SUMMARY: The shadows of the fire were warm as they played over her, and Scully let herself think of babies and colours and things that couldn't be.
SPOILERS: Quagmire.En Ami, Theef, Hollywood AD, Par Manum. Anything up to and including Requiem is fair game though :)
AN: Based around En Ami, but I've taken large liberties and twisted the episode rather completely. Sorry about that. More notes at the end ;)
This one goes out to Nic – for the dvds (on their way home soon, promise) – who offered nagging, unsolicited encouragement and blatantly false praise. You are too cool, dude. bunnylove
Also to Sel, who got me hooked on XF Fanfic, and intermittently through the excellent fic I found, hooked on the show itself, even though she doesn't watch. smooch
Also, it hasn't been beta'd (again), so if anyone out there is interested in beta'ing for me, I'd be very happy to hear from you!
The smoky Washington morning rolled across her senses like a bitter coffee, its taste lingering even when she closed the window. She knew outside the weak sunlight would be fighting a losing battle against the smog; the grey overcast morning would mute bright colours and highlight the shadows of the city. She knew the people walking past would all be wearing black coats and carry briefcases as their expensive shoes tapped a brisk rhythm on the uneven sidewalk.
She wondered how many of those people knew where the sidewalk tilted slightly to the left, where the biggest cracks were, and where the large pavestones had lifted to cause a dangerous obstacle on the route of someone who couldn't see.
Perhaps later today it would rain; the air had felt damp against her face. When it rained she could smell the dust in the air as it mixed with the rain. Car tires would hum along the road on the slick surface, and brisk footsteps would be accentuated by the cold sound of water splashing in puddles.
Scully liked it when it rained.
Sighing, she moved swiftly to her closet, her fingers gliding across silks, linens and cottons as she identified each garment, carefully fingering the cotton stitches sewn in the labels. Her clothes for the day chosen and carefully laid out on a neatly made bed, she moved into the bathroom and took her shower.
When her mother arrived to pick her up an hour later, Scully was standing on the sidewalk, neatly dressed in a black suit with her hair impeccably styled and a briefcase clutched in one hand. Dark sunglasses hid her milky blue eyes from sight.
"I was reading an article a few days ago," her mother started, "about a new treatment being tried by a doctor in New York. I called his office and spoke to him, and while you're probably better at the technical side than I am, it sounds-"
"No," Scully said softly. She turned her face away from her mother, as though she could see out of the car window she was now facing. She leant her cheek on the glass; it was cool against her hot skin.
"Dana?" her mother asked.
"I said no," Scully repeated firmly. She sighed and lifted her face from the window, letting her head fall back against the head rest. "I can't keep doing this, Mom."
"This," Scully said vaguely, waving a hand listlessly through the air. "It's been almost three months, and I can't keep trying to pretend everything's going to be okay. It's not going to be okay, Mom, and I have to accept that."
"You can't stop hoping, Dana," her mother responded softly.
"It's not a matter of hope, Mom. It's about facing the facts. Accepting that fact that I am now blind."
"It doesn't make any sense!"
"I know that." Once, that would not have satisfied a red headed young woman with a degree under her belt, badge in her pocket and gun in her hand. But that young woman was naïve and narrow minded, unable to accept what she could not understand.
"I don't understand, Dana."
Scully sighed, letting her fingers interlace on her lap where she could feel the warm fabric of her trousers beneath them. "Neither do I, Mom," she agreed softly. "But this is going to stop now. We're going to accept what's happened, and I'm going to get on with my life."
She knew her mother disagreed with her decision, but her mother knew her well enough not to argue. They continued on in silence, and Scully closed her eyes, feeling the gentle jerks and bumps as they navigated their way through the traffic.
Years of observing from the shadows had unfolded the woman before him. He'd seen her struggle time and time again. The stumbling blocks orchestrated by him were faced head on with a determination and a resolve that he had at first admired, and then come to envy. She, with her integrity and honor, her moral code, was far greater than him. However, moral code and integrity were really no match against darkness, secrecy and knowledge and he possessed all three. And he possessed what she desired most.
Reclined back on her sofa, the thin thread of smoke from his weakness curled delicately through the air in front of him. He blew at it absently, watching it dissipate into nothingness, random molecules scattered into the vastness. He heard the soft jingle of keys, and slowly sucked in another mouthful of smoke, the acrid fumes slipping down his throat with ease. The door swung open and she stepped inside, stopping before she'd let go of the door handle.
"What the hell are you doing here?" she demanded, her voice curt.
He admired the lack of fear. "Enjoying my cigarette," he said easily. "Please, do come in Agent Scully."
She raised her eyebrow, pale blue eyes staring emptily at the space to his right. "This is my apartment, Spender," she said coldly.
"I haven't been called that in years," he commented. "Close the door, Dana, you're letting in a draught."
Her heels tapped firmly on the floor as she stepped aside. "I'm not closing the door until you get your ass out of my apartment."
"Now now, where are your manners?"
"I use manners on people, Spender, not monsters. Now get out."
He allowed a chuckle to escape, and watched her anger at his blatant mockery. "You're in a hurry. Don't you even want to hear what I have to say?"
"No," she said flatly.
"Pity," he shrugged. "I know how to get what you want."
She hesitated, and he allowed a small smile of satisfaction to touch his lips; after all, she couldn't see it. "Get out."
"You could have it, Agent Scully, that which you want most. A cure to cancer, disease. A cure for everything. You could hold it in your hands and use it to get what you want."
"You're lying," she said flatly. Yes, he knew she was skeptical. He knew she was obstinate. He knew she wouldn't believe or trust him. Yet.
"On the contrary, what would I gain from lying to you?"
The question surprised her, and she considered it carefully, her brow furrowed in thought. He raised his cigarette to his lips again and inhaled slowly, savoring it. "No," she said finally, "I think the question I have to ask is what you could gain from telling me this in the first place."
He smiled; she didn't disappointment after all. "I'm a dying man, Agent Scully."
"If you have the cure to everything, why don't you use it then?" she asked spitefully.
