Unresolved Endings

by Kimogen

New
Title: Unresolved Endings (1/1)
Category: MSR, Angst, Post-ep.
Rating: PG for a little swearing and implied adult situation.. Archive: Anywhere you like, just let me know. Disclaimer: Not mine, I would have more shoes if they were. Spoilers: The End, barely there one for Fight the Future. Summary: Of a lifetime of work, nothing remains Author's Note: I'm writing this without having seen the episode in a while - left my damned box-sets in my other house. So any mistakes here are purely because I had to make bits up hehe. Written for the ATF August Challenge 2004.

Skinner clears his throat as he steps through the open door. Scully steps away from her stony partner to face their superior, suddenly conscious of the fact that she is smudged with wet soot and her hair is mussed on one side where she leant against Mulder. Mulder does not move, but continues to stare at the crumbling office, his face blank. Skinner breaks the silence, telling them that the destruction has been complete: those of the files that survived the burning were obliterated by the high pressure hoses that poured water onto the blaze. Of a lifetime of work, nothing remains. Scully watches Mulder's face for any sign of a reaction, but he remains still. Only a tightening at the corner of his mouth reveals that he has heard Skinner at all. Scully moves back to stand before him, so close that she has to crane her neck to see his face. He does not acknowledge her. Skinner shuffles his feet uncomfortably. "I'm so very sorry Agents." Scully glances at him past Mulder's bulk as though he has interrupted something. Skinner clears his throat once more and sidles away.

Mulder sways slightly where he stands. Scully watches him with her head bent back, wondering if he will crush her if he falls. She does not have the energy to catch him. The tears that earlier pricked at her eyes were never allowed to fall and Mulder seems to be practising the same discipline. Shut the emotion out. Catatonia is favourable to the pain that is the only alternative. She stares up at him, waiting for the bomb to drop. Mulder has never been as good as her at keeping his emotions quashed. Scully puts her feelings into a little box and closes the lid. The box goes on a shelf somewhere in her subconscious, never to be opened again. Yet Mulder tamps emotion down like gunpowder, packing it in to wait for the fuse to be lit. The simple brush of her hand against his arm fires the gun.

The contact wakes him from his dream-state and she does not have time to utter his name before Mulder is spinning forward to smash the charred remains of the desk. The blistered wood crumbles as he kicks at it, already swinging around to yank on the half-opened filing cabinet drawer. The metal is slick with wet ash and hot against his palm and Mulder pulls away with a hiss. He wipes his palm on his grey t-shirt like a stung animal, blinded by the strobing emergency lights flashing through the window from street-level. The smoke and ash is in his sinuses, stirred up by his activity and it burns enough to make his eyes water. He feels tears on his cheeks and it makes him livid. He can barely make out Scully in the darkness, her hair vividly red, then black as the lights flicker on and off. He seizes her arm without thinking, barely hearing her cry out, before he half-leads, half-drags her out of the office.

The fire crew have packed up and left the corridor, their job over. The fluorescent light is a shock after the dark office and Mulder and Scully both squint as he plunges on, dizzily dragging her with him. Scully stumbles along, her arm pinched in his grip. She does not tell him to let go because she doubts that he will hear her, and she winces as he crashes through the fire-door, letting it swing back against her. She stops the door with her body, the bar catching her across the ribs and knocking the wind out of her as the alarm to Mulder's car blips. His hand releases her and he gets into the drivers side. Scully does not argue or try to take the keys from him, but tears open the back seat as he starts the engine, frightened that he will leave her behind.

By the time the car pulls up outside Mulder's apartment, Scully is thankful that it is almost four a.m. and the streets are quiet. He leaves the car skewed in a parking space, half on the kerb, the front wheels digging troughs on a grassy patch. The keys are in the ignition when he takes off across the grass and Scully pauses to shut the car off before following.

The front door to the building is open when she gets there and the elevator ticks over the floors. Scully taps the button, watching the red numbers reach four, then descend to collect her. It is empty and she takes it up to Mulder's floor, half-expecting him to be thundering down the stairs when he realises that he has no keys.

Yet when she reaches apartment 42, the door is open and Mulder is suspended in the doorway to his bedroom. Even in the dim light that filters in from the street, Scully can see from the splintered frame that the front door has been kicked in. She is glad that Mulder has finally stopped running.

Mulder looks around him, dismay coiling up inside his stomach and surfing its way upwards on a wave of bile. He chokes it down and swears, loudly enough to make Scully jump.

"FUCK!"

He had raced into the apartment, batting the door aside and barely registering that it should be locked tight. The bedroom door was closed as he had left it and he dared for a second to think that he had made it in time. But opening the door had not revealed the stacks of cardboard crates he had expected, instead he finds himself gazing at the floor for the first time in ten years. The boxes are gone, all the files he kept in the apartment taken away. His earlier words come back to him and he knows that he has been stupid. Diana caught him off guard and he let his defences down. He gave in to her soft womanly curves and turned his back for one moment. He let himself get distracted and he couldn't protect Diana and he couldn't protect himself.

