Shattered

There is nothing more terrible than the sound of a dream shattering into a thousand pieces. It's a sound that rips your insides to shreds, leaving nothing but pain and suffering in its wake, while the rest of the world moves on around you oblivious. It's a sound that breaks your heart and your soul and thoroughly enjoys doing so just to see you cry out for it to stop; for everything to just stop.

It's the sound that was ringing through Scully's ears as she stared into the more-or-less empty forest where Mulder had been not five minutes earlier.

Stooping low to squint at the barely visible footsteps her partner had left behind, she couldn't help but wonder if she would ever see him again. They had been in plenty of situations like this before, where one or both of them had gone missing, but something about this time was different, more final.

Following the trail looked to be hopeless, anyhow. The prints were too faded to tell if they had just ended there, in the middle of nowhere, or if they had continued on. It was too dark to investigate further with the precision needed to fully uncover the truth surrounding Mulder's disappearance and his whereabouts now.

It would have to wait for morning.

Until then, Scully was left with the feeling that everything she had secretly planned for them, everything that she had wished for, would never come true. Mulder was gone – from the forest, from the area, maybe even from her life.

She barely heard the pieces of her heart breaking in her chest over the sound of her dreams crashing down around her.