Date: Sun, 3 Aug 1997
"Another Such Victory"
by Pellinor (Pellinor@astolat.demon.co.uk)
Summary: Three years on, Scully lets herself remember Mulder's
greatest victory.... and his greatest betrayal. Is it too late
Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully and any other characters whose
you recognise belong to Chris Carter, 1013 and Fox and are used
here without permission but without profit.
Timeline: This story is set four years in the future, and
flashbacks to events set one year in the future.
Feedback? Yes, please.
Dana Scully had contemplated defeat, before. Its many faces
never been a stranger to her.
For years its spectre had haunted her, taunted her, driving
succeed. It was the cruel voices of her older brother, laughing at
her when she fell over, when she couldn't keep up. It was her
father's pursed lips and creased brow when she told him she was
joining the Bureau. It was the contempt in the eyes of Tom Colton,
whispering a joke she couldn't hear as she passed him in the
corridor, and in the sniggers his companions made no attempt to
hide. It was a cough, a puff of smoke, a rustle of papers on a
desk. It was, for a while, the wasted body of a dying woman. It
It was his eyes, dark, bereft, defeated.
Even now she always glanced round anxiously before even
his name, as if they could read her very thoughts. Though it was
not 'they' - not now, of course. Always, at that revelation, the
spectre seemed to laugh.
_He_ had been driven, or so she had always thought, watching
with a faint air of superiority - of the knowledge that her own
motivations had balance, logic. But now, perhaps, she wondered if
he had never been driven at all, but rather drawn - drawn by the
allure of the cleansing white light, honest and open.
But _she_ had been driven, and not by strength, as she had
thought, once, when she had borne the weight of two. The treasured
images of her defeat had steadied her, kept her firm on the path
she'd taken. To waver in her course was to admit that her father
had been right, that her brother and Tom Colton and the stern
smoke-drenched voices had been right. It was to admit defeat, and
to admit defeat was to lose everything that was Dana Scully.
She could not do it.
But with him.... Oh, it had been so different with him. The
of defeat had clung to him, unmistakable, right from the start. It
was as if the spectre had turned, laughing, showing new faces she
had not dreamt of, although she had thought she had mastered its
In time, she had come to learn the faces of his defeat, though
they were so different from her own. To her, defeat was a thing
that gave her strength as an image of what, by her own
determination, must never be. With him she saw the images as
things that _could_ be - things that _would_ be.
She had envisaged them all, preparing. The phone call that
tell her of his death. His blood on her hands as she failed to
save him. The clatter as he would hand in his gun and badge. Tears
falling like so much rain over the grave of a small girl. His
defeat had so many faces, and soon she had known them, been
prepared, although they still had pained her.
But she had never envisaged his success.
Sometimes, in the safe unseeing night that was the only time
could think of him, she wondered if this was the worst betrayal
after all - if her words had just been a minor wound, nothing.
She had never envisaged his success.
She would lie awake, afterwards, desperately trying to call up
images. A smiling woman embracing him and calling him brother.
Admiring hand-shakes from men who had once shunned him. Skinner's
desk without need of an ash-tray. She so needed to feel the truth
of them, but they were dead, flat. She had never envisaged such
She had never considered that he might succeed?
But he had, and it had been success that had destroyed him.
had destroyed _them_.
When she could think of it, sometimes she almost wanted to
at the cruel irony of it.
She never wept.
It was just a man, ordinary.
William Lyndon felt a trickle of sweat snake down his neck,
almost painful. The clock was silent, though he could hear the
passing seconds in his heart beat. A second. Two. Pulsing like....
His hand trembled as he held the photograph, listening. The
hand trembled, clicked to the next minute, but there was no other
sound. Nothing. She was not coming.
Another bead of sweat and his hand ached with the need to dash
away, but he didn't dare move his hands. One on the drawer handle,
one on the photograph, ready to conceal in an instant.
If she came.
When she came....
An image crossed his mind suddenly - in image of her angry
him, her eyes blazing with fury at his intrusion. He almost
smiled. He had never heard her raise her voice, though sometimes
her words were cold steel. He had never heard her raise her voice,
he had never seen her weep, and he had never seen her smile.
Weeks ago now, the long shadows of the setting sun deep and
distorted on the carpet. He'd knocked, receiving no reply, padded
He hadn't seen her at first, his eyes drawn by her name plate
lying on the floor, as if thrown. _She_ had been a statue of
alabaster, hair shining, face in deep shadow. Something about her
had held him, although he'd known he was something apart, a
stranger. He had been nothing to her, then. Her whole attention,
her whole being, had been focused on the open drawer at the top of
He had thought her still, but then her tiny movements spoke to
him, more eloquent than the most expansive of gestures. A finger
twisting in her hair, pulling it into the light, then into the
shade, again and again. The movement of her arm as she traced
something with her finger, almost tenderly. The flicker of her
face as it fought emotions which had been new to him, unreadable.
The flash of her eyes as she'd blinked once, twice, three times,
as if.... as if fighting tears?
He'd turned then, breathing fast with the knowledge of his own
intrusion. This was not something he was supposed to see. This was
not something _anyone_ was supposed to see. It felt like a rape, a
violation. He would _not_ report this.
"Ah, William. The files." He'd started at the soft
sound of the
key, at the voice. "Put them on my desk. Thank you." As always,
formal and professional, though her voice was a little hoarse.
He hadn't wanted to look at her, shamed by what he had seen.
crouched down, hiding his face, picking up her name plate with
exaggerated deliberation. There was a small chip of wood from door
frame where the plate had hit it. He'd wondered how her eyes had
"It all right, William. I'll finish here. You go
home." There had
been an undertone of order in her voice, unmistakable, but her
She had been smiling. He'd looked away, then, afraid to look
behind that facade.
And still afraid now - deathly afraid. Just one photograph,
something much more.
"You will tell me.... everything?" He could still
hear the level
voice of the elegant Englishman. "Evidence that her loyalty is....
"Loyalty?" He'd stammered, all composure lost before
eyes, the papers that showed the man knew his secret. "You mean
corruption? The Bureau...?"
The man had laughed then, a cold laugh that held contempt,
he had nodded, slowly. "Loyalty. Any signs that she still harbours
sympathies with...." A shrug. "Undesirables."
"Still?" The hand had brushed his shoulder, a
feather touch that
had chilled him. "I don't know what...."
"No." The fingers had squeezed tighter, the voice
close to his
ear. "You don't know. But _I_ know...." Squeezing. "Like I said.
About you. A word in the right ear...."
He'd swallowed hard, fighting rising panic. "What do you
"Everything. Little things. People she mentions. Names in
address book. Photographs she carries. I will handle the.... other
"But what....?" He _had_ fought. Now, it was all he
to. "What do you suspect her of?"
The man had frowned, as if deliberating whether to tell.
ever wondered how she came to be in charge of a regional office at
her age?" he'd asked at last, his voice low and precise. "Where
are the records of her career before she came here?" He'd walked
to the window, looking out, his face invisible. "We suspect there
may be a certain.... covert group outside the law. It has
influence. It may...." He'd coughed, then, shrugging his words
into silence. "You need know no more."
He mentally pulled away from the memory, now, straightening
back, but knowing still that he could only defy the man like this,
in his imagination. The soft words over the phone, the brown
envelopes that arrived every month.... They had him where they
needed him. He would have to tell, now.
The minute hand moved on. Three minutes now since he'd started
remember. Three minutes holding the photograph, unable to read the
secrets in the man's deep eyes.
He half-closed his eyes, running a finger across the face,
to commit it to memory, anticipating the terse questions he would
be asked, later. Dark eyes. Dark hair. Frowning and smiling at the
same time as he looked up from a book, eyes intent on the person
behind the camera.
