x files challenge

Tuesday.

A post-ep one shot for Monday, written beta-less for @txf-fic-chicks post-ep/missing scene challenge. This one is for Kristin. She knows why.

He grabs Scully’s elbow as soon as Skinner’s door edges shut, desperate to grasp her firm angles and so rewrite his last sensory memory of her, warm hand on his dying chest, with his living breathing partner. She looks at him like he’s insane. She’s looked at him like that a hundred times in the last hour as his always questionable testimony was distilled from a barely plausible chain of events to him saying over and over, “I just knew”. Scully can’t apply science to his gut, and Mulder wishes there was some way for him to tell her that he’s lived the same day 24 times and watched her die 24 times and that all he can think right now is that she’s alive, they both are, and please, please, never let him live that Monday again.

He’d slept like the dead last night, passed out on his couch under the weight of two dozen heartbreaks, and woken convinced another was on its way. His commute had been surreal, the newspaper headlines telling him Tuesday seeming just a cruel trick, until Scully had brought reality through the basement office door, red hair and rosy cheeks telling him that it really was over. He’d wanted to hug her then, to close the distance that Diana and a thousand almost arguments have opened between them but when Scully had met his gaze, he’d realised she didn’t remember; that all those Mondays, all those desperate goodbyes as Bernard’s hand had dropped finally, fatally to that killswitch, were his burden to bear. And so he’d told Skinner, with a nonchalance betrayed only by the clench of his hands in his lap as he relived that explosion over and over again, Scully flying boneless away from him in a marble framed inferno, that he “just knew”.

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fic; on the way down

for @leiascully‘s “resentment” challenge

standalone; heavy angst; trigger warnings related to mental illness, including PTSD, mentions of self-harm and suicidal ideation, allusions to addiction & paranoid psychosis; pre-revival; She leaves and of course it’s not for the reason he expected.

He thought he’d gotten all the pieces and that it would  all make sense when he put them together. She was going to leave him, and he’d finally be able to point to his fucked up puzzle and tell the world: this is why.

But she’d always gotten her thrills out of proving him wrong, still did after all these years. Because it wasn’t the months that passed since the last time he did the dishes or ate real food or left the house for anything but a deadend, worthless lead, or that it’d been maybe a year since he touched her – like, actually touched her – or his internet history, it wasn’t that, with the images… a little more rough than he liked it usually but the more you watched the more desensitized you got. Not the tears she held back when she demanded if that was what he wanted to do to her, what was in those videos. Not the tears she cried when he told her it’s been a long, long time since he’s wanted to do anything to her at all. 

And lo and behold it wasn’t the fucking aliens. He’d thought it a safe bet. Drowning in booze and conspiracy and badly edited alien autopsy videos on YouTube, he’d gone back to day one, right back around the time their lives started going to shit. It wasn’t the invasive questions or that night he shook her, put his hands on her shoulders and scared her out of her wits, yelled at her, that she better fucking tell him the truth about her abduction once and for all Scully once and for all.  The weeks he spent promising her he’d get to fixing the creaky floorboards on the porch, only for her to come home early to him cowering in his own vomit on the floor, surrounded by power tools and boxed nails and a tiny little flashlight. 

The three thousand dollar death knell – or so he’d thought, two flight tickets to Peru and excavation gear and cryptocurrency traded with some jackass kid heroin pusher on the deep web who said he had access to a crash site in the middle of the Sechura Desert. Her leaving the house for almost a whole month – only after he threatened divorce if she refused to go with him. It wasn’t that, although he’d been so certain. Another one of those great truths snatched from the battered palms of his hands when she returned to him and exposed him, yet again, to forgiveness so thorough and all-encompassing maybe he should’ve been irradiated off the planet, instead, set fire to like those abductees at Ruskin Dam. It might have hurt less.

That time he told her, completely seriously, he wished the world had ended. That he’d been looking forward to it. That it was the only way to make it stop. She couldn’t help herself, then; she begged him to not say such things, how could he when their son was walking this earth, growing, learning, safe and happy and decidedly not smited by aliens.

It wasn’t when he questioned if their son was even real.

It wasn’t. 

