Title: What I Want
Author: LaurieAF
RATING: mild NC-17 for language, violence and some sexual content
SPOILERS: Just about everything but the latter half of Season Seven.
CLASSIFICATION: If I have to classify, I guess Romance.
KEYWORDS: Scully/Other, M/S UST
DISCLAIMERS: Scully, Mulder, Skinner etc. belong to CC and 1013 productions. No infringement is intended as this is for fun. The character of Michael Anzotti is mine, however. And Scully most certainly belongs to GA in my mind as both of them are amazing to me.
ARCHIVE: I'd be honored but please let me know first.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Okay, people, I'm a Shipper first and foremost. I wanted to make that clear because I know I'm severely limiting my readership with what I've done here. But the reason I've done this is that I'm also a Scullyist; and I wanted Scully to get laid! Well, that's not the only reason. I guess I'm tired of Mulder getting all the attention from the opposite sex and Scully always being the jealous one. My main objective here was to see if I could create a sympathetic, likeable love interest for Scully that was three- dimensional, not just a plot device or a way to make Mulder jealous. So, all I can say is even if you're a shipper, take a chance on this one if you love Scully as much as I do.

Also, I started this fic over a year ago because of the above and pissed off feelings about Mulder and Scully's relationship or NON relationship so it were. With the revelations of Season Seven's "all things" and "Requiem," I probably wouldn't have even wrote this; but it's too late now and I worked too hard on it. So, here it is.

SUMMARY: After the events of "Two Fathers/One Son," an emotionally ruptured Scully begins an intense romantic relationship with a fellow agent. Can she embrace the relationship or will she unwittingly sabotage it? When the problems of her past are revealed (abduction) and converge with her lover's own problems can they come together or will it tear them apart? And what of her feelings for Mulder?

In our six years together, I don't think we've ever been more emotionally distant than we are right now. How ironic since it wasn't very long ago that Mulder made those declarations to me in his hallway where we came so close to liplocking and then he went to the ends of the earth to find me. I thought things were going to change. Yeah, things changed all right but they'd only gotten worse.

And believe it or not we even touched upon the momentous hallway encounter. He tried to assure me that he hadn't just said it under duress, that it wasn't just a ploy to get me to stay. Somehow, we agreed in that weird way we have of communicating that we were very attracted to each other and wanted more but, of course, neither one of us said it with words. We wouldn't want to behave like NORMAL people. Normal people have lives and relationships. Normal people fuck. Then again, Mulder & I are most definitely not and have never been normal. Why start now?

I don't know what I was thinking, but, as I said, somehow we came to the agreement that it wasn't the right time for us to move our relationship forward. There was too much for us to do, too many lives to worry about saving from a possible alien plague for us to enjoy...what? Sex? Love?

But now that I think back on it, why the hell did I somehow agree that my personal life, my happiness was worth sacrificing over others? In the last six years we've been to hell and back and apparently it's only going to get worse. Don't I deserve some degree of happiness or fulfillment? Doesn't he? I've almost died too many times to count, been experimented on . . .

Loneliness is a choice I made six years ago unconsciously, I think, at first. Maybe two years to three years into the partnership it became a conscious choice. I felt like if my time was the least bit divided by more trivial things I was betraying the work, betraying him. But is living life, having relationships trivial? I want that; I'm only human. I'm not some saint or martyr. Last time I checked my name was not Dana of Arc.

I'm at the point we're I'm wondering if I can truly believe Mulder's words that day in his apartment hallway, and I'm really beginning to wonder how our partnership can survive. He seems like he's walking on eggshells around me and I feel hurt and betrayed when I'm around him.

He ditches me still.

He metes out information in little crumbs when he deems it necessary or okay. My time, my body, and my sister have all been stolen away from me on this. . . whatever the hell you want to call what we've been doing and he tells me he met up with Samantha weeks after the fact. What the fuck is that? He mentioned it casually like it was something that could happen any day or every day.

God only knows how I forgave him for keeping that secret about my ova--MY own body-- from me and then revealing it in front of a total stranger. I must have looked like a complete jack ass. Yeah, I know that he did it to protect me. Whatever. I forgave him, but I'll never forget.

Now, after the latest fiasco with Diana Fowley, I've just about given up. All the hurts that I've categorized into the "don't think about" compartment of my brain have reared their ugly head, and I can't put them aside.

It's bad enough she waltzed back into his life, hell, our lives five years after we'd been partnered; and he never said a word. Lord knows that the case may have turned out differently if I had known what the hell was going on-maybe she wouldn't have gotten shot for Christ's sake. Again, I seem to always be in the dark.

Then when I try to show him the writing on the wall about her duplicitous ways he ridicules me in front of The Gunmen. It isn't even that fact that that he made fun of me which was mean and cruel. It's that he chose to believe her again over me. The man who says 'trust no one" trusts every one but me even when I hold up the goddamn evidence to his blind eyes.

I really thought there would be a place for us together when this was all over. I probably love him, but I don't know in what context any more. Definitely as a partner, a friend but maybe that's all. I want something, someone. Since Fellig and my shooting, I've been thinking about this a lot, longing for it.

And that brings me to Michael Anzotti, a special agent Mulder had worked with briefly in his profiling days when Michael was "green." About eight months ago, Michael had transferred back to the DC field office. The three of us had gone to lunch a few times; and when Michael and I would run into each other here and there, we would take a few minutes out of our busy days to chat. "A good man" I remember Mulder had called him on more than one occasion.

Yeah, he was good all right. Now I'm not one to notice a man's looks outright above everything else, but the man was a specimen. A walking GQ ad with an athlete's well muscled body. And I know a little something about specimens. Tall, about 5'11"-6'0"; dark, an olive complexion with dark brown hair and blue eyes; and handsome, classic Italian features forming an extremely good looking man.

No two ways about it, I liked him. What was there not to like? He certainly seemed to like me, too, as he had casually asked me out twice before in those eight months.

And when a man like Michael Anzotti is practically asking you out for the third time you don't turn him down a third time.

At 4 pm on a Monday, I sit in my area of the office working on some backed up paperwork while Mulder rearranges the messy pile of work on his desk into another pile. I can't really concentrate on what I am doing as our day has not gone that well; we have been stuck in the office all day and have barely said five words to each other.

Then before I know what's happening, Mulder is moving towards the door to grab his coat. I look up at him in surprise because I thought we were both going to stay to get the backlog of paperwork finished.

"Everything okay?" I try to ask nonchalantly.

"Yeah," he mumbles without even looking at me. "I just have to be somewhere." He pauses to slip on his coat and then is out the door.

"Goodnight, Mulder," I call out to him really more for myself than for his benefit.

I hear his reply faintly echo in the hallway. "Goodnight."

Like the fool that I am, I sit there wondering what the hell kind of trouble he is probably getting himself into or what untrustworthy informant he is going to believe now. I waste at least 15-20 minutes contemplating this.

Four hours later, I'm still sitting at my desk, er, area working on expense reports. Even though we have the X-Files back, all we need is for Skinner to pick up where Kersch left off.

Suddenly, I hear a light tapping at the door followed by, "Hey, you." It is said warmly and with familiarity.

I look up to see Special Agent Michael Anzotti standing in front

of me. His tie is nearly undone, and he looks gorgeous but tired, weary in a way that I haven't seen before. I offer a slight smile and greet him.

"Hey. What brings you all the way down to our hallowed basement halls?"

He chuckles. I made Michael chuckle; I like that.

"I was looking for Mulder, actually. We shoot some hoops after work once in a while, and I wanted to see if he was up for that one night this week."

"Um, Mulder's been gone since 4; he had...an appointment."

"Mulder skipped out on you four hours ago, and you're still here doing paperwork? That bum. Remind me to kick his butt in B-ball," he teases.

I have to smile at that but don't comment. "So, Michael, what's going on? Excuse me for saying but you look a little beat, my friend."

"We've just been working some crazy hours," he sighed as he attempted to massage the crink in the back of his neck with his hand. "I'm helping the guys with a case, probably serial."

"Lovely," I murmur. "If you think I can help in any way just let me know. And I'm sure Mulder would be glad to give you guys a hand."

"Believe me, your offer is much appreciated."

Just then, Michael's stomach rumbles loud enough for both of us to hear; and we smirk at one other in amusement.

"Listen, Dana, as you no doubt heard from my unruly stomach here, I'm starving. I haven't eaten anything since lunch, and I'm sure you haven't either. Why don't we get out of here and grab a bite at that little restaurant around the corner?"

"Michael . . ." I whine automatically. We've done this before. Me, refusing to go out with this man. What an ass I was.

"C'mon, Dana," he jokingly whines back. "Are you going to turn me down again? You're murder on my ego. No pressure, no strings, I promise."

"You don't call this pressure?" I laugh and rise from my chair.

"No, this is...friendly persuasion," he offers with an earnest look on his face that I can't resist.

"Ohhh, that's what you call it. Okay, okay," I reply, giving in. "Honestly, though, I'd really like to."

It is the truth. I'm not about to let this opportunity slip away again in light of the way I've been feeling lately.

"Great. Let me just go straighten up that mess I call a desk and grab my coat. I'll meet you back down here in 15 minutes?" he questions to make sure it's all right with me.

"Okay, see you in 15."

He nods and I watch him rush out of the office not unlike my partner had a few hours earlier.

I fall back into my chair with a sigh and a big smile plastered on my face.

We walk quickly to The Capitol restaurant as, by this time, we are both starving. It's a small but cozy place with pictures of our presidents adorning the walls as well as notable places in and around the DC area including the Hoover Building. Even though I've worked in the area for approximately seven years, I've never been to the restaurant. Michael has and is recognized immediately. A middle-aged man walks right up to us as we enter the door.

"Mike, it's been a while. How have you been?"

"Well, Peter," Michael replied as they shook hands. "You?"

"Business is good, so I'm not complaining. It's good to see you again."

"You, too." We all smile, and Michael places his hand at the small of my back to nudge me forward and introduce me.

"Peter, this is a friend, Dana Scully. Dana, this is Peter Smith, the owner."

Peter has that look of recognition on his face that sometimes comes when a famous person shares your surname. "Scully, like Vin Scully, the baseball announcer?" he asks, excited.

"Yeah," I reply slightly amused. I can see the unspoken question forming his head, so I add, "No relation, though."

"Ah, that's okay; he can be annoying." Peter begins walking towards the back of the restaurant, and we follow him to a nice booth in the corner. "This table okay?"

"Great. Thanks, Peter," Michael replies.

"If you two need anything at all, let me know and nice meeting you," he says directed at me. I nod. They shake hands again, and Peter departs. Michael waits for me to sit, and then settles into our booth on the opposite side of me.

As we wait for the food, he starts off the conversation with Mulder of all things. Though I was curious about what kind of agent Mulder had been quite a few years ago, I don't want to think of him tonight much less talk about him. I can't blame Michael though. Most people would think you'd want to hear an old story about your partner and ordinarily I would have. But not these days.

Our conversation gets into high gear when we talk warmly of our mutual experience of growing up in rather large families. He relates several genuinely funny stories about he and his brothers and sister when they were young; and I share some of the Scully family follies. It's wonderful to talk to him this way; I feel extremely comfortable and, dare I say it, happy. His sense of humor and ability to laugh at himself is admirable.

We also have something else in common. He loves the water as much as I do and escapes the trials and tribulations of daily living by going out on his boat. I tell him a couple of my father's naval stories, and he seems to get a kick out of them. One story is a little colorful, but I don't play editor for Michael's benefit. After all, I'm still my father's daughter.

While we are sipping some coffee after dinner, he becomes quiet, thoughtful almost; and I wonder what is going on inside his head. Then he tells me.

"You know, Dana, this is going to sound like a come on; but it's not and I have to say it."

I look at him surprised, again wondering what he is thinking and what he could possibly be going to say. "Yeah, go ahead," I wince, my voice small.
"This is something good," he assures me, smiles, and forges ahead. "You have the cutest laugh, giggle, whatever you want to call it. It's infectious. And I swear, your smile could light up this room."

I give him a broad smile back as if to prove the point. "That's a nice compliment. I have to say you've given me plenty to laugh about tonight, and I want to thank you. I haven't done enough of it."

"Can I ask you something?"

His voice is serious, and mine light and giggly when I reply. "Go for it. We're on a roll."

"When I asked you out a few months ago, you turned me down; but I got the feeling that you wanted to say yes. Am I totally offbase?"

I look down and start to play with the rim of my wine glass, in a sense acknowledging his astuteness. I then fix him with my gaze. "I'm not going to lie to you; I'm a bad liar. I wanted to say yes, but to be honest, I thought I had...Actually, it doesn't matter. It didn't work out and isn't going to."

"That's unfortunate."

I shrug. "It wasn't meant to be and that's how I look at it."

"So, what would you say if we did something like this again."

"Michael, I'm...I've got things I need to . . ." Here I am doing it again. Making excuses and I don't know why. Habit maybe?

He interrupts me, his voice gentle. "Dana, stop. Just yes or no."

"Uh, I know you probably realize this; but I'm going to stroke your ego here. Michael, you're successful, funny, intelligent, charming, not to mention drop dead gorgeous. You could have any woman you want . . ." I trailed off.

"I want you to go out with me." I hesitate, and he prods me in an encouraging way. "C'mon, yes or no?"
"All right then. Yes," I say firmly. I'm sure I want this.

And both our smiles light up the room this time.

Eleven pm. I'm wired.

My body should be ready for sleep, but I'm full of nervous energy. But it's a good kind of energy, the kind that reminds you your'e alive. I've needed that. Usually I come home and fall into bed, my body and mind tired from the latest case; and I have no desire to take care of all the little things that go with everyday living and owning a house. Right now, though I'm taking out the garbage, checking my e-mail, washing dishes. All because of a woman named Dana Scully. I haven't felt this good since...a long time.

After dinner tonight, I walked Dana back to her car in the parking garage of the Hoover Building. We shared a mutual hug that lasted longer than probably she wanted, and she seemed to be holding on to me like she needed something.

I never realized how petite she actually was until I was holding her in my arms, towering over her. Petite but strong, solid, real. Her head rested against my chest; and the smell of her glorious red hair, her perfume, her alone assaulted my senses. I didn't want to leave that place.

When she let go of me, I followed her lead, reluctantly so. She then pulled out her business card and a pen, wrote her home number on the back, and slipped it into the pocket of my coat. I kissed her on the cheek, and she got into her car. When she was settled, I closed the door for her, rapped on the window, and waved goodbye.

As I chug from a bottle of cold beer and rummage through a four day pile of mail, the phone rings. With Caller ID, I already know who it is and probably should be worried as calls at this time of night are usually bad news. But I can't contain the energy and happiness emanating from my voice as I answer.

"Hey there, Gina."

"Mike, where have you been? I've been trying to reach you for over
two hours."

"I just got in," I say innocently, continuing the perusal of my mail.

"Oooh. Case or, dare I say, date?"

"You choose."

"By the sound of your voice, a date."


"With that woman?"

"What woman?"

"The one you always tell me about when you see her or have lunch. The FBI woman."

"Who? Oh, yeah, yeah." I play with her; we do this all the time.

"Yeah, you know who I'm talking about or yeah, you went on a date with her?"

"Uh, date."

"How'd it go?"

"How'd what go?"

"Really, Michael, you're a pain in the ass!"

I ignore her. "It went well, but I'm not sayin' anymore or I'll probably jinx it."

"Good for you. You deserve some happiness."

"I think I do," I say wistfully. "Is everything all right, hubby, kids? You said you were tryin' to reach me for two hours."