The footsteps took him by surprise, though he had more than
expected them, before the memory of the past had claimed his
His breath speeded up, his heart pounding. Such a little
but so serious. She must _not_ catch him. Quick. Photograph - is
that how it was? Was the positioning special - a trap? Close
drawer. Key. Fumble. Fingers clumsy. Turn. Footsteps closer....
"Agent Scully." He was so sure his voice was a
squeak. He coughed,
coughed again, fumbled with some files, the paper damp in his
hands. "I was just leaving these files on your desk."
She was silent, pale. She sighed deeply at the doorway, then
walked across to her desk, seemingly unaware of him.
"Is there anything else you need?"
She reached out a hand for the name plate on her desk, then
withdrew it as if the very thought of touching it burnt her. Her
eyes flickered to the top drawer, then away, then back again as if
drawn, almost as if drawing strength from it.
"Do you want...." He cleared his throat. It was so
speak, with her eyes on the drawer. Could she _tell_? "Do you want
to hear your appointments for today?"
Her fingertips slowly brushed the wood of the drawer.
"Appointments?" she almost whispered. "I shall be.... unavailable
for the next few days." Her face was so strange to him - decisive,
almost hopeful. "I have.... something to attend to. Something
important. Something I should have done long ago."
"But it's.... it's Monday. _He_...." He swallowed.
No need to say
more. He had learnt to recognise the strain behind her eyes when
the Englishman left, and knew it was no secret to her that the man
"Then he must wait. He's had his own....."
The chair scraped as she stood up almost violently, her eyes
sparking flint, the words cut off abruptly.
He knew better than to argue.
As soon as she shut the door, he picked up the phone,
find his eyes stinging. He blinked, and spoke.
Margaret Scully drew a sharp breath, recognising the unspoken
in her daughter's eyes. Her hand fell back to her side, the anger
rising in her throat, bitter, like tears.
Not yet, Dana? Then how long? It's been three years....
"Charles was home last week." She surprised herself
with the tone
of her voice - calm, casual. "Here, I mean. Home for all of you,
always." She gave her voice a note of defiance, challenging a
Dana was silent. She swirled the dregs of coffee in a mug,
"They had another son last month - another Bill."
for the pile of photographs she'd kept ready, putting them on her
daughter's lap. "But you know that, of course. You were invited to
Dana shrugged absently. One hand still clutched the mug, but
other one leafed through the pictures, no sign of her looking at
"You didn't send anything." She couldn't keep the
her voice now. "No word. Nothing."
"I'm sorry, Mom." It was a strangely little voice,
away. "I was busy. Working."
"Too busy for your own family?" Margaret reached for
picking at it angrily. "You can't cut yourself off from
everything, Dana. You have to think of others, too."
Silence. Just the pictures, new ones, old ones. Bill. Charles.
She put the cushion down and leant forward, concern muffling
anger. "I know why you're doing this, Dana. It's not the answer.
Cutting yourself off from your own emotions...."
Melissa's graduation. Melissa smiling. Melissa....
"I am _not_, Mom." A response at last, and not in
dead voice. "I'm busy. I have a responsible job. I haven't got
"Working for them." Margaret blinked at the tears as
Melissa's picture fade into the image in the hospital bed.
"Working for the people who...."
Charles' wedding. Bill's wedding....
"You don't understand, Mom." Dana's voice was
flicked through the pictures as if they were a lifeline.
"Then help me to understand." Even now, she didn't
reach out for
her, fearing another rejection. "Help me to understand why you....
why you cut yourself off. Help me to understand why you've come
back, today, after all this time. Help me...."
Dana with Jack Willis. Dana with....
Margaret drew a deep shaky breath. "Have you thought
about him at
all?" she said, voice little more than a whisper.
The mug fell to the floor, shattered.
Tears came into Margaret's eyes, and with them anger.
and you never once....?"
"I told you, Mom." There was almost a note of panic
voice now. "You don't understand. I couldn't."
"I understand enough, Dana. I understand that you're not
daughter I once thought you were." Her voice shook. There was love
there still, even amid the shame and disappointment. "The Dana I
thought I knew would never have...."
"You don't understand, Mom. I thought.... I thought I
doing the right thing." But there was doubt, now. A wavering
voice. A shaky finger tracing the contours of his face, flat and
lifeless in the picture.
Dana turned away. Her muscles were taut with tension, with
"And why have you come back now, Dana?" Margaret
pictures from Dana's lap, leaving her only with the one she needed
to see. "It's his birthday today, isn't it? Have you come to set
things right, or to drive another nail into his coffin?"
Silence. Tears fell onto Margaret's clenched hands. Not even
desired response, this time.
"You're crying, Mom." Dana's words were so quiet,
little girl again. "You don't cry."
"_Someone_ has to mourn for him." Margaret's words
"He's not dead, Mom!" Dana was on her feet in an
instant, all red
hair and blazing eyes. "He's not dead. Stop speaking about him as
if he's dead."
Margaret bent down, picked up the picture that had fallen to
floor. A coffee stain had already begun to corrode his face.
"But it would be better if he were," she whispered,
was nothing but them in the world, in the silence after the storm.
"You know that, Dana."
Dana looked away. She was almost fast enough to hide the tears
that shone on her cheeks.
Why haven't you come?
When I shut my eyes I see your face, your hair, always. You
smile when you see me, though your eyes are so sad. They never let
you touch me, I know that, but I see you standing there, hear your
voice as you tell me the small things that are so important.
"I have a new dog, Mulder. He's called Blaine. You
Blaine, don't you, Mulder? He thought I was a man in disguise."
Your laughter is so infectious. I want to laugh, but of course I
No. _You_. Fill my mind with you. They have my body, but my
"Frohike's met someone, would you believe that, Mulder?
can answer the phone in safety now." You laugh again. You try to
hard to be brave, Scully. I know what it costs you, visiting me.
They try to hide you, always - to make you vague and shadowy,
make me think you are just an illusion.
But you aren't, you aren't, you aren't, you aren't.... You're
real. I know you are. You come to me every day. I see you. I need
you. I need you. I need you.
Smiling. Soft hands that will make me feel better. That
One day. When they....
Why do they take you from me, Scully?
I can hear them. They are laughing. They say I'm imagining
They tell me you haven't come, ever - that you died hating me.
Years ago, they say. Years....
Why haven't you come, so I can touch you?
My arm hurts, Scully. _Something_. It stings. Clouds....
Why haven't you come?
Nothing had changed. It was sleeping under a blanketing pall
plastic and dust, as if waiting for the magic word that would
restore it to life.
Or the prince....
Scully's throat was tight. Her every footstep sounded loud,
an intrusion. She was returning to a home she had no right to come
to, intruding on a funeral to which she had surrendered any claim.
"I want to believe."
She whispered the words aloud, closer to tears than she had
all day. It was still there, still untouched. It was _all_ there -
his posters, his files, his books....
And the room not even locked.
She floundered, reaching for the support of something solid.
chair. Beneath the plastic, were strands of his hair still on the
It was the cruellest blow of all - the second cruellest. _She_
struck the worst of all. She'd known, of course - how could she
not? - but _seeing_ it like this.... After everything, it was not
even enough to need protection, to be safely stored away and
suppressed. Unguarded in the basement, forgotten - the cause for
She sat down, plastic crumpling beneath her, hand clutching at
cross she no longer believed in.
For which he'd died - worse than died for? Timid words
silently in her head, unavoidable.
It had begun with a victory.
She half smiled. _So_ strange....
His voice had been like the first drop of water after a drought.
