Sun Nov 17 1996
"Through a glass, darkly"
by Pellinor (Pellinor@astolat.demon.co.uk)
CLASSIFICATION: A S
SUMMARY: As he awaits his victim, a gunman is driven towards
insanity by "memories" that don't appear to be his own.
DISCLAIMER: The X-Files and its characters are the property of
Chris Carter, 1013 Productions and Fox, and I torture them without
permission but with no mercenary intent.
FEEDBACK: Yes please.
And to all those people who now think I'm evil incarnate for
refusal to write a sequel to "Cry in the dark" (no, this isn't one)
- this time, while _I_ think this story stands by itself, I _can_
see a way to a sequel, if people want one.
The visions were strong that night - pictures clawing at his
searing his vision, choking his breath, his thoughts, his life.
He couldn't speak aloud, although all his being wanted to
his protest at the treacherous images that refused to leave him a
minute free from their lies.
"Leave me alone!"
A silent hiss through gritted teeth, one hand clamped to his
temple, fingers and thumb digging into the sides of his head until
the muscles trembled and the pain lanced from his fingertips.
Whisper, whisper.... Never speak. Mustn't speak, mustn't
mustn't shout. Silence, although every second of silence is a
Dark room, dark night, dark life. The shiny feel of a gun in
hand, damp now with the sweat of his aching fingers. A gun. A
bullet, ripping out of the dark, tearing a life away in a welter of
red. And _he_ would be the one...
My fault. Death. Blood. Death.... My fault.
Why was that feeling so familiar?
But it _had_ to be. A life for a life. A death for a life.
the price. Someone would die, but he would be free. Free....
Hiding in the shadows, silently waiting. Soon....
Blood. Death. Pain.
No! Don't think of that. Quick. Say it quickly. Don't think
of _that_. Say it quickly, so the words don't have time to reach
the mind. Say it....
Hiding in the shadows, silently waiting. Soon.... Soon the
would open and they would come in and he would point his gun at
their head and pull the trigger and the person would fall to the
ground dead and he'd be free.
But the visions were blinding now, filling his world like the
of a camera, a series of dazzling photographs.
Crouching in another dark room, alone and terrified, blood on
hands. Someone was dead - a man - an older man - someone close and
yet not close. Blood on his hands as he held the phone, as he
dialled the number, his fingers pressing the buttons as if that
number was the most familiar thing in his life. He was scared,
grief-stricken, sick, but there was still hope. _She_ would answer
the phone. _She_ would know what to do. _She_ would help him.
"Go away! Leave me alone! I don't know you!"
He was rocking to and fro in the dark now - _this_ dark, not
treacherous dark of the visions. The gun had slipped from his hand,
and his arms were wrapped around his knees, holding himself
together as the pictures assailed him.
"Go away! It's not...."
An empty room full of people. Camera flashes, red lights
the street, men asking questions, taking samples, doing....
nothing. Empty, empty room. She was gone. Blood on the glass of the
coffee table, a battered phone on the floor, her message ringing in
his ears. And blood on his hands again. Always blood on his hands.
He ran his trembling hands across his face, half-expecting to
the moist stickiness of blood, but they were clean. But soon....
Sitting in the dark, a gun in his hands, despair and hatred in
heart. The hands of the clock crawled round - a minute, a second,
an eternity. The gun on the table, his eyes on the door,
waiting.... Soon _they_ would come, the people who'd killed her.
They would come, but he'd be waiting and then they'd pay for what
they'd done. And then....? He was as much to blame as....
He leant back hard, letting the pain jolt through his skull as
hit the wall again and again, trying to force the lies from his
"It's not true! It's not true! It's not me!"
But who are you?
He frowned, tears of concentration running down his cheeks.
he have to fight so hard to get the true memories when the lies
came so readily?
Who am I?
"Your name is George Davies."
He sighed, feeling the relief wash through him as that voice,
true voice of his memory, spoke to him across the weeks, taking him
back to that day the nightmare had started.
"Your name is George Davies." Her voice had trembled
and her eyes
had been red-rimmed with crying. "You don't remember?"
"I.... " His voice had been hoarse, strangled by the
he'd felt as he'd groped in his memory and found nothing but a dark
empty room full of terror. "I don't remember anything!"
"It's okay, honey." She'd reached over and stroked
his face, a
strand of her long dark hair brushing across his face. "You've had
a nasty accident, but the doctor says you'll probably remember
soon. I'll look after you."
He'd tried to smile then, but inside the terror was holding
the throat and squeezing until he felt dizzy.
"It's wrong, it's wrong, it's wrong!" He'd bit his
lip until the
blood welled out, desperate to stop the words from escaping, to
stop himself from flinching from his wife's touch.
But it _had_ felt wrong. It _still_ felt wrong, even now he'd
the proof, even now he knew that the doubts - everything he'd been
feeling - were the treacherous lies of madness. Opening his eyes in
the hospital bed, looking up at the white ceiling, hearing the
gentle pulsing of the monitors, feeling the needles in his arm,
he'd slowly turned his head to the side, trying to focus, expecting
to see.... who? He hadn't known, he didn't know - but _not_ her.
That woman - his wife - she'd just felt.... wrong.
Her hair on his cheek, dark, curly, smelling of peaches....
Another colour, another smell....
Her hand on his brow, pushing back a lock of hair from falling
his eyes.... Wrong. Someone else....
Her lips on his lips, a lingering kiss as she prepared to
Wrong. All wrong.
But he hadn't known then what he knew now - hadn't seen the
wrongness for what it was. Then, he'd still clung to the illusion
that he was sane.
