by Lynn Saunders

Title: Unbreakable
Author: Lynn Saunders
Rating: PG-13 for a tiny bit of violence Classification: M/S USTish, post-ep for Two Fathers/One Son Spoilers: Two Fathers/One Son and general knowledge leading up to that point
Summary: I remember you.
Feedback: Adored, re-read, printed out, and immortalized in a quality binder at lynnsaundersfanfic@hotmail.com. Website: http://www.mindspring.com/~lynnsaunders Distribution: Archive freely, but please drop me a line to let me know.
Date Completed: 6.3.2004
Disclaimer: Oops, not mine. Sorry.

Carol and Sallie rock! They're the 'awesomest' beta team around.

This is a little different from my usual, but I couldn't let it go. Hey, if I don't do different things, I won't continue to improve, right? That's my theory, anyway.

by Lynn Saunders

The dream begins in the same way each night, yet never ends. She wakes sweat-damp and disoriented, mumbling a half-remembered response as she tugs at the blankets and turns her face into the pillows.

In the morning, she'll shower and brush out her hair, line her eyes and button her black wool jacket, wondering why her sister's laugh echoes through her mind.

The night is thick and hot, salt-spiced air flooding through the open windows, dampening the sheets twisted at the foot of the iron-framed double bed. They can't sleep. Waiting is not an option for the young. They giggle, giddy with the feel of summertime and sleeplessness.

"Come on, Dana." Missy slips from the bed, bare feet soundless against the cool hardwood floor. She creeps to the window, climbing out into the sticky sweetness of the midnight air. She turns to find her sister in the low light, squinting through the hot sea breeze. "Dana," she whispers, "I'm not going without you."

"You shouldn't be going at all," Dana counters, conscious as always of her parents' presence in the adjoining room. "We aren't supposed to."

Ever cautious and rule-abiding, Dana has experienced far too few youthful indiscretions. Missy wants to run free and wild through the tropical night, but even more than that, she wants to see her sister let go. Dana needs to feel the sand beneath her toes, to see the night-cloaked beach in midsummer, waves shimmering beneath the stars.

And Missy knows just which buttons to push. "You don't have to be afraid. It's not a scary thing."

She is deeply afraid, for she is facing her most secret fear.

After the winter, the loneliness and cold of hospital corridors, they have come to a crossroads. Surely, she thinks, it is inevitable. They will take the same path. And just as soon as she begins to believe, another road takes shape, looming dark and twisted on the horizon.

She fought with Mulder.

The door falls shut behind her with a dull thud. She feels empty, brittle as rain-rusted metal. The streets smell of sulfur. The sewer grates steam, sending thick, white flumes swirling about her boot heels, yet nothing registers. She tried to leave last summer, and he tried to stop her, fought to get her back, went to the end of the Earth for her. This time, she made it out of the building, and he didn't even put up a fight. She reaches her car before silent, stubborn tears begin to fall.

She doesn't see Mulder slam his fist violently against the Gunmen's table top. She doesn't see him sigh, head bowed.

Oh, God, she thinks. He doesn't want this, doesn't want her, not in the way she has begun to want him.

Yet, later, when she receives the information, she can't stop herself from picking up the phone. They can reach the Potomac yards in time, of this she is sure. Because it is personal, because she does love him, she simply can't walk away.

"I am not afraid," Dana says as emphatically as possible without breaking her whisper.

"Then why are you still inside?" Missy disappears into the darkness, knowing Dana will follow.

Along the balcony, past their parents' window, over the railing, down the fat column on the southeastern side of the rental, and out onto the glittering sand. Freedom, together running.

Running, she can't stop running. Her lungs and calf muscles tingle as she dashes through the darkness, heels a clattering echo against the pavement. She rounds the corner into a blind alley, palming her Smith & Wesson, the steel cool against her fingers. A crunch of aluminum, a trash can topples, and she spots her target, clambering onto a fire escape ladder, his weapon a flash of silver, half-hidden in the waistband of his jeans.