"Everything's fine. I just hadn't spoken to my brother in a while and I finally got a few moments to myself tonight. I wanted to know if you were all right."

"I am, not to worry. Listen, G, I'm gonna go; We've got a big case brewin' and I wanna get some rest. I promise to call you soon. Say hello for me?"

"Will do. Bye, Mike."

"Ciao, G."

When Michael had walked me back to my car that Monday night, we hadn't discussed when we would next speak to or see each other. Mulder and I had gone out of town on a case the following day and likely wouldn't be returning for a couple of days, probably Friday.

I didn't hear from Michael immediately so I figured he was probably out of town on a case as well. When another two days went by, my insecurities started to kick in that he had probably thought dinner was nice but that Dana Scully just didn't do it for him. Hey, the man was model material; and I...I was quite rusty, to the say the least, in the dating game.

It surprised me how much I really wanted to hear from him and how disappointed I was feeling that I hadn't. I was even snippy with Mulder, and I try not be, really. Then again, things with us weren't that great anyway no matter what I did lately.

On Thursday morning, I called my machine at home yet again to check for messages. Much to my delight, Michael had called and told me to leave a phone number where I could be reached on his voicemail at work. Hastily, I did as he asked.

Mulder and I finished up our case early that afternoon and made tentative plans to have dinner together that evening to compare notes; but honestly, my heart wasn't in it. We could compare notes on the plane; we didn't need to fumble through awkward dinner conversation to get our reports finalized.

By 3 pm, I'm back in my motel room with a cup of coffee and chicken salad on a bagel. Since it's early, I have a couple of hours to eat, type up my notes, and maybe even relax before the supposed dinner "date."

As I type at the desk on my laptop, the motel phone rings loudly and unexpectedly. It startles me and the peacefulness of the room. Lucky me, I think. It's probably Mulder, although why he can't just knock on my door is beyond me.

"Hold your horses," I mutter to myself as the pesky phone rings five times before I get to it.

"Scully," I utter unenthusiastically.

"Hi, it's Michael. Catch you at a bad time?"

"No, no. I was just typing up a report in my motel." My voice and my mood immediately brighten.

"How are you?"

"A little tired but fine."

"What city are you in? I couldn't tell by the area code."

"Would you believe Kalamazoo?"

I phrase it that way because I can't believe it. Another boring ass town. I think we've hit every friggin' one.

"Ah, sounds positively boring," he says, echoing my thoughts. "Listen, I'm glad you got my message. I thought you might not call back right away, that maybe I was pushing."

"You're not, don't be ridiculous. Where are you?"

"The Lone Star State, good ole Chaney, Texas."

"You've got to be kidding," I say quite amused.

"No, why?"

"I was there about a year ago on a case. Where are you staying? No, wait, let me guess. The Sam Houston Motor Lodge?"

"Yeah, that's it." His voice is just as amused as mine now. "I think it must be the only place around. God, it...sucks here."

"More than you know," I say low and almost chuckling to myself, still amused at this little conversation as well as his unintended pun. "Remind me to tell you about it sometime. So, what's up?"

"Are you free Saturday? All day?"

"All day? What did you have in mind?"

"I can get tickets to a matinee performance of 'Phantom of the Opera' in New York City. After that, we can do an early dinner, Italian, French, Japanese, whatever you like. I know it's a little last minute but how does that sound?"

"I like it." I respond enthusiastically. I truly do. Besides, how appropriate is 'Phantom?' I even get monsters in my entertainment.

He's pleased that I'm pleased. I can hear it in his voice. "Great. I'll call you at home Friday night? You can give me

directions to you and we'll finalize our plans."

Michael's end of the line then breaks out into a little commotion. Someone is calling for him, and he's trying to explain that he's on the phone.

"Sorry about that. My partner's waiting for me. I gotta get going."

"Sure," I say a little sadly. I don't want him to go. "I'm looking forward to Saturday, Michael."

"Same here, Dana. Talk to you tomorrow."

Friday night came, and Michael called just as he said he would. We engaged in some lighthearted conversation and talked a bit about our respective cases, he wanting my "expertise" (his words, not mine)on a pathology report. We then finalized our plans for Saturday. It was only about twelve hours away, but Saturday couldn't come quite fast enough for me because of the way I was feeling. The way he made me feel by just talking to him.

By 8 am the next morning, all I had to do was pick out what I was going to wear. But it wasn't as easy as it sounded. I hadn't been on a real date in what, five years? The last time I flitted around my bedroom spending an exorbitant amount of time looking for just the right outfit for a man was in college.

Dressing to impress was my main objective, and I ended up choosing a wine colored pantsuit that was too fancy for field work. The top was low cut enough to be sexy but not overly so. I didn't need it to be because it wasn't me. And besides, what had I said once before? Smart was sexy? I topped off the outfit with a hip length black leather jacket and a new pair of heels.

By 9 am, I was waiting for Michael in the front of my apartment building as nervous as could be. On the outside, I was my usual cool as a cucumber persona.

He pulls up to the curb in his red Ford Explorer right on time and hops out of the driver side to greet me, flowers in hand. At one time, I probably would have been turned off by such a sweet gesture. I'm not a flowers type of girl. Too common, too predictable. But now at 35, contemplating my life and the way it had gone the past six years, I crave some sweet sentimentality.

He holds out the flowers for me; and as he kisses my cheek, he murmurs that I look beautiful. I joke with him that he cleaned up well himself. And, oh, Lord, did he ever. Black dress pants with a white dress shirt open at the neck and a black sport jacket. He looks like he should have been modeling cologne, his clothes, his Ford, the flowers. Anything. I'm in trouble. Definitely in way over my head.

When we finish the mutual admiration thing we have going, he opens the door for me and holds my hand as I step up into the truck. The flowers are a beautiful, delicate peach and smell heavenly. There are only five of them, and I have to ask him the significance of that number. Why not an even half dozen? He tells me that it had been five days since he'd last seen me, and he had been thinking of me everyone of those days.

Conversation is again easy and plentiful. We talk more about our families and realize we had both lost parents. My father, of course, and his mother over 10 years ago in an accident. It's obvious from the way he speaks of her that they were close, and he still misses her. I even tell him about Melissa. Not all of it, but it's significant because I never volunteer this information to just anyone.

He doesn't speak much of his older brother or father in his teen years or presently, and I sense something more going on there. But I had my own problems with siblings (Bill, of course, and Melissa here and there) and my father sometimes, so I'm not about to pry. He remains very close to his sister, Gina, and brother, Tony, who both still reside in his hometown of Howard Beach, NY.

The 2 pm performance of "Phantom of the Opera" is packed. During the show, I take the luxury of entwining my fingers with Michael's and then holding his hand in the two of mine near my lap. Even in the dark, I can see that he smiles at the gesture; and I can't help smiling back. I find "Phantom" to be beautiful, touching and romantic, much, it seems, like the man sitting beside me.

About two hours later, we dine at one of Michael's favorite Italian restaurants, La Cisterna. It has a wonderfully authentic Italian atmosphere with paintings, sculpture and music creating a romantic setting. Over a dry white wine, a hot antipasto for two, Shrimp Scampi, and Mussels Marinara, we talk of anything and everything. Even touchy subjects like politics, religion and law enforcement.

We don't always share the same viewpoint, but we are able to glean a respect for the opposing opinion based on what we already know of each other and the intelligence we both present in our arguments. He excites me, stimulates me, and challenges me like no one has before or since, you guessed it, Mulder.

I instantly think back to that date I had gone on early in our partnership. When Mulder was chasing his "bigfoot" in New Jersey. That man couldn't hold a candle to Mulder was all I kept thinking at the time. But if I had met Michael then or if the date had been with Michael, I know I wouldn't have been stuck in the malaise that had engulfed me for the past six years. I would have had the normal life I kept proclaiming I wanted. And if I had had this relationship with Michael, I think my partnership with Mulder would have been much healthier instead of the way I viewed it a lot of late--almost destructive.

After coffee and a sinful piece of Tiramasu that we share, we're back on the road by 6:30 pm. Thankfully, traffic going back south is light. Much later on, I awake to Michael lightly shaking my shoulder.

"Dana, wake up. You're home."

My eyes struggle to open and focus on him. "Sorry, I must have dozed off," my sleepy voice explains. I can't believe I did this to him. Hopefully, I haven't drooled.

"Yeah, my company was that stimulating, huh?" he jokes.

"No, Michael. I'm sorry. It's just been a long week coupled with a long but wonderful day."

"I know," he agrees.

"You wanna come up? For coffee," I add, not wanting to give him the wrong impression.

"No, not tonight. It has been a long day. But I'll walk you up."

Ever the gentleman, he comes around the passenger side to help me out, and we walk arm in arm up the walk and to my floor. I feel like we exist on a different plane than everyone else, just the two of us and this massive thing growing between us.

At my door, he takes hold of my hand.

"Dana, I want to know what you want."

"What do you mean?" is all I can manage. I'm having trouble

thinking clearly.

"I haven't done this in a long time, and I don't even know how to say it the right way. These past few days I have been happier than I've been. You make me feel that way. I wanna keep seeing you." His voice is soft and tender, his eyes intense and burning into mine.

"I want that, too."

Do I ever. Heaven help me because I can't help myself.

He leans in, touches his generous lips to mine tenderly. My body, specifically my groin, is lit on fire with just the brush of his lips. Imagine what he can do with other, more potent parts of his anatomy. I want him. Want him to deepen our kiss so I do. My tongue begs entrance into his mouth, and he immediately responds, our tongues dueling deliciously and ferociously. I had wanted to do that all day. But it's me who finally broke our raging kiss.

"You sure you don't want to come in?" I ask throaty and low, my voice flushed with desire. But my invitation is still for coffee and conversation.

"No, get some rest," he responds and traces the outline of my lips

with his thumb. "I'll call you. You can count on it." A full smile graces his features.

"Michael, thank you for today. I had a wonderful time."

"So did I, and I'm the one that should be thanking you. G'night, Dana." He kisses my forehead and turns to leave.

I watch him go, sadness filling pieces of my heart.

With our crazy schedules, the next time Michael and I are able to spend some time together is about two weeks later. On the weeknights prior, either one or both of us were out of town or ended up staying late at the office. Yes, your tax dollars were hard at work, my newly jumpstarted love life the casualty. On one weekend, I

had plans with my neglected mother; and on the other, Michael promised to help paint his partner's new house.

But we did begin almost regular nightly phone calls when possible to talk (and I mean really talk, not just shoot the shit), unwind, laugh. We knew more about each other in a couple of weeks than I knew about Mulder in six years of working together.

I really began to miss his company until finally we spent a Saturday sailing out on his boat. I can't express how wonderful it was to experience that again. Fresh air, salty sea water, sandy beaches. I felt like I was home.

We sailed out of the Indian River Marina in Delaware Seashore State Park, and Michael bought some fresh crabs from the fish store on the pier there. We had planned a mini feast of crabs and spaghetti to cook on board while I brought along a picnic basket packed full of assorted cheeses and crackers and fresh fruit. A bottle of dry white wine would cap off our meal.

Cooking with Michael was a pleasure as he knew his way around the kitchen like a pro. I felt inadequate in comparison but helped as much as possible. We worked in perfect harmony and companionable silence. The only sound that emanated from the quaint kitchenette was the pleasing jazz music playing on the radio overhead.

That was until my cell phone rang insistently. I checked that annoying piece of plastic hoping it was my mother; but unfortunately, it was Mulder. Michael looked up from his chore at my actions but did not comment. Neither did I since I decided not to answer it.

Settling on the couch after dinner, we laughed, talked and kissed. Things heated up when we were feeding each other strawberries dipped in whipped cream, dabbing the cream on different body parts and licking the sweetness off with eager tongues. My neck had been the lucky recipient of some major cream and Michael tongue. I cannot express how much that had turned me on.

And just as he was about to reach there, yeah, right...there for the blob just above the valley of my breasts, my cell phone trilled again. Immediately, Michael paused and then pulled away as the annoying chirping continued. Mild frustration was evident on his face. Again, I checked the caller. This time, I told him flat out it was my partner who had the terrible timing.

The mood effectively spoiled, the rest of the evening was spent talking and laughing. Much to my disappointment, we did not get close again save for a goodnight kiss.

Mike looks like a rich man, richer than I've ever seen the kid. I don't mean in the monetary sense--I'm sure fibbie jobs don't pay that well. I don't ordinarily notice things like this with people, but it's something I can tell because I've watched him for a long time. It's his state of being, his state of mind, his happiness.

And the only thing I can attribute it to is the woman he's with. The woman he's been with on numerous occasions. At first, I thought she was some passing fancy even though I haven't seen him with another woman in a long time; but there's something about her. Oh, she's

good lookin' enough for sure. But there's an air about her. An air of fire and passion that's incomparable. My groin twitches in response to her even though the two are doing nothing more than carrying groceries into the house.

I guess it's time to report this development. I dial my boss knowing he'll be pleased.

"It's me...Yeah, I'm by his house now. He just got in...Looks like Mikey's got a play-mate. . . Some hot little red-head. . . He's with her now and I've seen 'em together before...Yeah, I know what to do."

Dana and I grab the next available Saturday afternoon to spend together. All the traveling and on-the-run meals associated with being a field agent take their toll, so I want to cook dinner for her and spend a quiet evening at home doing whatever she wants. Regular people don't realize that spending time at home is an overlooked and under appreciated luxury.

My mother had taught her children to be self sufficient, able to cook, do laundry, clean--whatever it took so we wouldn't have to

depend on anyone else. Cooking was a hobby I loved but hadn't done much of late; I hadn't had the desire to do it when it was only for myself. After a long day or at the conclusion of a difficult case, it was much easier and faster to pop a TV dinner in the microwave for dinner.

So I offer to cook her a home made meal, but she insists on helping me as I thought she might. That's just fine by me; the more time I spend in her radiant presence the better.

Everything is going along perfect with the lasagna in the oven and the gravy heating up on the stove. All that's left to do is prepare the salad and slice vegetables for it; but unfortunately, I end up embarrassing myself. Instead of cutting a carrot, I slice right into my index finger.

"Damn," I mutter more to myself but inadvertently loud enough for Dana to hear. The blood starts to seep out of the wound, and I

suck at the irony liquid.

"What did you do?" she turns and smirks at me.

"Cut myself. No big deal."

The doctor in her can't leave it at that. "Let me see."

Well, if this goddess of a doctor wants to fuss over me, who am I to refuse? "What do you think, doc?" I query, holding my finger out for her inspection.

Typical doctor, she gives it a cursory examination. "You'll live."
"You sure?" I prod playfully.

"If I have anything to say about it."

And boy does she. Well, not with words.

Her eyes bore into mine as she takes my cut finger in her mouth, seductively licking and sucking at it like it's my cock. And how I wished to God it was. I want it so bad. I have to experience that exquisite mouth and those sweet lips sheathing me in their warmth, stroking me till I come with the force of an explosion. My groin becomes painfully hard as she mercilessly teases me, and I think the faint ringing I can hear is a result of my daydreaming.

I wished it was my daydreaming. Some damn phone somewhere always seems to be interrupting us. Dana pulls away as we then both try to ascertain where the ringing is originating from. She realizes it's her cell, goes to check it, but doesn't answer it.

God damn. It has to be Mulder. She knows it. And I know it, too. But I don't say anything to her; I have no right. Even so, jealousy is starting to build within me, and if I say something, it has the potential to turn into a scene.

So, yeah, the moment is definitely ruined; but I have to say that Mulder is forgotten about rather quickly. After a nice, romantic dinner, we settle on the couch to watch a DVD movie we had rented. We sit close, my arm around her shoulder and my body on a slight angle towards her. It's too close because I know I won't be able to pay attention to the movie.

