Title - Aftermath

Author - Zuffy

E-mail – zuffynuffy@yahoo.com

Rating – PG -13

Category – Mulder/Scully relationship, X-Files mytharc

Spoilers - 2 Fathers/1 Son

Keywords - MSR, conspiracy

Summary - Mulder and Scully attempt to revive their partnership (part 1) and find the keys to the conspiracy "(Part 2)".

Written 3/99 and 4/99

Part 1 posted 3/99 and revised 4/99. Part 2 posted 4/99.

DISCLAIMER: Yes, I am aware that the characters of Agent Fox Mulder, Agent Dana Scully, Diana Fowley, the Lone Gunmen, Walter Skinner and such other references of the copyrighted X-Files are the sole property of its creator, Chris Carter, and its owners, 1013 Productions, and FOX television, a unit of 20th Century Fox, Inc. But how could you do this to them? No wonder the fanfic writers are rushing in to help. No copyright infringement is intended; this is a rescue mission.



(PART 1)

Mulder was in the lead as they reached their old office, the names Jeffrey Spender and Diana Fowley still on the door. Inside the smell of antiseptic lingered and the furniture stood away from the location of the shooting. Mulder put down the box of office supplies he had been carrying so he and Scully could push desks and tables back into place. The barren walls reminded them that their home was no longer the place that it had been.Mulder dug through the desk for a screwdriver so he could take the nameplates off the door. "Well, we're back where we belong, Scully. Together on the X-files." He looked at her quickly, as the words ‘just like before’ flashed in his mind.

She returned his gaze and said, "We are on the X-Files again, yes."

"Your name goes up this time. God knows you deserve it more than I do."

"Mulder, we are in it together. Both names, alpha order."

"Reverse alpha, " he countered. She shrugged.

He crossed the room, back to the box he had brought in, and removed the black and white plates from within. He made quick work affixing them to their rightful place on the door, stepped back and admired the vision the two names together made. Dr. Dana Scully. Fox Mulder. Perfect, Mulder thought. He stood flapping the old names in the air, unwilling to throw them out or keep them.

"I guess you can return those to Skinner," she said. He dug an interoffice envelope from the box and dropped them inside, putting the envelope on the bookcase next to the door. Scully continued, "We have so much to do. Look at all these cases. What did they do when they were assigned to the X-Files?" She bit her lip to stop herself from saying anything else. She had vowed not to talk about Diana or Spender or what they had done. Past was past and it couldn’t be either undone or reimagined. Face forward, stick to the job. "Anyway, there's not much time. The threat, we don’t know when an attack may come or what the danger will look like," she said, busying herself by straightening the stack of paper.

Mulder moved around the desk and stood next to her, his finger running back and forth along the edge of the wood, and his eyes unsuccessfully willing her to look up. He saw a smile flit over her face and ventured, "Scully, I…" then faltered.

She looked up at him and waited. "Yes, Mulder, you…"

"Scully, you said it was personal."

"Sure, I want answers to my personal questions, and you still want to know about Samantha. But this is bigger than us. We both know it, so let's not lose focus."

"I'm not talking about losing focus. It's just that…"

Her voice was taut and slightly loud. "Good, then we agree. Nothing gets in the way. Clear-headed. Eyes open." She stressed the open, the blue of her own eyes glittering a little. " It's not the same as before. We know much more."

"And you believe it."

"Yeah, I believe a lot. Some of it I don't want to believe. But there it is. The evidence. I trust the evidence, Mulder." Maybe you should, too, she thought.

He looked down, letting the silence stretch out.

"Let’s get started, Mulder." She tapped his hand with one finger. "We have a lot of work to do. This afternoon we can figure out which cases need immediate attention. We can start right here with this pile. I'm hoping that somewhere in here is something about Gibson." She gestured to a foot-high stack of manila folders, all new from the look of it.

He looked to the files and back at her, his eyes now flat. "Yeah, good idea. Let's get some lunch first."

She looked down. "Not today, Mulder. There's something else I have to do."

The sound of the elevator door opening caused them both to turn. A moment later Walter Skinner appeared at the door. He nodded a greeting at Mulder, the turned to Scully. "Are you ready, Agent Scully?"

Keeping her eyes averted from her partner, she nodded, grabbed her coat and was gone.



She flicked the lights on when she returned to the office, somewhat surprised to find it deserted. The stack of files remained as it had been when she rushed out. Two o'clock already, she thought. The conversation at lunch had been alternately heated and sluggish, lasting longer than she had expected. She grabbed the top files and settled down at her desk, batting down a twinge of anxiety at her partner's absence. If he's out drinking, she thought with a grimace, he has a lot to drink about.