No. Not even that. She ran a hand across the desk,
had been _here_, she had been _there_, eyes staring unseeingly at
a file. His voice had made her look her sharply, wondering. It
hadn't been her name, not really. A formless cry, wordless.
She would always wonder afterwards if she should have known -
she should have stopped him there, touching his arm gently, urging
him to let it go, to _talk_ to someone. But at the time.... God!
How could she not have heard his voice and reacted with hope?
Three and a half months since the discovery of his sister's body,
and he had been as one who was dead, incapable of feeling ever
But this time.... There had been feeling in his voice, in his
eyes. A spark, a flicker of emotion. Sometimes she had wondered if
he would ever care again.
His eyes had been so intent on the computer, as if devouring
every word. His muscles had been so tense, his fists clenching and
"It's...." He'd licked his lips, coughed, as if the
very act of
talking above a dull mumble was new to him, unfamiliar. "It's....
I've got them, Scully! It's all here!"
"What?" She'd pushed her chair away, walking over to
Just an email, several days old and neglected until then. She
hadn't read it, respecting his privacy. He had lost everything
"Them." The word never required any elaboration.
Such a simple
word, such terrible associations. "A tip-off. The place they meet
in New York. The address...."
She had stayed silent, wanting to caution him, but unable. The
emotion in his voice had been wonderful to her. Sometimes she had
feared she would never see it again, before.
"We must...." He'd stood up, his hand reaching for
his gun, his
eyes fierce. "I've got to go, Scully. I've got to _stop_ them.
"Mulder. Wait." She had touched his arm, buying
herself the few
seconds necessary to compose herself, to assume the professional
front they had always needed - he, perhaps, even more so than she.
"They need to be brought to justice, Mulder, but you can't do this
on your own. If they are against the law, you should stay on the
_right_ side. Breaking and entering now would not only get you
caught but would put you in the wrong - play into their hands."
He'd taken a sharp breath, straining against her hand.
"No, Mulder. I'm not against you. I want this as much as
I've suffered losses too." It had been an old grievance, rankling
the whole time he'd withdrawn, and her voice had been touched with
irritation. "But _if_ we do this, we do this properly.
"Skinner can't refuse. So much injustice...." He'd
looked confused at decisive action. "I'll ask for a team."
She'd sighed, accepting his resolve, even sharing it, but
needing to caution. It was her job - always had been. "Can you
trust the source?" She had hated saying it, but it had needed to
be said. "It could be...."
A trap? She hadn't even been able to say the words. A trap?
he had been as good as broken for months, still in the basement
only out of habit?
"I have to do this, Scully! I have to make them
_pay_" Almost the
old fire, but something more - or did that exist only in memory,
only in looking back knowing what was to come? For months he'd
been lost in the grey deadness which allowed no emotion but blank
despair, and his first emotion had been hatred.
She'd stepped forward, reached for his arm, blinking back
"Mulder...." But no more.
But so much she should have said, she knew that now.
Leave it, Mulder. Let it go. You have so much healing to do
This is not the answer, Mulder. Justice is one thing, but exposing
the truth for revenge.... Is it the truth that will make you happy
or.... something else - something you never thought to look for
But she had remained silent, and had followed.
She had even smiled.
She hadn't understood where it would end - not then.
Scully blinked away the pain of the memory. She stood up, the
plastic sheeting rustling as she moved.
Not too much. Not yet. Three years away from it, and she had
take things slowly, to revisit the memories in careful stages, not
pushing too hard. It was only right.... wasn't it?
She drew in a sharp breath, pulling away from her question,
pulling herself back into the old habit of control. She didn't
look at herself, not now. She didn't look at herself, and she
didn't question. Guilt served no purpose. If she had learnt
anything from Mulder, she had learnt that.
If she had learnt.....
She let her shoulders slump, knowing it was no use. She
keep up the facade, not here. There was no-one watching but
herself, and she had lied to herself for too long. It was time to
face the truth, to accept her guilt.
"I want to believe."
She whispered the words again, reaching up to let her fingers
the thick layer of dust that clouded the letters.
"I want to believe."
Something crunched under her shoe then, and she crouched down,
suddenly unable to breathe.
It was the shattered glass from a photograph of a young girl
Broken beneath her feet.
I can still see her face, Scully. So white. Cheeks sunken. Dead.
She was just a little girl.
The questions laugh in the darkness like some echoing ghost.
did they do to her? How did they keep her like that? Did it hurt
her? Did they laugh? Could I have saved her? Why wasn't it me?
They laugh, the men here. I reach for her, and they laugh.
always laughed. Laughing through the smoke as I looked for her.
Laughing through the red haze when I found her. Laughing when
She's moving, Scully! I saw her. She moved her head. Samantha!
She's alive, Scully! Help me. I can't reach. Help me.
I - can't - quite - reach.
My arm shakes. I can't stand. I can't....
The laughter takes her again, and again, and again. I've
But you're looking for her, aren't you, Scully? You'll find
trust no-one but you.
Scully plunged from the shattered photograph into the past.
Skinner had agreed.
"I'll get you a warrant, Agent Mulder. I have witnessed
their activities for that. I will only go to people I think are
trustworthy. That _should_ give you the advantage of surprise, but
I can only protect you so far. My position is.... delicate."
He had frowned, but Scully had detected the relief behind the
front. He had persuaded her to share her concerns about Mulder,
before, and understood them.
"Good luck, Agent Mulder." He had stopped him at the
door, a rare
half smile on his face, a gesture of his head towards the empty
chair in the dark corner of the room. "I hope you find enough."
Mulder had nodded, opened his mouth, then left in silent. He
been beyond words, then, consumed with fire and hatred.
"Look after him, Agent Scully." Skinner's voice had
almost reluctant. He hadn't met her eyes. "This is against my
judgement. His mental state...." A twist of the pen, an awkward
cough. "If this fails, it could be difficult. It is beyond my
powers to protect him from that."
"I'll look after him. I always do." Her response had
though he had meant to be kind. "He looks after me. We're
It was a memory that twisted into her like a knife of guilt,
Partners. How had it been, then? She had been sincere, never
guessing how hollow her words would sound soon.
"I know, Agent Scully. And there's the hope."
Skinner had removed
his glasses and rubbed his eyes. There had been a strange note in
his voice and she'd wondered once more if Skinner had _anybody_.
"Sir...." She'd taken a step forward. "Thank...."
"That will be all, Agent Scully." The glasses were
back on, the
shoulders straight. "Tell me as soon as there are any
They had known, somehow.
"Where are they? Where have they gone? _Tell_ me?"
had filled the room, his fingers digging into the collar of the
man they'd caught piling papers onto the fire. There was an angry
burn on Mulder's hand from his attempt to pull them out.
"Mulder." Scully had hissed warningly, not wanting
oppose him in front of the other agents, always so willing to
believe the worst about him.
"You work for them, right?" Mulder's gun dug into
the man's neck.
"Do you know how many they've killed? Do you?" A gasp from the man
as the gun rammed in. "Tell me why you deserve to live."
"Mulder!" Sharp now. She should have stopped it
before, but the
sight of Mulder so driven was still a pleasure to her. He had even
smiled before they had entered the building.
"They've gone, Scully." Mulder turned round, and she
to see his eyes shining with moisture. "We were so close. Who told
them? Was it Skinner?"
"I trust Skinner. I think you do, too, Mulder." She
kept her voice
calm, knowing he needed it like that. As she spoke she handcuffed
the man Mulder was threatening, holding him secure. "Who knows how
they found out? Blame will get you nowhere."
"I trust no-one, Scully. No-one." The words snapped
bullets, drawing blood. He made no exception, not this time.