No showers, no sex, no medication (Prozac made him throw up, Abilify made him suffer, the combination of the two worked perfectly but only for four months). No hellos or goodbyes when she came back and left for the day. No exercise. No love for her, not really, not at his worst times when the empty house felt more like home without her and the sight of her face made him seriously consider harming himself. No bedsharing, except for when the nightmares got bad enough he’d talk himself into using her. No conversation, no banter, nothing said at all to indicate he even wanted her around. No end no end no end.

She hadn’t left, even then.

He’d hold it in his hand, the missing piece of his little puzzle, the thing that would finally push her over the edge and make her give up on him. The day he could put it all together would be the day he would start to breathe again. Stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. Stop feeling accountable to her, because she was the only one and when she was gone… he could be, too.

That was only a part of the time. The rest of him lived in such intense, blinding fear of her abandonment he wished to keep her there forever in their little house, where he could keep them safe and relatively sane and alone, so very alone, so that those other forces – those people, all those people who’d gleefully trade their humanity for a taste of higher power, who’d trade the humanity of others. Those people who made him this way, ruined him for her and everything else although she was the only thing that mattered. His son, too, but it was easier to pretend he wasn’t real. 

Not the paranoia, nights spent clinging to her legs on the bed, voicemail after voicemail left on her little office phone shocking tearful families and judgmental parishioners. 

It’d been this:

He had stood her up at a hospital function. Straight up didn’t go. She’d needed to get a cab home, had lifted her pretty blue silk dress by the waist to step inside of it. Told the cabbie to wait, to idle in their driveway while she got a few bags together and her husband perched unaware in his den of the inexplicable. 

She left that night. She did not come back except to finish gathering her things. He’d been left with one more piece, one that didn’t fucking fit – are you serious? Out of everything, this was it? His lot in life, to ignore the big picture for all the minor details that filled it up. Monsters with a butterfly net, again and again and again.

Extensive, grueling therapy would tell him some things were his fault, and some things were not. And he’d come to recognize what he’s always known, how resentment builds, how it festers, kills all the native flora and takes out the villagers. How it grew in her like a weed and damn near choked her unconscious before she had the presence of mind to get out. And he would thank her for doing it with her hands in his and the voice of God, maybe, or something less dramatic, resounding in the tallgrass. 

As for before, as for right then – he let resentment grow inside him. 

End Game Bonus Drabbles

I couldn’t possibly resist writing something for the @txf-fic-chicks Post-Ep/Missing Scenes Challenge. ;) So here is a small collection of drabbles from End Game.


“He’s going to make it.”

I.

He crashes twice more before they finally get him anywhere close to stabilized. Hypothermia and the retrovirus have mounted a two-front attack; staying ahead of both threats is nearly impossible.

Nearly.

Every time the other doctor wants to throw in the towel, she is right there to push back, to demand another intervention. He’s well within his rights to file a complaint about her when all is said and done, but she couldn’t care less. She will never stop fighting for Mulder.

“We’ve got a stable sinus rhythm,” a nurse says at last.

Blowing out a weary breath, Scully nods.

II.

“He’s going to make it” becomes a mantra, or maybe a prayer. Probably both.

Blood thinners and antiviral medications can only help so much; he needs at least one complete transfusion, possibly several. She wouldn’t hesitate to open her own veins for him if only their blood types matched.

(He’s O-negative. If their circumstances were reversed, he could donate to her, but she can’t return the favor. It doesn’t seem fair.)

She watches the drip of the IV bag, listens to the steady wheeze and flow of the respirator. She can’t remember how long it’s been since she last slept.

III.

“I really didn’t think he would make it,” the doctor says, and Scully bites her tongue.

He flips through Mulder’s chart and shakes his head. “We got the cell cultures back on his bloodwork. The lab could not identify the viral agent your partner was exposed to. Its structure and function are unlike anything we have ever seen.”

She’s too tired to say, “I told you so,” and simply nods.

“When he does eventually wake up, he’ll have you to thank for it.” He addresses the clipboard, doesn’t meet her eyes. “He would absolutely have died if not for you.”

IV.

“I hear he’s going to make it after all,” Skinner says when he calls.

