-------- 10 ----------


The phone crackled slightly.  Cell phones were notoriously horrendous when it came to delivering clear quality under an overhang, and tonight was no exception.  Amanda was just pissed that it was cold, that it was cloudy, and that she was even having this conversation at all.  God, just how stupid could one person be, calling her like this when there was an ongoing investigation?  With her old nemesis, Dana Scully the FBI agent, in town? After all, she knew that all phone records could be checked or cross referenced if need be.  Or maybe they could even be bugged, recorded or worse.  It was the damned FBI and malicious No Date Dana, after all, and who knew what kind of dangerous combination that would make?

“I told you, I have it under control!” Amanda hissed, impatiently.  Her breath trailed into the night air and she tapped her foot.  “No,” she continued, after a pause. “No, I---“  She paused again.  At the rate this discussion was going, she thought, things were never going to progress the way they were supposed to.

“I am TELLING you,” she repeated, heatedly.  “I’ll deliver her to you, just as long as you give me time.  Things are going too well to start second guessing ourselves now.  She can’t die until this is all over.  You KNOW that---  Damn it!  Why can't you.... ok, look,  I know you're getting impatient but I have plans! I have fucking plans!  Don’t you understand that?!”  Amanda shook her head and sighed.  “I promise you, everything is running the way I knew it would.   There’s nothing to worry about.  I’ll take care of Dana Scully and her partner when I’m damned good and ready.  She may think she’s a big shot FBI agent now, but I think I know how to take her down a few pegs---“

Her voice cut off when she heard a faint noise, something like a cross between footsteps and a thump against a wall. It could be a colleague, a passer-by, a dog, a cat, a mouse… it could be anything lurking around out there… Fuck, she thought, berating herself.  What am I doing, discussing this where anyone can drop by and hear?

Her eyes narrowed and she shrunk back against the wall.  “This conversation is over,” she said, and slammed her portable shut with a curse.


It didn’t take him all that long to find her.

This was actually, in Mulder’s mind, almost disappointing. After all, he had been so prepared to jazz up his anger.  He had debriefed himself and worked up all kinds of speeches during the time it took him to get from the doorway of his room to the main walkway.   And he had been planning on coming up with more, working on what he would say, how he would stand, except…

Well, suddenly there she was; the moon alighting her russet hair in light blue under the motel’s overhang sign.  Her over-coat covered arms wrapped around her middle as if she were anticipating the winter storm of the century.

But even with the darkness, the abruptness of her departure, and her obvious anger, she was still insanely beautiful, in such the way that Scully always was.

He looked down and opened his mouth.

“You were right, Mulder.”

For a second, he wasn’t quite sure if it had been Scully speaking out loud or just the wind, or maybe even his own head playing tricks on him.  Her voice had been so small and soft that he had to move closer to hear her.  

“What?” he asked, slightly confused.

She turned to face him then, half of her profile obscured by a thick mane of auburn that burned across her cheek.  Damn it, he thought.  He hated not  being able to make out her expression when she spoke to him. He hated that the damned lighting was bad and that he seemed to be glued to the spot. Unable to move.  Fuck, he cursed himself.  He needed to see her.

Scully's eyes always spoke the truth. At least to him. If her lips didn’t say it, her eyes would, and he would always know the truth.

He just couldn’t see her eyes now.

“I shouldn’t have…”  Her hand waved loosely by her side as if trying to convey her point.  She shook her head and finished, “blown up at you… overreacted… acted like…”  Her voice trailed off and she stopped, hoping that he would understand her without her embarrassing herself further with a full-blown apology.

Mulder licked his lips, needing to change the subject.  This wasn’t what we need to be talking about right now, he rationalized. Work first, relationship second.  He knew that.  Of course h e knew that.  They had both made that abundantly clear in the beginning.  We need to get off this subject, he concluded silently---and fast.

Mulder licked his lips, recalling the case, the phone call, his ideas, what he came out here to talk about in the first place; the scientific ramblings of an angered NYPD cop.  He remembered what he was supposed to tell her, remembered the autopsy data and offered, “Scully, I---“

“No…”  She held up a surrendering hand to him, a proverbial white flag of sorts,  but he still couldn’t see her face. He strained harder.  “Please,” she continued, almost hoarsely.  “Let me say this Mulder.  Before I loose my…”

When she paused this time, Mulder crept closer and was able to make out her blue eyes, large and sapphire in the dark of the evening.  Sadness belayed her normally sparkling crispness, and suddenly, the case disappeared from his consciousness.  Something was wrong, he thought. Very wrong.

Their gazes caught and held, and he wondered, briefly, what she had been about to say.   Before I loose my mind?  My sanity?  My nerve?

My heart to you?…

He shuddered to think it.

“I’ve been thinking, Mulder,” She shifted feet, “about these past few months… About random chance occurrances, the ominous qualities of fate… or lack of…”  She shrugged and shifted again.  “I’ve been thinking about… us…”  Her lips pursed for a moment, and then her head fell back to regard the stars, the blanket of velvet above them.   She let out an almost mirthless sounding chuckle, then went on, “us… Us as in you and I.  The intimate you and I, that is, and.... God, Mulder...  By all rights and means, there should be no ‘us,’ should there be?”

Their eyes connected again and Mulder felt his heart begin to sink.  As if a part of him knew. Or, in some way, a part of him understood what she was about to do and he dreaded it like the apocalypse.