Only the sound of the mechanicals disturbed the silence of this isolated corner of the basement. After reading for a while, she noticed that each fluctuation in the background hum made her anticipate the opening of the elevator doors. At 4, she found she could no longer concentrate and stacked the files according to whether they merited investigation. She fingered her cell phone which was lying on her desk, then lifted it and dialed his number. No answer. Did that mean he had turned it off or lost it again?

The silence had begun to feel unfriendly. She walked over to his desk, fished in the drawer for a pencil and paper and left a note asking him to call. Like magic, as she turned to leave, her phone rang. "Scully," she said, her mind playing back 'It's me' before her ears heard Frohike's voice instead. "Agent Scully, I think you need to get over here."

"Is Mulder there?"

"Not now, that's why we need to see you."


Annoyance warred with worry as she drove over the Lone Gunmen’s hideaway. She remembered the first time Mulder took her there and her reactions to the strange group of men who were probably his only friends. Other than herself. Oh, yeah, and Diana. The other one-in-five billion. Or not the only other one. Who knows? How much does she know, really, about Mulder’s free time? About his past? About his *real taste in women. About what’s going on in his mind. Maybe those videos should have given her a message. Her mind went blank rather than considering what his particular tastes might be. One-in-five-billion. Had he rehearsed that? It had warmed her at the time and she could even imagine something beyond their partnership. But it was all a snow job. No, that’s wrong. Not a snow job. He needed her and knew how to push her buttons to keep her right there. And that time in the hallway. So he guessed she would respond to a little affection, a little sex maybe, who knows what he had in mind. Fantasy time. Her own fault for cutting herself off from other men. For letting him absorb her. Well, that was over. If she stayed it was because of the job, what she could do, accomplish. She was a doctor and her job was to cure, prevent, care. There, that was the reason to stay. She was going to see him clearly from now on. Maybe see some other people, too.


She always felt a little nervous parking in the LGM’s neighborhood, not a corner of D.C. she normally frequented. She hurried to the stairs leading down to their door, looked around quickly and descended. She waited a little impatiently as Frohike opened the five or six deadbolts that barred real and imaginary enemies.

"Agent Scully," he said with a barely audible sigh. He waved her in but was at a loss for what to say next. Langley and Byers were finishing meatball sandwiches from the look of their plates, and Byers hastily wiped a little smear of tomato sauce from his face. "Are you hungry?" he said. "Could we get something…?"

"No, that’s all right. I, uh, I had a big lunch. Has something happened to Mulder?"

They looked at each other.

"I assumed he’s out on a case. We have quite a lot to do. As you probably could guess, Spender and Fowley let a lot of dust collect while on our assignment." Our, she thought, cut out the our crap.

Frohike raised an eyebrow to his colleagues. "A case. In a way, I guess you could say he’s on a case."

Scully looked relieved. A case, just a case. "He must have been called away when I was out."

"Not exactly. He didn’t, didn’t really seem in control."

"How so? He was fine when I left him."

"Fine how?"

"Fine, standing there talking about work."

"Not fine."

"Not fine?"

"Not fine since the last time you were here."

She stiffened. "There’s nothing more I can do. Agent Mulder made his own choice. I hadn’t understood his other loyalties..."

"Scully, his loyalties are where they have always been."

"Apparently. Look, is there something I need to do on this case or can I go home and get some sleep?"

Frohike put his hand on her arm. "We’re on your side, remember? We helped you collect the information on Diana. We helped you expose her."

Scully stood looking at them, a little shock on her face. That’s what Skinner had said to her at lunch, ‘on her side.’ What was she doing, treating everyone like an extension of Mulder? "Can I sit down?"

Frohike picked up some printout from a chair by his computer and motioned her to sit. "Okay," she said, "I’m sorry. I know you wouldn’t have called me here without a reason. But, I can’t, I can’t always save him. He’s a big boy."

"He’s lost without you."

"I *am with him. He, uh, asked me to stay on the X-Files and I said I would. It’s too important to quit."

"It’s the other stuff."

"What other stuff?"

The gunmen looked at each other. Frohike cleared his throat a little nervously. "I guess you'd have to say 'feelings.'"

"Feelings?" She rolled her eyes and stood up "Feelings. Look, there’s nothing to talk about here. Is there something about Mulder’s whereabouts I should know, or…?"