And so he'd screwed his eyes tight shut, clenched his fists
the muscles ached, and hoped, wished, prayed that the nightmare
"I'm George Davies!" he'd shouted, over and over,
unfamiliar syllables to suddenly click into place and seem right,
watching the nurses' faces turn from understanding to irritation to
"I _am_ George Davies?"
And then he'd taken to grabbing the nurses by the hand,
them stiffen with uneasy wariness, pleading with them to set the
doubts at bay.
"I am, I am, I am." The words muttered like a
statement of faith,
his constant companion over the past few weeks, repeated day and
night from that first evening to this dark night now. "I _am_
But it had never felt more wrong than it did now.
"Of course you are. Why would we lie to you?"
Another voice from
his memory now, taking him back to that second morning in the
hospital when his throat had been raw from a night of terror.
His wife - _Linda_, he reminded himself, although he could
say the name without it catching in his throat with the
unfamiliarity of it - his wife had returned, but this time had
brought with her a man - a middle-aged man who brought the smell of
smoke in with his clothes and who spoke as if there were untold
volumes of meaning behind his words.
"You're in the best possible hands here," he'd said,
twitching as if they wanted to hold onto a cigarette. "We were
talking to the doctors and they say you'll be free to go home in a
few days, just as long as you keep taking the medicine." And then
his eyes had flashed a warning, and he'd known that the nurse had
told him what had happened earlier - how he'd screamed and fought,
still more than half lost in a nightmare, and had refused to let
them inject him, insisting that they would make him forget.
"Home?" he'd managed to stammer, wondering why this
man made the
sweat come out on his brow in little cold prickles of dread. Was
this man his father?
Cold, distant, the smell of whisky and cigarette smoke. Arms
to embrace, but meeting only a formal handshake, their hands
touching briefly but their hearts driven thousands of miles apart
by the weight of over twenty years.
"I'm sorry, Dad." The words from the vision were
louder and more
insistent than the words of the people who'd spoken to him, shaken
him, tried to recall him to reality. Tears on his cheeks, his voice
cracking. "I'm sorry...."
And that had been the first - the first of the lying visions
haunted him with picture of people that had never existed, words
that had never been spoken.
It had been a needle that had stopped it, then. A cold needle,
stabbing into his arm, spreading the drug through his veins,
driving him into a safe sleep of forgetfulness where he'd been
lulled by the urgent whispered words that had hissed around him.
".... remember.... he is...." That had been his
wife, her voice
distorted, though whether by tears or by the pulsing waves of
drowsiness that washed over his senses, he couldn't tell.
"Don't worry....." The man with the smoke-hardened
drugs.... remember.... everything.... right."
Everything would be all right.
Everything would be okay.
And so he'd been able to relax, to take a deep breath and let
darkness claim him.
It would all be okay.....
But it hadn't been.
"Oh God!" he groaned, resting his head on his bent
the darkness wrap itself around him. He was curled in a corner,
hiding in the dark, hiding from himself as much as from the person
he had to.... to....
Blood on the doorstep, a torrent of red around the dying face.
lay on her back, on her front, on her side.... Flash, flash, flash
- changing images, flickering in ever more terrifying imaginings,
as if this was a scene he'd never seen but had heard about, had
visualised in a thousand painful ways. Dying on the threshold, a
bullet in the brain, killed by someone who'd hidden in the
darkness, waiting for....
"She died for me."
That voice again - the voice which haunted all his visions.
red with crying, hair shining in the sterile room as she stared at
an empty bed, her body fragile yet determined as he pulled her
close and comforted her.
Blood on the threshold, blood on his hands....
It took all his strength not to cry out, not to shatter the
with the force of his torment. He _had_ to let it out, but not by
shouting - not that. Instead he let his fingernails shout his
anguish, digging into his palms until the blood trickled down to
his wrists, warm and sticky.
Blood on his hands....
He'd dreamed of blood that night in the hospital, the painful
vision slicing through the soothing sleep that the drugs and the
man's words had enveloped him in. Blood in his sleep, blood in his
waking visions.... Blood.... and that aching terrifying feeling
that everything was wrong.
"Were you dreaming?" The man again, his lined face a
concern although his eyes had been unreadable.
"I... I...." But he'd been without words to express
the horror that
had still clung to him from the dream.
"Everything will be all right." The man's mouth had
in a ghost of a smile. "We'll take care of you."
But the man's words had faded in and out of his hearing, his
flickering and changing and becoming the same but different - a
face calmly smoking as someone pointed a gun at it, smiling with
the knowledge that the gunman was too weak to kill him.
"You gave us quite a fright," the man had continued,
velvety, his eyes like flint. "We won't let you.... slip away like
that again. We'll keep you safe."
And then the man had smiled, his smile shattering the image of
gun into a thousand pieces, leaving him wondering why he was so
ungrateful as to imagine someone trying to kill this man, why he
was so treacherous as to shudder at his proximity.
"Who.... who are you?" he'd stammered, desperate to
hear the true
facts of his life, hoping they would drive away the visions.
"I'm a friend of the family," the man had smiled.
continued after a pause, "your boss."
"My boss?" _That_ hadn't seemed right. "What.... what do I do?"
Talk to me, tell me, explain.... His mind had been reeling in
panic, suddenly desperate to know everything. Learn the facts, know
the truth and something - _something_ - would seem familiar, would
prompt his memory and end this nightmare.
"National Security." The man had straightened his
back, raised his
head, his face etched with pride and certainty. "You work for me,
and _we_ work for the country."
"When can I go back?" He'd felt suddenly desperate
to go to work,
desperate to do something - _anything_ - that would make him feel
useful. Lying in bed, dependent on others for life, sustenance,
even his name, was a nightmare of impotence.
The man had tilted his head to one side, considering.
your memory's back, there's little you can do. But there are a few
things - one thing in particular...." And then he'd smiled a smile
that had sent chills running up and down his spine, although he'd
known it was wrong to fear this man - his boss, his old friend.
