Disclaimer: Chris Carter and all the grand high Mucky Mucks own The X-Files of course, all I own is more merchandise than I should admit to owning. *grin* No copyright infringement is intended and no money was made from this. Any similarity to any other story but my own is a coincidence.

Direct dialog is taken from Sein Und Zeit; Chris Carter; Frank Spotnitz; The X-Files; 2000

Title: Vertex
Genre: hurt/comfort with a touch of angst; AU; MSR
Rating: PG; rated for general content
Timeline: This takes place smack dab in the middle of Sein Und Zeit, Season 7
Author's Notes: Ahh, the ubiquitous author's note... *grin* Seriously, this is my first X-Files ficlit and I did write it in a "burst of inspiration." Also, while the POV seemed appropriate somehow, it is a form that I do not write in often, so I really hope that I got all the tenses right, please holler if I did not.

Yet more... *grin* While I know that canon tends to place this "moment" later in the season, I was just wondering what it might look like if it happened in this episode though it almost certainly did not.(At least I don't think that it really did... *grin*)


Vertex

Love from one being to another can only be that two solitudes come nearer, recognize, protect, and comfort each other

~Han Suyin


I wait, poised to knock on the plain wooden door of Mulder's apartment. I know how I would look to any of his neighbors if they saw me; strange, suspicious, odd, my arm raised, knuckles close to the wood but not quite touching. Almost I knock, but change my mind at the last moment and instead, lay my palm flat, as close to the familiar metal 42 as I can reach.

I'm not entirely certain why I'm hesitating. Well, that's not completely true. I know that I don't want to break Mulder, and I am certain that what I have to say may very well break him, tear the last strands of his beliefs from him. And I know that my face is not the one that I want him to associate with his world crumbling. Of course, I am certain that I wouldn't want anyone else to be the one doing this either, no matter how I protested before when he asked me to perform his mother's autopsy.

My sigh sounds heavy even to my own ears, too loud in the stillness of the hallway. Almost, I imagine that Mulder can hear it through the closed door. That hearing it, he would answer without me having to knock, and thereby take the suddenly momentous task out my hands. I sigh again when of course this doesn't happen, and instead, I knock.

My partner opens the door and I take in his haggard appearance. He's wearing his simple gray t-shirt and an old pair of jeans, what I like to think of as his comfort clothes. I don't think he's slept at all and his face, unshaven and rugged, looks like its seen more years than the thirty six that I know it has. But all of that is everything I expected to see. What worries and puzzles me is the tightly strung urgency that I can almost feel practically vibrating through his lanky frame.

"I'm glad you're here. My mother was trying to tell me something. I think I figured it out. It's something about my sister that she was never able to tell me."

And with that pronouncement, my partner's walking away from me almost before I can register it, stalking his way across his apartment and back to the simple black phone on his desk. He plays back the last message that I know he must have been listening to all night.

"So much that I've left unsaid for reasons I hope one day you'll understand..."

I hear his mother's voice fill the shadows of Mulder's apartment and can't help but have a flash of memory, picturing Teena Mulder laid out and open on the autopsy table. I hide my chilled shudder from my partner and instead focus all my attention on him.

"She knew what I'd find with this case out in California," he declares, that same urgency and conviction that I had just seen, echoing out in his voice.

"How could she know that, Mulder?" I force myself to ask, trying to be as careful as possible, almost dreading his response.

"A child disappearing without a trace-- without evidence-- in defiance of all logical explanation? She knew because of what's driven me-- what I've always believed."

"Mulder..."

I finally close the distance between us, watching him as I take the chair opposite my partner. A coldly clinical part somewhere in the back of my mind is recalling everything I was taught in medical school and my internship about how to approach a grieving family member. It's joined by the other voices of instructors from my Quantico training. And all of it is shoved aside by the faded voice of my sister, reminding me, "that this is no stranger Dana. This is my partner, my best friend, the man I..."

"Scully, these parents who've lost... who've lost their children..." his torn voice interrupts my own thoughts, pulling at me, begging for me to trust in him and whatever conclusion he's come to.

"They've had visions of their sons and daughters in scenarios that never happened but which they describe in notes that came through them as automatic writing and words that came through them psychically from old souls protecting the children," Mulder tells me, gripping his arms across his chest as if trying to contain himself even as he's reaching out to me with his words.

"My mother must have written a note like that herself. Describing the scenario of my sister's disappearance of her, of her abduction by aliens," he continues, his voice washing over me softly.

"Don't you see, Scully?" Mulder prompts, willing me to see as he does. "It never happened. All these visions that I've had, have just been... they've been to help me cope, to help me deal with the loss but.. I've been looking for my sister in the wrong place. That's... what my mother was trying to tell me. That's what she was trying to warn me about. That's why they killed her," he concludes, his eyes now shining with a strangely beatific peace that would have contradicted the bare words if it had been anyone but Mulder saying them.

I don't want to shatter that peace, and inwardly I pray to a silent God for help as I prepare to do just that.

