Title: Razor's Edge

Author: Elizabeth Christian

Rating: R

Summary: Mulder discovers Scully's self-harm.

The morning sun breaks through the thin slats of the shades and pulls me from my sleep.  She is warm in my arms, the curve of her back pressing into me with the rise and fall of my breath.  Her hair catches the milky sunlight and becomes liquid fire splayed out on the white expanse of the pillow.  Soft sounds of sleep escape her slightly parted lips.  My favorite moment of the day is watching the day dawn over her.

I hug her close and a smile crosses her face.  She is so sweet and peaceful now, not caring about what this day might bring, what pain and sorrow may fill her fragile heart before we lie again in this bed.  No, her head is filled with whatever dream world she has conjured for herself.  She is happy now.

Yet my mind troubles me, as it always does in these gossamer moments of joy.  Her left arm lies stretched across the bed sheets.  I try to look away, to forget, to blind myself to what stares so clearly at me.  But me eyes are drawn and I am helpless to stop them.

Scars.  Layer upon layer of thin white lines patterning her pale flesh.  No attack, no procedure, no fall or accident could leave marks like these.  They are almost surgical in their straight precision, beautiful in a way that turns my skin cold.  They almost dance upon her skin, weaving their way from her wrist to the bend of her arm.  Thick knots of lines hug her wrist and, shooting through them like a jagged worm, one long, harsh line growing from the base of her palm to the cluster of veins in the curve of her elbow. The sheer thickness of it tells me it was deep, maybe vein-deep.

My trembling fingers reach out to touch her, to touch them, but even in sleep she recoils from me and curls the arm into her as if it is some wounded animal, or a child seeking its mother's solace.  She always hides her scars – pressing them to her side or covering them with shirts and sheets.  My heart aches because of it, because she will trust me with her body and her life, but this part of her heart she keeps locked away.  I've loved her through all of the pain, through the loss and the suffering we have shared together – why does she not allow me to love her for this?  Why is she afraid to tell me?  Why am I afraid to ask?

I know in a moment those sleeping eyes will flutter open and turn to me with love and trust.  That fear and deceptions lie beneath that love and trust.  We will both pretend that those scars do not exist.  I will pretend I do not know about them, and she will pretend she does not have them.

Candles fill the room with dancing light and flickering shadows.  Along the windowsill, on the coffee table, in the bookshelves – every surface is covered with softly glowing candles.  We sway together to the music playing softly from the bedroom.  Something classical, a long, bleeding piano ballad that turns the floor into sky.  She rests her head against my shoulder and I breathe in the rich scent of her hair.  I kiss the soft skin of her neck and whisper, "I love you."

"I love you."

My hands caress her arms and she stiffens ever so slightly.  A pang echoes through my heart.

I wrap my fingers around her hand – her right hand – and pull her gently to my bedroom.

More candles decorate the window, the bedside tables, and the headboard. White rose petals lie like snow upon red the satin sheets.  In the center of the bed I have placed silver tray with a bottle of red wine and two crystal glasses shining like diamonds in the fairytale glow of the candles.  She gasps softly beside me.  "It's beautiful."

"I thought you'd like it."

She smiles as we sit, sinking into the soft mattress.  I pour two glasses of blood red wine.  "I propose a toast."  My blank mind surrenders nothing poetic so I settle for something I once read under a beer cap.  "To little green army men."

"To little green army men," she answers, with more than a little laughter in her voice.

We sip.  We kiss.  I taste the rich wine still clinging to her lips.  When our glasses are empty, I stand them on the bedside table and take her hands in mine.  They are warm and soft as rose petals.  "Scully, you know I love you."

"Of course I do.  You know I love you, too."  Her eyes hold questions but I cannot quite find the words to answer.

"I thought I knew that.  But… Love means trust.  I trust you completely.  There is not a part of me I haven't shared with you, that I haven't given to you."  My thumb caresses the back of her left hand.  "But you can't say the same."

Hurt, shame, and anger flash across her face.  She tries to pull her hand back but I keep a firm, gentle hold.  "I… Mulder, don't…"

I turn her hand over and run my fingers over her palm, not touching the scars, not looking at them, just staring into her eyes and holding her hand.  "You let me in, you let me love you, but still you hide from me.  I try not to push, but I know that there are parts of you, painful parts, that you don't want me to see."  My tone is still gentle, no accusation.  I could have been whispering sweet nothings.

Tears well in her shining eyes.

"I wish you would tell me, Dana.  I wish I knew why you won't.  Everything I know about you, I love.  Body, soul, heart, mind – you're beautiful to me, Dana, every piece of you, good and bad."

Those shining tears spill over and leave glistening trails on her cheeks.

