Disclaimer: The X-Files doesn't belong to me – it belongs to Chris Carter who better be hard at work on the second XF movie as we speak!

Spoilers for the episode 'Triangle' (6X03) in Part III.

A/N: I'm a bit stuck with my Pirates fic, so I decided to try my hand at something else. This is actually based on a dream that I had two nights ago, believe it or not. It's my second XF piece, but the style of writing is really different from my usual fare. shrugs I have to warn you, it's really fluffy and then also angsty in places. I hope you enjoy – this one is dedicated to all you 'shippers out there.

Leave or Stay?

(Scully P.O.V.)

10:39 Mulder's apartment, room 42

"Don't move; I'm a little on edge!" Former agent Alex Krycek pointed his shaking gun at Mulder, who automatically raised up both hands in the air. So far he had ignored me – it seemed his quarrel was with Mulder.

"Alex, we were friends once," Mulder said quietly. "You don't have to do this. Just put the gun down and we can talk about whatever is-"

"Shut up!" Krycek screamed at Mulder. "Give me your weapon." Then he looked over at me. "Both of you." Ah, so he had noticed me. Knowing we had no other choice, Mulder and I slid our weapons across the floor towards Ratboy, who kicked them out of the way. Then he motioned at Mulder. "Stand up. Hands up against the wall. Now!"

Krycek trained his gun on Mulder, who did what he was told. Mulder craned his neck to look at me. He shot me a panicked look that was half desperation, and half concern for me. The man had a gun shoved in his face, and yet he was still deeply worried for my safety. I stared at him in horror, my eyes betraying my fear. My heart was pounding in my chest; I'd never been so afraid for my partner. Mulder was in terrible danger and there was nothing I could do to save him! All I could do was watch helplessly as Krycek held Mulder's precious life in the palm of his hands…

How the hell did we get into this situation? I wondered this as Krycek continued to yell angrily at Mulder. My thoughts drifted to earlier this morning, when Mulder and I arrived in our office as usual, ready for another long day of work…

333

9:04 the same morning, F.B.I. basement, X-Files division

I arrived at the office bright and early. It was Monday morning and I had wanted to get a jump start on things. I was rummaging through the file cabinet, looking for some old records, when Mulder strolled in.

"Good morning, Scully!" My partner flashed me his swoon-worthy smile, causing those hated butterflies to flutter in the pit of my stomach. He certainly was looking delectable this morning. This morning? Hell, he looks that way every morning. But this morning, wearing that black suit, white shirt, and dark green tie, he was looking especially gorgeous. And sharp. Not to mention sexy! I shouldn't get carried away. After all, my relationship with Mulder is purely platonic. That we would be anything more is just a fantasy of mine. But what a fantasy...

"Morning, Mulder." I smiled back, realizing there was something different about him. Ah, that was it – he was wearing glasses! I hadn't seen Mulder wear glasses in six years; he only wore them around me that first year of our partnership. And it made me rather weak in the knees. "You're wearing glasses," I stated. He rolled his eyes, perhaps embarrassed that I noticed.

"Yeah. One of my contacts broke this morning, and I'd already used up all my spare ones." He grimaced, his lips coming into an adorable pout. "I know, I look like a dork." I shook my head.

"I like them," I admitted. "It's a good look for you, Mulder. You should wear them more often." He gave me a lopsided grin, as if he was amused by my comment. A faint blush showed on my cheeks, I'm sure of it. Had I said too much? I hoped not. An awkward silence followed, and I searched my brain for something to say to him. Then I remembered where he'd been all weekend.

"How was your weekend trip home?" Nice recovery, Dana. Mulder sighed, running his hands through his messy brown hair.

"It was alright, I guess. It was good to see Mom, but she got a bit annoying after awhile. She kept hinting that she wanted grandchildren."

Mulder stared intently at me, there was an underlying emotion in his soulful dark green eyes that I couldn't quite identify. Why was he giving me that look? Mulder knew all too well that I was left barren after my abduction. It was almost as if he was insinuating that… No. Stop it, Dana, I thought sternly. Mulder doesn't see you like that, not seriously anyway. And even if he did, you couldn't bear him children.

But I could love Mulder forever, if he'd let me. Keep on dreaming, Dana, I reminded myself. You could never tell him how you felt, since it would only lead to rejection. You wouldn't want that, it would be just too devastating. Just having Mulder's friendship is more than enough… Yeah, right. That's a lie if I ever heard one.

