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Summary: Byers tells Scully a truth or two.

Catagory:Missing scene, Angst

Disclaimer: They're not mine, if they were, Mulder would be
handcuffed to my headboard, and I would not share...and I'm looking
real hard at Byers these days, too. Leave me alone, CC, I got no one
else to play with.
Misspells, typos, and grammatical errors are mine...hey, it's
something.


Not funny, gang, "Memento Mori" about ripped my heart out. I hate
this show.

Archive this, please, and e-me, I need the stroking...I'm pathetic.

gizzie@ix.netcom.com

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It's late, past visiting hours, and I'm uncomfortable as hell.
The adrenalin rush of the near-miss with security has left me cold and
clammy, pulse still pounding; I raise a hand to my aching skull and
barely recognise my own trembling fingers. I push the heel of my hand
into my burning eyes, draw a quavering breath, and let out a long,
shuddering sigh.

Damn Mulder....damn his passion, his obsessive, bull-dogged
determination. Damn the desperation in his eyes as he'd turned to me
in that dim corridor "I need someone to get to Scully, to get her to
stop treatment. Right now, you're the only one who can do that." I
felt my own eyes widen, my heart constrict. No, Mulder.....please.
Conspiracies, assassins, covert operations, alien autopsies, ok ....
but please don't ask me to face a dying Dana Scully, alone.

But I'd do it, of course....you don't say no to Fox Mulder.

I will someday look back on my escape from the clinic as an
adventure, an exciting physical diversion from the mental calisthenics
that is my life. The hallways were a labyrnith of eerily shiny floors
and huge plate windows, in the daylight, I'm sure, a sunny celebration
of the life that this clinic professed to propogate. In the dark, and
sans the headset Mulder had unceremoniously ripped from my ear, I felt
like a mole in the Underground Zoo. The hushed gait of my own hurried
footsteps spooked me. I rubbed two fingers under the unfamiliar collar
of my turtle neck, feeling the slick, fear induced sweat, and suddenly,
foolishly wished for the comforting constriction of a silk tie and my
Brooks Brothers suit, signs that I was back to my own, boringly safe
life, and not playing "Mission: Impossible". Damn Mulder.

A side corridor, darker, protected...and the red beacon of an
"Exit" sign. So long, Mr Phelps. I saw the security vehicle and
stopped myself from crashing through the glass doors, flattening back
against the wall, out of sight, clenching my eyes tightly shut and
wishing I'd wake up. I wondered if Langly could see, through the
security camera that swept the entanceway, the terror on my face. I
was sure the emerging security officers could hear the pounding of my
heart as they headed for the door, and I stumbled backwards, flattened,
again, into an open offfice doorway, barely out of sight when they came
hurrying past. I relaxed, took half a step, and there was a third
man,a bull, drawing a weapon, his stride purposeful and deadly
menacing. For the third time, I threw myself against the wall, hands
clenching, grasping at the smooth plaster, seeking SOMETHING solid to
grasp in this hazy nightmare. When he was out of sight, I stepped
cautiously out, checked both ways.... I don't know, I must have blacked
into a fear-induced overdrive, because I don't remember crossing the
lot or climbing the chain link fence. All I know is that I was suddenly
barrelling down the highway like a maniac, the reek of my own sweat
turning my stomach, and I was ten miles gone before I slowed down and
wondered how Frohike and Langly were going to get back. Fuck Mulder.

Now I stand outside her room, more scared than I was in that
clinic. Okay. What *is* protocol when one visits a woman in the
hospital, after visiting hours?? Especially when one has bad news??
Go in?? Knock?? Run?? I draw another deep, painful breath and am
surprised that it sounds suspiciously like a sob. I wipe my waterey
eyes with the pad of my thumb, and click the door open.

Her back is to the door, and she's curled into herself, barely
a ripple in the vast expanse of the hospital bed. I cross quietly, and
lean slowly, cautiously over her still form. One tiny fist is pressed
to her bloodless lips, and I suddenly, absurdly hearken the silent
movies Langly is so crazy about, where the heroin mimes "OH, NO!!" as
she bites her fist. But this is no silent screen siren; this is Special
Agent Dana Scully, MD, strong, independent, intelligent....waxen,
fragile, her face drawn in pain, even in sleep. My chest tightens,
and I turn away, afraid, afraid of her, afraid of the pall of sickness
that permeates this room...afraid of my raging emotions.

I pick up a book from the floor. It is one of those hard
cover, blank paged oddities that got so popular a few years ago...a
journal. She has half filled this one with her upright, Catholic
school cursive. I glance down, read "Mulder, I feel you close..."
...and hastily lay it on her bedside table. I feel sullied, dirty,
like I've snuck a peek into the depth of her soul. She stirs, sighs,
and I jump guiltily. She turns toward me, her beautiful hair lackluster
and hanging, her cheeks hollow, the startling blue of her eyes glazed
with pain as she tries to focus, the skin beneath them transparent and
shadowed with bruise. She is beautiful and tragic, and I bite, hard,
the inside of my lip to keep from crying out.

"Mulder?" she reaches blindly, and I take her hand. She
starts, freezes...she knows, just from that touch, I am NOT her
partner, and she yanks her hand away, "Mulder! Who are you? Where's
Mulder?"" She is fighting to sit up, and I am nauseous with fear and
anguish and I hate you, Mulder, for making me do this to her.

"Agent Scully, it's Byers,take it easy, please, Agent Scully,
it's Byers, you're all right, it's Byers, please, it's ok" I'm babbling
and I don't want to touch her and I want to touch her and FUCK YOU,
Fox Mulder.....

"Byers?" She slumps back, then springs up again "Mulder!
What's happened, Byers, MULDER..."

"Mulder's all right." I don't know if this is true...but Mulder
is ALWAYS all right, he leaves the rest of us to pick up the pieces as
he careens through life like Indiana Jones. I hesitate, then push a
hand against her bony shoulder, help her ease back into the pillows.
"How are you feeling?"

"I'm fine, Mul..." she catches herself, smirks, and looks up at
me, and my heart goes into my shoes. She sighs, deep and cleansing,
and her face finally relaxes "Actually, Byers, I feel like shit, and
I'm sure I look just about as good."

My lips twitch, and I swallow a reply <you look beautiful>

Her face slams shut, and for a horrifying second, I am afraid I
spoke out loud. I really AM going to throw up. But she has just gone
into Apecial Agent mode "Byers, why ARE you here?"

Ouch.

"Mulder asked me to...he needed me to...Agent Scully...."

"Dana."

"Huh??" Smooth, Byers, really smooth.

"It's Dana. Humor me, Byers, I'm fairly vulnerable at the
moment"

I can't breath.

"Dana..." It's foreign and sweet on my tongue, like English
toffee, and I savor the moment "Dana, there's no easy way to tell you
this..."

She gasps, and struggles again to rise "You SAID he was all
right, what..."

"HE'S ALL RIGHT!!" I yell, surprising us both. I flush, look
away, embarrased by my outburst.

"Then what is it, Byers?" she asks softly, and reaches out and
takes my hand. "I have Cancer, Byers, but I'm still strong...I can take
it, as long as he's all right."

Zing.

"It's your doctor, Agent Scully" I can't call her Dana...I
have no right "Dr Scanlon. We..."

"You and Mulder?"

"...and Langly and Frohike" Scully rolls her eyes, and for just
a second, I see the old Agent Scully "...we infiltrated a reproductive
research clinic this evening..."

"You broke in." It is not a question.

I study my shoes, the nubby fabric of her blanket, her small
hand clasped around my fingers and nod "Yeah...we broke in. I had
found evidence that this clinic is experimenting with DNA...." I
hesitate, and she softly squeezes my hand...I'm gonna lose it...."Your
doctor is on the staff there, Agent Scully, Mulder saw his name on the
directory. Mulder feels he may be involved in covert genetic
engineering."

"But he doesn't know this to be fact." Scientist mode.

"I don't know what he found at the clinic, you'll have to talk
to him about that when he gets here." If he gets here...I think about
the ox with the gun. "He thinks it is within your best interest to
discontinue treatment at this time, from this doctor."

She stiffens and pulls her hand from mine. Nods. "All right."

Just like that...all right??

She sees my confusion. "Byers, if you had come in here and told
me Mulder said to jump out that window, I would do it."

"Just like that?"

"Just like that. I TRUST him, " she hesitates, swallows "I
trust him with my life."

"He loves you, you know." Who said that?

She smiles softly "I know...we're partners."

"No, Agent Scully", someone else has GOT to be speaking, I
would NEVER say this out loud "I mean, he LOVES you....he..."

"I KNOW, Byers...I know" She takes ahold of my hand again, and
squeezes gently...I feel it around my heart, like a vice.

And I can't stop myself, I raise her hand to me. I don't
kiss her fingers, just hold them against my trembling lips, squeezing
my eyes tight, fighting for control "If I can do ANYTHING, Scully....."

She turns her hand and strokes my beard, once, twice, caressing
my cheek "What's your name?"

I stiffen, startled, and open my burning eyes "What?"

"What's your name, Byers?" she taps me lightly on the cheek and
lowers her hand, her eyes spark with a joke I don't get "Or did you
even make your parents call you Byers?"

I hesitate, confused "Jeffrey...Jeff....but no one..."

"Be there for him, Jeff." Her eyes are serious again. "He only
has you guys, you know"

"And you."

She smiles, closes her eyes and sighs wearily. She's tired...
she's tragic...she's beautiful. I can't breath.

"Agent Scullly...Dana..."

"Thank you, Byers."

It's Byers again. My chest is heaving and my eyes smart and I
HAVE to get out of here "Mulder...Mulder should be here soon. I'll
wait outside..."

She's asleep.

I pull the door open and click it softly shut behind me. I
want to slam it, I want to smash my fist into the wall, I want to run,
screaming, down the fucking deserted corridor and when Fox Mulder gets
here, I want to beat him senseless.

I just hope I've stopped crying by then.

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The Messenger II-- Revelation
by XXXXgizzieXXXX


"Dana Scully's supposed to be in her room, where is she?"

"She's not there?"

"No, what happened to her?"

"I don't know!"

I'm scaring her, and I'm scared shitless.

"Well, who the hell DOES know?"

"Mulder!"

It's Byers, tearing down the hall toward me, escalating my fear.

"What happened to Scully?"

"I got to her"

"Where is she now?"

He motions me to follow, and points to another door, futher down
the corridor. I open the door, and Scully turns and meets my eyes.
She's ok, and my knees buckle , even as I smile softly, reasssuringly.
She turns back to Penny Northern, stroking her sunken cheek with the
back of her fingers.

"Dr Scanlon isn't coming back?" Penny rasps.

"No," Scullysays softly, "I don't think so, Penny"

"Dana..." she pulls a shallow breath; it is clearly an effort for
her to speak "I want you to get well...you've been such a comfort.
You've got to be the one...you can't give up hope."

"I haven't...I won't."

Fuck.

I pull the door softly closed, and sag against the wall in
relief. Byers back is to me, head bowed, his hands shoved in the
pockets of his trenchcoat.

"You told her everything?"

He shrugs. "I told her what I know." Clipped...strained.

"I can fill her in later."

He nods, does not turn. His shoulders are shaking.

"After you left, I found....."

"Don't ever ask me to do anything like that again, Mulder."

He sounds terrified yet, and I laugh, clap a hand to his
shoulder "Didn't you ever play 'Keep Away', Byers....?"

He yanks away violently and turns on me, one fist raised, and for
a second, I think he's going to deck me.
His eyes are wild, glassy...has he been crying??.....and I see what I
hope is not hatred in his eyes.

Of the three Lone Gunmen, I know Byers the least. Langly is
kinetically, manically paranoid, often babbling just to hear himself
make a noise, convincing himself that he really exists. Frohike is
a diffrent breed of cat, the rare individual who can worm his way into
your heart, even as he is quietly picking your pocket. But Byers
...Byers is just THERE, a mandroid of information, yours for the
asking, he KNOWS stuff, he just DOES. Once, on one of our rare
leisurley lunch breaks, Scully and I had walked to Washington Commons
Park, and as we watched the ice skaters on the public rink, Scully had
gasped, pulled my sleeve and pointed. It was Byers, gliding and
twirling as gracefully and effortlessly as I bounce a basketball. I
could only have been more surprised by Frohike at the diving pool in a
Speedo. You never know.

"Byers!! Hey!!" I raise my hands defensively, and he
deflates, backs off. "Are you OK?"

"I don't mean the break-in, Mulder." He shakes his head slowly,
looks at the door to Penny Northern's room. He is flexing his right
fist, while his left thumb and little finger play a curious little
twisting game with the plain gold band on his third finger. He is
still agitated, there's the twitch of a muscle spasm in
his left cheek, and he's breathing in short, gasping little breaths. "I
mean Agent Scully ...don't ask me to go to her like that again. I
won't. I can't." He will NOT look at me.

Shit. My mind pounces, leaps, and I am stabbed with an
unexpected pang of jealousy. "Byers, are you in love with Scully?"

"Jesus, Mulder....NO! Oh, man...."

He wheels and starts away,but when I grab his arm, he finally
looks me full in the face, and the unfathomable pain in his gentle
brown eyes twists my gut with sympathy. What the.....?

"Byers, what is it? Tell me...TRUST me....."

He studies me... measuring...calculating. Now his right hand is
playing with the gold band, twisting it, pumping it up and down his
finger in a way I'm finding strangely, disturbingly sexual. He makes a
decision, slumps one shoulder into the wall, and sighs softly.

"Her name was Cinnamon." I startle, and he smirks "Yes,
that WAS her given name....and you thought
'Fox' was bad."

But it wasn't her name that had caught my ear. "Her name
WAS..." Past tense. Of course. And, chicken shit that I am, now I'm
sorry I asked.