"He’s gone to find Diana."

Her face froze. "I see. Then he knows where she is. I didn’t realize that. Thank you for telling me, I won’t be surprised later." She rose from the chair.

Byers intervened. "No, listen. He didn’t know. He wanted us to track her movements. Scully, this is a dangerous moment. You and I know what she’s up to."

"I can’t do any more. He…, did you know he was ready to follow her to the airbase? To go over to the aliens with her?"

Frohike put his hand on her wrist. "Scully, he wanted to take you. It was to save you."

"Save me? I would have been fried, too."

"That’s not the point."

Byers intervened again, "Look Scully, he has his doubts about her. Really. He trusts what you said. That’s why he’s going."

"But he *is going. And when he gets there, what will happen? The same as last time and the time before that. Miss Magnetic will work her charms. Mr. Gullible will attach the leash to himself."

The Gunmen looked at each other. She rubbed her hand over her forehead and across her eyes. "It’s over. I. Can’t. Do. Anything. More."

Langley cleared his throat, "Look, he came over here. He wanted to see your evidence again. Asked us to check on one other thing."

"What was that?"

"Military Intelligence." He hit a couple of keys and Diana's picture came up on the screen. "That's where she was. That's where she still is."

Scully looked at the face staring back from thescreen; her shoulders tensed and her hands went cold. Frohicke held out a slip of paper. "There’s his flight number and what we know about her present activities." They all stared at the paper, as if waiting for it to do something on its own. Finally, Scully sighed and took it. She stuffed it down into her trenchcoat pocket. "I have to think about this."





Two days later

A carriage lamp illuminated the "28" on the red door. Scully bent her head to hear any noises from within. A television was on, but that might have been from the next room. She took a breath and rapped on the door. "Mulder, are you awake? It's me." Footsteps hurrying over. "Scully?" The sound of the deadbolt being opened; the door swung open, Mulder standing back behind it.

"Close your eyes, I'm not decent." He closed the door behind her. She squeezed her eyes shut but shot a quick squint at the bed, despite telling herself she wouldn't. Only one side was disturbed.

"Ok, open," he said. He was smiling at her. "You cheated." She blushed, hoping he had misread the object of her glance. He smiled more broadly.

"How did you get here? I mean why?"

"It's an X-File and I needed...I mean I thought I should...I mean I'm supposed..." It wasn't coming out right.

"Let's go get some coffee." He picked up a gray t-shirt from the chair and pulled it over his head. His leather jacket was in the closet. He threw it on, then held out his arm to guide her out the door.

His smile unsettled all the things she had been planning to tell him. "I didn't mean to pull you out into the cold at this hour," she said, pulling her arms across her chest.

"Bugs," he answered simply and unlatched the doors to the car.

"Bugs?" Her confusion lasted just a moment. "Electronic bugs?"

"Yeah, I'm being monitored pretty closely. We couldn't have talked here. Where are you staying?"

"Nowhere. I mean, I didn't make plans."

"We'll find you a place. You get one bug-free night." He pulled the car out of its space and turned to head down the commercial strip in search of a late-night café.

"What's going on, Mulder?"

"Maybe you should tell me your side first."

"There's not much to say. Frohike called me, he told me where you were. These are things that concern me, too. I thought I should be here. You didn't give me a clue, Mulder. You ran off and ditched me. Again."

"Who ran off first, Scully? No, forget I said that." He drummed his fingers on the wheel. "I didn't think you'd want any part of this. Of me. I can't say I blame you."

"We're in this together."

"Are we?"

"We are still partners, Mulder." She found a sticky spot on the edge of the seat and began digging at it with her fingernail. "I have a role in this with you. But I need to know something first. I don't care what the answer is, I need to know."

She was sure he could hear her pulse over the sound of the engine. "I need to know why you dismissed what I said about Diana. I need to know why our trust fell apart over her."

"And you don't care what the answer to that is?"

"Mulder, damn you. Don't make this harder!"

Keeping his eyes on the road, he waited for her answer. She looked out the window, waiting to regain the composure in her voice. "Yes, ok, it makes all the difference in the world to where our partnership is going. We should be able to work together regardless of other," she hesitated, then raced ahead, "commitments. But, damn it, if it undercuts what we believe about each other then it matters a lot. I thought you would at least look at what I found. At least treat me with that much respect. It won't work without trust."

She leaned her head back and took a couple breaths. "I want to know who she is and how she cancels five years between us."