I can't help it. She looks and smells so good, and I'm only human for God's sake. I begin kissing and nibbling on her ear and the side of her neck. It's all very innocent on my part as I hadn't really meant to start things up between us. Well, that might not be entirely true as you could imagine, but I'm just having a little fun and enjoying her.

"What are you doing?" she asks with a hint of amusement as well as desire.

"Nothing. Just watch the movie."

"How...how can I watch the movie when you're doing...that?"

"What? What am I doing?"

She quirks an eyebrow at me. "This," she announces and performs the same act with much enthusiasm on my own ear and neck. Very soft moans accentuate her progress.

"mmm. I see what you mean" I groan, fully aroused as she continues her assault.

Our lips finally meet in a fury. We kiss hungrily again and again, the only sounds in my ears our ragged breaths, not the loud TV that drones on in the background. We fall back onto the cushions, our bodies entwined, necking and groping uncontrollably.

Our passion is quickly careening out of control. Every fiber of my control is just about frayed, the ancient dance seeming inevitable.

But this dance with this woman would be the single most defining moment of my life. I know this without doubt. She had had my number the minute she opened her mouth that first time at lunch in the verbal/mental battle that Mulder had summoned me to oversee. Now, I knew he was supposedly brilliant. But Dana had matched him point for point masterfully. Her intelligence knocked me flat on my ass.

As I said, Dana had flirted with me. Not overtly with her physical attributes like every other woman I came into contact with. Instead, she had used her mind. Her mind had ignited my mind and my body. I had been completely and utterly mind-fucked. The fact that she was gorgeous just heightened the mind-fuck to the nth degree.

I desperately want to move us to the bedroom, but I can't tear myself away from her for a second. Then something changes. One minute we're fumbling to remove clothes and the next, she becomes unresponsive to my kisses, almost dead, for lack of a better word.
"Michael, stop. Stop," she cries and pushes me away.

"What is it? What's wrong?" I ask, extricating myself from her, a little confused and certainly disappointed.

"I'm just...I'm just not ready for this...I want you. There's no doubt about that. I'm just not ready to make love yet. It's been a long time, and I want to take things slow. I'm sorry."

"No, it's okay. Whatever you want. Don't be sorry." It truly will

be okay. My body might argue, but I will do anything for this woman. Whatever she wants.

"I am sorry. You must think I'm the biggest tease."

"No. Just the most fascinating mystery I've ever had the good fortune to investigate. Tell you what, you can set the pace. We'll take things as slow as you want." I smile at her and take her hand in mine.

She squeezes my hand in return, and I almost manage to coax a smile out of her until her cell phone interrupts us yet again. A look of apology is plainly written on her face. I'm not sure if it's because of what had just transpired between us or because it's the umpteenth phone call from Mulder.

"Let me just get rid of whoever this is. . . Scully . . ."

While Dana is talking, I kind of drift off, lost in my own thoughts. I never truly understood the dynamics of male-female partnerships. I never had a female partner, and I never wanted one. But not because I thought they were inferior to their male counter- parts. On the contrary, they were equal to us in many ways and even surpassed us in many other ways.

I just never understood how opposite sex partners were not supposed to develop romantic feelings, especially when neither had romantic interests outside the partnership. People argued that you wouldn't have those type of feelings for a partner of the same sex. But who's to say? What if you were gay or bisexual? All partners shared extremely powerful and ripe emotional ties that were a feeding ground for feelings. Obviously, Dana and Mulder were paramount in my mind as a prime example of this.

The thought of their possible feelings for one another brings me back to the moment at hand, Dana's voice rising with frustration as her conversation with Mulder continues.

"...no, Mulder, I can't. . . I just can't, I' m sorry...No, I'm not home...I'm not going to be home anytime soon. . . Mulder, =no...I'm sorry, I'll see you Monday."

Dana ends the call and turns off her phone. She seems perturbed at Mulder's call as well as a little guilty. What she can possibly feel guilty about I cannot gauge.

"Everything all right?" I dare ask.

"As all right as it can be where Mulder's concerned."

"What did he want?"

"Me. To go traipsing off at this late hour to who knows where on a tip from who knows who. And I'm not going to. Not anymore. Not with you sitting there like that waiting for me."

"Come here," I command softly. She obeys and climbs up into my lap, straddling me. "I missed you," I inform her if she didn't

already know.

"I was only gone for two minutes."

"Two minutes too long."

I place a chaste kiss on her lips, and she immediately deepens it, begging entrance into my mouth which I happily oblige. Her hand then snakes down between us into my lap to stroke me. Oh, Lord, she is driving my crazy. I hope I can make good on my promise not to move things forward when she is doing things like this. Practically of its own accord, my hand eases up under the front of her sweater and cups her breast. When I realize what I'm doing, I look in her eyes only to see acceptance and desire there. I gently massage her breasts, tweaking the nipples until she is moaning low in her throat.

It's really getting hot and heavy between us, and I'm not sure we can continue this much longer without taking things to the next level. And since I never broke my promises, I have to pull away from her as much as I hate the thought. She's a bit confused and disappointed but explains that she hadn't meant for things to get out of hand--it just happened, and she hadn't realized what she was doing. That made the two of us. Things just seemed to progress out of control when we connected.

Despite this let down, I know we can still enjoy the evening. Dana finds a nice, romantic radio station on the stereo while I build a roaring fire. She then lays out the throw from the couch onto the floor with an assortment of pillows. I retrieve a bottle of red wine and two glasses, and we sprawl out in front of the fire to talk, laugh, kiss, and touch.

It's one of the most amazing nights of my life.

Things are progressing relatively well between us. Probably too well if I'm honest with myself. I haven't been in a relationship in a long time; and with all the insecurities associated with my abduction, I'm not even sure I want one or can function in one.

The problem is I want Michael more than I can remember wanting anyone or anything in a long time. I want to spend time with him, and we end up bending over backwards to spend our free time together which, because of our jobs, doesn't amount to very much.

In the back of my mind, I know things are not and can never work out. I had already committed a type of mental sabotage that night at his house through no premeditation on my part. I had desperately wanted to make love to him; but for some reason, I couldn't go through with it.

My head and my heart are at war--my head telling me to break it off with him, my heart telling me it's already too late for that, that he already means too much to me. Eventually, I know what part of me will win out though Michael and I keep seeing each other.

Tonight, he is supposed to meet me at my apartment at 5:30; but I arrive home to a blinking red light and a message that he'll be a little late.

A little? It's now 8 pm.

Three light knocks at my door rouse me from the issue of JAMA I'm thumbing through as I wait and worry. When I open the door, Michael is leaning against the door jamb looking scrumptious in black jeans, a copper work shirt, and a black motorcycle leather jacket.

"Hi?" he winces because of his tardiness. "I know I'm really late, I'm sorry."

"Don't be. It's not your fault."

He produces a bouquet of my peach roses from behind his back. "Here, I brought you a dozen this time."

I can't help but laugh. "Thank you. You're too much."

I move to wrap myself in his waiting embrace, and then I begin nipping at his neck with my teeth, lips and tongue. He molds us together in his arms.

With the attention I lavish on his neck, I can't help but notice the smell of him; it makes my knees weak. All man, cologne, leather. God, the combination has me completely wet; and we haven't even done anything yet.

I continue kissing his neck and murmur, "You smell so wonderful, do you know that?" He finally pulls my face to his and crushes my lips with his own. Our exuberance for each other's warm, inviting mouths quickly turns into a frenzy of tongues, teeth, and soft moans.

Regrettably, our fervor is dashed as we hear multiple pairs of footsteps approaching in the hallway. It's damn near impossible to pull away when our bodies seem electrically charged in each other's presence.

I tug on his jacket collar. "Get in here or my neighbors will probably call the cops on us for public displays."

"I thought we were the cops."

"We are but that wouldn't matter, believe me."

"Are you implying, Agent Scully, that you've been caught in compromising positions before with men that were, unfortunately, not me?" he teased.

"No, unfortunately, I haven't been in any compromising positions in a long time, only dangerous ones. So where have you been the last, oh, seven years of my life?" I'm only half joking.

"Nowhere except as lonely as you apparently."

"You? How come I find that hard to believe?" I ask incredulously.

"Believe it, baby," he jokes and brings me into another brief embrace. "It's very true."

And I believe it is. His voice has turned serious and tinged with sadness.

He lets go and sheds his jacket while his eyes dart about the living room to take in my surroundings. "You got the message I left on your machine?"

"Yeah, but I figured you'd be here by 7 the latest. I was really starting to worry." I head for the kitchen, leaving him to look around.

"You were worried?" he asks, amused and apparently delighted by this development.

"So sue me," I call out over my shoulder, not wanting to give him the satisfaction. "I'm going to go put these flowers in some water and call for a pizza."

After a few moments, Michael appears in the kitchen while I'm on the phone ordering our dinner. My eyes focus on him and his apparent weariness as he rubs at his face and buries the heels of his hands in his eyes. Beard stubble thickly coats his face. Once the call is completed, I come up behind him and attempt to

massage his shoulders.

"Ah, Dana, that feels really good."

He was wound so tight I thought he might snap. "Jesus, Michael, you've got knots on top of your knots," I exclaim trying to work on him. Trying is the operative word. His work shirt is too thick and he too tall for me to do it properly.

"Come with me" I command, leading him by the hand to my couch. "Let's get this shirt off," I say as we plop down and I begin unbuttoning the obstruction. "My, my, my," I breath once his shirt is completely open and I get a look at the gift that lie previously hidden beneath his shirt.

That gift being Special Agent Michael Anzotti sitting before me in all his well cut, well muscled, bare-chested glory. And I love it. Ache to touch it. Touch him. Every single inch of him.

Now I've never been much of a fan of bodybuilders or bodybuilding as a sport. To me, it's ugly, overkill. But I can and do appreciate a man who spends countless hours in a gym sculpting and molding his body into hard, lean muscle. It's a gorgeous sight to behold. It's art.

The only thing marring his perfect body is an obvious bullet wound and surgical scar towards the upper right of his chest. It appears old, and I surmise he had sustained the gunshot in the line of duty like Mulder and myself. I wonder what terrible thing had happened and who had cared for him and eased his pain. I feel so much compassion for him in that moment as my eyes inadvertently fixate on the scar. All I want is to hold him and comfort him.

Michael senses my distraction and brings me back into the present by placing his fingers beneath my chin and tilting it towards him so our eyes meet. "It's just a flesh wound," he says blandly.

I do not respond. His words aren't meant to convince me but rather ease my mind.

"So, you like?" he asks, obviously pleased with himself and my reaction to him before I was distracted. Before I realized this exceptional man was mortal and could die on me.

"Maybe," I murmur, back in the moment and trying to get a hold of myself. I don't want to give him anymore satisfaction than he's already gotten.

I slide to the other side of him, edge up on my knees to get the right leverage, and begin kneading and massaging his strong, muscular shoulders. "Just relax, don't think, don't talk," I soothe. I continue my ministrations on his shoulders and down his back for quite awhile until my fingers and hands begin to burn. It seems I have lulled him into a very relaxed state.

I am far from relaxed. Those feelings I'd quelled on wanting to touch every inch of him resurface with a vengeance, and I can't resist any longer. My hands caress up and down his back, along both shoulders, down his biceps, around to his triceps, and down his forearms, the fingers of my right hand twining with his. I am so hot for him.

"You're beautiful," I whisper in his ear.

"You've got that backwards," he says real low, the words barely able to escape his throat. He's as turned on as I am.

I reach around to lay my other hand on the pecs of his chest, but he snatches my arm away roughly and positions me in his lap.

There is a moment where we just stare at each other, the sexual tension thick and dense. We tongue deeply as I caress the bulge in his pants and fumble for the zipper. Reluctantly, I pull myself away from our sweet kiss and slide down to the floor, my mouth poised for his lap, eager for his long, hard shaft. I tug at Michael's pants, my intentions clear.

"You don't have to do this," he assures me, holding my face gently in his two hands.

"I want to. Let me do this for you."

After a long look in my eyes, he eases out of his pants, then his boxers. Oh, my, my, my.

I lick my lips and then tease the head of his cock with my tongue. I swirl it around and around the head, already taking him to the brink of his control. His eyes squeeze shut, his hand clutching the

arm of the sofa, moaning low in his throat. Finally, I take all of him into my mouth, licking and sucking with the perfect rhythm, my hand jerking him as my mouth works its magic. It doesn't take long for him to orgasm, coming into my mouth with a forceful stream, calling out my name. I lick him softly, keeping him warm until he starts to recover.

"Was that as good for you as it was for me?" I ask a bit smugly. I have to. I know I've outdone myself.

"Oh, Dana...Jesus . . ." is all he can manage still slumped into my sofa, his eyes half closed.

The knock on my door is our pizza.

"C'mon, baby. Get dressed. I'm starving."

He looks at me in disbelief. What can I say? I can multitask; I can go from performing an amazing sexual act to worrying about my stomach. Men shouldn't be so singular minded.

We manage to make a meal out of the pizza and a green salad I haphazardly put together. Beer, which I often have on hand now because of Michael, complemented the pizza perfectly but left me a bit drowsy. I just want to relax, and Michael looks like he can use some real down time, too, even after the massage I'd given him.

"Come lie down with me," I say as I take his two hands in mine and lead him from the table to my bedroom.

My room is somewhat dark, the light from the lamp post outside illuminating it enough for us to see. There is a steady rain falling outside, and a slight breeze fills the room with cool air through the open window.

We lie down on our right sides spooning together. His left hand drifts beneath my sweater to lightly rub and draw circles on my abdomen. It drifts a little lower, underneath the elastic waist of my leggings and comes into contact with my recent surgical scar. I jerk at the contact, the area still somewhat sensitive and causing twinges of pain especially when the weather is lousy.

"I'm sorry," he whispers and kisses my head. "You okay?"

"Fine," I murmur. I'm unconvincing even to my own ears, and Michael is quiet for a long while.

"Dana, I want you to be able to talk to me. What happened? Who did that to you?" he asks softly, his voice comforting.

"It's just a flesh wound," I respond, echoing his words from earlier

in the evening.

"Touche," he says mildly.

I can tell he's disappointed I chose his tactic, but I decide I'm willing to meet him half way. "Tell you what. You tell me about yours and I'll tell you about mine." Tit for tat. It's only fair.

Honestly, I really don't want to discuss it; but I had realized in my short time with this man that he deserved this from me. That's what having a relationship is about---sharing yourself and your experiences, however unpleasant, with the person you care for. Yes, my relationship skills have been very under utilized; but I will try. For him.

"Deal but bear with me here. I had this friend since childhood. A best friend...Chris was his name. We were inseparable, and he was more like a brother to me than my own flesh and blood, especially my older brother. At 13, we became blood brothers doing that ritual thing that young boys sometimes do and putting tattoos on our arms." He laughs lightly as he obviously remembers it fondly.

And that explains the small, crude tattoo, definitely a homemade job, that I noticed on his left arm. The word brother is written horizontally in black with the letter "o" replaced by what looks to be a drop of blood, deep red in color.

"At 16, I began dealing drugs."

Shocked, I turn to look at him, look in his eyes; and I can see the deep regret there. I lay my hand on his forearm, rubbing it lightly to relay to him to continue because I'm not judging him.

