide my repulsion. So she slowly gets out of bed and locks herself in the bathroom. I hear her move in there, vainly trying to raise the sound of the shower to hide her sobs. I go to the study room, boot my computer and write to Scully. *** *** TOGETHER APART by Lili Blue (9/10) I stare at the email icon, wondering if I will open the message or not. Curious Scully will kick my butt if I do not, but Logical Scully will if I do so. Hum. I'm an investigator after all. {Dear Scully, {I've made it back in one piece, which knowing me says it all. I can't help but smiling at this. He still uses the same defense mechanism. People say being married transforms you deeply. Well, not everyone I assume. {She was waiting for me and offered very little explanation. She said she needs to wait, to {take it slow until she can reveal to me the meaning of her actions. {What she is going to drop on my head now? Hell, I might even be responsible for all this. Mulder, Mulder... She's buying herself time. {I think she's trying to gain some time for God knows which reason. I smile again. I haven't lost it that much. {I can't touch her and even being in the same room with her makes me shiver. I don't know if {it'll pass. {I know people can sometimes be cruel towards the ones they love and then be forgiven. {Have you forgiven me? {Mulder. A tear drop hits the keyboard but the computer doesn't go havoc. I wipe the other ones before they leave my face. *** *** This whole week has been one terrible disaster. I've been an ass to my colleagues and totally useless on the field. I keep reading, and re-reading her reply. {Dear Mulder, She hasn't shot me yet, it's a good sign. {I think you are right, she is buying time. How long she will actually have is your choice. {Don't think that she does not suffer because she does. No woman would give up her child {without a bleeding twitch inside her heart. She wants to rationalize this. It's good that she does because I can't. {I will be here if you need advice or simply to talk. {I haven't forgiven you. But I'm working on it. {Scully. I haven't been able to answer this yet. I'm shaken to the core. She resents me still and there is no one to blame but myself. I share my home with another human being but I've never felt so alone. She blends in the furniture and I only see her as a blur. I take no notice of her when she enters a room and I rejoice in the fact that she is oblivious of me as well. Alright, she doesn't truly ignores me. She even often mutely asks for a second chance. I see it in the flickers that lighten her eyes each time I turn towards her. It's like her whole body needs to reach to me but I remain alone, unreachable in the isolated tower I've built. I will not give her the satisfaction of a single hint of my interest in her suffering. *** *** So it's been almost a week now since I've seen Mulder. It took him two days to answer my last email. I hurt him on purpose. I got no pleasure out of it but if he wants to be forgiven, he needs to forgive himself first. {Dear Scully, {She is like a ghost and I don't see her. {I don't know if this is a good thing but I don't miss her. {I miss you. If I was a teenager, I would jump around and quip little screams, girlie screams. But I am an adult, so I just smile and try to dismiss the warm thoughts invading my mind. And the slight shiver down my spine. {I don't wear my ring anymore. Shivers, again. {This whole charade is not going anywhere. {Nowhere, Scully. {Mulder. My friend is slowly coming back to me. *** *** I came home last night and Clara was waiting for me. Simply sitting at the kitchen table, her chin high, her eyes dry. "Fox, sit down." "Don't order me around." I won't give her a break but the "please" she grants me forces me to sit down. "Fox, I..." I wish she wouldn't call me that. She hands me some folders. "We should get a divorce." No earthquake, no stab in the heart. Just fate. "Okay." I almost whisper. I lean back and exhale loudly. "Okay, okay..." she hisses. "Is that all this does to you? Fuck, I was right. I was so right!" "About what?" "The way you look at all the petite women. The whispers of her name at night." She raises her voice. "The moments you zone out and all the fucking times you called me "Scully" when you climaxed!" "What?" I can't believe my ears! "You heard me! Why couldn't you tell her? Why did you have to marry me and make all of us, her, you and me miserable? Fucking blind moron!" I just look at her, indeed like a fucking moron. I call out Scully's name when I come? No way! I don't! That's insane. Well, I did think about her before, let's say, in private, but with my wife? God! "Clara, I never did that." I look in her eyes