"She doesn't cancel anything Scully. She comes between us only because you let her."

"No, Mulder, you're wrong. From the moment she walked in and you turned my job over to her, you owed me an explanation. I didn't deserve to get shut out."

"Like I've been shut out lately?" He let out his breath in a puff and continued in a softer tone. "I'm sorry, ok. She's an old girlfriend, an old lover, but you figured that out yourself."

"Yeah, I sure did."

"It really threw me when she showed up after five years of silence. Scully, you and I were trying to make some headway on Gibson and I thought she could help us rule in or rule out some possibilities. She's done a lot of work with mind readers, knows those tests cold. She could never step into your place. I just wanted you to let her into our conversation."

"But when we disagreed, you instantly gave her more credence."

"No, honestly, I didn't. Not at all. It's just…"

"Just what?"

He was pounding his right hand softly on the steering wheel, "I'm ashamed to tell you this part."

"Go on, Mulder. I need to hear the whole thing."

They had pulled into a parking lot and stopped under one of the mercury lamps. There were still a few cars parked in an almost random patterm.

"I knew she rubbed you the wrong way. I couldn't figure out why, so I thought you were jealous of her." His breathing was audible in the silence. "I *wanted to think you were jealous."

"You wanted me to be jealous? To be possessive? Mulder, why would you…I don't have any right...I've never had any right..."

"You have *every right, if only you would choose to take it. I imagined, no make that I *fantasized, that you might want me the way I want and need you. I took everything you were saying about her as a sign that it *might just be personal between us."

She froze in her seat, one hand poised to open the door. She knew he was looking at her, waiting for her response. Her blood seemed to throb at her temples and drain from her face at the same time. Her next words came out with a little cough.

"You thought I would be so petty?" Anger and confusion mingled in her voice.

"What's petty? That I wanted you to love me? That I would fantasize about it? Isn't there anyone you've wanted so badly that you dream about that person every night and most days?" She was motionless against the door. "Isn't there? Never? What are you so damn afraid of?"

She looked out the side window at the store fronts: jeans, housewares, pet supplies, bridal wear. Bride's dresses. She and Melissa used to fantasize about their weddings when they were young, Melissa yearning for a medieval dress with a long train and Scully picturing herself in something… Never mind, she told herself. She heard Mulder sigh and pull the handle on his door.

Softly, she responded, "Maybe I'm afraid of grief."


"Loss, betrayal, grief. A broken heart. Whatever you want to call it."

"Betr… Scully, I will kill any man who betrays you." She looked across at him. He met her eyes and continued. "And that includes me."

There was a pause. She saw him start to reach for her, then pull his hand back and put it on the steering wheel.

"Ok." He said. "You still want to hear this?" She nodded. "I knew that it was unfair, but, somehow, by thinking it was jealousy, I didn't let myself hear what you were telling me. I couldn't see any reason why Diana would do what you said. A long time ago, she dumped me." She looked at him. She had wondered who had dumped whom and somehow knew that it had to have been Diana. It didn't seem in Mulder's nature to walk out on someone he still trusted. She nodded again for him to continue. "OK, I've been dumped often enough. But I didn't think she'd betray me, then or now. I'm still not sure where she fits into the picture." His hand was behind her, tracing the edge of the headrest and she knew he wanted to touch her. "Scully, you have to believe that I *did trust you. After you left, I knew you really believed what you told me. I ran over to Diana's apartment to look for evidence that she had betrayed me, something that I would know myself. I wanted to believe you rather than her."

"Did you find it?"

"Yes and no. Let's go in here and I'll tell you the whole story."


They settled into a booth toward the back at a table that was still a little damp from the last customer. A bored waitress came by to pour their coffee and see whether she might overhear something to gossip about with the cashier. Mulder leaned forward, arms on the table, but Scully curled herself into the corner.

"I met her just after Quantico. I went through women pretty fast in those days." The corner of her mouth twitched a little. "No, I swear it's true," he said. "They'd gravitate to me, get a taste of the real Fox Mulder, and disappear. Sometimes a matter of days, sometimes it might be weeks. Diana was the only one who stayed. That was a novelty. She stayed and she didn't play mind games. She said she believed in me absolutely and I believed her. She said she loved me. I believed that, too. I loved her back for giving me something I needed so badly." Mulder dumped a packet of sugar on the table and ran his finger through it. "She was a psychologist and recognized the pain I was carrying from my childhood. Took me to her thesis advisor, Dr. Werber. A brilliant man, she said. Didn't tell me he was also her lover. Alternate nights."