"I'm an old man, Dana, not just a dying one," he said ruefully. "I have nothing to show for my age either. My family - what I had of a family - is dead, my life's work is in ruins. No one even knows my real name."
Compassion. That was Scully's weakness, always showing compassion.
"Assuming all this is true, what would you gain from giving me this technology?" she asked carefully. Considering his words now, allowing them to bear weight and gain solidity in her mind.
"I've watched you for years, you know," he said honestly. "You're a good person."
Her eyebrows lifted in surprise, a bitter chuckle of disbelief shattering the air between them. "So what? You're developing a conscience?"
"No," he said amicably. "No, I just want to see something good happen because of me, before I die."
She sighed, shifting her weight and jiggling the door handle she still clutched with one hand; his time was up and her patience was gone. "So what is it you want, Spender?" she asked again.
"Consider it, Dana. I can give it to you."
"Where's the catch?" she asked cynically.
"I give it to you, and you alone."
The smile that tugged her lips was knowingly bitter. "So you don't want me to tell Mulder about your visit," she deduced easily.
"That's why I like you, Dana, you understand how the game's played."
Her eyes narrowed. "This isn't a game, Spender, and I'm not playing."
His shoes were noiseless as he moved across the floor to her. "Think about it," he said softly, casually strolling out of her home.
It still stank. The burnt stench was embedded into her furniture, her floors… her air. Trying to ignore the constant assault on her delicate sense of smell, Scully slipped off her sofa and settled on the floor in front of her coffee table. Once she had considered the surface of her coffee table smooth, the wood buffed and polished to an almost glasslike smoothness. Now when she ran her fingers over the grainy tabletop she could feel the grain of the wood beneath them, her fingertips tracing knots and twists that the fine buffing failed to hide from her touch.
Opening a thick book with a disgusted sigh, she let her fingers slowly run over the page in front of her. But she couldn't concentrate on the small pinpricks, couldn't find the effort or desire to decipher each letter from the markings on the page.
She heard keys in her door, and pushed the book away, climbing quickly to her feet and facing the direction of the door, as though she could confront whoever was entering her apartment. The door swung open, and she knew it was Mulder.
"Hey," he called out, "I bought you some food, Scully."
She raised an eyebrow. "Did you cook or did you buy?"
"Bought, Scully. Can't you smell the Chinese?" he teased gently.
And when he said the words, she realized he was right. "Smells great," she said simply. "I'll get the plates."
She knew he watched her as she moved across the floor, easily negotiating her way through her apartment. These days she hardly even had to count her steps. The mental map she visualized was almost second nature by now, and he'd come to respect that. Just as she had.
Locating two plates from her cupboard, and finding two wine glasses, she moved back to the coffee table where she put down the crockery and picked up her books.
"How's the reading going?" he asked conversationally. His shoes squeaked faintly on the wooden floor, and she tracked his progress to the kitchen where she knew he was getting the wine.
"It's not," she sighed, placing the books on the floor next to the sofa and making a mental note to remember she'd put them there. "I don't know if I'll even enjoy reading again," she added, sighing sorrowfully.
"There's always audio cassettes," he reminded her.
She rolled her eyes.
"Or I could read to you," he volunteered.
"Sure, Mulder," she chuckled. "When was the last time you read a book that wasn't science fiction or related to conspiracies?"
"A long time ago," he agreed.
She smiled as she sat herself on the sofa, knowing he'd dish up without her asking him too. It was much neater and safer having him dole out Chinese food. It was a lot neater and safer to let him do a lot of things for her. She sighed, pulling her feet up and resting her chin on her knees.
"That sounded serious," Mulder commented, the sofa dipping beneath his weight. "Here."
She crossed her legs and accepted the plate of food. "Dig in."
She relaxed into his company, pulling his familiarity and safety around her like a warm blanket, wrapping her away from the dark scent of the monster who had graced her with his presence. And even as she pushed him to the back of her mind, deliberately ignored the knowledge he had offered her, she felt the curious tendrils of supposition and 'what if' lick at her conscience.
What if he was telling the truth.
What if he held the cure.
What if she could see again.
"I never did thank you," she said abruptly, almost imagining she could see the flames flickering in the hearth as they popped and spluttered. It was too warm for a fire, she thought idly, but the wood smoke overpowered the stench of Morley's, and she liked the gentle chatter of the fire in the background.
"For what?" Mulder asked.
"For trying to give me a baby," she said softly, relieved that she didn't have to meet his eyes as she uttered the words.
He was quiet next to her, and the silence made her uncomfortable. Once she would have read the thoughts in his eyes and watched his silent speech as he moved his restless fingers in an elegant pattern on his legs. Now there was only silence, the hissing of the flames and the whispers of their breath.
"I didn't say thank you for asking me," he returned eventually, sounding far away. "I'm sorry it didn't work, Scully," he said sincerely.
His hand snaked out of the darkness and rested lightly on her own, his skin warm and rough against hers. She curled her fingers between his, resting her head against the back of the couch. His fingers squeezed hers gently, and she smiled sadly.
"So I am, Mulder," she whispered.
The shadows of the fire were warm as they played over her, and Scully let herself think of babies and colours and things that couldn't be.
Accept what's happened and get on with my life.
They were brave words, Scully thought dryly, letting her fingers run across her desk again. Brave words for a woman who was holding onto the shreds of her dignity with desperate fingers. But alone in her apartment the dignity was an empty comfort, and her options were spread too thin before her.
She was blind, and there simply weren't a whole lot of opportunities out there for blind women. What use was an agent if she couldn't see who she was aiming her gun at? What use was a forensic pathologist if she couldn't see what she was slicing with her scalpel?
What use was someone who couldn't see?
Scully sighed and let her head rest in the cradle of her hands, aimlessly massaging her scalp with over sensitive fingers.
There was a slight thump outside her apartment door, a footstep maybe, and she paused, ceasing the motion of her fingers and raising her head warily. Another muffled thump shivered through the floor, and then the noise disappeared.
She rose to her feet and opened the door. The air smelt like Morley's.
