Title: Barely Breathing III: No More Lies Author: Lynn Gregg Date: 6/23/97 Rating: PG-13 Code: VR Keywords: Mulder/Scully romance Summary: Reunited with Mulder after his apparent suicide, Scully lets her partner know exactly what's on her mind. Spoiler: Gethsemane, maybe Disclaimer: Last time I checked, Chris Carter still owned 'em, along with 1013 Productions and Fox. I promise to have them home before midnight. Notes: KickAss!Scully warning goes back into effect. For those of you who like those sorts of things, I present for your approval... Lyrics herein from "I Know You're Out There Somewhere," written by Justin Hayward, performed by the Moody Blues, borrowed by me to make a plot point.
********************************** Barely Breathing III: No More Lies by Lynn Gregg ********************************** Six weeks after Fox Mulder's apparent demise, and two weeks after she finished the course of treatments that saved her life, Dana Scully found yet another of the by-now-familiar brown envelopes in her mailbox. It was a dead-solid-gorgeous summer Saturday morning, a perfect day to be young and alive and on indefinite leave of absence; Scully paused for a moment on her doorstep, squinting into the brilliance of the cerulean sky, inhaling the fragrance of the roses run rampant in the yard next door to her building, listening to the songs of the season--the twitter of birds, the laughter of children, the rustle of breeze through branches. Never had she felt so alive; never had her world seemed so fraught with possibility. Amazing, what a near-death experience could do for one's outlook. Bringing in the newspaper and the mail, Scully padded barefoot into the kitchen and fixed herself a cup of coffee before settling down to sort through the pile. The brown envelope asserted itself immediately, sliding from between the power bill and a bank statement to capture her attention. The sight of her name in the bold familiar scrawl set her heart beating faster; opening it, she dumped out a cassette tape, an airline ticket folder, and a single sheet of hotel stationery, upon which was written a cryptic message: "Suite 224. I'll supply the sunblock." It was signed simply, "M". Bemused, Scully flicked on her stereo and popped in the tape. She was soon greeted by the familiar opening of a song she'd always liked, a song she liked even more this time around--in context, that was: "I know you're out there somewhere somewhere, somewhere-- I know I'll find you somehow and somehow, I'll return again to you The mist is lifting slowly, I can see the way ahead and I've left behind the empty streets that once inspired my life And the strength of the emotion is like thunder in the air 'cause the promise that we made each other haunts me to the end... The secret of your beauty, and the mystery of your soul I've been searching for in everyone I meet and the times I've been mistaken, it's impossible to say and the grass is growing underneath our feet... I know it's gonna happen--I can feel you getting near We seem to be returning to the fountain of our youth and if you wake up wondering, in the darkness of your day My arms will close around you and protect you with the truth I know you're out there somewhere somewhere, somewhere I know I'll find you somehow and somehow, I'll return again to you..." An enigmatic smile on her face, Scully opened the airline folder and inspected the ticket. The smile faded, to be replaced by a look of incredulity. "Son of a bitch," she whispered. "Vegas!" * * * Scully's resolve nearly fled her when the door to suite 224 opened. There stood Mulder, clad in faded jeans and a black t-shirt imprinted with the golden image of King Tut's death-mask; on either side of the door were life-size murals of the two guardian goddesses, Isis and Nephthys, wings protectively outstretched as if to embrace the wayward child between them. Her very-much-alive partner leaned against the doorframe, arms folded across his chest, regarding her with such an intense hazel gaze that Scully felt her whole body blush. Firmly reminding herself that it was her head in charge here, not her heart or her hormones, Scully steeled herself to meet his eyes. "Mulder." His eyes narrowed, the look becoming one of concerned scrutiny. "How are you, Scully?" "I'm fine--no, *really*. It--it's gone, Mulder. There's no trace of the tumor. It just...disappeared." They continued to stand there, one in and one out, staring at each other, until at last the silent intensity became too much for Scully to bear. "Are you going to invite me in, Mulder? Or did I fly all the way out here just to stand in the hallway?" "Oh, sorry." He stepped back, allowing her to pass, and shut the door behind her. "Scully...I...it's good to see you again." He flopped his arms, looking so uncertain of himself that she felt her heart, that treacherous organ, flip over. "It's good to see you, too," she said softly, taking a step closer. Wordlessly he opened his arms and with only the slightest hesitation she went to him, tucking her head beneath his chin, feeling the steady thump of his heart beneath her cheek. One of his hands rubbed her back as the other stroked her hair; she felt the soft brush of his lips against the top of her head. Comfortable. Too comfortable. Remembering, she pulled away gently, taking a step back from him. "Now," she said evenly, "we need to talk, Mulder. Actually, *I* need to talk and *you* need to