“Yes, sir. He’s responding well to the course of treatment, and he should be breathing on his own again within a day or so.”

“That’s good to hear. He’s got plenty to answer for.”

Scully has no difficulty imagining the scowl undoubtedly on his face right now. She also knows that despite his gruffness, their boss is just as glad as she is that Mulder’s going to be okay.

“Sir, as soon as he’s in any condition to provide those answers, I’ll be first in line.”

V.

He’s still not out of the woods, so to speak, but the day they take him off artificial ventilation, Scully breathes a sigh of relief; he’s made it.

She hasn’t slept more than a couple hours at a time since she got to Alaska, power naps on the doctors’ lounge sofa. After half a day of steady vitals, she’s finally willing to leave Mulder’s side long enough to sleep for real.

“Come wake me if there are any changes to his condition, especially if he regains consciousness.” She repeats the instruction to three different staff members, just to be sure.

Roadrunners Post-Ep

Here’s my little contribution for @txf-fic-chicks!

A/N: This is literally the first thing I’ve ever written for The X-Files in my whole life. I’m nervous as hell, but here goes nothing! The biggest thanks to @conversationinthehallway for encouraging me and for looking this over :)

— 

Fourteen hours after being rushed there by ambulance, she wakes with a start in an all-too-familiar hospital bed. Her pressing concern for her baby leaves no time for her to sleepily wonder where Mulder is, and she’s almost thankful for it. She’s morbidly imagined more than once that, the first time she inevitably found herself waking up in a hospital after a case, she’d have a few seconds to dreamily imagine Mulder in the room next door before the weight of reality came crashing down on her again. The thought occurs to her regardless, only slightly less painful because it was not the first thing to pop to her mind.

She urgently but quietly presses the call button, desperate for her own sake not to wake Doggett, who is sleeping lopsided on the chairs just outside her room. She wonders with a fleeting thought if he’s been there since she was taken in. She takes stock of herself: ten fingers, ten toes, two eyes, and best of all, exactly zero slugs. But what of the tiny life-form inside her that, by all accounts, shouldn’t be there either? She cranes her neck to look for a doctor, a nurse, anyone that can reassure her of her unborn baby’s health.

Not ten seconds later, a tall, statuesque doctor enters the room, equally cautious not to disturb Doggett. Scully wonders briefly if this doctor, who introduces herself as Dr. Moretti, knows somehow about the situation she’s in; impossible, but then again, it wouldn’t be the strangest thing that’s happened to her.

“Ms. Scully—excuse me, Dr. Scully—how are we feeling? I’m happy to see you awake so soon.”

“I’m okay. Is everything normal with…” she pauses and looks out the door almost conspiratorially to make sure her new partner is still sleeping, “…with my baby? Is it okay?”

Dr. Moretti’s face softens as she places a gentle hand on Scully’s shoulder. “Your baby is fine, as are you, from what I can tell. I haven’t exactly seen anything like this before, but all the tests we ran appeared to come back normal.”

Scully’s shoulders visibly sag with relief and a rush of exhaustion, letting herself feel tired now that her immediate concerns are out of the way. Dr. Moretti says something about letting her get some more rest and softly shuts the door on the way out. That was just enough to wake Doggett, who practically tiptoes into her room, as if he might go unnoticed walking through the door.

Scully’s eyes flutter back open and stay there as Doggett approaches her bed. She worries that he might’ve somehow heard her short conversation with the doctor; she’s not ashamed of her pregnancy, quite the opposite if anything, but her lifelong fear of being thought weak or too feminine to be capable comes through despite it all. She’s kept it secret this far, and now it just seems uncomfortable to have to tell anyone, especially her new partner. He’ll find out soon enough one way or the other.

She comes back to reality for a moment, just long enough to hear Doggett start to talk. But she zones out again as her most recent memories start to come back to her: she had screamed that she was pregnant, screamed it at the top of her lungs like she’d been wanting to since she’d found out. But the context was all wrong. Couldn’t be more wrong, really. It’s horrifying enough that she screamed it and it wasn’t enough to keep her safe; it’s devastating enough that she wasn’t shouting it from a mountaintop instead of in a dusty old garage somewhere in Utah. It’s more than enough to bear as it is, but an even more troubling thought occurs to her: were those cult members the first people I’ve told besides Skinner?