"I know, it's hard to believe. Chris was already doing it and then I got into it through him. He was my contact; I had no dealings with who he was doing it for. At first, I did it for the money. I didn't care; I was only 16. Then Chris's father ran out on the family, leaving a wife with no job or skills as well as Chris and his two young sisters. So, we began skimming money from our takes so his family could eat, pay the bills, pay the mortgage. One night, I was waiting for him in a back alley where he was dropping off the money. He came out of the building, and we started walking away but someone came after us. We ran and they...shot Chris in the back. I froze, and he fell to the ground. I knew they were going to shoot me, too, so I moved to try and help Chris, try to...stop the blood and the...guy just shot me in the chest as I leaned over him," he explains, his voice low and detached.

"Michael,...Oh, God...That's a horrible . . ." I murmur.

"It was a long time ago, though, and I've been able to come to terms with it."

"What happened after that?"

"Chris died at the scene. I wasn't expected to recover, but I made it. The whole thing was cleaned up quietly, so nothing happened to me."

"What about the shooter?"

"Never found."

"I'm so sorry."

"I try not to dwell on it anymore."

We are both quiet for awhile until he says, "Dana, you don't have to tell me anything that you're uncomfortable with, but I'm here if you want to talk."

Unbelievable. He trusts me enough to tell me about a profound time in his life without me having to lay myself bare at all. Now, I have to tell him. I want to. I need to. I relate everything about Alfred Fellig and Agent Payton Ritter. Even the details that bothered me about the case, things I never thought I'd share with anyone.

"I made my peace with Ritter, and he has since faced disciplinary action. But the case was so disconcerting to me but not because of all that. Michael, this is going to sound crazy but Fellig couldn't...he couldn't die; he had missed his time. He told me he couldn't die, and then I ended up witnessing it. Ritter fired at him, but the bullet...passed right through him and struck me. I collapsed, and I knew it was over. I knew I was going to die. I could feel it. I could see it. Death was coming for me but Fellig...Fellig took my place. Death was coming for me and...he told me to look away. I did and . . ." I trailed off, shuddering. "I can't tell

you how often I've gone over it in my head trying to explain it rationally, sanely But there's no other explanation...As I hear myself say it out loud, I wonder how it sounds, how it makes =me sound." Tears start to gather in my eyes.

"You sound fine. You sound like someone who experienced something incredible, something no one else has the right to criticize. Don't doubt the experience, your integrity or yourself."

I am dumbstruck for a moment. I don't know what I expected him to say, but it is so much more than I'd hoped for.

"Thank you," I say finally. "I needed to hear that." In response, Michael pulls us a little closer.

A tear escapes my eye, falling silently into the pillow. Michael's sincere and kind words have allowed me to finally accept the experience and let it rest. It was something I could not do previously no matter what I told myself or what Mulder had said to me in the hospital in NYC.

We lapse into a peaceful slumber in each other's arms. Nearing 11:30 pm, he wakes me gently. It's getting late, and he has to get on the road.

Slowly, we walk to the door arm in arm and share a deep, lingering goodbye kiss. Full of promise. Full of everything I have ever imagined wanting. I'm so happy that I'm miserable at the same time.

I can't help feeling that darker days loom ahead.

I don't understand it.

I don't get it.

I don't get her

It's been two weeks since our wonderful date back at her apartment, and I haven't seen or heard from her. She's been avoiding me, ignoring my phone calls and messages. For the life of me, I cannot understand it.

I've wracked my brain trying to figure out what went wrong, what I did wrong. But the answers are elusive; there is nothing. Except for maybe pushing her bit on the Fellig thing. But why would she react like this? I shared a piece of my past with her, so I thought we were on equal footing, no matter how painful her experience was.

Maybe I'm thickheaded or foolish or the biggest whipped puppy, but I cannot give up on her. I'm already falling for her hard...hell, who am I kidding? I had fallen for her a long time before we ever shared dinner that one late night after work.

Obviously, it looks like she wants to end this, whatever it is we've begun, but I can't let her go. My head is telling me something more is going on. If she just wants to end it, then I deserve and expect to be told to my face. We're not teenagers here.

I've called and left messages for her just about every other day, and there's been no response or acknowledgment. I keep hoping she's going to pick up her phone while she's screening her calls or tell me that she's been out of town unexpectedly on a case. The messages I leave are warm and genuine, wondering how she's been, what she's been up to.

After the third week, she finally answers one of my early evening phone calls. I guess she started to feel guilty and decided to grant me at least one. But she's distant and disinterested in me, the emotional case I am working on in Chicago, and things in general. She speaks to me like we are complete strangers, not lovers, and she couldn't have hurt me anymore than if she'd plunged a knife in my heart. I can't take this much longer. I have to get her to talk to me, to be honest and tell me what in the hell is going on.

I vow to myself that I will not allow this to continue much longer.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

I pound on Dana's apartment door with impatience. About a beat or two later, she pulls the door open.

"Surprise," I exclaim.

"Some surprise. I think the whole building heard you. I thought you said you would be in Chicago for the weekend finishing up your case."

Well, what do you know. My dear Dana had been listening to a word I'd said. I wouldn't have known it otherwise. And it's good to see you, too, baby.

"Turns out most of it was paperwork. I realized I had much more important things to take care of." The implication of my words barely registers on her face.

She turns and leaves me standing in the doorway. "Well, are you Going to come in or stand there all day?" she calls out.

"No, I'm not coming in. Get your jacket. We're going for a ride."

It is not a request, and her blue eyes curse my brown as she stares me down.

"Michael, I'm not going anywhere. If you hadn't noticed, I'm in the middle of something here," she announces, her voice exasperated.

How dare she. How dare she take that tone with me when I've done nothing to warrant her attitude or the attempted murder of our relationship. It's ultimatum time. I pray that I haven't figured this wrong.

"I'm tired of these bullshit games, Dana. I'm going outside, and I'll wait five minutes. If you care about me, then you'll meet me downstairs before time's up. If not, then I'm gone. Tick, tick, Dana," I practically taunt her, confusion and then realization furrowing her brow.

I stalk away.



Fifty-five excruciating seconds pass.

But I don't have to count to 60 for her to come to me.

Glowing orb of light. Streaks of red-orange and purple pink. Brilliant, intense, eccentric.

It is the beautiful sun setting on the horizon this night that has captured my vision, but it is Michael occupying my thoughts. His eyes aglow with life, streaking into my being, and awakening my heart, my mind, my feelings and desires.

The wind steadily whips my hair around my face, my tongue snaking out to taste the salt deposited on my lips from the sea air.

I wait, leaning against the rail on the bow of the boat. Wait for him to come to me. Get the inevitable started as silence had pervaded on the drive here. He had come to my apartment straight from Dulles, his obscenely handsome face weary and yet persistent. Intent on breaking through my walls. Would I let him?

I hear him approach, his sneakers lightly tapping on the deck. He comes up from behind, leaning out on the rail with me like my shadow, like an extension of myself, his large hands grasping my small ones. I don't dare look at him. One look in his loving blue depths, and I will cave.

"What're you thinking about, beautiful?" he asks quietly, almost shyly.

"A lot of things."

"Am I anywhere in there? Do you think about me?"

"All the time," I admit.

Indeed. That's the problem.

"Then why are you running away from me?"

"I'm not."

"You are "

I don't say anything.

"Ever since that night in your apartment when you gave me the most amazing...oral sex you've been avoiding me. Is it me? Did I do something wrong?"

"No, it's not you. Never you. It's me."

"Tell me," he implores. "Please."

I sigh, resigned. "Michael, we both work too hard and too long, mustering what little free time we have to spend together for our relationship to be just a casual thing. At least for me."

"I agree. It's not casual for me either."

"Please, let me finish. That night in my apartment, I loved pleasing you almost as much as you seemed to enjoy it. And it's never been like that for me. Oral sex was always like a chore I had to get through. But with you, it's different. Everything is different. I loved seeing you writhe in pleasure with my name on your lips as you came...but the bottom line is that after that night I felt myself falling for you very hard, and I can't allow that."

Anger laces his words. "You can't allow it? Dana, feelings just happen whether you want them to or not."

"No. Not with me they don't. They can't," I say, my voice pained.

The look on his face is a plain as day. He cannot fathom what I am saying. He pulls away and turns me to him. "=What?"

"Michael, you said this was more than casual, right? What exactly do you want from this relationship?"

"A commitment. Of some kind. It doesn't have to be right now but in the future."

I avert my eyes. "That's what I thought," I sigh.

"You don't sound too happy about it. From what you said earlier, I thought that was what you wanted."

"It is."

"Dana, look at me." He turns my face to his with a gentle hand. "It is, but it isn't at the same time?"

He has read my mind. "Yeah, something like that."

"Dana, help me out here. I'm having a hard time trying to understand."

"I know, I'm sorry. Michael, I tried to tell you I...had problems before we started seeing each other, but you didn't want to hear it. If we're going to be together, I can't give you what you want or need."

"What is it that you think I want or need besides you?"

"I don't know...a family someday....Something was done to me about five years ago. I'm sterile. I can't have children." My eyes meet his, my voice strong and proud. I am not ashamed. Just very deeply disappointed that I cannot share the joy of children with him or anyone.

"So you decided on your own that we can't have a future because of this?"

I do not respond. My eyes search his for understanding, but none is to be found.

"Dana, God knows I'm very sorry for whatever happened to you, you know that; but I don't understand how you can make decisions for us when I don't even know what we're deciding about."

He's right, but I dig in my heels. "I'm doing what's best for you. Can't you see that?"

"No, I can't. Thanks for the gracious offer," he says sarcastically. "I'm telling you right now that it does not matter to me. If we wanted children someday, there are other ways. I won't accept this excuse. But if you're using this as a way to let me down easy then just tell me."

"No, that's not it," I reply shaking my head emphatically. "I care for you so very, very much it scares the shit out of me. I just want your happiness. Why would I want to let you go without a valid reason?"

"I don't know, why would you? But it certainly seems like that's what you're doing; the fact that you can't have children is not a valid reason to me. I won't accept it," he said firmly. Before he turns to go below deck, he takes hold of my hands, offering reassuring squeezes. "I'm right," he says smiling at me. "Think about what I've said."

It had turned quite dark since our conversation had begun. The steady breeze combined with the cold of the night chills me thoroughly, so I zip up my thin jacket and stuff my hands into its pockets.

Again, I gaze out over the side of the boat, my mind whirling happily this time. Focusing on that smile. That disarming smile that has my insides all jiggly like some damn schoolgirl.

There is no doubt about it. I had been defeated. But for once, it's okay. It's wonderful in fact. It's what I want. Michael is what I want and hopefully I won't fuck it up anymore. Though the doubts about my past are still warring within me, I think maybe, just maybe this thing can work.

About 10 minutes later, he returns to drape a blanket over my shoulders and present me with a steaming cup of hot chocolate that I accept gratefully. It's the little things like this, the little thoughtful things he always does that never cease to amaze me and warm my heart.

I apologize for my childish behavior and promise to try to be more open about what is going on in my head. Scary thought, huh? My head that is, not the prospect of opening up. Michael gently inquires about discussing what had been done to me to cause my sterility, but I decline. Tonight, anyway. I don't want anymore sorrow tonight. But I would tell him soon. Ever since I had opened myself up to him regarding Fellig, I wanted to share my demons, share everything with him. He would be the one to understand.

In his arms I stand as we admire the abundant stars shining brightly this night. Moonlight bathes us in its glow, lighting the way home.


For there is no more talk of ending us and what we had begun.

The next week, Mulder and I were out of town but that didn't stop me from making big plans for the coming weekend. I called in a few favors, made a reservation; and Michael and I were set.

After forcing down some crappy vegetable lo mein for dinner, I'm restless. Could have been the MSG I forgot to tell the Chinese place to leave out of my take out order or my anticipation over this weekend.

I don't know what to do with myself. There is nothing on TV, and I'm not about to open up that laptop and do anymore work today. I'm not sure what time I will be able to reach Michael, so I take a long, hot, relaxing shower and then gave him a try at home. He picks up on the third ring.

"Hi," I say simply.

"Hi, yourself. What are you up to?"

"Just getting out of the shower."

"mmm. What are you wearing?" he asks suggestively.

"Wouldn't you like to know what I'm not wearing," I tease. "Listen, I've been doing some wheelin' and dealin'."

"Yeah, what are you in the market for?"

"You." I breathe simply and hear a slight intake of his breath. "So what would you say to you and me, two tickets on the third baseline, Orioles and Yankees at Camden Yards this Saturday. I reserved a room near the park for the weekend starting Friday night. It's nothing fancy, but the only thing we're going to need is that bed," I promise, playfully.

"Uh, I'm not sure what to say to that," he stammers and laughs, probably not wanting to assume anything from what I'm obviously suggesting.

"Say that you want me."

"I want you with every fiber of my being. You know that."

"Well, I'm going to give you the work out of your life. What do you say?"

"To Yankees baseball? I'm there."

"You rotten, little. . ." I joke and trail off. "Some investi- gator you are. Do I have to spell it out for you, Agent Anzotti? I'm gonna fuck your brains out this weekend."

"Promises, promises, Agent Scully," he teases.

"But I keep all of my promises. You should know that about me by now."

"Oh, I do. And you should know you needn't ask. Anywhere you are I'll be there."

I'd fucked up royally.

Ever since then, things have been more tense and awkward between Scully and me than usual. She seems restless, like she's searching for something, though it has nothing to do with work or truths. Whatever it is, I think she found it because in the ensuing weeks she's actually seemed happy. Happier than I've seen her since she first started working with me. And if you knew Scully the way I did, the differences between her now and then are like night and day.
Of course, I wonder what was been up with her, but we've been incommunicado too long; the walls built between us too high to be breached or scaled without major breakdowns or damage. Especially after the latest incident.

I'm referring to the meeting at the Lone Gunmen's where I challenged Scully's findings about Diana. After that, I knew we were in serious trouble. That line about taking things personal was a Mulder classic fuck up. What can I say? I know I was a little cruel to her; but how are you supposed to react when the most important person in your life won't let go of a notion she has? A notion that even turns your best friends against you.

How Scully, the strongest, most self assured person I know, can feel insecure around Diana is beyond me. Granted, I have told her nothing of the time Diana and I spent together. The reason being there is nothing to tell her that bears any importance to my life now or our partnership. Diana can try to undermine us and insinuate herself into our exclusive club of two all she wants, but there is no contest. Scully is my everything. My life, my soul, my love, my future.

Or, at least, I used to think so. I may have to admit another member to our exclusive club and call it a threesome. Anzotti's his name.

Stealing Scully's his game.

And I hate him. I hate him because he's a good guy, a good agent. I knew that when we worked together almost ten years ago, and I know

it now. More than likely I'd be friends with him if I had the time and the inclination for friends other than Scully and the LGM.

At my insistence, the Gunmen had checked Mike out thoroughly. Found only his family's mob connections of which he had no involvement and recent knowledge as well as a juvie arrest for drug dealing. For my sake, I had hoped they would find something damning, something to plead my case after I'd begun to suspect.

I'd begun to suspect that there was more going on between Scully and Mike than just friendship after I'd spied them together at lunch, bodies unable to stop touching, laughter echoing from their private corner, eyes twinkling with something unnamable but tangible. It was certainly not the body language of casual acquaintances or colleagues, which is what they had been when the three of us had dined together in the past.

On those occasions, I could tell Mike was enthralled with her competence, intelligence and beauty; it was written all over his face. He'd listen to our banter with rapt attention and even participate, all the while marveling at her. But he never did or said anything that overtly announced his interest in her. And vice versa. Someone seemed to be answering my prayers on both counts, and I didn't think any more of it. Afterall, Mike had women chasing after him all the time (through no encouragement on his part) and Scully...Scully was mine.

