SPOILERS: Prequel to Justice, Interrupted
SUMMARY: Portent — Prophetic or threatening significance
DISCLAIMER: Mulder and Scully belong to Chris Carter and
1013 Productions. No copyright infringement is intended.
AUTHOR’S NOTES: Written for the VS10 Post-episode
challenge. Many thanks to dtg and Vickie for beta.
FEEDBACK: Yes, please.
They’ve been at it for hours now, and she’s had enough.
Loaned to Domestic Terrorism in what was essentially a political
gesture of good will, they are staked out in front of the dilapidated
shell of a factory, waiting for a clandestine meeting between two
alleged arms dealers. In four hours of surveillance they’ve
consumed a thermos of coffee, listened to the Yankees beat the
White Sox, and debated whether Skinner has an active sex life. In a
final act of desperation, she’s allowed Mulder to cajole her into a
game of Watercooler Trivia.
“My turn.” Mulder slips another seed between his teeth, gaze
skimming over her before returning to the darkened building. “The
category is ‘Dirty Little Secrets’ for two hundred.”
“All right. Fire away.”
“Which Hoover building employee’s fashionable coiffure is
actually a wig?”
She thinks a moment. Frowns. “Clarification, Mulder. A full wig?
Because lots of women wear hairpieces.”
“Give me a little credit, Scully; I know the difference. I’m telling
you, this ‘do’ is a don’t.”
She chews the inside of one cheek, sifting through a sea of faces
and coming up empty. Who in the hell could he be talking about?
Smugly annoying, Mulder spits a seed out the window and begins
humming the Jeopardy theme under his breath. She huffs, grasping
His brow furrows. “Florence who?”
“In Financial Operations. I would think you’d be buddies, Mulder.
Among other things, she handles reimbursements.”
“Ahh. You mean the older lady with hair like a gray football
“I take it she’s not the one.”
He mimics a buzzer. “Nope. Not even close.” He checks his watch,
then glares out the window. “This was a waste of time. The action
is going to happen around back; I’d bet my life on it.”
She tamps down the urge to strangle him. “Mulder?”
“Hmm?” He gives her a blank, uncomprehending look, but she
knows him well enough to glimpse the glint of mischief beneath.
“So it’s not Florence Dobson. Who is it?”
He leans in, as if about to impart information vital to national
defense and not a juicy piece of gossip. “You won’t believe this,
Scully. I mean, I can hardly believe it. Never in a million years–”
The pop of a gunshot has them scrambling from the car even
before the radio crackles to life with the ASAC’s shouts for
reinforcements. But by the time they make it into the building, it’s
over. A scruffy-looking street punk in ripped jeans and a leather
jacket stands with palms pressed to the cinderblock wall and legs
spread. His ‘business associate’ lies crumpled on the ground in a
puddle of blood.
“Always last to the party, huh, Mulder?” Agent Sam Kenilworth,
not one of Mulder’s biggest fans, smirks up at them as he crouches
and disarms the motionless figure. “We were beginning to worry
you’d been abducted by little green men.”
His partner, Ricky Glassman, snickers under his breath as he frisks
the punk. Less than a year out of the academy, Glassman reminds
her of an eager-to-please puppy tagging at Kenilworth’s heels. She
grits her teeth but Mulder, as always, ignores the bait.
“Not a chance, Sam. See, they’re airing the intergalactic World
Series right now and no self-respecting Reticulan would be caught
dead away from his television. Next week–that’s a different story.”
His deadpan delivery is marred only by a subtle wink in her
direction before he ambles over to confer with ASAC Griffin.
Kenilworth’s jaw drops–she can see the wheels turning as he tries
to decide if he’s just been had–and Glassman sneaks a few furtive
glances from over his shoulder. Squelching a grin, she kneels
beside the downed suspect to assess his condition.
“You’re going to need a coroner, not an ambulance,” she tells
Kenilworth. “He’s dead.”