A fresh wave of grief mixed thoroughly with guilt hits her. She isn’t upset about telling Skinner; in the absence of Mulder, he’d been the only logical choice. But now? She hadn’t been partnered with Doggett long at all, but he’d certainly proved himself as much as possible. She’d been holding off, feeling almost like telling him or letting him in at all was cheating on Mulder. Oh, Mulder, and her shoulders sag again, and she hopes that her face hasn’t contorted with the anguish that has been constant since Oregon. Still, it isn’t fair to Doggett to treat any of it like his fault, and her logical side, the side she always prides herself on, reminds her of this. As if on cue, Doggett comes back into her line of focus.

“Agent Scully? Dana? You with me here?” He smiles a little, but not enough to hide his concern.

She raises both eyebrows at him in confusion, a slight departure from her usual skeptical look. She hasn’t heard a word he just said.

“I was just asking how you were feeling. That was some pretty weird stuff back there.”

“I’m fine,” she keeps her tone pleasant but even as ever.

“I’ve got a feeling I’ll be hearing that a lot.”

He doesn’t even know the half of it.

—-

Shortly before Doggett arrives to take her home a week later, she calmly revisits the guilt that’s preoccupied her mind during her entire hospital stay. It’s been an almost refreshing type of guilt, though, a type that is uncomplicated and fixable. She’s not trusted Doggett, but she’s a quick learner and will come to trust him. She can almost hear her own words in her mind, coming back to remind her, I’m not a part of any agenda. You’ve got to trust me.

—-

“Look, I wanted to apologize. I… I left you out of this case, and that was a mistake on my part. It was almost a fatal mistake.” She feels like a kid admitting to breaking a window with a stray baseball, and he accepts her apology like a neighbor who’s seen far worse.

“It was; you screwed up,” but he’s smiling. She is amazed that people continue to forgive her, a luxury that she’s never afforded herself.

“And I won’t do it again.”

“I appreciate it.”

She feels a little lighter, which seems foreign in her strange and heavy life. Lighter still when he takes the bag from her shoulder without a word and tosses it over his own. It’s natural as it could possibly be under the circumstances, but she still feels the absence of a hand on the small of her back like a phantom limb and can’t help but worry that it’ll never quite be natural again.

They walk to the car, and Doggett throws her bag in the backseat after opening the passenger side door for her. He pulls out of the hospital parking garage hastily, but not recklessly, to get them to the airport.

“So, Agent Scully, ready to get the hell outta Dodge?”

She smirks as she keeps her eyes straight forward and nods. “Please.”

“I’ve seen a lot of nasty stuff, but I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.” He pauses just for a moment, “I’m glad you’re okay.”

“Me, too. Thank you.”

She fights the urge to say us, too and settles for resting her hand on her still-flat stomach.

Entry in @txf-prompt-box challenge!

Flukemen, shape-shifters and alien bounty hunters–these things are easy for Fox Mulder.  Buying tampons?  More of a challenge than he thought.

bonus:  the fic is set before Mulder and Scully are romantically involved.
double bonus: Mulder runs into a familiar face while making his purchase–someone he’d rather never see again if he could help it.

Mulder took another quick look at his surroundings and shoved his hands in his pockets. He stalked up and down the aisles of the drugstore looking for a key word. He halted suddenly at the aisle he was looking for. He scanned through the shelves having no earthly clue what the difference between them all were. They all served the same purpose, didn’t they? Why did there have to be so many? She didn’t give him specifics, she just told him that she needed some and she felt too sick to get them herself. He grabbed three various boxes, each different brands but the same…size? He shook his head and exited the aisle and almost went towards the checkout before thinking of something that would most definitely help Scully’s discomfort. He makes his way towards the pharmacy and scans the aisles quickly before finding what he was looking for; contemplating getting the menstrual pain or the regular. He opted for both and tossed them into the shopping basket.