Until that intimate lunch gave me a clue in that thick head of mine. My heart was in my mouth over these apparent developments, and I debated and debated about the best course of action. Obviously, I had to tell her how I felt; but there never seemed to be an appropriate time. As I said, things between us had deteriorated to a point that would require major repair. And, Scully was very preoccupied.

It took me awhile to gather the strength and courage, but I realized the more time I wasted, chances were that Scully was growing closer and closer to the Italian Stallion with each passing day. Today was Friday, and I hoped to pin her down for a couple of hours this weekend to sort through our feelings and this mess we found ourselves in.

So nearing 4 pm, I head back to the basement office where I'd left her about an hour a ago dutifully filling out her expense reports. To my surprise and (if I must admit) my heartbreak, I find a Post It note stuck to the center of my computer monitor with Scully's neat, familiar scrawl. The message is short and sweet just like the woman herself.


I took off early for the weekend.

See you Monday.


No. Damn it. How could this be? Skinner told me he just spoke with her not fifteen minutes ago. But now she's gone and apparently left in a hurry, her coffee mug still half full and warm and her laptop still atop the desk. Since when did she go anywhere without that thing?

I have to do this now or I probably never will, so I run out after her, hoping to catch her. What I end up doing I don't even want to admit. It's low. Despicable. Beneath me.

I follow her. All the way to Maryland. Baltimore to be exact. With one stop in between.

She's in a rental car, and I can't figure out where she is going or why unless she's just trying "to get out of her head" for the weekend. When she turns into the parking lot of a Best Western motel, I think I start to get it. Car running, she jogs to the reception desk and soon returns to maneuver the car to the front of her room. She gets out of the car and knocks on the door. KNOCKS.

Oh, yes, I get it. But I don't want to believe it. That sounds so ridiculous coming from me. For once in my sorry life I don't want to believe, but it's true. And as much as it hurts, I have to see it with my own eyes.

As my instincts had conveyed, Mike Anzotti opens the door and pulls Scully close, reigning passionate kisses all over her that she returns in kind. Once they're done with...that, they head to the car to retrieve her bags from the trunk. Then they disappear into the room, Scully shutting the door decisively with a kick of her leg.

My heart has just been ripped from my chest and trampled over. That is it. She is literally shutting the door on us and any possibility of a romantic relationship.

But I will not let it go at this. She cannot be with him every God damn minute. I will get my chance to talk to her when she returns.

I drop Dana's overnight bag onto the floor while she closes the curtains to our room. She begins fiddling with one of the bags on the table near the window, but I come up from behind and wrap my arms around her slim waist. She stops what she is doing when she feels my touch.

"You hungry?" I ask. I'm referring to the food even though it's the furthest thing from my mind.

"I'm starving," she sighs, drawing out the syllables in starving. She skips a beat and then adds, "For you, most definitely," in a low, husky voice. All the blood in my body rushes to my groin.

"Are you sure about this?" I ask; I have to, it's just the kind of man that I am.

She turns around in my embrace, looks me clear in the eyes. "I've never been more certain about anything. I'm gonna go change." She winkd, and I watch her every move as she glides to the bathroom.


My nerves are all out of whack. I pull out a cigarette from the pack in the breast pocket of my shirt; the first pack I had bought since I was a teenager. I light it with slightly shaking hands and inhale deeply again and again.

There is nothing of much interest outside our room as I poke through the curtains, trying to concentrate on something, anything but that delectable red-head in the bathroom. Really, I have to get a hold of myself. You'd think I'd never had sex before.

"I thought cigarettes were for after sex," Dana says, amusement creeping into her voice.

Surprised by her quiet re-emergence, I turn and marvel at her one-of-a kind beauty as she stands there with her hand on her hip. Lord, I am a lucky man.

An elegant and feminine satin emerald robe barely covers her. The teddy that obviously accompanies it is MIA. The swell of her perfect breasts peeks out between the open robe as does a thin patch of red pubic hair at the apex of her legs.

I smile from ear to ear at the sight of her. "What can I say? I'm trying to calm my nerves. You make me nervous."

"Lil' ol me?" she drawls in her best southern accent as she makes her way over to me and slowly unzips my dress pants with a deadly smile on her face. My pants fall to the floor, pooling around my ankles. "Michael, you still have way too many clothes on. I'll have to remedy that."

She begins to undo the buttons on my shirt and steals the cigarette from my mouth for a drag. She reaches to put the smoke back to my lips, but I don't want it anymore. Everything I ever desired is standing in front of me, undressing me, wanting me as much.

"No, put it out. I can think of much more enjoyable ways to use my mouth and my hands as well as another part of my anatomy."

"Could this be the part of your anatomy you're referring to?" she teases as she trails her hand down my boxers and deftly strokes my engorged shaft.

"That'd be the one," I practically guffaw with surprise and delight. If I'm not careful, I'm going to lose it already.

"Then why don't you show me just what it can do," she said breathlessly as she pulled me to the bed. What a wicked, wicked woman. There is no way on earth she'll have to make that kind of request twice.

I pull my body up alongside hers, and we began necking like teenagers. I caress and tease her lovely breasts with my hand, my straining erection bobbing against her thigh. Her pleased moans and sighs in between kisses spur me on, my hand traveling south for the crown jewel between her legs. My fingers find her folds slick and wet with her desire for me. I stroke and caress her, and she does the same to me with those amazing doctor's hands.

I slide down her body, my lips headed for the area between her legs.

She stills me with her hand, saying, "No, Michael. There's plenty of time for that. I want to feel you inside me. Right now." Whatever she wants will be granted. I am here to please her.

As neither of us have had intimate relations in awhile, I enter her slowly in three successive thrusts. Moans of pleasure/pain fill the room. The pleasure. Oh, God in heaven. Being buried inside Dana is sheer ecstasy. I am too stunned by the sensation to start moving.

"You okay?" she inquires.

"Yeah, just savoring this moment, savoring the feel of you."

"It's incredible, I know," she agrees as she caresses the side of my face with her hand.

I angle my head to kiss her perfect lips, but the cross and chain around my neck, a gift of my mother's, falls down between us like an obstacle. I take the annoyance off, place it on the table beside the bed, and get back to loving Dana Scully.

I start a slow rhythm so we can gauge what the other likes and Doesn't. She matches me stroke for stroke, her legs wrapping around my waist to drive me deeper. Our lovemaking reaches a fever pitch, our bodies slapping together. Faster and faster. Harder and harder. Sheer ecstasy overtakes us as she comes, and I follow right after, off the precipice.

After the most amazing sexual experience of my life, we lie in each other's arms, sated and content. I couldn't have been happier, and she seems happier than I've ever seen her. I'm glad I seem to play a role in that and hope to do so for a long time to come.

Though the Chinese food has icicles on it by this time, we indulge in that and even share a post coital cigarette. We are gleeful and giddy like we're drunk with love or experiencing love for the first time. Maybe I am. I had been or thought I'd been in love before, but it never felt anything like this. She is totally intoxicating.

Later on, we are able to tear ourselves away from the beckoning bed to take an evening stroll and gaze at the stars. I know basic astrology, but Dana points out the more obscure stars that her father had taught her when she was a young girl.

We toy with the idea of getting some dinner but ultimately decide that we are more hungry for each other than anything resembling food. We indulge in each other for the second time that day, and I fall asleep deliriously happy with Dana in my arms.

Saturday morning I serve her breakfast in bed, and she is still as happy as she was the night before. I am too.

The baseball game on Saturday afternoon is great fun although I find myself watching Dana more than the game itself. She's more into it than I am and looks adorable with my Yankees hat perched backwards atop her head. She's so funny and bubbly that I have to remind myself that this woman is a trained federal agent who can probably take down most of the men in the stadium. I love the way that she can lose that professional part of herself with me, let loose and relax. Though the time I spent with both her and Mulder was limited, I never sensed that she could let go with him.

All in all, the weekend has been wonderful and amazing. One thing, however, is gnawing away at me; and I can't quite banish it from my thoughts. It scares me, and I'm worried about Dana.

As I said, after our second round of lovemaking, we fell asleep. Or at least I did. I awoke in the early morning hours sensing something was different. Something seemed wrong.

Dana was out of my arms and sitting in the motel chair by the window, staring out at the night sky. I looked over at her and asked her to come back to bed, but she didn't respond. I said her name, and,

again, there was no response. Pulling back the covers of the bed, I rose and went to her, touching her gently without any response. Obviously, I was getting a little nervous. Saying her name over and over and shaking her gently had not had much of an effect, and I started to panic. She seemed totally unreachable and out of it.

I scooped her up in my arms and carried her over to the sink, forcing her to stand and splashing cold water on her face and neck. After about a minute, she finally came out of her...her trance. I don't know what else to call it. Thank God she came out of it because the shower was next and the hospital after that.

I gave her a glass of water and smoothed back the wet ends of her hair away from her face. She seemed okay now. Calm and back with me. I supported her weight with my body, afraid that she might be weak on her feet. When I asked her if she was all right, she murmured that she was fine but had the saddest look on her face and in her gorgeous blue eyes. Tears started to well there, and I felt like my heart might break. When I gently asked her what was happening, what was going on with her, she just pulled me into her arms, holding me as tight as possible. As if her life depended on it.

I also held her tight, kissing and murmuring assurances onto the crown of her head, stroking the red strands of her hair softly with my hand. I let my question pass unanswered for I would not press her about it, not when she was hurting this much. She started to gently cry in my arms for a long time.

Without another word, I took her back to bed and held her the rest of the night into the morning. Thankfully, she was able to sleep a little bit although I could not. I would not. I just watched over her, wondering what had happened, wondering if she was really okay.

Nearing 8 pm on Sunday, we arrive home to my apartment. Michael immediately leads me to my bedroom, and I follow eagerly; we can't get enough of each other. It's funny. I'd survived basically a sexless life except for my own hand for almost seven years; but now I've had sex five times, soon to be six, in the last three days. And it's not enough. With Michael, I don't think I can ever get enough. He fills me body, mind and soul.

And with Michael due to leave right away on Monday morning on a case, I desperately want to be with him in my bed. Christen the sheets with our sweat, our scent, our lovemaking. I would allow the smell of us to linger in the fabric a couple of days and take comfort in it while he is gone. When I am alone again.

We undress in haste, clothes strewn wherever; we don't care. We fall onto the bed, and I take control. I love that about him. He is as comfortable with me taking the lead as when he takes it.

It's a frantic coupling. I impale myself on top of him and ride him fast and furious. He steadies us with one hand against my back while the other does the most wonderful things to my breasts and nipples. The angle and position we are in affords the deepest penetration yet, even better than when we had done it on the chair in the motel room.

We are both gone not long after, and the intensity of my orgasm rocks me to core. We cling to each other, breathing hard, almost panting from the strength of our exertions.

Then the telephone on my nightstand rings, disturbing us and the orgasmic oblivion we enjoy. Michael's mood will soon follow the disturbed path when he finds out who is on the other end of the line.

I kiss Michael's chest and reluctantly pull myself off of him, immediately regretting the emptiness in my womb and the cold plaguing my skin when I'm out of his arms. He seems to feel the same, grimacing with displeasure and disappointment at the swift and abrupt disjoining of our bodies.

I reach for the offending device, still breathless. " . . .Hello?...I was just...No, Mulder, wait..."

Needless to say, he doesn't.

I hang up the phone and dare a look at Michael. He is not pleased.

"You haven't told him about us, have you?" he asks, disgust in his voice.

"No," I reply low, not meeting his eyes.

"Is it going to a problem for him?"

I don't know the answer, and he guesses that my delay in responding is an answer to the affirmative. But how the hell do I know? I haven't the slightest idea what is going through Mulder's head these days other than his unfounded loyalty towards Diana Fowley.

He erupts from our bed like a shot from a gun and searches the floor for his boxers and jeans, donning them in a hurry. Instead of storming out of the room like I feared he might, he retreats into the bathroom adjoining my room to splash cold water on his face. He then finishes dressing and sinks heavily onto the bed to tie his workboots.

"Why haven't you told him?" comes the question a beat or two later,

his back to me.

"He's my partner, a coworker. I don't tell him everything that goes on in my personal life. Did you tell your partner?" I ask derisively.

"Yeah, I did actually. I can't stop thinking about you or talking about you. And let's not play that game. We both know partners are a helluva lot more than just coworkers. Especially in your case."

"I'm not sure I know what you mean by that," I say, my anger flaring. "What do you want from me?"

"Honesty. With me and with yourself. That's all I ask."

"I have been honest. Mulder and I are close in many ways, but we are strangers in many other ways."

He turns to face me, his hand skimming through his hair again and again in an act of frustration. "Is there something between you and Mulder?"

"Where is this coming from?"

"=C'mon, Dana I've seen the two of you interact. He calls you at all hours of the day and night and apparently you've gone running whenever he called you in the past. I think there's more than your letting on."

"I can't believe that you of all people sound like a jealous lover," I say shaking my head.

"Why because, according to you, I can have anyone I want? I want =you Only you. I want to know where he stands and what I'm up against."

"You're not up against anything. Look, he's my partner. We've been through the most unimaginable things together. I care for him and respect him deeply. But we are not and have never been involved."

Seeming not to have heard my words, he begins searching for his leather jacket, misplaced in our haste to get naked. Once he finds it, he mumbles, "I'm not sure you answered my question, but I guess that will have to do."

So, he did hear them; he just didn't like them.

He begins to retreat out of the bedroom. So preoccupied am I with his reaction to Mulder's phone call, I realize I am carrying on our little tiff stark naked. That's how comfortable I am with this man.

I grab for my robe in the closet, snatch his magnificent cross and chain(given to him by his mother when he had been shot) off the nightstand, and hurry after him.

"You're leaving? It's still early," I call out.

"You know I have an early flight."

We stop at the door, facing each other. "So, what? Are you going to leave here upset or angry with me?" I ask, my arms crossed in my typical defensive posture.

He shakes his head. "No, I'm not angry. I just...wonder sometimes."

"About me and Mulder," I sigh.

"Forget it." He says, shaking his head again, but from the worry in his eyes I know he will not be forgetting anytime soon. Obviously, he has contemplated the concept before.

I take hold of his hand, bring it to my cheek to have him feel me, feel how much I burn for him. Try to sear it into his soul with my eyes because my words haven't had the desired effect. I turn his hand in mine, examining its strength, its capacity for making me feel like the most loved woman in the world just as his body has. I kiss his palm, place his cross and chain within it, and close his hand over the precious metal.

He kisses me then, so deep and thorough, so soul shattering as if to imprint himself and his touch on me. Like he doesn't want me to forget him or us.

Like I ever could.

"I'm sorry, D. I'll call you tomorrow as soon as I get a minute alone. Sweet dreams." He caresses my cheek and then he's gone, off on the next case for who knows how long.

Life is so unfair sometimes. Especially my life and the new dilemma I face. Despite the difficulty involved, I know what I have to do.

Time to own up for the sake of Michael's sanity and before the doubts undercut us too deep.


Arriving promptly to the basement office at 9 am on the pretense of finishing up paperwork has not eased my nerves over having my little talk with Mulder. As always, files are spread out on his desk; but cracking seeds seems to be his main objective this morning. He eyes me as I hang up my coat and fix my morning cup of caffeine. I notice that he looks like shit; he needs a shave and some sleep badly.

"Mornin'," he mumbles as I near my area.

"Hi," I return.

I sit my coffee cup down and then plant myself into my chair. I begin to speak as I flip through my neat stack of papers, purposefully avoiding eye contact. I state the obvious.

"You called last night. What was on your mind?"

"Nothing really. I just wanted to touch base. Things...haven't been right between us."

