Bitter Warfare Is Dear To Us

by zara hemla :: x-files :: r :: scully confronts krycek after her sister's killing.

Brain: Write this story.  Write it, I say!
Zara:  You know this is going to make me even *more* unpopular, don't you?
Brain: Write it or I'll turn off forever.
Zara:  *begins typing* Like that would make a difference.
Brain: Wheeeeee!

Vielen, vielen Dank to ETo'J, who beta-read this and grinned knowingly. There's a sociopath sitting on your couch, Evil Twin -- and he's got on leather gloves. I'll get out the ice cream, shall I?

Disclaimer: You own 'em, Chris. I just like to mess 'em up where no one can see.

Wake up
Somethings you can't get around
I'm in you
More so when they put me in the ground.
	U2. Dirty Day.

Telephone, three a.m. It wakes me from my half-drunk slumber, and I sit bolt upright on the bed. Stale alcohol reeks from my body.

Drunk again, the fourth time this week. Am I trying to forget something? I can't remember.

Telephone. Ringing. Again.

I fumble for it, trying at the same time to stay under the covers. It's rather freezing in here. Drunk people apparently don't know about thermostats. Damn me. It may be the middle of summer, but when you have extra ventilation, by which I mean all the windows open....

Okay. Okay. I'm answering already.

"Hello." I try not to sound as drunk as I feel and it's a blessing when I hear her clear voice on the phone like a mountain river. Her icy tone cuts me right through.

"You did it. You did it, didn't you? You aren't ever satisfied, are you?"

It's difficult to answer her. She sounds as if I have broken her heart. I suppose I have.

"Sc -- Da -- I'm -- "


"Hey, I never did that," I said, trying for insouciance. I run my hands through my hair. Over my left ear, I find a bump and a new scab. Last night is a black hole. And the night before that.

Her voice cracks a tiny bit, and slivers of it run in my bloodstream. "You just aren't satisfied."

"I'm the fucking Elephant's Child, Dana."

She chokes out a laugh. It sounds as if her lung is coming up with it. "Insatiable."

"You know that, don't you."

Her voice is only a thread now. "Tell me you were following orders."

"I was following orders." My legs swing over the side of the bed. "Does that make you feel better?"

Her voice sounds clogged, so thick with emotion that I could eat it on toast. "I should have shot you while I had the chance. I should have fucking shot you."

That's patently true. "Yeah. You should've."

Silence hangs on the line, hissing in my ear, and then she hangs up. I wonder what to do next, where to go. Not that I could hide from her. Not that I would want to. I should feel right, justified. And I do. But I also feel like my head is full of dirt.

Oh Dana. I love you. If only you had died.

* * *

She's got a naturally suspicious nature. In conversation, it reveals itself more fully. She suspects everyone. I'm sure she suspected me. Of something. Who knows what it was. Did I have a hair out of place, a nervous tic, something she could put her finger on later and say, "That was it! I knew there was something about him!"?

I bet she comforted herself with that very statement, later. Brushing her hair, maybe, she'd pace the bathroom and mutter that she knew it all along. That I was too slick and pretty to be real.

I only hope that she can forget the spectre of me sliding my arms around her and telling her that she has the most beautiful hair, that she's like a fire in my brain. Because I can't forget it.

* * *

That summer, I was being legit at Quantico. Well, not really legit. But I established my pretty-boy credentials well enough when I was there. By the time I hit Skinner's department, I had seven letters of recommendation, and three of them were real. I met Mulder face-to-face for the first time with Skinner. But the first time I met Scully was in a class on gunshot trajectories. She was attending for the fun of it. I was seeing if the lectures would prove useful in future jobs.

I started off by asking to copy her notes from last time. Soon enough, I was helpless, bound up in her smile, confiding in her everything that wasn't real, that wasn't me, but that I wanted to be me because it pleased her. That summer, I didn't do much at Quantico except try to please her. Ask her to dinner. Bring her books. Ply her with small talk. Admire her spoken word. Her hands. Her ass. Her mouth.

