missinglink.jpg (54640 bytes)

Missing Link
By E. Livingstone

Time Line: Takes place a while after the events of the Movie

The characters belong to Fox, Chris Carter, etc... not me.

Classification: X, S, A, M/S UST

Rating: PG-13, for violent images and one bad word.

Spoilers: The Movie, The End, Never Again & Christmas Carol/Emily

Summary: Dealing with the past, facing the future and all the moments in between.


 

As her body gave in to exhaustion, she fell, landing hard on the uneven ground of the surrounding forest. Trying in vain, she pushed her self back on to her feet, only to fall again after only a few steps. Somewhere in the distance she could hear him scream her name and her breath caught in her chest at the sound of his voice being carried on the wind. Lifting her head she let the cold rain pour over her, mixing with the tears and blood that covered her face. Pushing away the pain, she again stood, gripping a nearby tree for support. She would not be found this way, helpless and weak. She would be on her feet and she would fight with every thing she still had left, even knowing it was futile... even knowing she would not survive... not this time.

This was not the first time she had found herself out here, his demons, in turn becoming hers; causing her to run, from him... from this life that she found herself in. A life, ironically enough, that she had at some point consciously chosen and a path she should of gotten off of a long time ago. But like so many before her, she had deluded herself that if she just loved him enough, he would be the man she needed him to be and she always returned. But deep down she knew it was a fools pursuit and that he would never really be able to see her... not with his own demons blocking out everything else in his life. Those demons had taken him long ago, slowly driving him into a deep madness that no one could retrieve him from... not even her. She had let herself believe in the fairy tales she had been told as a child... she had let herself believe that she could change him, but there would be no happily ever after and in the end. All she had accomplished was to devalue her own life to the point that it would end here, alone in the woods, at the hands of the man she spent her life trying to love.

She could feel the life draining out of her, both figuratively and literally, and even with all her resolve to remain on her feet, she couldn't deny the injuries to her body as gravity took hold of her, pulling her down into the thick carpet of damp leaves covering the forest floor. Rolling onto her back she fought the darkness that pushed at her. Looking up into the night she could see the stars dotting the sky between the tree tops and considered heaven and the life that would come after this one, knowing it was time to make her piece. She felt the hot tears run down her cheeks as she said a quiet prayer that God would find a way to save both the lost souls that had run into the forest that night. Her eyes blinked hard against the tears and the pain, trying to keep them open even as a dark figure moved over her blocking out the stars above. There would be no words for her to speak... no fight for her give and she let her eyes close, waiting for the inevitable. Her last conscious memory was that of the warmth of a brief, tender touch of finger tips against her cheek and then the sound of screams echoing though the forest.

In the morning she woke in her own bed, her clothes covered in someone else's blood...


 

And so it begins...

"They asked for you by name." Skinner's deep voice caused both of the Agents in front of him to look up, watching him open the file he held.

A smile spread across Mulder's face as he looked over to Scully, "A fan" he told her knowingly.

"Might want to reign in that ego, Mulder. It wasn't your name that was mentioned." Skinner slowly turned his head to Scully as he spoke. Mulder followed his bosses eyes till they rested on his partners confused face.

"Me?" Scully asked, surprised.

"You," Skinner, replied with a hint of a smile as he handed her the case file and saw the confused look on her partners face.

"Am I to assume that this is not an x-file, sir?" It was Mulder that spoke, but he knew Scully was thinking the same thing.

"There isn't much information on the case. They just pulled a body out of the woods yesterday. But don't worry Mulder, from the little info that I've obtained, I'd say the case will be bazar enough to hold your attention."


After renting a car at the airport, they made there way along the tree-lined highway to the small town. With its old store fronts and it's three-block-long downtown district, it didn't take much effort to find the police station.

As they stepped out of the car Scully took in the beauty of the surrounding mountains and forests, thinking how far away they seemed to be from the rush of city life. She felt Mulder's hand slide onto her lower back, breaking her out of her thoughts of scenery.

"I'm going to go get us some breakfast over at that bakery." He told her, leaning in close and motioning slightly with his head to the little shop across the street.

"Mulder, we have come all this way, we should at least go in."

"You go and check in."She opened her mouth to protest and he cut her off before she got the chance. "You're the one they asked for, remember?"

"Are you pouting, because they didn't ask for you?"

"No," he replied a little more defensively that he would have liked. "I'm hungry, because we had to get up at dawn to investigate this case that they didn't ask me to." She eyed him suspiciously, "Hey, I'm buying... what more could you want." Not waiting for a response his hand slipped away from its resting place and he crossed the street, leaving her there.

Entering the police station, Scully walked up to the front desk, getting the attention of the officer, who looked like he was about 18 years old, filling out some paper work. He lifted his head, giving her a big smile and an enthusiastic. "Hi..." his smile faded, as he realized that was probably unprofessional, " I mean... um... What can I do for you, ma'am?"

Scully winced slightly, liking the first greeting better.

"I believe you are expecting me... I'm Agent Dana..."

"Scully, FBI," A deep voice finished her sentence and she turned to see a familiar face staring back at her.

"Detective Kresge?" she asked , the surprise registering in her voice as well as on her face. " What are you doing..."

"I've been waiting for you." He looked at his watch, "And your late, by the way."

"Our plane was delayed. I thought you where still in San Diego."

"I transferred out here about 3 months ago."

"So you where the one who asked for me to be assigned to this case?"

"Guilty as charged." He nodded. "Is that a problem?"

Well, no... It's just, well after our last encounter..." Scully was suddenly aware of the young officer intensely listening to their conversation and most likely getting the wrong idea.

Kresge, reading the situation, looked over at the officer behind the counter, "Matt, don't you have some paper work you should be doing?"

"Uh... yes sir," he agreed quickly, gathering up the papers on the desk and moving to a back office.

"After our last encounter?" Kresge asked, wanting her to finish her earlier sentence.

"I just thought you would of happily tried to forget we ever met."

"I could never do that..." With a teasing smile he lifted a hand, pushing back his hair to expose a small scare that ran along his forehead. "You're always with me." He could see a look of guilt creep into her eyes and let his hand fall from his forehead, letting it rest lightly on her shoulder. "I'm kidding. I asked for you because I've seen first hand how good you are and needed you on this."

"Hope that includes me." Both Scully and Kresge looked to see Mulder standing in the doorway, holding a bag from the bakery in one hand, a bear claw in the other and looking a little annoyed to see Kresge's hand was on his partner.

:"Agent..." Kresge began, obviously trying to remember the other mans last name.

"Mulder," Scully finished, quietly.

"Right... Mulder."

The two men let the uncomfortable silence hang there, neither seemed to pleased to see the other one again. Kresge's eyes dropped down to the pastry in Mulder's hand.

"What, you don't like bear claws?" Mulder asked in his usual sarcastic tone.

"No, it's not that. You just may want to rethink your choice after I show you why it is I asked for your help."


"You've heard the expression 'ripped to pieces'?"

Kresge pulled back the sheet to expose the remains of the victim. Mulder quickly turned his head, fighting a wave of nausea. To her credit Scully's only outward reaction was quietly exhaling, "My God..." but she kept her eyes on the body, or what was left of it.

Looking over at Kresge, she saw that like Mulder, he too was keeping his eyes averted as he filled her in on what they knew.

"The preliminary exam got us a name, but as to what actually did this to him..."

"Bear?" Mulder asked, still not looking at the victim and finally understanding Kresge's comment about his choice of breakfast.

"That was our first thought, but an animal wouldn't kill him, just leaving the body behind afterwards and even though we may not have found him exactly in tact... well, most of him is there."

Mulder took a deep breath and returned his gaze to the man on the table. "Looks like you're still missing a few parts."

"It took a full day to find as much as we did... the men on the case took to calling him Humpty Dumpty."

"I think we can rule out bear attack. There are no signs of teeth or claw marks." Scully added as she examined the remains.

"Yeah, well that's what's so weird about this and why we called you in. There are no signs of cut marks of any kind... as if he was literally pulled apart... and I sure as hell don't know of any animal or human that can do that to someone."

"It wasn't an animal." Scully told them, causing both men to look to see what had caused her to be so sure. "Look."

Moving closer they saw the purplish bruise that ran along the mans forearm. Mulder looked up to his partner for an explanation.

"That bruise was caused by a thumb, which means..."

"Which means, unless the bears in these parts have thumbs, this man was murdered," Mulder finished.


An hour later Scully found Mulder in Kresge's office, looking through some files.

"You all done with the autopsy?" Mulder asked, as she found the nearest chair.

"Yeah, not that I know much more than I did when we got here. "With a quick glance around, she asked, "Where is Detective Kresge?"

"Oh, he never seem to be too far away."He replied sarcastically.

"Mulder, you don't know him well enough to have such an attitude. He really is a good guy."

"Well I guess you would know that better than me." She was looking at him, waiting for an explanation. He didn't give her one. Instead he changed the subject with no attempt at an easy segue way. "I've been reading over our victims police file. Mr. Jacob Kinney, 35... never held a steady job for more than about a month... been arrested a number of times, drunk driving, disturbing the piece, resisting arrest and most notably several arrests for assaulting his wife. I got a hold of Mrs. Kinney's medical records.." He was about to read them to her but decided to let her see for her self. He handed her the file.

"My God... it's amazing she is still alive"


They had driven for what seemed like forever before arriving at the secluded little house nestled in the forest. A young woman stepped out on the porch to meet them, not seeming too surprised to have the police back for another visit.

As a couple of officers searched the grounds Kresge, Mulder and Scully found themselves in the woman's living room asking her about her late husband.

