----------- 12 ----------
 
 

***
The next day

***

God, I hurt all over.  My heart, my headÖ

I am happy for him, you know.  Iím ecstatic.  Iím happy for him, happy for her, I am.  Really, I am.

I am happy for him, I guess, but only as one would be happy for the puppy given away to its rightful owner.  I am happy, grateful to have done the right thing, the honest and therefore noble thing, but my heart is not any less broken as a result.  I am happy for him, I swear that I am, but I am miserable for me.

Itís over and I know it.  Him and me, me and him, whatever happened, didnít, could have, what was or what could have been.  Itís over.  All of it.

And it doesnít help that I can see it in my head.  That I can see them, together, reuniting, just as surely as I can see my fireplace in front of me.  Iíve thought about it over and over, and my mindís painted a grandiose picture of it all.

For though I know it is not the actual, in my head it is the idealized version of what I know is the truth.  The version derived from one too many harlequin romance novels and one too many nights watching ĎGhostí with the lights dimmed.

In slow motion I watch as they go to each other, him with the heaviness of a broken man who has been rescued, her with the tentativeness of a nervous child.  At first he is disbelieving, untrusting, wary of a reunion that he has only dared to dream of, but never thought possible.  In a similar light, at first she is afraid, confused, disoriented.  She knows him but she does not remember, and she canít place his face.  Who is this man she has envisioned only in dreams and delusional flights of fancy?  Is this the great love she believes that she lost, oh so long ago, once upon a time?  Is this the one sheíd been searching for, yearning for, every time her eyes closed with foggy tears in the corners?

Simultaneously, their forward motion stops.

He looks at her then, truly and fully looks at her, blinking as if he has just come to the conclusion that the Oasis is not only real, but also within his grasp for the first time in years.  Then his expression scans hers for recognition, his gaze crashing into her shattering blue eyes with the desperation he has dragged with him all this time.  The distance between them is like an ocean.  They are so close, yet they are still a world away.

She doesnít know what else to do except look back at him, silent and confused, her throat swallowing back the sadness and confusion of a disjointed, shattered memory.  She feels the almost palpable need to run to him, to envelop him in her shaking arms, but something is still missing.  Something holds them both back.  What is it?

Silence reigns for another moment longer until she realizes, with startling clarity, that it is her.  She is the reason he doesnít move to touch her.  She is the one who forms the blockade.  Her heart runs away with her blood pressure and the ability to breathe.  Her heart desperately tries to place him, to remember something, to grasp anything she can use, but her eyes remain blank.  Useless.

And they remain a world apart.

His heart breaks.

A  sob escapes wantonly from his throat, a tear trickling its way over his carefully chiseled features.  Her eyes tell him the truth just as surely as she could speak it. She doesnít know him.  She doesnít remember.   He realizes it and his heart explodes in tatters all around him. What can he do now to mend her?

He opens his mouth to say something, to say anything, to tell her everything, but all that comes out is a single word.

ďScully.Ē

His throat breaks upon the name and her lower lip trembles as she suddenly recognizes the unfamiliar term.  She knows that, she thinks.  But how?  How does she know that?  What does it mean?

She still wants to go to him but she canít.  Her legs feel like lead.

And then a sudden memory comes to her.  It is a flash of something so strange yet so natural, she gasps at the intensity of it.  Her pulse quickens with the thought.

She feels his hands in her hair, his fingers on the small of her back, around her shoulders and against her cheek.  She hears his voice in her head, feels him calling out for her in the middle of the night, in his sleep, in the middle of an endless desert.  She remembers his laugh and his touch, and she remembers his smile.  She remembers him whispering that word, "Scully," upon her earlobe a hundred million times. For some reason, she remembers dandelions and the promise of forever, extending like a bridge across the distance that lies between them.

But most of all, she remembers a name. A name she knows so well, even if she doesnít yet recall why.

A whimper escapes unbidden from her mouth, and her lower lip quivers with uncertainty as she manages the only word she knows how to say.

ďMÖMulder?Ē

She looks unsure, afraid.  What if sheís wrong, she thinks. She could be wrong.

Simultaneous tears cascade down their cheeks.

But suddenly it is as if the wall that lies between them has crumbled, shattered. He crosses the vast distance to wrap his arms around her like a man clinging to a lifeline. His face buries, hysterical, in her golden, fiery hair and then in the nape of her neck.  She stammers at first, uncertain as to what she should do.

Then he whispers in her ear, ďScullyÖMy...my ScullyÖĒ over and over as if he is repeating a mantra of thanksgiving.

Suddenly she knows.  With startling certainty, she knows.  He IS the one sheís been looking for.

All at once she is overwhelmed and her arms wrap desperately around him, her hands gripping his shoulders, roaming his back, around his neck, yanking and pulling on the folds and bunches of his dress shirt.  Her face buries in his neck and the pieces begin coming back to her, broken shards of experiences and sounds, sights and feelings hitting her with the force of a two ton weight.

ďMulder,Ē she gasps out, managing his name through grateful tears, ďOh god, MulderÖ. MulderÖĒ

Then their eyes meet, their hearts reuniting as if a merging of souls on a deserted beach.  There is nothing else for them in this moment, nothing but the two of them and the bond that guides them.