Her mouth tasted like smoke the first time I hollowed it out. She had been smoking, and she begged me not to tell Mulder. I promised not to. I couldn't have anyway. I could never tell him anything.

No matter that the first time we kissed was in an autopsy bay. She smoked sometimes because she didn't like to teach, because it calmed her nerves. Because she wanted to. Autopsy bay, Quantico, with her hair tied up and her cutting smock still on.

We kissed up against a silver rack of freezers, each holding a dead body that might be us someday. She had been catching up on grades, down there in death's dominion, and I came looking for her. Sometimes only the sight of her kept me from putting my hand, my head, through the nearest wall. This is still true.

She smiled when she saw me and she asked what ever was I doing down there in death's dark. I said I couldn't stand it any more and truly, I couldn't. My assignment that day had been slightly gruesome, not that I could tell her that, and then Mr. Spender had patted me on the head and told me good job and my paycheck was in the Swiss bank, no matter that a man was dead in his bed, because money can buy you everything but love.

I wanted to tell her all this, but I was constrained by her clear eyes and her unravaged face. I felt ravaged, in there where no one could see, and it hurt, that was one of the last times it hurt to kill a man. Later, I stopped minding. It's easier not to mind. No matter who it is you're killing.

She said, hard day in class? I think I'd told her I was a chem student or something. She thought it was great, really noble. That I'd win the Nobel Prize or something. And I said you have no idea, and she said come here and I'll rub your back, and I did mean to have her rub my back, I did. But at the first touch of her hands I lost it a little and I twisted around at her touch and I said Dana do you mind if I kiss you and she smiled a little wider and she said no, Alex, I don't, and that throaty no was my undoing and I picked her up, right out of her chair, she was light as a feather, and I set her against the silver racks of frozen corpses and I kissed her like world's end.

She is fine, good and fine, and I like to think I didn't leave that much of a mark on her, but maybe that sometimes when she's in the bathroom and the stainless steel of her cabinets reflects her face, that she will remember one day when her legs went around my waist and I held all her weight for a glorious frightening moment that was too short.

* * *


Stumble out of bed. Into the shower.

Leave the lights off. I don't want to look in the mirror.

Shower in the dark.

Remember her hands.

Shut off the shower. Bite my lip, hard.

Try to stop thinking about her hands.

Get out of the shower and hunt around for a towel.

Dry off. Shave by touch, in the dark.

Leave the bathroom. Flip on the lights in the apartment.

Remember how she used to wrinkle her nose at the couch and say how ugly it was, how it didn't complement her bra.

And remember how stupid me just gaped at her and then, shocked into understanding, took a seat on the floor as she unbuttoned her blouse.

Pull on underwear and pants and a shirt and boots and find my sunglasses and my wallet and keys.

Try to forget her hands. Try to forget that she shot Mulder to save you; to save him, yeah. But to save you, too.

Try to forget her absolute anguish over the telephone.

Grab an apple out of the fridge. Try to stop imagining her eyes, staring red-rimmed hell at me, and her swollen mouth, calling me a fucking bastard.

Close the window. Remember instead how she looked in the rain, in the sun, underneath lowering clouds.

Finish the apple. Get a banana and peel it. Make sure I have memorized the address to my meeting place. Eat the banana.

Buckle on my Ruger P90. Leave the apartment. Lock the door behind me. Stomp down the stairs and out into the bright, bright sunlight.

Put on my sunglasses and keep my chin up and try so very hard to stop thinking about her, how she used to say my name so it had at least seven Xes on the end.


* * *

I'm no Romeo. I drink too much, for one thing. I hate Mulder too. She did anything for him, anything he wanted, and she went to Puerto fucking Rico for him, and she did his autopsies and she spat in the face of anyone that said anything. Oh, she was a problem to the Group: I told them she would be. For her sake and for mine, sometimes I wished she wasn't on the X-Files. What a bunch of crap those files are, even if they do give me employment.