“That’s what the little bastard gets for resisting arrest.” Kenilworth
zips the confiscated weapon into a plastic evidence bag and stands.
Just as all hell breaks loose.
Scuffling feet, a harsh gasp of surprise, a low grunt of pain.
Kenilworth, eyes huge, diving toward his partner. “Ricky! Gun!”
Glassman doubled over, arms clutching his gut. The punk whirling,
face twisted into a snarl and fingers wrapped around a gun.
A distant corner of her mind registers the thud of bodies hitting the
ground, Kenilworth’s curses, and the smack of fists hitting flesh.
Griffin charges across the room. “Drop it–NOW!”
Glassman’s babbling a stream of excuses and apologies.
His partner, furious: “Shut the hell up, Ricky, and give me your
It’s only a drone, white noise. All she can see, feel, touch is Mulder
as he sways, amazingly still on his feet, a bewildered expression on
his chalk-white face and a rapidly growing crimson stain spreading
across his crisp blue shirt. His lips form her name and he sinks to
She eases him down, cradling him in her lap. Blood–warm, wet,
sticky–is everywhere, oozing between her fingers, soaking into her
coat… His shirt feels spongy under her palms. Wide hazel eyes
lock onto hers and he again attempts to say her name.
Catching in his throat, the syllable transforms into a ragged cough.
Blood now paints his lips and trickles from the corner of his
“Shh, shh. Don’t try to talk.”
His head lolls on her arm as she rips open his shirt, buttons flying
to click and roll across the floor. Blinking back stinging tears, she
struggles to breathe.
It’s bad. Very bad.
Someone–Griffin–thrusts a wad of cloth in her face. She presses it
firmly against the bubbling wound with one hand, the other cradled
along his jaw to support his head. His eyes are already turning
glassy and vague and she swears she feels him drawing away from
her. Faintly, in the distance, a siren wails.
“Somebody get those EMTs in here NOW!”
What was meant to sound commanding is shaky and broken.
Mulder’s eyelashes flutter and he fights to focus on her face.
Stubborn to the core, he tries a third time to speak. Lips move
soundlessly, but her heart doesn’t need to hear the words.
Scully. Love you.
He’s saying goodbye.
“Don’t you dare give up on me, Mulder. I will kick your ass–even
if I have to chase you into the afterlife to do it.” Tears blur her
vision but she refuses to let them fall, her thumb brushing back and
forth across his cool cheek.
One corner of his mouth tries to turn up but his eyes slip shut and
his expression goes slack. Suddenly he feels unreasonably heavy in
A dead weight.
She clutches him closer, pressing her cheek against the softness of
his hair, rocking. Not now. Not like this–stupid, meaningless… She
dimly hears Griffin call out, directing the EMTs to their location;
Kenilworth manhandling a sullen but compliant gunman;
Glassman still moaning regrets.
Stifling a keening sob, she prays. Bargains.
Just one more chance. Please, God, I’ll do anything you ask of me.
Just give him–
“–one more chance.”
The sound of her own voice, husky with tears, jerks her out of
slumber. Scully bolts upright, eyes roaming the darkened living
room, breathing rapid and harsh in the silence. Images clinging like
cobwebs, she swipes the back of one trembling hand over damp
cheeks and struggles to shake off the dream.
The stakeout. The shooting. Mulder bleeding on the ground. Dying
in her arms.
Part dream, part memory. Two weeks have passed since that
terrible night. Mulder was discharged from the hospital this
morning. A wraith of his former self–too pale, too thin–he’s weak
as a kitten and utterly dependent upon her for even his most basic
needs. But alive.
Psyche still edgy and raw from her dream, Scully rises on shaky
legs and pads back to her bedroom on bare, catlike feet. Pale slices
of moonlight slip between the blinds, illuminating her bed and
Mulder’s still form. Propped on a mound of fluffy pillows, one arm
curled protectively across his chest, the chuff of his soft, rhythmic
breathing soothes her troubled spirit.
