SUMMARY: Scully comes home to find a gunman in her apartment,
but its not what she'd expect.
This is a sequel/companion to "Through a glass, darkly," but I
don't think you need to have read that piece to understand this
FEEDBACK: Yes please.
Someone was watching her.
Eyes in the dark, breath on her neck, a voice at her ear, a gun
raised to kill....
She could feel it in her thoughts, her heart, her memory.
Someone out there in the dark, watching her, waiting to.... kill
Or was it - could it be....?
No. No-one. No-one was there. Nobody.
Scully paused, leaning her head back against the wall, as she
struggled with the tears that were never far away, not now.
Nobody. Always nobody, all those times she'd whirled round,
heart catching in her throat, _sure_ she could feel his presence
at her side, smiling as he had been the last time she'd seen
him. Just her imagination, that's all it was, this feeling of
being watched. Her hopes of his return. Her fears of....
"Mulder!" The icy air evaporated her sudden tears, leaving
stinging tracks across her cheeks, slashing like a knife. "Oh
_That's_ what it was all about, she knew that - knew it with the
rational part of her mind. These nightmares, these waking
nightmares of being watched by someone with murder in their eyes
- they weren't about her at all. No, she was thinking,
empathising.... _panicking_ - envisaging his feelings as he
realised they'd come for him, and his pain as they....
She fumbled with her key, suddenly desperate to get into the
warmth, away from the prying eyes of the night.
Take a deep breath, bite your lip, dig your nails into your
palms and think, think, _think_.... Keep in control. Keep this
in. Soon, soon.... Just a few more minutes and you'll be safe,
cocoonned in your apartment, and then you can hide in the dark
Safe. Safe in her apartment, like _he_...?
No! Not yet! Don't cry yet. Soon.... Not yet.
Tears, warm and burning on her cheeks, forced out by the
memories that choked her throat like a garrotte.
Three weeks ago, give or take a few days....
Oh God! Who was she trying to kid? Twenty-two days, twenty-one
hours and ten minutes - a lifetime of long, painful seconds -
since she'd arrived at his apartment, shaking with cold and
terror, knowing but not knowing what she'd find.
"He said he'd call me!" That thought had been hammering through
her head, over and over, as she'd raced through the streets,
without a coat or even a jacket, her tyres squealing with her
haste. "He said he'd call me, but..."
An hour gone by, then two.... Oh, she'd called him, of course,
not so proud that she had to wait for him, or so secure that she
could listen to the silent phone without worrying for his
safety. Call after call, long minutes listening to the ceaseless
ringing.... ten, eleven, twelve.... the cold mechanical tone -
not a human voice, not _his_ voice. No voice at home, no voice
at work, no voice on his cellphone, no voice even on his
answering machine. No voice. No.... nothing. Just that
interminable ringing tone.... twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two....
"Damn you!" Ringing in her ear, nagging and insistent, taunting
her with his absence. "Damn you!" She'd thrown the phone hard
against the wall, almost disappointed when it didn't break. "I'm
And she had....
What had she been expecting, that she'd been so horrified by
what she'd found? That he'd be asleep, and they'd laugh off her
panic together? That he'd be sick or hurt, and she'd patch him
up as she always did? That he was...? She still couldn't say
that word, although she'd thought, then, that she'd steeled
herself to see him.... like _that_.
Oh, she'd thought she'd been prepared for everything, but....
It had been the emptiness that had broken her as she'd stepped
into his apartment, feeling his absence, feeling a sudden dread
that she might never see him again. Mile upon mile of darkness
outside pressing on her from all sides, pressing down on
emptiness while he was.... somewhere.... anywhere.... nowhere?
There had just been.... nothing. Empty room, empty life. No
Mulder. No signs. No....
How many minutes had she stood there before she'd seen it? A
minute, an hour, a lifetime, frozen in the middle of his room,
frozen into shocked immobility while every second had been
taking him further away from her.
A note, thick black writing on stark paper, staring her in the
face while her senses had screamed at the emptiness but her eyes
had been blind.
A note, addressed to her.
Oh, she shouldn't have touched it, she knew that now, knowing
what she did. She should have left it, had it dusted for prints,
bagged it as evidence. It was so easy to say that now, so easy
to reproach herself. But then....