She thinks he'll make it and briefly scans the structure for an escape route, but the suspect is winded from his adrenalinefueled run. He drops to the ground, rolling and crouching low against the back wall.

"I'm a Federal Agent," she hears herself shout. "I'm armed. Turn and put your hands against the wall!"

He looks up, startled.

"Hands against the wall!" she yells again, but she can see that it's no use. He is young, inexperienced and panic-stricken. She knows what is going to happen before he even reaches for the gun.

She fires, the bullet ripping through his right thigh. He is thrown onto his stomach and handcuffed in seconds. Only then does she allow herself to breathe.

Mulder is perched on the tailgate of an ambulance, barely maintaining his patience as an EMT cleans the gash on his forehead. His shirt is open, and he looks relieved to see her. She brushes his collar aside to inspect the ugly purple bruise over his heart.

"You're lucky you were wearing your vest... more than lucky."

Mulder grimaces. "Gotta love that Kevlar. I'm just glad he wasn't aiming for my head."

She glares at him, unamused. She wants to cry, to scream at him: "That's not funny Mulder, damn you!" She settles for brushing the hair from his forehead, the tension and fear of recent weeks stretching wire-thin, sharp and taut between them.

They do not speak.

The waves crash and churn against the pale, moon-bleached sand as they stroll the shoreline, breathing in the heady sea air. Ahead, the dunes glow orange-gold. Embers hiss and pop, sending sparks dancing above like overzealous neon fireflies. The fire burns not as a source of warmth, though the wind is brisk near the water, but as an invitation. Other unruly adolescents have escaped their respective beds tonight, enchanted by the silver moon. They gather about the fire with marshmallows burning on unraveled wire coat hangers, sharing stories and cigarettes, high on missed curfews and broken rules.

The sisters sit in companionable silence, away from the warmth of the fire. Dana digs her toes into the sand, covering and uncovering, leaning her head against Missy's shoulder.

"You should let go, Dana. Don't think so much."

"Don't think, Scully. Don't talk. Just listen," he says in his rushed, single-minded manner, all in one breath. He has wandered through the grimy streets, through the storm raging outside, to stand here looming in her doorway, dangerous in his black leather jacket. His hair is slicked back, dripping rainwater down his collar.

"I don't know where things started going wrong or why we've been acting this way when we're together... but I'm not leaving until we fix it."

She sighs, wondering when this man became so important to her. He can be arrogant and self-absorbed. He drives too fast and explains too little, steals her coffee and leaves seed shells all over the office, yet she has never cared for anyone more.

"Come in, Mulder."

A half hour later, his soaked jacket drips dry in her bathroom while two mugs of chamomile steam on her coffee table. She watches as he towels his rain-damp hair, admiring the sleepy eyes beneath.

"I've missed you," he says.

She smiles.

They won't speak of their partnership at length or discuss the future. Each knows, deep down, they are nothing without the other. Instead, they watch a bad movie and doze off, her head on his shoulder.

Before she met Mulder, she never knew that friendship could be unbreakable or that love could burn.

There is a boy, a young man. He is silent, sitting alone, yet his eyes offer far more heat than the flames burning bright in her peripheral vision. Talk to him, she thinks, or maybe Missy whispers it, and Dana finds herself standing in front of him, extending a hand. She thinks she's inviting him to join her, to stand, but he pulls her near and she follows, sitting with him in the warm sand.

His face seems familiar. Perhaps she's met him in passing, in one of the beachfront shops by day. She thinks he'd buy a snow cone at the squat, wooden popsicle stand. She almost remembers that he ordered lime, almost imagines that it stained his lips and fingers a brilliant shade of green.

He is looking at her now, into her eyes, and she's never felt like this before, like having a conversation without saying a word, like meeting her other half. She's never been kissed before either, she realizes. Not like this. His lips are soft, tasting of sea salt and exhilaration.

And, oh, she thinks. Oh. I remember you.


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