He curses his stupidity under his breath, feeling Scully standing behind him as he edges forward to rummage through the remaining boxes. Nothing but junk. He tips two cardboard files onto the floor and useless newspaper clippings flutter down like paper snowflakes. A stack of old Playboys skid across the hardwood. The remaining crates turn up nothing more than an embarrassing number of Penthouse back issues. The glossy magazine covers wink up at him in the light from the uncovered window and he is disgusted at his own needful sexuality. If only he had kept his eyes on the prize, he wouldn't have been lured by from the Truth by the promise of warmth and comfort in Diana's arms.

Scully shifts behind him and he hears the rustle of her clothes. He turns to face her and blames her as he sees her. She is luminous in the streetlight and she hovers behind him, not rushing to comfort him nor running from him. She simply hesitates and he hates her for not coming to him. He hates her for being an inadequate replacement for the woman who left his bed for terrorism in Tunisia, he hates her for being so white and translucent and fragile and as breakable as crystal. He hates her because he cannot reach her and because she is so good at keeping her emotions from him and because he cannot keep his feelings from her. He blames her for her transience, for being brittle yet steel-hard and walled in and utterly unreachable - she is not glass, she is ice, frozen and solid but so easily broken. There is no warmth in the woman who stands before him and he half-fears that she would shatter if he showed her the brutality that wells up inside him.

Scully pauses in the corridor between the front door and the bedroom, considering whether to go to him, or let him come to her. As he turns, the desperation in his face is heart-stopping and she feels the bottom drop out of her stomach. She is frozen to the spot and her words stick in her throat. He needs her to go to him, but she can't because she fears that this will be the night that he drags her over with him. If he falls, she knows that she will fall too.

Then his gun is in his hand and the snub butt is pressed to his temple and Scully is running and crying out to him and the world moves in slow motion as he slides to the floor, moaning and shaking. Scully closes her hand around the gun and he slumps forward onto her feet and the gun is slipping to the hardwood floor with a heavy metallic thunk. Her pulse throbs in her ears and her breath comes in short, shocked gasps and she is dizzy as his arms encircle her ankles and he sobs hotly onto her feet. Scully barely realises that she is crying too as she folds herself down and over her partner's shaking form, concertinaed over his back. She can hear his speeding heart as her ear presses to him and she rests against him for balance, the top of his head bumping against her calves as he sobs, dribbling onto her ankles.

Mulder is glad that he does not have to look at her face as he sobs down into her feet. He smells the leather of her shoes and the sooty wet ash from the fire and thinks that his sinuses will never be clear again. He is repelled by his own hysterics - not even the sudden evil hatred that welled up into his chest was enough to keep his gun up against his head long enough to end it all. In truth he knows that he had dropped the gun before she had even touched him - the sound of his name in her mouth enough to break him in half and send him to the floor. He decides that it may be more gallant to hate her for being stronger than him than to hate her for being cold. She is anything but cold as she silently drops her tears against his spine.

Something stirs inside him, something forgotten and buried deeper than he could ever hope to store his pain. It worms its way up, bringing a flush to his face and sending his body upright without warning, knocking Scully off-balance. She topples backwards and crashes to the floor, slipping on a glossy magazine cover and landing on her back. There is a thud as her head connects with the floor and she sees cartoon stars for a moment. She hears her own voice swear but she does not recall forming the words.

When her vision clears, Mulder's tear-stained face is positioned above hers, a hand insinuated behind her neck. She shakes her head slightly to clear the buzzing in her ears and raises a hand to Mulder's chest. She vaguely hears him ask if she is ok and she nods, still slightly dazed. Then his lips are against her throat and she wonders if she really did lose consciousness. His mouth is forming words that are blurred by her own flesh and she feels his voice vibrate. The words suddenly make sense as her head clears.

"You. I didn't know. It was you and I never knew..."

He mutters again and again, his tongue hot against her skin and her hand finds its way into his hair without her sending it there, holding him to her. She hushes him and pulls his head upwards so that she can look into his teary eyes. He faces her openly now, moulding her into him, pulling her upright and feeling how soft and pliable and utterly womanly she really is. How could he have been so wrong? He wonders how much of this rush is simply his body distracting him from the stress he has endured in the last twenty-four hours, but he doesn't care. He wants to pour himself over the woman he holds in his arms and he feels her melt beneath him as his mouth descends once more.

Scully is less than comfortable as Mulder presses her down onto the wooden flooring, and his hand on her breast is foreign and unexpected. His lips blaze over her collarbone with a heat that conjures images of their crematorium office and she snaps back to reality. She struggles to free herself from Mulder's grip as he forces her back to the ground and covers her with his own body. She is crushed under him and cries out, knowing that she is not strong enough to fight him.