"He's ditched me!" She'd thrown herself on the couch, pounding
the cushions with all her strength, feeling the worry suddenly
transformed into raging fury. "He's ditched me! He's ditched
And he hadn't even given a reason....
"Scully, I've got to go. I'm sorry."
That was all. That was all he'd left her with. So cold. So
terse. So.... _not_ Mulder.
"Damn you, Mulder! I need more!" she'd shouted, rushing round
his apartment like a whirlwind, rummaging through his
possessions looking for clues. There had to be more - _had_ to
be. A clue to where he'd gone. A clue to _why_ he'd gone.
But there had been nothing. Some clothes missing from his
wardrobe, a few possessions taken, mostly photographs, but
nothing else. No clue. Nothing.
Why had she been so ready to believe that, when nothing had
seemed to fit? Why hadn't she doubted straight away? It was so
obvious to her now, playing back that last day with him like an
endless rerun in her memory, scrutinising it for hidden nuances.
Why hadn't she seen it then? Was it just that he'd left her so
often in the past that the slightest suggestion that he'd done
it again pushed her off a precipice of anger too great for
It just wasn't right - _hadn't_ been right. She should have
realised. She should have seen it earlier, and gained precious
hours. Maybe if she _had_, he'd be here today. Maybe her
blindness had.... had _killed_ him. Maybe....
"No!" she whispered now, digging her nails into her palms to
calm the growing hysteria of her thoughts. "Don't think of
But it's my fault....
The little whimper of anguish wasn't silenced by the cautions of
her conscious mind, and it hissed in her mind, making her reach
for the support of the wall and stand there, fighting the sobs
which threatened to overwhelm her.
I failed him. I was so ready to think the worst of him, that I
failed him. It's my fault - _my_ fault.
"No!" She drove her fist into the wall, brows furrowed in
concentration. "There's no _time_ to think like that!"
What good could it do Mulder, wallowing in the past, paralysed
by guilt? The future was what mattered - a future in which
Mulder could still perhaps be saved.
She _had_ failed him, there was no doubt about it. Three years
in the X-Files and she still hadn't learnt not to take things at
their face value. That note _had_ said one thing, but she should
have listened to _him_ - to his actions, his words, the last
time she'd seen him.
"What are you doing tonight?" he'd asked, casually, as they were
preparing to leave the office. It had barely been five o'clock,
but they'd been between cases, enjoying a rare day without a
"Oh, just a quiet evening in with a video, then an early night."
She'd scarcely been able to stifle a yawn as she'd answered,
stretching her arms above her head to loosen the tight muscles.
"Shall I come and tuck you in?" he'd asked with a sly smile, his
tone insinuating far more than his words.
"In your dreams, Mulder!" She'd swatted him gently, but hadn't
tried to hide her genuine smile. He'd been through so much
lately, since his mother's stroke, and it had only been those
last few days, when he'd started smiling again, that she'd
realised how seldom he'd smiled before. "But you can call me if
you like," she'd added, knowing how much he valued having
someone to talk to in his long solitary evenings.
"Okay. Ten o'clock. It's a date."
And those had been the last words she'd heard him speak....
So why hadn't she listened to his words that terrible night? Why
hadn't she pulled them to pieces and analysed them to see they
were _not_ the words of someone so stressed that they had to run
away and hide? Sure, he'd ditched her before, but always for a
reason - in the heat of the moment, or with some attempt at an
explanation. Why had she been so.... untrue to him that she'd
just assumed the worst of him, even though it just hadn't fitted
with his behaviour?
Why, why, why? Questions, questions.... Questions that couldn't
be answered but only pounded in her head over and over,
tormenting her with guilt.
Oh, the anger of that first night - the _fury_. She could
scarcely bear to think of it, though she knew she'd never live a
day free from the memory. She'd paced up and down, wanting to
scream, to shout, to hurt, resolving that when he returned she'd
reproach him as he'd never been reproached, make him suffer the
pain he'd inflicted on her when he'd selfishly left her with
this uncertainty and fear.
How many hours had she wasted in anger before she'd realised...?
She was just outside her own apartment now, wondering how she'd
got there. One foot in front of the other, eyes blind with tears
- not looking, not thinking.... lost in memory.