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All the little things

The missing scene where Scully tells Mulder she’s in remission. As blogged so eloquently by @sunflowerseedsandscience 
Noticed the @2momsmakearight has a missing scene challenge too, so here’s my shot at that.

If she could have breathed him in, his essence, she would have. Inhaled with all her might and held her breath for days. But the tumour had all but destroyed her sense of smell. Still, she knew he was there. She could feel him at the deepest level, in a way she would never have been able to explain in a report.

           “Mulder?” Her voice broke over the incessant hum of the hospital room.

           “Hmm?”

           She heard his shirt rustle as he moved in the chair. “How long have you been here?”

           He sat forward on his elbows, and mussed his hair. She noticed how long and elegant his fingers were. Piano hands, her mother would say. His right cheek was lined from the vinyl of the high-backed chair. His tie was loose around his neck and his collar unbuttoned. Somehow, it seemed fitting that he should be suited up, however creased. Fox Mulder wore a suit well. She thought about how the pleated waistband of his pants sat snug against his hips. She’d always had a thing for hipbones. Rubbing a thumb over the rounded knob of bone, spreading her palm flat across a taut stomach. She’d had enough time recently to think about all the little things she would never do again and that had been one. It was the oddest things that struck her. Of all the horrors she had seen in her professional life, the simple cruelty of her reality had been by far the worst.

She reached out her hand and touched his. His fingers curled around hers with such tenderness that she could imagine him as a lover, how gentle, how considerate, how reverential.

           “I tried to go home, Scully, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bear to go back and sit in my apartment. I…just need to be here some more.”

           She tried to roll herself further to the side of the bed, to close the distance between them. There had been times in their relationship when that distance had seemed so vast it could never been reduced; when their differences served only to convince her that they would pull each other apart, unstitch, if one of them didn’t relinquish their hold on the seams of the partnership. But there were other times, more often recently, when she had felt his presence like a second soul, when their similarities had knitted together the edges of their resolve and they had worked as one.

           “Mulder, I have something to tell you.” She squeezed his fingers. He rubbed his face, his jaw clenching. He might be the psychologist but she was well versed in human reaction and paleness, shallow breathing and tension were all classic signs of the fear response. The Mulder fear repertoire also included impulsiveness, shouting, thumping walls or people and guilt.

           “No wait, Scully. I want to speak. I’ve been sitting here waiting for you…to wake up. I’ve been rehearsing this all night. I…can you let me go first?” His eyes clouded and she scooted closer to him, close enough to pull him forward and drop a kiss on his forehead. He sat back and the look he had on his face all but burnt her heart out. His eyes were red with early tears, his nostrils flaring as he tried to control his breathing, his stubbled chin set firm.

           “K…go ahead.”

           He shuddered out a breath and steepled his hands over his nose and mouth. His brow creased and she knew the skin there would be soft. She had an impulse to cover it in kisses, press her lips there long enough to imprint herself on his brain. Instead, she stored the image in the place where she kept her dreams and hopes and simple wishes.

           “I…we don’t do this talking thing very well. We excel at things unspoken. But since you’ve been in here, it hit me…” he broke off to issue a gentle chuckle, “too late of course, that there are too many things left unspoken. Not the big things, the declarations of love or the promises to continue the quest, but the hundred thousand other minutiae that make up a life.

He sighed and looked at her. “I can’t imagine never asking you again if you want cream in your coffee, or calling you on a Sunday morning to see if you’d seen the article in the Post, or telling you that Skinner wants to see us in his office in five minutes, or watching you sign your name at hire car desk where you’d have to stand on tiptoe to reach the counter, or hoping you’d say yes to adjoining rooms, or wondering if you’d belt me if I offered to carry your bags.”

           He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and she saw how his shirt sleeves were rolled to his elbows and the tendons in his forearms flexed. “Mulder, you don’t have to do this.”

           “But I do, Scully. That’s just it. The big things have remained unsaid for a reason. The big things are measured by the way you’ve changed my life and I hope I’ve changed yours. By the way you’ve made me work for everything, by the way you’ve opened your eyes to the truth even when it hurt so much. But the little things, they cut deep.”