"Mrs. Kinney, I need for you to tell us what happened that night." Scully's gaze instinctively went to the stitches running along the woman temple. The rest of the woman's bruising had begun to fade, but she had the unmistakable marks of being beaten.

"Like I said before, I don't know what happened to him. I know you people think I did it, but I really don't know what happened to him out there."

"Do you know why he was out in the woods that night?"

"Yes... He was chasing me. Usually I'd be safe if I could just get to the tree line, he'd be to drunk to find his way, but that night was different... " Scully saw the woman's eyes change, knowing she was reliving that night in her mind. "He hadn't came home in a couple days, which wasn't unusual, but about 10 o'clock that night he showed up, drunk and looking for a fight he could win. I knew the drill well enough and tried to stay away from him, hoping he would pass out and I wouldn't have to spend another night in the emergency room. But this time it was about more than alcohol... or his lot in life. I don't know how to describe it, other than something in him had just snapped. As his verbal abuse turned into physical I ran, hoping the woods would be the safe haven they had always been for me in the past, but he just kept coming. I really don't remember much after that, I lost consciousness... I honestly though that I would never wake up."

"So he never found you?"

"I'm still alive... so I would have to say no."

An officer came into the house, holding a burned piece of clothing that had been bagged as evidence. Handing it to Kresge, they talked in hush tones, before going back outside to continue searching the area.

Kresge looked up from the bag, catching the fear in Mrs. Kinney's eyes before he even began to speak, "Is there more to this story you would like to tell us ma'am, or should we just wait 'till we have this analyzed."

"I didn't say anything before, because it sounds crazy. I really did black out in the woods, I was surprised as anyone to find myself not only still alive, but to be laying in my own bed the next morning. I don't know how I got there or where all the blood came from. It wasn't till I found out my husband was dead that I realized it must have been his. I took the pajamas and the bed sheets out in the back and burned them. I guess was afraid that it would make me look guilty."

"Unlike trying to destroy evidence will make you look," Mulder added sarcastically.

"Can you think of anyone else who would have reason to do this?" Scully asked, ignoring Mulder's remark.

"I'm sure there are more than a few people out there that wanted him dead. My husband didn't exactly have a lot of friends." She told them, glancing out the window. "There is something though, I don't know if it means anything but for six months or so, I've felt like someone has been watching me. I figured I was just imagining it, I mean this far out, god knows how many creatures are watching you from the tree line. But the day after my husband disappeared someone started putting something on my porch... one every morning. Mrs. Kinney motioned for them to follow as she walked out to the back porch, pointing to the ground below. A shovel stuck out of the ground next to four small freshly dug and filled in holes and one obviously dead animal.

"What is that?" Scully asked.

"That would be a big dead possum," Mulder replied, wrinkling up his nose at the sight.

Scully turned to the woman beside her, "Someone is putting dead animals on your porch?"

"Possums... yes ma'am, one every day since that night." She pointed to the spot on the porch where the animals had been left.

As Mulder moved to the spot the woman had pointed to, he stopped abruptly looking down at the weathered wooden slats he stood on.

"Mrs. Kinney, what size shoe did your husband wear?" he asked, crouching down.

"Ten and a half. Why do you ask?"

"Because I think whoever has been leaving those animals behind has a much bigger foot." He pointed out the barely visible footprint to Scully as she crouched down beside him. "It also looks like he's not a big fan of wearing shoes."


Scully looked out the cabin widow to see Mulder and Kresge, disappearing into the dense forest in the distance. With the two men out of sight she turned back to Mrs. Kinney, seeing that the woman had been watching her.

"One of them yours?"Mrs. Kinney asked.

Scully just smiled, moving into the livingroom and sitting down.

"Thank you..." The woman began, causing Scully to look at her curiously. "Thank you for not asking 'why did I stay so long with a man like my husband'?"

"Well, I know it's a lot easier asked than answered," Scully replied as she closed up her note book and set it down.

" I was 15 when I met Jack. He was beautiful and wild, and I was too young to know better. He had all these dreams of leaving this town... becoming rich or famous. Trouble is he didn't really have the brains or talent for fame and fortune. He could always see all the things he didn't have so clearly, but he could never see the one thing he did have... he just couldn't see me. I've spent so long living his life... I guess after a while I couldn't see me either."


"What exactly do you think made those prints?" Kresge asked, as he pushed passed some low branches.

Mulder looked around their wooded surroundings before telling the other man simply "Big prints. Big Foot."

"You can't be serious?" Kresge laughed.

Mulder looked at him, surprised. "She didn't tell you about me, did she?"

"She... you mean Agent Scully? No, not really. I mean she mentioned your name once or twice, but she didn't really talk about you, no."

"Out of site, out of mind I guess," Mulder said quietly, returning his gaze to the ground and continuing to search.

"Well she did have other things on her mind." Kresge told him. "She lost her..."

Mulder's head snapped up at the other mans words, "I know what she lost!"

"Look, Mulder... You want to dislike me that's fine. There is no particular reason we have to be friends, but at least be honest about it."

"I don't dislike you." Mulder told him, trying to keep his voice even.

"Sure you do. You don't think I would feel the same way if our roles were reversed? You're angry at me, because you can't blame her." Kresge saw Mulder's eyes change, " After all she lost, you can't be angry at her, but you have to place blame somewhere and I was the one she turned to for help... instead of you."

"I should have been there from the beginning." He turned his head away, "She shouldn't have had to gone through it alone."

"She wasn't alone. You were with her in the end, you were there for her when she needed you most."

"Yeah, I was there in the end... but when she needed me most, that's when she pushed me away."

After a long moment of silence, Mulder let out an odd laugh before noting, sarcastically, " Well... that was therapeutic." Running his hand absently through his hair as he looked back at up, "Now that we have bonded, you think we could get back to work?"

"That depends, are we still looking for Big Foot?"

"Well if the print fits..." Mulder told him over his shoulder, as he began making his way through the tall trees.

"Ok, just for the sake of argument.." Kresge began, following close behind, "If there is some sort of beast-man running around out here, there would have to be more, right? I mean he would have had to come from somewhere. So where's the rest of the family?"

Mulder turned back to Kresge, "Well I don't know these parts too well, but I'm pretty sure he's got some relatives in Jersey."


It was dark by the time Kresge and the other officers had finished investigating the house and the surrounding woods.

Scully watched them driving away, before turning to her partner, "Mulder it's getting late, we should get back to town as well. We still have to find a motel."

"I think we should stay."

"Stay where?" she asked, not following.

"Here... I think we should stake out the house to see if she gets another visit."

"This is about those foot prints, isn't it?"

"Well unless Mrs. Kinney's a lot stronger than she looks, I can't think of a better suspect." She still didn't look convinced, "I'll take the first watch, you can drool all over my shoulder and I won't even complain." he added with a smile.

"Ok.. " she relented, heading to the car, "But there had better be some donuts left in the bag you got this morning."


Midnight

"You really think that woman could be a murderer?" Mulder asked his partner, as he finished the last bite of his sandwich and continued talking even with his mouth full, "She made us sandwiches at 11:30 at night for god's sake. What kind of cold blooded killer would do that?"

"Well if she is the killer, then it wouldn't really be that far fetched for her to poison our dinner so she could make her escape." She watched Mulder choke on the sandwich in his mouth and reached over to pat his back , stifling a laugh "Sorry. But she was the last one to see her husband alive and she was covered in his blood..."

"And... she's no bigger than you, Scully. Now granted you may be able to kick my ass on a good day, but I don't think you could literally tear me apart."

"I'm not saying she did the actual killing. I'm just saying she had motive and opportunity. She could have had an accomplice." She saw the look in Mulder's eyes and cut him off before he could open his mouth. "A human accomplice."

"Want to know what I think?"

She couldn't help but smile, shaking her head, "Mulder, I know what you think." She felt a pang of guilt as she saw his face drop a little. "Ok, tell you what..." She turned in her seat, crawling over the front seat and into the back, "You have until I fall asleep to tell me your theory." Pulling the trench coat, that Mulder had left in the back seat, out from underneath her, Scully laid down on her side covering herself with his coat and closing her eyes. The light sent of his cologne coming from the jacket that covered her and his soft voice, telling her the history of bigfoot lore lulled her into a deep sleep. But suddenly the sound of his voice stopped and a cold breeze sent a chill through her.

Scully twisted her body in the small back seat of the rental car, trying to get more coverage from the jacket that covered her, but as much as she tried she still could feel the cold breeze. Giving in to the intrusion to her turn at some semblance of a good nights sleep, she slowly opened her eyes. Lifting her head she saw the open back door of the rental car, a door that was supposed to be closed. Quickly looking around the car she saw that all the doors were opened and that her partner was nowhere to be seen. The cold breeze that had woke her was in fact a dense mist that had flowed into the car, surrounding her body. She felt a panic rise in her and opened her mouth to call out for her partner, but there was no noise except the distant night sounds of the forest. Struggling to untangle herself from the coat that covered her she saw a shadow cross over the car and the noises of the forest where abruptly silenced. She slowly reached out, trying to close at least one of the open car doors, but as she did she felt a presence in the car behind her and turned to see a dark figure hovering over her, its arm reaching out for her. Pushing her body back in the seat she let out a cry... this time the sound made it's way out of her throat.

Still yelling, Scully lurched upright coming face to face with her partner. Blinking hard, she fought to catch her breath while desperately trying to process what had just happened. Mulder, kneeling backwards in his seat, cursed quietly, holding a hand against his head... a head he had obviously just slammed into the roof of the car.

"What the hell are you doing? You scared the crap out of me, Scully."

"Me? You're the one who puts me to sleep with tales of beast men and then hovers over my body while I'm sleeping..." She paused in her tirade over him waking her, a curious look crossing her features, "Mulder, just why were you hovering over my body?"