"Did you remind your mother that you'd have to find someone who would want to settle down with you first?" My tone was light, joking even, but I regretted saying the words the second they left my mouth. But by then it was too late to take them back. Immediately, I knew I had hurt Mulder. I could see it in his eyes, how they lost much of their sparkle.

"Mulder, I'm sorry, I-I didn't mean it like that," I stammered. "I was just-" Thankfully, I was interrupted by a shrill ringing noise. Whew, saved by the phone! Of the two of us, Mulder was the one who had the presence of mind to answer it.

"This is Agent Mulder…uh huh. Yes. I see. Okay, we'll be there. Bye." He hung up the phone. "Skinner wants to see us in his office." I frowned.

"Right now?" Mulder nodded.

"He said it was urgent." I winced. Being called for a meeting by our boss first thing in the morning was not usually a good thing.

"I hope we're not in trouble," I worried aloud. Mulder cracked a smile that reached his eyes, and I knew he had forgiven me for my insensitive comment.

"Unless there's something you're not telling me, I doubt we're in trouble. C'mon, let's go see Skinner."

He held the door open for me, then and we took the elevator up to AD Skinner's office. The young blonde secretary showed us inside Skinner's office, and I couldn't help noticing how she was appreciatively eyeing Mulder. I sent her a disapproving frown that clearly said, back off, you airhead bimbo – he's mine. She seemed to have gotten the message, because she glared at me, and then retreated to her desk. I grinned smugly. That's right. Score one for Mrs. Spooky.

Thankfully, Mulder was oblivious to all of this. Skinner joined us in his office moments later, and he wasted no time beating around the bush.

"I've just received a call that a woman who you were investigating, Mrs. Smuskiewicz, was murdered late last night." Mulder and I both gasped. When we had come to call, she had begged for our protection, claiming that she was being stalked by aliens. Mulder, of course, had no trouble believing her. I, on the other hand, wasn't convinced that this was an X-File. Not by a long shot. Mulder and I had argued about it on the drive home. We came to the conclusion that we each would believe what we wanted to believe, and left it at that. At least for the time being…

"How did she die?" I asked. Skinner sighed.

"She was shot in the chest by a psychopath, who had been living in her rather-extensive backyard. Apparently he'd been watching her for some time. Unfortunately, he got away before the F.B.I. arrived on the scene."

"So it wasn't aliens after all," Mulder mused, sounding rather cynical. "Just another dead end." Skinner cleared his throat, shifting nervously in his chair.

"There's something else you need to know about Mrs. Smuskiewicz; she was former Agent Krycek's mother."

"What?!" Mulder and I cried.

"Do you think Krycek is somehow involved with this?" Mulder asked. Skinner shrugged.

"We'll probably never know. I've had my secretary try to contact Krycek with the sad news, but so far she's been unsuccessful at reaching him."

I really wanted to add "that's because she's an airhead bimbo," but I held my tongue. I knew Skinner had a thing for his secretary, so it probably wouldn't be wise to insult her.

"Is that all, sir?" I asked politely. The AD shook his head.

"I need your completed report on my desk tonight. That's not a request, agents; it's an order."

"Yes, sir," said Mulder, giving him a little mocking salute. The corners of my mouth twitched in laughter. God, I love Mulder's unique brand of humor. It's just one of the many things I love about him.

"Cute," growled Skinner. "Now get the hell out of my office." We didn't need to be told twice. Mulder and I hurried out of there, sighing with relief when we reached the hallway. We headed for the elevator, but stopped short when someone called Mulder's name.

"Hey, Mulder, I heard they're going to close the X-Files division soon. What are you going to do when you can't chase aliens anymore?" I narrowed my eyes at the dark-haired man, who was accompanied by his chuckling partner. I couldn't wait to set him straight.

"I don't know what rumors you've been hearing, but next time you'd better check your sources before you believe them," I told him icily. "We just came from AD Skinner's office and he never said a thing about closing the X-Files. Right, Mulder?"

"Well, actually, Scully – about that…" Mulder trailed off sheepishly. When he wouldn't look me in the eye, I gasped, realizing the rumor was in fact truth. How could he not tell me? How dare he! If the X-Files division was compromised, I should be the first person Mulder should tell, not the last. Did he not value my trust? No, that couldn't be it. Mulder had been the one who had begged me to stay on with him to work on the X-Files. Although he certainly had a funny way of showing his appreciation…

"Whoops, Mr. Spooky forgot to tell Mrs. Spooky they were closing the X-Files," mocked the tactless agent. "I guess he won't be getting any from the Ice Queen tonight." The agent and his partner high-fived each other, sniggering at our livid expressions. What an asshole - this guy did not know when to shut up! Mulder gritted his teeth, I could tell he wanted to punch the guy for insinuating such things about me. Thankfully, he was able to stay relatively calm.

