Title: Starting Over

Author: Ayiana

Email: X-Files

Pairing: Mulder/Scully

Disclaimer: This bit of fanfiction is meant solely for entertainment purposes. I don't own, nor did I create, the X-Files TV show or its characters. I did, however, create this particular story. Please don't use it without asking me first.

Category: Vignette/Episode Tag (MSR) for "The Truth"

Rating: PG13

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He awoke before she did, when the room was just beginning to fill with the pink and peach light of the sunrise. She still lay curled into him, their legs tangled together and her head pillowed on his arm, but sometime in the night she'd shifted, pulling her arm from behind his neck so that now it lay between them, her curled fingers resting against the soft cotton of his t-shirt. A lock of hair had fallen across her face, and he reached to move it aside, careful not to wake her.

He watched her sleep and thought about their situation. December 22, 2012. That gave them ten years. Ten years in which to find a way to defeat the invincible and stave off the inevitable. Was it possible? Or was he dreaming - a desperate man on a hopeless mission to accomplish the impossible.

She stirred slightly, and he drew slow circles against her lower back with his palm, soothing her. Reality was grim, sleep a temporary escape, and God knew she needed the rest after the past weeks of heartache. When she sighed and settled against him, he brushed a tender kiss along her hairline and returned to his thoughts.

All those years ago when a group of delusional old men had sent her to him, they'd thought they were sending a Trojan Horse - pretty on the outside, but ultimately deadly. Mulder wondered if those men had ever truly perceived the ironic justice of their choice - that this woman, sent to weaken him, had instead become his greatest strength.

She'd lost much because of his bullheaded search for the truth, and he'd been more than a little surprised when she'd been there to meet him after his escape from prison. He wouldn't have blamed her for staying behind, for deciding that the price of her allegiance was too steep. Instead, she'd not only joined him, she'd also sworn that she'd do it all over again. He wondered if he deserved such unquestioning loyalty.

"Hey." Her soft voice interrupted his reverie and he smiled at her.

"Good morning."

She blinked once, slowly. "Did you sleep at all?"

"Some."

"How long have you been awake?"

"Not long."

She watched him, worry shadowing her eyes. "Are you okay?"

He nodded. "Just thinking."

"About what?"

"About what to do next."

"Mulder..." She moved her hand, laying it against his chest just above the study beat of his heart. "We can't stay here."

"I know. It's the first place they'll look."

"They'll be watching the borders by now, too. They won't be convinced that they killed us back at the ruins."

He sighed. "This isn't what I wanted for you, Dana."

"You mean for us." She pressed her finger to his lips, silencing him. "We're in this together now." She held his gaze until he finally nodded. "We'll figure something out."

He offered a tiny, lopsided smile. "We could build a house in a quarry somewhere..."

"I don't think it'll come to that." She smoothed a wrinkle out of his shirt, and then quirked a teasing eyebrow at him. "I did some research. Did you know that the Adirondack Mountains are rich in Magnetite?"

"Adirondacks? Land of honeymoon cottages and ski resorts?" He tried to keep his voice even, but the word honeymoon sent a quiver through his heart. If only.

She nodded, serious again. "And hundreds of miles of undeveloped terrain. A person could get lost in those mountains."

He sifted his fingers through the silk of her hair. When he spoke again, his voice was subdued. "How do we fight an enemy and run from it at the same time?"

"It isn't running. It's regrouping while we gather our defenses."

"They're only going to get stronger while we wait."

Her arms tightened around him, and he looked down to see tears welling in her eyes. "I'm willing to take that chance. I'm not willing to risk losing you again."

His chest constricted. He knew what she had been through, and he hated that she'd had to do it all alone. Once again, he cursed himself for seven times a fool. He'd been so selfish - blundering blindly forward while she suffered in his wake. His protective side wished she'd chosen a different life - one that included the loving husband, 2.5 kids, and white picket fence that she so richly deserved. Instead, for reasons he couldn't fathom, she'd cast her lot with his.

She must have sensed something of his thoughts, because she pulled back to look at him. "Don't, Mulder."