"Don't flatter yourself Scully." He answered, realizing what she was implying. " This was about seeds, not sexual harassment." He pointed at the pocket of his coat to emphasize his point. She followed his finger, looking in the pocket of the trench coat that still covered her and pulled out a bag of sunflower seeds. Throwing the packet at him she laid back down in a futile attempt to go back to sleep, listening to the sounds of the surrounding forest.


Dawn

At first she thought he was having a nightmare, but she quickly realized that the dream he was having was not about fear. He whispered words she couldn't quite hear as his breathing became heaver. And she couldn't keep the blush... or the smile, from her face as she heard what sounded like her name mumbled into the darkness of the car. Suddenly his body began to fidget in the small space the back seat allowed, causing the car to gently rock and he spoke again, this time he was clearer and as the word Diana crossed his lips Scully felt her stomach drop. Embarrassment, anger, jealousy... she couldn't pick just one emotion to feel as they all tore through her at once.

Mulder woke abruptly, his dream still vivid in his mind and the effects of the dream painfully obvious, he quickly made some excuse about the call of nature to his partner. She responded with a clipped "What ever." as he stepped out of the car into the cold rain.

He had dreamed of her, not an uncommon occurrence. The truth was he dreamt of her often. Most of the time he didn't mind, looked forward to it even, but lately the dream had always been ending the same. A very badly timed appearance by an ex-partner interrupting a very nice scenario involving his present one.

He looked through the widow at Scully, his mind flashing back to his dream... back to holding her.. The touch of her skin... Her soft voice whispering...

"Mulder?" Her voice snapped him back to reality. She had rolled down her window and was staring at him like he had lost his mind. And although he wasn't sure why, she looked extremely pissed off. "Your standing in the rain. Why?"

"I... uh..." His feeble attempt at an explanation was cut short as a shrill scream came from the near by cabin. Spinning around toward the cry Mulder saw a very large figure run from the house. In the dim light Mulder couldn't make out just exactly what he had just seen, but he did see where it had gone and with a quick direction for Scully to check on Mrs. Kinney he gave chase, running into the woods after it.

The rain pouring down around him made it difficult to keep his footing and even though the sun was rising, the tall trees blocked out too much light to see more than a few yards in front of him. Mulder stopped running, trying to catch his breath as he turned his body completely around, pointing his gun into the distance. Although it had disappeared, he could still feel the presence of the thing he chased, as if it was surrounding him on all sides. Mulder's mind involuntarily thought of Jack Kinney and the site of his torn body laying across that autopsy table. He knew that if this thing wanted him dead he would be. If it came out into the open he might have a chance of capturing it, but he was in its territory now and the rules had changed. He also knew that if he stayed out there too long, Scully would come looking for him and she would be at risk as well. Hoping to keep both he and his partner in one piece, Mulder slowly backed away, making his way out of the woods and back to safety.

Rushing into the cabin Mulder found Scully talking quietly to an obviously shaken but uninjured Mrs. Kinney as Detective Kresge paced near by.

Scully looked up as Mulder entered. Seeing the concern in her eyes, he gave her a slight smile, a silent reassurance that he was ok.

"When did you get here?" he asked, looking away from Scully to Kresge.

"A few minutes ago. Did you find anything?"

"No, whatever it was it's gone now." Mulder walked over to Mrs. Kinney, sitting down on a nearby chair and asking , "Did it try to hurt you?"

"No. I just woke to see him standing in the doorway. When I screamed he jumped back and ran... he seemed to be as frightened as I was."

"He? You said you never got a good look at it?" Scully asked, looking back over the notes of the statement the woman had already given. "How can you be sure it was a he?"

"He was standing in the door way... he wasn't wearing anything. I mean, he was furry and all, but the was still naked... so when he tuned to leave..." She stopped, obviously embarrassed. " I saw his side view silhouetted in the door frame... he was... well... he was... " She turned to Scully, who was sitting next to her taking notes. Leaning close to her she whispered the remainder of her statement so only Scully could hear.

Mulder and Kresge watched Scully's eyes go wide as Mrs. Kinney described just what she had seen. "Seriously?" Scully asked with a considerable amount of astonishment in her voice as she turned to the woman beside her. Mrs. Kinney just nodded. Looking up at her partner, who was still waiting for an explanation, Scully told him definitively, "It was a he."


Scully stepped off the Kinney's porch, making her way down the stairs while watching her partner and Detective Kresge measuring their own feet against the large foot print that they had found. At the same time in a deep discussion about the merits of Big Foot sightings. Fighting the urge to turn and leave before she got sucked into the conversation, she paused at the last step.

"Look Scully we found another print." Mulder told here, waving her over to them.

Kresge looked up at the approaching agent, asking, "Was Mrs. Kinney's statement helpful in identifying this guy?"

"Well it looks like either our suspect is some late night prowler with a lot of body hair and aversion to clothes or Mrs. Kinney is fabricating the whole thing to hide the fact that she was the one who actually killed her husband." Scully saw Mulder's head look up, waiting for the other option. With a quick gesture to the large imprint at their feet she added in a some what sarcastic tone. " ...or of course it could have been the man-beast, lurking in the woods."

"Could she remember any distinguishing features about the intruder?" With a small laugh, Mulder added, "Well, other than the one she already mentioned."

"I would have thought you would have a approved of that particular bit of information, Mulder. You know what they say about foot size? According to Mrs. Kinney's report, her visitor's most distinguishing feature actually goes a long way in proving your Big Foot theory " Scully's remark registered, as did the smile that played at his lips as she looked down at the feet of the two men and the much larger foot impression separating them. Both men simultaneously dropped their gaze down to their feet, giving a brief glance to the obvious size difference between their feet and the foot size of whatever had left behind the imprint, before quickly pulling their feet back and trying to nonchalantly change the subject..

While Mulder watched as one of the police officers made a cast of the new foot print they had found, Kresge brought Scully a cup of coffee.

"Mrs. Kinney thought you might need this. " He told her as he handed her the mug of coffee and sat down next to her on the porch steps.

"Thanks." She told him, letting the hot mug warm her hands.

They both stood watching Mulder in the distance for a long moment before Kresge asked, "So are we looking for Bigfoot, here? Cause I'll need to alert the Enquirer."

She just shook her head, "Your probably wishing I'd never forced my way into your nice normal life right about now, aren't you?"

"Normal can translate into boring. That's what I like about you Scully, FBI... " He smiled at her, lightly clinking his mug against hers, "you bring a little bit of weirdness into my normal life."


Scully looked out the window of the rental car, watching as a blur of trees and rain whizzed past her. With a sideways glance she looked over at the frustrated expression on her partner's face. He punched the buttons on the radio, grumbling as if the DJ's had chosen their musical selection just to piss him off. Mumbling under his breath , he gave up and turned the radio off before gripping the wheel tightly and staring dead ahead.

"I don't suppose you have any clue where we are?"

"Don't start with me, Scully."

"It was a simple question..." She began.

"Yeah right." His sarcasm was met with silence. He knew she would only wait so long before confronting him on this particular subject. "Ok, perhaps we may have taken a wrong turn..."

"One of many."

"You're the one with the map Scully."

"Yeah, I'm the one with the map... And you are the one who chose to ignore me when I told you not to get of the highway three hours ago."

"I knew a short cut."

"Mulder, if it was a short cut than why are aren't we in bed right now?"

"Are you flirting with me?" he asked with as smile, laughing at his own joke.

"Mulder.."

"Alright so my short cut didn't turn out to be quite as short as I hoped." He grudgingly acknowledged.

"You could try and find a place to ask directions."

Mulder broke into a laugh before realizing she was serious. "Ask directions? Yeah right... not as long as I can pee standing up. We don't ask direction."

Scully response was rolling her eyes.

"Even if I broke with male tradition and asked, who would I ask Scully? I haven't seen so much as a car, never mind a gas station in over an hour."

"If you would have stayed on the highway..."

"Yeah, yeah... we would be in bed right now, I know. You're still the one holding the map Scully, you tell me where the hell we are."

"Ok, I will," She replied confidently, using a small flashlight to illuminate the map in the darkened car as she examined it closely. "Well we are... uhmm... we are..."

"Yeah... go on. We are?"

Letting out a sigh she turned off her flashlight and continued, "Well according to this map we are smack dab in the middle of 'shit' and 'out of luck'." As she spoke she wadded up the map and threw it into the back seat of the car.

Looking over at her, Mulder didn't know whether to laugh or cry . He didn't get the chance to choose as he saw her eyes go wide.

"Muld...!!!" She didn't finish. She didn't have to.

Mulder reacted instantaneously to hearing her cry out his name, but it was too late. A deer stood on the rain soaked road before them. The animal was frozen in the cars headlights as the vehicle careened towards it. Mulder hit the brakes and in a blur of screaming tires mingled with their cries, the car skidded off the road, dropping off the edge of the embankment and rolling several times before coming to an abrupt halt as the bottom of the car hit a tall pine tree.

Several feet above the mangled car that rested on its side the frightened doe peered over the embankment, before turning and disappearing into the night.

Mulder woke to a steady drip of water seeping through the metal above him and landing on his cheek. His body had managed to turn somewhat sideways even though he was still held by his seat belt. Scully's forehead rested against his shoulder, her body turned at an awkward angle. He tried to say her name, but whether out of injury or fear, his voice betrayed him. One of her hands rested at his waist and he tentatively reached for it, grasping her wrist lightly to find a pulse. It was there, strong as ever and he let himself start breathing again. With his other hand he found the release button on his seatbelt and pressed it. Gravity immediately took hold of his body, dropping him hard onto the driver side door that now was level with the ground. He immediately missed the warmth of Scully's head against his shoulder and looked up to see she hovered above him, still held by he seat belt. With some effort he sat up and moved to release her as well. The size of the car had gotten considerably smaller from the roll over and he was having difficulty reaching his arm around her to find the belt. As his fingers glided across her stomach she stirred slightly, a quite moan passed across her lips, but she didn't open her eyes.

