Useless Disclaimer: The X-Files and its characters belong to Chris Carter and 1013 Productions.

Author's Note: This is set barely post "This Is Not Happening." Spoilers for everything from season 8, up to that point.


by izhilzha

I can't get it out of my mind. She's my partner, and I can't stop thinking about it. I've seen that shadow in her eyes since the first day I met her; since she soaked me for not being straightforward; since we found that tombstone he'd ordered, with the death date already engraved. From the beginning it was there, and I recognized it. It's hard not to see that shadow once you've lived with it yourself.

It was only three days for me. At least that's what they said. It felt more like three months. Every second was drawn out, tight with anxiety, till it seemed like time itself had broken and I was stuck in it somewhere. All the false alarms, the hopes, the leads... I don't think I slept at all. I don't remember.

And it's been so much longer for her. More than three months. Less intense perhaps, but the alarms far worse, the hopes more acute, the leads more elusive. Her face is always tired, and she's been walking the edge of terror and despair since the night he disappeared. I know what that's like-dammit, of course I wanted to find Agent Mulder alive. I would have tried anyway, it's my job; but after seeing how much she cares for her partner and reading his files, I had to find him. Especially since I learned that she's pregnant. She hasn't said whose (I'm glad that Haskell guy was a fake), but I'd put my bet on Mulder. It would explain a lot. Including that cup of water in my face.

She always tries to be so strong. It–ah, god, it breaks my heart. Her face when she tried to autopsy that boy's body... I don't know how she finished the job. That was real fear, the kind that eats you up inside. I wanted to help her, to say something, but I'm not that close to her. I don't think anyone is. All I could do was try to find Mulder.

Well I found him alright. Not that it helped. I'd tried to hold on to hope for her sake, as if believing would make it true. I knew better, but I tried.

I'm glad I was the first one there. The first to spot the body sprawled naked on the ground, the first to recognize the torn face, the first to check that cold flesh for a pulse. I'm glad it wasn't her.

I just can't get it out of my mind. She came running through the trees, gasping for breath. "Where is he?" That terrible light of hope fought desperate shadow in her eyes. Skinner hadn't told her, and I didn't want to.

I couldn't stand the thought of her seeing the body before someone prepared her, that's why I grabbed her. "Scully, he's over there." Obvious, pointless thing to say, but I couldn't think. I didn't want her to see him like that-it's not what any of us wanted. She pulled against me, restless with fear, muscles tight under my hands.

"How bad is he, how bad is he hurt?" She broke away from me, and I let her go. Better that way, maybe. But when she saw him I didn't think so.

It hurt to see her approach so slowly, as if she could keep her own hope alive by guarding it. Not just my old pain, but her pain too. To see her go down on her knees, disbelief on that beautiful hear her soft cry as she recognized him, the gentle movement of her hand against his face, black with dead wounds. I knew then that I was right about them.

And she's a doctor, she must have known he was dead, had been so for a while, but when I told her it was too late to help him, she wouldn't listen. I grabbed her again, pulled her back from the body, not sure what she was going to do. I wanted to take her in my arms, hold her tight against me till that first wave passed. Till she could believe in his death. Till she could be still or cry or swear... but she broke from me and ran back towards the compound, still yelling that he needed help. She took my heart with her.

He lay there, like a ruined clay sculpture. The object of our quest, the founder of the X-Files, the father of Scully's baby, a form as still and cold as the earth it rested on. There were screams from the compound, telling me this wouldn't be the end of the night, but for her-and for me-it might as well be. The search is over, and terror and despair have swallowed her up. She's my partner, but I don't know how to hold her together, and I can't get her face out of my mind.