I hated when she wasted her mind like that. If I came over and she had a folder with X on it, she'd shut it right away and look guilty, but she wouldn't deny that she was working on some damn thing like a guy that saw weird messages in his postal coder. What the hell kind of job was that for her, with her exquisite mind?

Looking back on it, of course I was jealous. She'd head off someplace with a "Bye, Alex," and a cheerful wave, and it would be somber hell in my apartment till she got back. I'd do my job of course and I'd kill the person I was supposed to kill and I'd get back home and get drunk. It's only without her that I become an alcoholic. When I have her mouth to drink, booze tastes like puke.

She confessed to me once, only once, that she sometimes got tired of Mulder asking her to do stuff. By this time I was sleeping over, had a toothbrush in the bathroom, spare T-shirt in the drawer, the whole works. I didn't come over as much as I'd have liked. Mulder might find out, she said, and like her smoking, I guess, he wouldn't go for it. It turned out to be a bit of a blessing, that paranoia. Later. The two halves of her life collided when she and I "met" over the body of a dead Marine. She walked right by me when I offered my hand. Nice to meet you, she said. And with Mulder standing there looking at her, all I could do was pretend, while her awfully young face tried its best to lie. Oh, she couldn't keep her feelings hidden. Not at all.

I was the one who heard her frustrations about the job. About her superiors and how she was supposed to be a patsy for them. She told me when she didn't feel up to the job. She took out her rage on me. She had it, believe me. That rage made me happy, made me think that she might stick with me no matter what. She certainly stuck to me, like pollen on a bee.

She came to me at odd hours of the night and she called me and begged me to visit her. And when I arrived at her door it would be open just a bit, and I would push it open and go in and she would be perched on the kitchen table. The line of her arched back would glimmer white in the dim space of domesticity and her hair would cascade down over her shoulder blades. It hurts my cold cold heart to think about how soft her skin was, how she put bite marks in my shoulders.

People call me a soulless bastard. People call me a whore. All I know is, I'm hers. Hers till the day I die, or the day she does. And at this rate it'll be her before me. My life is awfully weird, and fate deals me a rotten hand, but nothing has been quite as bad as when I was ordered to kill her.

* * *

No one would understand this, so I don't tell anyone. If anyone asks, I just say: they told me to do it and I did.

Makes sense, doesn't it? They told me to do it and I did. I'm a terribly good soldier. I take orders with a smile on my face. I have been a soldier since I could walk. My first words were, "Yes Sir." I speak four languages and curse fluently in six. And I cursed in all six of them when Mr. Spender gave me the assignment.

It's true that I didn't protest. It's true that when he said "You and Luis are going to go take care of Dana Scully," I didn't believe it for one long minute. Then I said "Yes sir," and I left and I went halfway down the staircase of that big office building and then I sank down on a dirty step with my knees shaking.

It's true that the rest of that time consisted of my being continuously drunk. At the time of Mr. Spender's order, Dana and I hadn't spoken in months. After she came back from her experience on Skyland Mountain, she called me one time. I came over one time. And then I left and she threw herself into work with Mulder and the phone stayed silent and she never came over again. She and I were barely acquaintances anymore, in spite of my being able to finish her sentences.

She didn't blame me for Skyland Mountain, I'm sure of that. But Mulder suspected me, and so she did too after awhile. I'm sure he told Scully all about Alex Krycek, cold-blooded killer, amoral savage to his, Mulder's, shining white knight. Maybe she didn't believe him at first, but he kept at her, kept badmouthing me with all the petulance of a hurt child, until she finally took him at his word.

Consequently, she just turned herself away from me, quit talking to me, quit seeing me. If she'd passed me on the street, she'd have dropped her eyes. Cut me dead, I'm sure. But I'd still wake out of dreams gasping her name. I'd still find pieces of her in my apartment -- red hairs by the mirror, a fingerprint in the butter. Still.

So it's true that I spent that humid summer week making my way through bottles of Glenfiddich. One good thing about my paycheck -- no skimping out for me. I sobered up, barely, the day before my assignment. Luis thought, and said, that I was a damn fool. He said he wanted a new partner. I wanted to give one to him. But I think Mr. Spender knew something and he wanted to test me. I was determined to pass.