But Byers is talking now, his eyes focused over my left
shoulder, seeing nothing but the reeling mind moments of his not so
distant past. She called herself Monny, and they met in jail, when
they'd both been arrested at a PETA demonstration that had gotten out
of hand. I can't picture Byers in jeans, let alone in jail. They'd
had a short, intense courtship, and he'd acquiesced to a gown-and-tux-
formal church weddinmg, despite his own atheism. They'd honeymooned at
Disney World, where she'd made eyes at the Lumberjacks manning the
Runaway Mine Cars, and talked him into growing a beard. He talks of the
first, cold water flat apartment, her experimenting with sprout
burgers and tofu chili, the hamsters he bought her, that promptly
escaped and took up residence in their bedroom wall, where they kept
them up half the night with the chew, chew. chewing of t
he cheap, salty plaster. And her nasty case of food poisoning, which
tests revealed not to be salmonella at all, but an unplanned and
joyfully anticipated honeymoon-conceived baby.

But the nausea and fatigue were relentless, and she even ate
meat for the first time in ten years, trying to maintain her strength.
She had a backache all the time, and was destined to spend her last
trimester in bed, when, in a rage of pain and blood and tears, she lost
the little boy that would have been Jeffrey Douglas Byers III.

Byers pauses, draws a deep quavering breath, and rubs his eyes
with a fist. The gesture is so innocently poignant, that my own
breath hitches in my chest, and I fight for control, for strength...
for him.

"Byers...." I clasp a comforting hand to his shoulder, but
he shrugs away. "Byers, you don't have to......"

"Yeah, I do, Mulder." He breathes deeply, unconsciously
rubs the beard at his jawline with the
gold band on his left hand "They found the cancer two monthes later."
He smiles bitterly "We thought we were pregnant again.....fooled us,
huh?" His voice cracks and breaks, and he turns away, embarassed by
the tears tracking slowly down his face. I chew my lip and study the
fascinating assemblage of the fire extinguisher hanging by my head,
anything so I don't have to look at the raw, ravaged pain on his face.


"It was bad, Mulder...I mean, I know it can never be easy,.
but.....the chemo made her SO sick, the cancer was so invasive, she
was skin and bone in a month....and dead in one more. Her mother said
we were lucky it was fast." He shakes his head, defeated, once again
twisting the wedding band "I didn't feel so lucky. I just felt
cheated." He looks at me, and his soft brown eyes are muted and dull
with grief "One year, Mulder...that was it, from the time we met,
'till I scattered her ashes in the Potomoc....one *fucking* year." He
clasps a hand to his forehead and squeezes, his eyes shut wearily and
he gives out a soul shattering sigh. "Sometimes, I'm not even sure it
happened."

"I'm...I'm sorry" It is so lame, I'm such an idiot...and I'm so
scared.

Byers looks at the door behind which we have left Scully and
Penny, Penny dying, Scully's future uncertain.He shakes his head slowly
back and forth "I'm sorry I got so angry with you, Mulder. But I can't
do this again. I can't watch someone I care about waste away. I
*can't*. " His eyes well up again, and he wipes an impatient
hand across his face. "Jesus, I haven't cried this much in....." he
stops and I almost hear that computer brain of his boot up...then he
smiles, and it is good and cleansing and makes MY eyes smart "Fuck, I
never cried this much...maybe I should thank you, Mulder....except I
still kinda want to punch your lights out for puting my ass in the line
of fire back there."

"Take your best shot" I have an almost unbearable urge to hug
him ...but I can't.....WE can't. We just don't.So I extend my right
hand, and he grasps it in a warm, tight soul-brother clasp.

"You're a real pain in the ass, Mulder."

"Yeah, and you love me for it." I laugh, but his eyes sober .

"I do, Mulder," he says softly, and my throat closes up, "and
I love her. I'm not IN love with her, no. But I DO care about her,
and I care about you...and I care about you two, together." He waggles
a vague hand between me and the door. "Carpe diem, Mulder. You never
know." He twists the gold band off his finger and presses it into my
palm. "Carpe diem."

He turns and walks away from me. His shoulders are slumped
with fatigue, but he holds his head up, and his step is unburdened.
I watch 'till he gets to the end of the corridor, and sensing this,he
turns....and raises his left hand, a simple, easy salute.

I find a chair and settle in the hallway outside Penny
Northern's room. I'll sit in vigil, and wait for Scully, whatever it
takes.

You never know.


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The Messenger III--Full Circle
by XXXXgizzieXXXX


The ice rink is crowded this crisp late winter noon, it is just warm
enough that the ice is shiny wet and most of the skaters are coatless.
It takes me barely a moment to spot him, spiraling backwards more
effortlessly than most are going forward. He is as visible as much for
for his air of quiet confidence as the stark combination of the white
dress shirt and tight black jeans. He is tie-less and breathless and
utterly focused on the precise, intricate movements of his
feet and his body as he dances with an invisible partner. He weaves
effortlessly around the other skaters, and I think he surely must have
eyes in the back of his head. He springs suddenly in an incredible
leap, twists twice in the air, and lands facing forward, already
gaining momentum as he crouches down to speed lap.

Byers--Jeff Byers. I smile sadly at my drug muzzed recall of his first
name, and remember a recently departed friend, one who remained
nameless after months of blind devotion to me and my work. The guilt
and grief is still fresh in me, and I made it a point today to touch
base with this new friend of mine, and old, but recently more
cherished, friend of Mulder's. Mulder has told me the whole story of
that awful night that Penny Northern died, Byers selfless involvement
in the outcome, and the story of Byers own tragic loss to Cancer. You
never know.

I wave a hand, trying to get his attention, as he rounds the bend
where I stand, but he is past me in a flash."Jeff!" I call out as he
makes another approach, but again, he's past, oblivious, feet a blur of
black against the stark wet expanse of ice...I wonder how he can
maintain that speed without leaving the ground. One more time, I wave
both arms and call out "BY-ERS!!" as he passes, and he jerks and twists
towards me. His eyes widen and his arms pinwheel comically as he back
pedals, but gravity finally wins, and he goes down in a tangle of
long legs, somersaulting backwards with the momentum of the fall. I
gasp, start forward, but he's up in a flash, skating toward me, his
eyes flashing with mirth and veiled embarrassment.

"Agent Scully....wasn't that good?" He shakes his head, grinning,
pulls at the back of his sodden shirt "I think I may have invented a
new element, there"

I'm biting my lip to keep from laughing. "Byers, I'm so sorry...here,
let me help you" I reach a hand to him as he straddles one long leg
over the rink railing, and I see, startled, that his pants are
leather. Gads. This man just keeps unfolding like a flower.

"I'm ok, really...I just didn't expect to see YOU here. C'mon." he
motions me to follow, and crab walks toward the bench where a variety
of sports bags have been thrown in a jumble. "I was about to quit,
anyway...just not so abruptly."

I finally do laugh, and he grins up at me as he unlaces his skates. He
really does have kind eyes. He ducks his head, then looks up at me
through his long lashes "How are you, Agent Scully?",he asks softly.

There is an empathic timbre to his voice that twists my gut with a pang
of guilt, even as I nod slowly "I'm ok, Byers"

He averts his eyes "Mulder told us about Pendrell. I'm sorry"

"Yeah. Thanks." I reach out a hand to steady him, as he balances on
one foot to pull off a skate, and I glance across the vast expanse of
the common, where Mulder waits. I know he's gotta be enjoying this
sight, tall, gangly Byers leaning on me. "Byers.....Jeff....Pendrell
was a good friend..." I clear my throat, trying to swallow the lump
that has been lodged there for the last week "...or he tried to be,
anyway. Mulder and I...we never even knew his name."

"Scully, you're not blaming yourself for his death, are you ?" He
dropped his foot flat to the ground, and took my shoulders in both his
large hands, ducking his head to catch my eyes. "Don't you think you
have enough on your plate right now?"

I pull away from him and turn my back, brushing impatiently at my
face and the crummy tears that threaten at every kind word or gesture
lately. I'm so tired of all this...I'm just so tired. I watch the
skaters circle 'round and 'round and 'round....a wave of dizziness
sways me, and Byers wraps a supportive arm around my shoulders. My
head clears, and I look up at him, surprised again by the gentleness of
his face, the warmth of his brown eyes. I reach instinctively to touch
his face, catch myself, and pull away.

"Dana... " he stops me with a hand to my arm, squeezes gently, " he was
an FBI agent...that was a part of his job."

"He was a lab rat, Jeff, I didn't even know he carried a gun off duty,
'till that night. I didn't know a LOT of things, 'till that
night...then it was too late" I draw a shaky breath, and turn and look
at him "I.....kind of realized, in the aftermath of all that, Mulder
and I...we're awfully isolated, Jeff, and we've done it to ourselves."
I hesitate "Mulder told me about your wife, your loss." His jaw
tightens and he nods"Mulder calls you guys his 'friends', but..."

"Where are you going with this, Scully?" he asks abruptly.

I've pissed him off, and I don't even know how "Byers...."

He yanks a sports towel across his face, rubs ineffectually at his
back...his shirt is sticking to him where he'd skid across the ice, and
he's starting to shiver . He pulls a bulky black sweater from the bag,
wrestles with the hem"Fox Mulder, " he starts, then disappears into the
sweater, his head popping out a moment later "...is an ass."

My eyes go wide with shock, and I'm sure my mouth is hanging open . I
don't know weather to laugh out loud or burst into tears. And now
Byers, the Man In Black, is smiling down at me, rubbing his beard with
the ridiculous green towel '"That IS Mulder, Dana . A "friend" can be
a lot of things. Mulder's done things for us, with us... and TO us,
over the years.....I swear, Frohike's known him since the cradle.
We've done things for him...I don't know what all he told you about
that night at Scanlon's clinic..."

"He said he owed you guys, big time"

Byers shakes his head "Well, he scared me out of ten year's life", he
grins, then starts when he realizes what he's said. I shake it off and
he continues "...and we had quite the talk that night. I'd needed that
for a long time ...Mulder pulled that from me. Not Langly, not
Frohike.....Fox Mulder, with his passion, his blind faith in this
elusive truth of his....THAT'S a friend, Agent Scully.....and the fact
that he has NEVER called me by my first name REALLY doesn't mean
diddly"

I pull my hand from my pocket, hold out the small, plain white envelope
to him.

He smiles, cocks his head "I don't suppose this is a wedding
invitation?"

"Hardly", I snort, and push the envelope into his hand. He traces the
small raised portion with a finger, looks up at me. " It's your ring,
Byers ...you must regret giving that to Mulder that day . It has to
mean a lot to you"

Byers slit the flap of the envelope, pulled out the plain gold band and
turned the ring 'round and 'round in his palm"You two, " he says
softly, "mean a lot to me. I thought maybe..."

"That's not going to happen, Byers...not now" I bite my lip, struggle
to breathe around the damnable lump of emotion that is back in my
throat "Maybe not ever, I don't know" I look over to where Mulder
waits, now slumped wearily against a tree,and my heart swells. He
looks so tired. This last case, the loss of Pendrell, Max and the
evidence AGAIN...I wonder how much more he can endure. "Mulder and I
..it's complicated...we just have too many issues...as you said, too
much on our plates right now...I don't know ...anyway, we appreciate
the thought, the gesture...we don't need it as a token, Byers. It
means far more than that to you."

I reach out and take his hands in mine. His hands are big, strong,
soft, and I absurdly imagine them doing wondrous, secret things in a
darkly sensuous place. I shiver slightly, slide the ring on his
finger, and catch his eye. His eyes are dancing, and I have the
uncomfortable feeling he's read my mind. I flush, look away but he
catches my chin with one long finger and turns my face up "Thank you,
Scully," he says softly, and his eyes are serious now, burning into
mine. I pull away, afraid of the very real possibility of drowning
in those dark depths, my hands trembling. I make a rash decision.

"Byers.....Mulder and I are going to that new bistro , Lisa and Jake's,
for lunch. Do you want to come with?"

"Uhh....no...thanks....." he's looking intently behind me, and his face
has subtly changed, opened. He's smiling "Actually, I have plans. "
He raises a hand and waves, and I look behind me.

A young woman returns the wave, joyfully, frantically flailing one
arm, the other weighted by the enormous leather satchel flung over her
shoulder. Long black coat swirling and a riot of long, dark curls
dancing around her face, she looks like a modern day Mary Poppins. I
find myself smiling at her exuberance, but she breezes right past me
and practically climbs Byers to kiss his cheek. "Hi, sorry, were you
waiting long, I got held up in court, your back is WET, did you fall,
oh, god," she spins behind him, unabashedly brushing his ass with her
hand "these fit you GREAT, aren't they comfortable, I swear, I'm never
goin' to wear jeans again, nice sweater, Jeff, but you look like a hit
man, you shoulda ..."she breaks off at my wide-eyed wonder "hi."

Byers laughs and wraps an arm around her, finally stilling her frenetic
bouncing "Rebecca Foster, Special Agent Dana Scully" he catches my eye
and winks, "my FRIEND."

"I've heard a LOT about you," she leans into me in confidence "ya
know, this guy thinks you hung the moon." Byers blushes and Rebecca
laughs, then jerks her head to one side "That's your partner over
there, isn't it, the one with the dreamy eyes?"

I glance over at Mulder, who is now standing tall and practically
popping those dreamy eyes out of his skull to see what's going on .
"Yes, it is. How...?"

"Sometimes, I KNOW stuff, I just DO...I don't really understand it
myself . Jeff's talked about you two so much, and when I went past
him...god, he's INTENSE, I'm an entertainment labor attorney, if he
ever gets tired of this bad guy stuff, tell him to give me a call, I
know people, can he act, is...."