No shit and they are only going to get worse with the news I have for him. I know I'll hurt him, but why should I feel guilty about caring for someone else? And, damn it, I don't feel guilty. Still, I can't look in his eyes; and I speak to him with my eyes fixed on my work.

"I've been wanting to talk to you myself. I wanted you to hear this from me. Um,...I've been seeing Agent Anzotti for awhile, and I wanted to ask that you not call me at odd hours of the night or on weekends about work related stuff," I say as delicately as I can, the words coming out in a rush.

When I finally have the courage to meet his eyes, he does not appear surprised though he can't mask the deep hurt and feelings of betrayal.

All along, our voices have been low and hushed in case of prying ears and then he signals me over to the corner of the room. We are really going to get into this.

"That's all you have to say? Why? I thought we talked about it. What about us?"

"What about us? And we never really talked. That's the problem."

"I thought we had an understanding to wait. An understanding that once this was over we wanted more. The two of us. Together. Celebrating what we both know exists between us."

But waiting had left too many uncertainties, too many tough questions that needed to be answered.

"Mulder, I'm not sure what exists between us anymore. And once this is over? Will it ever be over? Will we survive? Will my cancer stay in remission? Will sheer will be enough to ward off the impulses calling me to the next massacre or abduction?...It's not enough. Promises of what may be are not enough for me anymore."

He grabs my arm, clamping onto it like a vice. "Then how about now? No more waiting, Scully. I told you I loved you, and I meant it," he says fiercely.

My head is spinning. The selfish bastard. Why now? God damn him

for doing this to me now after I've just about given my heart and most certainly my body to another man. But there is no turning back. Not now no matter how much I've wanted Mulder and probably always would. Not after I'd spent all weekend in Michael's arms, the two of us making mad, passionate, mind-blowing love to one another.

I don't think; I let my heart speak the words for me. "No, Mulder. It's too late. It involves more than just you and me now, and I won't leave him."

I should say more, tell him how I feel about Michael; but I'm not even sure myself. I want Mulder to know that turning him down is not meant to hurt or punish him for anything that transpired between us in the past. But I don't get the chance. My mouth goes dry at his reaction.

Tears well in his eyes at the realization of what I'm saying, and he drops my hand instantly like I've burned him. He blinks back the tears of surprise and anguish.

Maybe I have burned him. Even after everything that had happened with Fowley and my relationship with Michael, I think he believed he'd always be my first priority, my first choice. Hell, I always thought he would be. Things have changed drastically. It's time I figure out what Michael Anzotti means to me.

He steps back to clear himself of the space I inhabit, his back bumping up against the wall.

"Skinner's waiting for us," he croaks pitifully and flees.

I blink back my own tears.


Being away for two and a half weeks without seeing Dana felt like one long, grueling month. Hearing her voice almost every night, however, kept me sane on this dead end case.

When I finally arrive back in DC, it is still relatively early enough to have stopped by Dana's on the way home. Unfortunately, I am dead tired and wouldn't have been any use to her anyway--at least not for what I wanted us to do. The thoughts of our bodies writhing together as they had done that one amazing weekend sustained me through the hellish time away.

I call her briefly to let her know I'm safe and sound. No matter how much flying being a field agent requires, she's still uncomfortable with it and tends to worry a bit. Her voice had been thick with sleep as she must have dozed off; that was why I let her go so easily, her protests aside. Usually, we talk for a good half hour or so.

I shuck off my shoes and the jacket of my suit, pull the shirt open and out of my pants and detach that strangling piece of fabric we call a tie. At least I've made myself somewhat comfortable for the coming blow.

I settle down with the pile of mail my elderly neighbor is kind enough to collect for me whenever I'm out of town. It's a lot easier to have her retrieve it and leave it in a bin in my backyard than to get ahold of the post office to stop delivery every time I'm gone.

I flip through it, disinterested. Bill. Bill. Junk. Bill. Junk. Junk. Junk. A thick manila envelope catches my attention, but I don't know what it is or who it's from since there's no return address or post mark.

What I see when I open that particular piece of mail shocks and horrifies me. Not what it is exactly. But what's described on its pages. What's been done. What's been endured. My hands gently tremble as I scan page after page trying to make some sense of it. I feel sick and weak, like someone has crushed in my chest with a two ton weight.

Anger shoots through me thinking about the appearance of this information on my doorstep. I have no right to see it. Whoever sent it had no right. Highly confidential and sensitive material like this is not easily accessible.

Highly confidential.

Not easily accessible.

Nearly impossible to obtain.

The possibilities of this churn in my head.

Could it be?

Would he dare?

That motherfucker if he did.

I launch myself at the nearest phone.

"Gina, it's me," I practically growl.

"Little brother, what a pleasant surprise."

"Unfortunately, this isn't a social call."

"Yeah, you sound agitated. What's up?"

"Think back. Did you tell Tony I was seeing someone?"

"Uh, probably. Why?"

"Did you tell him her name? Do you think he told Sal?"

"No, I didn't tell Tony her name. I just mentioned you were seeing someone in passing, in casual conversation. And I doubt he would mention it to Sal; we try not to say too much about you with him

around. Besides, he has other ways, you know that."

"I know," I confirm. "I swear, Gina. If he did what I think he may have done, I'll rip his fuckin' head off," I threaten, my words laced with hatred.

"Mike, calm down. What's this about?"

"I can't get into it right now. Especially when I don't have any proof."

"Mike, whatever you do, don't start with him."

I don't respond.

"=Michael,=" she warns.

"I won't start unless he does. I can't make any other promises." It sounds childish, but I can't help it.

Quickly, I change the subject, not wanting to let on how enraged I feel. We exchange some niceties and then I manage to get her off the phone without her prodding me any further.

Now, the only thing I want is to hear Dana's honeyed voice. Hear her assurances that she is fine. Really fine, not just her practiced litany.

Well, so much for being home. I'm back where I want to be but trapped in a new kind of hell.


2:38 am.

3:02 am.

3:28 am.

I'm hoping my eyes are playing tricks on me with the time as I stare at those annoyingly bright red digits of the alarm clock yet again.

For the life of me, sleep will not come this night. I try desperately to shut my entire body down but my mind has other ideas. The things I had seen in that file played over and over in my head though I had willed them to stop. It is maddening, like I have no control over my own thoughts.

Aside from the insomnia, I feel miserable--the not knowing is eating away at me, festering in my brain and in my stomach. I had never had a problem with ulcers before, but I think that time had passed.

Canceling a date with Dana the next day is the absolute last thing I want to do, but I can't handle this. So I made plans to shoot hoops with Mulder. With no intention of playing, mind you. I figure I'll just meet him on the courts and then drag him to the local watering hole to spill his guts. If anyone knows the information I am seeking, it's him.

I'm not even sure why he agreed because I'm positive he's not too happy with me these days. I'm thankful for small favors though as I didn't know how else to go about finding out and easing

my mind. And, I have nothing to apologize for. It is not my fault it took him six years and me to wake him up and get it right. I know the score with Mulder no matter how much Dana denies it.

I enter the doors to the B-ball courts and see him already practicing for our one-on-one. He notices me standing here in my suit and tie but continues his ritual. I edge closer to the court thinking he would meet me half way, but he continues his show, not missing a shot. I call his name but get nothing. Nothing but dribble, shoot, swish.

Another basket.

Now I'm aggravated, and I stalk over to him with an attitude.

"You saw me, and I called you. Do you think I'm standin' here for my health?"

His NY Knicks impression again. Dribble. Shoot. Swish.

"I thought we were playing tonight," he trys all innocent.

Another perfect shot. That underachieving team should sign him up.

"I can't. Something's come up, and I need to talk to you about it." The words spill out of my mouth sounding more troubling than I intend.

It then starts to dawn on him what this is most likely concerning. =Who it's concerning.

He dribbles a few more times and manages another shot, albeit feeble. This is the only shot he misses as the ball bounces sharply off the rim, landing with a thudding bounce and then a series of trickling bounces. Now forgotten about, the ball rolls to the opposite end of the court.

He turns to me intense, worried. "Scully's all right, isn't she?"

"She's fine," my voice falters a bit, although I try to be convincing.

Was she all right? I was afraid I didn't have a clue.


The local bar/restaurant is hopping with people left over from happy hour. Luckily, some young women are vacating a booth as I walk to the back looking for some place to talk this thing out. They eye Mulder and myself with interest though neither of us can really other to be flattered or react. Not when Dana Scully is on the brain. Not to mention in the heart and in the soul. In our very being.

Mulder calls out to the barmaid when we sit down. "Yeah, can I get a couple of beers over here?...On tap. . . thanks." He then turns to me. "Now, what's this all about, Mike?"

I slide the manila envelope across the table. "I need to know if this is for real."

"What is it?"

"Just open it."

His brow furrows in confusion and disturbance as he flips through the contents of the envelope. "Where did you get this?"

The barmaid arrives with a pitcher of beer and two iced mugs. When he realizes my answer is not forthcoming, he repeats himself. "I asked you where you got this."

"It doesn't matter."

"It does matter These are Scully's medical records. =Confidential records that are not easily attainable...this is illegal, not to mention an invasion of her privacy." Like the Oxford pseudo psychologist is telling me something I don't know.

"Mulder, I can't worry about that right now. I need to know if those records are real."

I began to wonder if Sal had faked the documents just to fuck with my head. I wouldn't put anything past him especially when it came to ruining my life.

"What are you getting at? Do you have reason to believe that they were fabricated?"

My silence annoys Mulder, but I'm not about to volunteer any personal information. The waitress brings over another pitcher full of beer.

"Look, Mike, the fact that you won't give me anything here is pissing me off; but I believe you care about her and only have her best interests at heart. I wish to a God I don't believe in that none of this was true, but it is. She hasn't shared any of this with you?"

"No, just that she can't bear children because of something that was done to her."

"Well, I'm really not the one you should be talking to about this."

"Mulder, you know as well as I do how she'd react if I brought this up to her."

"Then wait. She'll tell you when she's ready."

"I can't do that. It's like torture knowing that the person you love has been hurt like this and you can't do anything, can't help them, don't even know a thing about it. I need you to tell me, Mulder. Please. I need to reconcile it in my own head." I'm begging,

and I don't give a fuck.

Love. Mulder visibly flinched when I'd had said the "L" word; he didn't want anyone to love her but him, I could tell. She was his in his mind. Not Dana when you talked about her. Scully. His Scully. It's like talking about two different people. But he can have that part of her, that 50%, as long as I get all of her.

Finally, Mulder gives in to the desperation in my pleading. It is excruciatingly hard for him to get it out, having obviously dredged up painful memories he would rather soon forget. The feelings of betrayal by sharing this very personal information with me are etched all over his face.

He talks of her missing time of three months, her distant memories of being experimented upon, and a resulting cancer. I don't get intricate details out of him, and he will not answer any of my questions save for my inquiry about the scary trance-like behavior I had witnessed back in Maryland. He doesn't answer the why of it, only that it was a result of what had been done to her. He's also nice enough to mention that the cancer is in remission when I ask about it, stunned and agonizing over her plight.

As the news fully impacts me, my heart is sinking, my head pounding, my hopes and dreams crashing. Ironically, I'm not so sure that knowing the truth is better than not knowing. Be careful what you wish for as they say.

How the hell does Dana handle all this? I don't think I even know the half of it, and I'm a wreck. Why can't she confide in me? Share the burden. I knew she's a trooper, but these are things you can't keep to yourself forever. They have already started to affect us with her willingness to just let our relationship fall by the wayside in evidence. If I hadn't practically dragged her to the boat that one night, we would have been kaput without my receiving any explanation.

Mulder rises to leave and noticing my distress all along tries to offer a measure of comfort. "Relax, she's all right. Goes for check ups every three months," he says as he squeezes my shoulder. "I know it's scary shit and a lot to take in, but don't hurt her. She's been hurt enough for two lifetimes."

In response, I manage a pathetic smile.

"And if you do hurt her, I'll have to fuck you up," he adds with a smirk and a laugh.

But I know he's dead serious. We're talking about the love of both our lives.
He leaves me alone to drown my sorrows in a full pitcher of beer.

I don't disappoint.


Saturday comes and Michael and I finally get together after he has avoided me for two whole days. First, he cancels to shoot baskets with Mulder of all things and then it's some lame excuse about taking care of errands and laundry. On a Friday night no less. Something is most definitely up.

Despite my suspicions, I act as if everything is hunky-dory. Well, it is with me. I leveled with Mulder, and, now, my hunk of a man is back in town. What else can a girl ask for? No more guilt pangs and hot sex with a great man I care deeply for.

Now, if I could just figure out what is bugging him, why he's avoiding spending time with me. And why is he being overly sweet on the phone? Don't get me wrong; he's always that way. But now it's to the nth degree and nauseating.

I don the skimpiest, sexiest thing I own for him and our night in DC for an extra special dinner and a little dancing. By the look on his face, he appreciates my efforts but is quiet, almost subdued throughout our meal, watching me with worried, concerned eyes.

When he isn't asking me if I'm okay, we speak of trivial things when I can get him to talk at all. Unlike my past mistakes with Mulder, I am determined to keep the lines of communication open with us just like Michael had told me to, just like he had proven could work. Therefore, I tell him I know something is wrong and I out and out ask him what it is. He lies, of course, saying I'm imagining things. Whatever. I'm not imagining how he seems to be in a dilemma trying to decide how to hold me as we dance. It is alternately close and tight like he is trying to prevent me from bolting out of his arms (out of his life?) or the opposite, like I'm a fragile porcelain doll.

That night, he makes love to me tenderly, gently. Reverently. Like I'm to be worshipped, cherished, adored. It is what I need at this time, and he seems to know it instinctively. He always seems to know exactly how or where I want to be touched, the force and pressure with which to do it to bring me the utmost pleasure and satisfaction.

Sexually sated, we lie spooned in our bed on the edge of sleep. Well, I'm on the edge for awhile until I gradually became aware of his hand washing over my skin, slowly and softly rubbing me. With each loving stroke over my ass and my back, he begins to spark the flame of my never ending desire and arousal for him although I won't let him know it. I bite my lip to control my libido, to just lie back and enjoy his ministrations.

He gives the serpent on my back a thorough going over, apparently fascinated by it, tracing the brilliant inked circle over and over with his fingertips. I hope he won't ask me about it; it's just a tattoo, nothing more, nothing less. Basically, it was a strange instance in my life that I regret because of Ed Jerse himself, not because of the way I acted or that I permanently marked my flesh.

I think he wants to ask me but isn't sure whether I am asleep or not. I play along like I am, still enjoying the feel of his beautiful hand travelling up my back. Then, his fingers begin to trail the nape of my neck, and I think my heart has stopped in trepidation. I will his hand to disappear, not wanting him to feel that rough patch of skin under his soft fingertips.

But he does. And I don't know how I stop myself from flinching at the contact.

His fingers skim the area several times in such a way that it's like he knows something is there. Like he's looking for it.



No, I scream to myself. It's just my imagination. This is Michael we are talking about for heaven's sake. The man who has done nothing but love me. Comfort me. Encourage me. He is just exploring my body as any lover would.

My solitary, untrusting, paranoid life has caused me to doubt everyone and their intentions. Everyone but Mulder. And it isn't fair. It isn't right. I hate it, hate thinking of Michael that way.

Somehow, I prevent myself from taking most likely an innocent situation and turning it into something else, something negative, something that will scar us(no pun intended). I continue to feign sleep although I don't know how Michael doesn't hear my heart hammering away hard and fast in my chest, my nerves stretched to the limit, contemplating what is happening.

Once again, his hand skims the base of my neck; and his warm, soft lips press into the scarred area.