listen." "Scully--I--" She held up a hand for silence. "No. It's my turn. What the HELL were you thinking?" "Huh?" He looked absolutely blank. "I want to know what the last four years have been about, Mulder. I thought they were about you, learning to trust me, but apparently that's not been the case. How could you pull a stunt like this?" He raised his hands in a gesture of mixed pleading and defense. "Scully, it wasn't my idea. I wanted to tell you! I was under direct order to keep you out of it, for fear you might let something slip." "And since when have you become so concerned with obeying orders? You defy the laws of the land *and* nature when it suits you to do so--why in this instance did you decide to go along with them?" "It had to be convincing, Scully. You had to be able to convince them that I was really dead. Had any acting training? There was concern that you wouldn't be able to pull it off, if you knew I was still alive. Scully--" A wheedling note crept into his voice, one that made her feel like smacking him. "Dana, I contacted you as soon as I was able." "Don't think you can defuse a situation like this just by sending me a cassette tape with a sappy song on it. A cheesy stunt like that might've impressed me in high school, but I'm a little older now!" "But I thought you liked the Moody Blues," he said, bewildered. Scully exploded. "Dammit, Mulder! This isn't *about* the Moody Fucking Blues! This is about you, having faith in me--and obviously, you don't! After all this time, you still don't really trust me or consider me your equal. I have put my career and my life on the line for you more times than I can count, and for what? To be patted on the head and sent off to play while you run with the big dogs? I thought you respected me more than that, Mulder, but I guess that was just wishful thinking. I went through the same training you did, you know. I am a field-trained and very capable agent of this Bureau, not a fragile, helpless little girl you need to protect!" "Scully, that's not fair. You know I never--" "Shut UP! I am so sick of your pathetic excuses and rationalizations and reasons for ditching me. It all comes down to you don't really believe I am capable of dealing with the rigors of FBI fieldwork--and it's only gotten worse since I got sick. What did you expect? That I'd lay around playing Camille and dying beautifully while you raced off to be the big hero? I don't want a hero, Mulder, I want a partner--someone who trusts me, who respects me, who treats me as an equal and not a wimpy sidekick in need of protection. God! If anybody around here needs protection, it's YOU, not me--you can't even keep a grip on your weapon, for God's sake!" Scully was on a roll. She stood in the center of the room, hands balled into fists at her sides, eyes blazing, hair tumbled around her flushed face. It occurred to her that stomping might provide a nice emphasis to her words, so she did that; and liked it so much she did it again. She considered screaming, but on second thought decided throwing something might be more satisfying--especially if she could bean Mulder in the process. A projectile... Ah! The TV remote was the closest thing to hand; she scooped it up and flung it, the pitch showing the years spent playing ball with her brothers. Her aim, as always, was dead-on accurate; the remote bonked Mulder in the forehead and bounced to the floor. "Ow," said Mulder, unimaginatively, and rubbed the offended spot. "You haven't even begun to comprehend 'ow', Fox Mulder," Scully hissed, advancing. He took a step back, holding up his arms in a warding-off gesture. "If you *ever* try anything like this again, you *will* die, and not by your own hand, either. I will make it my personal responsibility to usher you out of this lifetime in the most painful and lengthy manner possible. Now let's get the ground rules established. You will stop ditching me. You will respect my judgment. You will treat me as a partner and an equal--no less, no more. This is not just about you anymore, Mulder; I'm a part of this too now, just as much as you are. And either you will regard me as such, or I swear to you I will walk out this door, get on a plane back to DC, and request immediate reassignment. Do we understand each other?" "Scully," Mulder murmured mock-seductively, in a last-ditch effort to lighten the mood, "has anyone ever told you you're beautiful when you're angry?" She lowered her head and charged him, like a bull taunted by a red flag. Bracing himself for the impact, Mulder caught her around the waist, holding her off, which only served to increase her fury. Mulder snugged her in more tightly, pinioning her flying fists in between their two bodies, and held her thus until her inarticulate screams of rage dwindled away to hoarse gasps. It was only then that he realized she was crying, and he put her away from him slightly so that he could tilt up her chin and look into her reddened face. "You're absolutely right," he said softly, his face troubled. "I haven't given you enough credit. I--" "It's not *that*," Scully choked. "Mulder--I thought I'd really lost you. Do you have any idea how that made me feel?" "Kind of like I felt when they took you away from me three years ago." "I don't *ever* want to feel that way again." "If I have anything to say about it, you'll never have to," he promised her, and bound it with a kiss.
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