But _this_ is wrong!
He was back in the dark room again, back in the present, the
the floor beside him as he screwed his eyes shut against the
visions, tried to shut his ears to the little voice whispering in
Fresh blood trickled on the drying blood on his hands, but
time it was not enough and he spoke aloud, hearing his voice as a
clamour in the silence of the apartment - a silence that would soon
be a pall for the dead.
"This is right_!"
He banged his head on the wall again, trying to drive out the
voices - voices which shouted and nagged and cajoled, telling him
that this was wrong, that the man was wrong, that his promise was
not to be trusted.
"It's _right_! And then I can be free!"
end of part 1 of "Through a glass, darkly"
Please send (polite!) comments to
From Pellinor@astolat.demon.co.uk Sun Nov 17 09:25:11 1996
"Through a glass, darkly" part 2 of 2
by Pellinor (Pellinor@astolat.demon.co.uk)
CLASSIFICATION: A S
SUMMARY: As he awaits his victim, a gunman is driven towards
insanity by "memories" that don't appear to be his own.
When had it started, the road that had led him to this dark place?
That first time in the hospital, when they'd drugged him, the
of many times, trying to help him drive away the visions?
No, not then - for after that, for days after that, the man
still spoken as if he was sane, as if he'd get better, as if
everything would be all right.... as if there was still hope.
No, it was after that, days later still, that their manner had
changed when they'd looked at him, when they'd stopped talking
about "when" he got his memory back and had talked about "if".
He'd been home by then. Home - soft carpets, warm walls, a
cat.... no children. Pictures on the mantelpiece - himself, her....
separate but never together. Warm house, but.... empty....
cold..... a terrifying empty cavern devoid of memory and life.
The day he'd been discharged from the hospital had been the
time his wife had smiled.
"Come on, honey." His wife's unfamiliar presence at
supporting him as he climbed from the car. She'd still felt wrong -
taller than she should be, smelling wrong. "I've asked some friends
round to welcome you home."
Leaning heavily on her arm, he'd taken a step forward, then
- slowly, shakily. Someone opened the door and he'd stepped inside,
feeling his heart pound, feeling the terror course through his
veins, feeling as if he was stepping into a prison rather than his
"Welcome home!" A chorus of dark voices, a ring of
Dark suits, eyes of steel, voices harsh with the chill of
Alone at the end of a long long table, his eyes still itching, his
throat raw from.... what? "You've gone too far this time. We're
closing you down." A smile of pity from the man who spoke, but the
other men, staring from the shadows, had smiled, and there faces
were the same as.....
"No! You can't! Leave me alone!"
He hadn't known that he'd shouted aloud until he felt his
hands on his shoulders, shaking him back to reality.
"It's okay, honey. It's just our friends coming to
home. I'm sorry." These last words had been addressed to the room
at large. "It's too soon. He's still very sick. I'm sorry. I
shouldn't have invited you." And she'd tried to smile her
apologies, and the men had tried to smile their acceptance, strange
smiles on their lips as their eyes had looked at him as sharp as
But after they'd gone she'd sighed sadly, wearily, and had
reluctant to touch him.
"I must remember. I must!" he'd said to himself over
seeing her face turned away, hearing the impatience in her voice.
But he hadn't.
Instead, the nightmare had started to engulf his every waking
Hours, days, weeks.... Sinking further and further into....
Insanity? He hadn't dared to voice that thought, but slowly,
relentlessly, the visions had overwhelmed him until at last there
was no other option.
Opening the refrigerator, reaching for an iced tea....
A dark street. A car. And _her_ - the woman, her hair burning
a brand in the darkness, her eyes full of sincerity, friendship
"I don't know you!" he'd shouted, dropping the
bottle, feeling the
glass cut into his bare foot but not caring. "Go away! I don't know
That had been the first time he'd seen her. Since then the
the devil with the fiery hair - had tormented him, forever in his
visions, trying to drag him into the quagmire of insanity. Smiling,
crying, shouting, frowning - he'd seen her in every form, use every
wile to drag him down.
And he'd been powerless to resist.
Waking up, wincing from the pain which had taken weeks to go
Her face bending over him, her lips moving in words he
quite focus on, not just yet. His shoulder hurt, his mouth was dry
- but she was offering him water, she would make everything better.
Always there for him, looking after him, even though he didn't
Looking after him. Making everything better. That's what she
him to think, but he hadn't been taken in - he'd known it was just
the voice of a deceiver trying to distract him from the truth.
Oh, he'd asked his wife, described the woman and asked if this
some memory trying to emerge, but she'd frowned, her face full of
hurt. "You married me at 20, while we were still students," she'd
said, showing him the documentation to prove it, "and you haven't
spent a night away from home in all our married life, apart from
those few days in the hospital. There's no way all those so-called
"memories" could be true."
But that hadn't kept them away.
Soon he'd dreaded every waking moment, dreaded every minute of
sleep, knowing that the visions could come at any moment, prompted
by any false trigger. He'd scarcely dared to look, to listen, to
smell, knowing that the slightest thing could lead to a terrifying
descent into the nightmare.
It had come to a head a few days ago now. November 27th.
He'd woken up, looked at the calendar, and then....
He had no idea how often he'd screamed that word, but at last
voice had given up, all the sound scraped from it by the force of
A girl, her face twisted with screaming, calling out a
Why had it filled him with such horror? She wasn't calling for
_him_. This was nothing to do with him.
"Leave her alone! Take me instead!"
Someone had come in, their footsteps like a death knell on the
wooden floor, and he'd run to them, pounding at them, tears flowing
down his face as he'd begged and begged....