Then the words I both long for and dread escape his mouth, soft but certain, assured, positive of his feelings. "I love you, Dana."

Three little words that he practically whispers to me, tickling my neck, sending chills down my entire body. Words that have the ultimate power to break us, to change everything. Three little words that I know were inevitable for him since that night on his boat. Three words that have been inevitable for me since...hell, since the moment I laid eyes on him.

I love you, too, I say to myself but not to him. No, never to him. I'm supposed to be asleep, right? Yes, I will deny him this truth for as long as possible, keep it to myself and not risk getting hurt.

He pulls us closer, and he sleeps well into the night. I, on the other hand, lie awake for quite some time, unable to get past the lump in my throat and some silent tears that have spilled from my eyes. I guess I must have finally fallen asleep because at around 2:45 am, one of our cell phone sounds, scaring both of us half to death. Michael fumbles around in the dark to get to it.

Turns out it's his partner's wife, Leigh, who is going into early labor. Her husband is out of town, and she has no family living near by. That leaves it to Michael to help her and be there for her; it's his responsibility. That's what partners are for.

Michael hurriedly dresses and comes over to my side of the bed when he notices me trying to untangle myself from the covers to rise.

"Don't get up," he urges and smooths my unruly hair away from my face and eyes.

"I'll go with you."

"No, it's late, go back to bed. I'm sorry this woke you. I'll help her out and be back here before you know it."

"Who are you kidding? You're going to be there awhile," I inform him and rise from the bed. I slip on my robe and flip on a small lamp so he can navigate in my relatively unfamiliar room.

"I'll meet you back here in the morning then," he suggests with a shrug. He grabs his leather jacket and then my hand, leading us out of the bedroom towards my apartment door. "So, I'll meet you back here?" he queries as we face each other, his hands smoothing up and down my arms.

"No, I'll come by you. Maybe you can manage an hour or two of sleep before I get there. I'll even buy you breakfast."

"Just because you're buying don't think you can have your way with me," he teases.

"Oh, I don't think I can have my way with you, I know I can," I tease back, my hand deftly finding his cock and stroking him through his jeans. A moan of pleasure sounds from him.

"Yeah, you can," he sheepishly admits, both of us knowing exactly what my touch does to him. He pulls me into a tight embrace, and we just hold onto one another for a long moment in silence. We reluctantly disentangle ourselves, and he takes hold of my face, caressing my cheek with his fingers.

"I love you."

"I know," I say and smile one of my 1,000 watters, those three little words still caught in my throat. "Now, get out of here, baby." I swatt and squeeze his perfect ass for emphasis. "Careful driving at this hour."

He pecks me on the mouth, and we linger there, wanting more contact. But he has work to do, and I push him away lightly.

"Get going," I urge as I straighten the collar of his jacket.

"Bye, D. I'll see you in the morning."

Arriving at Michael's on Sunday morning, I knock hard on the wood door. There is no answer, but his truck is parked in the driveway so I know he made it home from the hospital. Believe it or not, he tended to leave his door unlocked all the time. How's that for a highly trained law enforcement official?

I let myself in and call out to him.

"Hi, baby. I'll be right down," he calls back, his voice wafting through the house from upstairs.

I used to hate that term of endearment, never used it. With Michael, I find myself using it all the time as did he. He has a way of saying it lovingly, and the word seems fresh and new, like it's our very own.

Though I've seen them before, I'm drawn to the mantle of his fireplace to examine pictures of an impossibly good looking family. His parents, siblings, his sibling's families. Again, there is no recent picture of his father or eldest brother. My favorite photo is of Michael and his parents at his graduation from the Academy. He's so alive, so happy, the way I want to always see him. Always

ruggedly handsome, he would have turned my head and anyone else's even back then.

I idly wonder what it would be like to make love to him in front of a hot, roaring fire on a cold February evening. A knowing, naughty smile plays at the edges of my lips as I promise myself I will find out.

My stomach growls in a protest of hunger as I wait impatiently for my lover to join me. I sift through some magazines on the coffee table, but none really catch my interest. Some papers are sticking out of a manila envelope at the bottom of the magazine pile, and I plan on shoving them back inside until I notice something.

My name.

My name listed as the patient on numerous medical documents.

I try to remember to breathe as copies of my medical records stare me in the face.

It's all there. Everything. Pages and pages of the hospital chart concerning my abduction in 1994 where I lay in a coma in Bethesda Naval Hospital. The office notes from the removal of the chip in my neck in 1995. Records from my admittance to Georgetown Memorial Hospital in 1996 when I thought the end was near.

Why? Why would he have this?

Shaking in disbelief, I fall into the chair opposite the coffee table. I feel like someone has sucker punched me, my breath coming in hitches and starts. My eyes fill with hot tears of betrayal, the drops falling down my face like a small raging river. I swipe them away with an angry hand, fighting to keep my composure and face him without falling apart. Calm down, calm down, I tell myself.

The moment of truth arrives when Michael descends the stairs. As soon as he appears in my view, I start in on him.

"What the hell is this?" I accuse and throw the rather heavy manila envelope onto his coffee table. It lands with a loud thud.

"Oh, Dana," he murmurs as he realizes what I have discovered. He starts to make his way to my side to comfort me I surmise.

"Don't. Just don't," I plead, holding up my hand, and he stops in his tracks.

Anger crosses his features. "Why couldn't you leave it alone?"

"Leave it alone? It's all about me, and I'm supposed to just leave it alone? Did you have someone dig this shit up on me?!"

"No, of course not! Do you really believe that?!"

"I don't know what I believe. The only thing I know is that I feel I've been violated all over again. I wanted to tell you all this in my own time, in my own way, not like this."

"I understand. Let's just sit down and talk about it. None of it changes how I feel about you."

Sudden realization hits me. "Oh, my God. That's why you were acting strange. What, did you sleep with me last night because you felt sorry for me?"

He's appalled. "Christ, Dana, how can you say that?! I made love to you last night because I love you. I told you that last night =after I knew about this."

His words don't register. The only thing that does is that he knows, and I haven't been the one to tell him. I wanted so much to share that confidence, that piece of myself that haunted me and scared me so. So he would understand. Who really would except for my mother and Mulder? I had been so close to telling Michael; he had gained so much of my hard earned trust. We were almost there until this.

Maybe it wasn't some subconscious or unrealized feelings for Mulder that had kept me from seeking out a relationship after my abduction. I think that's around the time I had given up actively seeking one. I mean what would a man I was in a serious relationship think when I told him my woeful tale? She's a freak? Honestly, I feel like one sometimes. Is she real or is she Memorex? God damn that fucking chip to hell.

"So, Michael, what do you think of the saga of Dana Scully? It's all true, every bit of it. Does it disgust you? Are you embarrassed to be with me? Do . . ." I taunt him until he interrupts me.

"Stop it. Stop it. I don't want to hear this. I'm not talking to you when you're like this."

"Like what? Don't I have every right to be angry?"

"Yes, you do. At what's been done to you, not at me. But you seem so . . ." He pauses.

"So what? Say it."

"So full of self-hatred...Like you don't think anyone could love you or should love you for that matter."

"You're psychoanalyzing me now? Thanks, but no thanks. I've already been in therapy."

I have to clear my head, clear out of this space that was suffocating me. I rush past him for the door, but he latches onto my arm with a vice-like grip, pulling me towards him.

"Where are you going?" he asks, angrier than I've ever heard. I struggle in his grasp, our eyes locked.

"You're hurting me, let go. Let go. Of me. Now." I only have to say it like that once, and he capitulates. "I need some air. And some space "

I make sure I stress the last part because I don't think I'll be back here ever again. I bolt for the door, for the freedom that lie beyond, freedom from this living nightmare that I feared all along.

"Dana, wait!" His muffled cry reaches my ears as I put the physical distance between us.

He chases after me; and as I start the car's engine with fumbling fingers, I hear his words taunting me.

"That's right, Dana. Run away. That's going to solve everything."

I take off, not looking back, my heart still there with him.

It was pretty late when I'd returned home from my mother's on Sunday night. Of course, a message from Michael was waiting patiently for me on my answering machine from earlier in the day, most likely a little while after I'd left him.

My mother had succeeded in calming me down enough that I listened to his message before erasing it. Oh, yeah, she was already on his side. With the little bits I had previously fed her about him and our relationship, he had already stole her heart. I was thankful she'd never met him because one look at that gorgeous face and I would have been the loser with her every time.

So, he apologized for what had happened and urged me to call him so that we could talk about it. Running away was not the answer, he said, and that we could work it out together if I gave us a chance. He expressed his deep concern for me and promised to keep calling because he was not going to give up. The last thing he said was that he loved me.

I'm fucking miserable.

I can barely sleep, don't want to eat, can hardly concentrate at work. Brian notices that something is very wrong, and it's hard to hide. It's like a piece of myself is missing, and I can't really function. I don't want to. My heart is in mourning, and I am not sure I will ever stop grieving.

As the weeks and months pass, I concentrate most of my energy on the work, this bizarre serial killer case. For awhile, the murders stopped; but they have started up again and we've been unable to establish an absolute link between the cases. Even though all the

investigators involved feel it's the same killer, some of the differences in the MO's cause doubts. The work is all consuming, and I'm thankful for that for I need something to hold on to, something to think about besides Dana.

When I'm not working, I'm pumping iron at the gym, working my muscles to exhaustion. It's a welcome outlet to channel sadness, anger, and frustration, one that requires no real thought as it's just a mindless repetition of sets. Thank God for this escape because I don't want to think anymore.

I keep calling her, though. If she hasn't realized it already, she will come to know that I will always be there for her no matter how impossibly tough the obstacles seem. Despite how badly things have turned out, I love this woman, this beautifully stubborn, frustrating woman. I will never give up on her or us.

One day soon, I hope and pray she will let me in again.

One day soon.

Continued in Part II

WHAT I WANT (2/2) By LaurieAF

Thankfully, Michael and I don't cross paths too often in the Hoover Building unless we go out of our way to more or less. As he had done in the past, messages inquiring about me and my well being are left on my machine every couple days. He's as sweet as ever, but I just can't face him. Not yet. I need some time.

I miss him terribly though; and after almost a month of feeling like my heart has stopped beating, like everything I do is just going through the motions to get from point A to point B, I decide it's time I see Doctor Karen Kossoff again. Just that decision alone is a major step for me; a step, I hope, in the right direction and back towards Michael. I feel dead without him.

For twice a week every week, Doctor Kossoff and I make great strides in reigning in my fears and doubts of coming clean with Michael about my abduction, the chip, and my cancer. And about how those things sometimes make me feel inferior, that I'm not good enough for him or anyone, that I cannot give him everything he needs and deserves. And that doesn't even count how hard we work on my own unresolved feelings about these life altering events.

I think I even surprise Michael when I pick up his call one early evening about three months after our initial confrontation.

I'm taken aback when Dana finally answers one of my phone calls.

It's like a gift to finally be able to speak to her again after all this time and know that she is doing okay. She apologizes for the way she acted that day at my house and for her behavior since. I tell her that it isn't necessary, that I understand she's going through a difficult time; but she insists.

And I have some apologizing and explaining of my own to do. She has to know I would never hurt her purposefully, that I played no part in obtaining copies of her medical files. I'm actively investigating the matter, but unfortunately, I haven't had much luck thus far. My suspicions about Sal can neither be confirmed or denied.

Dana mentions that she's back in therapy, and I'm relieved because I feel that that is her best chance to work through her traumas and get past them. It also gives me hope for us and our

future, something I haven't had in what seems like forever.

We start to speak on the phone about three times a week. In general terms, she mentions what she and her doctor are working on and that she seems to be making great progress. We speak of things going on in our personal lives but not of "us" specifically.

I long to see her face to face, but it would not be conducive to her progress. Not yet anyway. And now, I will be heading to Massachusetts for that serial killer case; and unfortunately, it looks like I'll be there awhile.

I continue to hope and pray for her well being and the future.

The weeks pass slowly despite numerous X-Files and therapy. Luckily, none of our cases requires us to be out of town long enough for me to miss but two of my scheduled appointments. I've done so well and feel so good that Doctor Kossoff said she will allow me to patch things up with Michael if that was what I want. They never tell you what to do, they only make suggestions about what they think best. And Doctor Kossoff thinks that Michael is very, very good for me. I think so, too.

Spending one entire morning doing research in the library for a new case had bored me to tears and brought on a low-grade headache behind my eyes. I'm eager for something else to do and check the voice mail in my office, hoping for an autopsy. Instead, Michael's message to "call him, it's important" echoes in my ears.

I return to the basement all the while debating on whether to call him back or not. Most likely, it's something regarding us personally; and I don't want to get into it over the phone at work.

I have so much to explain to him, revelations that I've come to about myself and about us as a couple. I'm finally ready to confide in him; but he has been out of town almost nonstop for a month. Our phone calls continue, but I'm not about to hash out my life and decide my future on a cold piece of plastic, though I find it difficult to contain how enthused and encouraged I feel.

The debating going in my head hasn't helped me come to a decision. I'm rooting through the cabinet of X-Files for an old case bearing some similarities to the present one when AD Skinner knocks on the door.

"Agent Scully," he greets me.

"Sir?" I say sounding a little surprised. "What can I do for you?"

"Agent Aaron just updated me on the investigation into the Brockton murders, I'm sure you've heard about them." I nodd. That was the suspected serial killer case Michael had been assisting on and off. "Well, they've got four bodies, all four victims similar in appearance. And that's about it. They believe the murders are connected but haven't discovered the link yet. Now, they've got a fifth body from a fresh crime scene about three hours old, and Agent Anzotti suggested calling you in to perform the autopsy. What should I tell them?"

Damn. That's why he had called. To let me know ahead of time, a courtesy call. Lately, I was so wrapped up in myself I had trouble focusing on other things.

"I'll be there as soon as possible. Will you let Agent Mulder know where I've gone?" I ask as I start to gather my things.

"Certainly. Hopefully, you won't be gone too long. You know how he gets." His lips scrunch up into something like a grimace or a half smile.

Yes, I do know how he gets. "I'll try not to be," I assure him.

I hightail it back to my office to make flight and car rental arrangements as well as to get in touch with Michael at the Boston field office.

He answers the phone, all business. "Anzotti."

"Hi," I say sweetly, almost apologetic.

His voice turns tender at the sound of mine. "Hey, thanks for calling."

"Don't thank me yet. Truth is, I hesitated calling you back because I thought your call was personal, but Skinner set me straight. So, I wanted to apologize for that, for possibly setting things back. But I'm on my way to Dulles right now to catch the next shuttle out. I should be there in a few hours."

"Perfect. The body should be here within the hour, and the autopsy bay is being prepped as we speak...D, you should know my reason for suggesting you was two-fold. The ME here could do it; he's done all the other ones. But we wanted you, wanted your expertise, your take on this. And...and I knew you would come if we asked, giving me the chance to finally see you. It was personal in a way, so in effect, I'm guilty as charged."

"No,...the only thing you're guilty of is loving me. Michael, I want that back."

The silence from his end of the line hurts me so much that it's as if I have suffered a physical blow.

"You don't?" I finally have the courage to ask, petrified that I have read him wrong in the weeks that have passed.

"Of course I do, how can you ask? But we haven't talked specifically about what comes next. And what I need from you, what I think you need as well, is to talk to me about what happened to you. Get all of it out in the open. I don't think we can move forward until we do. Are you ready for that? Can you do that?"

"Yeah. I think I can. I'm not saying I don't have any doubts, but I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be."

"Then when this case in Massachusetts is done we'll sort everything out, you'll see."

"Sounds good. Let me go. I don't want to miss this shuttle."