It's also true that Luis took the shot. I would have done it if I'd been asked. I would have squeezed my eyes shut and I would have done it. But he didn't ask me to.

No one would understand this. Very few people understand the idea of total obedience. Luis doesn't even understand it -- he badmouths our superiors on a regular basis. I haven't met more than a handful of people that could nod when I say that I was sent to kill the fire in my life. And yet, she is not dead. It would probably be easier for me if she were.

We shot her sister instead. It should have been her, and it would have been if I'd been more attentive, more sober. I saw red hair and before the length registered, I'd nodded and Luis had put a small black hole in her forehead.

I suppose it's hard to think of killing someone you love. I just did what I was supposed to, and my rotten luck sold me out. I can't stop thinking about what she would say if she saw me, what look she would give me. There aren't any excuses I have for her. I'm glad she hung up -- I'm sorry. I'm glad.

I head up the elevator of the Hotel America. My mouth tastes like the inside of a whiskey bottle. I have to report to Mr. Spender. He's expecting me. I have to atone to him for making the mistake of killing Melissa Scully instead of Dana. To him, this is monumental. To him, I have failed. He doesn't know how much effort this took in the first place.

* * *

We are in room 417 of the Hotel America. He sits in a hardwood chair, back straight, mouth puckered prissily. "I want my money back" is the first thing he says to me. The second is, "Cretin." I'm standing at attention in front of him, hands curled at my sides, eyes forward. I really want to hit something, but it pays not to let Mr. Spender know things like that.

"I'm sorry, sir," I say, and I mean sorry that he isn't ever getting his money back, sorry that I messed up but no exchanges, no refunds. Mercenaries don't give store credit. His mouth puckers even more. He and the Group are out a lot of money for this, and he knows damn well he isn't ever going to see a cent of it again. I keep my eyes fixed at a point right over his forehead, so he can't get me for insubordination. Even so, I can see his eyes narrow angrily.

"You fucked up, Alex. Big time. What do you have to say for yourself?"

What, indeed. I want to sink into a chair, tell him everything like he's my shrink. But you don't admit your weaknesses to your boss. You don't admit any more than is necessary. Like that you've slept with the person he wants you to kill, curled up and cocooned, nose buried in her skin. Like that you would do anything but die instead of her. Like, sometimes you wonder if you're a coward or the bravest person ever. Like that you can't get her out of your head and oh how you have tried. But I don't tell him any of those things. I don't speak, I don't move, until he finally gets up out of his chair and begins to pace the room furiously.

"We can pin most of this on Cardinale," he says. "But you were the one that was supposed to ID her. What the hell were you thinking? The sister doesn't look anything like her!"

I begin to say that they both have red hair and then realise that he's looking at me like a vulture eyes a dead armadillo and I know that he's just waiting for me to admit that I messed up. He wants to hear me say it. So I don't say anything. What's done is done anyway and he doesn't really care, but the money galls him more than anything. It's the money that really bakes his noodle.

"You drunken bastard," he says finally. "You alcoholic bastard." I ignore this slur on my parentage. I'm crying all the way to the bank, you withered hag. He paces across the room one last time and then he looks at me narrowly and says, "I'm going to take this up with the Group, Alex. This isn't going to go unnoticed." And most of the crap's gonna fall on him. I smile inwardly, because I'm just a flunky. He's the one who's gonna get lambasted. That probably bakes his noodle too.

He slams out of the room with a snide comment about not ordering room service, and I wonder why I came over here at all. I thought maybe he'd have a guy named Muscles try to put my head through a wall or something. This wasn't exactly profitable. Hell, it wasn't even fun.

I swipe a couple bottles of whiskey out of the bar, and head down the elevator to the lobby. As I walk across the plush velvet carpet, I slip on my sunglasses so the clerk won't be able to see my eyes if he's looking. And someone is looking -- I feel a prickle at the back of my neck, the hair standing up straight. So I stop dead and look around, and that's the only reason I see her.