"Mulder." She was thinking fast, talking slowly and
had been so deep in despair since his sister's death - so
unreachable. Maybe this sudden drive was a final breakdown, rather
than the first sign of recovery. "Please put the gun down. We need
to talk.... about what we're doing here."
Mulder stared at her, eyes full of reproach. "I'm not a
Scully." He lowered the gun, but kept it in his hand. "I know what
She brushed his arm by way of apology. "What?" she
She forgot there were other people in the room.
"I want the truth." His voice was barely audible.
"I thought I was
so close. I thought...."
Thought it would bring his sister back. Tears clouded her
though she would not let them show. A sad, terrible fantasy, and
one she shared, sometimes. As if answers could bring back the
"Is it truth, Mulder, or revenge?" She flashed,
the Hispanic face at the end of her gun, viewed through the haze
of fury. "Hatred isn't...."
"I want the truth, Scully." His sudden shout
startled her. "I want
answers. I want.... Just once I want to make _them_ know what it
feels like. I need to know."
He was away from her then, lashing with a suddenness that left
reeling. There were still books in the room, and papers. He rifled
through them like one possessed.
"Maybe they didn't have time." She knew his words
only at himself "There must be something. It's in here. Somewhere.
There must be something."
"If there is something, we'll find it." She had to
speak loudly to
be heard over the noise of falling books. "It will all be
collected as evidence. Skinner promised he'd initiate whatever
actions were necessary, including prosecution, or going public."
"Skinner?" He was on his knees, leafing through a
thick book. She
doubted he was even seeing the words. "I'm not letting _anyone_
take this. Skinner won't do anything. Even if he _was_ on our
side, taking action would make things.... disorderly - not how he
likes things. _I_ need this."
"I know." She reached for his arm, her voice warning. "But...."
"Help me, Scully." He swung his arm up, catching her
tightly. "Help me."
She held his gaze, wishing she had the courage to push, to say
what he needed to hear.
Yes, I will help you, Mulder. You're sick. I've been denying
for weeks, but I can see it now. You need help. You need to talk
to someone. We'll get through it, Mulder. Haven't we always got
through things? We're partners.
Instead, she sighed, knowing his request for help for what it
and rejecting it. "No. I won't help you, Mulder. Not with this."
His eyes hurt her like nothing else had. There was betrayal
but little surprise.
"I won't help you destroy evidence like this." She
him and the book case, hands on hips, eyes like steel. "I will
find answers with you, but through the proper channels. I will not
help you on some destructive crusade of revenge."
He was breathing deeply. He made a small sound, but no words.
"The answers _are_ out there, Mulder." She smiled,
beside him, hoping to make him smile with the memory of her past
scepticism. "You just need to know where to look."
He looked at her suddenly, and his look still disturbed her.
full of defeat. "I thought I only had to look here," he whispered.
"I thought it would.... answer....." He swallowed, and she knew
the truths he was searching for but couldn't express. "Things," he
"It still could, Mulder. They left in a hurry. This could
She pulled her gaze away from him, watching the agents who
still searching the building, collecting and cataloguing. Skinner
had arrived and she wondered suddenly if he had left them alone
deliberately, if he had heard anything.
"I won't leave, Scully." He pulled himself to his
feet. His face
was so weary, now, always. "This is mine. I need it."
She smiled, but she knew he would always need more.
Scully opened her eyes, knowing the worst was coming, and afraid.
That day in the half-empty New York building - it had been
but it had been a victory, too. The men had escaped, but _some_ of
their secrets had remained, hidden in books and files and discs.
The next few days had been almost happy, definitely optimistic.
It had been a small taste of victory. Mulder's eyes had shone.
It was so hard not to cry, now, as she smiled at the memory.
presence was almost tangible in the small room, the image of his
face hovering at the fringes of her vision. She had suppressed it
for so long. Now it was inescapable.
But the image of his victory was worst, for how could she
his smile without knowing what was to come - how could she
remember his triumph without knowing it would never be again?
It was gone and....
"God!" She slammed her fist down on the desk, hard
and sudden. Why
remember at all? What was the point? The past was the past and
couldn't be recovered, couldn't be changed.
She should leave, now. Go back to her new life and never look
But she made no move towards to door. The _past_ couldn't be
changed, but the future....?
Was there still hope?
She clung to that like a talisman as she let herself remember
worsening times and the worst.
When had she realised?
Scully shook her head slowly, knowing the answer.
A moment can crystallise in time, can stand forever as a
shed between the past and the future. Little things - words, deeds
- can build up slowly, invisibly, until one moment stands clear,
making us change our viewpoint in an instant.
The minute hand had trembled between the five and the six, and
hour hand had been just past three. She had been one person on the
five, another person on the six, her whole life changed in a
It had been a scream that had changed her - that had changed
She still didn't know who had been changed more, though _she_ was
still at liberty to think of it.
It had echoed in her ears, refusing to leave her.
"Mulder." Unable to speak to him for ages, her first
word had been
without inflexion. Her anger had been beyond expression.
"I'm sorry." He shook his head. There was grief
there, but no real
apology. "But she needed to know the truth."
Scully sighed, weary beyond belief, and feeling the dread of
approaching end. "She didn't need to know the truth. That girl was
doing okay. There was no reason to walk into her life and tell her
what you think they did to her."
"What they _did_ do to her." There was a note of
Mulder's voice. She couldn't tell who it was directed at. "You've
seen the proof, Scully. You know what they did."
"And I wish I didn't, Mulder. I wish I didn't." She
to speak aloud, but the time for restraint was past. There were
weeks of concerns behind her words - concerns she hadn't
"You don't want the truth?" Mulder stopped dead, but
his eyes had
narrowed. Suspicion and betrayal, not astonishment.
Scully sighed, rubbed a hand over her eyes. Sleep, rest, food,
laughter.... It was what she wanted, more than anything. "I don't
know, Mulder," she said, at last. "That girl didn't need to know
The girl had been screaming even as they carried her to the
hospital, red-stained bandages at her wrists.
"The truth is...." Mulder swallowed hard. His
emotions had been so
close to the surface ever since.... ever since it happened. "The
truth is my life. It's all I have. There's nothing else."
"You have me, Mulder. I'll support you, whatever."
She meant to
smile, but her words felt hollow. She hadn't forgiven him for what
Mulder turned away.
She tried again, tried to shut out the memory of the screams.
have them running scared, Mulder. Skinner's handling it the best
way. Can't you back off a little, just for now? It's too close to
"Back off?" It was a shout of pure outrage.
"I've needed this my
whole life, and you ask me to back off? This is the _truth_."
"The truth? The truth? It's all I hear." His anger
own. She had been so careful - too careful - for weeks. "Is the
truth worth wasting lives for - lives like that girl's? Hasn't it
ever occurred to you, Mulder, that there are times when the truth
_should_ be hidden?"
"The truth _hurts_, Mulder." Tears pricked her eyes.
was coping with not knowing. She needed protecting from the
truth." She grabbed his arm, forced him to meet her eyes. "Can you
honestly say you were happier knowing the truth about Samantha
than you were before, when you could hope?"
Pure pain flashed across his face in an instant, but he
it, drew away from her. "The truth can hurt, but anything else is
a lie." His voice was quiet, muttering like a surly child. "If you
say anything else, you're just like them."
She knew she should apologise, but anger led her. She had been
deluding herself for weeks, and was only now seeing clearly. "You
treated that girl like an object, every bit as much as _they_ did.
Did it ever cross your mind that she might not have wanted to hear
the truth about what they did? Did you think of her at all, or is
everything about you?"
He pulled away from her, arms wrapped tightly round his body.
could have been defence, but she chose to read it as anger. He
offered no defence.