"Your mother killed herself, Mulder," I correct as gently as I can. "I conducted the autopsy."

I watch the light slip from my partner's eyes and ache to see them film over, almost like something I had seen on more autopsy tables than I cared to remember. But I've started now, and it would be crueler to stop than to continue, so I do.

"She was dying of an incurable disease. An untreatable and horribly disfiguring disease called Paget's Carcinoma," I explain, feeling the strange beginnings of a personal connection that I now feel to a woman I never really knew, even as I tell her son about why she died; another woman in his life attacked by cancer.

"She knew it. There were doctor's records. She didn't want to live," I conclude as gently as I possibly can given the horrible circumstances.

All of Mulder's carefully constructed hopes crash down around him. I watch it happen, knowing that I'm the one that took the hammer to them, and brace myself for what's going to happen next. Almost, I'm prepared for the sudden violence that overtakes my partner; almost. It is still frightening to see the force of his grief finally break free, and I'm terrified that he'll hurt himself before the desk can fall apart in his hands.

"Mulder …"

I reach for him, placing my hand on his arm in an attempt to calm him before he can do any serious harm to himself.

"She was trying to tell me something. She was..." he protests, trying to cling in vain to something that he knows can no longer be true. "...Trying to tell me something," he forces the final words out through a sob.

"Mulder, she was trying to tell you to stop. To stop looking for your sister. She was just trying to take away your pain," I offer, like throwing a life-preserver to a drowning man.

And then suddenly he's reaching for me, clinging to me as if I'm the only thing he can hold onto in the storm that's rapidly overtaking him.

"Scully..."

"Shh... shh..." I can't think of anything else to say, anything else to offer my friend but soothing wordless words. "Shh..."

I feel Mulder's sobs tear through him and into me even though I know that it is scientifically impossible. But I can feel them trembling through him and pushing their way through my own skin, my own chest, and into my heart.

"Shh..." I murmur, rocking him with me even as he sobs my name like some kind of pained mantra. It's almost too much to bare for either of us. I gently kiss his neck before lifting his face up, cradling it in my hands. "Shh..."

I take a moment to track the tears tracing their way down his cheeks before impulsively, perhaps almost instinctively, kissing away first the ones on the right, then those on the left. I have the improbable thought that somehow I can take some of Mulder's pain into myself by the action, no matter how irrational the thought sounds in my head, even as I think it.

"Shh..." I murmur again, still ineloquent in my words, even if my actions now hold a bit more grace for the moment.

I kiss away more tears, my lips barely brushing his skin.

"Scully..."

Unexpectedly, Mulder kisses me, his lips capturing mine with his own. And though I know it's his grief causing him to act, his desperate need for comfort, I still feel a momentary skip in my pulse. I can taste the bittersweet tang of his tears on my lips though, and gently push him away.

"Mulder..."

"Scully please..."

He kisses me again, this time a bit more urgently, but again I gently push him away.

"Mulder, I'm sorry... I'm so sorry," I murmur, though I'm not sure if I'm sympathizing with him for the loss of his mother, or apologizing for pushing him away.

"Scully, please... just this once... please..."

He kisses me once more, and I can't help but respond just a little, even though I still push him back just enough to rest my forehead against his.

"Mulder... this isn't what you really want. It isn't really what you need," I remind him as gently as I can, careful of his grief, but trying to be as firm as I can be in the conviction.

"How do you know that, Scully?"

I pull back to meet his eyes, startled to see the strange beatific light filling them again, and for an instant, I feel a rush of anger that I have to be the one to extinguish it once more. The anger is gone as quickly as it came though, and in its wake, all I feel is a nearly overwhelming sadness.

"I know, Mulder," I assure him as I lower my hands from his face. "And you do to, even if you can't see that right now.

I kiss him lightly on the forehead before rising. I look down at my partner and hold out my hand to him.

"I'll stay with you. We can talk or not, whatever you need, but don't ask for this..."

He grabs my hand and stands up next to me.

"And if I ask, Scully?" He persists, a strange expression on his face and in his eyes that I can't begin to categorize.

"Mulder..."

"If I ask?"

I search his eyes, feeling the weight of the abruptly painful, surreal moment echoed in the press of his gaze and wish, not for the first time, that I could read my partner's thoughts as easily as I might read an FBI report.

"If I ask..." he whispers again, before capturing my lips with his own once more, beginning to regain some of that urgency he had when he first kissed me. I can still taste the tang of salt on his lips. And he's asking me for things in that kiss, things I shouldn't give him, not like this, not in this confusing mix of pain, and desperation, and maybe...

"Dana..." he nearly pleas against my mouth, making it sound as close to a prayer as I've ever heard issue from his own lips.

It's the sound of my name that breaks me; maybe a bit of karma at work in the moment. I let him lead me in the direction of his bedroom. Afterwards, wrapped so tightly in his arms that it's almost painful, I realize that it's also my name that remakes me as he whispers it in his sleep over and over again. I've become Mulder's only hope...

FIN