A/N – The second fanfiction I wrote and posted. I posted from Sharbot Lake just before Christmas 1998.

Title - "Illusions"
Author - Wintersong
E-Mail address - wintersong .ca

Rating - PG, profanity
Category - V, 3POV
Spoilers - Folie A Deux
Keywords - none
Summary - Truly seeing others is hard. Seeing ourselves is
harder.
Disclaimer: They belong to CC and 1013.

Notes: I discovered a vignette "Banging Your Head Against A
Red-Haired Brick Wall" on Gossamer a year or so ago that I
just loved. This is my attempt to do something similar with a
Scully admirer. Hope you like it.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I suppose I was lucky.

I could have bought her a ring.

That was what I figured she wanted. It's what all women want
isn't it? A commitment? And don't talk to me about divorce
statistics, contributory negligence and partners being closer
than married couples. I'm a cop. Seen it. Done it. Don't assume
you know what you're talking about. Half those marriages
were DOA due to late nights, missed birthdays and the fact that
there are times when-if you can't talk about the case-you
haven't got shit to talk about. Ask any cop.

You think I'd tell a wife or girlfriend I got shot at? I mean holy
shit! The damn bullet missed, all right? Yippee, now pass the
beer. You think we don't know when it's close? But we can't
afford to think like that. So we'll drink the beer too fast, talk
too loud and punch someone who didn't deserve it. But we do
it with people who know the rules. No pulling shit like that
with the family.

It scares them.

So I figured I'd found the perfect woman. FBI ,right? I mean
how many times does a fed get shot at? Okay - so the gang and
drug guys get shot at. But it's not like she'd be a fellow
detective standing in the line of fire. The feds are the brains of
the operation. If we ever got assigned a case together she'd
probably be my boss. Hey, I'm enlightened . I can handle that.
She figures out who the bad guys are and I go knock 'em
down. Sounds good to me.

She's a cop. Sorta. So I wouldn't even have to watch what I
say. I'm not talking about the classified stuff, here. I'm talking
the stuff that pops out when you're not thinking about it. The
real reason you talk to your partner more than your wife.

I told a girlfriend once about this guy's life I saved. I mean I
was pumped. I'd been a freaking damn hero and man! I was
high on it. The kid had come out on the losing end of a knife
fight and his intestines were pushing out of his body like
snakes from one of those pop-up cans. You ever had a tape
measure uncoil on you? You know, where the loops just keep
spooling out under pressure and every time you grab one,
another rockets off until you've got one big tangled mess and
no clue how to get it all back in that tiny little case. Now you
get the picture. I was literally holding his life in my hands until
the paramedics got there.

Only I forgot that I was eating spaghetti while I was telling her
all this. It was an hour before she came out of the bathroom.

And they say they want us to communicate more.

So here I was, mentally putting her on my insurance plan
before I even asked her out. I should have realized something
was wrong when Sweeney just shook his head and said, "Be
careful, man."

Normally Sweeney's as happy for me as I am when I find
someone. Hell, between the two of us we've had our share of
bad relationships, but that doesn't stop us from hoping for the
best for each other. Sometimes you choose your partner over
your family - but you never choose a partner instead of one.
It's just...sometimes you need not to be needed. It's not that
you want to be alone...you just don't have the energy to be
anyone for someone else at that particular moment.

Family needs you to be someone. They need you to be a
husband or a lover or a dad. They deserve it. And the hours and
missed time together means that when they do get a hold of
you, they need that much more. I don't blame them for wanting
it. I don't blame them for resenting it when it all gets to be too
much and you retreat to the safety of your partner's living
room. But blame the job, man...not the partner. He's just
picking up the pieces.

So I just thought Sweeney was worried about the fact that she
had a partner. I should have known better.

My grandfather used to say a cop has two wives. The mother of
his children and the job. Only he'd say it like it was enshrined
in capital letters. The Job. Grandma would laugh as she said
that cops' wives didn't marry men, they married the force.
Except her smile never reached her eyes. And she wasn't
joking.

But that's how it worked for them. Maybe it would have
worked for my parents, but she walked out when I was two and
Dad died in the line of fire three years later. His picture hangs
in a place of honor in my grandparents house. I don't
remember what she looks like. I just know she couldn't cut it
as a cop's wife, and in this family, when we bleed, we bleed
blue.