and it's so clear my guilt trip is back, rush hour. "Tell me I never did that..." I ask softly. Her expression is unreadable but she doesn't seems as angry as she was. "Oh, Jesus... you have no idea, do you?" She pauses. "You don't realize that's it's been her." She's right. It's always been her. I feel nothing but repulsion and disgust at myself right now. I cradle my forehead in my palms. The light still hurts my brain. "I didn't mean to hurt you, Clara." "You were sincere when we got married. That I'm sure of," she offers. "But it wasn't enough," I flatly state. "No, it wasn't. Fox, I... I thought that as the years went by, you would learn to love me. You would forget for a while that you're in love with her." "Clara..." "Let me finish, please. I am not saying this to blame you or to clear my conscience. I want you to know this because of the state of insecurity I was in when it... happened. The night I learnt I was pregnant, I had mixed feelings about this. I wasn't ready for a child, I even wasn't sure my own husband loved me, for Heaven's sake... I had no idea how to share this new secret with you." I remain silent and she is relieved I'm letting her go on. "That same night, we made love and you moaned her name." Her eyes are now bathed in unshed tears. "You were inside me, Fox, thrusting and loving me and you... you... I called the clinic the morning after." Wicked how destiny twist things so that I'm actually responsible for any single event that surrounds me. Master of guilt. I'm sure I'm partially responsible for the bug of the year 2000 that crashed computers last year. For all the good I was doing to those poor machines at the time. Look out for me in the news if a third World War is declared. Then I realize what she could have done, but didn't. And I mentally thank her for that, only I say it out loud. "Thanks for not bribing me into staying with a child..." Her wistful, quiet little smile calms the situation. "I'm not a bad person, you know. I had reasons, bad ones maybe. God knows it was a tough choice. But seeing the turn of events, I don't regret it. I want children. But I want them to have a father dedicated to them and their mother." "I'm sorry I caused you pain this way. We're just people, with their flaws and uncertainties." So easy to say that. So hard to live it. We can look each other in the eye now. It isn't so hard suddenly. "Monday, we'll file for a divorce." I nod. *** *** TOGETHER APART by Lili Blue (10/10) He didn't email me today. I crave those letters. A single line from him actually makes my day. I'm pathetic. Hanging on to every word of a man I can't even dare to call. I miss those words especially at night, when I've come to silently sing them as lullabies. My cellphone rings and darn it! I almost fall out of bed to get it from the inside pocket of the wool suit jacket I had carelessly thrown on the armchair. Once again admiring my skills as a gymnast, I finally extract the noisy object and press "on". "Scully?" I'm dreaming, that's it. My mobile just talked to me in my sleep. "Scully, are you there? Scully?" "Scully, are you okay?" "Mulder?" "Yeah, hi. Sorry. Did I wake you?" I'm glad you did. "Not, it's all right. Why..." "I wanted to hear your voice. I have something to tell you and the email seemed a little... impersonal." "Sure..." I don't trust my voice anymore. My skeptical, rational sense, tells me it's our last and final call. He is going to tell me he forgave her and they are already working on creating new uber-Mulders. Why couldn't you stick to emails, Mulder? "I got divorced today, Scully." Oh. "Scully?" Ah. "Scully, you there? Scully? Scully? God, what's wrong with this damn line..." "I'm here." My weak voice cuts in before he turns off the connection. "Clara and I are officially separated. Mutual agreement." "Ah." Great Dana. You've just turned into an idiot savant, monosyllabic vocabulary holder. "It wasn't really bad, you know. We cleared some things out and there we are." "So you're... divorced." Those investigative skills of mine never cease to amaze me. "Free as a bird," Mulder says, but not too joyfully. "Where are you gonna stay?" Like that's of some importance. Well, it is. I do have an extra room. Damn, I wish I didn't have it actually. The offer would still stand. "Clara is keeping the house. She's keeping most things actually, I never cared much for material belongings, you know me." So I thought. I have to ask. "Will you remained assigned to Boston?" He hesitates. That's a very, very good thing. "What do you think I should do? The work here isn't bad but I'm not sure it will hold it for me any longer now. There is nothing left for me here." "But your