Somehow, their lips find each other and meet amongst the tearful reunion.  Their hearts flood with longing and need and they kiss roughly, passionately, greedily.  Their arms grasp and fumble to hold on for dear life, clinging to the other.

But most importantly is the kiss they share.   It is the kiss of forever.  They promise it over and over, again and againÖ

***

Personal Email:
Federal Bureau of Investigation account:

To: Fmulder@FBI.gov
From: Kstafford@FBI.gov

Subject: Goodbye

Message text:

Fox,

I know how this must sound, coming from a person who said she would stick by you, even through the bad times, but the truth of the matter is that I canít stay.  I wish I could, I wish I could help you during what Iím sure will be a confusing and bittersweet time, but I canít. If it were safe for me to stay, if it was what I thought would be best for everyone, I would. Believe me, I would.  But I canít, and Iím sorry.

By the time you will have read this, I will already be on a plane to someplace where you wonít be able to contact me.  I will have changed my identity and my profession, and I wish I could tell you something that would make it easier. But the fact is that I canít.  I wouldnít even know where to start.

By now, Iím sure youíve already stopped by the gunmensí and discovered the person I left there for you to find.  Iím sorry I canít explain this in person, but please donít think Iím a coward or that I knew where she was all this time.  I swear that I didnít.  I happened upon her by accident, and I didnít even realize who she was until the last second. By then, I knew what I had to do.  I knew what would happen if the two of us stayed. So I brought her to the gunmensí and I told them to care for her until you got there. She was a little delirious and confused when I found her, but she was in one piece and pretty adamant on getting to a man she claims she once knew.  I can only assume, from the story youíve told me, that she meant you.

Now, because youíve already told me your sad story, I feel compelled to tell you mine.  Itís short but itís to the point, and itís also the reason behind my leaving you and our partnership.  I know how hollow and false that must sound, especially given the circumstances, but Iím going to tell you anyway, even if you donít believe me.

Five and a half months ago, when I was assigned to you, I was new to the bureau. I didnít know up from down, left from right, but I was damn determined to make my mark.  I came to the Ohio office thinking that it would be a small enough place to do it.  I hadnít expected to be assigned a partner, to be honest, and to be really honest, I hadnít wanted one.  Especially one who had sparked more stories about him than anyone else in the history of the bureau.

But as the men who had assigned me to you made it abundantly clear, my wants and needs were not important to them.  My only assigment, as far as they were concerned, was simple. They wanted me to  keep you out of trouble.  They wanted me to keep you from killing yourself.  They told me that your partner had been killed years before, leaving you with a child, and that you had a death wish as a result.

It was during that meeting that they told me how disturbed you had become, that even though you were one of the best profilers they had, you were still a problem to be remedied.  They said that you were hell bent on a mission to find the partner who had died, and that you would stop at nothing to find her, even though everyone tried to tell you she was gone. They said that someone had been taunting you, driving you to this, that there was some sick person trying to make you believe that there was hope in searching for her. They told me that one day there would be a woman, a woman who looked like your partner but was not, and if ever I saw her, I should shoot first and ask questions later.  They told me that she was highly dangerous, that she was a master at disguise and deception, and that she would not be who she claimed. They told me that they had been searching for this woman for a long time, and that she was wanted by the government.  Then, in no uncertain terms, they offered me a prestigious position with the FBI, a salary that would set me up for life, if only I would promise to eliminate this woman the second I saw her.

At first, I thought they were nuts.  The whole thing sounded crazy, too crazy to believe, but I told them yes out of necessity. I didnít even want to think about what would happen if I told them no, so I said yes.   They made me sign a contract, and my hand shook the whole time.  I signed my life away and I still canít believe I did it.

But then, when my car skidded to a stop on the side of the road yesterday and I saw her, I knew what the right thing to do would be. I remembered your story, and I knew who she was.  Then I remembered what those men had told me, and I tried to combat it against your words.  I stood there in the rain and just watched her, and tried so hard to justify to myself what I was about to do.

But then I remembered your voice.  I remembered seeing Hopeís sad face, and I realized that I would never be able to do it.  She wasnít dangerous, and somehow I knew she was Scully.  I donít know how I could have known for sure, but I did.  I just looked into her eyes and I knew.  I knew the look of a woman who had once been your partner Fox, and I couldnít do what they asked.  I just couldnít.  No amount of money could make me do it.

But at the same time, I realized I couldnít stay.  If they knew what I had done, if they figured out that I had refused their requestÖ Well, after hearing your story, I got terrified of staying. I knew that something terrible would happen if I stayed, and so I left. I am so sorry, Fox.  Maybe one day youíll forgive me, and if ever it is safe, I can come visit you, Scully and Hope.  Please tell them I said hi, ok?

And please realize that I wonít ever be able to receive a reply at this address, and respect my wishes not to be found. If ever I can find a way, I will contact you.  But until then, just take care of Scully and Hope and give them my best. Give Mrs. Scully my best, too.  And please understand, if you understand nothing else about the events of these past two days, that I did this for you.  Everything I have ever done during the span of our brief partnership I have done for you.  Always remember that and keep yourself safe.

And donít forget to watch the Knicks tonight at 8 pm.  Five bucks says they win by ten points.  You know I never lose. You already owe me five and lunch.  One of these days, Iíll come to collect. Donít forget that, either.

Always,
Kate
*******************