“When I said ‘us’ for the first time, Mulder…”  Her voice trembled slightly, “I felt as if we had won.  For the first time in years, I felt alive.  I thought we had won the battle, one menial battle, if never the war. There was victory in the word ‘us.’  There was something to savor. There was ‘us’ and no matter how deeply anyone strived, nothing and no one was going to break that ‘us.’  But…”  Her jaw rose then as if in anticipation of her own unwanted emotions.  Her back straightened.  Her shoulders squared. Firm.  Resolute. Nothing ever hurt her when she was special agent Dana Katherine Scully....

But inside her heart she was just Dana; hurting and in love.  Her posture was resolute but her eyes were the truth.  Her eyes were desperate. Desperate and hopelessly sad.

“Scully, don----“

“In retrospect, the biggest threat to ‘us’ was never ‘them,’ was it Mulder?  It wasn’t some unseen force or some shadow conspiracy. Some double agent or some ominous evil lurking in the corners...It was you and I. The whole time the biggest threat to 'us' was.... us.  Ironic, when you think about it."

Mulder shook his head and opened his mouth to speak, to try and stop her from going on.   But Scully was stubborn as hell, and she would have none of it.

"God, Mulder," she breathed," I wanted this so badly... I needed..."  She sighed.  "Well, it doesn't matter anymore what I needed because I think we both know that it's not enough."

His heart broke. It broke and exploded in unbearable agony.


“Don’t.” she stopped him, once again with that surrendering hand.  “I think it’s time that we faced…” She paused for a shaky breath, “faced the idea that there can’t ever be an ‘us,’ Mulder. Not as long as we are who we are…”  Her jaw finally began to tremble and Mulder chewed on his lower lip to keep himself in check.

Damn it, he thought, angrily.  It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

He decided to take the chance and move even closer when her breathing hitched, when her voice seemed as if it were going to crack and shatter.  He paused just outside her personal space and hovered, quietly.  She didn’t stop him and for a moment, his world seemed to hang by a thread.

Almost instinctively, as second nature to him as breathing, he reached a hand to the side of her cheek, letting his fingers play against the corner of her mouth.  He could feel the muscles underneath fighting for control, shaking beneath the creamy ivory of her skin.  All she wanted was to cry and all he wanted was to hold her.  Both were two things neither of them could bring themselves to do.

So all he did was touch her cheek, the corner of her mouth, her jawline. It felt so right, so agonizingly wonderful.  For him to touch her like they had forever in that one moment. For him to touch her at all.

“No,” he whispered.  “You’re wrong and I won’t let you…”

Her mouth opened and she let out what sounded like a wheeze----a cross between breathing and crying---before she closed her mouth again, leaning into his touch.  Her eyes were softly closed, her skin melding against his fingers. Carefully, she whispered, “it’s…over….what was or wasn’t… It has to be… it’s better this way… Mulder…”  He felt a tear fall silently over his index finger and she continued, “we should have never---“

His jaw set.  His brain muddled his heart with fear.  He cut her off.

His arm somehow winded its way fervently around her waist. The fingers he had placed on her jaw curled around the nape of her slender neck.  His nose brushed past hers, his hands brought her close, and he silenced her protests with a savagely possessive siege of her lips.  His mouth slanted first right, then left, and he threw himself, his heart, his soul, his everything into one solitary act of kissing, one last, desperate measure to keep the one woman in the world he wanted more than anything, from leaving him.

And he would have sworn success, would have counted on it from the way her mouth eagerly dove for his.  The way his whole body crackled with intensity, as if she herself were throwing sparks.  The way her hands flew to his chest, then snaked around his waist, wandered to his hair, over his shoulders, and down his back, where she dug her nails in deep, raked them down his spine like a woman possesssed.

So he kissed her again.  And again.  As if they could drink energy and life from each other, merely from holding one another and pressing their lips in an act of joining.  Two becoming one.   First one savage kiss, then another, and another and another.  Until finally, Mulder had to come up for air and Scully’s breathing changed.

Her body stiffened.  Her arms went rigid around his waist, her shoulder squared back and her hands shoved him away with a single, fluid motion.  And before he could even open his mouth to protest, to say something to change her mind, she shook her head and touched a hand to her lips; as if she could burn the memory of him there and not forget, if only she tried hard enough.

“Stop,” she said, and it was more than enough to break him.  To halt him in his tracks.  “I---we can’t….”

“Yes,” Mulder protested, reaching for her, “Yes, we can.  We can, Scu---“

She backed away further, turning towards the direction of the cabin.  “We can’t,” she managed, her voice small and miserable.  “And I don’t think we ever could have.”

Mulder shook his head firmly.  His jaw clenched.  “You don’t think that,” he told her firmly, a tinge of desperation clinging to his words.  “You can’t possibly think that.  It’s not true, Scully, I---“ a lump lodged in his throat and she waited for a moment, almost as if she were considering him.  “Scully, I---“ But there was that lump again, large and pronounced, hindering him.

“Goodnight, Mulder,” she finally managed, taking one last look, as if it were goodbye instead of sweet dreams, and she turned around again.

Mulder felt rooted to the spot, trapped, his legs like lead. He watched as Scully took off in first a brisk walk, and then a run, holding her hand close to her face as if she were crying and didn’t want him to see. At that point, Mulder wasn’t sure if the site of her made him angry or sad or both.   All he knew was that he was losing her; the friend he once had, the partner who trusted his instincts and, more importantly, the woman he had fallen ridiculously in love with.  He was losing every part of her. All of it.

His eyes closed.  “Scully, I love you,” he whispered, finally.

But for the second time in two days it was too little too late, and she never heard him.


To be continued...