"OK, Bec, we got the picture," Byers laughs "Dana invited us for lunch,
did you ...."

"Oh, thank you, can we have a rain check?? I got reservations at
DonnaJ's, the new one on Shaden Avenue, we could probably sneak you
guys in with us...I KNOW people..."

"Thank you, no" I jump in "I really should be going, let you two go.
Rebecca, it was nice meeting you. Byers...."

He steps away from Rebecca, takes my hand and leans in to kiss my cheek
"Thank you, Dana" he says softly.

I hook my left hand around the back of his neck and hold him close for
an extended second . He squeezes my right hand, and I fondle the ring
on his finger "Looks like you may get a chance to use this yet, hmm?"

"Maybe" he chuckles softly against my ear, "if she doesn't wear me out
first."I leave him go, and Rebecca bounces impatiently on the side. "I
really gotta go" He raises a hand and salutes Mulder who waves back,
and starts toward us.

"Bye....Jeff"

I watch them start across the common, Byers carrying her satchel as
well as his own, leaving her free to whirl like a dervish in front of
him, her mouth going a mile a minute. He and Mulder sucker punch as
they pass, and Mulder claps him on the back. I laugh at the perplexed
look on Mulder's face as he walks up to me.

"WHAT was that??"

"I think, Mulder..." I hesitate. " I think that just MAY have been
love."

"Scully!" we start off , and he offers me his arm, which I grasp to me
"Are you jealous?"

"Maybe a little" I slide my right hand into my trench coat pocket and
fondle the Apollo 11 key chain that is latched securely to the safety
hook of my pocket . I look up at him and smile "...and maybe not at
all."

Mulder grins and wiggles his eyebrows at me, making me laugh, and for
one perfect second, all is right in our world.

********************************************************************

***********************************************************************

The Messenger IV--Hello, Again
by XXXXgizzieXXXX


"Jesus, Jeff, I had a root canal I enjoyed more than that. Only Mulder
could ruin an evening at Lisa and Jake's."

We've just left Mulder and Scully in the parking lot of the popular
little bistro that has become our favorite hangout. We've met here
every other week or so, for the past several monthes, the food is
terrrific, they have an astonishing variety of imported beers, and we
like the blue jean casual atmosphere, so hard to find in the
tight-assed suburbs of Washington, DC. Lisa, the co-owner, flirts
outrageously with Mulder, and Mulder uses it to our advantage to
procure a prime table, even on a busy Friday night like this one. Becca
and Scully likes the entertainment provided by Jake, the deceptively
masculine nick-named co-owner, a doe-eyed young woman who plays
acoustic guitar and sings of misty mornings, lost loves and impossible
dreams. Half the time, Becca ends up on stage with Jake, lilting an
impressively warbling soprano to Jake's warm, rich contralto. Lisa
usually ends up serving us herself, any excuse to lean over Mulder, and
Mulder kids and teases her into bringing us extra fried cheese sticks
and cutting the check.

But tonight had been bad from the time we walked in the door, finding
Mulder in one of his stone-faced, mono-voiced funks, and Scully
glassy-eyed over too much paper work and too little support from the
ass hole that is her partner. Her health has considerably slipped,
too, I'm shocked to see her wan and hollow cheeked; she looks like
she's lost ten pounds since we saw her last. They spend the entire
dinner snarling at each other, circling and snapping like rabid dogs.
When Mulder makes a rude remark to Lisa about the origination of the
appetizer we ordered , I want to knock him out of the chair, but Lisa
retaliates by slaming his draft Guiness in front of him so hard, the
foam flys up and catches him in the eye. We finally pack it in when
Becca and Scully return from the ladies room, Scully pasty-faced and
shaky, Becca tight-lipped and silent. I know immediatly what has
happened.

And now, we're in my car, heading for her apartment, she's distractedly
rummaging through my tape case, looking for the folksy-pop music she
keeps trying to push on me.

"She had a nose bleed in the ladies room, she made me promise not to
tell, how could he NOT see she's in trouble, Christ, has he always
treated her like that, 'hang up my jacket, Scully, hand me the menu,
Scully, cut my MEAT, Scully, waah, waah, waah, Jesus, what a jerk,
he...."

"OK, OK, I get the picture.." I cut in. She's hyper, even for Becca.
If there's anything I've learned in the couple of monthes we've been
together, it's that Rebecca Foster is not wishy-washy about ANYTHING,
she burns with firey passion about everything from her job, to the
animal shelter where she walks dogs two evenings a week. We have an
intensely cerebral relationship and have spent many evenings at her
apartment or mine, talking over mugs of hot chocolate and pistachio
nuts, or watching the old romantic musicals that she loves and I love
to make fun of. We've walked a shakily crooked path around our
physicality. Undiscussed, but nevertheless there, I'm reluctant to
make that final step that would harken us more than mere friends, and
she, despite her smart mouth, is puzzingly coy, shrinking away when I
get too familiar with my hands. We've had junior-high, second base
make out sessions, tongue-kissing and clothes-covered touchy-feely,
where we've parted for the night sweaty and aching, and I know at least
one of us has resorted to alternative relief. And still, we play to
gether,an infinite pleasure, but a puzzle, even to ourselves.

Becca finds a tape to her liking, pops it into my deck, and
contemplates my profile as the first strains of "Longfellow Serenade"
begin.

"I know he's your friend, but....you don't think he's an idiot?"

"I think he was on edge tonight, they both were."

"You'll defend him 'till the end, won't you"

I run an exasperated hand through my hair. "I'll concede he was a bit
of an ass hole, but..."

"A BIT!! He nearly took Lisa's head off over the stupid potato skins.
She fixed his ass"

"You liked that, didn't you?"

She grins nastily "I always like it when a dickhead gets his."

"I thought you liked Mulder."

"I said I think he's drop-dead gorgeous...I never said I *liked* him."

"God, you're shallow"

"Thank you"

I think about Mulder and his uncharacteristic behavior. Since the
night of the break-in at the fertility clinic, when I'd told him the
awful story of my late wife and lost child, we've grown close.
There's a sense of comradity that was not there before, and when he is
with us at the office of The Lone Gunmen, I feel llike part of the
goings on, and not an observer. He'd shown up at my apartment several
weeks ago, drunk and emotionally shaken. He and Scully had gotten home
from a puzzling case that afternoon, he slurred out a story about
wraiths and double sightings and blondes, totally confusing me. I'd
ended up sitting on the arm of his chair, awkwardly rubbing his back
while he sobbed about Scully and her not trusting him, he made little
to no sense. He'd passed out and spent the night on my couch,
awakening the next morning embarrased and disoriented. This was when
I first suspected Mulder may be heading for a breakdown. Tonights
performance solidifys my suspicion.

"I'm...not real sure Mulder is well, Bec. You don't know him. He's
got a lot on his mind right now."

"And SHE doesn't? It's pretty obvious to me she's going down fast,
J.D."

"Yeah" It's pretty obvious to me, too. I don't want to talk about
it...or think about it. It's twistedly ironic that Scully's illness
is what has indirectly brought me the closest relationships I have
had in years, Mulder and, again indirectly, Becca. It was my
gut-spilling cleansing to Mulder that had begun the healing of my
battered emotional psyche. I'd met Becca shortly after, and for the
first time in five years, let myself care, just a little, for someone
else. And Scully's illness is the awful catalyst.

I sigh, try to find some way to justify Mulder's behavior. "I can't
defend his actions tonight. I just know that he would do anything for
her."

"Yeah, except let her drive. How come you never let me drive YOUR
car.?"

"Can you drive a stick?"

She slides across the seat and breathes into my ear "You'd be surprised
what I can do with a stick"

"Hey," I reach down and fumble under my seat, "I almost forgot...I got
you a present."

"Go 'head, Byers, change the subject," she smirks, and looks in the bag
I've handed her, reaches in with a whoop "Oh, man, Neil Diamond's 'Jazz
Singer'! I LOVE this movie! Oh, J.D, are you staying, can we watch it
tonight, can we,huh, can we, please, I'll be good and quiet throught
the whole thing and...."

"All right, all right , " I'm laughing as I park the car, and when
we get out, I reach into the back seat and hand her a bottle
"Here...surprise number two."

"Oh, my god, Ballatoré." She swings the door open of her apartment and
rubs my thigh as I pass her "Byers, you may get lucky yet tonight."

"I wish," I snicker, our eyes meet, and the room is suddenly charged.
She smiles softly, tips up to kiss my cheek and smacks me on the ass .
"At the risk of sounding like a very bad movie, I'm going to slip into
something more comfortable. Don't go away."

"Never" My eyes follow her down the short hallway to her bedroom; she
unzips her skirt and let's it drop, kicking it into the room in front
of her and, turning, gives me a shitty little grin as she slams the
door shut with her foot. Witch.

I walk around the cabinet island that acts as a divider between her
kitchen and dinettee. There is barely room for me to open the
refrigerator door, without hitting the island base, and as I pull out
the ice cube tray and shut the door, there is a warm, furry push at my
feet. It's Vandyke, her cat , who, of course, has to see EXACTLY what
is going on. A curious animal, pointy-faced, long bodied , and
long-legged skinny,he is solid white, except for the startling black
beard on his chin, and he has a super soft plush coat that feels more
like bunny fur than cat hair. Like a lot of white cats, he's stone
deaf, and also spookily mute, and when he looks up at me with his
intense blue eyes, his little pink mouth opens in what looks like a
silent scream. He gives me the creeps, but Becca loves him passionatly
and says the day Vandyke purrs will be the day she knows her
life is complete. The vet has said that although he is deaf, there is
no physical reason for his silence, and he will purr when all is right
in his world. Wonderful...the gospel according to Dr Dolittle.

Vandyke jumps up on the counter and watches me with a grave, cerulean
stare. I find wineglasses and pop the cork, he never flinches at the
explosion, but opens his mouth at me. "Cat, you are spooky"

I take the wine to the living room, pour two glasses, kick off my
shoes, set up the VCR, settle on the couch, and am halfway through
the previews before Becca comes back . She's wearing faded Levis and a
gauzy embroidered muslin pullover smock that looks like a throw-back
to the sixties. She's barefoot, her hair is pinned up loosly, she
smells like a rainy day, and I really don't want to watch this stupid
movie.

"Where'd you go, I thought you went home....then I remembered you live
here"

"HA!! Jeff Byers made a joke!" She puts her glass down and pounces on
me, tickling me 'till I gasp and beg for mercy. I am breathless and
heated and pick up my wine glass, downing half of it before she smacks
me on the arm "Hey!! We didn't do a toast"

I refill my glass and hers and we clink glasses. She looks at me,
frowns and tips her tongue across her lips "I'm not very good at this"

"What. YOU are at a loss for words?? C'mon!"

"OK, let's see....There was a young man from Peru, who's penis hung
down to his shoe. When he'd get up to dance, it would catch in his
pants, ands he'd end up all covered in goo." She winks "Bottoms up,
Byers"

She's watching me, her eyes shiny with repressd laughter, over the rim
of the glass as she drains it in one long draught . She smacks her
lips and lets out a long.,contented sigh "There. I'm caught up." She
picks up the bottle and refills her glass, tops off mine. Vandyke
slinks along the floor in front of the television, both front legs
batting in front of him, chasing the evil champagne cork. I feel like
I'm watching a play, and I'm in it. This goofiness can't be
part of *my* life...this can't be me, Jeffrey Douglas Byers, Jr, in
Levi's and blue chambray, barefoot and mush-mouthed, half lit on
sparkling wine. My heart constricts and for a second, I fear I'm going
to embarrass myself and burst into happy tears. I shake my head at
her, grinning, speechless.

Rebecca's still watching me, reads me, and her eyes soften, she
crawls across the couch and leans into me, kisses me quickly on the
cheek, and picks up the remote, rewinding back to the credits. "Jeff,
if this wasn't Neil Diamond, I'd ravage you right here....but, sorry,
he has a better ass than you" She picks up the bottle of wine,
refills my glass, then settles against me, drinking right from the
bottle.

It's the banter...it's the wine.....it's the blue jeans and Neil
Diamond and the tingly forest smell of her hair. When Jesse Robin
sings "Love On The Rocks" HIS way, we're kissing softly, chastly
.. his first concert, "Summer Love", we're breathing heavy and
playing tonsil tag....and when the sensual, sweet violins of "Hello,
Again" accompany the bare-shoulders love-scene with Molly, we're right
there with them, my shirt and her jeans are on the floor, and I know
we're gonna let it happen, and it's good and right and I want it, I
want her, I NEED her.

Rebecca hits the remote, then climbs over me, switching off the lamp.
She trembles against me,and it feels like fear. "It's all right," I
breathe against her neck, I kiss up the line of her jaw , suck on her
tender ear lobe, and she sighs and pushes against me. I'm kissing her,
she's stroking my bare back, pushing at my jeans.

We're sliding off the couch, push the coffe table out of our way,
clothes are flying, She's warm and wonderful over me, around me .
My left hand is on her hip, rising, caressing, I barely touch the
bottom swell of her right breast, she gasps and closes her hand over
mine, lacing our fingers, brings my hand to her face and chews gently
on my thumb. My right hand has closed over her left breast, worrying
the taut nipple, she moans against me and firey heat races through my
groin and radiates down my legs. She slides up my body, mouthing my
shoulder, my neck, breathing in my ear "Jeff....we're good....we're so
good together....." Her hand is on me, sliding down, and it's beeen so
long....so long.....

The anxiety flares white behind my eyes, cramps my stomach so hard I
cry out. I can't breathe. It's another time, another place. There's
a fragile, blond woman child. Pain. Blood. Mind numbing worry and
fear. Scared . There is no warmth, no feeling. My heart is
pounding. A long, dead, quiet time of nothingness. Nothing.