Over three weeks now, and still no sign. No ransom demand, no
clues.... even no body. At least if they'd left her a body she
could grieve properly, instead of enduring this terrible half-
life between hope and despair, never knowing but always
That small smear of blood on his floor, still not quite dry even
after the long hours of her fury. That smallest of smears, swept
in a curve as if someone had been wiping away a larger pool but
had missed this one small splash.
Blood. _His_ blood.
It had been hours before she'd seen it, and then the anger had
metamorphosed into a crashing wave of horror.
Oh God! Oh God! He _hadn't_ gone voluntarily after all.
Who were they? What had they done to him? What had been in his
mind as they'd - and she knew with a terrible guilty certainty
that this is what had happened.... What had been in his mind as
they'd held the gun to his head and made him write the note,
promising that they'd kill her if he didn't do what they wanted?
The breath caught in her throat and she reached for the support
of the door-frame, wanting nothing more than to curl up in
horror at _that_ particular image.
"No! I _can't_. I've got to be strong. He needs me!"
Oh God, she _had_ been strong, though it had nearly broken her.
As soon as she'd seen the blood she'd been all professional,
calling the police, searching for trace evidence, leading the
search, working for hours and hours every day without a crack in
her facade even though she'd returned home every night and cried
alone in the dark.
But where had her strength got her? Nowhere. Just dead ends and
Skinner's eyes had been full of sympathy, but his voice had been
apologetic. If _they_ had taken him, he'd told her, they weren't
"Where's your cigarette-smoking friend?" she'd blazed, more
harsh with him than he deserved. "_He_ knows."
"He appears to be out of town," he'd said, gesturing with a grim
smile to the empty ashtray, seemingly oblivious to the panic his
words had caused her to feel. Out of town. Not here. God! He
could have been with Mulder even as they were speaking,
doing.... _things_ to him while they could only talk impotently.
"He's gone before, Agent Scully," he'd said, another time, when
she'd requested a larger team. "And he's always come back."
"He's nearly _died_ before," she'd burst out, remembering
Alaska. "And you...."
"Agent Scully." His voice had been stern, although his eyes had
still been kind. "Believe me, I'm doing all I can, but _I've_
got to go by the book." Was his stress on that personal pronoun
an implicit authorisation to break the rules herself? "Remember,
he _did_ leave a note. You know what it looks like to everyone
"But he was _forced_ to write that note!" she'd shouted, knowing
she had no proof.
"Maybe." Skinner had shrugged, suddenly unable to meet her gaze.
Silence, while she'd tried not to let the tears escape, tried
not to let her facade crack.
"I hope you find him, Agent Scully." His voice had been so quiet
she'd hardly heard it, drowned as it was by the scraping of her
chair as she'd risen to leave, knowing she couldn't stay there a
minute longer without breaking down.
But she hadn't....
She was still alone.
Nearly there, nearly there. Just open the door, retreat into the
darkness, and then you can cry and no-one will see you, no-one
will know..... no-one will hold you and comfort you.
Nearly there. Key in the lock, turning slowly. Open the door.
Step in the room. Step, echoing in the silence. Step....
What was that? A noise, barely there at all...
There was someone there.
She paused, standing with the open door between herself and the
direction of the noise, senses attuned to pick up any movement.
There _was_ someone there. Small sounds in the darkness -
trembling breaths, whisper-quiet rustles of movement....
Oh God! She was going to die, she was going to die.
So why wasn't she reaching for her gun?
Breathing.... trembling.... a sob....
She took a step forward, softly softly on the carpet, then
A sob.... an incoherent cry.... a clatter....
She no longer expected a bullet now, but somehow that made it
worse. An assassin - that would have made sense. But this....?
Light. She needed light. Why she hadn't thought of that before?
Light. Finger on the light switch, heart thumping in her head as
she pressed with her finger, and....
He was curled up in a corner, crying, whimpering, eyes tight
shut in terror. There were deep red gouges on his cheek, and
blood beneath his nails.
She was at his side in an instant, hands moving all over him -
pulling at his shoulder, touching his face, trying to draw him
into her arms so she could feel for herself that it really _was_
him, not some nightmare fantasy drawn from her longing.
Tears dripped from her eyes, scalding her cheeks, dropping onto
his face, although she was smiling too, feeling his real and
solid flesh beneath her touch.
