Notes: Thank you @icedteainthebag for spending immense amounts of time working this through with me and for being brilliant. @gazeatscully and @h0ldthiscat for the hugely helpful early stage beta’ing that helped get it to this point.
And to all of you who’ve been so supportive and amazing.
The strident echo of
Stella’s boot heels grew humbler come late afternoon as they clicked down the
damp concrete sidewalks of London’s shopping districts. All morning long,
she’d walked arm-in-arm with Scully in a mood seemingly unscathed by pain and
weather best described as a permanent cold sweat. But now Scully could
feel Stella’s arm growing heavy, leaning a little rather than leading, and
beneath the buttery leather of Stella’s off-day civilian jacket was a tightly
clamped fist, the humps of four bracing fingers visibly knuckling the black
calfskin. Scully asked if she needed another painkiller.
“One last stop,” was
Stella’s indirect answer.
“Are you sure because -”
And then Scully saw it.
Secretive and svelte, a door tucked trenchlike down four wrought-iron
steps–a place that looked as likely to sell James Bond his spygear as it did
his girlfriends their racy underwear. Scully had been watching Stella
fight to feel like herself all day, and one look at this shop said it was meant
to be the pièce de résistance in that carefully drawn battle plan.
“Nevermind,” she said.
The first time Stella ever
suggested they go shopping together, they’d just arrived in Chicago, one of
their early girls’ weekends when they’d managed to make their paths cross
amidst conferences and con artists (psychics, was Mulder’s word for them).
A wicked midwestern wind had whipped past as they stepped out of
the taxi and Stella promptly announced that she hadn’t packed appropriately.
A bit of a rash declaration for someone who’s just arrived, Scully had
thought, a bit like someone who, say, wanted to go shopping. In an effort
to act fast, she’d offered to sacrifice up her own warm coat.