* * *

I think my heart thumps into stone for five seconds or so. I know my body does. Her presence strikes me, as it always does, with a tangible thud. She makes the classy surroundings look tacky and cheap. Everything looks dingy compared to her. And she's staring straight at me.

I have to keep cool. Keep cool, I remind myself. I feel my hands shaking. I feel sick -- stage fright.

Keep it together.

It's pretty obvious that I've seen her, so she walks up to me with her casual saunter, her leather jacket flaring out over her jeans.

"Only dorks wear sunglasses inside," she tells me offhandedly. I can see that her eyes aren't matching her social smile.

"It's the only disguise I have," I offer. She isn't taking the bait. Instead, she smiles at me like we're old friends. "I am going to kill you, but not here," she says. "I know you were in a meeting. I want you to take me up to the room where they were."

This is slightly surprising. I don't stop myself from sounding confused. "Wha -- Scully, I don't understand -- " I thought she was just gonna cap me.

Her grin slips, gets tacked back up on her face. "Take me up there. Are you fucking stupid?"

"No one's there anymore."

"You're lying. And if you're telling the truth, you're lying anyway. So move." She pats her pocket to let me know she's packing, but I am going to do whatever she says, I have made up my mind. I turn around, move back toward the elevator, and she follows me, slipping her arm in mine and smiling up at me. I tip my head down to look at her and see the frenzy in her eyes. This could go badly.

Once in the elevator, she lets go and steps back again, glaring narrowly at me. "Take off those fucking glasses."

I let myself grin. "People say my eyes are very expressive. I don't want to give away everything I'm thinking."

"Your eyes are as transparent as six inches of obsidian. Take them off."

I don't move and she huffs a breath and the elevator stops. Back on floor 4. She practically shoves me out of the elevator and down the hall. Dammit, this is not the way to keep a low profile. I search the hall for maids, but there's no one in the hall. As we stop in front of 417, I keep my voice pitched low and say, "Now what? I don't have a key."

"Pick the lock." Her voice is barely a breath in my ear.

This might be getting out of hand, so I decide to fake fright. "Dana, geez, that's dangerous. I don't understand what this is abou--"

"I don't care what you have to do. Kick it open if you have to." Her mouth is so very close to my ear and I must be losing it again, because I simply slide my hand into her back pocket and pick her wallet out of it. I can't resist letting my hand stay a minute longer, maybe too long.

She takes a deep breath and maybe she's going to scream so I hiss, "I need your fucking credit card." What, does she think I carry around a Visa Gold with my name on it? She closes her mouth again and eyes me narrowly as I slide out her American Express. The lock isn't difficult to spring and I have her inside in under fifteen seconds.

She jumps into the room like she's expecting the whole Group to be sitting at a conference table waiting for her, but no one's around. I shrug and shut the door behind us. I tried to tell her.

She begins to toss the room pretty professionally: if she wanted, I could teach her some tricks, but she's doing pretty well on her own. I lean against the door and watch her rummage through the drawers and under the bed and in the little bathroom. At last she stomps out of the bathroom, covered in dust, and faces me again with a couple of frustrated tears glimmering in the corners of her eyes and her gun sitting sweet in her left hand. She slowly brings it up to point at me.

This isn't a situation that I want to be in. I should have just left her here alone. It's like some kind of fatal flaw, that I can't leave her alone.

"He was here," she says tonelessly. "You met with him, right?"

"Yeah," I say. No use lying now. "I met with him."

"What did he want?"

"He wanted his money back," I say slowly. I really, really, don't want to go here, but she's not letting me lie; I think she can see right through me.

"And what did he pay you for?" she asks, and her voice breaks, and I know I will never be able to explain to her, never in a million years, that I was doing my job. Maybe, I think suddenly, it's not a good excuse anymore.