I push Rebecca off of me, fall against the coffee table. I feel
around, grab denim, hauling, I gotta get out of here, one foot in the
jeans, I pull, stumble, hung up....I have HER jeans. I yank them off
my leg and throw them, reach again and find mine. I fumble into them,
escaping, I don't know where I am in the dark, or where I'm going, I
crash, smash my bare foot into the kitchen island cabinet, cursing
mightily.

I lean on the counter a moment, my chest heaving. I'm slick with sweat
and want a cool shower almost as much as I want to haul ass out of
here. I round the island, open the refrigerator, and grab a bottle of
orange juice. I close the door and take a big gulp, choke messily, the
acid burns my nose and throat. I lay my forehead against the cool
steel of the door; there's a strange brushing on the top of my head
and I look up--Vandyke is hanging over the edge of the top of the
refrigerator, one foot extended, he's patting my head. He fixes me
with his cool blue eyes, his mouth opens in that silent little scream ,
and I almost puke.

I hear her behind me, the space is narrow, and she brushes against me
as she pulls herself up onto the island counter top. I turn my face,
seeking the cool, looking away from her. An eternity, my breathing is
shallowing out, my heart slowing . I feel her foot brush up my back,
rubbing, comforting.

"Hello...hello, again," she says softly.

I turn my head and look at her. She's wearing just my shirt, a single
button holding it closed at her breasts. Her forehed is creased with
worry, her eyes full of compassion."Are you all right?"

I nod my head, yes...drop my eyes and shake my head, no. I can't look
at her, I'm mortified and terrified and I just want to go home, climb
into my bed, pull the covers over my head and stay for a year. Maybe
two. I want this pain to be gone.

"Did you see a ghost?"

I nod. My eyes are brimming, my throat's tight , and the sympathy in
her voice almost does me in. I've made a big enough ass out of myself
without breaking down in front of her. I draw a tremulous breath and
straighten up. I turn toward her, but I can't look at her.

"I think I better go."

"You can't go."

"Rebecca.....I..."

"I'm wearing your shirt, you can't go"

We have a stare down...she wins. I start away, but she puts her leg
up, effectively trapping me.

"Are you going to just run everytime you feel something"

I sigh. "Rebecca, don't pull this amateur psychologist crap on me, ok??
If I want analyzed, I'll go see Mulder."

She jerks like I slapped her "Fine."

"Anyway, it's not just that. It's ....."

"I know what it is, Jeff"

"No, I don't think you do, Becca. I thought I was ready...I thought I
was over it, over her. But I can't forget. It's right the fuck
THERE. The worry...the anger....the fear. Maybe it's Scully being
sick that is making this so difficult....making it so hard to give up."

She reaches and I give her my hand. She's so good, so sweet. She
doesn't deserve this.... I don't deserve her.

"Becca, I AM sorry. It's a ....a whole world of feeling, all by
itself. It's such a gamit . And I can't FORCE myself to get over it.
You don' t know how complicated it is."'

"But I do know...I DO,. " she says softly. Her eyes burn into mine
with a firey intensity ,she squeezes my fingers, then releases my hand
to unfasten the single button holding the shirt closed ; her eyes drop
and she pulls the material to the right, exposing the shadowed curve of
her breast. "Look." I am uncomfortably embarrased and turn away, but
she extends a leg and catches me firmly around the waist with a foot,
pulling me toward her "No! LOOK, I said!" she cries, voice breaking
as she arches up and to the side, catching the radiating green-tinted
light from the digital clock on the microwave.

<continued in pt 2>

<MessIV continued>


She has me firmly trapped ; I look , transfixed, at the exquisitly
tender globe, the creamy skin, the dusky pink of the flat nipple. It
is perfect , it is.... She shivers, and, confused, my eyes dart to
the still cloth covered mound of her other breast, the nipple
sharply, visibly erect against the soft cotton. The exposed nipple is
flat...the exposed nipple is.....

"It's tattooed," she whispers, "it's a reconstruction." Now she's
embarrased, and pulls the placket of the shirt back to cover herself.
Her foot, ,the heel nestled at the small of my back in the waistband of
my jeans, is flexing against my spine, and finally, the light
dawns, I understand, and my knees are suddenly trembling. Jesus
Christ. She...no...I tense, jerk, but she clenches her foot to my back
"No, Jeff, don't fight....." She tips my jaw, forces me to look at
her. Her eyes are startlingly violet-blue and awash with checked
tears. She nods her head, compassionate, anxious, and I loathe
myself for wanting to push her away, to run, to hide from this beast
that is Cancer, to please, just leave me the fuck alone. I don't WANT
to feel this...I don't want to feel.......I turn my face into her hand,
my eyes clenched tightly shut , and I'm grinding my teeth so hard, I
swear I hear a molar crack.

Becca hitches back on the counter, then lifts her other leg around my
waist and pulls me flush against the island base. I wrap my arms
around her, and she hooks one arm around my neck, the other tight under
my arm and around my back, and we're skin to skin, chest to chest ,
the soft silk of her cheek against the fur of my beard. I cough and
draw a deep, shuddering breath, trying to swallow the emotion that is
choking me, but she cups the back of my head, caresses my hair, her
foot is stroking my back ...."It's all right, Jeff...some of us are
winners" , and I give in, burying my face in her neck and sobbing
quietly. Her arms tighten around me; I feel the tremors run through
her, feel her tears against my own neck.

After a moment, I get some semblance of control, and lift my head from
her shoulder. She loosens her desperate grip on my neck, and I lace my
fingers into the dark cloud of her hair, tilting her face up to me. I
kiss her brow, her eyelids, smooth my thumb across her lips, ever so
gently kiss the corner of her mouth. "You could have told me, "I
whisper, "it doesn't matter"

She hiccups, sniffs, and suddenly, maddingly giggles "Right...." she
hiccups again, and it hits me that she MAY be in some kind of strange
emotional shock. "It's not exactly an easy thing to bring up, you
know, 'Hi, I'm Rebecca Foster, I like leather pants, dirty limericks
and Neil Diamond,and by the way, I have a silicon boob and a tattoo in
the DAMNDEST place'.....yeah, I coulda told you." She shudders, wipes
her face with the sleeve of my shirt, leaving dark smears of mascara
behind. She's a mess.

"Yeah, well...." I gently disengage her legs from my waist and turn
to pull some paper towels from the colonial spindle holder, runnning
the water cool in the sink, "I told you about Monny" I swab my face,
soothe my smarting eyes. I'm a mess.

"And I was supposed to tell you *I* had had Cancer after you told me
THAT ? Give me a break, Jeff, do you think I'm STUPID? You would have
been out of here so fast, I would'a' thought your ass was on fire"

She's breaking my heart.....mostly because she's right. Still, a
flare of unreasonable, selfish anger tightens my lips "So you lie to
me?"

"I didn't lie! I just.... didn't exactly present all the facts. I'm
an attorney, it's what I DO." Her already strained voice cracks, and
when I turn back, she's crying again, silently, her face impassive...
like she's cried this way a thousand times. A pang of guilt twists my
gut. My gentle, eclectic, sweet sweet girl....what have I done?

"Rebecca...honey, don't cry, please....I'm sorry" I crush her to me,
stroking her back, caressing her forehead with my chin, my lips. I
want to engulf her, pull her inside me., protect her from the asshole
that is myself.

Her breathing steadies, she drops a quick kiss to my shoulder, and sits
up straight. She pulls the shirt tail up and wipes her nose, shakes
her head. "I think I owe you a new shirt, Mr Byers"

"You don't owe my anything" I pick up the wet paper towel from where
I've dropped it on the counter beside her and wipe her face, down her
neck...hesitate....

She takes the towel from me, presses it to her chest and the slight
valley between her breasts. "It's ok, it won't break", she smiles
tremulously , and I blush, look away.

"Are you all right now?"

"As good as I can be with a head full of snot."

I grin, shake my head--God, she IS something. "No, I meant.....you
know...."I gesture vaguely,.

"Oh. The "C" word" She sniffs noisily, lifts her hair up with one
hand and clasps the towel against the back of her neck with the other,
closing her eyes and arching her head back against the coolness. The
shirt falls open, and I can't stop myself from looking, comparing.
"It's been five years...statistically, I'm probably fine. I know I'm
damn glad to be here..... You're staring" I look away and she laughs
softly, draws the cool towel across my collarbones, down the line of
hair on my chest. I shiver, and she puts the towel to one side, once
again hooking a leg around my waist, but this time, I don't feel
trapped. I put my arms around her, and she turns her face against my
chest, sighs softly. I feel the soft fluttter of her damp lashes
against my skin, she's combing her fingers gently through the coarse
hair of my chest and I'm not so cold anymore.

I stroke her hair "But are you....safe?" I have to know--I'm pathetic.

"Are any of us?" She lifts her head, pulls back " You could fall down
the steps when you leave here tonight and break your neck . I could
get run over by a truck on Shaden Avenue tomorrow, or choke on the
Lentil soup at Donna J's. What are you gonna do? Hide?"

I shrug. I don't know. Becca's watching me with an intensity that
makes my skin crawl, and hiding sounds pretty damn good right now. I
drop my eyes.

"There's a saying in recovery, " she's stroking my forearm, her hand
stills with her thumb pressd to the underside of my wrist; my pulse is
racing. " 'Yesterday 's a memory, tomorrow a wish, TODAY is the gift'.
Right now--it may be all we ever have. That's why I'm.....high,
goofy, hepped up most of the time" She crosses her eyes and, smiling,
I lift her hand to my lips, kiss her palm. She lays the hand over my
heart "I've seen the other side, sweetheart, looked at Death with a
capital "d". He's mean, and he doesn't play fair, and I'm NOT playing
anymore. " She looks deep into my eyes. "You already had round one
with that fucker yourself, J.D., and again, statistically, " she
gives me a litttle enigmatic smile, "you probably WON'T get another
turn. But you can't sit out the whole game, babe. Not if you're on my
team."

"Jesus, Becca " I struggle, flex, but she tightens that foot on my
spine and clasps a gentle hand to my shoulder, squeezing, soothing. I
shake my head, my breath is sticking in my throat " I didn't
want....I can't.....I never wanted to....."

"What?" She fingers my throat, catches my eye, looks into my soul.

"I never wanted to FEEL.... this ....this......"

"Pain? Anger? Love? " She said it...more scary than the "C" word
"All of the above?"

"Yeah." I drop my eyes, watch my hand that, on it's own volition, is
running slowly up and down her bare thigh. I clasp behind her knee and
lift that leg up to, once again, wrap around my waist. I look up
through my lashes, she's watching me,intent, her lip caught between her
teeth, chewing. Her foot runs up my spine and hot tendrils of desire
curl through my belly and tighten my groin. "I guess it's a little
too late to NOT want that now, huh?"

"I hope so" Her heel twists into the small of my back, and I want her
badly, right now, right here, on the island counter top. She brings
my shaking hand to her mouth, kisses my palm, tongues the webbing
between my thumb and index finger, and I gasp. She smiles, a wicked
little grin that freezes on her face when I lift my left hand and tuck
my thumb under the button placket of the shirt, run it softly between
her breasts, then pull the shirt aside, cupping the soft weight of the
reconstructed breast.

"Can you feel this?" I trace the contours with my fingertips, knead
softly.

"Yes," she nuzzles my hand, places soft kisses along the inside of my
wrist "of course I can feel it."

"I mean..."I palm the fullness, caress the rounded tip with my thumb,
"does it feel good?"

"It always feels good when you touch me, Jeff," she whispers. I lean
in to kiss her on both cheeks, run my lips over her jawbone, she arches
into me and puts her hand over mine, pushes my fingers tighter into the
soft swell of the breast "It feels good here...." she slides my hand
across her chest, and presses it above her left breast, over her
pounding heart "and here." I nuzzle under her hand, lave my tongue
across the heated flesh. She runs my hand down her torso, I suck
gently, my teeth barely grazing the hard little nub, she inhales
sharpley and pushes my hand lower, pressing my fingers down into the
warm dampness between her legs. "I feel it here" I'm so shocked, I
almost bite her nipple off. My fingers flex against the soft hair and
she moans, tightening her legs around me, pushing, "Jeff...."

I brush my hand up and around her upper thigh, push under the sweet
roundness of her ass, she slides forward, I lift, and she's straddled
against me. Her legs scissor around me, one dropping low around my
hips, one tightly around my waist, her foot pressing, pushing into the
waistband of my jeans at my back. I feel the wet heat pressed
against my belly, I'm trembling and dizzy with desire, I lean into the
island and lower us.... there 's a catch, a sharp pull. Becca's
suddenly giggling under me-- I'm hung up by a belt loop on the handle
of the cabinet. Shit. I fumble , frustrated, Becca reaches ,
snickering, and pulls the zipper down on my jeans, pushes them off my
hips, and I'm naked and free above her. I slide the shirt off her
shoulders, lower her to the cool linoleum. We kiss feverishly, our
hands are everywhere, we roll over, bang off the refrigerator,
I push against her, feeling, grasping, we're twisting again and there's
an odd scraping sound "Oh, Jeff! Stop! Wait!" she cries out against my
shoulder, and I pull back, stunned. She whoops with laughter and
reaches under her...she's rolled over the dust pan, which we apparently
knocked from it's place beside the refrigerator.

I roll onto my back, groaning. "God, are we doomed, or what?"

"This NEVER happens on 'Mad About You'. Jesus " Becca sits up and
arches her back, shaking out her hair, and the desire flames up in me
again, no problem. She smirks, glances at the obvious sign of my
interest and shakes her head. "Byers, you are so cheap. C'mon" She
rises and extends a hand to me. "Let's take this to the bedroom, before
one of us breaks something vital. That is...if you still want to."