"Mulder." She lowered her voice, tried a new tack.
her anger, she knew his pain. "I know why you're doing this, but
it's too close to you. All this.... It won't bring...." She
swallowed. "It won't change anything."
He wouldn't look at her. His lips moved, mouthing words she
couldn't quite make out. Three syllables. "But I will?"
"How?" Her voice was soft. The anger was gone, now,
and there was
only grief at the death of a partnership. In defeat they had had
different tactics, but at least they had been on the same side.
His fingers dug deep into his upper arms. His eyes were dark.
"Destroy. Them." Two words spat out.
She reached for his face, but there was nothing to communicate
with in his eyes.
Yet even then she had gone on - tried to convince herself that
situation was not beyond repair.
It was the hardest, now. She rested her head in her hands,
through the memory, knowing it was the only way she would reach
The reproach could come later. And the reparation....?
Even then she had known it would be difficult, even though she
Taking her seat in Skinner's office had been the hardest thing
had had to do.
"Agent Scully." Skinner had looked weary, too. She'd
he had found truths that had touched him closely, too.
"It's about Mulder, sir." How had her voice been so
hands had been folded on her lap, but her fingers had twisted
together painfully, compulsively.
Skinner nodded, showing no surprise. She knew he had his
and would not be altogether ignorant.
"He is...." A deep breath. "He needs to be
stopped. I am....
asking you to stop him."
No surprise, again . Just a slow nod. "He won't listen to
was not phrased as a question.
"No." There was so much emotion - so many memories -
"You're aware that closing down the X-Files might be the
opportunity they're waiting for?" He twisted a pen in his fingers,
not looking at her. "This was a set-back for them. It is not yet a
"I'm not asking you to shut down the X-Files." Still
knew that letting any emotion through would open the floodgates.
"He's been though a lot. A compulsory vacation on health grounds?"
She took a deep breath, eyes fixed on her clasped hands as if they
were an anchor. "Compulsory psychiatric leave?"
Skinner leant forward. "Do you think that Agent Mulder is insane?"
"No!" She let the emotion through for an instant,
it ruthlessly. "I do think he needs to talk to someone. I
think...." She paused, seeking the right words. "I think that,
left alone, he might do something that would.... harm his career
even more than.... doing this."
"Something?" Skinner looked at her searchingly.
"Do you think he
could be violent?"
Scully straightened her back, pursed her lips. The memory of
Mulder's hand on his gun as he shouted his hatred of the man he
called Cancerman was still so vivid in her mind, but it was not
something she was prepared to share with Skinner. There was a
limit to her trust.
"He sees nothing," she said at last. She was
counting the slats in
the blind, unable to look at him, needing something to distance
herself from the emotions. "The.... discovery is everything he
has. He thinks of nothing else other than exposing the truth,
whatever the cost, to other people, now, as well as himself. He
thinks he is doing what is _good_ for them. He can't _see_."
It was time.
"I have seen enough." Her voice shook at last,
rehearsed words. "I think there are some secrets that the people
shouldn't know, for their own sanity. I think _their_ methods were
wrong, but I think Mulder's are too."
Skinner was silent.
"When those women in Allentown said they knew me, I
didn't want to
know. I ran away." She spoke fast, awkward, but feeling she owed
him some explanation. "If those three months could have been lost,
no chance of knowing, I think I would have been happier. Mulder
can't see that. He won't give people like me the choice."
"Neither do they, Agent Scully." There was a strange
note to his
voice. "They give them no choice but to forget. They did the....
things in the first place."
"I know." It was a cry of anguish. Days of arguing
and she still wasn't sure. "I still want to fight them, but
Mulder's way..... He's destroying himself. He is so full of
hatred. I've nearly lost him. I.... I can't leave it too late."
Skinner frowned, silent for a long time.
"He's playing into their hands, sir." She leant
pretence gone. It was raw emotion now. "He'll.... he'll go too
far. They'll use it to discredit _everything_ we've found. They'll
Skinner rubbed his hand over his face, fingers reaching up
his glasses. "All right, Agent Scully." His voice was weary. "I'll
do it. I have seen something of it myself. I know what he's like."
Now it was over, she didn't feel relief. There was tears in
eyes. She knew that, whatever happened, it was a turning point and
they would never go back, not now.
"Just talk to him, Agent Scully." There was sadness
in his eyes
too. "Talk to him before he hears it from me. Be aware that he
might not understand your reasoning as I do."
"Of course I'll talk to him." There was no anger
this time, but
dread at his possible reaction. "We're still partners, whatever
happens. It might take him a while to accept it, but...."
She could say no more.
You didn't come, did you, Scully?
Habit. It is only habit that keeps me talking to you now. I
had no thought that has not been addressed to you, not in....
years? I have had few thoughts. They took them from me.
Why are they letting me remember? I am so tired, Scully. So
It is too late to go further.
I know they drugged me. It was difficult, but I looked at my
Bruises everywhere. Needle marks and bruises. The sharp sting that
brought the bright light and the faces and the pain and the....
But it also brought you, Scully. You weren't there, but I saw
I.... I think I want the confusion. I don't want the truth.
I think you said that, once.
It comes back to me, more each day. They smile as I remember,
there is no comfort in that. They are planning something. It's too
late to care.
I think I would rather forget.
Would fury have made it easier - easier then, and easier now,
remembering? She had been prepared for fury, had made her
"I understand." She had barely been able to hear his
words. Just a
terrible hollow mumble, facing away from her.
"No, Mulder. I don't think you do." She'd reached
out for him,
touching his hand, holding it firmly. "I am _not_ leaving you."
A small sound in his throat. Nothing else.
"I'm afraid of losing you, Mulder." Her own voice
was low, hoarse
with unshed tears. "I think...." She took a deep breath. "Mulder,
I think you're playing right into their hands with your actions.
They'll use it as an excuse - shut you down for ever. Separate
A drop of water fell onto their clasped hands. _Her_ eyes were
"Skinner is still handling the.... action. We are too
this. There's been so much these last few months." Her was sounded
over-defensive in her own ears. "Back off for a while, and start
afresh, when the dust has settled."
His shoulders shook.
"I'll look after your files, Mulder. Everything. Skinner
assign anyone else. The X-Files are always yours."
"You." His voice was dead. Just inches away, and he
unreachable. "You. Still here." A sob. "You told Skinner first."
She had no words to answer him with. He was right. She had
thought of leaving herself.
"It's you they watch, Mulder." She spoke at last,
she could. She needed to _hold_ him. "They'll pick up on any
mistake, use it to ruin everything we've gained. All this - it's
_for_ the truth, Mulder."
He took a shuddering breath, turning slowly to face her. His
made her gasp - moist, red, and utterly bereft. "Don't lie to me,
"I'm not." Her gaze didn't waver. "This is....
I'm sure it's for
"Everyone." It was a cry of anguish. He pushed
himself to his
feet, the chair falling over behind him. "All my life. Lying." She
reached for him but he stepped away. "I thought you...." He
swallowed hard. "I had nothing left, except...."
"You still have me, Mulder." Her fingers dug into
her palms, red
and painful. "I want to help you."
He gave a hoarse cry, stepped back to the door. His eyes were
with.... hatred? "Treating me like a child." His fingers reached
for his gun, stroking the handle hungrily. "Everyone.... _They_."
His voice grew softer, but still intense, painful. "I thought I
was getting somewhere, Scully, but they always win, don't they?
You're proof of that."
"Damn it, Mulder. I 'm on _your_ side."
"I don't want to see you again, Scully. If you have _any_
for me, allow me that."
The first tears had flowed even before the door had clicked shut.
