Title:      Barely Breathing
Author:     Lynn Gregg
Date:       6/11/97
Rating:     PG-13 for language and "adult situations" (whatever those are)
Code:       VRA
Keywords:   Mulder/Scully romance
Summary:    An angry Scully is confronted with the penultimate MulderDitch...
            or is she?
Spoilers:   Gethsemane, sort of
Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully belong to Chris Carter, Fox and 1013 Productions
            although they seem to have taken up permanent residence somewhere
            in my twisted psyche. I haven't yet figured out how to charge 
            fictional characters rent, but at least I can make them work for
            their keep. The song quoted herein is "Who Knows," written by Justin
            Hayward and used without his permission. I don't own him either.

Notes:      This is my take on how the Blessed One might have reacted to the
            apparent demise of her cute but oh-so-slappable partner. Anyone
            disturbed by KickAss!Scully and lots of swearing and breaking
            things might ought to bow out now. I personally don't think we
            get to see enough of that side of her. I mean, vulnerability is
            fine in small doses, but righteous wrath definitely has its

"'Cause I am barely breathing
and I can't find the air
don't know who I'm kidding
imagining you cared
And I could stand here waiting
a fool for another day
I don't suppose it's worth the price
the price that I would pay
But I'm thinking it over anyway..."
("Barely Breathing," Duncan Sheik)

Fox Mulder's apartment
2:00 am


     A videotape labelled "Double-D Delights" bounced off the wall, plastic
case cracking open, serpentine loop of tape spilling out. It was joined in
quick succession by half a dozen others, the black corpses piling up on the
cluttered floor. (God damn it!)

     The enigmatic Dr Dana Scully, Special Agent with the FBI and normally 
not disposed to such outbursts, stood in the center of the room, hands 
fisted at her sides, breath coming in shallow gasps, casting about
frantically for something else to break. (Damn it, and damn him!)

     Nothing. There was nothing at all. No clue, no reason, nothing to even
hint at why her partner had elected to kill himself. The very instant the 
police tape came down and the investigation into Fox Mulder's death was
closed, Scully had raced over to the apartment and torn the place apart,
desperate to find *something*--anything at all. He wouldn't just...go, not
without leaving something behind, a note, a tape, a message. An answer. 
After four years together, he wouldn't just leave her with nothing.

     But he had. (Oh, and not for the first time, either. Face it; he's
*always* done this, run off without a word, leaving me to wonder and worry.
Only this time he won't be coming back. What the Hell was I expecting? Some
consideration, at this late date? He'd already signed my death warrant. 
What else was there left to say?)

     Beautiful. What a fine fat fucking mess this--her career, her 
partnership, her *life*--had turned out to be. And it could all be laid at
the feet of Special Agent Fox Fucking Mulder--well, no it couldn't, not
anymore, he was six feet under and well out of it all. Gone far beyond the
reach of all the nightmares come true and where was *she*? Left behind as
usual, holding the mother of all bags and listening, alone, to the steady
ticking of the deathwatch within her.

     (Alone. But then, I've been alone all along, haven't I? He never gave
a damn about me, never gave a damn about anything but himself and the 
windmills he'd devoted his life to tilting with. I've never been anything 
but a pawn, a means to an end, for him and for the Consortium and who knows
who else. I don't matter. I never did, not to any of them.)


     Mulder's television set made a particularly satisfying sound when she
heaved it off its stand and onto the floor; nothing better than a picture
tube when you wanted a good explosion. Picking her way delicately as a cat
through the glittering shards of glass, Scully hoisted the VCR from its
place and flung it as hard as she could against the far wall. Fitting, that
its remains should come to rest upon the fallen bodies of the disgusting
crap he'd run through it so many times over the years. (What a loser), she
thought to herself, sneering at an empty tape box portraying an improbably-
proportioned woman twisted into a position she would've thought in defiance
of most natural laws, including that of gravity. (Eddie Van Blundht was
right. He was a fucking perverted loser freak and no sane woman would've 
given him so much as the time of day, let alone anything else. No wonder he
had about forty million dollars worth of sicko tapes and stuff. Who'd have
him? Except for the occasional slut...or entomologist...Disgusting. I can't
believe I ever--GOD! WHAT was I thinking?! I actually thought--)

     ::CRASH! SPLASH!::

     She shoved the fishtank, home only to brackish water and sundry bacteria,
off its stand. The erstwhile contents dispersed in thin brown runnels, soaking
into the rug and pooling up in spots. Scully studied this phenomenon for a
moment, then started looking about for her next victim. Her eyes lit on the 
computer, and an evil smile bloomed upon her lips. She had the monitor in hand
and was just about to toss it when a voice from the doorway halted her.

     "Is this the way you honor your partner's memory?"