So now we are back to the perfect woman. She's beautiful,
she's law enforcement and she's Irish Catholic to boot. But the
problem isn't that she has a partner. The problem is that she is
his partner. Capital "P". And for the first time, I'm beginning
to think about what that means.

I don't know what the rules are anymore. Maybe none of us
ever did.

It's not something I ever had to think about. It was just
something I always knew. Something that got absorbed along
with every other rule of my life. Don't touch a hot stove, never
tell a lie and always , always be there when your partner calls.
Granddad didn't even like his last partner. Called him a sallow
faced rookie without the brains God gave a magpie. But
Grandma kept a six-pack of his favorite beer in the fridge and
the night of my high school graduation, Granddad was on a
stakeout with his partner.

That's just the way it is.

Believe it or not, I even understood. Sure, there were times I
wished he could have been there, but there are sacrifices that
have to be made and it's not always the cop who has to make
them. I was proud to do it. It was my duty. You think I'd be a
cop now if I didn't believe that?

But I've had to do some real hard thinking about my
definitions lately. Duty, partner...cop. All because of her. It's
damn funny when you think about it. Never thought a split-
tailed FBI navy brat with a nutcase for a partner could have
taught me anything about being a cop. With my background?
You're kidding, right?

But she did. I can even talk about it. I just won't do it when I'm
drinking.

The District is one fucked up place to be a cop. If this wasn't
home, I'd be giving serious consideration to transferring to
New York or Miami. It's safer. And between you, me and the
Review Board, it's not the criminals I worry about. I'd trust
Sweeney with my woman, my credit cards and the last bullet
in my gun. The other cops ... I'm not always so sure about.

So I recognized that look in her eyes when I saw it. I've been
seeing it in the mirror a lot lately. The one that said at one time
she had honestly believed that we were all on the same side.
That sick sense of betrayal as you recognize that pissing on
your shoes is more important to the uniform you're staring at
than your partner's life.

We didn't get any of the home team killed... but it came close.

Hostage Negotiation 101. Don't fucking call a hostage on their
cell phone when there's a chance the bloody hostage taker
doesn't know he's got a federal hostage. Especially if he's an
armed hostage. And you don't know whether the hostage taker
has an itchy trigger finger. This class is pass/fail, boys and
girls. If you get the hostages killed asshole, you fail.

There wasn't a damn thing I could do. I wasn't from Illinois. I
was taking a course with their SWAT team guys when the call
came in. Just call me JAFO. I heard later that her partner
ended up in the psyche ward for a while. Considering
everything I've heard since, I'm more surprised that they let
him out.

I thought that was the last I'd ever see of her. I kicked my ass
for weeks afterwards for not making some kind of move at the
time. You know. Introduced myself, asked her to
dinner...proposed. The usual. I even spent some time lurking
outside the FBI building hoping to run into her. Sweeney
thought it was hilarious until three loony tunes tried to follow
us home.

It's a scary thing, the minds of madmen and lunatics. We didn't
even know they were there. Not until they botched placing the
tracking device. A tracking device. Can you frigging believe it?
Haven't these fruit-loops heard of the constitution? They
scream loud enough when they think their own rights are being
violated. Guess they figure it somehow doesn't apply to them.
Them being the good and righteous warriors and all that
bullshit. Christ, I hate fanatics.

So Sweeney had the short one handcuffed to the car door.
Blondie is flat on his face with Sweeney on his back and I
made the mistake of thinking I had the sane one of the lot.
Except he's gone stark raving bonkers. I've got his right arm in
a wristlock and a Half- Nelson on his left and he's still
fighting. The handcuffed one is hollering "I won't let you hurt
her again, I won't let you hurt her." over and over. Meanwhile,
my guy is howling "Where is she? Where is she?" Like I have
a fucking clue what he's talking about. That's when the cavalry
showed up.

For the bad guys.

I remember thinking a train had hit me. I'm face down on the
car hood trying to remind my lungs how to breath when I see
Sweeney go flying back to land flat on his ass. Shortie kicks
out at my partner as he goes. Luckily he missed and got
Blondie instead. Next thing I know, I'm wearing handcuffs,
Sweeney is glaring at me as he lands like a beached trout next
to me and Blondie and Shortie are smacking each other around
like a couple of cat-fighting 13-year old girls.