"Don't what?"

"Don't second guess yourself. Whatever's happened, whatever's brought us to this point - I don't regret any of it." She held his eyes and he saw the truth of her words reflected in her steady gaze.

He finally nodded slightly and rested his forehead against hers. "Well, this is another fine mess we've gotten ourselves into," he said in his best Oliver Hardy voice.

She laughed and tilted her head to kiss the corner of his mouth. Then she snuggled back down into the warmth of his embrace. He rubbed her back and savored the feel of her in his arms. It had taken them so long to finally acknowledge what they had - almost too long - and if it hadn't been for a single act of courage on one fateful night, they might never have found their way. Since then, there'd been few opportunities to be together, as life and circumstance had forced them down separate paths. Now, finally, he had her by his side again, partner, friend, and lover all wrapped up in one trim package. She could make or break his day with a single clear-eyed glance, could send him soaring with a smile or crashing back to Earth with the slightest of frowns. He wondered if she knew this, wondered if he had the same effect on her.

She stretched against him, her slim body coming into intimate contact with his, and several layers of clothing did nothing to hide his response. He didn't want to push her, didn't want her to think that there was only one thing on his mind, but the soft touch of her lips against his neck and the way her hand slid beneath the hem of his t-shirt told him all he needed to know. She wanted this as much as he did - a physical reunion to affirm the emotional one.

He took his time making love to her; intent upon showing her how much he treasured her presence in his life. The warmth of her response thrilled and humbled him. This woman was, indeed, the other half of his soul, and as the tension built and his pace quickened, she matched him move for move, instinct choreographing a dance that was as old as time.

Afterwards, he held her close while she drifted into a light sleep. He sensed that in spite of the trouble they were in and the uncertainty of the days to come, she was beginning to heal. For this, he was immeasurably grateful, and he sent a silent prayer of thanks heavenward as he closed his eyes.

They stayed in their room all day, not even venturing out for food for fear of being recognized by somebody who might consider themselves duty bound to alert the authorities. They'd switched cars twice after leaving the Anasazi ruins, each time choosing run down, barely legal dealerships, and paying in cash. The nondescript car that now sat parked in front of their motel room could never be traced to Dana Scully or Fox Mulder, and the room itself had been registered under a false name and paid for with cash. They were safe for now, but come nightfall, they'd need to move on.

Sometime during the afternoon the decision was made that they would head West, then up the coast of California before turning east again and crossing the nation's heartland on their way to New York. It seemed a fairly safe route in that they'd be avoiding international borders and most of the places where their names and faces were well known. Thanks to their friends' foresight and some careful planning on Scully's part, they had new identities and access to enough money to live on as long as they lived simply. That was okay with them. Simple would be a nice change.

When dusk fell, they took turns showering, and then worked together to clean the room of their passing. Maid service would take care of most DNA evidence in the linens and carpet, but they weren't taking any chances. They dumped the sheets and towels in the tub, filled it with hot water, and added the rest of the tiny bottle of shampoo. Then, while Scully scrubbed, rinsed, and scrubbed again, Mulder wiped the room of fingerprints and took their single small suitcase out to the car. When he returned, he helped her wring most of the moisture out of the linens, and they left them piled in the tub for the maids to collect the next morning.

Finally satisfied, they took one last look around the room. For twenty-four hours it had been their haven, their escape from the reality of their new existence. It was time to move on now, time to accept the consequences of their actions and begin their lives anew. There was much to be done - careful, painstaking steps to be taken if there was to be any hope at all of surviving the coming invasion. Mulder didn't know if they'd make it, didn't know if there was anything more than frail hope to get them through the coming days.

"Mulder?" Scully's low voice at his side brought him back to the present.

"What?"

"You ready to go?"

He looked down at her; saw the absolute trust in her gaze, and nodded. "Yeah," he said. "I'm ready."

He opened the door for her, careful to use a tissue between his hand and the knob. He followed her out, took one last glance around, and pulled the door closed. It was time, he thought, to begin again - only this time, he wouldn't have to do it alone.

The End