"Dana -- "

"Why don't you just fucking say it," her tired voice grates at me. "Because she died and now you have lots of money to pay for whatever you fucking well want, now you have lots of money to buy you a heart because you've broken mine and my mother's and my brothers' and now we are all lying in pieces right in front of you and Alex, I have nothing left but the memory of a fight we had when I was sixteen. She wanted to wear a dress of mine and I wouldn't let her, and my mom made me share with her, and I was so mad that I wouldn't talk to her for a week, and then finally we hugged and made it up, she smiled at me and said it was great to be my sister, that I was a great girl, oh, Alex, oh, you never even met her." Tears have begun to streak her, but she still hasn't moved the gun.

I want to tell her it wasn't me. I have nothing against her sister. I'd have been glad to meet her sister. I just follow orders. But I'm slowly realising that nothing I say is going to make any difference to her, that she is probably tired of hearing what my mouth has to say to her.

"You're such a good soldier, you bastard, you stupid motherfucking insatiable bastard. You always do what's best for you." It's almost love, the way she says it. Or maybe I'm imagining that.

"I didn't take the shot, Dana," I say, what a lousy excuse.

"But you would've," she says, and the tears are streaking her now, "You would have. I hate you."

I guess no one can love a man that sticks to his convictions like I do. I don't have anything to say, no way to fix her hurt, so I just walk over there, slowly so I don't scare her, I let her push the gun right up into my chest, I hope it leaves a bruise, and then I lean down and kiss her, because I still love her and it's not right anymore to talk.

* * *

My mouth is wet from her crying as I straighten up. It's unbearable to watch her cry like this, so I turn around to head for the door, maybe stand outside for a minute, let her get it together. But she makes a sudden strangled noise, like she's trying to puke up her heart, and I can't stand it one more minute without touching her, so I pick her up in my arms and set her on the bed and hold her while she tells me what a stupid bastard I am.

She asks over and over whether I would have shot her and every time, I answer "Yes." I'd lie if it would help, but she doesn't want lies. She wants to know my motivation, and like I said, very few people understand what I'm actually saying. So I just don't deny it, no matter how much I wish I could.

"You're evil," she finally sniffles. It's her basic premise. It's been that way since she was returned. I'm evil and Mulder's good and never the twain shall meet without her having to shoot one of us. "You're evil, that's all." I shrug: I know from experience, and she should too, that quantifying people is like catching a quark. It can't really be done, no matter how many people say it can.

"I'm not evil," I reply. "Very few people really are. I'm just trying to get along in a difficult business."

She pushes up against me, trying to get away, but I hold her down, wanting this moment to stay. It's one desperate, awful attempt to keep her with me. She looks at me with a mix of impatience and grief and whispers, "Everything's business to you."

That's about true.

"Remember that time I took you out to the creek?" I ask. "The one in Maryland?" It's important for me that she remembers this. I'm not sure why.

The tips of her ears turn red as she nods. She certainly remembers what we did at the creek, if nothing else.

"And we went wading and I brought that innertube and we laughed and we drank all that natural apple juice stuff?"

"Yeah." She sounds less sniffly, but it'll start up again.

"After I left you at your place, I went home and there was a message on my machine. So I went to the meeting place -- it was kind of like this -- and I got my orders and I went to a guy's house in Fairfax -- " I'm getting less and less sure I want to tell her this -- "And I shot him through a pillow with a silenced Ruger, kind of like this one." I slip her hand around to the small of my back, where I keep my gun.

Her delicate fingers feel the lump through my shirt and kind of rest there, settling. She stays silent. My hand has slipped under her shirt again and it's pushing the soft cotton up inch by inch, showing up her ice cream skin.

"Did he deserve it?" she finally asks. Predictably, Agent Scully is wondering about justice and truth and the American Way.

"I don't know," I say. "I only knew his name, his description, his address. It doesn't matter. I do what I'm told."

She arches her back a little under my touch and that movement spikes right through me, the way she twists up to hold my eyes with hers.

"Did I deserve it?" she whispers. Her blue eyes are like electricity, a thousand volts raw.

I whisper, "No," and I lean down and cover her body with mine. I wind my hands in her hair and we kiss again with enough force, it seems, to cause an earthquake.