I say just one more word.  "Please."

The piano plays through a long, silent interlude.  I hold my breath, standing on the razor's edge.

She takes a deep, shaking breath.  She cannot meet my eyes. "I… It's just… It's so hard to talk about.  Everyone who ever found out…they just ran and never looked back.  They thought I was sick or crazy or morbid.  I… I guess I am, or was, at least a little.  I haven't done it in ages.  When I was younger – sixteen, maybe seventeen – the world… Everything just seemed so dark.  No, no, not dark.  Gray.  There were days, weeks even, when everything I saw and everything I did and everything I felt was just…gray.  Empty, numb, lifeless.  Hopeless.  I felt like I was dead, but still walking around.  I couldn't laugh, I couldn't cry, I couldn't even feel angry or afraid.  I was just…gray.  And one day… I guess I just figured it out.  I…I cut myself and, for the first time in a long time, I saw color.  I felt the pain, of course, but I felt…I felt again.  Shame, fear, self-hatred… Those were emotions I could name, concrete feelings instead of the horrible numbness.  I know it wasn't real, that I was using the cutting as a crutch, a validation.  It made me hate myself, and that made me cut, which made me hate myself even more."

Her voice cracks and a few more tears make that long journey from eye to chin and fall onto the bed.  They cling like dew to the rose petals.  "For a long time, I didn't want to stop.  And when I finally did, I couldn't.  I go would a few days, a week, maybe a month, and then something would happen – a boyfriend would leave me, I'd fail a big test, or maybe I'd just have a shitty day – and I'd reach for the blade.  I'd cut my skin and watch the blood run down my arm, and I would feel better.  And worse, too, but at least I wouldn't be dwelling on all the other bad shit in my life.  Then the wounds would heal and maybe scar, and sometimes that took the pain away."

Her finger traces that long line from wrist to elbow.  She doesn't see me or her arm or the room anymore – she's back in the place where this happened, where she made this mark.  "I only really tried to kill myself once.  The other wrist scars… They were just musing, I guess.  It was the night after… My boyfriend, Jordan.  He was the first guy I ever… He was my first.  The day after we… He dumped me.  We were at school, at lunch, and he just said he couldn't be with me anymore.  That I was nice, but not the girl he wanted or needed.  He was so cold.  I knew then that he'd only been using me.  My parents were away that week – some naval conference or meeting.  Mom and Dad figured we were old enough to be responsible, and my brothers and Missy, of course, were using that as an excuse to party.  They were out every night, usually all night.  I knew they wouldn't find me until it was too late.  So I took my dad's pocket knife – he always kept it in his bedside table.  It was sharp, more sharp than the razor blades.  It went in so easily.  I just picked a vein and followed it until I passed out.  There was so much blood.  So much blood.  The bathtub was full of it.  I woke up the next morning and couldn't believe I was alive.  I still don't know how I survived.  But I did.  I never told my family any of it, just called in sick to school and cleaned everything up.  I threw the knife away, but Dad never asked about it.  I'm sure they suspected, but we were, after all, a military family.  Brave face and all that.  I wasn't all better, not for a long time.  But I made myself stop.  The first night you kissed me.  I made myself stop for you.  I knew how hurt you'd be if I hurt myself.  I couldn't tell you.  I… I didn't want to put so much pressure on myself, and if you knew, that would just make it so much harder if I slipped up and cut again.  I'm sorry, I wish I'd told you, I wish I could have, I - "

I cannot even find words.  I just lower my lips and kiss her where once the blade had touched her arm, where once the blood had spilled like red, red wine and left rivers on her skin.  I kiss every mark, every scar, and when I look up she is crying silently.  She smiles as I say, "I love you."

She leans over and kisses me, soft and full.  The lush taste of wine mixes with the salt of her tears.  She caresses my face and it is not until her fingers come away wet that I realize I am crying, too.  The piano finds its final chord.

The song changes and the aching beauty of a violin slides across us as we kiss.  'Cause it's a bittersweet symphony this life...

"I will always love you, Mulder."

My hand finds the zipper on the back of her dress. "Always."

I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down.  You know the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet.

Satin slides like liquid along our skin.

"You saved me from myself."

"You saved me from more than you'll ever know."

Well I never pray but tonight I'm on my knees, yeah…

Our bodies are like one, melting with the music.

I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, I feel free now.

"Dana, you don't need to be perfect for me."

"I couldn't if I tried."

No change, I can change, I can change, I can change, but I'm here in my mold.

"Thank God."

I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down.  You know the one that takes you to the places where all the pain lives.

No more words now, just our bodies and the music.

I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down.

We lie entwined together, candlelight dancing on our skin.  She wraps both arms around me and smiles.

I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down.