He whispered, "I'm sorry..." In to her hair as he found and pressed the button he searched for. He did his best to slow her fall as she was released from the seat belt's embrace, but he knew he was too weak from his own injuries and he wouldn't be able to hold her. Although he couldn't give her the easy landing he would have liked, he did manage to break her fall as her body landed squarely across his.

For a long a long moment neither of them moved. Mulder had wrapped his arms around her as her body collided with his and he kept a tight hold on her, feeling her steady breathing against his neck and considering his next move. . It had taken almost a half an hour to get her out of the damaged car and set up some semblance of a camp. He had used his over coat as a ground cloth to lay her on and her coat was serving as a blanket. He had enough of her blood on his cloths to know she was injured beyond the purplish bump that raised slightly off her forehead. Her other injury was easy to spot, the bright red stain on the back of the shirt that she wore directed him right to it. He made a makeshift bandage for her, tying a cloth over the shirt she wore, before making sure she was covered and going back to the wrecked car to try and gathered as many dry items as he could find. His travel bag had managed to stay dry, but her things were all but destroyed when the car rolled, crushing the trunk. The one thing of hers that was salvageable was her medical bag and Mulder rummaged through it as he returned to her still unconscious form and knelt down beside her.

Knowing that he couldn't treat her injury unless he could get to it, he peeled back the coat that covered her and silently cursed himself for hesitating as he reached for her. If the situation was reversed she would have striped him without a second thought, but he couldn't help feeling guilty. His need to help her overcame his guilt and his fingers moved to her blouse. He felt her stir slightly as he began, but as his large hands fumbled with the delicate buttons he felt her hands move to his, struggling against him. Still only half conscious she continued to fight off his attempt to undress her. The guilt he thought he had worked through was fighting against him as hard as she was. Releasing the last button of her shirt he moved to undo the top button of her jeans. Up to that point she had struggled like someone caught up in a dream, but as his hands moved to her waist, her body tensed and her eyes snapped open. He found himself frozen, staring down into the confusion and outright terror that filled her eyes. He wasn't sure what she saw in those eyes, but he knew it wasn't him.

"Scully." He spoke softly. "Scully, it's me."

If she heard him she didn't show any signs, as her grip held his hands tightly, keeping them from moving. Letting her keep control of his hands, he leaned down to her, wanting her feel his presence as he tried again to make her hear him.

"Scully, It's me... It's Mulder..." He watched her unfocused eyes, examining his face. "You have to let me help you Scully... " She blinked hard, recognition setting in. "Please, you know I would never hurt you... you know that. Scully, please... please just let me help you..." With his last words he felt her grip on his hands relax, her fingers still keeping the connection but only out of comfort as opposed to fear. Sitting back up, he knelt lower beside her, undoing the top button of her jeans, loosening the waist line before sliding his hand out from under her touch and gently rolling her towards him. Trying to keep her body of the wet ground he let her stomach gently rest on his legs, just above his knees and leaned over her body to examine her back. Untucking her shirt, he peeled it upwards, away from her skin to reveal a gash, about two inch long, running right through the tatoo that decorated her lower back. As painful as the cut looked, Mulder knew it wasn't life threatening and was relived to know that even with his limited knowledge about medicine, this was something he could treat. He had closed up enough of his own wounds to know how to work a butterfly bandage. As he worked at cleaning the wound, he felt the rise and fall of her now bare belly quicken against his legs and her body curl around him slightly reacting to the pain. He looked up from his task and reached out a hand, gently running it through her hair and reassuring her it would be over soon.

He had finished placing the bandages on her back, trying to close up the gash and found himself staring at the design that had been ruined by the injury. He had only asked why once... not why a tatoo? Why that design? Why that guy? She wouldn't have told him, he knew that much. Just why, but she gave him no real answer... saying it was her life. He hated that damn thing, not so much the tatoo, but what was behind her getting it. A rebellion that almost got her killed. For whatever her reasons were behind getting it, to him all it represented her running away. Running from her life with him... running into another man's arms, perhaps even another man's bed. Another question Mulder hadn't asked and one he was pretty sure he didn't want an answer to.

He felt her body shift against his legs, breaking him from his thoughts. Looking over to her face, he could see she was staring at him. She slowly looked down, seeing that her shirt was hanging open exposing her bra as well as her bare torso. With the same slow movements she looked back up to her partner's face and asking, "Mulder... what in the hell are you doing?"

"You think you're the only one that gets to play doctor?" he asked, in a quiet voice as he gently rolled her back to her side. "How do you feel?"

"What happened?"

"Missed the deer, but we hit a tree." he told her as he pulled her coat up over her shoulder. " I'm afraid we're stuck here for a while."

"The phones?"

"Nowhere to be found. When the car rolled, the windows shattered and most of our stuff flew out. But I was able to recover a few things though, including some matches. So if you're gonna be ok, I'm going to build us a fire and try to warm this place up a bit.." She gave him a small smile as nodded for him to go ahead.

Scully felt a slow warmth penetrating the chilly air as Mulder got a decent size fire going. "I don't suppose we have any food?" she asked as she slowly sat up, wrapping her coat around her shoulders.

"Well that depends, do you think you could make a meal out of sunflower seeds?"

"Sure, if I was a squirrel." She answered sarcastically.

"Well, I'm guessing by your attitude that you must be feeling better."

"I'm fine Mulder... " She began as she shifted positions, but the small gasp that escaped her lips gave her away.

"Your 'I'm fine Mulder' mantra doesn't give me the greatest confidence that you're telling me the truth. Come on let me check your dressing just to be safe."

Sitting down, he sat sideways beside her, bending one knee and stretching his other long leg out behind her back. Leaning forward he twisted his body to see around her, pulling down the coat that rested on her shoulders and gently raising the edge of her shirt. Her hand had come to rest on his knee, but as he removed the bandage around her wound a sudden rush of pain caused that hand to involuntary grab for something to hold on to. With a handful of material gripped tightly in her fist, she clung to the front of Mulder's shirt, trying to ease some of the pain. Mulder froze momentarily, but then went back to his task, gently cleaning the area around the gash and adding a few new butterfly bandages to replace the ones that had come loose. As he replaced the gauze over the wound she lifted her head, turning it and watching his face. He was biting his lower lip and wore a pained expression on his face. Feeling her eyes on him, he turned and met her questioning gaze.

"What?" she asked quietly.

"Chest hair..." He rasped.

Wha... oh... " She looked at her hand that still held his shirt tightly in her fist, " Sorry." She apologized, releasing her grip and rubbing her hand lightly back and forth over his chest to sooth it. "Why didn't you say something? You where in pain."

"So were you." He answered matter-of-factly.

"Well, give it to me straight Doc, how much damage are we talking about?" She asked, trying in vain to look over her shoulder.

"You'll live." He gave her a reassuring smile, before continuing. "I'm afraid your tattoo wasn't quite so lucky though."

"What do you mean?" she asked, surprised.

"That's where you're injured. Whatever it was that cut you, chopped the design right in half."

She made no effort to respond.

Trying to read her thoughts he added, "I'm sure with a little work a tattoo artist could make it look just it did before. Or maybe this time you could get an X instead." He joked. She didn't laugh.

He heard her whisper " As if you don't have everything else." She had not meant to say it loud enough for him to hear, but he had heard her.

"What?" he asked, wanting an explanation.

"Nothing."

"Scully, if you have something to say... then say it."

"It's nothing Mulder."

"Yeah, right. Well I can see why you would be so upset about it destroying something which represents such a beautiful memory in your life." He was pushing and he could see her eyes harden slightly. "But I suppose it's not my place to talk about your little rebellion. It wasn't about me, right?"

"No Mulder it wasn't about you." She was working hard to keep her voice even.

Mulder just shook his head, "Well you believe whatever it is you need to Scully, but I know the truth." He caught the look in her eyes, "There are a lot of things in your life that I have no claim to, you have made sure of that. But that thing on your back, whether you admit it or not... that was about me."

"The decision to get the tattoo was about me Mulder... the choice of design, was about me." He was about to protest and she stopped him with a look. "The only 'thing' on my back that you can claim as your own, is the scar that will be left behind..." She gave a sad laugh, "That's always about you."

His face paled slightly and quickly looked away, not wanting her to see how much those words had hurt him. They sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity, before he picked up the small flashlight and stood, heading for the tree line.

"Mulder..." She began, not really knowing what to say, but feeling like she couldn't just leave things the way they were.

"We need more wood for the fire." He responded quietly, without turning back and slowly being engulfed into the darkness of the forest.


He was pissed and used that anger to break the fallen branches at his feet into kindling for the fire, by smashing them across a large tree trunk. Wood flew in every direction, leaving large splinters scattered across the ground, the smaller ones slicing up his hands with ever blow. As the small flashlight he had brought with him flickered and died-out all together, he dropped the last of the branch he held and stood motionless in the darkness wondering just how in the hell two people that needed each other as much as they did, could spending so much time pushing each other away.

She watched Mulder come into the light of the small fire, dropping the wood he carried and keeping his hands hidden behind his back.

Her eyes fell to the hands he tried to hide from her. "Mulder..."

"It's nothing." He cut her off, knowing her thoughts.

With some effort she tried to moved to her feet.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"I'm going to look at your hands." She responded determinedly.

"Stay put Scully... You shouldn't be moving around."