And then something had stabbed into his arm and everything had
"I can't take this any more." The first thing he'd
seen as he'd
drifted towards consciousness was his wife's eyes, red with
"Wha... what?" His own voice had been like a little
paper, lost in the pounding in his head. "What happened?"
It had always been like that after the drugs. The visions that
seemed to real, so insistent, faded to a vague shadow of memory. It
was only now, now that he sat in the dark and waited, that the full
memories of those terrifying experiences were coming back to him.
"I can't," his wife had repeated. "God knows
that I've tried, but
you need more help than I can give you. I've called.... someone.
They'll take you away to somewhere they can look after you and make
"No!" he'd croaked, all the sound he could muster
with his raw
throat. "I'm not crazy!"
But his wife had only shaken her head sadly, tears trickling
her cheeks, and he'd known that she was right.
"Can I talk to him?" A voice from the shadows, the
smell of smoke
in the air.
And that was when it had happened - the deal - the promise -
chance of freedom. It was then that all the threads were brought
together, drawing him inexorably to this room, this night, this....
"Listen! Think! Remember!" he urged himself, feeling
his mind begin
to stray. "Remember why you're here. Remember why this is right."
"She's right, you know." Smoke in his throat,
choking him, making
him want to scream. "I was here. I saw everything. And don't forget
everyone who saw what happened when you came home. They'll back her
up as well."
He'd shut his eyes, wishing he could die, wondering if life
always been this.... nightmare. Had he ever been happy? Maybe this
was nothing - maybe his memory had gone because he'd blanked out an
even greater trauma. Maybe forgetting was best. But if that was so,
then what was there to live for?
"She's taken a lover," the man continued,
has.... connections. If she has you committed, she'll make sure you
never get out. You'll be in there for life." Then he'd paused,
taking a deep breath of smoke, surveying him through eyes of steel.
It was only then that he'd realised that the terror he'd felt
earlier had been nothing. Blood had run down his chin and his
palms, but he'd had no voice left to scream with.
The word, hanging like a sword over his head, promising....
The cigarette had twisted firmly in the ash tray - a cruel
movement, like gouging a man's eyes out.
"But... There's something you can do for me." A
sudden smile, like
a grinning death's head. "And if you do...."
The tension had pulsed in the room, the blood pounding in his
A long, long silence of terrible suspense as a flame flared briefly
"If you do...." A breath of smoke from the new
cigarette. "I will
make sure that doesn't happen. I have.... contacts too. I promise
you, you will be well taken care of, and.... well, perhaps we'll
get what we've always wanted."
"What?" No sounds had come out as he'd mouthed the
his bleeding lips. "What do you want me to do?"
Anything. Anything to end this nightmare. Anything....
Anything? To get his memory back, to put a rest to the
"No!" How had it been possible that there was any
fresh horror he
The man had raised his hand, urging silence. "Let me
person is a traitor. They've been working to undermine the country.
They.... If they were arrested they should be sentenced to death
anyway, but it would cost the people hundreds of thousands of
dollars to try them, and if they managed to hire a good lawyer...."
His face had twisted with hatred, letting the sentence hang.
"But.... murder?" He'd not been so desperate yet
that his stomach
hadn't churned at the thought of killing someone in cold blood.
"Not murder. Justice." The man had said. "Look
at the suffering
people like this have caused."
Then he'd opened a briefcase, pulling out sheaves and sheaves
photographs. A man, body charred so it was scarcely human, lying
next to a bombed train. Another man, seen from a distance, face
unrecognisable, dead on a bridge as someone bent over him. Several
soldiers, hideously burned, lying dead in an emergency room as the
doctor looked at them in despair....
And more.... Lots more....
Deaths, each one more hideous than the last.
"These people were all working for National
Security," the man had
continued, although his face had floated in and out of focus as the
dead and pain and blood had flashed in visions before his eyes.
"But this person and their associates caused all this by their
A bridge at night. Cold, tense, breath condensing into little
of moisture in the crisp air. And a woman.... who? Not the woman
from his visions, though he sensed she was there somewhere too, but
another woman, with long brown hair and a strange expression on her
face, as if she knew what was going to happen and had accepted it.
But a man was holding death at her throat, his eyes sharp as a
knife. She was going to die. She was going to die, and his grief
filled the whole night, rising up and catching him by the throat,
choking the life from him.
Oh God, oh God! Grief... bereavement. Seeing a loved one
from life. Seeing death.
How many of the people in the photographs had left loved ones
behind? How many lives had been torn apart by these.... monsters?
Oh God, oh God! Make it go away, Make these pictures go away.
want them to go, and I want to kill the person who's done all this.
"Yes!" Suddenly the visions fell away and he was
clear-minded and earnest. "I'll do it."
And the man had smiled.
"It's right! It's right!" he repeated now, trying to
pictures back into his mind, trying to remember the hatred that had
flowered then, leading him to this room. "I _must_ kill him, then
it will be okay."
But it didn't seem right at all, and the visions crowded in so
close that he couldn't think, couldn't breathe.
Smiling in a hospital bed, a gold cross hanging from her
Taking him in her arms as he cried for someone else, some
place, his body bruised and his heart full of guilt and despair....
Sitting there, proud and defiant, parrying accusations with
covering for him, saving him....
Footsteps in the hall, clicking of heels...
He reached for the gun, scarcely able to keep his hand steady,
knowing that he _had_ to. Kill the person - kill him and then go
free. Drive a bullet through the visions that had deprived him of
hope, of happiness.... of sanity.
Keep calm, keep calm, keep calm....
"No! Not now! Not ever! Not now!"
His left hand curled into claws, raking down his cheek,
blood, using pain to drive away the vision, to drag him back to the
A key in the lock. Metallic rattle, every noise drawn out into
eternity of waiting.