Beneath her socked foot she felt something slide on the hardwood floor, and she bent to pick it up. A stiff piece of card with hard edges and several tiny bumps in a corner. Scully shut the door before she let her fingers examine the card further, rubbing carefully over the small pricks. They felt familiar, and she struggled to concentrate.
A phone number.
I have what you want.
What I want.
Her mouth was dry like cotton, and she fingered the card.
What I want.
Someone cool and level headed. A planner. Someone who considered all the options and made the right decision accordingly.
Scully wondered if her latest decision would fit into the category she'd been filed into since her toddler days. She simply wasn't someone who acted spontaneously or made rash decisions. She followed her head rather than her heart.
Someone who did the right thing for the right reasons, not for a personal desire or selfish wishes.
She picked up the phone and dialled the Bureau, waiting until it was answered and she was transferred.
"Hi, Holly, this is Dana Scully," she said brightly.
"Dana! How are you?" Holly chirped just as brightly, but with her new sense of sight Scully could see the transparent colours in Holly's tone and read the dark pity as easily as she had once read her own name.
"I'm doing well," Scully responded smoothly. "I was hoping you could do something for me," she added.
"Sure, Dana, what is it?"
"I have an appointment with a new specialist, and I only have his phone number. I can't look up his address in the phonebook…" Scully trailed off, deliberately leaving the words unspoken. She felt no remorse over wilfully using her disability as a manipulation.
"Oh…" Holly said. "If you have his number, I can get his address for you," she offered.
Scully smiled; no one would ask a blind woman why she didn't simply phone the doctor himself and get his address. "That would be great," she said instead, "the number is (202) 555-1030."
Ten minutes later, she was in a cab heading toward an address burnt into her memory, wondering if she had made the right decision.
They had told him she had arrived the minute she had stepped out of the cab and onto the footpath. He had watched her progress from his window, noting when she asked the driver for direction he simply got out to guide her. People wanted to help her, he thought to himself as she walked with the driver up the path.
He sat at his desk, waiting until his door opened and she was led into the room, her sightless eyes hidden behind the dark glasses she had taken to wearing.
"You surprise me," he said to her, rising to his feet.
"Why?" she asked him, her voice even and controlled.
"I didn't expect you to make your decision quite so soon," he admitted.
"But you did expect me to make it," she answered.
He shrugged, but she couldn't see the gesture. "Take a seat, Agent Scully," he offered, not moving to help her find a seat.
She found it quickly, running her hands along the back of it and following the armrest until she had seated herself in front of his desk, feet neatly tucked together and her back straight. "What do I have to do?" she asked bluntly.
He lit a cigarette, drawing in the dry smoke and blowing it out slowly, watching the distaste cross her features as the smoke curled over her. "Come with me," he said simply.
He sucked in another lungful, holding it for a second and expelling it with a slight cough. "To find what you want. It will take a few days."
"You're not going to tell me."
"No. You're going to have to trust me."
She chuckled mirthlessly, and he was pleased to see she hadn't lost her sense of humour. "I still don't understand why you're doing this," she said.
"There are a lot of things you don't understand," he said simply. "In the end, a man finally looks at the sum of his life to see what he'll leave behind. Most of what I worked to build is in ruins. Now that the darkness descends, I find I have no real legacy."
The smoke hung thick in the air between them, and he watched her masked face in the muted light. "What are you dying of?" she asked clearly.
"Cerebral inflammation, due to brain surgery I had in the fall."
Even with her carefully controlled features and her blank eyes, he could still see the struggles flitting across her face. The yearnings and the fears, not discernable unless you knew to look for the small movements of her lips as she considered the options.
"If you have this technology," she said carefully, "why not just give it to me now?"
"The genetic knowledge behind this technology is closely guarded. There are people in this building that would kill me if they knew what I offered you, and they wouldn't hesitate to kill you too." He paused, still studying her. "I want to make things right, Agent Scully," he said softly, moving back to his desk crushing the cigarette in the ash tray. "I've destroyed a lot of things in my life, including the people most precious to me. All I want is a chance to do something in service to man before I go. If you want, Agent Scully, you better decide now, because when we leave we're not turning back."
Uncertainty pulled her lips into a tight line. "Can I see Mulder before we leave?" she asked.
"No," he shook his head. "You'll see him when we return."
She only hesitated a second. "If we're going somewhere, I'll need to get some clothes."
He nodded and smiled, squashing his cigarette in the ashtray on his desk. "That won't be a problem," he said easily. "If you're ready, Agent, Scully," he announced. This time when she rose to her feet, he moved toward her and offered her his arm. She took it silently, resting a light hand on his forearm as he led her forward.
Come into my parlour, said the spider to the fly.
Friday night was pizza night. And despite Scully's protests about cheese and calories and expanding like a blimp, Mulder knew that secretly Scully enjoyed pizza night. He could watch her openly now, and he felt a guilty tug at his taking advantage of her disability, but that didn't stop him from watching her while she ate. He would smile in amusement as she fought against the stringy cheese that refused to break no matter how far she pulled the slice from her mouth. He was secretly amazed at how adept she was at picking the pineapple off the pizza even though she couldn't see what she was pulling off. Sometimes she pulled off the pepperoni and gave that to him too, and he didn't tell her because it was his joke.
The pizza was hot in the box, almost burning his hand through the cardboard as he knocked on Scully's door. She didn't answer, and he knocked again, juggling the box to his other hand before the heat became unbearable. Still, she didn't answer.
"Scully?" he called, knocking again.
The pizza smelt thick and rich, grease turning the cardboard soggy and sour. Looking around to make sure no one was watching, he placed the box on the hallway floor and dug in his pocket for the key to her apartment. It slid into the lock neatly and the door opened with a small click.
"Scully?" he asked, looking around. The lights were off, but that was usual these days. Scully had no need for lights anymore. "You home, Scully?"
He picked the pizza up and moved inside, placing it on the kitchen counter before moving further into her apartment.
Maybe she was at her mother's, he thought, frowning. But it was Friday night, and Friday night was pizza night which Scully knew. He pulled out his cell phone and called Scully's phone. It was turned off. He dialled Mrs. Scully's number quickly, forgetting about the pizza growing cold behind him.