How often had she dreamt of this moment, imagining every
possible way it could happen? He'd wander into the office, dazed
like after Ellen's airbase, confused but unharmed.... He'd show
up in the hospital, tubes all over his body, and she'd nurse him
slowly, painfully back to health.... She'd find where they were
keeping him and take a team in with guns to kill the bastards
who'd tormented him....
But it had never been like this - _never_ - neither in her
fondest hopes nor her most terrible nightmares.
"Oh, Mulder! What have they done to you?"
His eyes were still tight shut, and he'd withdrawn so deep
within himself that they was no further he could go, not an inch
more that he could retreat. He was a tight, tight ball, shaking
in the corner, flinching at her every touch.
She _had_ to touch him, _had_ to try and get through to him,
even though a spasm of terror passed across his face at her
She could feel herself getting desperate, pawing at his
shoulder, prising his locked fingers away from his tightly
"Talk to me, Mulder!"
His lips were moving, over and over, whispering something almost
silently - something she missed, and then, "she won't be
here.... she won't be here."
And then he opened his eyes and....
"Go away! Leave me alone!"
Not even his whimpers and devastated face had prepared her for
the terror she could hear in the cry he forced through his
"Mulder!" She held him closer, using all her strength to stifle
his struggles, imagining he was shouting to some imagined
creature of a nightmare, not to her. "Shh, Mulder." A hand
stroking his hair, feather light. "It's okay."
"No!" His eyes were blind with terror as he pulled free from her
touch and tried to pull himself away. "No!" The last shout was a
barely-coherent scream as he realised he was up against a corner
and could retreat no further. "Leave me alone! Leave me alone!"
"Mulder." Her voice was shaking now, her mind stumbling in
confusion. What had they done to him to make him like this?
"Don't call.... not me. Not my name. Don't...." His hands moved
suddenly from his legs and clamped on his ears as he rocked
himself to and fro, half his words swallowed up in sobs. "Not...
"No!" His hands were shaking now with the force he was pressing
them against his ears, but he could evidently still hear her.
"I'm.... I'm...." And then his face had crumpled and he'd wept
like a child. "I can't remember. I.... can't.... remem... ber."
"Are you.... are you hurt?" Oh God, oh God! What could she do?
Act normally, talk normally, pretend this whole nightmare wasn't
Blood on his cheek from four dark gashes.... self-inflicted.
Blood on his lip and his chin.... self-inflicted. Blood on his
hands, curved nail-prints in his palms.... self-inflicted.
Blood on his sleeve.... Small pinpricks of blood on his
Ripping, tearing, she pulled his sleeve away, revealing dozens
of needle-marks in his arm, dozens of fading bruises from wrist
"Oh God!" She could feel herself trembling with relief, even
through the horror.
Drugs. He'd been drugged. This insanity, this quaking terror,
wasn't the symptoms of a mind damaged beyond repair. It was
And drugs would wear off....
Rocking him, soothing him, stroking him, holding him in her arms
until the drugs wore off. Already he'd sunk so deep into terror
that he was past fighting and just lay stiffly in her arms, only
flinching slightly from her touch, although his eyes showed how
much it still repelled him. Minutes, hours.... however long it
took, she'd be there for him, holding him so he'd never be alone
with the horrors of his mind again.
Minutes, hours.... Sirens in the street, a lifetime away.
Flashing lights pulsing through the window....
"I'm ready. Kill me. Don't wait." She could barely hear his
words, _certainly_ not understand them. Was that why he was
accepting her embrace, as he was resigned to die and knew no
amount of struggling could save him now? But why should he
"Open up! Police! We're armed!" A loud voice outside, while a
fist pounded out the rhythms of his words.
What the hell...?
"We're coming in after three. One... two...."
"I'm coming!" Her voice sounded so weak in her ears that it was
a wonder they heard her at all, but the pounding stopped.
"Shh, Mulder," she whispered, lowering his head gently onto the
floor, noticing how his eyes still stared and stared at the
ceiling, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings. "I'll be
Drying her face on her sleeve and hastily smoothing her clothes,
she walked across to the door and opened it, after peering
through the peephole to assure herself it _was_ the police.
"Why are you here?" It took all her concentration to speak in
her best professional voice as she flashed her ID.
"Someone called." The officer's gun wavered, and his voice was
suddenly full of doubt. "They said you'd been shot, and the
murderer was still in the premises."