"I don't know" I sigh, look up at her--I've never seen anything more
beautiful in my life-- "I kinda wanted to watch the end of the movie."

"Oh. OK." She takes a false step, I grab her by the ankle, and she's
got me by both biceps, hauling me up. We're kissing before I'm fully
on my feet and I have a neanderthalic urge to sweep her into my arms as
we grope our way down the narrow hallway. We are wired with passion,
the atmosphere of the bedroom further charged by the spicy aroma of pot
pouri and the dim glow of the conch shell light on the night table.
The bed is turned down, the sheets a muted shade of dusty rose. The
stage is set.

"You litle wench, " I breathe, pulling her against me, mouthing her
ear, the tender flesh beneath it, making her moan, "you had this all
set up."

"Not really," she's kissing her way across my chest, running her
fingers over my ribs, making me ache for more , "when I came in to
change," she bites my shoulder, cups and squeezes my ass, ."I put the
sheets on, lit the pot pouri. I was hopeing......."

She's pushed me back closer to the bed, and now reaches around me
to the lamp, but I catch her hand, pull her fingers to my lips and
breathe against her palm "No....leave it on" I mimic her earlier
action, sucking the tender webbing of her hand, and her eyes dilate
with desire. "I want to watch you...I want to see us....."

Nearly at sensory overload already, I groan as we slide, together, onto
the bed. The slippery coolness of the sheets tingles my sensitized
skin, my entire body responds-- it's satin. I've never felt anything
so sensuously smooth, but the soft, supple pliancy of the woman
beneath my hands quickly overpowers even this , and I gasp and twitch
with sensation as she strokes and caresses the fevered skin of my belly
and upper thigh. We are on our sides, kissing frantically, our
teeth click, she jerks back and comes down on the furred bone of my
jaw, lathes her tongue around my ear, down the side of my neck, and
clamps her teeth on the sensitive tendon of my shoulder. I moan and
pull back slightly, she hitches her leg over my upper thigh, works a
hand between us. I can feel the heat radiating from her, smell the
musky scent of our passion as I nuzzle across her chest, gently suck
her breast. She's breathing tiny little sounds of passion, further
inflaming me. The hand thats caressing my belly slides lower, the backs
of her fingers brush softly across the super sensitive head of my penis
and I gasp and thrust against her as she wraps her fingers around me.
I tighten painfully, questing....

"No...god, Rebecca, wait..." I gently pull her hand from me, push it
down 'till her fingers rest against my inner thigh. She starts to
knead immediatly. "Take it easy, ok ?" I can't stop kissing her myself,
touching her "This isn't a race."

"I've wanted you for so long. I've wanted you since the day you tried
those leather pants on in Kaufmann's." she burrows against my chest,
slides her arm over me and pinches my ass. "I wanted to throw you
right on the floor in front of the register in Fine Leatherwear. Fine,
indeed...oh!" She gasps and closes her eyes as my stroking hand
pushes over the sodden curls between her legs. "Jeff.....aauuugghhh"

She's barely touching me, but I almost lose it at the sound of that
breathy moan. I watch her face as I finger the slick folds of her
inner lips; when my thumb finds and caresses her clitoris, she gasps
and grimaces with pleasure and arches into me. She pulls me down into
a deep, soul shaking kiss, her tongue stroking behind my teeth. I
rotate my hand, palming her mons, and slide a finger into the tight
heat of her . She comes immediatly, crying out into my mouth and
convulsing around my fingers, surprising us both.

I pull my hand gently away, roll partially over her,and hold her tight
while the tremors subside and her breathing slows. There are tears on
her face. Stricken, I run my fingers along her hairline, kiss her
browbone, thumb away the moisture from her cheekbone "Rebecca, I'm
sorry. Are you hurt, did I hurt you?? "

"God, no! I...oh, Jeff." She pulls my face down and kisses me softly
on both cheeks, a gesture so poignantly simple,I get a lump in my
throat. She smiles up at me, and my heart swells . "Anything I say at
this point would be misconstrued as pillow talk. Let the record show
that the defendant refuses to talk, and pleads the fifth."

I take a deep breath, poised on the edge of forever. Her face is still
flushed with passion, her eyes shiny with emotion. I jump "Then also
let the record show ," I bend over her, touch my lips to her temple,
"that the prosecutor," kiss the bridge of her nose "is in love with the
defendant"

It feels like stepping into a cool shower at noon in mid-July.

Becca makes a strangled little noise and pulls me down, her legs come
up and over mine, there are so many hands stroking, I think there is
surely someone else in the bed. I lift up slightly, working my hips,
blindly thrusting. Rebecca slides a hand between us, feeling, grasping
me. I shudder and flinch from her touch, I'm painfully hard, so ready,
I'm afraid if she strokes me.....

"Let me do it" she breathes against my ear. I thought I couldn't get
harder or want her more--wrong on both counts. I groan in exquisite
agony.

She pulls my face down to her and plunges her tongue deep into my
mouth, , the stroking rhythm of her tongue matching the scratching
hand on my back. The hand at my groin is cautious, kneading my upper
thigh, patting the wiry hair nesting my genitals. She tightens her
legs around me, grasps my shoulders, and pushes me into a roll, 'till
I'm on my back, and she's straddled above me. She massages me gently,
sensuously, running her hands from the tops of my thighs, up my torso,
palming the flat nipples of my chest, kneading my shoulders. She takes
both my hands in hers and pins them next to my head , then leans over
me, her hair leaving goosebumps wherever it brushes my sensitized
skin. Her tongue runs from the edge of my shoulder across my
collarbone, kisses up my neck, across my cheek, barely grazes my lips,
then continues to the opposite shoulder. My chest is heaving, I can
feel the tingle of every hair on my body, the edge of my vision is
tinged with red,and I wonder if one can spontaneously combust from
contained passion.

"Raa...Raa..." Christ, I can't talk. I pull my hands from her grasp,
push her upright. She, too, is breathing heavily, pulling air in
shallow little gasps. Her eyes are heavy and hooded with desire, and I
can hardly stand to look at her, she's so beautiful.
"Rebecca...please...you're going to have to call 911 for me in a
minute"

She slides forward and over me, the awesome sensation of heat and wet
make me groan and thrust. My eyes close in pleasurable focus. "No,"
she slaps my face lightly, " I want you to watch me....I want to see
your eyes when you come."

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

She lifts up on her knees, guides me toward her opening. I twitch and
thrust at her touch, but she pushes one hand against my hip bone.
"No...be still...let me do this for you."

There's heat and slick and tight, tight friction, and she's settled on
me, I'm in her and I think I may pass out from pleasure. She slides up
and drops back down, once, twice, and I'm sure it's not me making
those animal noises. I can't help but thrust, I want to be in her
totally, I want to disappear inside her and not come out 'till the next
millennium. She puts her hands on me, in front of her, stilling my
hips. Our eyes are locked intently. I reach a hand to where we are
joined, touching her, gently stroking. I touch the sharp little point
of her swollen clit, and she jerks, gasps, her eyes flash with
pleasure/pain, and she pulls my hand away "No, it's ok," she croons
and kisses my fingers, "I don't need you to touch me.....I could come
again just listening to you breathe"

Her words inflame me, I lose my tenuous control and thrust violently,
my hips lifting off the bed. She falls forward, her hands braced
against my chest, and rocks, rocks, sliding on me, around me, her
internal muscles grasping, clutching. Rocking, rocking faster, and the
tension coils and builds in my belly, the electric ripples flaming down
my legs, numbing my hands. She slows and pulls up, clenching tight,
'till just the tender tip of me is clutched in the pulsing mouth of her
womb, then she slides slowly back down. She does it again, stopping on
the up stroke and clench, release, clench and release. She's watching
my face, I'm trying to watch hers, but as she slides back down, the
room tilts around me, my vision blurs,and I'm bucking up against her
in mind-blowing orgasm , screaming her name and several impressively
colorful expletives. She grasps my shoulders and pulls me half
upright, wrapping her arms tight around me, then she's falling heavily
onto my chest, spasming around me, drawing another powerful wave of
climax through me, biting and yelping into my neck.

I think we pass out. We sound like we just ran a marathon, we're
puffing like steam engines. I feel like I got hit by a train. Becca
is running her hands slowly up and down my sides, and I want her to
stop, my skin is still so sensitized it almost hurts, I never want her
to stop. She's massaging the back of my neck, chewing the tender
flesh near the hollow of my throat...I'm gonna have the most impressive
hickey since high school. I need a drink of water , I never want to
leave this bed.

Rebecca shifts, flexes her hips, and I moan, my body trembling with
aftershock. We are still joined. I hook a leg up and over here, and
she shifts again, settling firmly against me. There is no weight, we
feel like one. I pull her face around, kiss her slowly, gently,
chastly. She runs the tip of her tongue across my bottom lip, kisses
the corner of my mouth, and lifts up, studies me gravely.

"This is the part where you're supposd to ask if it was good for me,
too"

Unbelievable. I laugh, and she burrows back into my neck, giggling
like a child. Her hips press and she's squeezing me from the inside,
another little flame of pleasure shoots through me and I gasp, jerk.
"God, Rebecca stop, you're gonna give me a stroke."

She smiles smugly. "I'm prety good, huh?? Wow, who'd'a thunk it, old
rubber-tit Foster"

"Rebecca!" She's incredible.

"What do you think, could I teach? Fucking 101, I bet it would be REAL
popular, the field trips would be a bitch, but the homework will be
.interesting" I slap her ass, and she laughs, "God, it's FUN to be
BAD..... Ooops, look who's here"

Vandyke is rubbing against us, warm and as smoothly sensual as the
sheets below us. He stops and looks down into my face, his blue eyes
glittering in the muted refraction of fhe dim light. He lifts a paw
and pats me softly on the cheek, circles above me and settles against
the top of my head.

"Well, that's that," Rebecca puts up a hand, strokes him, strokes my
hair, "I guess you stay"

"I'm not going anywhere"

She kisses the tip of my nose, settles her face against mine, rubbing
her smooth cheek against my beard. "Ya know, this is illegal in six
states."

"What?"

"Woman on top. Montana, Utah, North Dakota, SouthDakota, Colorado,
Arizona...and parts of Texas, too, I think. There was an encompassing
mandate in 1987..."

"Rebecca"

"What?"

"Shut up."

She giggles against my neck, I hold her tighter, our hearts beat
together.

Vandyke is purring.


"Hello, again, hello. It's good to need you so.
It's good to love you like I do,
And to feel this way when I hear you say
'Hello' "

***********************************************************

The Messenger V--Causerie
by XXXXgizzieXXXX

Shit. Mulder's by himself.

DonnaJ's is only half full on this early Tuesday evening, he's
already seen me, so I can't very well duck out and wait for Jeff. He
raises a hand to me, and I marvel, as always, at how someone can look
so damn good at the end of a work day. Fox Mulder is a beautiful
man--too bad he's such a dick.

I'm not really sure what it is about Mulder that pushes my buttons.
Part of it is that very insistence that he be called "Mulder", even by
*us*, his supposed friends, god forbid we should get too close. Part
of it is definitely the way he orders Dana Scully around like she's
his geisha girl, and she jumps at his every whim. Dana is also
battling Cancer, and I see little to no support from this, her partner
and friend, which also galls me spitless. Mulder has an obvious
sharp, intelligent wit that seems to manifest itself, for some odd
reason, in my presence, into a smart ass snarkiness--we take constant
pot shots at each other. I want to say it's veiled affection, but,
for me anyway, it's not. I don't like him. Period. If it wasn't for
Jeff, I wouldn't give him the time of day.

DonnaJ swoops over me, taking my jacket, swiping a clean bar towel
ineffectually over the rain-dampened mess of curls on my head. In the
cold, crass reality of Washington, DC, DonnaJ's is an oasis, a rustic,
homey bar and grill, specializing in savory soups, thick sandwiches,
and hearty beers. DonnaJ herself is hoveringly motherly, a toucher, a
hugger, an in-your-face, make-yourself-at-home hostess whom Jeff fears
will be broke in a year, if she doesn't stop ripping up checks and
feeding every stray that comes along.

"Look at you...you need Split Pea today, you're soaked" she exclaims,
hugging me close, then whispering against my ear "Go easy on my boy,
there, today, huh? He looks like shit."

I glance over, and Mulder does, indeed look like shit. He's slumped
in the barrel chair, an untouched sandwich in front of him, toying with
a sweaty pilsner glass of a noxious looking black beer. His face is
drawn, his eyes hooded, and as I get closer, he looks up--there is an
angry looking welt at his hair line that looks like a puncture wound.
He sees me wince, and raises a self-conscious hand to his forehead.

"What happened, did the Dentist slip?" It comes out smarter than I
intended, but that happens, with Mulder and I.

Mulder smirks. "I ...uh...kinda had an accident." He rips a piece of
crust off the sandwich, shreds it to crumbs.

"Where's Byers?"
"Where's Dana?"

We smile, having verbally stepped on each other, then he gestures.

"He'll be here in a minute.....Shaden Avenue is stacked up, he's
parking."

"Scully has a doctor's appointment...she said start without her. I
did...kinda."

"I haven't talked to Dana in over a week. How is she?"

"She's dying, Becca, how do you THINK she is??"

I bite my lip, DonnaJ saves the day by bustling up with a steaming bowl
of thick green soup, which she plops in front of me with a big chunk of
Pumpernickle Bread. "Look what I found" she beams and pulls Jeff from
behind her. He's chewing on the heel of the bread, but his grin
freezes on his face when he sees Mulder's head. "Jesus, Mulder, what
did you do now?"

"I had a friggin' accident, ok?? Christ, I'm an FBI agent, I get HURT
sometime, ya know?"

"Easy there, pal," DonnaJ pats him on the back, "they're your friends,
they worry."