"Hey, you can insult me all you want, but leave Scully out of it!" Mulder stuck up for me; I knew he would. It's kind of cute that he gets so bothered when other agents call me the Ice Queen, or when they falsely claim that we're sleeping together. But sticking up for me won't get him off the hook for not telling me about the X-Files being closed – not by a long shot.

"Mulder, come on," I hissed, taking his hand and pulling in the general direction of the elevator. There were times to pick fights, and times to walk away. This was a time to walk away. "We need to talk." I had just gotten Mulder to turn around when the teasing started up again.

"Ooh, Muldy, your girlfriend wants to talk," the taller of the two agents jeered.

"Heh, he wishes she was his girlfriend. Hell, I wish she was my girlfriend," the shorter agent mused, looking me up and down. "I'd tap that." His fists clenched at his sides, Mulder whipped around so fast I barely had time to think.

"Mulder, don't!" I cried, not wanting him to get in trouble on account of me. "He's not worth it."

"He just harassed you, Scully!" Mulder was almost yelling by now, causing heads to turn in our general direction. I so did not want to cause a scene right now.

"It doesn't matter," I insisted, trying to placate him. "Let it go, Mulder."

Somehow I convinced Mulder to get into the elevator, which was mercifully empty. The doors soon closed and we were alone together. How many times had I imagined that Mulder and I would surrender to our passions in one of those sluggish old F.B.I. elevators? Too many times, that's how many. Blushing, I reluctantly pushed those thoughts away - it would not do to be having them right now.

"I'm sorry you had to hear that, Scully," Mulder mumbled, almost guiltily. As if it was his fault that the men had said those things about me. He hadn't noticed the blush – good.

"Mulder, they've been saying that stuff about us for seven years," I gently reminded him. "Why does it still bother you?"

"I dunno, it just does, okay?" He mumbled, pausing for a moment. "I just hate it when men disrespect you," Mulder said softly, looking at me with his luminescent green eyes. "You deserve to be treated better than that, Scully." Was that a catch in his voice, or did I imagine it? Oh, Lord, here I was getting lost in his eyes yet again. Breathe, Dana, breathe, I coached myself. I couldn't afford to fall under Mulder's spell, not now. Not when he'd lied to me. That hurt, more than I thought it ever could. Broken trust was not something I took lightly…

"They were only doing it to get a rise out of you," I pointed out, which I figured was probably true. "But that doesn't matter now. What matters is why the hell you didn't tell me about the X-Files being closed down!" Mulder grimaced.

"I should have told you, I know. I'm sorry, Scully. We need to talk, someplace where we won't be interrupted. Do you want to get a bite to eat?" I shook my head.

"I just ate breakfast a little over an hour ago." Then Mulder asked if I wouldn't mind going to over to his apartment to talk, since apparently he'd forgotten to feed his fish. I told him I didn't mind, for it was as good of a place as any.

333

10: 13 AM, Mulder's apartment

I arrived shortly after Mulder did, parking on the street behind his silver Ford Taurus. It didn't take long for me to navigate through the familiar complex, stopping at apartment forty-two.

"It's open," I heard Mulder yell from inside. I pushed the door open and came inside, not bothering to lock it behind me. After a quick sweep of the living room, I realized Mulder was nowhere to be seen. His tropical fish, however, were having quite the feeding frenzy. With Mulder always forgetting to feed them, it's a wonder those fish are still alive, I thought with an amused smile.

For all of his intellectual brilliance, Mulder often fell short in the short-term memory department. He tended to forget the little everyday things. Take sleeping for example. Mulder swears that he doesn't get enough sleep because he's an insomniac, but sometimes I wonder if he just forgets to go to bed.

"Mulder?" I called.

"I'm in here," he called from the kitchen area. "Hey Scully, do you want a beer?" Why not? I could use a drink under the circumstances.

