Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully both belong to Fox Broadcasting, 1013 Productions, and Chris Carter. I just borrow then because CC never lets them have any fun.

by conspiracy
Rated: PG
Key Words: MSR
Spoilers: The End
Summary: Begins where The End leaves off

by conspiracy
Mulder stands rigid and motionless as I cautiously place my hands on his biceps and rest my head on his shoulder. My small attempt to comfort him is as much for my benefit as his, but is no use. He is shell-shocked, and I am left clinging to an empty man, his soul shattered by the desolation that lays before him. I don't dare look around at the office I stand in, once a symbol of everything we had worked and fought for, now a wasteland destroyed first by fire, and then by the water and chemicals used to put it out. Nor do I dare look again into the eyes of the man I try to comfort, suddenly so distant and detached. Never before have I seen Mulder so devastated. Even in our worst moments of defeat he has been able to at least come up with some definite reaction. Some curse towards the defeators or a promise of hope for what may come. Now it pains me to see the fire and passion gone from those eyes.

Perhaps so much has happened so quickly that this last final blow is too much to take. I know that it is for me. All has been lost on me except for the enormity of it. The events themselves are blurred in my mind while I feel I am drowning in my own thoughts and feelings.

Mulder suddenly steps away from, and without a word leaves the room, the ghostly look still painted across his face. I follow without hesitation, not yet ready to confront this office alone.


I find Mulder in the parking garage, sitting on the ground between cars, his back against his driver side door. He his hunched forward, face cradled in his hands, and as I approach him, I am aware of the rise and fall of his shoulders as a slight sigh escapes his mouth. Mulder is crying. The realisation hits me like a physical blow, and I have to fight to keep my own tears back. I've never seen Mulder cry, and it seems out of character for him to surrender his pride and do it in such a public place, whether anyone else is around or not. Not sure if he is aware of me and not wanting to invade his privacy, I gently announce my presence in the form of a question. "Mulder, are you okay?"

He does his best to stop his tears and dry his face with his hands before answering me. With his next remark comes a faint smile. "You've got the keys." I briefly return his smile, wondering how his emotions have changed so rapidly from shock, to grief, to almost amusement. I help him up and remove the keys from my pocket. He tries to take them from me, but I won't have it.

"I'm driving." Mulder obediently goes around to the other side of the car and waits for me to unlock his door. Soon we're both in the vehicle and out on the road. Our trip is in silence, not an awkward silence, but a respectful one. We both need to gather our own thoughts before we can deal with each other's.


I park Mulder's car outside of his apartment building, next to the spot where I parked mine earlier.

"I'm coming up," I announce, no question in my voice whatsoever. "Oh come on, Scully. Not tonight, I've got a head ache." I throw him a dead pan look as I get out of the car.

"Then take an aspirin." We enter his apartment building and board the elevator in silence. Although Mulder tries to make little sarcastic quips, I know that he is simply covering up his emotions. It's his way of protecting himself. And me.

We enter he apartment and I turn a lamp on, knowing Mulder would prefer the overhead stay off. I throw my coat over the back of his desk chair and sit on the couch, waiting for Mulder as he gets us some coffee from the kitchen. He enters with the coffee, handing me a cup, and sits down on the couch beside me. So much has happened that I don't know where to start. I decide to stay on safe ground to begin with, not wanting to get in over my head just yet.

"How do you think the office was burned?" It is an attempt at conversation, not a real question. We both know exactly what happened here tonight.

"What do you wanna bet someone forgot to put out their cigarette?" We exchange brief glances. I am relieved to see the look of anger in Mulder's eyes. At least he is embracing his emotions instead of distancing himself from them. "I think Spender is working for him," He continues. This surprises me.

"Spender? Mulder, I know you don't like him, but that doesn't necessarily mean..."
"I saw him meeting with him. In the garage at the psych facility. He's in on it Scully."
"Did you confront him about it?"
"Of course."
"Well what did he say?"
"He claimed that he didn't know who he was talking to, but I don't buy it, Scully. At first I just thought he was some selfish, punk-ass kid, but I don't know any more. This wouldn't be the first time They did something like this."
"I know, but Spender? He just seems so... He doesn't seem capable."
"Neither did Krycek." We're silent for a few moments. In the silence my thoughts begin to turn to the other new agent who has been working on this case. I know I shouldn't think about her right now. I need to be there for Mulder, I have no time for self-pity or jealousy. And I tell myself I have no reason for them either, but I can't help it. Not when my mind keeps turning to the image of she and Mulder at the psyche facility, alone in that little hallway holding hands.

"Did you love her?" The question comes out of my mouth before I've even had the time to consider why I'm asking it.
"What? Who?" He seems shocked at my question, but I don't think he is confused as to its meaning, as he would have me believe.
It takes all the courage I have to form the words again. "Uh, Diana. Did you love her?"
"Why?" This is the hardest question he has asked me all night.
Perhaps because I am not ready to face the implications of the answer. "Just curious."
"I, uh, I don't know. I guess I thought I did." He is unsure, but I wonder if it's me or himself that he's protecting.
"Why did the two of you break up?"
"Well, I'm really not quite sure." He pauses to think about it and I realise that I haven't taken a sip of my coffee since my thoughts turned to Diana. I begin to drink it as Mulder continues. "You know, I really have no idea why we broke up. When she got the opportunity to go work in the middle East, she said that she needed some space and that it was time we stopped seeing each other. Then she just left. So I guess she dumped me. I never did find out why."

"You must have been hurt, Mulder," I probe further.

"Yeah, you could say that," he lets out a soft chuckle. "I, uh, I don't think it was meant to be, though, you know. I mean, I still care about her, and I could forgive her for leaving, sometimes people just have to do what they feel is best. I just don't think I could ever forgive her for not even giving me a reason." He looks at me and our eyes meet. It scares me how relieved I am by his last statement. There is no reason I should be feeling this way, it's not as if Mulder and I are anything more than good friends. At least this is what I tell myself.

"I probably should forgive her, though," he says, our eyes still locked in a gripping stare. "After all, what she did turned out to be the best for both of us. Well, at least the best for me."
"Well, there's this other woman who came into my life shortly after Diana left. And, you see, if Diana hadn't left I never would have met this woman."
"Do I know her?"
"I'm not sure. She's a red-head, about 5'3", always wears these short skirts that just drive me insane. Very analytical. You know who I'm talking about?" A smile breaks out across my face and I know I must look like a blubbering idiot, but it's hard for me to care.

"I think I can guess." I lean towards Mulder and close the gap between us as he tries to remove my mouth from my face using only his tongue. I'm so happy I begin to giggle, something that I don't think I've ever let Mulder see me do. He sits back and stares at me in awe.

"Are you giddy, Scully?" Instead of answering, I move closer and hug him, resting my head on his chest.
"I love you, Mulder." My voice comes out muffled against the fabric of his shirt.
"Me too, Scully," he whispers on to the skin of my forehead as he plants a soft kiss on my hairline. This is what living is about. An hour ago, I was on the verge of despair, drowning in a sea of hopelessness and loss. Now I am in Mulder's arms, confessing my love, happier than ever before. If a few words from Mulder can do this, there's no telling what we can get through together.

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