There was no more to be done. It was over.
Scully wiped away the tears with her arm. The office was
unfriendly, now, for ever tainted with the memory of those last
words. She heard them in every rustle of plastic, saw his bereft
face in every dust-laden corner.
It was over. She knew the way forward - knew it now as she had
known it then, as she had known it all along.
"Mom?" She spoke into her cellphone, her voice brisk
sudden resolve. She knew her mother would hear the hoarseness in
her voice, hoped she would understand.
That brought her closer to breaking down than anything. There
no pleasure in her mother's voice. Wariness. Disappointment, even.
"I'm not coming back tonight. I'm going back home."
Her mother's small sound spoke eloquently her disapproval.
did you go today, Dana?" No endearments.
"Headquarters." She frowned, wondering. How much was
business. It was quicker than I expected."
"You're going back to.... them?" She could almost
see her mother's
eyes narrowing. "Back to work, as if nothing's wrong?"
She blinked, glad her mother couldn't see her, though part of
cried out for her comfort and support. "Back to work, Mom. There's
a lot to be done."
As she put the phone down she could hardly see through the tears.
She could hardly see as she reached for the wall, pulling at
He just didn't _know_.
William Lyndon hesitated, knuckles poised inches from the
His mind was racing. He just didn't _know_. It was a new feeling.
In the past, always he had been so sure of everything, knowing
what was right and doing it.
Except for one big mistake.
And now another....?
He drew a deep breath, ran a shaky hands through his hair, and....
"William." It was _her_ - Agent Scully. She was
Although she opened the door slowly, her hand was still on her
gun, her eyes wary. "What do _you_ want?"
"I.... I'm sorry." He cleared his throat. So much
worrying, and he
still hadn't rehearsed what he was going to say. "I.... I wanted
to see you."
"And it couldn't wait until morning?" Her voice was
made no move to put the gun away.
"No." His fists were clenched tight. He just wasn't
used to this
sort of thing. "I thought.... " He coughed. What could he say?
What did she know? "In the office.... People might hear. I.... I
thought it was better if.... people didn't hear."
Her finger hand visibly tightened on the gun. She leant
scanning the hallway behind him, then sighed with reluctant
acceptance. "You'd better come in," she said, at last.
He followed her in, still dazed. Even the suspicion was more
emotion than he had seen from her before. She was still unpacking,
he could see, although the bags suggested a longer absence than
the single night she had had.
"So? What is it, William?" Still the gun, and no
sign of relaxing
He took a deep breath, wishing his heart would stop racing.
He deserved nothing but contempt for his nervousness. "The man....
The Englishman...." he stammered, unsure even now how to go on.
She stiffened, but said nothing. Her eyes never leaving her
she slowly crouched down, reaching into her bag. It was a battered
roll of paper. She started at him defiantly, as if expecting some
He was way out of his depth, and knew it.
He cleared his throat, knowing he had to say more, wishing she
would help him. "He said.... I need to know if it's true. He said
you were.... involved with some.... organisation. He said...." He
shut his eyes, blood pounding in his head. "Corruption."
She lowered the gun. Such a strange look. It was her usual
mask but he could see the emotions churning beneath it. Had they
always been there, had he cared to look properly?
"What did he ask you to do?" Her voice was
surprisingly calm, even
bored, but this time he could read beyond it. She was wound
tightly as a spring, fingers white as she unrolled the battered
paper, looked intensely at it.
He whispered a silent prayer. "Spy on you." His
voice cracked. An
"And did you?"
She looked up, then, held his gaze, and he knew at once he
never forget her eyes. They were glittering with tears, but there
was no surprise, as if she had expected no less - as if she had
lost the ability to trust.
He nodded, unable to speak, offering no defence.
She walked away from him. Almost ceremoniously, she reached up
put her poster on the wall, incongruous and garish between the
elegant pastel prints. He felt the significance of the moment,
though he was lost, understanding nothing.
"What have they got on you?"
Her words surprised him. He'd been awed by her, following her
every nuance, wondering.
He took a deep breath, and started to speak.
So many years on, and facets of memory would emerge, new and
unexpected, prompting fresh grief, fresh guilt.
It was the earliest memory of all. Nine years ago, facing the
distrustful eyes of a new partner who didn't want her.
"I was under the impression you were sent to spy on me."
He had been so hard to get close to - so hard to win his
She had seen it a thousand times - seen him repel advances, run
away from closeness, wrap his emotions close to his chest and
refuse to let go. It had always hurt her. She had understood - as
soon as she met his parents, she had understood - but it had
always hurt her.
She had wanted to be trusted, unconditionally.
Was this the worst thing she had done - to misunderstand him
"It tore the family apart. We never talked about
it." His voice,
low and intense, in the darkness of an Oregon night. "This thing
exists.... Nothing else matters to me."
Two days into their partnership, thinking her a spy, and he
_confided_ in her. He had risked her mockery and scorn. He had
risked her telling his enemies his deepest pain. He had.... he had
trusted her with himself, even as he had distrusted her.
And only now did she appreciate it. Only now, faced with the
to confide in a man who had trusted her with a secret that could
destroy his career, did she realise how _difficult_ it was.
Mulder had trusted her.
And when that trust was withdrawn.... Had it been her hurt
had destroyed him - her pride? Not _them_ at all?
It was time to face the end.
Blood had been trickling down his face, one eye swollen shut.
had resisted, they said - threatened to kill them.
"Go away." Sullen, hurt.
"Mulder. I want to help you."
They hadn't even let her in. He had been huddled on the far
of the cell, separated from her by so much more than bars.
"Please, Mulder." There were tears in her eyes. She
held onto the
bars as if they were the only thing keeping her upright in the
swirling nightmare. "I need to know." A pause. "Did you kill him?"
His eyes flickered, shot her a look a such reproach. No words.
"Mulder...." Memories choked her words. The image of
his hand on
his gun as he'd left the office, shouting his hatred of _them_.
The man's face, so much older in death. The bullet had pierced the
cigarette packet, but still killed him. How had Mulder tracked him
"Go away, Scully." His voice was so dull. "I've
asked you. Leave
"Please, Mulder...." Nothing could stop her tears
now. It was his
withdrawal that was the worst of all - his lack of trust. "Don't
shut me out. We can fight this together...."
He gave a sharp laugh, terrible. "Even if I did it?"
She took a deep breath, hoping he wouldn't see the doubt in
eye. "Even if you did it."
He was silent for a long time, as if waiting for her to say
She knew what it was - knew she couldn't say it, not without
believing it. A small groan escaped his lips and he sank back,
"Then leave me." She was losing him behind his
walls. "Don't come
back. Don't ever come back." A sob. "I can't...."
It had hurt so much, that he would believe the worst of her.
she had been too blinded by grief to see the injustice of _that_ -
to see what she was doing to him.
She had left him to the darkness.
They had moved fast. Now, she could see how well it had been
planned. Then, she had been too lost in grief and hurt to even
notice. She had taken events as they came, reeling from one
tragedy after another. She had given in to emotion when she most
She had resolved that, then, as soon as the result had become
clear. No more emotion, no more pain. Just reason. Logic.
It had been the wrong lesson to draw, but then.... God! It had
been so difficult. She just hadn't _known._
"They will find him guilty, you know." The
Englishman had steepled
his fingers, looked over them with cool regret. "Unless...."
She had been lost in the images of Mulder's distrust, slow to
process the hint. "Are you suggesting a deal?" Skinner had leant
forward, voice tight with distaste. "After everything we've got on
The Englishman smiled. "I think if you look at the papers
acquired, you will find that all the.... crimes were ordered by
our deceased friend." Skinner made no reply, no denial. "We
_opposed_ the killing of your sister, of Agent Mulder's father,
Agent Scully. He was a thorn in our sides, perverting our true
She dug her nails into her palms, his smooth voice grating
nails on a blackboard. She was walking a tightrope, knowing
Mulder's fate could rest on a single word. She was just so weary.