"Sure," I answered, taking a seat on his couch. My thoughts drifted, resting on the fact that the X-Files were going to be closed yet again. I was sure that Mulder was going to tell me why, but I didn't really care about that. I was just really shocked that X-Files were actually closing. It gave me a legitimate reason to leave my job at the F.B.I. and never look back. This could be the change that I desperately needed…

While Mulder had been away, I'd spent this past weekend doing some serious thinking. Right now, I knew I wasn't where I wanted to be in my life. I'd been working on the X-Files for seven years – perhaps it was time for a change. Maybe then, with Mulder out of my life, I could go back to dating and find someone worthwhile. It had been so long since I'd been in a true relationship, and to be honest, I craved the intimacy.

But how could I abandon Mulder to his life's work? I owed him so much. We'd supported each other through many difficult times – deaths of family members, my abduction, his near-death experience and recovery, and my cancer were just a few of them. There was also the matter of how much I would miss the close friendship we'd developed over the years.

Yet I couldn't keep up this charade forever. Over the years, I'd done the unthinkable – I'd secretly fallen in love with my partner. It was a serious breach of F.B.I. rules, but that hadn't stopped me. And everyday I saw him, I had to pretend I only saw him as nothing more than a friend. It was agony, it was torture, and it was tearing me up inside because I didn't know if he felt the same way about me. I knew it was not a healthy way for me to live. To this day, I'm still haunted by the memory of what we'd almost done.

Mulder and I'd had one near-kiss two years ago, when I told him that I was planning on leaving the X-Files for good. It was the one time I actually had faint stirrings of hope that he had feelings for me. True, he did go to the ends of the earth to rescue me, but after it was all said and done, nothing changed between us. It was business as usual with Mulder. If anything, he'd become a bit more distant with me. I could only conclude that he thought our almost-kiss was mistake, and that he wanted to remain as friends. But that was something I could not do.

Which choice would be better? To leave the X-Files and never see Mulder again? Never hear his laugh, or feel his touch, if only platonically? Or to stay, and endure this flawed partnership and never truly be satisfied? Trapped in a life without love? Yesterday, I honestly could not decide which choice would be less painful for me. But now that the X-Files were closing, perhaps that was a sign that I needed to leave and move on with my life. I couldn't ignore that this would give me the perfect excuse to do something I'd been seriously considering for awhile.

"Here's your drink." Mulder plopped down on the couch beside me, jarring me out of my pensive state. He passed me an already opened bottle.

"Thanks," I said quietly, taking a sip of beer. Ah, Guinness - my favorite beer. Coincidentally, it was Mulder's favorite too. God, I loathe these little coincidences, these little things that always mock me screaming 'you and Mulder would be perfect for each other'. There is just only so much a woman can take before she breaks, and I could tell I was nearing the breaking point.

"Scully, I owe you an explanation," my partner began. "Skinner called me in for a meeting last week, saying that he was being pressured by the higher-ups to close the X-Files again. He just wanted to warn me, and tell me that he still had some cards to play but not to expect him to be able to help us much." Mulder sighed, and I told myself not to feel sorry for him. After all, he'd brought this on himself.

"...I guess I thought there might still be hope," he rambled on. "I didn't want you to worry about it until it was absolutely necessary. I deliberately withheld information from you, and I apologize for that. This isn't the way I wanted you to find out about this, Scully. Believe me," Mulder said softly. I knew Mulder had said all he needed to say, and I couldn't hold back my frustration any longer.

"You didn't want me to worry?!?!" I exploded. "That is the worst excuse I have ever heard, coming from you. After seven years, Mulder, you couldn't confide in me about something that clearly affects us both? Sometimes it's almost like I don't know you anymore." I expected him to deny it, but he surprised me.

"You're right," Mulder said bitterly, locking eyes with me. It was only then that I recognized the raw pain that lurked there, in his emerald depths. "You don't really know me, Scully." So he'd felt it too. That slowly but surely, we'd been growing apart over the past year. Mulder had been deliberately distancing himself from me, I was sure of it. Only I didn't know what I'd done to warrant this cold, harsh treatment. Or why I didn't deserve his trust anymore.

All the sudden I knew just I couldn't deal with this anymore. I was feeling his pain as my own, and it scared me. I was too emotionally involved with Mulder, and it was time to get out while I still could. Before I lost my soul to him completely. Too late… Well, perhaps I could still salvage the broken pieces, mend them back together somehow, and start over.

With a heavy heart, I knew what I had to do. My choice was clear to me now – I had to leave the X-Files, D.C., and Mulder. I had to let him go. It was the best thing for both of us. Wasn't it?

End Part I

A/N: Hope you like it so far! Part II is even better, I promise. Reviews are always appreciated!