"Then get down here, so I can see if you are really alright." She had him and he knew it. He could deal with his own pain, but not hers.

"Fine.." He relented, dropping to his knees in front of her and holding out his bloody hands, palms up. He kept his eyes averted from her, waiting for the lecture... But it didn't come.

He winced silently as he felt her clean his torn hands. His attempt to pull away was met with resistance as her small hands tightened around his larger one. "Will you let me help you..." It was an order, more than a question. Silently he did as he was told, holding still and letting her finish.

"Do you trust me, Scully?" To her it seemed like the question had come out of nowhere, but he had been thinking about it for a while.

"Mulder... you know I trust you with my life?" She answered honestly.

"But do you trust me enough to willingly let me into that life?"

"Mulder..." There was a sadness to her voice that was almost painful to hear as her hands slipped away from his... she didn't know how to answer him. "Mulder, the tattoo..."

"I don't give a damn about the tattoo Scully. Why you got it or who you got it with. I care that you were upset and you ran from me... when you should have been running to me. We're partners... Hell, we are a lot more than partners, no matter how much we dance around it. When you are afraid or when you are in need, I should be the one you call, I should be the one you turn to... Not some troubled stranger with a cool tattoo and not some detective who happens to be in the right place at the right time.

"Mulder, I do trust you, you have to know that? But sometimes I can't help but feel like I'm losing myself in all of this... To this job, this life..."

"To me?" He finished quietly, knowing it was what she was thinking, but not sure she would say it out loud. "I know sometimes it may feel like I'm after your soul, Scully, but I'm really not. And I do respect your right to cling to those things that you have left, even if it means keeping me a distance from certain aspects of yourself...like your family or your past...even your heart." His hand reached out, finding hers and holding it gently. "All I want is for you to trust me enough to let me in, to let me help you when you need it. I won't fight you for the rest of it, but do I need this."

"Mulder, what I said before." She lifted her eyes to meet his. "I shouldn't of...I mean... I'm sorry."

"I wasn't asking for an apology Scully."

"I know, but I'm giving you one. You were right and I was angry... and I really am sorry."

"I know how it pisses you off when I'm right." He offered, with a smile.

She looked up from his hands, returning his smile before observing, "Well, on the up side, at least it doesn't happen too often."

 


Mulder sat silently watching his partner, the light dancing across her features as she absently poked a small stick into the small campfire. She felt his eyes on her and lifted her eyes to meet his.

"What?" she asked, self consciously.

"I was just thinking."

"Let me guess... beast men?

"And you think you know me so well. The truth was I was thinking about you." He saw the surprise on her face, at his honesty. "How on earth did you end up with me Scully?"

Scully silently replayed the long road that had lead the two of them to this place in time, before giving him the only answer she had. "There's something I learned a long time ago, Mulder, God has a strange sense of humor."

"You ever wonder how different our lives would have been if we had met earlier?" He continued.

"Earlier?" she asked, not following.

"Yeah, like what if we had met back when you were still in college?"

"Oh God..." She let out a small laugh at the thought, "Mulder, you were the guy my father kept warning me about."

"You think I'm dangerous?" he asked with a surprised smile.

"I know you're dangerous." She replied, fighting a slightly embarrassed grin .

"So you would have listened to your fathers advice and stayed away from me?"

"Are you kidding? With you all... tall, dark and obsessed, and me to young and naive to know better. Plus a chance to make my father crazy at the same time. Oh, I would have been in a lot of trouble. I know one thing for sure, if we had met back then I would have gotten this tattoo a lot earlier, and you would have been the one I would have gone with to get it..."

"And gone home with after?" he asked in a low voice, wondering if she would answer.

Her only response was a raise of her eyebrows and a small smile, but it was more than enough to make him glad he was far enough away that she couldn't see his reaction.

"Mulder, sometimes I look at you and can't help but see how much you're like a character from of one of those damn novels..."

"Fabio?" he asked, with mock seriousness.

"I was actually going for more tortured... and less hair."

"Oh lord, is this where you compare me to Ahab again?"

"No..." She began, giving him a tired smile. "This is where I say good night and try and get some sleep." She carefully laid down, rolling on her side, her back facing him. She had expected a flippant reply and was somewhat surprised by the long stretch of silence that hung between, the only sound coming from the crackling of the small fire.

"I'm not, you know?" His voice finally broke the quite of the night.

Scully slowly rolled back over to face him. "You're not what?" she asked quietly.

"He couldn't see past his obsession..." He began.

"And you can?" She tried to keep the sarcasm out of her voice, but his slightly hurt expression made her realize she hadn't quite succeeded.

"I see you..," he replied softly, but could see by the look in her eyes that she doubted his words.

Standing, he moved over to her and sat down on the hard ground. Tentatively moving his hand, he brushed a stray lock of hair away from her face and his voice took on a new intensity, repeating his words... needing her to believe him, "I see you Scully."

Scully saw a smile play at his lips as she asked, "What? What are you smiling at?"

"That look in your eye. It's just not very often I see you 'wanting' to believe." He told her as his smile widened.

Between his simple expression of emotion, the open night sky and the crackling fire she found herself truly 'wanting to believe'... in Mulder... in the future... in a lot of things. With some effort she attempted to push herself up to a sitting position and immediately felt Mulder's strong hands, one under her back, the other slid along her side as he leaned over her, helping her to sit up. An awkward silence fell between them as his arms held her. The intimacy that they both tried so hard to hide from could not be ignored and held them there, caught in the gravitational pull of the other's touch. Mulder was the first to break free, mostly out of fear of the rejection he would surely have to face if he didn't get back to his nice safe distance away from her. As he began his retreat, he felt her grip his forearm, holding it in place and at the same time keeping him there beside her.

"I've been thinking about what you said Mulder." She began quietly, keeping her eyes averted as she spoke. "About my tatoo."

Mulder's expression showed those were not the words he expected to hear. But still hoping he was reading her correctly, he remained quite, determined not to do or say anything that would screw this up.

"You said I could get it fixed. That with a little effort it would be the same as before, but I don't... I mean, I'm not sure that's what I want..."

"but the circles broken..."

"Maybe it's time that the circle was broken... "He felt her grip loosen on his forearm and for a moment he thought perhaps he had read her wrong, "maybe it's time to redraw that line and make a new path."

Mulder felt his body involuntarily tense, silently hoping she didn't notice. For all his talk about not hiding her fear from him, at that moment all he could do was try and suppress his rising panic that the new path she spoke of wasn't a path without him.

"You told me once that we all draw our own lines. We purposefully drew this line between us... to protect ourselves from the outside world... to protect ourselves from each other. But lately that line seems to blur with every word... every tear... with every touch and I keep losing site of it." She sounded lost as her eyes came up, looking deep into his... looking for answers... answers only he could give her. "That night... that night at your apartment when I came to you and told you I was leaving... What line would we have crossed if you had kissed me? Did I cross the line by wanting you to?" he felt her finger tips slide up his arm, finding there final resting place on his cheek. A sudden rush of blood, heading in every direction but his brain, raced through him. He wanted to say something, but had momentarily forgotten how to breath.

"Mulder, you're shaking..." she spoke softly, her fingers lightly tracing the curve of his ear. "Are you afraid I'll continue or afraid I'll stop?"

In a strangled effort to speak he only managed to whisper the word, "Both..." as his mouth found hers.

He could feel her soft lips beneath his as any conscious thought he may have still held on to left him ...He was lost to the moment... he was lost to her. Unable to stop himself, he deepened the kiss, moving his hand into her hair, pulling her closer and feeling her mouth open to his. Five years of waiting... five years of wanting... it was a choice, it was an inevitability... it was whatever they would allow it to be...

But the moment ended as abruptly as it had began and she broke from him, breathing heavily, a startled look filling her eyes.

"Bee sting?" he asked confused, still not quite sure what just happened.

"Phone." Her head turned out towards the tree line and Mulder followed her gaze. Then he heard it, his cellular phone was ringing somewhere in the darkness.

His dilemma was more than evident as Mulder's head turned quickly to Scully face, then back to the darkened forest. With one brief glance back at the woman beside him, he did what he had to, jumping to his feet and running towards the ringing sound that held their best chance at rescue.

Stopping abruptly he waited for the next ring to direct his movement. As the shrill sound filled the darkness he ran towards it, but after only a few steps his shin caught the edge of a fallen log and he became airborne. Landing face down, he slid about three feet before coming to a stop in the muddy underbrush with something wedged under his shoulder. He didn't even have time to try and figure out what the uncomfortable object was before it put out a muffled ring. Rolling onto his back, he grabbed the phone in one fluid motion, putting it to his ear and speaking in a slightly out of breath voice into the receiver, "Mulder."


Three hours, a trip to the hospital and a very angry car rental agent later Mulder stood under a hot, if not powerful, stream of water, feeling like the whole night had just been some elaborate dream, all but a small portion of that dream being nightmare. Stepping out of the shower he caught a glimpse of himself in the full length mirror, the reflection before him giving him a startling reassurance that the events that had lead him to this little motel had been all too real. With the exception of having his ear still being in one piece, he looked like he had gone five rounds with Mike Tyson.

After putting on a pair of jeans and a shirt, he looked down at his battered luggage, considering the fact as bad as his bag looked, at least it had survived the car wreck. Scully's luggage had not been so lucky. Reaching into his bag he pulled out his last t-shirt and a pair of shorts, before making his way to the connecting door that separated their rooms.

He knocked lightly, but there was no immediate response. "Scully?" he asked, at first calmly, but the longer she remained quiet the more determined he became, "Scully... Scully are you alright?" The door shook under his hand, as each blow against her door became forceful. "Dammit Scully... talk to me."