"And now he is dead." A shrug of false regret.
"Agent Mulder did
us a favour, in the end. We can repair the damage...." He held up
his hand, halting any objection. "Make reparation to those who
have been hurt."
"And Mulder?" Skinner shot her a sharp glance, but
she _had_ to
"Yours was a small victory, Agent Scully." His voice
obsequious, at odds with his words. "We still have influence. He
will _not_ survive this. He will die. His reputation will die."
"If you _dare_ hurt him...."
"Agent Scully." The man's voice was firm, though his
ingratiating still. "He is a murderer. Do you think you can whip
up any sympathy for him?" A laugh. "I know a woman ready to
testify that he drove her daughter to breakdown with his....
"If he is a murderer, then he should face justice. I will
a deal that goes against that." Scully glanced as Skinner as she
spoke, seeing his silent approval, his regret.
The man smiled indulgently. "I have been watching him
feel he doesn't deserve... justice. He needs help."
"And what sort of help are you offering?" Skinner asked sharply.
"All charges will be dropped. He will have an honourable
- much like you were planning for him yourself, Agent Scully." She
started at that, thrown by his knowledge. "He will be given....
therapy. You will be able to visit him whenever you like."
"Why?" She hated how tempting the offer sounded.
"Why are you
"I'm sure you know certain.... facts now. You were
planning to go
public with them, weren't you?" He leant forward, no smile now.
"That's what I want too. Our late friend opposed it, but now he's
dead.... It will all be leaked tomorrow. How Bill Mulder
experimented on humans, treated them as no more than
merchandise... How his son was in it with him, even as he made out
he was opposing it.... There is _proof_. No-one can deny it."
She was too tired even to feel angry. Skinner stiffened. Even
"Mulder would want it." Her words sounded
unconvincing even to
herself. "He would want the truth exposed, whatever the cost."
The man shrugged, looked regretful. "I'm sure that girl
agree.... were she in a condition to be aware of the question."
She looked at Skinner. No-one spoke.
"I thought I was doing the right thing."
Voices in the night. Voices in her head. She was awake in the
darkness, thoughts clouded with guilt and exhaustion. Some had
been said aloud, confiding just a little to William. Some had
never been said. All of them should have been said, long ago.
"We didn't know what it would lead to, Skinner and I -
How were we to know that one deal would lead to another - that
everything would slip from our grasp leaving us with no place to
Should have known. Should have. _He_ would have known. Trust
"I still believe some secrets are better kept. I thought
change them from the inside. I supported some of their aims, even
though their methods were wrong. And I _have_ changed their
methods.... haven't I?"
But what happens where you can't see it? Blind. You were
Stupid. As naive as before you met him. Did you learn so little?
"I did visit him. I _did_. He refused to look at me. It
upset him so. He was well looked after - happy when I wasn't
there. It was best for him if I walked away, let him make a new
start without me."
Coward. Best for you, you mean. You could repress it - forget
guilt. Seeing him reminded you. You knew you'd made a mistake even
then, didn't you? You needed to forget. It was for you, not him.
Your mother's right.
"I know I was wrong. That's why I came back. As soon as I
realised. I can fight them best from the inside. They mustn't know
my mind. They mustn't know what I'm doing. Secrecy is imperative"
Coward. You don't want to risk their anger by openly opposing
them. And where was this regret when it would have made a
difference, three years ago? You're opposing them too late, and in
secret. What good will that do?
"I thought I was doing the right thing!"
She wanted to scream herself out of the nightmare, but she
she was awake. She had opened the gates to her guilt and would
never be free, not unless....
Could she undo it?
I remember, Scully. Everything.
I think.... I think I would rather forget.
White. Everything was white - sterile and cold. Her shoes
like metal in the hollow corridors.
Click. Is it....? Click. Will he....? Click. Will I....?
Scully paused in her step, just a fraction, but enough to earn
sharp glance from the guard. There was a gun at his waist and his
hands were large.
"Can I help you?" His voice was smooth with honeyed
eyes narrowed, peering at her badge.
"No." She raised her chin, resisting the urge to
lower her gaze.
She had heard the radio crackle, knew they all knew who she was
and why she was here. "I have been given adequate directions."
He nodded. His lips curled in a secret smile, but he said nothing.
She carried on, heart loud with tension.
Click. A trap? Click. Mistake? Click. Too late....?
It had been so easy. Twenty three lonely nights pacing beneath
poster, mind chasing leads and clues, and here she was. So easy.
"No". She breathed in sharply, nails digging red
into her palms.
She had nearly brought them to their knees three years ago. She
had _some_ influence. She would never have accepted their terms,
otherwise. Her influence was enough.
I hope. Please. Fingers clenched in silent prayer.
Click. "Mulder." Click. "I'm sorry."
Click. "It will be okay."
Room sixty three. Harsh metal digits screwed into the solid
Cold eyes of the guard, waiting for her, a key in his hand.
Oh God, oh God! Calm. Must be calm. Remember the facade. Remember.
The blood was iron in her mouth, the pain sharp. There was
else to stop her sobbing.
"Mulder." A silent cry.
The room swirled around her, pulsing in and out with the blood
her head. Emotion choked her, choked her words.
She had tried to hard, before, to imagine him. She could
_remember_ him, feel every contour of his face as she traced them
on the photograph, but she couldn't imagine him. This moment had
been a blank to her, though she had not expected it to be a
surprise. In their time together she had seen him in every mood,
every condition. He had been so familiar to her.
She had expected a ghost - a memory. Pale as Alaska, perhaps.
Tormented as a room full of gargoyles. Tears of a lost boy at his
mother's bedside. Something familiar and recognisable. Something
she could _deal_ with.
She had been wrong.
"Mulder." Just a croak. Nothing more was possible.
He raised his head slowly, oh so slowly, as if every movement
pain to him, now. But his _eyes_.... His eyes were lucid, cold.
"Scully." His voice was like a stone, hard and
heavy. Hoarse, too,
as if unused to speaking.
She opened her mouth, shut it again. Three years to say, but
could she find a single word that was adequate?
"Scully." His eyes shone with moisture. He looked
away, tried to
hide it, but not fast enough.
"Mulder." She stepped forward, hand reaching for
him. He flinched,
though his eyes looked at her hand almost hungrily. "I'm sorry."
The words echoed in the tiny room, haunting her with their
inadequacy. What apology could ever be enough?
"They told me, Scully." He was blinking fast, as if
unused to the
light. "That's why they laughed when I spoke to you." He gave a
harsh laugh, terrible. "I thought you'd come. I.... I preferred it
"Mulder." She glanced urgently at the door,
wondering whether to
call a doctor, a nurse - anyone who could explain. "I have come."
"I wanted the truth, Scully." He wrapped his arms
round his knees,
rocking gently on the small bed. "I wanted...." He swallowed,
struggling to carry on. "I wanted the truth. I guess I know I was
wrong. I prefer the lies, now."
"Mulder." She blinked back tears, fast and urgent.
There was no
_time_ for this. There would be a lifetime for healing,
afterwards. "I said I wouldn't leave you. I...." She nearly lost
control, here, her voice wavering. "I won't leave you again. I....
"You work for them, now." Rocking, rocking. Forward, back....
She shut her eyes, longing for the release offered by the
flash of darkness, the opened them again. She owed him this much.