"Hi Mrs. Scully, it's Fox Mulder here," he said when she answered the phone.
"Good evening, Fox," Mrs. Scully said politely. "Is everything okay?"
"I was wondering if you know where Dana is?" he asked.
"She should be at home," Mrs. Scully responded calmly. "She might be sleeping or having a bath and didn't hear you call."
"Okay, thanks Mrs. Scully," Mulder said evenly. "I'll try her again later."
"Call me if there's a problem, Fox."
"There isn't a problem, Mrs. Scully," Mulder lied. "She's probably just taking a long bath."
He heard Mrs. Scully chuckle lightly, but there was an undertone of concern in the laugh. "Good night, Fox."
"Night, Mrs. Scully."
"Her mother says she should be at home," Mulder said tightly. "She should be at home, Sir."
"Mulder, for you all you know she could be out having dinner with friends," Skinner sighed.
"Sir," Mulder hedged, looking around Scully's apartment again. Neat and tidy and empty.
"You said there isn't any sign of foul play, nothing's missing, and you haven't seen Scully since Wednesday. That doesn't mean something's wrong, Mulder."
Mulder ground his teeth in frustration, pacing across the living room floor. A small white card was lying on the coffee table. "Hold on, Sir," he said suddenly, reaching for it. "I found something."
"What?" Skinner asked, aggravation seeping into his tone.
"A card," Mulder said thoughtfully. "I think there's something written on it, but I can't read it, it's in Braille. I've got to go, Sir."
He only heard Skinner's patronising "Mulder" before he hung up, staring intently at the empty white card with the tiny pinpricks.
Scully's computer was sitting unobtrusively on its desk where it had always been, unused for several months now. He sat in front of it, turned it on, and logged onto the internet. Several minutes later, he found what he was looking for, deciphering the holes in the card and scribbling down the digits.
A solitary phone number.
He stared at the number for a second, and then pulled out his cell phone again.
"Langley, it's me," he snapped into the phone when it was answered.
"Mulder, hey!" Langley proclaimed. "We were just about to call you!"
"About what?" Mulder asked, absently clicking on the email icon.
"Byers found evidence of-"
"Wait," Mulder interrupted, watching as the email account logged in, "while you talk can you look up an address and person for me?"
"Sure," Langley agreed easily.
Mulder read the number to Langley, frowning as he stared at Scully's inbox. Langley continued to babble, but Mulder ignored him, navigating through Scully's email.
"… so Frohike thought if we combined the accelerant with-"
"This can't be right," Mulder said suddenly.
"What?" Langley questioned.
"I think someone's been using Scully's email," Mulder said. "Several have been opened since after she lost her sight."
"Mulder, wouldn't her mother do that?" Langley pointed out.
"She would, if Maggie Scully were computer literate and Scully were inclined to let her look into her private emails," Mulder agreed.
"What are you doing in Scully's email?" Langley demanded suspiciously.
"Investigating," Mulder said. "Do you have that address and name for me yet?" Mulder asked.
"Yes, it's come up blank, Mulder. Disconnected. No address, no contact name, nothing."
Mulder swore into the phone.
"What's going on, Mulder?" Langly asked seriously.
"I'm not sure, but I think Scully's in trouble," Mulder said grimly.
The pizza was cold, and the rubbery smell of oily cheese was starting to fade. Now that he was looking for it, Mulder could easily smell the Morley's taint that clung to Scully's apartment.
They had driven for what felt like hours, stopping only briefly while the sun was still warm in the sky to have coffee with a woman who claimed to be over a hundred years old. Scully had heard the woman's voice; it had been clear and easy, not a weathered voice fragile with age.
She ached with exhaustion and fear, the silence in the car only compounded by the darkness of her mood.
"If you have this amazing cure," she said suddenly, "why not use it yourself?" she demanded.
"I was wondering when you would ask me," he said instead, and the wheels devoured the road beneath them, casting Scully further and further into the web being woven.
"Well?" she prodded.
"I am an old man, Doctor Scully," he said, his voice tired. "I've watched presidents die and directed wars. I always planned to be a writer."
The confession surprised her, confusing her. "Why not use the cure yourself?" she persisted.
He sighed, and she heard the breath wheeze in his lungs. Old lungs, black and rotted by smoke as his soul was rotted by evil. "There is a time and a place for everything, Agent Scully, and my time is almost over." His words were emphasised by the sound of a lighter and the thick smell of smoke filling the car.
"You're going to smoke?" Scully demanded incredulously.
He was silent for a second, and then she felt a distinctive breeze against her cheeks as he wound down the window, winding it up seconds later. "It's time I quit," he said simply, and she realised the thick smell of burning tobacco had disappeared somewhat.
"Just like that?" she questioned doubtfully.
"No sacrifice is purely altruistic. We give expecting to receive."
"What exactly do you expect to receive?" she questioned.
"Trust," he said again.
Scully couldn't help the derisive snort as she turned her head away from him.
"You question my sincerity. You think I'm heartless. Would it soften your opinion of me if I confess I've always had a particular affection for you?" His words were delivered with their usual understated clarity, and she stiffened slightly, shocked. "I assure you, my intentions are honourable. Affection for Mulder too. Affection for you is special. I held your life in my hands. Your cancer was terminal and I had a cure. Can you imagine what that's like?"
His words spread a chill across her body and her mouth turned dry, but he continued, almost whispering to her. "To have the power to extinguish a life or to save it. Now to give you that power, so you can do the same."
She swallowed silently, staring into the emptiness. Was this what she wanted? This power he spoke of, that he only hinted at? The magnitude of what he told her was unbelievable, and Scully wasn't sure if she was entirely convinced of his claims.
Yet she had felt Margery's scar from the implant she'd received. There'd been a boy in Goochland barely two days before all of this had started that Spender now laid claim too… was it true? Could he deliver what he promised?