We went from Starsky and Hutch to Larry, Curly and Moe in
about five minutes. I'd have laughed if I'd thought Sweeney
would forgive me.

It stopped being funny when I saw the photographs. Those
assholes had had us under surveillance almost from the first
day I started...ummm...lurking. They had photos, file dossiers
on both of us and even a wiretap on my phone. That's when I
started to get seriously creeped out. Whoever their rescuer was,
he was FBI. I'd seen the badge on his barrel chest just before
he tried to rearrange my teeth. What these three yahoos had
done was flat out illegal. He had to know that.

So why were Sweeney and I the ones wearing police issue
bracelets?

I figure it's a bad sign when the FBI starts acting like the CIA.

Sweeney's face had gone absolutely still. He's got the kind of
features that make him look seriously dangerous when he does
that. Deranged is how one cop put it. I've seen more than one
piece of gutter slime take one look and carefully place his gun
on the ground. They usually kick it several feet away for good
measure.

I'm the only one who knows that face usually means he thinks
we are both gonna die.

We had carefully twisted around and slid off the car hood to
face the enemy on our feet. It's a dumb reaction, I know. Dead
is dead. But I'll be damned if I'll go out with a bullet in the
back of the head if I've got anything to say about it. The
bastard can look me in the eye when he pulls the trigger.

He was a decade older and wearing a suit that said he'd been
behind a desk for a hell of a long time. One look at his eyes,
though, and I was very careful about how I took my next
breath. Whatever else this man was, it wasn't the cop looking
me over with assessing brown eyes. It was a soldier.

Say what you want about trigger-happy cops, the fact is that
most of us are taught to see civilians when we look at people.
Human beings who we are supposed to protect. The innocent
until proven guilty. But where we see civilians, soldiers see
enemies.

And as every good soldier knows, the only safe enemy is a
dead one.

When Blondie mentioned that I had been in Illinois, I think I
began to look very very safe. That's when her partner showed
up. Blondie fucking had his cell phone number on speed dial.

Who the hell were these people? I mean, Christ! I just wanted
to ask the woman for a date.

"Agent Mulder."

"Sir?"

"Do you know these men?"

Hazel eyes gave both of us the once over.

"No sir."

Soldier Boy handed over one of Blondie's photographs. I
winced as I caught sight of it and Sweeney sighed. Somehow
these twits had captured the one and only time I'd gone over to
Dana Scully's home. And yes, I chickened out. I figured
showing up at her door might give her the wrong impression. I
wanted to ask her to dinner, not scare the living daylights out
of her.

"Next time you want to ask out an FBI agent, partner, you are
on your own."

For the record, Sweeney couldn't whisper his way out of a
paper bag. Everybody froze. Then one of the three Stooges
started to snicker. I'm sure I've been more embarrassed in my
life. I could swear there were a few times in high school...I just
could not remember any. From the burn, even my ears were
turning red. The only way it could get worse would be if...

"Mulder?"

Yep. That would be it.

I'll say this for her. She is one cool customer. Didn't even bat
an eye. Just moved her hand closer to her weapon and tipped a
curious eyebrow at her partner. Remembered to keep her line
of fire clear too. I kept very still. Wouldn't want to have to
explain to the grandchildren why Grandma shot Grandpa.

From the cool expression on her partner's face I was probably
getting safer by the minute, but I couldn't stop the grin I knew
was spreading across my face. No doubt about it. She was my
kind of woman.

There was a bit of confusion as to who got to unhandcuff who.
I was wearing Soldier Boy's, Shortie was wearing mine and
Sweeney-who may one day forgive me for this - was wearing
his own. However, there are times when the unspoken male
code of honor has it's benefits. None of them goofed on me.

I don't actually know if she ever got an explanation. After a
general collection of assorted mumblings and stumblings,
everyone sort of scattered. If I'd been her, I would have
thought it strange. But she just handed her partner an autopsy
report. Business as usual for the FBI, I guess.

It wasn't hard to introduce myself after that. Get myself
assigned to a case with weird stuff going on, call to make sure
her partner was out of the office and make a quick stop to ask
her advice. Case closed. A thank-you lunch was only fair,
wasn't it?