"You knew that?"

"No, only found out about it the other day. Byers kept hunting for background on her. Found out she was named in Werber's divorce. The dates fit. We always kept separate apartments. Said she needed space to meditate. I knew how much turmoil I create, so I never questioned it. I never had a clue, Scully. I trusted her completely. A woman who believed everything I said…how could she do wrong? You see why I still trusted her when she came back?"

Scully relaxed a little and sat forward.

"Anyway, I was working in violent crimes by then, profiling mostly. She kept telling me that my insight was so good that I must be psychic. I bought it. There were bizarre cases rumored to be stashed around the Bureau. She thought my psychic abilities might help. One of her friends--a secretary, she said--slipped her some old records and the X-Files were born. Werber, our brilliant friend, hypnotized me, gave me a personal stake in it all. I felt so lucid, in control. Then she left me. Just like that, a career opportunity she couldn't turn down. She needed to grow so she could help me." He waved his fingers in the air as quote marks. "I heard from her at first, but it stopped pretty soon--until she shows up five years later. I didn't exactly know what to say when she came back, but I saw no reason to doubt her professionalism."

"People change, Mulder," she said softly.

"And don't forget, Scully, she almost got killed. Doesn't that show some kind of dedication? It sure looked that way to me."

"Mulder, I'm not saying that…"

"You asked me once about why she returned just then. You said maybe she had her own agenda. I didn't see it at the time, but yeah, it was a little too convenient that she just stepped back into the X-Files. I still don't know why Skinner assigned her."

"Skinner didn't"

He looked at her quizzically.

"I had lunch with Skinner the other day…" she looked down, remembering how coldly she had marched out on her partner, "…he said he had been instructed to put her and Spender on the X-Files."

"By whom?"

"It came down through the chain of command. Cancerman is my guess."

"Once again. Well, that fits well enough with what Byers was telling me. She's in MI, you know, always has been, 'on loan' to the FBI, whatever that means."

Scully looked up at the ceiling, noticing the big old fan turning slow circles. There was no breeze to be felt. "If you knew these things about her, why did you come after her?"

"Whatever you can say about her and her allegiances, Scully, the fact is that she may be right this time. She has what I want to know. What *we want to know."

"How can you trust anything she says? Lies, deceptions, plots."

"It's not words I want from her. It's evidence."

"Mulder, she will still try to manipulate you, based on…" She stopped.

"Yeah. Based on. It would work, too, except I've actually learned something." He nodded slightly and focused closely on her face. "C'mon, Scully, you have to smile at that."

She smiled a little.

"It's true, Scully. I have learned one real thing. Believing in someone isn't saying yes all the time. It's fighting it out and sticking with him through the worst times. Not leaving even when the common ground seems to disappear. And that's what I had until I blew it." His voice had dropped so low that she had to lean forward to catch his words.

"Blew it?"

"So I assume from the way you've been acting recently. Reckless Fox Mulder betrays his partner, crashes and burns. Did I blow it with you or was there nothing left to blow?" He began pushing little stripes of sugar at her.

"Mulder, you didn't blow anything."

"I see. So I misunderstood…"

"Stop it. Our partnership has never been a flirtation, a romance."

"That’s been clear."

"Stop it. Let me say it. It’s not about emotions. We're--we, Mulder--we're based on something much deeper. Something that can't be dismissed as a fit of jealousy."

He closed his eyes and she felt a grim sort of satisfaction at the pain she had inflicted. I won’t be reduced to emotions, she thought, then relented. Softly, she continued, "You didn’t blow how important you are to me. It's all still there. Everything. We just have to…"

"What is everything? Tell me, Scully. Tell me. Tell me what we have that you wouldn't tell me that you were angry and hurting. Tell me what we have that it's ok to shunt us back to the cordial colleagues game. The cordial distant colleagues. We were never distant in the first place. Why did we have to go there?" His voice caught the attention of the waitress who looked up from her chat with the cashier.

"Maybe we should leave now." Scully picked up her purse and began to slide out of the booth.

"No. No, stop right there. I want you to tell me. What exactly is everything?"

"Mulder, don't force things. Don't destroy…"

"We are already on the brink of destruction. You have to tell me what we have, what we don't have, what we will never have."