Mulder had fallen asleep on the couch, only waking when the sound of someone putting a key into Scully's lock startled him. He jumped to his feet expectantly, crossing the floor quickly to meet Scully as she entered the room, unable to discern whether it was anger, relief or joy coursing through his body at the knowledge that she was safe.
He'd decided it was a mixture of all three, when he realised it wasn't Scully.
"Who are you?" he demanded, pulling his gun on the man in a smooth motion.
The man stared back, clearly terrified. "Uh… I live one floor down…" the man admitted, staring at the gun. A thin film of sweat had appeared on his balding forehead. "Dana asked me to water the plants today, when she left yesterday, she said she didn't know when she was getting back."
Mulder returned the weapon to his holster, stepping toward the man and fishing in his pocket for his I.D. "Sorry," he apologised, waving his badge at the man. "I'm Scully's partner, and I was worried about her. Did she mention anything at all to you about where she was going?"
"Not specifically, no," the man shook his head, looking relieved. "I think she's planning to be away for a few days though, going by the size of the bag her driver carried out of here."
"Her driver?" Mulder asked incredulously.
"Yeah, tall guy. Smokes like a chimney. I've seen him around a few times before though."
Mulder swore again, and pushed past Scully's neighbour rudely, pulling his cell phone from his pocket as he ran down the hallways.
The Gunmen had better have some information on Scully's whereabouts, or God help them.
Scully woke in a bed with thick pillows and scented sheets. She frowned, feeling the sun on her face, and sat up in confusion. Pushing the covers away, her fingers encountered unfamiliar fabrics and blankets.
Where was she?
She was still wearing stockings, she realised as she slipped her legs out of the bed, and they prevented her from curling her toes around the thick rug she stepped onto as she stood up. It was quiet and still; no traffic hummed outside.
Soft sounds of cutlery against crockery reached her through the walls, distant and muted and far away.
Apparently, she thought dryly, they'd arrived. Where they'd arrived was quiet and secluded. Not for the first time since accepting his offer, Scully doubted her decision. But her decision was made, and there was no turning back.
There was a soft knock on a door, followed by, "Are you awake, Agent Scully?"
"Yes," she said simply.
The hinges on the door squeaked slightly as he pushed it open, and his entrance brought the smell of toast and coffee with him, all soured by the ever present Morley's stench.
"I brought you some breakfast," he told her. "Your bag is next to the door, and there's a bathroom to your right. When you're finished, call and I'll show you the rest of the house."
"Where are we?" she demanded.
"Questions and questions," he scolded lightly. "Eat your breakfast, Agent Scully, and then we'll talk."
She didn't call him when she was finished, opting instead to navigate her own way through the unfamiliar house. A chance brushing of her fingers against a banister was the only thing that prevented her from tumbling head first down a flight of stairs, and she gripped the polished wood tightly with her fingers.
"You should have called me," he said when she entered the first room on the lower level, and she realised he had been watching her progress all along.
"You said we would talk," she told him, ignoring his comment. "I've had my breakfast, now we can talk."
"I didn't tell you the entire truth," he announced.
"I didn't expect you would," she returned evenly, but felt her hopes plummet. "But you still expected me to trust you."
"How long did it take Mulder to win your trust?" he questioned curiously.
"I've always trusted Mulder."
He chuckled slightly. "There was a time, Agent Scully, when you doubted. You feared for your future and your career when you were first partnered with him."
Scully remain stonily silent, unmoving.
"I told you, I've studied you for years."
His quiet words made her shudder again, and the dark fear that had been boiling and twisting in her belly when she had agreed to this charade suddenly exploded, coursing through her body like black blood as it turned her mouth bitter and her skin cold.
"I'd like to make an observation," he continued, unaware of her chilled reaction. "You're drawn to powerful men, but you fear their power. You keep your guard up, a wall around your heart. How else do you explain that fearless devotion to a man obsessed with life alone? You'd die for Mulder, but you won't allow yourself to love him."
She swallowed roughly, forcing down bile that had risen in her throat. "Wow," she said, and if her voice was slightly shaky he didn't comment, "you're not just a cold blooded killer, but you're a pop psychologist as well."
"All my life I've been a destroyer. Before I die, I'd like to prove that I'm capable of something more."
She hoped she kept the doubt well masked from him.
"I've watched you, Agent Scully," he said suddenly, coughing. "You and Mulder. You're both a part of the game, and to keep the game playing we need you there."
"I'm sick of playing."
He chuckled dryly. "No, you're not. If you were, you wouldn't be here."
She wondered if he looked as sick as he sounded. "I'm still not satisfied with the reason you've given me for involving me in this."
"There are heroes, Agent Scully, hell bent on saving the planet and doing the right thing, but they never last long. They get disillusioned because they set their goals too high and expectations to pure. The real heroes are the ones that don't get remembered, but that pave the paths for the ones that do get remembered."
"A hero for your novel," she said quietly.
"The world can't always be saved, Agent Scully," he said simply. "Sometimes you have to want for yourself."
She licked her lips.
"So what's the plan?"
"He's using her!" Mulder snapped, spinning on his heels. "The son of a bitch is using her!"
"Mulder, calm down!" Skinner ordered, but Mulder ignored him, pacing around the office anxiously.
"I don't even know where she is!" Mulder continued. "She's blind, and alone with that monster, and God alone knows what he's got planned for her."
Skinner's private phone rang, startling Mulder out of his rant, and Skinner answered it without taking his eyes off the man still pacing his office.
The woman's voice speaking to him brought a sigh of relief to his lips. "Sir?" she asked.
"Agent Scully, where are you?" he asked, watching as Mulder spun on his heel and drew to an anxious halt in front of him.
"I'm sorry to call you on this line," Scully said blithely, ignoring his question.
"No, that's all right," Skinner said quickly, "it's just that we've been worried about you."
"Everything's okay, I just wanted you to express that to Mulder," she said calmly.
"Well he's standing right here, why don't you do that yourself?"
"No, Sir, that's okay," she said quickly. "Can you tell him that I'll call him later and … just tell him that I'm fine." The line went dead in his ear as she hung up.
"She says she's fine," Skinner said simply.