           She shifted, trying to get the pillow out from under her head, so she could sit up. He stood then, took the pillow from her and placed it up against the headboard. He slipped his arms under hers and around her back and gently turned her from her side so she could sit up. She felt her breasts crush against his chest their hearts joining momentarily and hoped he did too. He pulled the sheet and blanket up over her chest and tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear. She was touched by his gentleness, his silent ministrations, his patent concern for her comfort even during his own distress. His eyes continued to well with tears and she noticed the tremble in his hands.

           “Mulder, I thought about the little things too.” She clasped her hands in her lap and snorted out a laugh. “All the time. How I would miss the way you stand you’re your hands on your hips when you’re frustrated, the way you chew on your bottom lip when you think too long, the vein in your temple that throbs when you’re angry, your Dad jokes and innuendos and hand in the small of my back.”

           Tears tracked down his cheeks now and he looked away, desperate to retain some modicum of dignity. “Scully…”

           She put a finger to his mouth. “Shh. It’s okay.” He broke into a choking sob and she let him cry it out. He shook against her, his forehead burning into her chest, melding their skin together.

           “Scully, I can’t do this without you. I can’t.”

           “You know what? You could if you had to.” She kissed his forehead, savouring the taste on her lips, she kissed his cheek, his stubbled jaw, the soft lobe of his ear and she whispered, “but you don’t, Mulder. The cancer is in remission. I’ve been trying to tell you. I’m okay. I’m okay.”

           She felt his grip tighten on the back of her neck, she felt his shoulders heave upwards, then drop just as quickly, releasing his pent-up tension.

           “The chip worked?” His voice cracked in astonishment and for the longest time he remained silent, her head tucked under his chin, his head thrown back. His shoulders wobbled and his chest expanded and he laughed and he held her close and the bed creaked as his laughing turned to crying.

           She snuffed into his neck. “We don’t know if it was the chip, but the fact remains that I’m going to get better. And we’re going to get the chance to say all those little things, Mulder.”

           She let him sink into her, revelling in the heat of his breath in the hollow between her neck and her shoulder. She brushed her fingers over the fine hairs at his nape. She bunched the fabric of his shirt in her hand and settled to the rhythm of his sobbing. She lost track of time, but her eyes grew heavy and she had to push at him to get him to release her.

           “I’m tired, Mulder.”

           “Have I ever told you how your top lip curls so sedately round your teeth when you yawn, Scully? And how you make this tiny noise when you’re entering REM sleep, like a snuffly puppy? And how your pinky finger sticks out a little when you hold a spoon to eat your yoghurt?”

           “A snuffly puppy, Mulder?”

She closed her eyes and let him talk. He told her all the little things. And she thought about all the little things that she would tell him later. And later and later.

X-Files Fic: But Always Together

For @leiascully‘s X-Files Writing Challenge: “List.”  This is basically a big ol’ “FUCK YOU” to The Field Where I Died.





1. 1890 B.C.

He is a shepherd, the youngest of six sons, tending to one of his father’s many herds.  She is the oldest daughter of a priest, and he sees her fetching water at a well one day and loses all power of speech in the face of her beauty.  He knows who she is- his father and hers are known to each other- and even though she smiles warmly at him, he cannot bring himself to speak to her.  As the youngest of six he has nothing to offer her, and he knows she’ll be married off to some oldest son, some fortunate man who stands to inherit much when his father dies.

One day when he’s out with his flock, he sees her approaching in the distance.  She’s carrying a lamb in her arms- one of his that, it transpires, had managed to wander off without his noticing (he’s been spending more time than he should dreaming about her).  He thanks her profusely, stumbling over his words, expecting her to laugh at him at any moment, but she doesn’t.  She’s sweet and kind and sits with him for hours, talking, until the sun in low on the horizon.

After that, they meet nearly every day, at the well or in the fields.  It takes him months to get up the nerve to ask her if she’s promised to anyone, and in response, she quirks an eyebrow at him and says, “I had assumed you would be asking for my hand, but maybe I was wrong.”

So they approach her father, and of course, he’s against the match, because he has nothing to offer her.  He goes to his father to ask him to intervene, but there’s no help to be had there: his father tells him he’ll find someone more suitable to his station.