mom..." "Oh, Scully, didn't I tell you? My mother passed away...hum... a year an a half ago." Oh, Mulder... "I'm sorry. I didn't know." "How could you? It's not like we've been even sending each other Christmas cards those past years." His voice is devoid of bitterness, just plain facts. "Not exactly, you're right. But I'm still sad and sorry for your loss." "Scully, I may be blunt but I have something to ask you." This is just like my Mulder. Needing permission to be abrupt. Lovable man. "Sure." "Do you want me back in D.C.?" "Huh?" Like I don't know what he means. "Do you want me to come back to you?" Blunt that is. "Yes." So low I'm afraid he hasn't heard me. "Yes. Come back. I miss you." I'm on a roll and nothing could stop me. "I've missed you all these years, I longed for every second we didn't share. Come, Mulder, come back as soon as you can. Fly, drive, run, just do it... Come back." I'm out of breath from this confession. He is silent and this uncalled pause gets on my nerves. "Mulder?" "Scully?" "We still have work to do on those communication techniques, don't we? Did you..." "Yes, I heard you," he cut me. "I'll ask for a reassignment on Monday. Aware of some career opportunities in D.C., Scully?" "I'll ask around," I say and I bet her can hear my smile through the handset. "Good, you do that." And he turns off his phone. Mulder and I have shared some of the strangest conversations heard on this Earth but this was definitely one of the most awkward. Awkward is good. *** *** What have I done to deserve her? Not much lately. Of course, I had my moments. Saving her life, caring for her, trying to offer her all the support I could. Until it ate me alive and I couldn't stand it. I'm not trying to justify my actions. I took a path and I was wrong, I concede. I have to learn to be unselfish. Fortunately, tomorrow, I'm going back to the greatest teacher on this planet. Scully's declaration of need and, let's face it, of love, re-opened my heart to extreme possibilities. I am one lucky bastard. And in love. *** *** Today is not really the greatest day. The sun isn't shining and the birds aren't singing. So much for romance under a sunset. Today, Mulder is coming back to D.C. He said he'd be there around six or so. Just like him to have picked out a such stormy day to re-enter my life. I couldn't care less about the constantly falling droplets that make my hair smell like a wet dog. I still sit outside my building, staring hard at each car coming around the bend. I have had time to think about all that happened between us, from him slipping out of my life to his needy comeback, a few weeks ago. The unrequited love that never left me through years of solitude. This capacity to soften all the blows I took, like a beaten wife forgives her husband. Mulder and I aren't alike. We don't share the same beliefs, we come from different backgrounds. The are no words to explain the bond we once shared. I guess I could overanalyze this, and pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with him. But it simply is impossible. He risked his sanity and his life to save me. And more than once. I should be grateful. This doesn't justify love. He respected me, professionally and personally, and taught me more than I could hope. This doesn't justify love. So what does? A chemical reaction? A mellowing of the brain? I don't have the answer and I won't give it more thought because strands of brown hair through a car's window catch my sight. Physical, yes. My heart pounds so hard it resonates down to each little vein of my entire body. Mental, sure. I concentrate all my neurons on the right thing to say but as he pulls over, then exits his car, all I could think of is...not much. Rain pours down on him, hard, as if a malicious cloud was just hovering above him and him alone. If I was twenty years older, I'd felt I've just stepped into "The Bridges of Madison County" and fucking Clint Eastwood was waiting for me to go to him. And he is. Mulder leans against the hood and actually waits. So what, now? Should I run? Should I motion him to come in? I don't rush. I slowly walk to him and his body language whispers to me he is ready to take me in. We don't even look at each other in the eye. No need. We know. I just melt in his embrace, his strong arms hold me so tight I can feel the buttons of his shirt imprinting my skin through my sweater. His fingers remain still, one hand on the swell of my waist and the other buried in my hair, as I nuzzle my face in the damp, warm crook of his neck. His smell exudes his need, male and arousing. We both sigh with pleasure. Welcome home, Mulder. FIN.

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