She closed her eyes for a long moment, then began speaking in an uneven voice. "You were the one person I could count on, Mulder. Your passion and integrity gave me meaning. Crazy, bizarre meaning that no one but you would understand. I even felt I could give you something back. It meant everything to me." She breathed deeply and looked around the restaurant, focusing on the sign written backwards against the window. "Then Diana came and suddenly you were gone and someone I didn't know was in your place. Someone who didn't seem to know me and who refused to see the corruption around her. I felt my life coming apart. Everything that I thought had purpose…" She turned back and looked directly into his eyes. "I wasn't losing a potential boyfriend, Mulder. I thought I had lost *you. When I found out you had followed her…," she sighed deeply and closed her eyes again. "But then Frohike and Byers told me, and I thought I should find you."

He finished pushing the sugar across the table and touched her fingers. She twined their hands.

"Then we can have everything again, Scully?"

"If we try, Mulder. I want to go back, but we can't reimagine the past."

"Then we start from here, ok?"

She bit her lip and nodded.


They walked back to the car in silence.

"So what happens now, Mulder?"

"We get you a nice room."

"No, I mean, tomorrow. What are we looking for?"

Mulder took the driver's seat and started the engine. He joined the dwindling traffic on the road. Scully looked out the window at the passing strip malls, filled with fast food hamburgers and tacos, chain stores, and gas stations. The places they visited looked more and more indistinguishable, one foray in the car so identical to the last. Mulder finally started speaking.. "Let's get the personal out of this for a minute." He reached out to squeeze her hand but grazed her thigh instead. "I'm just beginning to make some sense of it. Smokey handed me the Truth and there it was--everything I always knew about alien life, the conspiracy in the government, men unaccountable to the rest of humanity, my father and my sister. His truth didn't offer any hope, though. Telling the truth wasn't going to save or break anyone any more. I always thought, if we only knew, if we could only reveal…" He shook his head. "CGB Spender told me exactly what I always wanted to hear and told it in a way that robbed me of any means to fight. Well, now I'm sure that Smokey's Truth was full of pretty lies. The Truth is still there and it may contain our salvation after all, Scully."


"They have Gibson, Scully. He is the key to understanding our brains and to seeing what our potential is."

"He is also a little boy."

He smiled at her, "You're sweet on him. It's because he looks like Frohike, isn't it?"

She raised an eyebrow at him. "Well, maybe I am. Or because he's a nice kid with a bad deal. He hates being a lab rat."

"Scully, I want to help him, too. But we also need him to help us."

"If he's still able to."

"What do you mean?"

"We don't know what they have done to that wonderful brain of his."


Scully checked herself in at the motel, rejecting the first room offered to her in case it was a set-up. The clerk shrugged at her refusal, and handed the key to a room at the far end of the main wing. The television was booming an argument between some bigamist's two wives, and the clerk quickly lost interest in Scully and her particular quirks.

Mulder carried her bag in and sat in the desk chair backwards, legs straddling. He watched her as she hung up her clothes.

"Scully, we have to start with Diana. What do we know about her really? Forget my history and think of her as our lead. We know she's in MI. She spent time in Europe and Tunisia. She collected data on abductees."

"She's tied to Cancerman."

"Yes, but how exactly? Does she work for him? We don't know. Whose agenda is she part of? Don't know. Is she trying to act as a free agent? Don't know that either. All we really know is that she has information and access that we need."

"Mulder, she set you up from the beginning."

He closed his eyes. "We have to forget about that."

"I'm not forgetting. She has tried to undermine you all along. Why should she change? She is dangerous to you."

"Put it aside. For now. Until we're finished."

She sat on the bed and pulled a pillow up behind her so she could lean against the headboard. He came to her side and motioned her to scoot over. "She doesn't know that I know these things about her. We've got to play along with her version if we want to make any progress."

Scully felt the tightening across her abdomen again. Did that mean going along with her version of Fox and Diana?

"Yeah, I know this is the last thing you want to do. Would you prefer to go back to Washington?" She shook her head. "No? Then we all have to get along. And that means that I have to convince myself that I can trust her. And you have to, too. We can't just play act on this. She'll figure that out."

"Mulder, it won't work."

"It has to. This is going to be hard, Scully. If I have to pretend I still care for her, I need you to understand. She trusts me, and she has to accept you as my partner. But you have to remember, she's not the one, you are."

Scully forced herself to hold his stare. He leaned forward and lightly brushed his lips against hers. "That's for now." He started to rise, but she grabbed his arm and tugged. Her eyes were steady, serious, and a little sad. She leaned forward, arms extended and he pulled her into a hug.


End of first part. Continued in "Aftermath2"