Soon. Soon.... A few seconds, and they'd be dead and he'd be free.
Blood. Blood on his cheek. Blood on his chin. Blood on his
Light, slanting across the dark as the door opened a crack,
further, more and more, until....
Raise the gun, breathe deeply to stop the shaking.... Think!
Aim! Just a few seconds...
A footstep on the floor, echoing in his head. Step.... Step.... .
Soon. Just a step more.... into the light. Silhouetted against
light of the hallway, hand about to reach for the light but cut
down just too soon.
Come on! Come on! Just one step more? Why did he pause? What
And then he saw him.
Not _him_ after all.
Red hair shining in the light from the hall, shoulders sagging
defeat and despair, breath catching in her throat as if tears had
been her constant companion for weeks.
The devil from his visions, come to claim him, come to drag
him the last vestiges of sanity.
The gun fell from his hand with a crash as he shut his eyes
the sudden light, curling up into a little ball to hide from....
Little. Make myself little. She won't see me. She'll leave me
alone. Then I can be safe.
She spoke - a word, a name? But words meant nothing now -
only spoke in visions to deceive. Words were nothing. There was
A hand on his shoulder, shaking him. A hand on his forehead,
stroking him. A hand on his body, pulling him....
And all the while warm wetness was falling on his face,
If I open my eyes she won't be there.... If I open my eyes she
won't be there.... If I open my eyes she won't be there....
Eyes wrenched open, slowly, slowly, blinking in the light.
But her face was still there, and she was smiling, even though
tears were falling as if they'd never stop.
end of "Through a glass, darkly"
Please send (polite!) comments to
"Face to face"
by Pellinor (Pellinor@astolat.demon.co.uk)
(Please archive this as "Through a glass, darkly: Face to face")
SUMMARY: Scully comes home to find a gunman in her apartment,
but it's not what she'd expect.
This is a sequel/companion to "Through a glass,
darkly," but I
don't think you need to have read that piece to understand this
FEEDBACK: Yes please.
Someone was watching her.
Eyes in the dark, breath on her neck, a voice at her ear, a
raised to kill....
She could feel it in her thoughts, her heart, her memory.
Someone out there in the dark, watching her, waiting to.... kill
Or was it - could it be....?
No. No-one. No-one was there. Nobody.
Scully paused, leaning her head back against the wall, as she
struggled with the tears that were never far away, not now.
Nobody. Always nobody, all those times she'd whirled round,
heart catching in her throat, _sure_ she could feel his presence
at her side, smiling as he had been the last time she'd seen
him. Just her imagination, that's all it was, this feeling of
being watched. Her hopes of his return. Her fears of....
"Mulder!" The icy air evaporated her sudden tears,
stinging tracks across her cheeks, slashing like a knife. "Oh
_That's_ what it was all about, she knew that - knew it with
rational part of her mind. These nightmares, these waking
nightmares of being watched by someone with murder in their eyes
- they weren't about her at all. No, she was thinking,
empathising.... _panicking_ - envisaging his feelings as he
realised they'd come for him, and his pain as they....
She fumbled with her key, suddenly desperate to get into the
warmth, away from the prying eyes of the night.
Take a deep breath, bite your lip, dig your nails into your
palms and think, think, _think_.... Keep in control. Keep this
in. Soon, soon.... Just a few more minutes and you'll be safe,
cocoonned in your apartment, and then you can hide in the dark
Safe. Safe in her apartment, like _he_...?
No! Not yet! Don't cry yet. Soon.... Not yet.
Tears, warm and burning on her cheeks, forced out by the
memories that choked her throat like a garrotte.
Three weeks ago, give or take a few days....
Oh God! Who was she trying to kid? Twenty-two days, twenty-one
hours and ten minutes - a lifetime of long, painful seconds -
since she'd arrived at his apartment, shaking with cold and
terror, knowing but not knowing what she'd find.
"He said he'd call me!" That thought had been
her head, over and over, as she'd raced through the streets,
without a coat or even a jacket, her tyres squealing with her
haste. "He said he'd call me, but..."
An hour gone by, then two.... Oh, she'd called him, of course,
not so proud that she had to wait for him, or so secure that she
could listen to the silent phone without worrying for his
safety. Call after call, long minutes listening to the ceaseless
ringing.... ten, eleven, twelve.... the cold mechanical tone -
not a human voice, not _his_ voice. No voice at home, no voice
at work, no voice on his cellphone, no voice even on his
answering machine. No voice. No.... nothing. Just that
interminable ringing tone.... twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two....
"Damn you!" Ringing in her ear, nagging and
her with his absence. "Damn you!" She'd thrown the phone hard
against the wall, almost disappointed when it didn't break. "I'm
And she had....
What had she been expecting, that she'd been so horrified by
what she'd found? That he'd be asleep, and they'd laugh off her
panic together? That he'd be sick or hurt, and she'd patch him
up as she always did? That he was...? She still couldn't say
that word, although she'd thought, then, that she'd steeled
herself to see him.... like _that_.
Oh, she'd thought she'd been prepared for everything, but....
It had been the emptiness that had broken her as she'd stepped
into his apartment, feeling his absence, feeling a sudden dread
that she might never see him again. Mile upon mile of darkness
outside pressing on her from all sides, pressing down on
emptiness while he was.... somewhere.... anywhere.... nowhere?
There had just been.... nothing. Empty room, empty life. No
Mulder. No signs. No....
How many minutes had she stood there before she'd seen it? A
minute, an hour, a lifetime, frozen in the middle of his room,
frozen into shocked immobility while every second had been
taking him further away from her.
A note, thick black writing on stark paper, staring her in the
face while her senses had screamed at the emptiness but her eyes
had been blind.
A note, addressed to her.