"Yes." Look him full in the eye. Hard, so hard. "I did it to
_change_ them. I did it to _preserve_ the truth. You.... We only
saw part of it, before. Only their bad side. They are...."
Her voice trailed off. She could manage no more. Had she ever
believed it, ever? She had been ensnared onto the path that
repelled her, desperate for justification. Mulder had rejected
her. This had given _some_ meaning back again.
"Did you ever...." A sob. "Was it from the start?"
"Oh, Mulder." It was a cry of pain, of guilt.
"I was always on
your side, even when.... when it looked as if I wasn't. I'm....
I'm sorry, Mulder. So sorry."
He flinched at her outstretched hand, shifting into the tiny
of light that slanted from the slit of window. He was.... God! He
was so pale, cheeks so sunken.
"Mulder!" She pushed herself to her feet and he
winced at the
sudden noise. "What have they _done_ to you?"
A hospital, that's what her sources had said. A hospital, as
Englishman had promised her. High security, but the alternative
would have been prison, even death. "He will be well looked
after." A smooth voice against the memory of Skinner's office.
"Why did they let me remember?" he pleaded,
desperately, tears in
his eyes. "I wanted you to come, before. I.... I want that again."
_She_ flinched, this time, pulling away instinctively at the
terrible cold feel of bone beneath her fingers, thinly covered
with loose flesh. Holding her breath, she touched him again,
working up his arm.
It was as she had expected. A mass of bruises, old and new,
scarring from a thousand needle marks.
"What do they give you?" she asked, sharply, the anger surging.
"Lots of things." His voice was dreamy, detached,
but at least he
was responding to her. "Some make me forget. Some.... some _hurt_.
They.... they watch me, and make notes. I.... I want to forget. I
see her, then, and she's never left me."
She reeled, then, groping for the support of the wall. Horror
choked her words, leaving her screaming her protest in the silence
of her mind.
"Human tests? God! They promised. No human tests. They
me. They _said_."
"....have some?" His plaintive voice penetrated her
last. The world clicked back into focus, and it was terrible. "I
want some now. I want to forget. Please...."
"Mulder." It was all she could do to keep her voice
crouched down, put her hands on his sunken cheeks, pulling him to
face her. "I am _not_ leaving you. You are coming with me. I
He struggled against her hands, fear in his eyes, but was too
The guard drew his gun. The intercom crackled. No sound, but
someone was listening. Running feet hammered in the distance.
"I have authority here." Scully held out her badge,
though she was
unable to look at it - unable to think of the implications of what
she had become. "I work for the same cause you do."
"I think not." A cruel smile. "We know who you
are, Agent Scully.
We know who _he_ is to you. We have been expecting you."
"I am taking him." Her voice was steel, though
inside she was
screaming. "Your employer can take it up with me, afterwards. You
can tell him I pulled rank."
"When we have your gun, Agent Scully?" A voice spoke
her - a face she had seen before, in conferences at which she had
always been on the fringe. No names, of course. "When we have been
warned that your loyalty has been wavering lately? I think not."
There was a cascade of clicks of a dozen guns cocking.
Tears pricked her eyes. She wanted so much to fight, but she
no good to him dead. She had to _leave_ him. God! She had to leave
him. And she had promised....
She opened her mouth, but there was nothing to say. She could
their eyes raking her back as she walked through the resounding
It was not the end. She would be back. She knew _some_ secrets
not of these men, but of others not here - others even more
powerful. She had leverage and she had contacts. She would fight.
She would win.
She didn't dare think anything else.
She filled her whole mind with that thought, needing it. She
_needed_ to cry. The tears took little prompting.
"It was your interference." The Englishman shrugged
sympathy. "You were threatening to compromise security of the
facility. It had to be.... sanitised."
Dead. Accept it. No fight. Voice.... Voice low, beaten.
"You said you would look after him." Too accusing?
No. He would
"You accepted the terms. You broke them, going against us
A tear dropped onto her desk. She stroked the drawer handle
her finger, softly. She knew how he would interpret her tears. His
death had broken her, taken all fight from her. Why resist, now?
"You did well, though, finding him so fast." The
voice was smug
and patronising. "Your abilities are an asset."
"You knew, though." Her finger went round and round
wood handle. "You stopped the drugs enough for him to remember
that I'd.... " The control nearly snapped. "Betrayed him," she
continued, voice cracking. "Maybe it is better for him to be dead.
You gave him no life at all."
"And now he's dead." The tears were genuine.
"You've left me with
"It doesn't have to be like that, Dana." He leant
almost kind. She flinched at the use of her name. "I am prepared
to forgive. I know how past ties can be hard to resist. That is
over, now - in the past."
"I have nothing." She needed so much to touch his
picture. "I had
"I know." He _touched_ her. God! He touched her.
"But that hope is
gone, now. There is no other call on your loyalty. Let's put this
behind us, shall we?"
She looked at him, nodded slowly. "Yes. Yes, please. I
nothing else. This.... The work.... It gives me a purpose."
The voices were crackly, but she heard enough.
"Did she ever talk about someone called Mulder?"
Silence, then a hurried "yes." She almost smiled at
forgetting she couldn't see him, then remembering almost too late.
He was an innocent indeed. They were playing a dangerous game.
"What does she say?"
"That he was a friend." William's voice shook, but
it was for the
best, perhaps. "That they have told her he is now dead."
"They have told her?" The voice was sharp. She could
William's gasp. "Does she _believe_ that?"
"She was crying. I saw her crying." William was
She couldn't tell if it was real or not. "When I came in this
morning. She had been so hopeful last week, but this morning....
She was broken. She hated the fact that I saw her like that, I
There was a small sound of satisfaction. "The deal still
Mr Lyndon. You will tell me if you see anything suggesting
otherwise. You know the alternative if you deceive me."
She sighed. When the time was right, he would confess. She had
told him she couldn't guarantee to protect his job, but he had
shrugged, accepting the situation. "It was my mistake. I should
answer for it."
As she was answering for hers. A lifetime of pretence and
deception. A lifetime of alienation from her family. A lifetime
living with her own secret. A lifetime of regret.
But in it, some hope.
He was _not_ dead. Why keep him alive for so long unless he
useful to them? They would not kill him, not if removing him,
hiding him, would achieve their aim just as well.
And she would find him. This time, she was working from
biding her time, worming out secrets beneath a facade of
She would find him.
Nothing else mattered.
End? Maybe more, _if_ people want it, and if I feel inspired.
NOTES: The title is a quotation attributed to Pyrrhus, the man
behind the original pyrrhic victory. Surveying the victory that
killed nearly all his men, he (supposedly) said, "Another such
victory and we are lost."
This story came from several things. One was the
speculation, which made me want to write a plausible Scully
betrayal. Another was speculation on how the whole series would
end, or how it could continue should the vague rumours about
Duchovny's departure turn out to be correct. If you like, you can
read this as a season 5 finale / first episode in the "X-Files:
The Next Generation" series (God forbid!), in which Scully and a
new partner investigate the paranormal while searching for Mulder.
However, my main inspiration is, once again, my belief that
Files can't have a wholly happy ending. Having explored (in "The
Rich Fisher" and "The Innocent Spring") the problems that could
result from a "happy" ending to the Samantha issue, I wanted to
get my angsty little fingers on the "Mulder and Scully expose the
Consortium and live happily ever after" scenario. I just find
Mulder and Scully so much more interesting when they're struggling
against adversity than when everything goes right for them.
FEEDBACK: Please send feedback, private or public. Like I
have no immediate plans to write a sequel, but might be persuaded
to change my mind, if people want one.....
X-Files Fanfic Research: http://www.astolat.demon.co.uk/
"The truth IS out there. It's just a pity that I'm in