"Yeah, right." Mulder hangs his head wearily, brings a hand up over
his face and grimaces in pain as he accidently brushes the raw-looking
wound. He pushes the sandwich away with a sigh. "You might as well
take this away, Donna, I'm not doing anything but playing with it. I
will have another beer, though. Byers?"

Jeff's forehead is creased with worry. He nods absently, dunks the
heel of the bread into my soup, regards Mulder with caution. "Did
you....Mulder that looks really bad, have you seen a doctor?"

Mulder rolls his eyes. "My *partner* is a doctor, remember?? Scully,
short shit, red hair?"

"Ha-ha" Jeff smiles his thanks at Donna as she puts the beers down in
front of them. She glances between Jeff and Mulder, nervous.

"We're okay, thanks Donna, " I assure her.

Mulder smirks "I'm okay...you okay, Byers?? Becca's okay, Becca is
ALWAYS okay, right, Becca?"

Donna glances back as she leaves, gives me a questioning look. I
shrug, and Mulder kicks my chair. "What?? Did I do something?"

"Stop it, Mulder!" Jeff is pissed and undone. Mulder's simmering anger
is unwarrented.

I'm choking on the pea soup, push the bowl away. " Mulder, can we
please try not to spar tonight? Please?"

"But we do it so well. We...." His cell phone chirps, and he smiles.
"Ah, saved by the bell." He pulls the phone from his inside pocket,
never takes his eyes off me. "Mulder." His face changes immediatly,
softens. He looks away, drops his voice "Yeah.....they're
here......yeah......I will....I WILL, Scully...are you sure you don't
want me to come over?" Jeff, looking stricken, touches a hand to
Mulder's sleeve, but Mulder jeks away. "Okay" He clicks the phone off,
slides it into his pocket and sighs heavily. "She's not coming. She
had a bad attack, luckily, in the doctor's office. He told her to go
straight home."

"You should go to her, Mulder," Jeff says softly, "someone should be
with her."

"She doesn't want me, she said she just wants to be left alone"

"And you BELIEVE her??" My voice is squeaky with disbelief. "Jesus,
Mulder, how can you be so stupid?"

His eyes flash with anger and he slams a hand down on the table
"Dammit, Becca, you don't know her.. You and your perfect little
world,and your perfect little love affair here...you don't know
anything about Scully, her pride ...you don't know anything about US"

"Mulder," Jeff cautions.

" 'Mulder' , my ass, Byers, I'm sick to death of her sanctamonious
little speeches, and those LOOKS. She don't know shit"

"Is that right?" I know I should drop it, Jeff's eyes plead, but I push
my chair back, lean into Mulder's space "I went down that road,
Mulder...I HAD cancer" His eyes widen, and I know Jeff hasn't told
him. "And all I wanted was someone to hold me, and tell me everything
was gonna be okay...even when I knew it wasn't gonna be. You HAVE to
be there for her, Mulder. It's the only thing that matters."

He's looking at me, his face perfectly blank. I'm not even sure he was
listening. Then his lip curls and his monotone is chillingly nasty.
"Rah, rah, rah"

I fight an immediate reflex, clutch the glass in front of me to keep my
arm in place--I want to slap him so badly, my palm itches.

"Mulder!" Jeff hisses, and knowing me as he does, grabs my wrist in
restraint. "What the hell's gotten into you?"

Mulder raises an eyebrow, sneers in bitter amusement. "Spare me the
platitudes, Byers. I seem to recall a night not too long ago, when you
were feeling plenty hopeless yourself. Of course, that was before The
Cheerleader , here."

Jeff releases my wrist, runs his long fingers over the back of my hand
to lace between my own fingers--he squeezes my hand tightly, and at
this moment, I love him so much, I feel like I'm going to explode.

"Mulder." Jeff rises and pulls me up with him, holds me tight against
his side. "You're lousy company. When you're ready to play nice, give
us a call, ok? 'Till then....fuck you."

Mulder startles, then drops his eyes, watches his own hand spinning
his pilsner glass round and round in the condensation on the burnished
wooden table. I wait by the door as Jeff goes for our jackets, and I
have a momentary flash of regret when I glance back--DonnaJ is bent
over Mulder, one hand on the back of his neck , and he's shaking his
head. He looks so vulnerable, so miserable, I can't help the pang of
sympathy that tightens my chest.

Jeff is tight-lipped and silent on the way to my apartment. I'm not
surprised when he parks in the lot, and follows me upstairs; we usually
don't spend weeknights together, but there's a tangible air of need
about him, a quiet desperation that manifests itself in a strange,
feral desire. He's pulling at my clothes before I even have the door
locked, half drags me to the bedroom, his tongue in my mouth is choking
and demanding. He one-handed clears the bed of comforter and cat,
VanDyke streaks from the room, fat-tailed and yowling. He strips me in
seconds, grabs roughly at exposed skin, mouthing my neck and shoulder
hungrily. As he tears his own clothes off, I finally take some
control, slide across the bed and pull Jeff down on top of me, raising
a knee, slowing him down a little. His hand is shaking as he strokes
my face, his eyes questioning, dark with pain.

"It's all right" I clasp his hand to my cheek, turn my face and kiss
his palm, "WE'RE all right. I love you."

He pushes against me with a strangled moan, his hands lifting my hips,
pulling me tight against him. His breath whistles through his clenched
teeth, he's humping uselessly, rubbing hard, grinding. I work a hand
between us--he's totally flacid, and whimpers softly when I wrap my
fingers around him. It doesn't matter, I'm dry and tense with a need
of my own, not for sex, but for some blessed nothingness, some peace.

"Easy, buddy...it's ok...c'mon, babe, stop." I still his hips against
mine with my hands clasped tight on his ass.

"I'm sorry", he gasps, "I want...I can't....there's...there's way too
many people in this bed. I'm sorry, Becca."

"It's ok, I said....we're ok." His breathing is labored and harsh
against my neck, and when I run my hands up and over his shoulders, the
muscles are twisted with tension. I flex my fingers into the tight
cord of his left deltoid, and he moans against me. I know what he
needs, and it's not sex.

"C'mon...let me up." He elbows up and off of me, and I push against
him, rolling him over onto his stomach. "Here, put your arms up" I
straddle him, settling into the small of his back, fold his long arms
up and over his head, then run my hands from his fingertips to the
connecting joints of his shoulders. When I dig the heels of my palms
into the banded steel across his shoulders, he moans in pleasurable
pain and tightens beneath m
e. "Shhhhh....relax"

"I'm sorry I...."

"Shhhhh."

I massage the stiffness out of his shoulders, palm the long, tight
muscles on either side of his spine with deep, sure strokes. I feel
him relax beneath me; I let him retain some semblance of dignity by
pretending not to notice the hiccuping little tremors that course
through him. It's only after his breathing has shallowed, and I'm sure
he's asleep, that I reach forward and brush the angry, helpless tears
from his cheek.

*****************************

Two weeks pass, Jeff meets with Mulder three times , and always calls
me afterwards, angry and worried. Mulder is withdrawn and moody, a
sarcastic smart ass. I don't want to socialize with him anymore, and
told Jeff as much. I just happen to be in the Lone Gunmen office when
Mulder comes in on another blind tangent, wired and primed, demanding
their help, and they jump and fetch like so many seasoned Labradors.
Langly practically wags his tail and pees on his shoe when Mulder
pats him on the back, and Frohike disappears into the storage room,
coming back in seconds, weighted down with enough cold weather gear to
outfit five men. Only Jeff is withdrawn, he says not a word, accessing
the computer data with professional certitude. Their fingers touch as
he hands Mulder the disk, their eyes lock, and the tension crackles
between them. Mulder glances at me--his eyes are manic and bright
with his quest--he shakes his head slowly, glances back at Jeff with
something like regret, and is gone.

"What the hell was THAT all about?" Frohike demands, angry "Jesus,
Byers, why didn't you just call him an ass, and get it over with?"

"ANOTHER alien corpse," Jeff says bitterly. "Ya know, one of these
days, this fucking passion of his is going to kill him. The Ukon.
Jesus. Mulder can't tie his own shoes if it's under thirty two
degrees." His words are tough, but he looks like someone left the air
out of his tires. He's scared. "Did you guys NOT notice that he's
higher than a kite?"

Langly snorted "Christ, Byers, at least he CARES about something. We
should all be so lucky" He winces at his own stupidty and glances at
me. Dick.

"I gotta go." I put an arm around Jeff's shoulders and squeeze gently
"You sure you don't want to come to lunch with us?? You haven't seen
Scully for a while."

Jeff sighs "No...I better not. This thing with Mulder...I'm liable to
say something I'll regret. Tell her I'll call her in the next few
days, before Mulder gets back"

"Tell her I'll call her, too" Frohike smirks. "Or maybe I'll just stop
and see her. I WAS at her apartment once, you know"

"Yes, we know, Frohike," Langly sighs, "you told us a million times,
and she was wearing her robe,and you had tea. There, now Becca knows,
too."

"Coffee...we had coffee" Frohike says gravely, and something tells me
this is not altogether a good memory.

"I'll tell you later." Jeff tips up out of his chair to kiss me on the
cheek, pat my ass. "Go. Have fun."

Dana Scully tells me at lunch that her cancer has metastasized.

************************************

George Clooney is just about to kiss me when the phone rings. I groan
and snuggle deeper into my pillow, trying to recapture the fractured
image, but the phone jangles again. Jeff reaches across me, drags the
phone cord across my face...I'm awake now.....

"ummmmm....hello??.....whoa, WHAT???...Jesus...." He climbs over me,
struggling out of bed , yanks the phone cradle and clears the night
stand with a crash. He's scaring the shit out of me.

"Jeff, what is it??" I reel up the mess of power cords, snag the
digital clock...it's 5:10 a.m....untangle the conch shell bed lamp and
switch it on. Jeff is pasty faced and lipless in the muted light, his
eyes wide and blank with shock--and I suddenly know. "It's Dana"

He nods and my stomach hits the floor. Then he raises a hand to me,
gestures vaguely, drops his eyes and turns away."Dana," he says
soothingly,"try to calm down, ok?" What the hell is going on here?
"I'll be RIGHT there." He hangs up the phone, stands staring at
nothing.

"Jeff...is she all right?"

He nods."Yes". Then shakes his head "I mean, no.....I mean...." His
jaw clenches, he rubs a hand over his face, and is suddenly in kinetic
motion, slamming drawers, pulling on jeans, one-foot dancing into a
pointy-toed boot. "That was Dana...it's Mulder...I gotta go.....Mulder,
he......Becca, Mulder's...I gotta go..... "

"Jeff!!" I grab him by the shoulders and shake, hard. He struggles
for a second, then goes limp under my hands. He's breathing in shallow
little asthmatic gasps, and when he finally meets my eyes, I can see
the pain deep in his soul.

"Mulder's dead, Becca"

A gut punch. Knuckles in my mouth and bile rising. "What?"

"Scully's in the lobby of his building. The Alexandria police called
her to identify his body. He killed himself, Becca" His lips twitch,
his eyes go glassy, and he pulls away from me. He shakes his head,
stares out the window at the first tentative streaks of dawn. I almost
miss his mumble "Fucker blew his brains out. I KNEW he was in trouble,
but....."

"Jeff" I come up behind him and rub a soothing hand up the tight
planes of his back He shrugs away, needing the solitude, reveling in
the guilt. "Jeff, you TRIED to help Mulder, you..."

"Not hard enough," he says bitterly, " or he'd be alive, wouldn't he?"
He breaks from the window, fumbles with his other boot "I gotta go, I
told Scully I'd be right there. And I gotta call the guys...Jesus,
Frohike's gonna......fuck.......and Mulder fought with his mother
recently, and never made up....."

"Jeff, wait," I pull him up, wrap my arms around him, "give yourself a
minute."

"I can't, I...I CAN'T..."

"You CAN" I tighten my hold on him, and he finally stops struggling,
brings his arms up and around me. I pat his back, slowly, slowly feel
the change in his breathing, 'till he slumps against me, and the first
convulsive sob shudders through him. I rock him gently, stroke his
hair--but I refrain from murmering the standard "there, there,
everything's gonna be all right". I feel like nothing is ever going
to be all right again.

Mulder. You suck.

*******************************************************

The Messenger VI--Interlude
by XXXXgizzieXXXX



he'sDEAD//he'sDEAD//he'sDEAD//he's DEAD

The windshield wipers tap a staccato rhythm in my aching head. I long
to turn them off, to silence the lamenting dirge my numbed senses are
pondering. Great. I'll still the wipers, block my vision, and drive
point blank into a telephone pole. Then two of us can senselessly die.

Mulder. Dead. **SUICIDE** It actually makes some kind of twisted
sense that this man whose life was a cacophonous jumble of cerebral
impulse should blow his own brains out. I shudder at the image of
Mulder, my FRIEND Mulder, so despondent that the siren call of forever
silence became his coda. Mulder was always haunted, driven, questing
for that elusive TRUTH; what could possibly have pushed his back up
against a wall so solid, death was his only relief?

I think back over the last several monthes, such a short time, really,
that Mulder and I have actually been *friends*. We've known each other
for years, of course, connected by the web of paranoia that binds us
and the ubiquitous "they". Drawn together by the onset of Dana
Scully's cancer, I found in Mulder a gut-twisting compassion that was
usually masked by his sarcastically dry wit. The man felt things SO
intensely, but the polished GQ exterior maintained the illusion of
the cold hearted bastard he tried to be.

It was Frohike who was always his confidante, his anchor....and it was
Frohike who'd gone to pieces two years ago when we thought Mulder had
been killed in New Mexico. Frohike and Jim Beam and a tearful lament
in Limerick Tavern. How am I going to tell Frohike?