Oh, she shouldn't have touched it, she knew that now, knowing
what she did. She should have left it, had it dusted for prints,
bagged it as evidence. It was so easy to say that now, so easy
to reproach herself. But then....
"He's ditched me!" She'd thrown herself on the
the cushions with all her strength, feeling the worry suddenly
transformed into raging fury. "He's ditched me! He's ditched
And he hadn't even given a reason....
"Scully, I've got to go. I'm sorry."
That was all. That was all he'd left her with. So cold. So
terse. So.... _not_ Mulder.
"Damn you, Mulder! I need more!" she'd shouted,
his apartment like a whirlwind, rummaging through his
possessions looking for clues. There had to be more - _had_ to
be. A clue to where he'd gone. A clue to _why_ he'd gone.
But there had been nothing. Some clothes missing from his
wardrobe, a few possessions taken, mostly photographs, but
nothing else. No clue. Nothing.
Why had she been so ready to believe that, when nothing had
seemed to fit? Why hadn't she doubted straight away? It was so
obvious to her now, playing back that last day with him like an
endless rerun in her memory, scrutinising it for hidden nuances.
Why hadn't she seen it then? Was it just that he'd left her so
often in the past that the slightest suggestion that he'd done
it again pushed her off a precipice of anger too great for
It just wasn't right - _hadn't_ been right. She should have
realised. She should have seen it earlier, and gained precious
hours. Maybe if she _had_, he'd be here today. Maybe her
blindness had.... had _killed_ him. Maybe....
"No!" she whispered now, digging her nails into her
calm the growing hysteria of her thoughts. "Don't think of
But it's my fault....
The little whimper of anguish wasn't silenced by the cautions
her conscious mind, and it hissed in her mind, making her reach
for the support of the wall and stand there, fighting the sobs
which threatened to overwhelm her.
I failed him. I was so ready to think the worst of him, that I
failed him. It's my fault - _my_ fault.
"No!" She drove her fist into the wall, brows
concentration. "There's no _time_ to think like that!"
What good could it do Mulder, wallowing in the past, paralysed
by guilt? The future was what mattered - a future in which
Mulder could still perhaps be saved.
She _had_ failed him, there was no doubt about it. Three years
in the X-Files and she still hadn't learnt not to take things at
their face value. That note _had_ said one thing, but she should
have listened to _him_ - to his actions, his words, the last
time she'd seen him.
"What are you doing tonight?" he'd asked, casually,
as they were
preparing to leave the office. It had barely been five o'clock,
but they'd been between cases, enjoying a rare day without a
"Oh, just a quiet evening in with a video, then an early
She'd scarcely been able to stifle a yawn as she'd answered,
stretching her arms above her head to loosen the tight muscles.
"Shall I come and tuck you in?" he'd asked with a
sly smile, his
tone insinuating far more than his words.
"In your dreams, Mulder!" She'd swatted him gently,
tried to hide her genuine smile. He'd been through so much
lately, since his mother's stroke, and it had only been those
last few days, when he'd started smiling again, that she'd
realised how seldom he'd smiled before. "But you can call me if
you like," she'd added, knowing how much he valued having
someone to talk to in his long solitary evenings.
"Okay. Ten o'clock. It's a date."
And those had been the last words she'd heard him speak....
So why hadn't she listened to his words that terrible night?
hadn't she pulled them to pieces and analysed them to see they
were _not_ the words of someone so stressed that they had to run
away and hide? Sure, he'd ditched her before, but always for a
reason - in the heat of the moment, or with some attempt at an
explanation. Why had she been so.... untrue to him that she'd
just assumed the worst of him, even though it just hadn't fitted
with his behaviour?
Why, why, why? Questions, questions.... Questions that
be answered but only pounded in her head over and over,
tormenting her with guilt.
Oh, the anger of that first night - the _fury_. She could
scarcely bear to think of it, though she knew she'd never live a
day free from the memory. She'd paced up and down, wanting to
scream, to shout, to hurt, resolving that when he returned she'd
reproach him as he'd never been reproached, make him suffer the
pain he'd inflicted on her when he'd selfishly left her with
this uncertainty and fear.
How many hours had she wasted in anger before she'd realised...?
She was just outside her own apartment now, wondering how
got there. One foot in front of the other, eyes blind with tears
- not looking, not thinking.... lost in memory.
Over three weeks now, and still no sign. No ransom demand, no
clues.... even no body. At least if they'd left her a body she
could grieve properly, instead of enduring this terrible half-
life between hope and despair, never knowing but always
That small smear of blood on his floor, still not quite dry
after the long hours of her fury. That smallest of smears, swept
in a curve as if someone had been wiping away a larger pool but
had missed this one small splash.
Blood. _His_ blood.
It had been hours before she'd seen it, and then the anger had
metamorphosed into a crashing wave of horror.
Oh God! Oh God! He _hadn't_ gone voluntarily after all.
Who were they? What had they done to him? What had been in his
mind as they'd - and she knew with a terrible guilty certainty
that this is what had happened.... What had been in his mind as
they'd held the gun to his head and made him write the note,
promising that they'd kill her if he didn't do what they wanted?
The breath caught in her throat and she reached for the
of the door-frame, wanting nothing more than to curl up in
horror at _that_ particular image.
"No! I _can't_. I've got to be strong. He needs me!"
Oh God, she _had_ been strong, though it had nearly broken
As soon as she'd seen the blood she'd been all professional,
calling the police, searching for trace evidence, leading the
search, working for hours and hours every day without a crack in
her facade even though she'd returned home every night and cried
alone in the dark.
But where had her strength got her? Nowhere. Just dead ends
Skinner's eyes had been full of sympathy, but his voice had
apologetic. If _they_ had taken him, he'd told her, they weren't
"Where's your cigarette-smoking friend?" she'd
harsh with him than he deserved. "_He_ knows."