They leave, together, that very night.

It’s difficult, far more difficult than either of them could have anticipated, and nearly every waking moment is consumed with ensuring their continuing survival- especially when children start to come- but at the end of every day, there are brief, fleeting moments of peace and love together, and it makes the rest of the hardship worth it.

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10

→ 30 day x-file challenge: day one - favourite season 

“the fourth season focused heavily on fbi federal agents fox mulder’s and his partner dana scully’s investigation of an alien conspiracy, which is protected by the mysterious syndicate. midway through the season, scully is diagnosed with terminal cancer, a result of her previous abduction, and mulder begins to lose his faith in the idea of extraterrestrials.”

Nothing left

Here’s a short drabble for @xfficchallenges summer heat challenge. Less than 1000 words, a little dark, slightly NC-17 at best. Enjoy! (Bingo card under the cut)

She’s driving through the darkness, on a road less travelled lately but still known to her like the back of her hand. Most nights she is not coming back here anymore, she is staying in the city, in a sterile attendance room at the hospital or a lonely hotel room full of make-believe comfort. Not tonight. He didn’t call, he didn’t ask her to come over but it is her home too, although it doesn’t feel like home to her anymore. It’s empty and cold without him there. He left ages ago, not living there anymore, just existing. His mind and spirit wandered off to a dark place too far away for her to reach; only his bodily form is still roaming in the house, barely breathing. Always, when she is coming back here, she is afraid to find even his body gone, with no life left inside.

It’s a beautiful night in rural Virginia. A big, slightly red, moon towers over the unremarkable house as she turns and stops at the gate. The stars are showing their various formations and for a second she is thrown back to a time when they were sitting together out on their porch, star-gazing, being enough for each other to be happy. The gate opens unwillingly with a loud squeak; he will know she’s coming. But he probably knew before, it doesn’t make a difference. Driving up to the house, she begins to regret she came. Maybe she should just turn around and leave this place, leave it behind, leave the memories and belongings, leave him. She sits in her car staring at the darkness before her, no lights, no sign of life. Only ghosts of a life that slipped away from them. Hesitation is gnawing at her as she climbs the steps to the front door. When she turns the knob and steps in an all-embracing sadness is devouring her, she looks into an empty shell that once was their home. A well-known smell of stale air and cold coffee welcomes her. She is surprised to find him sitting on the couch, a dark figure in an even darker room. He doesn’t turn, doesn’t acknowledge her presence. Moving closer she can see he’s been crying. To her that is at least something, he’s not dead yet. She is kneeling down at his feet, softly placing her hand on his cheek. It’s cold and scratchy. His gaze is lost somewhere, he’s not here, he’s nowhere.

She takes his hand in hers and lifts it up to kiss his palm, placing it on her chest, trying to find a way to contact him. In a desperate attempt, her other hand starts stroking his right thigh up to the waistband of his sweatpants and over his semi-hardness. At least it’s some kind of reaction. She stands up and unbuttons her jeans, pulling them down along with her panties. In silent consent, he lifts his hips, stripping down his pants down to his knees. His first movement. Standing in front of him half-naked, she is trying to find his gaze, he’s looking past her in no particular direction. She straddles his hips, taking him into her small hand, stroking softly. As she’s descending into his lap, she struggles guiding him in. With careful motions she finds a rhythm, holding herself steady on his shoulders. She is startled out of her own haze as he places his left hand on the small of her back. It’s the first time he touches her. It’s his spot, abandoned for what feels like a lifetime. In a feathery caress he rounds her waist and finds her center with his thumb. He still knows how to touch her, knows how to push her to where she needs to be. It’s not passionate or full of relish, it’s sufficient. She is falling apart, breathing small moans and whimpers into the silence. As soon as she comes down from her high, that doesn’t feel like a high at all, he stops all movement. He’s done without coming undone. She lifts herself off of him, puts on her clothes and gets her bag. They always had that, an unbreakable connection even when they were disagreeing, growing apart, unsuccessfully fighting the darkness. Their love always worked. And now it does not anymore. She knows it’s over. There are no words, no longings left.

She leaves in silence, she will not come back.

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