Damn if that woman doesn't get a lot of cell phone calls
though. Her partner alone called four times in the run of an
hour. I'd have thought he was jealous, except the fact she was
with me never came up. At the time, I figured it was a good
sign. Evidence that she kept her personal relationships separate
from her relationship with her partner. Yeah. Right.

Remind me to double check whether it really does say
Detective on my badge and ID. Because for someone whose
life begins with "c" and ends with "p", I didn't have a clue.

I took her out to dinner and we spent the night comparing the
bad habits of our partners. We went to the movies and she ran
out halfway through because something in the plotline jogged a
memory and she needed a lift back to the morgue. I rented the
most nauseating chick flick I could find and found out three
days later that she stood me up because some emergency room
doctor was playing connect the bullet holes on her body.

Are you beginning to get the picture?

That was when I started thinking that maybe she was sleeping
with her partner. I mean, hell, I find out from the goddamm
FBI switchboard that she's in the hospital. She doesn't think to
call me once she's conscious. And her partner is the one who
drove her home. So she has to be sleeping with him. Right?
And you know what Sweeney asked me?

The asshole asked if it mattered.

Damn it. I can fight another man. But how the hell do you fight
a woman's job? They get seriously pissed when you ask them
to quit. I mean I get it. She's a career woman. Her job is
important to her. The fact that she gets shot at more than a
combat marine is a problem. Especially if she's planning on
having kids at anytime. But that's the fault of her asshole
partner. I mean, what the hell is he doing dragging his partner
into situations like those?

She's loyal to her partner. So long as he keeps going with these
suicide quests of his, she'll keep following along, guarding his
back, until one day they both go down. Her life...

Christ, she doesn't have a life. It's no wonder she's sleeping
with him. He's consumed everything else around her until all
she can see is him. He's made a prison out of her sense of duty,
her loyalty, her need to make a difference. I can see it. All I
have to do is find a way to show it to her. Give her a sense of
balance. A family.

Me.

If I wasn't so pissed at him, I'd have flinched at the sadness in
Sweeney's eyes as he watched me tell him this. His fingers
made slow circles on the table and he took a swallow of his
beer before finally looking at me. God, I wanted to run. I didn't
want to hear this. I didn't want to hear him tell me it was never
going to happen. I didn't want to hear the reasons why.

"Why her?"

What did he mean, why her? Hadn't he been paying attention?
She was perfect. Everything I wanted in a woman.

Sweeney just closed his eyes and grimaced. Then he seriously
freaked me out.

"If I was a woman, would you sleep with me?"

JesusMaryandJosephAndAllTheSaintsPreserveUs. He did not
just ask me that. SHIT. He did not just ask me that. What do I
say now?

"Fuck no."

The asshole knew better than to smile at me. I gave serious
contemplation to introducing my knuckles to his teeth. What
the fuck did he want from me?

"Why not?"

Why not? He had the nerve to ask me why not? Because he
talked too much. That's why not. Because he was a Red Sox
fan. Because he'd drag me to jazz festivals and humiliate me at
the summer fair by winning me the teddy bear. Why not? Why
not? Because he was my fucking partner, that's why not.

He watched my back. We shared cold coffee on stakeouts and
he always knew what donut to buy me. He pissed me off by
volunteering for the craziest cases but made it up to me by
doing more than his fair share of the paperwork. He was the
one I wanted at my back when we had to go into some deserted
warehouse in the middle of nowhere and he's the one who will
see the bad guys in hell if I ever walk into the wrong end of a
bullet.

He was my goddamn partner. I'd lose too much if he was a
wom...

The asshole just looked at me as if he hadn't torn apart my
world, my understanding of myself and swallowed another
mouthful of beer. That little voice, the one we never listen too,
kept screaming at me to grab my gun and run. Leave before he
said something else. Said something that would force me to see
the things I never thought of...and the things that could never
be.

I should have known better. Bastard always has to have the last
word.

"Now ask me if I'd sleep with you, if you were a woman. "

The sun will be a fucking snowball before I ever ask that
question. Not in this lifetime, or any other.

I don't want to know.

It would hurt too much.

-The End-