"He appears to be out of town," he'd said, gesturing
with a grim
smile to the empty ashtray, seemingly oblivious to the panic his
words had caused her to feel. Out of town. Not here. God! He
could have been with Mulder even as they were speaking,
doing.... _things_ to him while they could only talk impotently.
"He's gone before, Agent Scully," he'd said, another
she'd requested a larger team. "And he's always come back."
"He's nearly _died_ before," she'd burst out,
Alaska. "And you...."
"Agent Scully." His voice had been stern, although
his eyes had
still been kind. "Believe me, I'm doing all I can, but _I've_
got to go by the book." Was his stress on that personal pronoun
an implicit authorisation to break the rules herself? "Remember,
he _did_ leave a note. You know what it looks like to everyone
"But he was _forced_ to write that note!" she'd
she had no proof.
"Maybe." Skinner had shrugged, suddenly unable to meet her gaze.
Silence, while she'd tried not to let the tears escape, tried
not to let her facade crack.
"I hope you find him, Agent Scully." His voice had
been so quiet
she'd hardly heard it, drowned as it was by the scraping of her
chair as she'd risen to leave, knowing she couldn't stay there a
minute longer without breaking down.
But she hadn't....
She was still alone.
Nearly there, nearly there. Just open the door, retreat into
darkness, and then you can cry and no-one will see you, no-one
will know..... no-one will hold you and comfort you.
Nearly there. Key in the lock, turning slowly. Open the door.
Step in the room. Step, echoing in the silence. Step....
What was that? A noise, barely there at all...
There was someone there.
She paused, standing with the open door between herself and
direction of the noise, senses attuned to pick up any movement.
There _was_ someone there. Small sounds in the darkness -
trembling breaths, whisper-quiet rustles of movement....
Oh God! She was going to die, she was going to die.
So why wasn't she reaching for her gun?
Breathing.... trembling.... a sob....
She took a step forward, softly softly on the carpet, then
A sob.... an incoherent cry.... a clatter....
She no longer expected a bullet now, but somehow that made it
worse. An assassin - that would have made sense. But this....?
Light. She needed light. Why she hadn't thought of that
Light. Finger on the light switch, heart thumping in her head as
she pressed with her finger, and....
He was curled up in a corner, crying, whimpering, eyes tight
shut in terror. There were deep red gouges on his cheek, and
blood beneath his nails.
She was at his side in an instant, hands moving all over him -
pulling at his shoulder, touching his face, trying to draw him
into her arms so she could feel for herself that it really _was_
him, not some nightmare fantasy drawn from her longing.
Tears dripped from her eyes, scalding her cheeks, dropping
his face, although she was smiling too, feeling his real and
solid flesh beneath her touch.
How often had she dreamt of this moment, imagining every
possible way it could happen? He'd wander into the office, dazed
like after Ellen's airbase, confused but unharmed.... He'd show
up in the hospital, tubes all over his body, and she'd nurse him
slowly, painfully back to health.... She'd find where they were
keeping him and take a team in with guns to kill the bastards
who'd tormented him....
But it had never been like this - _never_ - neither in her
fondest hopes nor her most terrible nightmares.
"Oh, Mulder! What have they done to you?"
His eyes were still tight shut, and he'd withdrawn so deep
within himself that they was no further he could go, not an inch
more that he could retreat. He was a tight, tight ball, shaking
in the corner, flinching at her every touch.
She _had_ to touch him, _had_ to try and get through to him,
even though a spasm of terror passed across his face at her
She could feel herself getting desperate, pawing at his
shoulder, prising his locked fingers away from his tightly
"Talk to me, Mulder!"
His lips were moving, over and over, whispering something
silently - something she missed, and then, "she won't be
here.... she won't be here."
And then he opened his eyes and....
"Go away! Leave me alone!"
Not even his whimpers and devastated face had prepared her for
the terror she could hear in the cry he forced through his
"Mulder!" She held him closer, using all her
strength to stifle
his struggles, imagining he was shouting to some imagined
creature of a nightmare, not to her. "Shh, Mulder." A hand
stroking his hair, feather light. "It's okay."
"No!" His eyes were blind with terror as he pulled
free from her
touch and tried to pull himself away. "No!" The last shout was a
barely-coherent scream as he realised he was up against a corner
and could retreat no further. "Leave me alone! Leave me alone!"
"Mulder." Her voice was shaking now, her mind
confusion. What had they done to him to make him like this?
"Don't call.... not me. Not my name. Don't...." His
suddenly from his legs and clamped on his ears as he rocked
himself to and fro, half his words swallowed up in sobs. "Not...
"No!" His hands were shaking now with the force he
them against his ears, but he could evidently still hear her.
"I'm.... I'm...." And then his face had crumpled and he'd wept
like a child. "I can't remember. I.... can't.... remem... ber."
"Are you.... are you hurt?" Oh God, oh God! What
could she do?
Act normally, talk normally, pretend this whole nightmare wasn't
Blood on his cheek from four dark gashes.... self-inflicted.
Blood on his lip and his chin.... self-inflicted. Blood on his
hands, curved nail-prints in his palms.... self-inflicted.
Blood on his sleeve.... Small pinpricks of blood on his
Ripping, tearing, she pulled his sleeve away, revealing dozens
of needle-marks in his arm, dozens of fading bruises from wrist
"Oh God!" She could feel herself trembling with
through the horror.
Drugs. He'd been drugged. This insanity, this quaking terror,
wasn't the symptoms of a mind damaged beyond repair. It was
And drugs would wear off....