And Langly...Langly, who had achieved the impossible-- The Limerick
Tavern again, Mulder and Dana, Frohike, Becca and I, summoned by a
frantic Langly to assist a "friend" on an amateur comics night.
Imagine our surprise and delight when the "friend" turned out to be
Langly himself, a contact-lensed, open-faced Langly. Animated and at
ease with himself and his audience, he'd amused us with his
observational humor and impersonations, including a KILLER take on
Mulder, right down to the tight-assed swagger and pushed-out lower lip,
that had left Dana wiping tears and gasping for breath... and actually
made Fox Mulder LAUGH out loud. It almost sounded like it hurt, and
Langly had descended the stage starry-eyed and proud, grasping Mulder's
outstretched hand, tickled spitless that he had reached, finally, this
man he admired and worshipped, like the science fair geek who quietly
envies his popular-jock big brother. The brother who would shockingly
take his own life.

Fuck.

I see two police cruisers a block and a half from Mulder's
building.....then another,and another. When I pull into the narrow
lot, there is nowhere to park, the entire area is full of police cars,
EMT vehicles and Alexandria's finest. Christ, how many people does it
take to dispose of one corpse? I choke on my own sick humor and wipe
a hand hastily across my face as I double-park along the side of a
cruiser. Now that I'm *here*, the stark reality of the situation
insinuates itself once again into a pulsing spot just behind my right
eyeball. I slam my car door, and feel it reverberate through my skull.

"Are you a resident of this building?" It's a police officer,
brandishing a clip-board and an impressive set of ham-like fists.

"Ummmm.....no....I'm.....uhhhh...." I'm distracted by the red flare
of Dana's hair; she's standing just inside the lobby with still another
gorilla in blue. Where the hell do they FIND these guys?

"Sir....you're going to have to move along if you don't live in this
building"

"No, wait." I pull away from the policeman's grasp, anxious to get to
Dana. Even from here, I can see she's about to keel over. "I'm here
to pick up Dana Scully."

"Oh, you're the friend....Mr Byers, is it?" I nod, still watching
Dana. She's spotted me, too, and I can feel the fevered intensity of
her gaze through the gloom of the early morning drizzle as we lock
eyes. The policeman glances from her, to me,and back again, then gives
a smarmy little smirk. "You can go RIGHT in, sir"

It takes everything in me to not knock that smirk right off his smart
face, but I settle for giving him a mental finger and cross the small
lot, taking the concrete steps two at a time. The gorilla with Dana
swings the door open for me, and she steps around him to meet me on
the concrete stoop.

Her face is deathly pale, she's chewing her lip, but she's
dry-eyed and stoicly composed. Shock. She must be in shock. I
fight a swelling sob as I almost double over to take her in my
arms. She's so fragile. The hand she wraps around the back of my
neck feels like a child's, the arm around my waist so delicate, I
barely feel it. I want to hold her tight, comfort and take comfort,
but I fear I'll crush her with my big hands and Tarzan arms. I rub
her back, tenderly stroke the back of her head, try to murmer
platitudes of comfort, but I'm losing the fight with the battle of my
own grief. My voice hitches in my throat, "Dana....Dana....."

The hand at the back of my neck tightens, I feel her warm
breath against the fur of my jaw as she turns her face into me, pulls
me closer "Jeff," she whispers, "Listen, and DON'T look up...we're
being watched." I stiffen, she clutches my back and digs her nails
into my neck "Mulder's all right....he's alive, Jeff....we need your
help. Just get me the hell out of here"

Her arm convulses around me, her hand clawing desperatly at my
jacket, and she cries out in despair. Reflexively, I tighten my hold
on her, pull her closer. "Good," she murmers into my neck, "now let's
GO! Your car..."

I keep one arm wrapped tightly around her, she leans heavily
into me, crying softly, as we wind our way through the masses of
policemen milling around outside the building. I feel their
sympathetic looks as I hand her into the passenger seat, as they part
out of the way of my car and I pull out onto the side street. We
traverse a block and a half, Dana huddles miserably against the
passenger door, head down, face hidden by the curtain of her hair.
As I slow for a signal light, she looks up cautiously, glances to the
right, then whips an arm over the back of the seat as she scrambles to
her knees to glare through the fogging back window. Her eyes are
snapping blue fire and a nasty little sneer curls her lip.

"Suckers!"

Jesus. Bette Davis has nothing on Dana Scully.

Then suddenly, she really IS crying, collapsing down against the back
of the seat, her face pressed into the crook of her elbow. The signal
changes, and I pull through the intersection as she sobs quietly. I
don't reach out; I can't say anything. A hot ember of anger is
building and flaring through my gut. I'm so mad and scared and
PISSED that if I attempt to say anything, I'm going to explode.

She jerks suddenly, raises her heads, and wipes the back of her hand
across her face. "Oh, shit" In the muted morning light, I can see the
messy smear of snot and blood across her lip and the back of her
fingers. She scrambles back into a sitting position, digging through
her trench coat pocket, presses two fingers against the bridge of her
nose. "Jeff, please.....pull over, please......"

I pull into the small lot of a convenience store, slam to a stop, and
gun the engine like an angered beast. Dana sniffs ands chokes, tips
her head back, and looks at me sideways. Her eyes are huge and hot
looking against the white white plane of her sunken cheeks. God, she
looks like shit. I feel the welling sting of angry, frustrated tears,
my leg is twitching convulsively, and the knot of rage in my gut has
untied itself into a cold, hard lump of nausea. She reaches over and
grasps my arm "Jeff, I'm sorry." I try to pull away, but she slides
across the seat and clutches my fingers with her other hand,
effectively caging my arm "I'm sorry I scared you." She squeezes my
fingers hard and catches my eyes, her look pleading "Jeff, they were
RIGHT there, listening. They EXPECTED me to fall apart. I...."

"Agent Scully" Her eyes widen and she pulls back, her face hardening
warily at my tone. I shake her fingers from mine and rub a trembling
hand across my lips. "Agent Scully....will you please just tell me
what the fuck is going on?"

"Jeff...."

"TELL ME!!" She jumps and cringes, her lips flutter, but nothing comes
out. "You told me he was DEAD!! Becca is back at my apartment, she's
a basket case. Jesus, Scully, she may have already called Frohike and
Langly." My voice cracks on the last syllable. I cough and draw a
deep, trembling breath, wipe an impatient knuckle across my eyes.
Fuck...it's so good to have FRIENDS. "What the hell have you two done
NOW?"

"This is a long story, Jeff" Scully studies her fingers, then looks up
at me. Her face is, once again, placid and pale; I can't help but
wonder if the curtain is about to rise on act two of this tragic
charade.

***************************************************************

The Messenger VII--Coda
by XXXXgizzieXXXX

The tap-tap-tap at the door is muted, yet I startle at the intrusion of
my blank-minded stare at the bleached wood table top. A pause, then a
stacto chirp of the door buzzer and an urgent call "Byers?"

Mel Frohike. I'd know that voice anywhere, but still, with a subtle
paranoia I've somehow gleaned from my association with the Gunmen, I
check the peep hole. It *is* Frohike, slump-shouldered and staring at
his boots. He knows.

I unlock and swing the door open just as he taps again, his hand
freezes in mid-knock, and he blinks in surprise. "Rebecca!"

"Yeah. Come in. He's not here. I was just...come in...."

"C'mon," he says gently, and reaches, grasps another man by the elbow,
pulls him unresisting into the apartment.

I don't recognise the man in the running shorts and sleeveless
Tasmanian Devil sweatshirt for a second, then my stomach clenches and I
can't stop a small gasp, my hand reaching out. "Ree."

It's Ringo Langly, not the healthiest looking man in the best of
circumstances, now shaken and blank eyed, his long, white-blond hair
skinned back in a pony tail, accentuating the sharp angles of his pale
face. He's not wearing his glasses, and I'm not sure the myopic stare
he fixes on me is because of that, or his obvious distress. He flinches
when I touch him, draws back, looks over my shoulder. "Where's Byers?
We need to tell him..."

"We know, Ree." He brushes past me into the living room, turns the
television on. Frohike gives me a questioning look. "Dana called
him...." I check the clock on the microwave ".....about an hour ago.
She asked him to come get her. She was at Mulder's apartment."

Frohike frowns. "Jesus...was she THERE when he...?"

"No. I dont' think so, anyway....I don't know. God, even Mulder
couldn't be THAT big a prick, could he?" Langly snorts, Frohike
blanches. "Sorry." Jesus. Me and my big mouth. I reach out and pull
Frohike against me, hug him hard. "I'm sorry, really. I just..."

"It's ok" He wraps his arms around me, holds me tight. "I'm just...
surprised she'd call ANYONE to pick her up. Not tough Scully."

I pull away from him, cross into the kitchen to make coffee."When was
the last time you saw her, Mel?"

"I don't know...a couple weeks, I guess."

"Yeah, well, she's not doing so good. This.... thing...is liable to be
the last straw...she may quit fighting."

"Did she SAY anything?"

"I don't really know, she talked to Jeff. How'd you find out, anyway,
did Jeff call you? I was going to, and I chickened out."

Frohike smiles weakly. " I heard it on the police scanner. I thought
I heard it wrong the first time., but that "Fox" name is a little hard
to miss." He bites his lip, drops his eyes "I was hoping these old
ears were deceiving me." He gestures into the living room, where Langly
is compulsively channel surfing "I picked him up running on
Shaden Avenue." He drops his voice. "He's pretty shook, Becca."

"Yeah...so's Jeff."

"Yeah" Frohike heaves a long sigh and, with a familiarity I didn't
know he had here, crosses to the high cabinet over the sink, and pulls
down a bottle of Jim Beam. The seal is still on it, and Frohike smiles
as he cracks it "I got Byers this for Christmas LAST year....I can see
you guys are big drinkers."

"Yeah, well, we're more winos, you know, but a little JB sounds good
right about now." Frohike loads my mug and his as I pour a third cup
for Langly. I reach for the bottle of bourbon, but Frohike raises a
hand.

"Not for him."

"It's purely medicinal," I smirk.

"NO, Becca, he's an al...." Frohike stops abruptly, looks guiltily in
at Langly. "just...give him a lot of cream and sugar, ok?"

"OK" You don't have to draw me a picture.

And here it is again....this blindingly strong devotion, this tie.
I've never seen a group of people with the nexus of these three.
Snap, Crackle and Pop. I think of the times I've seen them together,
one talking, the other two nodding in unison. I've seen them with
Mulder and Scully, the agents talk, the boy's heads swing from one
to the other in triple tandem. They are truly connected, a team. It
sometimes looks like a comedy act.

But no one is laughing now.

Frohike carries the coffee in to Langly, puts a hand on his shoulder,
and leans down to talk into his ear. Langly nods and throws a quick
glance over his shoulder at me, reaches up and squeezes the hand on his
shoulder. He goes back to the compulsive channel surfing as Frohike
settles into the chair opposite me at the tiny kitchen table and
takes a long swig of the hot liquored coffee. He shudders and gives me
a weak little smile.

"This is kind of like deja vu for me, ya know." He pours another
healthy belt of JB into his mug but raises his hand in a negative
gesture as I rise to get the coffee pot. "Did Byers ever tell you about
the time Mulder was missing and presumed dead?"

I shake my head, pour more JB into my own mug, and throw an annoyed
look in at Langly...I'm gonna stick that remote where the sun doesn't
shine in about one minute....

"It was two years ago. His dad was murdered, there was a travesty with
a missing government tape that WE had actually round-aboutly provided
him with. That cigarette smoking bastard was involved somehow." He
pauses and frowns at the memory. "There was a fire, Mulder was trapped
underground in a box car. Scully came home without him, her and I had
a soul searching talk in HER kitchen...with plain old coffee...."

"So, what happened?"

"We don't really know. Three days later, Mulder returned."

"That explains why you guys think he's the greatest thing since Jesus
Christ, I guess."

Fuck me....this mouth of mine. I regret that crack immediatly, but it
's too late. Langly makes a strangled little sound deep in his
throat, his coffee mug drops, and he overhands the remote violently,
crashing into and cracking the sliding glass door of the balcony.
Frohike over turns his chair, a combination of his haste to get to
Langly and the effect of the Jim Beam. Shit. I pick up the bottle and
take a long, scalding draught, wishing for the hundredth time that I
had friends with NORMAL problems. Frohike sits on the arm of the
couch, his arms tight around Langly's heaving shoulders. I cringe
when Frohike turns cold eyes on me. "Rebecca, he's freezing, could you
get him some clothes and turn the heat up in here, please."

Could you guys just get the hell out of my life and leave me the fuck
alone??

I head for Jeff's bedroom, stop to crank up the thermostat....I can't
really see the teeny numbers on the indicator through the
liquor-induced fog of my eyesight, so I turn the little dial thingie
and hope I turned it the right way. Rightie tightie, lefty
loosie....doesn't really apply here, I guess. I giggle before I can
swallow it, take another hit from the brown bottle....doesn't burn so
much now. I pause just inside the door of Jeff's bedroom....I don't
really know where he keeps his clothes. I open the closet--all
tight-ass suits and stiff white shirts here--then pull open a few
dresser drawers. God, he's neat. Perfect stacks of t-shirts, cute
little rolls of black socks. I bet he irons his jeans. I giggle
again, take another three or five swallows of fire water...whoa.
This dresser must be on rollers, I swear it moved. I put the bottle
on the cute little mirrored do-dad dish and yank open another drawer.
TA-DA!! This one is full of analy neat folded sweats. I pull out a
pair of forest green pants and a shocking red sweat shirt with the M&M
candy guys on it. I can't in a hundred years picture Jeff buying this
shirt --then I remember *I* gave it to him for his birthday. Ha!
Green pants, red shirt--I find this extremely funny, Christmas IS
coming, after all. The goose is getting fat.....I glance at the
screaming red display on his clock radio....it's 6:45 am.