I tear my mouth away just enough to whisper that I'm miserable without her, to pull her jacket off of her arms, and to ruck her shirt up over her head.

* * *

By this point, all I can think about is her skin and her smell and the way she's letting her legs lie partway open. So it's a surprise when I can drag my eyes past her push-up bra to her face. Her eyes are closed and there is absolutely no expression on her face. From the way she kissed me, I thought . . . but now I think I'm raping her.

"Dana?" I whisper. My throat seems clogged up.

She opens her eyes and they are unfocussed, she looks like she's stoned and she brings up one hand to trace the line of my jaw. The feel of her against two days' beard is exquisite. I try not to get distracted.

"You're so beautiful, Alex. I wish I didn't love you," she says. Her eyes clear up a little. "But you can't turn that stuff on and off. Sure, my head says, 'He just tried to kill you. He offed your sister, or he helped do it. Don't you understand that, Dana?' But whatever that thing is in my chest that people call a heart, well, that thing hurts like hell and it just wants you, Alex, you to make it all better. It says, 'He is the one that you call for in the night. This one, this one with all his flaws and his faults.' What do you think I should listen to?"

By now, I realise how this is going to end, and I get one last look at her beautiful body before I answer her. I run my hand one last time down over her stomach, her hips.

"What do you always listen to, Dana?"

If you love something . . . What a damn trite sentiment.

She looks at me and suddenly she's crying again, my love with her steel spine, and I know that this time I've broken her heart well and true. So I help her slip her shirt back on and I hold her until the sobs have died away, and then I whisper that if she doesn't watch out, the maid's gonna think we had a fight, and she chokes out a little bit of a laugh, and then I send her into the bathroom to wash her face.

She pauses at the entrance to the bathroom and looks back at me. Her face is all swollen with tears and her mouth looks bruised. The Unbreakable Dana Scully. She asks will I be there when she gets out of the bathroom, and I shake my head, and she stands there for one tiny, eternal moment, and then she goes in and shuts the door behind her. And I betake my battered body and my bruised heart somewhere else.

I never lie to Scully. Or, at least, I try not to.

* * *

The bar's dark and the music pulses the tables. I order whiskey, neat. Nothing's neat except whiskey anymore.


* * *

Mr. Spender has left five phone messages. When I call him, he asks where I've been. I evade the question. He wants me to get a disk from Skinner, right away. I say yes. What else? But I notice a strange tone in his voice, a strange new tone. This doesn't bode well for yours truly.

I hear Scully's in New Mexico. Gone after Mulder. It makes me smile a little, bitterly. I don't think she'd go after me like that. But she knows I can take care of myself, unlike that poor sap of an agent. He's never in the right place.

Or maybe he is in the right place. He has Scully, after all.

I suppose it wasn't meant to be. I suppose I'm maybe meant to drink myself to death. She's meant to hare off after Mulder till maybe she can't walk anymore. We're meant to cut each other dead, meant to walk in opposite directions. That hurts me more than killing ever did.

The job is all I have left, really, and I'm not sure how much job security I have; I'd better check my finances too. Scully's right. I did get a lot of money to break her heart. But it wasn't as much money as she thinks, and cash isn't something I really enjoy.

I head out to the meetingplace where I can punch Skinner and knock his bald head against a wall or something. The thought holds a lot of appeal. I feel tense; strung. Struggling. Motivations unclear. But I'm done talking. Let it be warfare, then; let it be how it is.

--*the end*--

Twenty feedbacks can buy many peanuts! (Homer: 'Splain how. Brain: Feedbacks can be exchanged for goods and services.) :)

Author's Notes: Many thanks to Jenna for the idea. Groovy, baby, yeah!

The U2 quote is from "Zooropa."

The title is from "Anna Town," a poem by Anne Carson:

What an anxious existence I led.
And it went on for years it was years.
Before I noticed the life of objects one day.
Anna gazed down at her.
Sword I saw the sword yield up.
To her all that had been accumulated.
Within it all that strange.
World where an apple weighs more.
Than a mountain then.
We set off.
For bitter warfare.
Is dear to us.

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