Rocking him, soothing him, stroking him, holding him in her
until the drugs wore off. Already he'd sunk so deep into terror
that he was past fighting and just lay stiffly in her arms, only
flinching slightly from her touch, although his eyes showed how
much it still repelled him. Minutes, hours.... however long it
took, she'd be there for him, holding him so he'd never be alone
with the horrors of his mind again.
Minutes, hours.... Sirens in the street, a lifetime away.
Flashing lights pulsing through the window....
"I'm ready. Kill me. Don't wait." She could barely
words, _certainly_ not understand them. Was that why he was
accepting her embrace, as he was resigned to die and knew no
amount of struggling could save him now? But why should he
"Open up! Police! We're armed!" A loud voice
outside, while a
fist pounded out the rhythms of his words.
What the hell...?
"We're coming in after three. One... two...."
"I'm coming!" Her voice sounded so weak in her ears
that it was
a wonder they heard her at all, but the pounding stopped.
"Shh, Mulder," she whispered, lowering his head
gently onto the
floor, noticing how his eyes still stared and stared at the
ceiling, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings. "I'll be
Drying her face on her sleeve and hastily smoothing her
she walked across to the door and opened it, after peering
through the peephole to assure herself it _was_ the police.
"Why are you here?" It took all her concentration to
her best professional voice as she flashed her ID.
"Someone called." The officer's gun wavered, and his
suddenly full of doubt. "They said you'd been shot, and the
murderer was still in the premises."
"There must have been some mistake." How was it
she could speak so calmly when inside the open door her hand was
clutching the handle as if it alone could keep her upright?
"I've not been shot, and there's no murderer here."
Oh God, oh God! Deep breaths, clenched fists, and.... control.
Keep control. Speak calmly. Smile. Get rid of them and shut the
door. Don't let them find Mulder. Don't....
"Oh." The gun went back into the holster as the
in confusion. "Maybe it was some sick joke."
"Maybe." She shrugged. "Well, thank you anyway."
And then she shut the door, leaning back with a sigh, feeling
the tremors of horror running through her body.
Please don't let them knock again. Don't let them do their job
properly. Make them go, make them go. Please....
Footsteps sounding away and further away, padding down the
Quick, quick.... Lock the door, slide the bolts, fix the
Safe inside. Safe....
She felt dizzy and nauseous, shaking with the horror that had
just been revealed. Oh God! It all made sense now.
Silence. He was lying still where she'd left him, eyes glazed,
face stiff with despair. Silence, more frightening than the
cries and whimpers and screams she'd heard earlier. Then at
least he'd shown some signs of responding - some signs of being
aware of his surroundings, even though his mind had obviously
translated what he saw into the images of a nightmare. But
now.... was it the first signs of recovery, or was it....?
Dead. She should be dead by now, that was the plan. Dead -
killed by him when he'd been drugged and brainwashed so he
wouldn't know her. Dead - and then the police would be there to
arrest him and charge him and destroy him.
But why hadn't he shot her? What had stopped him? Had the
familiar surroundings jogged something deep within his memory,
and stayed his hand? Had he....?
"No!" She spoke aloud, pushing herself away from the
was no time for questions. Later would be the time to lie awake
in torment, asking those questions over and over, getting no
answers. But now.... Now _he_ needed her. That was all that
"Mulder!" A soft hand on his forehead, not holding
this time, respecting his fear. "It's me - Dana Scully." Her
fingertips stroked his brow, feeling the skin cold and clammy
beneath her touch. "Dana Scully, Mulder. Your partner."
Fingers stroking, voice soothing, murmuring, caressing.
Minutes.... hours.... Just her eyes and his, alone in the night,
for as long as it took...
And then, at last, he moved. One hand slowly, slowly raised to
her face, his touch like the faintest breath of wind, snatched
away almost instantly as if he was scared she'd burn him.
"You're.... you're.... real?"
She wanted to laugh then - hysterical laughs closer to tears.
What sort of question was that?
"Of course I'm real, Mulder."
"Mulder." His whispered his name, as if trying out
its sound to
see if it fitted him. "Mulder." He shook his head doubtfully,
confusion darkening his eyes.
"Yes, you're Mulder. And I'm real." The tears were
again, but they were tears of hope now, sure they were nearly
there at last.
"But you weren't!" He flinched away in sudden panic
as his voice
rose high and terrified. "You were.... I saw you in visions.
They told me you couldn't be true, but you.... I still saw you.
You were.... wrenching away my sanity.... driving me crazy. You
"It was all true." She spoke with a firmness she
didn't feel -
hoping, praying, she was guessing right. "Those visions - they
were the truth.... your _real_ memory coming through. Everything
else they told you - _those_ were the lies, not this, not me."
"But...." His face was lost, searching for something
"Think, Mulder!" She grabbed his shoulders, pulling
towards her so he was staring into her eyes. "Think of the
visions. Don't fight them."
His eyes flinched and half-shut, as if he was assailed by a
sudden flash of light, and his body tensed, but he said nothing.
"Look at them, Mulder. _Look at them_."
He shut his eyes, teeth sinking into the reopened wound on his
lip, frowning with concentration.
"Can you see me?"
A slow slow nod, tears trickling from his closed eyes....
"Can you see here?"
Another nod, shaking his head with wonder....
"Is it true?"
A long long pause. She couldn't breath, couldn't dare to hope,
"Is it true, Mulder?"
He breathed a deep sigh, relaxing into her arms, letting her
pull him close. It was all she needed.
"It's okay, Mulder," she soothed, as tears dripped
face. "It's okay. It'll all come back. Everything will be okay."
And then he looked at her, and his eyes seemed to focus and
face took on a look of wonder.
End of "Face to face"
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"King Pellinor could now be seen to be visibly troubled
in his brains."
from "The Sword in the stone" by T H White.