I'm drunk.

I stumble back into the living room. Langly is slumped on the couch,
his big hands dangling between his knees. Frohike's leather jacket is
draped over his shoulders, he's trembling still, but I see with relief
that he's stopped crying. Frohike sits close, one hand just touching
his friend's knee, watching him with a concerned wrinkle between his
eyes. The sleeves of his denim shirt are rolled up, puzzingly
unbuttoned half way down his chest, but he's still wearing those
ridiculous fingerless leather gloves, and when he reaches for the
sweats and gives *me* a dirty look, I want to peel them off his hands
and slap his coolly angry face with them.

"Thank you," Langly mutters as he pulls the sweat pants on. Frohike
helps him into the sweat shirt, then wraps the leather jacket around
him again.

"We'll leave soon, bud," he murmers, "I just want to get you a little
more warmed up. Jesus, Becca could you have found a louder sweat
shirt??"

The tenuous hold on my control snaps, and I burst into angry, guilty
tears. I don't need this shit. I'm getting out of here.

I'm fumbling with my coat, when the door rattles and opens. It's Jeff,
who looks from me to his friends and back, looks around, perplexed,
at the overturned chair, the spilled coffee mug , the broken glass of
the balcony door, me sobbing like an idiot.

"Becca! Guys...what the hell is going on in here? And why is it so HOT
in here?" I notice, then, the stifling heat of the apartment. I guess
I turned the dial thingie the right way, but like everything else I do,
I went too far. I giggle and Jeff turns to me "Becca, where do you
think you're going, you're not dressed?"

"She's drunk." It's Dana Scully, behind him. Cool, placid,
looking-like-shit Dana.

"Drunk? Frohike, what the...DRUNK???"

"Dana," I sob, hiccup, and try to wrap my arms around her "I'm so
sorry. Mulder.....he was an ass, but he was YOUR ass...."

"REBECCA!!" Jeff thunders.

"It's all right." A third voice, in the doorway, behind Dana. It's a
man...a tall, good looking man.

It's Mulder.

Fox *FUCKING* Mulder.

And his head is all in one piece. Dana has a hellof a bruise on her
cheek, but Mulder...Mulder is JUST fine....

I try to swallow it, but the bitter little laugh bubbles up and out of
my suddenly burning throat.

"You look pretty damn good, for a dead man." I hear a strangled little
sound behind me, and KNOW it's Langly. "DUCK!!" I yell. I *can't*
shut up. "He's gonna blow again!"

Langly grabs my shoulder from behind, pulls me out of his way. He
steps close, looks Mulder up and down and shakes his head.

Mulder has the grace to look embarrased "Langly, I'm sorry. It wasn't
supposed to go this far. We didn't want..."

"Mulder," Langly says softly, "one of these days, you're REALLY going
to get killed...and no one's going to give a fuck."

Probably because I'm trashed, I don't actually SEE him hit Mulder. I
see the blur of his flying fist, and Mulder is staggering back against
the closet door. Langly pounds out the door, Mulder pulls himself
together and leans out into the hallway "Langly!!"

Frohike pulls him back, closes the door. "Let him go, Mulder. He's
too upset right now." Now he looks Mulder up and down, and Mulder
flinches, rears back, raises a protective hand.

And I'm suddenly, hysterically laughing. Mulder's afraid little
Frohike is going to clobber him, too.

"Hey." I tap Frohike on the shoulder. "Can I take a shot after you?
Hmmmm???"

Mulder's face turns green, then grey, then swirly
bluepurpleyellow.......

Dana is dragging me by the dangling sleeve of my coat, gets an arm
around my waist, and hauls my ass into the bathroom, practically
pushing my head into the toilet. Smart woman...she ain't a doctor for
nothing. I heave and gasp as I bid adieu to Jim Beam. Dana holds my
hair back--THAT'S a friend--and hands me a wet wash cloth when
I'm sure the only thing left to come up is my liver.

"You all right now?"

I nod and press the wash cloth against my forehead. "You didn't see my
eyeballs in there, did you?"

Dana snickers and rubs a soothing hand along my arm "Rebecca, what were
you thinking??"

I'm choking and gasping on sudden tears, and she kneels down with me,
takes me in her arms. "I was thinking he was DEAD, Dana. I never
wanted....I don't want to despise him so much. You guys all adore
him." I snort and sniffle, pull away from her, and wipe my face with
the wash cloth. "You should have seen Langly...and Jeff. God, was
that only two hours ago??" My head is starting to pound. "What the
hell is going on, Dana?"

"It's a long story, Bec, and complicated. Mulder's been watched, we
don't even know for how long. He's been set up to take a big fall.
It's got something to do with the people who gave me this cancer." she
smiles at my look of skepticism "I'm not sure of all the details
myself, Rebecca. All I know right now is....I'm dying." I reach for
her hand and she squeezes it hard, "and Mulder thinks he MAY be able to
find the people that have the cure. But to do that,he HAS to remain
underground...he has to STAY dead. It's complicated....."

Damn right. But....

"But why HERE, Dana...why Jeff??"

Dana Scully looks VERY uncomfortable. "This sucks, Becca...." she
draws a deep breath, and looks me in the face. "Mulder has to move
FAST...and it HAS to be today, right now. He's going over to the DOD
to...." she stops, and Special Agent Mask falls into place. "I can't
really say, right now. But....he left his apartment last night with
just the clothes on his back. He needs a suit."

Wha.....WHAT???? My blood goes cold "You....he.....you two scared the
shit out of ALL of us for a fucking SUIT???"

"It wasn't supposed to happen this way, Becca...it all happened so
fast. I wanted to call Jeff, but there were cops everywhere. And
Skinner was there....."

"Does he think Mulder's dead. too?"

"Yeah. I....kinda lied right to his face...kinda. And I have to go to
a hearing later today. Becca, he HAS to stay out of sight for now. He
has someone elses ID...I really can't say anymore. Please don't be
angry. Jeff isn't, not now. and I AM sorry...*we're* sorry.... He's
going to try to help me save my own life, Becca. Surely YOU, of all
people, can understand THAT."

I draw a trembling breath, and wipe the silent tears from my face.
God, she loves him so.

"A *suit*...well, that explains why he didn't call Langly or Frohike."

"He trusts Jeff, too, Becca....not that he doesn't trust the other two,
but him and Jeff....it's special. YOU'RE special, you two...."

We're holding each other and blubbering again...she feels like my ten
year old niece, so little and frail. Hard to believe someone this
small can be so big.

"We better get out of here," I sniff, " they're gonna think we went
down the pipes. And if Mulder has to get out of here..."

"He showered at my place.....Jeff and I picked him up when we came from
...identifying the body." Scully shudders. "Ya know, Becca, that
REALLY made me think....anyway, he just needs to change."

Jeff pulls me aside and catches me in a bear hug as we exit the
bathroom. "Are you OK?"

"Yeah,now that I puked my guts out."

He smiles down at me, then turns to Dana " We have a plan, kinda.
Frohike is gonna take you to the Bureau, since it's getting late.
Mulder is gonna use my car, Becca and I will go back to Mulder's and
get your car. They won't question that, since I picked you up. I
should be back to the office by noon, at the latest, if Mulder needs
me."

"What about Langly?"

"I'm gonna go find Langly, as soon as I drop you off, " Frohike says
"He shouldn't be too hard to find in that M&M sweat shirt."

Scully frowned "Is he....?"

"He'll be okay..Langly's tough. He's just...." Frohike shrugged, "not
so tough, sometimes. Like all of us...."

Scully wraps an arm around him and he smiles, blushing, looking at the
floor. She nods to me "Why don't you go see Mulder...we really DO have
to hurry, and you don't want to leave this thing hanging between
you....not now..."

"Should we leave the building?" Jeff jokes, but his eyes are serious.

"No...I'll be good...."

I stand outside the closed bedroom door for a second, gather my wits.
Mulder...shit....

I open the door and he startles, his hand going automatically to where
his holster should be. It's a rather suggestive gesture, since he's
just in boxers and socks. Very nice. He doesn't even look embarrased,
and I think he's probably so used to women ogling him, nothing
penetrates his cool. The curse of the drop dead gorgeous.

"Hey," he smiles softly, and I think maybe this could be dangerous,
"close the door, huh, some of us are barely decent."

I suddenly remember that I'm in really sexy flannel pajamas with a
coffee stain on the lapel, and god only knows if I puked on myself,
also. I close the door and go to stand beside him, where he's studying
Jeff's suits.

"You know," he says in that maddening monotone that curls my toes,
"your man really DOES need some wardrobe advice."

"You'll shit when you see his ties, " I snicker. "Here." I dig to the
far side of Jeff's closet, and pull out a charcoal grey suit. "This is
his one and only Armani. I KNOW it is, because I bought it for him. I
wanted him to look like you."

He smirks and pulls the pants off the hanger. "Has he worn it yet?."

"Just to my cousin's wedding, my family was VERY impressed." I watch
him button the shirt...it's pulled across his chest, but it'll have to
do. "Wait, come here..."

"What?"

"Just come here." I turn him around and reach onto the dresser, pick
up the metal nail file. I pull the back of the shirt and make a small
rent in the center of the back. Then I grab on both sides of the rent,
and tear the shirt neatly up the back.

Mulder gasps and jumps. "What...what the hell did you do??"

I turned him around to face the mirror, tucking the shirt tails back in
for him. "See? Now the shirt won't pull across your chest, and you
can leave the jacket hang open, cos it's bound to be a little snug,
too. Better a forty dollar shirt than a thousand dollar suit."

"You are amazing."

"Thank you."

And suddenly , we're squeezing the daylights out of each other, I'm
fighting tears, and I can feel the suppressed emotion shuddering
through him.

"Fox."
"Rebecca"

We laugh and pull apart, and he nods. "You first."

"I just....." I don't know what to say, now. I take a deep breath and
gather my thoughts. "Fox..."

"Mulder."

"Fuck....MULDER, there you happy, now ?" He winces, and I slap him as
I turn to Jeff's closet to find a tie that isn't striped. "God, you're
a pain in the ass." I turn back, hand him a striped tie anyway, and
look into his eyes. He has beautiful eyes, deep hazel eyes that I
would bet my life turn green when he's aroused. Bad thoughts.
"Mulder...I don't really know where this animosity between us came
from..."

"I know. You're a bitch." He smirks, and I laugh. "No, you really
ARE..."

"Okay...besides that...." I catch his eye again, take his hand "I don't
want us to keep at each other like we have. I KNOW now, that most of
your animosity has been frustration over Dana, her illness" He frowns
and I continue "I saw that that night at DonnaJ's...I saw your
confusion, your pain" He looks away, and I squeeze his hand tight.
"'and I DO understand what happened here,today, I think. It's
just...Jeff cares about you so much. I hate to see you jagging him
around, and the other guys, too."

He looks embarrased "I know...and I gotta admit to you, Becca, I'm a
selfish bastard."

"No shit."

He chuckles, then gets serious. "But...I would NEVER do anything to
purposefully hurt Byers, or Langly, or Frohike. I wouldn't. It's just
that sometimes, I'm so focused on my goal, I run over anyone and
everything to get there."

"I think I see that, Mulder."

"And right now...ALL that matters is finding this cure for Scully.
Only that."

"I know."

He sighs and touches my cheek with a gentle hand. "You're a formidable
opponent, Rebecca Foster. I'm glad you're on my side....you ARE on my
side...aren't you??"

I nod, wordless, and he pulls me into his arms. "You're the best thing
that's ever happened to Byers. I hope you know that, too."

I nod again, feel a shudder go through him. "I really gotta go."

We exit the bedroom, Dana and Jeff meet our eyes, and both smile.
Frohike heaves a great sigh of relief. "Phew! It was so quiet in
there, we thought you'd killed each other."

Mulder and Dana are doing that eye thing. He pulls her over by the
balcony,they talk quietly, then grab each other desperatly. Frohike
chokes and looks at his feet, fumbles for his keys "I'm...I'll meet
them outside, ok?"

"Yeah." I walk him to the door, an arm around his shoulders. He IS a
dear man. I kiss him on the cheek, and he blushes to his roots. "If
you need help with Langly, let me know. I'll talk to him. OK?"

"Langly will be all right. Thanks, Rebecca. I'm ....I'm sorry I got
you drunk. Byers," he nods, "I'll see you later at the office?"

Jeff nods and waves. He's falling asleep at the table.

Mulder and Scully finally break apart, both self-consciously swiping
at their eyes. Dana grabs Jeff and hugs him , murmering "thank you"s
into his neck. She squeezes my arm tight and our eyes meet, and that's
enough. We're both at emotional overload at this point, and our men
are not too far behind us. Mulder extends his hand, Jeff moves to take
it....we don't see who moves first, but they're suddenly embracing
hard , an action that's been a long time coming . Mulder's "I'm
sorry" and Jeff's "Just be carefull" fall on each other, they do
that manly slap, slap, slap on the back thing so we know this is really
not a HUG, god forbid, then Mulder and Scully are gone.

The silence is deafening. Jeff topples slowly against me,and we just
hold each other for an extended minute. Finally, he shudders, kisses
the top of my head, and pulls away . "Jesus. How boring my life
would be without Fox Mulder."

I pull him over to the couch, and we sink down, snuggle together. I
take his left hand in mine, toy with the wedding ring he still
wears. "How DID you ever get together with him, anyway?"

He looks surprised. "I never told you that?"

"No."

He laughs and pulls me tighter against him. "This is a good story.
Actually, I met him and the boys at the same time. It was in 1989, I
was working for the FCC, and I had this lame booth at an electronics
fair ....."

**********************************


"I'm listening."

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