"She's in trouble," Mulder disagreed.
"There is nothing you can do, Mulder," Skinner pointed out. "You have to wait."
"Fuck waiting," Mulder glowered. The door slammed loudly behind him, rattling in its frame.
The dress felt soft against her skin; he'd told her it was black. The spring breeze caressed her skin as they strolled from his car to the restaurant, and she bit back a slight shiver.
"Warm enough?" he asked.
"Fine," she said curtly.
Inside was warm, hot wax of candles heavy on the air, mixing with rich smells of wines and carefully prepared meals. The delicate sound of knives tapping plates and the gentle murmur of other patrons informed Scully that wherever they were, it wasn't in the middle of nowhere after all.
"Here," he said, guiding her to a chair.
She sat down gratefully, automatically letting her hands flutter across the table to orientate herself.
"I haven't told you how impressed I am," he said abruptly.
"Your ability to cope," he said simply. "They underestimated your strength, I think, and that was one of their biggest mistakes."
"They?" she asked delicately, arching an eyebrow.
"You were put with Mulder to debunk his theories, Agent Scully. Your integrity in choosing the truth over your career wasn't something they expected. Nor was your recovery from cancer, or your acceptance of your barrenness."
The words stung, but Scully didn't flinch. "Everything was designed to break me," she said.
"Not at first, no, but Mulder's ability to keep going, his strength to keep going, that comes from you, Agent Scully. They thought they could break you, and through breaking you they'd break Mulder."
"You don't believe that."
His breath rattled in his lungs as he exhaled. "No," he said simply. "Mulder will be a real danger only when he has nothing left to lose. The more he has to lose, the less he'll risk."
The conversation made her uncomfortable; to understand how the man in front of her viewed not only Mulder, but herself as well, was unsettling. He didn't see them as people; he saw them as pawns. As a means of continuing a game he was playing. A game he was once winning but now steadily losing.
"So your contact is going to join us?" she asked quietly, turning the conversation away from Mulder.
"I presume so," he said easily.
Her fingers fluttered across the table, searching for something to distract her. "You extol on great trust but you still haven't told me who he is," she persisted.
"The man who is going to give us what you want."
What I want. She shuddered slightly, despite the warmth of the restaurant. "I'm still not clear what my importance is to this exchange."
"This man, Cobra, needs assurances that the science he's going to hand over won't fall into the wrong hands. I've told him of you; he's expecting to meet you here."
She frowned, but he spoke again before she could question him further. "I must tell you something else. Something that is so incredible, so unbelievable, that to know it is to look at the entire world anew. What we're being given is the holiest for grails, Dana, it's the cure for all human disease."
His words were grand and glorious, but the doubt still flared brightly within her.
"How?" she demanded sceptically.
"It's from that final frontier," he breathed, "It's largely extraterrestrial."
"Then you would be cured," she stated.
"That which makes miracles can also make great evil. There are those who would use this power for their own purposes. To choose who will live and who will die. Theoretically I can be cured, but everything I've told you about wanting to make right… I'm a lonely man, Dana."
The silence between them stretched, charged and alive, crackling. She wished she could see him then, wished she could see his eyes and know if they were as desolate as his voice, and if it were true.
"Excuse me," he said awkwardly, rising to his feet. The table lurched slightly as he bumped it, and Scully was left alone with her thoughts.
"Can I get you a drink, Ma'am?" a waiter asked at her shoulder, appearing out of nowhere.
"Water, thank you," she said softly, not moving her head.
The water appeared several seconds later, along with a small package. "What's this?" she asked, fingering it. It was small and square, enclosed in what she thought was a thick envelope.
"Someone left it for you, Ma'am, and asked me to give it to you."
"Thank you," she said softly.
She smelt the Morley's and peppermints before she heard him return. He sat down opposite her before she said anything. "You have it," he said, sounding surprised.
"May I have a look at it?"
She wanted to say no, but she didn't have a choice. Silently she handed it to him, listening as he opened the envelope and slid the disk out. "Well?" she asked.
"It's a CD," he said simply. "Did you talk to him?"
"No," she shook her head. "A waiter dropped it off when he brought me my water. Said someone asked him to give it to me."
Suddenly she felt sick, her stomach roiling and tightening with fear. "What now?"
"Let's go," he said, rising to his feet. His voice was distant and cold; she knew something had gone wrong, and suddenly she feared for her life.
She didn't protest when he took her arm and led her out of the restaurant; the menus still lying untouched where the waiter had put them.
The harder he bounced the ball against the wooden floor, the louder the noise was that echoed around his apartment, and the more the walls rattled in protest. He bounced the ball harder and harder, frustration mounting as the noise increased.
A loud banging at his door interrupted him, and he threw the ball moodily across the room, watching with disinterest as it crashed against the door.
"Mulder!" Someone yelled in exasperation, and he recognised the voice as Frohike's.
"It's about time!" he snapped as he yanked the door open, revealing the gunmen. "Talk about the masters of disguise," he quipped sourly as they hurried into his apartment.
"Sorry it took so long," Byers apologised, "but we got into some serious heat tracing emails from Scully's account."
"What?" he demanded sharply.
"We traced her credit cards, and found nothing, but we found evidence of correspondence with someone from the Defence Department on her computer," Langley explained.
"Someone went to a lot of trouble to hide it," Frohicke added. "They deleted everything from her inbox, but we found several on her hard drive."
"From someone called Cobra, a federal fugitive who we think has some information he wants to give Scully," Byers continued the explanation. "The last five are hinting at a meeting, and then they just stop."
"When does the last one stop?" Mulder demanded.
"Just before she went blind. If this correspondence continued, Mulder, it would have been on a voicemail account after that. She went to great lengths to keep this from you, Mulder."
"No, she wouldn't do that," Mulder disagreed, shaking his head. "She knows I'd find her."
"Mulder, we can't find her," Byers said carefully. "There's no where to start looking."
Mulder ground his teeth in frustration, clenching his hands into fists next to his legs. The silence was shattered by the sound of his phone ringing, and he looked at it warily for several seconds before moving to answer it.
