Title: I Put Your Picture Away
Author: Devin
Rating: PG
Category: SA
Keywords: Angst, AU, Pre-xf
Spoilers: None that I'm aware of
Disclaimer: The X-Files and all of the characters involved in it do not belong to me. The title was taken from the song 'Picture' by Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock

Summary: Both Mulder and Scully's reaction after the events of 'Tortured, Tangled Hearts'.

Author's Note: This is the third in my 'Growing Up' series; I highly recommend that you read the other two. Thanks to Cathey for beta reading this for me.

'So this is hell,' Dana thought as she looked at herself in the mirror. She was all decked out for a semi-formal dance at her school that she didn't even want to go to, but that her friends were dragging her to.

In the two weeks since she had returned from England, she hadn't really felt like doing much.

She always felt like crying but never did. In fact, crying was just one of many things she found herself unable to do anymore, smiling being a close second.

She told herself she was being stupid. Her life shouldn't come to a screeching halt because of a couple mishaps. Not that losing the person you were sure you were in love with, and your best friend in the same 24 hours could be considered 'mishaps'.

"Okay, what's missing?" she asked, going through her mental checklist as she once again scanned her image in the mirror. "Earrings," she decided and walked over to her bedside table, opening the top drawer. That was a mistake, she realized, when the first thing her eyes landed on was the picture she had shoved in there a couple weeks ago.

Not even thinking about it, she picked up the frame and stared at its contents. It wasn't the first picture she had of him; the house was scattered with pictures from when they were little, and always getting into something, but this was the one that reminded her of what they had gone through to be together.

Megan gave it to her, she still wasn't 100 percent sure why, after she had held both of their lives in her hands.

It wasn't her favorite time but what happened after was. She and Mulder were together, truly together, and had had the perfect summer.

And then he left for Oxford.

She had heard other girls go on and on about how college had separated them and their boyfriends but she had made the classic mistake of not believing it could happen to them. So sure that the distance wasn't that far, that they were in love enough.

A droplet of water falling on the glass of the frame was what clued her in to the fact that she was crying.

"I'm crying," she said in shock, and started crying harder. "I'm crying."

A soft knock sounded on her door; everyone had been walking on eggshells around her lately. "Dana? Greg is here."

"Yeah, okay, mom," she answered softly, barely loud enough for her mom to hear her.

With one last look she put the picture back in the drawer.

"This will get easier," she whispered to herself, desperately wishing she believed her own words. Taking some time, she fixed the makeup that had begun to run because of her tears, and then went down to meet Greg. She actually agreed with her friends at this point, she needed to get out of this house.

Mulder still didn't get what had happened. It made no sense. He hadn't done anything wrong. He'd been the epitome of the faithful boyfriend. Where did she get off telling him that they needed to break up because he was cheating on her?

And then not letting him get a word in on top of that. He'd never seen her behave so irrationally. The more he thought about it the angrier he got. She had no right to make those kind of accusations.

It wasn't like he hadn't had the opportunity, but being able to cheat and actually cheating were two different things.

A hand tapped him on the shoulder, causing him to jump both literally in his seat and figuratively out of his thoughts. Jeff was standing next to him with two cans of beer in his hands, one outstretched to him.

"You look like you needed to get pissed."

He took the offered can. "Thanks man."

And so began the traditional 'you can do better' session.

"She was too young anyway," Jeff commented between sips. "You should be dating college women, not high school girls."

Mulder couldn't decide whether this statement bothered him or not, so he didn't say anything, just continued drinking.

"Do you have a picture of this girl? I didn't get to meet her."

"Wallet," was his only response, not really in a talking mood, and gestured towards the dresser, where his wallet was sitting.

Jeff looked at the picture thoughtfully. "You know, you'd be surprised how helpful ripping these in half can be."

"I was wondering why there was shreds of Phoebe's face in the trash."

Jeff shrugged and handed him the picture. "Try it."

Mulder didn't rip the picture, but looked at it instead. It was from the day they and a bunch of their friends had decided to play hooky and go to the beach. They weren't even looking at the camera; they were both involved in a game of chicken with another couple. They looked carefree.

"Maybe some other time," he told Jeff, and put the picture away.

The End

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