She closes her eyes, tension draining out of her body, leaving her
limp and languid with relief. The doctors assert that Mulder’s
stubborn tenacity was responsible for his survival. Mulder insists
her unwavering love and belief in him was the tether binding him
to life, to her. And she… She remembers a bargain born from
No matter. The gift of this man in her bed, in her life, is worth any
price God might exact. They’ve both been given another chance,
and she doesn’t intend to waste it.
She’s still hovering in the doorway, absorbed in her own thoughts,
when his respiration quickens and becomes uneven. Lips tighten
and brow furrows, while limbs shift restlessly beneath the covers.
The signs of a nightmare, heartbreakingly familiar now that they
share a bed, spur her to action. Mulder’s knitting flesh can ill afford
the sudden, sometimes violent movements his dreams can provoke.
Easing onto the mattress, careful to jostle him as little as possible,
she strokes the backs of her fingers over his sandpapery cheek. Her
voice, low and honey-smooth, is pitched to soothe him out of the
“Mulder, you’re dreaming. You need to wake up.”
His hair-trigger reflexes dulled by pain medication, Mulder drifts
back to her slowly, eyes fluttering open to stare blankly at her face.
After a moment, clarity seeps back into his gaze and his lips curve
into a slightly loopy smile.
“Hi yourself.” She touches her lips to his in a chaste but emotion-
He blinks; sighs. “Want more of that.”
She brushes her thumb across the lip she just kissed, smiling. “Me
too. Hold that thought.”
Lines around his eyes and mouth, and the stiff careful way he
shifts position speak volumes about a level of pain he tries to deny.
She gets him a glass of water and the little pink pill, and though his
eyes communicate frustration, he accepts both without comment.
When she stands, intending to return to the couch, he catches hold
of her wrist.
He has no idea how deeply she longs to do just that. For two
endless weeks she’s slept in a cold, empty bed, missing his
comforting warmth at her back, the reassuring whisper of his
breath on her neck. The thought of curling up beside him is
seductive, but pragmatism and a three-inch scar hold her back.
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”
The line between his brows deepens and he thrusts out his lip.
She lets him draw her down, placing one hand on his bandage-
swathed chest. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
When exactly did she lose the ability to resist him? Or is it simply
that she needs this as badly as he does? “Here. Sit up a minute.”
She rearranges bedding and Mulder until she’s the one propped
against the headboard, his head pillowed on her chest. He relaxes
against her with a quivering sigh of contentment, cuddling her like
a weary toddler embracing his favorite teddy bear. His fingers slip
under the edge of her pajama top, stroking the tender skin just
above her waist.
She presses a kiss to the crown of his head, fingers threading
through his hair. “Me too.” Sleep beckons until memories,
sharpened by her dream, remind her of unfinished business.
“Hmm?” He’s already fading, lulled by the pain pill and her
“You never told me who wears a wig.”
It takes his foggy brain a moment to make the connection, soft
chuckle cut short by a wince of pain. “Shelby Thompson.”
Her fingers falter. “In HR? The chesty blonde with the lacquered
He chuffs again; moans. “Scully, stop. You’re killing me.”
“You were right. Never in a million years…” She cranes her head
to see his face. “Dare I ask?”
“She and Janine Christiansen had a falling out.” Mulder’s words
slur, his eyelids drifting to half-mast. “Never piss off a woman,
Scully. “‘S always gonna come back and bite ya on the ass.”
She thinks of Glassman’s OPR hearing, mouth forming a hard
smile as her fingers resume stroking. “Words to live by, Mulder.
You know the old saying about a woman scorned?
Underestimating us can land you in a whole world of trouble.”
She lets her eyes drift shut, lulled by Mulder’s warm weight and
soft, rhythmic breathing as he sinks into dreams troubled by
blazing headlights, paralyzing fear, and heartbreaking betrayal.