He found Scully at 4:03am, sitting by herself on a plastic bench in a greasy diner just outside a small town he'd never heard of before, and never wanted to go to again. Her hair was tangled and her black dress crumpled, a half empty mug of cold coffee standing before her. The relief turned his blood cold.
She looked up as his shoes squeaked across the old linoleum, her face tired in the weak orange light. "Mulder?" she asked.
"It's me, Scully," he replied, smiling slightly even though she couldn't see it. "I… I was worried."
Her smile was small and bitter. "I'm fine, Mulder. Nothing happened," she said calmly.
The cold of his relief melted in the heat of his anger. "Nothing… Scully, you disappear for two days and tell me nothing happened?" he demanded, sitting down in the booth opposite her.
"I thought… I thought he could give me something," she admitted, sitting straighter and pushing her hair behind her ears. "I didn't expect he would, but I had to try."
Mulder was silent, but she didn't elaborate, and this wasn't the place to pick and argument. "You ready to go?" he asked mockingly.
She dipped her head and rose stiffly to her feet, grimacing in disgust as her bare feet moved over the grubby floor.
"Where are your shoes?" he asked.
"I took them off," she explained. "Somewhere."
He located them under the table, and threaded his fingers through their thin black straps when she said she didn't want to wear them. Outside she made him wait while she stood on a patch of spring grass, her toes curling into the cool growth and a half smile playing on her face.
"You know something, Scully?" he asked her suddenly, watching her gentle smile in the moonlight.
"What?" she responded lightly; the lightness a deliberate attempt to avoid the conversation Mulder was desperate to have with her. To find out why she did it. His anger still boiled, but it was tempered by the sight of her alive and strangely relaxed as she stood in her bare feet.
"If I had you on a date in that dress, I wouldn't leave you stranded at the side of the road in a bad diner."
Her smile broadened to an intensity he rarely witnessed from her, a throaty chuckle filling the air between them. "I guess I'll keep that in mind then," she told him. "Take me home, Mulder," she ordered.
"Anything for you, Scully," he smiled softly in return. And when he threaded his fingers through hers and led her back to the car her hand was warm and comforting in his, her grip solid and real.
They hadn't spoken on the ride home; in the darkness of the car Mulder had brooded and she had dozed fitfully, the tension between them hissing and spitting despite the lightness they had shared in that patch of moonlight outside the diner.
Now in his apartment with the gunmen crowding around a computer to see what she had found, she was all too aware of his dark presence crowding the room like a storm cloud waiting to burst. She sat silently on his sofa, biting her lip in anticipation.
"It's empty," Frohike said softly, his voice dissolving the tattered silence between them. "There is nothing on this disk."
"What?" she demanded, rising jerkily to her feet. "That can't be."
"It's empty, Scully," Byers said flatly.
Her mouth dropped open and she sucked her breath in quickly, willing the words to be a lie. "Are you sure?"
The silence answered her more than their words. "What the hell is this?" she exploded suddenly, spinning angrily on her heel and marching toward the door.
"He used you, Scully," Mulder said simply, his hands grabbing her shoulders and holding her still. "He used you like a God damn puppet!"
"But… Mulder!" she cried desperately.
"He did it for himself, Scully, for the science. The sincerity was a mask, his true motives never changed."
She shuddered under his hands, trying desperately to control her rampant emotions. "You… you think he used me."
"He did use you," Mulder said softly. "Scully," he sighed.
Her eyes burnt with tears, but she refused to let them fall. "I want to go home, Mulder," Scully said quietly.
No one said anything as she gathered her jacket and let Mulder lead her out of his apartment.
He'd lied to her and used her. Promised her what she wanted and then ripped it from out of her grasp, and in the process she'd betrayed Mulder by keeping secrets and telling lies.
She should have known better than to trust the devil.
She knew he watched her sometimes, thinking she didn't know he was staring at her. At first it had unnerved her, and she'd fidgeted, moved her body around and showed her discomfort in the hopes that he would stop. Now she accepted it; it was almost comforting knowing he was watching.
Scully picked at her pizza half-heartedly; well aware she was pulling off pepperoni and not just pineapple. A week since she'd made her decision and lost something she hadn't had in the first place.
"What are you thinking, Scully?" Mulder asked her.
She listened to the sound of his shirt rubbing against her sofa while he made himself comfortable. "That I want to watch a really crummy movie or read a really cheesy novel," she said simply.
He was quiet for a while, contemplating her words. "What's it like, Scully?" he asked suddenly.
She sighed, shrugging. "I keep thinking I'm going to wake up, open my eyes and still be able to see. I keep thinking of things in terms of 'when I see that again'."
"Is that what he promised you?"
Scully nodded silently; a quick smile tugging sadly at her lips. "He promised to give me what I wanted most. We don't know what caused my blindness, so I knew logically there wasn't anything he could do. But part of me, Mulder… part of me wanted so badly for it to be real."
She sighed, tucking her feet beneath her where she sat on her corner of the sofa, resting her cheek against her knees. "I don't know what to do now, Mulder," she admitted softly. "I have no idea what to do. I have nothing left."
"That's not true, Scully," he rebuked gently. "You're still beautiful and intelligent; you're still everything you were before."
She chuckled, but it was dry and hurt her heart. "I'm going to have start making some choices," she said softly. "About what I want to do, and where I want to go now."
"And?" he asked hesitantly.
She shrugged. "I don't know, Mulder. I don't know what I want to do now."
"If you need anything, Scully…"
She smiled at him. "I know, Mulder. Thank you."
"I don't get it," Mulder said suddenly, shattering the silence.
"Why drag you out all that way for something he could have gotten himself? He didn't need you there, Scully."
She licked her lips thoughtfully. "I think… He's dying, Mulder. Whatever was on that disk… I think he needed it enough to risk using me."
"And you let him use you," Mulder said bitterly.