     Hastily plopping the monitor back onto the table, Scully whirled around,
bringing her backup weapon out and up in one smooth practiced motion. A blonde
woman stood in the archway between the hall and the living room, a small moue
of distaste wrinkling her lips. For the first time in her Bureau career, Dana
Scully nearly dropped her gun.

     "Who the Hell are you?" She demanded.

     The blonde gave her a cool appraising stare. "A friend," she replied, in 
a husky, melodramatic tone. That was all it took.

     (A friend, my ass! Goddammit, haven't I had enough already? Now I have to
deal with bereaved girlfriends or whatever the Hell this bimbo is. Oh, is this
typical or what? You give a man everything, up to and including your life, and 
what thanks do you get? A kick in the ass and the opportunity to watch as some
TART waltzes in and grabs all the glory--)

     Coherent thought fled. "Get the Hell out of here. I'm busy."

     "I can see that. But there's no time. Agent Scully--"

     "I said get OUT! Leave me alone! If you need some souvenir of your lover,
go ahead and grab whatever's left. He sure as Hell didn't leave anything behind
for *me*."

     And here she stopped, mortified and bewildered, and promptly burst into
tears. They were not, however, tears of weakness or self-pity; but rather the
liquid manifestation of the most incredible rage she had ever known. All she
could do was stand there and shake, incandescent in her fury.

     The blonde woman waited until the storm blew over. When it appeared
Scully had herself in hand once more, she spoke.

     "I'm here to help you. To finish what Agent Mulder started."

     "What do you mean? Quit talking in riddles and get to the point!"

     "He died for you, Agent Scully. He died so you could live."

     (WHAT is she babbling about? A messiah complex. She's insane. She--)

     "Agent Scully, are you listening to me? We haven't much time. There is a
car waiting for you, outside the building. You will be taken to a top secret
research facility where the treatments will begin immediately. You are to have
no contact with anyone, not even your family, until the course of treatment is
completed, at which time all will be made known to you."

     "All of what?"

     The blonde smiled, coldly. "All of what you need to know."

                               *     *     *

AD Walter Skinner's office
J. Edgar Hoover Building
One month later

     "I still don't understand, sir." Scully leaned back in her chair, lacing
her fingers together in her lap. Physically, she looked and felt better than
she had in years; but her mind, well, that was another story.

     Her superior peered at her from over the rims of his glasses. "It had to
be done, Scully. We simply couldn't take the chance of you letting anything
slip. If it's any consolation, Mulder was dead-set against leaving you in the
dark about our plans. You had to put on a convincing act; if you'd known it was
a clone you found that night, you might not have been able to fake the necessary
emotions before the committee. And their believing that Mulder was dead was
essential to getting the cure for you."

     "I suppose I should be grateful to you both. I am, of course--but I'm still
damned angry too. With all due respect, sir, I feel that you and Agent Mulder 
have both underestimated me from the start."

     "Perhaps that's so, Scully, and once again I do apologize to you for what 
you must have gone through. For what it's worth, we did the best we could in
what little time we had."

     "So what's next?"

     "That's up to you," Skinner said, and handed her a small packet. It was a
brown kraft envelope, the type of padded mailer used for cassette tapes. "Go home,"
he said, face inscrutable, "and think it over. You're dismissed."

     Dismissed, indeed. As always. Scully tucked the packet under her arm and
stalked out, the clacking of her heels echoing down the hallway. She tossed it
into the passenger seat of her car and peeled out, trying to ignore the little
package and the implications thereof. Less than a mile had rolled beneath her
wheels before curiosity overcame her; swerving over to the shoulder she ripped the
packet open and shook the contents into her lap.

     A cassette tape. Unlabeled, rewound to the beginning of side A. The envelope
yielded up nothing else. Studying the tape for a moment, she shrugged at last and
popped it into the cassette deck before putting the car back in gear and easing
back onto the road. The silence in the car was broken, for what seemed an eternity,
by only the hiss of the leader; and then, a song began:

     "Sometimes I find myself searching, as I walk the streets all alone
      Searching the faces for someone, someone to take me back home--

      Who knows where the future leads us, the waters are wide,
      the road is long--I pray
      for a hand to guide us, and welcome us back where we belong

      So many miles come between us, and fate seems to keep us apart
      Fortune once brought us together, is there still a place in your heart--

      Someday when my journey's over, I'll come tumbling back to you, my love
      I know when the circle's broken, I'll come stumbling back to you
      My love--

      But I long for the day
      I can call you and say
      I'm a step on the way
      Back to you

      Who knows what the morning brings us, the moment of truth,
      the power of love
      I know where the future leads me, it's leading me back to you
      My love."

     The tears were back, flowing freely again--but there was a smile there, too,
and one that did not bode well for the sender of the song.

     "Oh, Mulder," she murmured, imaginging the fun she would have. "Oh, Fox, your
ass is *mine*."

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