Mulder springs back, startled by her panicked cry. He watches Scully sit up and scoot back from him, her eyes wide and her lipstick smudged. He sits back on his haunches and realised that he has made a horrible mistake. Scully isn't like Diana. She can't do this for him. Only Diana could, would comfort him like this. And Diana is going to die. The X-files are gone and Diana is going to die.

"I'm sorry." He mumbles as he stands and goes to the window. She does not move behind him, but he hears her breath panting in a mixture of exertion and relief. "I'm not her Mulder." Her voice is small and indignant. "You can't replace her with me. I can't be like her." "I just wanted to be warm again, Scully." "And you would throw away everything we have for that?" "What exactly do we have Scully?" He turns to face her, eyes narrowed, anger rising at her self-righteous tone, as though she hadn't gone soft and let him kiss her. "Mulder...don't do this..."
"Do what exactly? I want to know what you think we have left. The files are gone, reassignment, Scully, that's all that's left for us. Desk duty. Then there won't even be a `we'." "You don't know that, Mulder." She is on her feet now, drawn up to her full height in her heels, trying to fill the doorway. Mulder sneers, knowing that her words are meaningless. In a matter of hours they will hear their new assignments and the X-files will be ash swept under the rug. "Why are you fighting this? What makes you above this, Scully?" "Mulder...I don't understand what you want me to say. Don't do this to me." She turns to leave, confused, hurrying out of the apartment and pulling the broken door closed behind her. Mulder pursues her into the corridor as she clips away. He is faster and he takes her arm as she flees, spinning her around and pulling her against him with more force than he intended. There are tears on her face as he grips her arm too hard for the second time that evening. She is rigid and leans out of his hold, so that he has to lean down to hiss into her face, "You have to face this. Don't run from me." She shakes her head and presses her lips together, trying to pack up the emotion and squash it down. He sees her take a breath, trying to compose herself, to raise enough dignity to look down on him as he openly cries and clings to her and forces her to stay. He watches the shutters slip down and he is angrier than ever that she would deny him, "Oh no you don't..." Mulder drags her with him back into the apartment and slams the door. It bounces in its frame and he swings her body around to hold it closed. "Don't you shut down on me...not tonight..." Mulder holds her so tightly that her face cracks into a grimace. "Mulder, you're hurting me!" He doesn't like the panic he sees in her eyes, so he lets her go. Scully goes limp against the door, looking down and clearing her throat. Her hair falls in a swath across her face and a hand goes up to wipe her eyes. She sniffs and shakes her head back, her hair falling back into place and revealing her face, hard once again. Mulder feels his heart sink as she raises a hand to push him back a step so that she can pass.

"Mulder, I'm sorry about this. I'm sorry about Diana and I'm sorry about the fire. I'm just really, really sorry..." She feels the lump rise in her throat and her voice comes out warped against the need to cry. What she really wants is to fall against him and cry until it doesn't hurt any more. But she can't do that. She doesn't know how. "Scully please...I need you..."
"Mulder, you don't need me, you never have..." It isn't the first time she has uttered those words to him, and she knows it probably won't be the last, but she says it anyway and it breaks her heart to think that it may be true. He shakes his head slowly, disbelievingly. "I do need you, I just never realised how much." "You only need me now there's nothing left Mulder." She wants him to argue, to fight for her. She needs him to be sure, to demand what he wants, to take it. She needs to have no say in the decision, to give over to impulse and instinct. But he doesn't. He doesn't have the strength to run after her again as she smiles sadly up at him and turns to leave.

Mulder watches her leave and his heart stops. She is out of the door and out of sight by the time it starts beating again and he finds his feet and his voice. He sees that she has left the door open and he suddenly knows what she wants him to do. His pulse picks up to double-speed as he rushes out into the hallway, but the doors to the elevator are sliding closed and she is gone from his sight again. He races for the stairs and crashes down, swinging around the banister at each landing. The lobby doors click shut as he bangs out onto the ground-floor and he can see her on the driveway through the glass door. Mulder throws it open bodily and shouts out to her as he goes. She turns, mouth open in surprise and he runs to her, panting too hard to speak.

Scully finds her stomach churning for the thousandth time that day as Mulder giddily lopes along. He stops just short of where she stands, panting her name. He catches his breath and mutters something she doesn't quite catch before his arms are around her and his mouth is on hers. She fights him, trying to turn her face away, but he has her tight and she is no match for his size. She has no choice but to let him kiss her and she feels herself liquefy against him. He kisses her hard and thoroughly and she lets him and when he pulls away, she is cold without the pressure of his mouth on hers. She steps closer to rest her head against his broad chest. His arms come up around her and he holds her like she wished he had in the office. She hears his heart race and it mirrors her own.

"Stay." Scully nods and lets him lead her back inside, unsure that she is doing the right thing, but not caring. He smells of sweat and tears and smoke and ash. She breathes the fire and all that remains of a lifetime of work and knows that she is all that he has left. She doesn't mind that he leaves the light off as he props the door closed with a chair, and she doesn't think as he draws her down to the blackness of his old couch.

The End.


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