Guilt and anger bit into her, the rawness of the wound not ready for Mulder's accusations. "Maybe he did, Mulder, but he's used you before too," she snapped waspishly. "Was it that wrong of me, Mulder, to try and get my sight back?" she demanded. "Was it that wrong to dream that I could fix it? Why, Mulder? Why is it wrong for me to want something so badly I'm willing to risk everything for it?" Somewhere her voice had risen, until it scratched against her throat as she yelled at him.
"You didn't tell me!" he snapped, and she felt the sofa move as he got off it, his footsteps thumping angrily across the floor. "You didn't tell me, Scully! You just disappeared, and I had no idea what happened to you! Do you have any idea how scared I was? You're blind, Scully! Anything could have happened to you!"
She swallowed roughly, fighting to keep her voice even. "I need you to go now, Mulder," she said.
"No, Scully," he argued. "You can't avoid the issue like this, Scully."
"I need time," she said abruptly. "I… I need to think, Mulder."
She listened as he put on his jacket and his shoes; when the door clicked shut behind him and she was left alone on her sofa, she allowed a stifled sob to escape, and buried her face against her legs, holding herself while she fought the demons.
These days he wasn't sure where he stood with Scully. Her temper was as hot and cold as her attitude; some days she'd call him and want to talk about everything and anything while other days he could barely get two words out of her on the phone.
But even on the good days, something was wrong. Something was indefinably out of place with Scully, and Mulder had no idea what was it was, or what to do to fix it. And with those thoughts in mind, Mulder found himself once again standing on Scully's doorstep clutching a box of pizza for the "Friday night is pizza night" ritual they'd established.
"It's open, Mulder," she called before he'd even raised his hand to knock, and he accepted her ability to detect him there as part of the strange new perception she had of the world without her sight.
Inside he found her in her pyjama's. "You okay?" he asked, placing the pizza box on the kitchen counter and moving over to her fridge for the beer he knew she kept there.
"I'm fine," she said, but her smile was wan and her face was pale.
"You sure?" he asked, studying her carefully.
"Of course I'm sure," she said brusquely, and he knew a Scully-lie when it was waved in front of his nose.
He was unwilling to press it though; he didn't know Scully anymore these days and she wasn't making it easy for him to understand her.
"Ready for some pizza?" he asked instead, lifting the lid to the box and inhaling the greasy contents. "I didn't get pineapple this time, because-"
"Oh God," she groaned suddenly, spinning around and stumbling across the room.
The pizza was abandoned on the counter as he followed her run to the bathroom, fear filling him when she dropped to her knees in front of the toilet bowl and started retching. She was sick. What if the cancer was back? What if that bastard had done something to her-
"Shit," Scully whispered, leaning away from the toilet and slouching against the wall, her head resting on the white tiles. "That smell," she added in explanation.
"Are you sick?" he asked stupidly, reaching for a small face cloth and handing it to her, resting his hand on her warm forehead. "You feel a bit warm."
"I'm fine, Mulder," she said gently, surprising him when she reached up and took hold of his hand, curling her fingers around his. "I…"
"Scully, you just threw up," he pointed out, unable to hide the irritation at her denial from his voice. "People who throw up aren't usually fine."
She smiled, but her eyes were terrified.
Oh God. Oh, God, no.
"Yes they do," she whispered, and he was stunned to see a tear slowly roll down one of her cheeks. "They do if they're pregnant, Mulder."
He stared at her. "But you're not pregnant, Scully," he pointed out bluntly.
She laughed almost hysterically through her tears then, and for the first time in the months since she had gone on that irresponsible trip with Spender he was able to read her eyes clearly. Fear.
"You are pregnant," he realised.
She nodded silently, sniffing, her blind eyes unfocused as he gazed down at them.
"How, Scully?" he asked.
"I… I don't know, Mulder," she whispered. "I… I just found out. I have no idea how it happened."
"You… There isn't anyone…" he asked uncertainly, and she blushed as she shook her head. "Then how?"
"Almost two months, Mulder," she whispered. "The dates…"
He stared in her at horror. "Scully, you said he didn't do anything!" he hissed, grabbing hold of her shoulders and squeezing tightly. "You said nothing happened!"
"Nothing did happen!" she shot back, struggling against his hold. "Damn it, Mulder, I don't remember anything happening!"
And then he realised.
"He raped you."
She didn't say anything, but her eyes were uncertain. "I don't know," she whispered. "I don't know what happened, Mulder!" Anger, frustration, fear.
"Oh, Scully," he whispered, letting her shoulders go and pulling her toward him. She was sprawled across his thighs, her flushed face hot and wet as it pressed against his neck, her hair soft against his cheek. "Scully," he whispered again, burying his fingers in her hair and wrapping an arm around her waist as he rocked her on his lap.
"We'll get through this," he promised her, brushing his lips against her temple and resting his cheek on her head. "I promise you, we'll get through this."
She didn't loosen her grip until she fell asleep in his arms, and even then her fingers stayed tangled in his shirt and her face pressed against his neck. He carried her to her bed, and slept next to her that night, holding her until the sun streamed in through the curtains they hadn't closed.
When she woke she was Scully again, in control and undefeated. But he remembered the woman crying in his arms when he saw the dark circles under her eyes, and when she threw up her breakfast he was holding her hair back and wiping her face for her.
A/N2: As you may have noticed, a lot of the dialogue between Scully Spender is taken directly from the episode En Ami While some of the dialogue is direct quotes, I've played with the order in which it was said, the scenes it was said in, and sometimes the wording itself, all to fit in with what I wanted to happen during this fic. Considering this entire fic is based around that episode in an alternate reality, I'm freely admitting that I took the plot line and twisted it for my use to fit into this fic. I'm shamelessly unable to come up with my own fic ideas, so I rely heavily on twisting what actually happens on the show to suit my own purposes :)
I wrote this whole fic after having seen En Ami only once, and so I had to do a massive re-write and cut and paste job to twist it back so that it sort of mirrored the actual ep, not to mention getting the dialogue to fit in a reasonably sensible manner. For that reason, I hope the damn thing actually makes sense, given I had no idea what actually happened during En Ami until I re-watched it several times AFTER writing the fic ;)
I hope you enjoyed, and stick around for part three which is in the process of beingwritten ;)