When the Ink Dries Part V
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.
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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.