"Don't..." The door swung open, to reveal her standing in front of him, her hair wet, her feet bare and the sheet she had tightly wrapped around her, obviously her only clothing. "Don't break down the door Mulder, I'm fine."

"You didn't answer," he replied sheepishly, trying in vain not to notice how the sheet she wore clung to her.

"I was in the shower... and I didn't exactly have a robe handy to throw on."

"I don't want you to think that a bed sheet isn't a good look for you Scully, but I figured you might need these." He handed her the shirt and shorts that he held, "and I wouldn't have broken down the door."

"Yeah, right..." She eyed the articles of clothing he gave her, then looked up at him, her patented skeptical look in place.

"They're clean" He answered her unasked question.

Stepping into her room, his eyes fell on her wet cloths hanging over a chair in the corner and to the few toiletries that he had picked up for her while she was being stitched up at the hospital, before he hesitantly looked back at her, "So do we talk about what happened between us out in those woods?"

"Oh no Mulder..." She began, her hand unconsciously gripping the sheet a little tighter. " I'm just way to naked to have this discussion."

I devilish smile broke across his face, "Not the discussion I was thinking of." He took a step towards her only to have the sound of the phone ringing in his room stop him in mid stride. Dropping his head and exhaling deeply he noted, "I've got to get an unlisted number."

Reluctantly Mulder went in to his room to answer the phone, talking in hushed tones. Hanging up, he returned to her room, seeing that she had changed into his shirt and shorts.

"Was it Skinner?" she asked, not able to read his expression.

"Yeah... but he wasn't calling about the case."

"Then what?"

"It's Diana, she came out of the coma ... we have to go back to DC."

"Mulder, I'm glad she's feeling better and all, but in case it's slipped your mind I had kind of a rough night. The only place I 'have' to go, is to bed."

"But she's asking for us."

"Us?" she asked doubtfully.

"Well... Me."

"Right."

"I... I should go, I mean... I should be there."

"Of course."

"She's alone and..."

"Mulder..." She cut him off, " I'm not fighting you."

His response was to look down at his feet.

"What?" She shook her head, trying to keep her tone even," Are you waiting for me to tell you to go? Is that it?"

He lifted his head slowly, his eyes finally meeting hers, but still said nothing. She could ask him to stay, she knew that, and part of her even wanted to. But somewhere deep inside she could feel a nagging insecurity... An insecurity that seemed to escalate when this woman entered their lives. A fear that he would still leave her and even if her conscience would have let her ask, that fear wouldn't.

"Fine... go. You have my blessing, or whatever the hell it is your looking for."

It was a lie. It was a gift. But even knowing both, Mulder took it, giving her a small smile in return.

She smiled back, but he couldn't help but notice it seemed forced.

"I will be back."

"Just don't take anymore short cuts." She smiled, this time it was genuine and he felt something pass between them, a quite intimacy that held him there and made leaving her feel like he was being torn in half.

"Scully what happened with us out in those woods..." He began, unable to keep himself from leaving it alone.

"It was what it was Mulder." He couldn't tell if it was anger or sadness laced through her words.

"And what was it to you Scully?"

"Mulder, we have both spent the last couple months unable to free ourselves from thoughts of 'what if...", ever since that night outside your apartment..."

"What was it to you Scully? He asked again, pushing her for a straight answer.

"Closure." She responded in a whisper, not quite able to look at him, knowing she would loose what little bit of resolve she still had left. When she finally did lift her head, he was gone.

 


 

Scully woke to a loud knock on her motel door. With a groan, she pulled her self out of bed and headed for the door. Opening it and blinking against the bright sunshine, she found Detective Kresge holding a duffle bag and smiling at her.

"Morning." She mumbled, still squinting into the light.

"Actually, it's afternoon," He corrected, taking off his sunglasses and looking at her outfit. He suddenly seemed uncomfortable, "Am I... I mean if I'm intruding, I could come back..."

Scully saw his smile fade and followed his eyes to the rumpled clothes she wore, "No... " she began, suddenly understanding his discomfort. "Your definitely not intruding. Mulder loaned me these after the unfortunate demise of my luggage." She watched his smile return and motioned for him to come inside.

"Well, speaking of your luggage I have some good new and some bad news. They pried open the trunk of your rental car and there wasn't too much left to salvage, but you might at least have your own pj's to sleep in tonight." He handed her the duffle bag.

"How are you feeling?" he asked changing the subject.

"I'm a little sore, but I'll live."

"You and Mulder up to chasing down some leads with me?"

"Mulder's gone."

"Gone? Gone where?"

"Back to DC. He had to see someone... a sick friend." She ran a hand through her hair, before adding. "So I guess it'll just be you and me."

He gave her a smile, "Just like old times."


"You don't belong here." The words came from behind him, but felt like they had been read from his own thoughts. Turning he saw a young nurse in the doorway.

"What?" he asked, confused.

"Visiting hours ended 20 minutes ago. You'll have to leave." She explained.

Mulder didn't respond as he looked back at Diana's sleeping form.

"Well, I suppose I could make an exception." She added.

"I thought you said I didn't belong here?"

"You don't. But you also don't look like you know where you belong." Not waiting for a response she closed the door, leaving him to consider her words.

He quietly crossed the room and picked up his coat, pulling the cell phone from the pocket. Moving to the window he watched as a plane silently crossed the sky before disappearing into the clouds. With a quick glance back to the woman sleeping soundly across the room he whispered to himself, "I do know where I belong... where I've always belonged."

Without a second though he called the airline, booking the next flight out.


After a trip to the local women's clothing store, Scully and Kresge spent the rest of the day chasing down leads, most of which lead to seedy little bars in neighboring towns and all of which held no real help in solving the death of Jack Kinney.

It was just starting to get dark as Kresge pulled up in front of the police station, killing the motor and letting out a deep sigh.

Seeing his frustrated expression she asked, "Not exactly the best way to spend a Saturday, huh?"

He looked over at her for a moment, an idea clearly forming in his head, before turning back and starting up the police car again.

"What are we doing?" she asked him, curiously.

"Research."

They had picked out a couple of good seats in the barely half full theater and Scully relaxed, leaning back and waiting for Kresge to return from the snack bar. She couldn't help consider the irony that being out at a movie on a Saturday night would feel so foreign to her, but it did. Just as the house lights began to dim Kresge returned with a jumbo tub of popcorn. Scully let out a quiet laugh at the amount of pop corn he had bought and grabbed a handful.

"I'm not sure this really counts as research."

"It's Saturday night, Agent Scully... go with it."

The smile she still wore faded as she returned her eyes to the movie screen, which was now being blocked by a woman with really big hair who had chosen to sit right in front her. Now it was Kresge's turn to laugh, seeing her dilemma. Without a word he stood taking Scully's hand and they moved a couple rows up to sit in front of the big haired woman.

He had brought her to a horror movie... disabled man... eerie music ... psycho monkey. Not much plot, not that it mattered, it was serving it's purpose. The whole audience including her companion was suitably freaked out... everyone but her. It seemed all to familiar and although she knew she hadn't actually been on a case like this one, in her mind all she could see was Mulder trying to convince her that the monkey was the murderer. She could see him so clearly...

'How can you deny what's right in front of you Scully? The hair samples, the eye witnesses... the little monkey fingerprints? That primate had motive and opportunity... ', with his hands on his hips and a quick glance to the sky, adding 'then again it could have been aliens... '

Unable to prevent the laugh that had escaped her as she thought of her partner, she covered her mouth and heard the big haired woman shushing her from behind.


The woman sitting next to Mulder on the plane winced as she heard him curse yet again into the receiver of the air phone. He turned, giving her an apologetic smile before once again going off on the person on the other end of the line. He had been trying to find his partner since he left for the airport and was pretty sure he had talked to the entire population of the town at that point, with the exception of two... Kresge and Scully.

Giving up, he hung up the phone, silently trying to convince himself that she could take care of herself, at the same time desperately wishing he had never left her side.


As they walked along the quiet sidewalk Kresge looked over at the woman next to him, "Guess you didn't like the movie much, huh?"

"No... I mean... yes, it was fun. It's been a long time since I've been to the movies."

"Maybe, a horror movie just wasn't the best choice. I guess you get enough of that in every day life?"

"You have no idea."

"Maybe next time we could go to one of those romantic epics."

"Now there is something I don't get to much of in every day life." He smiled at her words, gently guiding her into a little bar and grill.

As they entered the man behind the bar waved, and nodded approvingly. Scully caught the little exchange and looked at her companion, who in turn gave a sheepish grin as he held out a chair for her to sit in.

"These people are under the impression I don't have a social life..." he whispered across the small table as he sat opposite her.

"Do you?" she asked, matching his hushed tone.

"No," He smiled, " but they don't need to know that."


After a futile trip to their motel rooms and another round of phone calls, Mulder pulled his rental car up in front of Mrs. Kinney's Cabin. He was questioning the two officers doing surveillance as he saw Mrs. Kinney come out to greet him.

"Have you got any new leads Agent Mulder?"

"Nothing new... I'm sorry. I was actually looking for my partner, was she out here today."

"No. As a matter of fact, with the exception of those two. "She pointed at the police car. "I haven't seen anyone all day. Human or otherwise."

Mulder nodded and was about to turn to get back in his car when he stopped, "Mrs Kinney, if I may ask, what do you think has been visiting you?"

"I know you think it's some kind of monster, but I don't think he is. I don't claim to know what he is, but believe me I know a dangerous man when I see one. Call it a gut feeling or a woman's intuition, but I just don't think he's out to hurt me."


Noticing she was two drinks ahead of Kresge and starting to feel a little light headed, she put down her glass.