"There must have been some mistake." How was it possible that
she could speak so calmly when inside the open door her hand was
clutching the handle as if it alone could keep her upright?
"I've not been shot, and there's no murderer here."
Oh God, oh God! Deep breaths, clenched fists, and.... control.
Keep control. Speak calmly. Smile. Get rid of them and shut the
door. Don't let them find Mulder. Don't....
"Oh." The gun went back into the holster as the officer frowned
in confusion. "Maybe it was some sick joke."
"Maybe." She shrugged. "Well, thank you anyway."
And then she shut the door, leaning back with a sigh, feeling
the tremors of horror running through her body.
Please don't let them knock again. Don't let them do their job
properly. Make them go, make them go. Please....
Footsteps sounding away and further away, padding down the
Quick, quick.... Lock the door, slide the bolts, fix the chain.
Safe inside. Safe....
She felt dizzy and nauseous, shaking with the horror that had
just been revealed. Oh God! It all made sense now.
Silence. He was lying still where she'd left him, eyes glazed,
face stiff with despair. Silence, more frightening than the
cries and whimpers and screams she'd heard earlier. Then at
least he'd shown some signs of responding - some signs of being
aware of his surroundings, even though his mind had obviously
translated what he saw into the images of a nightmare. But
now.... was it the first signs of recovery, or was it....?
Dead. She should be dead by now, that was the plan. Dead -
killed by him when he'd been drugged and brainwashed so he
wouldn't know her. Dead - and then the police would be there to
arrest him and charge him and destroy him.
But why hadn't he shot her? What had stopped him? Had the
familiar surroundings jogged something deep within his memory,
and stayed his hand? Had he....?
"No!" She spoke aloud, pushing herself away from the door. This
was no time for questions. Later would be the time to lie awake
in torment, asking those questions over and over, getting no
answers. But now.... Now _he_ needed her. That was all that
"Mulder!" A soft hand on his forehead, not holding him close
this time, respecting his fear. "It's me - Dana Scully." Her
fingertips stroked his brow, feeling the skin cold and clammy
beneath her touch. "Dana Scully, Mulder. Your partner."
Fingers stroking, voice soothing, murmuring, caressing.
Minutes.... hours.... Just her eyes and his, alone in the night,
for as long as it took...
And then, at last, he moved. One hand slowly, slowly raised to
her face, his touch like the faintest breath of wind, snatched
away almost instantly as if he was scared she'd burn him.
"You're.... you're.... real?"
She wanted to laugh then - hysterical laughs closer to tears.
What sort of question was that?
"Of course I'm real, Mulder."
"Mulder." His whispered his name, as if trying out its sound to
see if it fitted him. "Mulder." He shook his head doubtfully,
confusion darkening his eyes.
"Yes, you're Mulder. And I'm real." The tears were falling
again, but they were tears of hope now, sure they were nearly
there at last.
"But you weren't!" He flinched away in sudden panic as his voice
rose high and terrified. "You were.... I saw you in visions.
They told me you couldn't be true, but you.... I still saw you.
You were.... wrenching away my sanity.... driving me crazy. You
"It was all true." She spoke with a firmness she didn't feel -
hoping, praying, she was guessing right. "Those visions - they
were the truth.... your _real_ memory coming through. Everything
else they told you - _those_ were the lies, not this, not me."
"But...." His face was lost, searching for something to believe
"Think, Mulder!" She grabbed his shoulders, pulling his face
towards her so he was staring into her eyes. "Think of the
visions. Don't fight them."
His eyes flinched and half-shut, as if he was assailed by a
sudden flash of light, and his body tensed, but he said nothing.
"Look at them, Mulder. _Look at them_."
He shut his eyes, teeth sinking into the reopened wound on his
lip, frowning with concentration.
"Can you see me?"
A slow slow nod, tears trickling from his closed eyes....
"Can you see here?"
Another nod, shaking his head with wonder....
"Is it true?"
A long long pause. She couldn't breath, couldn't dare to hope,
"Is it true, Mulder?"
He breathed a deep sigh, relaxing into her arms, letting her
pull him close. It was all she needed.
"It's okay, Mulder," she soothed, as tears dripped onto his
face. "It's okay. It'll all come back. Everything will be okay."
And then he looked at her, and his eyes seemed to focus and his
face took on a look of wonder.
End of "Face to face"