a walking paradox these days, her body ripening with new life while her
face tightens with the pain of lingering hope. She stands aside to let
me through; her belly brushes against my hip as I take the groceries into
the kitchen and begin putting them away. I can feel her gaze as she watches
from the door.
I fold the grocery bags and tuck them in their appointed place on the floor of her pantry, ready for reuse, and turn to face her. She's started wearing your sweats lately, her waist finally large enough to keep them up. Her sock-clad feet under the neatly rolled pant legs don't make a sound as she crosses the distance between us.
"It wasn't him," she says, her tone so nearly casual; it isn't even a question anymore.
I clear my throat. "No," I say. "I'm sorry."
She drops her eyes, wrapping her arms around her abdomen. Her wrists have gotten so thin. I touch her shoulder gently, just letting my hand rest there. She trembles, and moves forward with a sigh.
We fit ourselves together, Scully turning slightly to press against me and rest her cheek against my chest. The practiced ease of it burns, guilt churning acid in my gut as I wrap her in my arms, rubbing her back and breathing into her hair.
She clings to me, her nails biting through my shirt, and lifts her face. "I need him," she whispers.
"It seems so long," she continues. "I know it hasn't been, really, less than six months is not so bad, some of them come back--" she cuts herself off, her face shockingly white under her bright tumble of hair.
"We'll find him," I say, my throat tight.
She reaches behind me, taking the back of my neck in a hard despairing grip. "I need--" and she stops, and pulls me down. There is no tenderness in her kiss. I feel the scrape of teeth, then taste blood and the sour tang of fear and urgency.
My body leaps towards her even as I try to shy away, shamed in my desire. When you were here I could forget about you, sometimes, but when I lost you it seems I gained you always at my back, watching. Under the pressure of your wounded gaze, I try to pull back, but she holds me easily with her clear dry haunted eyes.
"It's not your fault," she says, as though she could drive the belief into my soul with her voice.
I pretend to believe her.
She kisses me again, rubbing her body against mine. I can feel the hard swell of her abdomen, the sharp pull of her desperation, and I can't fight her. I'll never be able to fight her.
Her bedroom is achingly pristine, undisturbed as a page in a furniture catalog. She's been sleeping at your place a lot, lately.
I reach for the hem of your shirt, but she catches my wrist and moves it to her waist instead. I nod, wordless, and mouth one taut nipple through the fleece as my hands skim down her flanks, dragging too-large sweats and maternity panties down over the translucent skin. I am hardly aware of her pulling at my clothes, small greedy hands laying me bare as she always has, one way or another.
She said I didn't need a condom but I always use one anyway; I feel you watching as I take her, as I visit the places inside of her that belong forever to you, and I know I'm not allowed to leave anything behind.
In high school they taught us never to mix bleach and ammonia. The resulting gas, they said, would kill you.
I have to stay alive until you come back, Mulder. I'm not allowed to die.
She breathes in little sobbing gasps as I fill her, fast as we both know it has to be. We don't have the strength to be gentle anymore. I feel the end approaching, too quickly to prevent, and move a hand down to make sure she isn't left behind. I jerk as I fill the condom, and she comes with a sharp cry under the heel of my hand, tears streaming from under her tight-shut eyes.
I pull out and deal with the condom, then gather her up from where she lies huddled on the bed, looking impossibly more naked clad in only your shirt than she would if she had been entirely bare. She crumples against me, heaving with terrible hushed tears, and all I can do is rock her and murmur "I'm sorry" into her hair.
She quiets, eventually, falling into heavy sleep; she tires so quickly these days. I long to curl up beside her and listen to her breathe, but I can feel your eyes burning into my back, telling me that I don't have the right.
I get a warm, damp cloth from the bathroom and clean her, then tuck her into bed, putting a pillow between her knees the way she says makes her more comfortable. When I slip out of the apartment I triple-lock the door.
Driving at night has always calmed me, or it used to before you started riding in the passenger seat. It doesn't take long to get home; the traffic is light at this hour.
I lock my apartment door behind me but don't turn on the light; the glow of the computer monitor is enough to see by. There are a few messages, all the same- no news. I send another round of email, calling in more favors.
The phone rings.
"I have another little errand for you."
Sometimes I think I'd hate Krycek less if his voice wasn't so smooth. I grit my teeth and listen, jotting a few notes.
I'm not allowed to die.
he hangs up I let the phone drop from my fingers, watching out the window
for a too-distant dawn.