"So who is she?" he asked her, as if there had been some cause to bring it up. "I am assuming it is a 'she' that Mulder has run off to see... am I right?" Scully didn't answer, but he could see by her expression he had been right. "Look, if it bothers you to talk about."

"I'm not bothered," she replied in an transparent lie. " I mean, how could he not go, right? She's ill and alone. And she is... well I don't know exactly what she is to him, or was to him, but.."

"But she's important enough to run off and leave you behind? You were in the hospital less that 24 hour ago." His voice held a edge of anger. "He's your partner.."

"And she's his past." Scully raised her eyebrows and finished off the small amount of liquid still left in her glass. "She wins."

"Dana..."

Startled by the sound of her first name, the empty glass she held slipped from her fingers, landing hard on the table.

"I'm sorry." He began as he reached for the glass, which thankfully had remained intact, and tipped it upright again. "But you know it is Saturday night? Dinner, a movie...in some cultures this would be considered a date. I really think it would be ok for us to use our first names." He smiled at her good naturedly, trying to elevate her embarrassment.

"No, I'm sorry. It's just... well I guess with the exception of my family I just don't hear my first name used that often. It's always Agent Scully... just Sully, or ..."

"Scully, FBI?"

She smiled at him, "Yeah... Scully, FBI."

He pointed to himself, "John."

"I know... "She laughed, "Sorry to have this be the first sentence I use your first name in, but John I've had a long day and a little too much to drink... I think it's time for us to call it a night.


After looking at the clock for the tenth time since he got back to the motel Mulder resumed pacing. It was late, too late for her not to be back yet and it was making him crazy. He was about to pick up the phone and call the hospital again when he heard a noise coming from her room.

Rushing through the open door that joined their rooms he stopped dead, seeing Kresge helping her off with her coat. The sudden appearance of Mulder caused Scully to turn before she had completely navigated her way out of her jacket. Still shrugging to get her arms out of the jacket she wore, she stammered. "Mulder... What are you... when did you.."

Mulder still hadn't said a word as he stood in the doorway staring at the woman he had spent all day chasing and the man who had been the one to bring her home.

Deciding it would be in his best interest to get out of there before Mulder did start talking, Kresge turned to Scully, "I'm just going to..." He made a motion to the door.

She nodded, touching his hand lightly, "Thank you for tonight, John."

As the door clicked shut behind him, Scully threw the jacket she had finally freed herself from across the bed and looked at her partner.

"John?" he asked, his voice betraying his anger.

Ignoring his line of questioning she sat down on the bed, pulling off her shoes before asking, "Is she ok?"

"She will be," he answered cooly.

"You didn't have to come back." She told him, trying her best to sound like she actually meant it. "You could have stayed with her."

"No I couldn't," he replied softly, giving her no more explanation as he turned, heading back into his room and slamming the door behind him.


Mulder's lungs felt like they would explode as he stumbled, falling onto the soft ground, before pushing himself back onto his bent knees and trying to catch his breath. He didn't know how far he had run, not that he cared, his objective hadn't been exercise... more like an exorcisms. The task he had set for himself was to run 'till he dropped... 'till he stopped thinking, 'till his head was clear of her. He had spent yet another day in his life terrified of losing her, only to find out she didn't need him. The truth was he didn't want to think any more.

Arriving back at his motel room Mulder took a quick shower, before pulling on a pair of light sweat pants and began searching for a t-shirt. He considered going to check on her, as his eyes fell on the connecting door between there rooms, but thought better of it. He had just spent the last hour trying to not think about his partner and going in there, seeing her getting ready for bed... or in bed. He shook his head ridding himself on the track his mind was trying to take with out his permission and decided that the best thing he could do for himself was find a t-shirt and go to sleep. Tomorrow they could focus on the case and would make a fresh start. Seeing a t-shirt on the bed he grabbed it, pulling it over his head. But he knew instantly the mistake he had made. With the darkness of cotton material still covering his head, he felt as though he was being engulfed in her sent. It was the shirt she had worn, the one he had given her to sleep in... the one that still smelled of her. As his head moved through the v-neck opening, into the light of the room his mind whirled with thoughts of the woman he had been trying so hard to forget.

Cursing himself under his breath he pulled the shirt off, throwing it across the room as hard as he could and dropping on to his back, beginning to do as many sit ups as his body would allow.

In his peripheral vision he could see the adjoining door open and his partner slowly enter. She looked very much like she had the night before, wet hair, bare feet... only this time she wore flannel pajamas instead of a sheet.

Sitting on the edge of his bed she looked down, watching him as his head and torso rose and fell with each sit up. He had barely spoken a word to her since he got back from DC and had made no effort to disguise his anger at her.

In a soft voice she asked, "Are we going to talk about this?"

Stopping in mid sit up, he looked at her for a long moment, as if weighing his options, but without a word he looked away, returning to his exercise.

She didn't question this impromptu exercise session, she had spent enough nights running to exhaustion to escape her own thoughts of him, to know what he was trying to accomplish. She also knew it never worked.

Mulder's abdomen was burning with ever contraction of his muscles, but he had no intention of stopping and having to be the one to break the silence that hung between them.

As his head continually rose into and fell from her view, she would open her mouth to speak, only to have him disappear again before she could find the words. Frustrated and a little nauseous she said, "Mulder please..." sticking out her foot as his chest came up to meet it, stopping him. "Your making me seasick."

As he returned to laying on his back, the side of her foot slid down the slick line of his chest, coming to rest on his stomach. The feel of heat coming from his abdomen quickly rising and falling under her bare foot caused her to momentarily forget why she had come in to see him.

Before she regained her composure enough to pull her foot away from him, he let his hand fall across his torso tracing a lazy path across his chest, the same path she had just taken. Reaching his belly, his large hand connected with her bare skin, covering her foot and holding it firmly against his body. Lifting his eyes, he watched her, seeing her cheeks flush slightly.

"Big night on the town with Kresge?" he asked, finally speaking.

"Just dinner and a movie," she told him.

"Sounds like a date."He noted, as his palm slid across the top of her foot and let his fingers absently play with edges of the flannel pajamas she wore. "Any new tattoos I should know about, Agent Scully?"

"You're the one..." She felt her breath catch slightly, feeling the heat of his finger tip circling her ankle lightly. "You're the one who ran away this time Mulder, not me."

"Scully, she is.."

"I know what she is, Mulder. God know I've been by your side long enough to know what drives you. I learned along time ago to not try and get between you and you past, it's a losing battle."

"You're not in competition..."

"Mulder, I've been in competition since day one with your past, your sister... your quest. It's just how it is between us... how it's always been between us. You're my partner... you're my best friend, but I know well enough that I can never have you as anything more... not without having to share you."

Mulder sat up letting her foot fall gently to the floor and looking up into her eyes. "Scully I kissed you... you kissed me... doesn't that qualify as more than partners and friends."

"Yeah, well you do have your moments..." She dropped her gaze, with an embarrassed smile."And on those rare occasions when I do get your full attention it's pretty easy to lose site of that line."

"Well, you certainly got my full attention tonight, Scully. I'm not used to not being able to find you in bed by 10 p.m. on a Saturday night."

"Who says I wasn't?" She raised her eye brows and smiled at the startled look on his face.

He continued eyeing her suspiciously as he stood and moved to sit next to her on the bed.

"You know while you were out on your big date with 'John'," Mulder began, emphasizing Kresge's first name dramatically, before continuing. "I went out to the cabin and had a talk with Mrs. Kinney about her nightly visitor."

Glad he was at least talking, she let him change the subject.

"What did she have to say?"

"She doesn't think he means her any harm... and I think I have to agree."

"Mulder..." she began, rubbing her tired eyes.

"You want to hear my theory Scully?"

Letting her fingers drag down her face, she slowly looked over to him. "Do I have a choice?" she asked, suddenly missing the silence.

"I think he wants her for a mate."

"Excuse me," she asked, sure she had just heard him wrong.

"Mrs. Kinney. I think he sees her as a potential mate," he repeated.

"Excuse me!"

"Think about it Scully, visiting her in the middle of the night...all the gifts he's brought her."

She was staring at him as if he had just sprouted a second head, "You're saying that the man-beast is wooing Mrs. Kinney with gifts of possum?"

"Well when you say it like that..."

"How else would I say it?" she asked.

"What do we know for sure, Scully? One, our suspect is a 'he'. You will give me that won't you?"

She smiled, "Ok... Yeah, I'll give you that one."

"Two, he has been watching her, giving her gifts..."

"...of possum." she finished.

"It could be significant part of a mating ritual." Mulder informed her.

"Possum?"

"What, you never had a guy bring you candy? A possum by any other name, Scully... I think the gifts, whatever they might be, are his way of showing affection for this woman. He knows she is alone now... he's taken over the role as the provider."

This is not 'Beauty and the Beast' Mulder, he's not some poor tortured prince trapped in a big furry body. It's very likely that he killed her husband..."

"Yes, a husband that beat her on a regular basis, that sent her running out into those woods countless times to escape his torture. I think he saw what her husband was doing and I think he protected her. You saw that body Scully, rage over someone hurting the woman you love would go along way toward explaining how and or why someone would do that." Mulder went silent for a moment considering how many times he would have done the same thing, if he had been physically able.

"But we are not talking about a human." She countered.

"Your ranking on the evolutionary ladder doesn't exclude you from emotions. All you have to do is watch an episode of Jerry Springer to see that. Quite frankly, I think the man-beast would be a better catch than some of the guys I've seen on that show."

She remained silent, unable to argue with that line of reasoning.

"I think for whatever reason he's alone and he's leaving the safety of the woods because of her... to be near her.

"Why would he risk coming out of the woods like that... leaving the safety of his home for some unattainable quest?"

"Love doesn't ask why..."

"It's a fairy tale, Mulder... love conquers all and they all live happily ever after. We are not talking about a couple with a few differences that they have to overcome. I mean we are talking opposite ends of the spectrum, here."

"So because a couple is different there is no chance for a happy ending?"

She was about to seriously question Mulder's state of mental health when it dawned on her that he was no longer talking about Mrs. Kenny and her secret admirer. Somewhere along the line this conversation had once again become about the two of them.

"Why would he..." She paused, not sure if she wanted to finish her question. But Mulder's eyes found hers and silently asked her to continue. "Why would he choose someone so different from himself? Is it because he's cut off from the rest of the world... is it because he's alone?"

"Perhaps he's alone by choice."

"And maybe he's not... Maybe there was someone else out there, someone like him, but maybe his beast woman mate ran off and left him... if she came back..."

"It wouldn't matter," he replied, cutting her off.

"But would it be easier?"

"Probably," he answered honestly.

"Then why? Why work for everything when he didn't have to?"

"You said it yourself Scully, because God has a strange sense of humor. I think that maybe this woman was just dropped into his life one day out of the blue. He was minding his own business... living his so called life and looked up to see that she was looking back at him. She spent all of her time second guessing his crazy theories about... 'possums' and he spent all his time trying to convince her that he was right. Opposite to him in every conceivable way and no one he would have ever thought to choose, but somehow it didn't matter, and one day he woke up and realized somewhere along the line he'd forgotten how to live his life without her."

"You think?" she asked quietly.

"Well...It's just a theory," he replied with a lopsided grin.

Standing, Scully moved toward the open door to her room, then stopped to turn back to him, "you know Mulder as far as your theories go... I kind of like that one."

As he watched her door close, he stood then walked across the small motel room, picking up the shirt he had thrown in the corner. Pulling it on, he lifted the front of the shirt to his nose, inhaling deeply and letting thoughts of her fill his mind as he turned out the light and crawled into bed.


Climbing over a fallen log, Scully looked back to see her partner right behind her. " Mulder, we really shouldn't have let her go off like that."

"It's not like we could stop her, besides I told you I don't think Mrs. Kinney's in any danger from this thing. At least she let us come out here with her, so if something goes wrong we will be able to protect her." As he spoke he, pulled out his gun, emphasizing his point.

She watched him re-holster his gun and noticed how close to the edge of a drop-off he was, "Mulder you get any closer to that edge and you're not going to be able to help anyone."

He turned, actually getting closer to the edge and looking down at the creek running along the bottom of the hundred foot drop.

"Mulder.." she warned.

"Lighten up Scully, it's not like the ground is just going to give... wayyyyyy." As he spoke the ground crumbled under his weight. He fell, striking the back of his head against a rock before disappearing from Scully's view.

"God! Mulder!" She practically dove to the edge of the overhang, expecting the worst.

His body had landed hard against a small ledge jutting out from the rock face a few feet below her. One of his hands firmly held onto the rock wall as he tried to lift his head up to see her.

"Mulder... give me your hand," she told him as she reached over the edge, her arms just long enough to touch his fingers as he reached a hand up to her. "I need you to reach up a little farther. Please Mulder, just a little more." She was pleading as he raised his glazed eyes to meet hers, but before he could give her what she asked for, the small ledge began to give way. He instinctively brought his hand back down, grabbing for a hand hold. She heard him groan, fighting the pain in his head as well as his hands. He looked back up to see he had fallen even farther away from her. She still had her arm extended as far as she could without falling over the edge herself, but she couldn't reach him. "Scully..." he rasped.

"I'll get help..." He could see the tears welling in her eyes, knowing it was too late, that no help could come in time. "Oh god Mulder please... please just hang on." She whispered, pushing herself back from the edge and disappearing from his blurred vision.

Closing his eyes, he fought to stay conscious, but it was a losing battle and as he opened his eyes again he hoped with everything in him that she would be there... that if this was the end, that she would be the last thing he saw in this life. But she wasn't there. He managed to whisper her name as his head rolled backward, seeing a dark shadow crossing over him as his eyes fluttered shut and his fingers began to slip away from the rock.

Scully was in full panic as she ran back to the drop off, a large branch in her hand and Mrs. Kinney right behind her. What she found at the edge of the cliff was the last thing she expected and everything she had prayed for. Mulder lay on his side a several feet away from the edge of the cliff, unconscious and bleeding... but alive. Dropping beside him she rolled him back holding him in her arms and softly repeating his name, hoping for a response as she made sure he was really ok. His shirt was ripped at the shoulder and Scully pushed back the material to expose his bicep and the bruise forming around it.

"What caused that?" Mrs. Kinney asked as she crouched down beside Scully.

"It's a thumb print." Scully answered in amazement as she ran her finger lightly over part of the markings... the same mark that had been left on Jack Kinney.

"What does it mean?"

"It means we found our proof."

As two women struggled to help Mulder to his feet to make their way back to the cabin, Mrs. Kinney felt a familiar presence somewhere behind her. Turning her head slowly, she saw the large figure standing motionless in the distance. He was far enough away to be safe... but close enough to be seen. Opening her mouth to tell Scully, she saw him step back as if afraid of her actions and with a quick look to Mulder , she remained silent.


"Is he going to be alright agent Scully?"

"He's going to have one hell of a headache, but yeah, he'll be fine. "Scully told the woman as she replaced the cold rag below her sleeping partners head and pulled the covers up closer to his chin, before standing and moving into the other room.

"What are you doing?" Scully asked, seeing suitcases waiting at the cabin door and Mrs, Kinney filling a box with odds and ends.

"I'm doing what I should have done along time ago, I'm getting out of here."

"If your leaving because of whatever it is out there, we can protect you." Scully offered.

"Who will protect him?" the woman asked, looking up from her packing. "If you tell the police they will hunt him down and kill him. I don't care 'what' he is... man, animal, hell he could be the missing link for all I care, but all I know is he is one of the few people that have ever shown me the least little bit of kindness. He came out into the open because of me, if I leave, maybe he will go deeper into the woods... maybe he'll be safe."

"We have proof that he killed your husband," Scully told the woman.

"That night in the woods... There is no doubt in my mind my husband would have killed me. Whatever that is out there, he not only saved my life that night, but by doing so he gave my life back to me and gave me a chance to start living it again. If my leaving will give him a chance to survive, then I'll go... I owe him that much. "She looked down at Mulder, "Tonight he saved your partners life as well. Tell me, Agent Scully, what do you owe him?"

Scully stood on the back porch of Mrs. Kinney's cabin and closed her eyes at the endless, pitiful howling that echoed in the distance. She gave a sideways glance to Mulder as he joined her at the railing.

"How do you feel?" she asked softly.

"I'm not sure what hurt worse my head or my shoulder," he replied with a tired smile.

"Your lucky you can feel anything."

"Yes, but who do I thank?" As if in answer his question another series of howls filled the air.

"It began as soon as she left," Scully told him, looking out at the tree line. " As if he knew she would never return."

"I think he does know... he knows he's alone now."

"Mulder.. " She began, keeping her eyes forward. "If I ask you to walk away from this, would you?" He looked over at her, surprised at her question. " The truth is I think that the only monster in this case was dead before we even arrived. What ever he is, he belongs out there and I don't think it's our place to hunt him down."

"So the beast gets to live, but he has to do it alone," Mulder observed " Not exactly a fairy tale ending is it?"

"Not everyone gets a chance at happily ever after, Mulder. I guess some lines just aren't meant to be crossed."

"But where was the line for him Scully?" Mulder looked out into the darkened trees, listening to the desolate cry being carried along the wind. "His line was never about an act. It's was never a choice to be made. Never having really touched her... never having her return his feelings, it didn't save him from the pain of losing her."

Scully listened to his words, considering the loss she almost had to face earlier that night and knew he was right, it wasn't about an act... it was about much more than that and the simple truth was, they had crossed that line a long time ago. "


Scully stood outside the police station saying her good byes to Kresge and waiting for her partner to return.

Holding out her hand Kresge took it, but instead of the hand shake she expected he just held it softly, telling her "Just remember if you ever decide you'd like a nice boring life, there will always a job opening for you here."

"I'll keep it mind." She told him with a smile.

"You do that..." Looking up, Kresge saw Mulder coming out of a toy store down the street from them and let her hand slip out of his. "Well I'd better let you go. Give Mulder my best, Ok?"

"I will." She nodded, seeing him begin to turn and adding, "Goodbye 'John'." He gave her a small smile as he left her there, making his way back into the police station.

Climbing into the passenger side if the rental car, Scully looked over to her partner adjusting the seat while balancing a large paper sack on his lap that read 'Dalton Toys'.

"Ok, I 'll bite. What's in the sack, Mulder?" she asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.

"It's a... well, it's just a little token of my affection Scully." He told her as he handed her the bag. "I saw it in the window and thought of you."

She stared at him for a moment, genuinely touched. Reaching into the bag, her fingers grabbed what was with out a doubt some sort of stuffed toy. Freeing it from the paper, a smile broke across her face, "Gifts of possum..." she began with a laugh, holding the large stuffed possum to get a better look at the furry toy. "Are you trying to woo me, Agent Mulder?"

Pulling the car out in to traffic, he looked over at her, giving her a quick smile before returning his attention to the road and saying, "Everyone deserves a shot at happily ever after, Scully... I'm just working on mine."

The End


 

I want to thank Amy for all the help and keeping me inspired to finish.
And to Mr. E, who loves me enough to read through the shippy stuff.


The Title came from some lyrics in "She Gone" By Diamond Rio

You made hope of hopeless,
You made crazy sane,
You've become the missing link,
that's helped me break these chains.

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