"Have a safe flight. Dana, I love you."

I hesitate but don't say it.

"Bye, Michael."

The Boston field office is abuzz with activity. I just want to get in, do what I have to do, and get out, preferably with Michael by my side. Unfortunately with the way this case is shaping up, he won't be getting out of here anytime soon.

I try to focus on my future, our future as I stride purposefully through the halls, duffle bag and briefcase in tow looking for him at

the appointed spot. Another agent seems to recognize me and heads straight for me though I have no idea who he is.

"Agent Scully, I'm Mike's partner, Brian Anderson. Nice to finally meet you." He holds out his hand to shake mine.

"Yes, you too. I've heard a lot about you. Congratulations on the new addition."

"Thanks and I've heard even more about you."

"Something good I hope."

"Always. He raves about you."

I don't know why after everything I've put him through. "Is he around?" Please, please, let him be.

"'Fraid not. There's a briefing going on right now, and he couldn't get away. He asked me to show you around, take good care of you. C'mon."

Damn. I had wanted to see him something awful.

Brian shows me to the pathology lab, makes sure I have everything I need, and leaves me to do my job.

As soon as I can break away from my colleagues and Brian's good natured teasing over Dana, I jaunt over to pathology to see her with a quick stop at the local donut shop in between. She's busy scribbling notes on her findings to present to the team, and I knock on the open door to avoid scaring her.

"Just a minute," she murmurs, her brilliant mind intensely focused on her work.

I place a bag and a cup of coffee next to her on the desk, a smile clearly playing at the edge of her lips.

"Who goes there, friend or foe?" she queries without once looking up.

I began to massage her tight shoulders. "Much more than a friend, I hope. Never a foe."

Enjoying my handiwork, her writing comes to an abrupt halt.

"This is true."

I continue to knead her skin through my fingers.

"mmm. . . That feels...really good."

Finding I can't resist any longer to have her striking blue gaze and luminous face directed at me, I abandon her shoulders with a parting kiss to the crown of her head. Just so I can get a look at her. From her.

Talk about a sight for sore eyes. Glasses and upswept hair add to the allure. Somehow, she even makes scrubs look sexy.

"You look good," I breathe.

"Don't lie," she says and playfully swats at my hand. "We both look like crap--you with that three day old beard," she admonishes lightly.

I grab her hand and hold it within my own, our eyes locked and lost in one other, electricity sparking through us at the skin to skin contact. Our first real touch in over five months. Being apart for that long had only strengthened my love for her if that is possible. My groin aches, and I want to take her right there on the desk. To tone down the ache, I opt to sever the contact, dropping her hand. She seems disappointed but understands the reason.

Needing something to do with my hands besides grab Dana, I push the cup towards her. "Here, have some."

"Ah, Starbucks coffee. You know what I like. Thanks."

"Just tryin' to keep the help happy," I smirk.

She snorts at my smart aleck remark but ultimately ignores it.

"What's in the bag, coppa?"

I hand over the loot. "Your favorite."

"You mean that powdered donut with the chocolate cream in the middle?" she asks, all excited.


"It's not very healthy, you know," she informs me as she unabashedly bites into the fried pastry.

"No, but I love the mischievous, girlish glow that overcomes you when you're about to eat one."

Her beaming smile meets mine. Then, her eyes drift over her work. Suddenly serious, she slides it over to me.

"Your fifth victim, Mr. Rogers, died via injection of a deadly drug. I found needle punctures in between his toes. There were knife wounds, but those were post mortem. And from what I can tell, the coronor's report on the first victim, Mr. Leoni, was wrong. Mr. Leoni also died from an unidentified drug, not the gunshot wound as indicated. The gunshot wound was also post mortem."

"Between the toes?"

"Yeah. We'll have to await the tox screenings to see what drug was used, but I'm pretty sure we can connect them. I think we need to go over the other bodies again looking for needle punctures in obscure places. Like between the fingers or toes."

"Sounds like a plan. Excellent work, Doctor Scully," I praise.

"I aim to please."

"And please you do. Very well I might add," I tease, thankful we can still be that way with each other. "You ready?"

She nods. "Let's get this going. I have...other things I desperately want to get back to." She gives me one of her come hither smiles.

I know what she means, but I'm not as cryptic. "Yeah, me, too. You " I say frankly, winking at her.

Off we go.

At the conclusion of the presentation of my findings, the members of the team began to depart to get back to actively working the case. Michael is practically being dragged away by Brian and another agent though his eyes seek me out. Before he leaves, I have something I have to do, something very important to tell him.

"Michael, just give me a minute," I call out over the quickly dispersing crowd of agents.

His eyes meet mine in understanding. When everyone is finally gone, I make my way to him.

"You sure Aaron doesn't want me to take a look at the other bodies?"

"No, no. You did all the hard work, found the connection. That's the break we needed. The ME is going to start examining them again tonight."

"Okay. As soon as I get the lab results, I'll let Aaron know and then I'm going to head back to DC. Call me when you get a chance."

"I will. Thanks for coming up. I knew you would break this thing open."

I smile at his confidence in me. "Before you go, I have something of yours I want to return," I announce as I reached into the shirt pocket of my scrubs and pull out his cross and chain. "I want to make sure you have it with you."

He smiles tenderly, his thanks evident and reaches out for his necklace.

"No, let me," I offer proudly as I reach up to clasp the chain around his neck. Once it lies in its rightful place, I kiss the precious medal and bow my head into his chest. His arms envelop me, and I'm finally able to say the words I know he longs to hear.

"I love you, Michael."

His hands fly to the sides of my face, lifting my head. When I look up at him, he's smiling from ear to ear. In his eyes, I see life, adoration, love. Sparkling life. Pure adoration. An intense love I've never known until now. All directed at me.

"I love you, too, always," he swears fiercely.

Our kiss is thorough and hungry, his tongue tasting and teasing the caverns of my mouth.

He leaves me breathless and undone.

Another week and half passes until they nail the sick son-of-a bitch. Michael is elated but exhausted. I wanted to pick him up at Dulles tonight, but he has at least another day of interviews and paperwork. That only leaves tomorrow night for us to seriously talk before we shuttle to New York for his niece's Communion on Saturday. This is not good, not how I want to restart things between us; but I guess we will manage, the FBI be damned.

I hadn't heard from Michael all day Friday, have no idea of when he is coming home, if he is coming home at all. Where that leaves us for Saturday is beyond me. Truth be told, I'm a little pissed that he hasn't contacted me about what is going on; but I'll get over it.

And I do.

Very quickly.

When I shuffle into my apartment Friday night at 5:30 pm, Michael is already there waiting to surprise me with an impressive array of takeout Thai, wine and a vase of peach roses. As always, what this man does never fails to surprise and amaze me. He takes me in his arms, and we hold each other for a long time.

Dinner is spent in relative silence, both of us just enjoying each other's company and staring. Yes, staring. It's been so long since we have been together for more than, say, 20 minutes that I've forgotten how handsome he is. When I try to strike up a conversation about his case, he refuses to talk about work in any way, shape or form.

After dinner, we retire to the couch. He is physically, not to

mention mentally exhausted, so I massage his broad shoulders, hoping to ease his tension. No clothing is removed this time for it will only ignite the fire within me that has already started to simmer as my hands work his gorgeous body.

The massage is the perfect way to relax him, and I know the wine will have the same effect for me. Though I have contemplated this night, this talk for some time, I'm still apprehensive and nervous.

He already knows about my sterility, the chip and the cancer; but getting into the details will still be rough, and I just hope Michael can find it in him to truly understand.

I am not disappointed.

He actually cries when I tell him of the terrible things to befall me in the last couple of years. Not tears of pity, but tears borne of his own pain, comfort, love and understanding. His reaction causes my heart to swell and tears of my own, which he gently wipes away. We hold each other, safe in the cocoon of our arms. It's a moment I will never, ever forget.

We talk long into the night, and our tears have drained us of much of our energy. As much as we want to make love, there will be time for that soon. We end up falling asleep in each other's arms on the couch. When I awake in the early morning hours, I rouse Michael from sleep so that we can rest together in the comfort of my bed.

All I know is I could have slept safe and happy in his arms forever, but unfortunately, our shuttle to New York will be taking off before long. Alas.

For people like us, there never seems to be enough time to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

Due to delays at both Dulles and LaGuardia airports, we missed the Communion ceremony but happened to arrive at Gina's house when the families were returning from church. Gina and Michael share a warm reunion and then Michael introduces me to Gina and Anthony's families. Rebecca, Gina's daughter, seems thrilled to see her Uncle Mike again, and Gina seems genuinely thrilled to meet me for the first time.

With the party being catered, Gina has the time to take me aside and give me the low down on her brother with some funny childhood stories, much to Michael's chagrin, of course. She also pulls out her mother's old photo books of her brother as a baby and a toddler, and I grin from ear to ear at being able to view this side of him. He was literally the cutest baby I'd ever laid eyes on.

Michael and I assist Gina and her husband, Tom, with setting out the food as the rest of the guests begin to arrive. The two of us have a hard time keeping our hands and mouths to ourselves in between chores. Tom and Gina tease us mercifully about this, but when you've been apart for five long months, you can hardly care less.

All day, we gravitate towards the kitchen to watch the kids play in the backyard. I'd forgotten how rough children can play and end up having to patch up a couple of the kids' scrapes and bruises with antiseptic and some kind, soothing words. Rebecca is one of the children that requires some first aid, and I find her to be an adorably sweet child. Even after her little mishap, she is in and out of the house doing her best to get her uncle's attention. She has finally slowed down now and is busy drawing a picture for Michael.

I smirk at her latest bid to gain his attention.

"=What?" he queries.

"If I didn't know better, I'd say that little girl has a major crush on you. Just like this big girl."

"Well, I am charming, good looking, funny, all-around terrific . . ."

"And I'd agree," I chime in.

"You'd agree, huh? The woman I had to ask out three times. The one who barely noticed me."

"Who said I barely noticed you? I would have had to have been dead not to notice you...although I think I was dead in a sense."

"No, you were and are the most alive person I've ever known. I think you were just a little preoccupied back then."

"Right," I sighed and brought my hand up to caress the side of his face and then his lips. "Now, I've got my priorities straight."

"I like the sound of that," he smiles and embraces me. "Now speaking of someone who's terrific...I saw you with Rebecca earlier when she skinned her knee. You were so wonderful with her,...you'd make a wonderful mother."

"Maybe. Someday. With the right man."

"Have you found the right man?" he asks hopefully.

"Oh yeah " I answer with much enthusiasm, and I feel him smile against my shoulder. Then he starts to assault my neck with his mouth, his sweet lips at my weak spot driving me crazy, making me hotter than Arizona in summer. That is all it will take, but then came the piece de resistance--he dips his hand between my legs, into me, fucking me with his fingers. I respond as he knew I would, involuntarily moaning and sighing, claiming his wild mouth with my own. "You know what you're doing to me, I want to feel your perfect body, your hardness against me, I want you to fuck me so good, this is so good," my voice rasps uncontrollably with a torrid desire.

Michael continues his sweet torture until I start to laugh, realizing exactly where we are and what we are doing. "What is it?" he rasps with a similar desire in his own voice.

"Your sister is going to walk in here in a minute or worse yet, one of the kids. As much as you know I want to continue this, we have to stop," I manage with more control than I thought possible though he disregards my words. "Michael, what if one of the kids catches your hand . . ." I begin to say but bite my tongue as Gina saunters into the kitchen. "in the cookie jar," I finish lamely. "Hey, Gina."

Gina smirks as she takes in the sight of us. "Hey, guys. What are you two up to over there?" she asks with a wag of her eyebrows.

Michael discretely removes his hand but ultimately ignores her, still holding me tight and talking low in my ear. "Cookie jar, huh? That's the perfect analogy. Cookies are sweet and delicious just like your pussy."

I try not to react to his talk, and his sister won't let him off the hook. "Mike, give the girl a chance to breathe, would ya?"

"C'mon, Gina. Dana and I have barely seen each other in the last five months."

"Yeah, well you two look like a couple of lovesick, sex-starved teenagers." She still wears that look of teasing and amusement.

"Teenagers we are not, I can assure you, but lovesick and sex starved...that sounds like us. Right, Michael?" I smirk.

"Oh yeah " Michael says, echoing my words of before.

And we all laugh.

The party is going well. Too well, so I should have known better.

When my eldest brother arrives with his lackey in tow, I curse under my breath. Gina told me he wasn't coming and that is the only reason Dana and I are here today. I guess I should have realized this was going to happen. I knew he couldn't resist making a show because he's such an important little prick. Or at least he is in his own head.

All of the other guests gather around mob boy to greet him while Dana and I don't move a muscle from our respective perches on the couch. She looks to me for an explanation, questioning me silently; but I have no easy answers. The look of surprise and apology is evident on my sister's face when our gazes meet.

When the greetings are completed and Dana and I have still not risen to meet him, my brother decides to start in. "Mikey, what s'matter wit you? You goin' to introduce me to your lady?"

I have no desire to meet him or see him ever again for that matter,

but this is already looking weird to all my sister's guests, including Dana. Therefore, I rise up with Dana's hand tucked in mine to keep things from getting out of hand.

Before I can even say anything to him or introduce her to him, he is undressing her with his eyes. It is very obvious and very inappropriate. Good sport that she is, Dana ignores it while I seethe beside her. I want to wring his neck with my bare hands.

"My, Red, you are lovely," he murmurs intimately to Dana as he raises her hand to his lips and kisses it. "Mikey's a very lucky man."

I stand by quiet, afraid that if I speak I will start a nasty scene. I see Dana cringe when he refers to her as "Red," but she continues to be her polite self.

"It's Dana. Dana Scully. It's a pleasure to meet you."

"Likewise. I'm Salvatore Anzotti, Mike's older brother."

After their introductions, he thankfully takes his paws off Dana and turns his attention to me. "What s'matter with you, kid? You too good to grace me with your presence? You got some fuckin' nerve

showing your face around here anyway," he snarls in a low voice.

Dana cringes again at his profanity and antagonistic tone and looks to me for my reaction. I just stare at him for a moment in disbelief at what he chooses to say to me when we finally came face to face again for the first time in 10 years.

"You really want to start this now, Sal? In front of all these people? If you do, let's take it in the other room. I'm not going

to have you yell and curse at me in front of Dana and the other guests."

"Let's go to the kitchen then."

If that's what he wants, fine. As we depart the room, I eye both Dana and Gina. They sport worrisome looks on their faces but for very different reasons. Dana's is because she doesn't know anything, and Gina's is because she knows too much.

We end up on opposite ends of the kitchen, both of us leaning up against the counters in what looks to be a stand off. The question is who will shoot first and be left standing and who will be the one to suffer a quick death. However it turns out, I'm sure we'll both remain remorseless.

Sal lights up a cigarette and just stares and stares at me.

"What? What do you want from me, Sal?"

"Nothing but a little respect. To acknowledge my presence. I think I deserve that much from my little brother."

"No, what you deserve from me is to be thrown in jail for the rest of your rotten fucking life. I don't owe you respect. I don't owe you a damn thing."

"Look, what happened between us was a long time ago and we're still family; and you should act that way. Instead, you make me look like a fucking jerk in front of everyone. Family is the most important thing."

"And I know, Sal, you're an expert on family...I don't consider you a part of my family. I don't need you. I sure as hell don't want you. I don't want any part of you and the mob cronies you call family. I have Gina and Tony and a life in DC now."

"Oh, right. With your fibbie friends and your fibbie girlfriend. I have to say, Mike, it looks like you've done well for yourself. Red looks like a good fuck. The garden may be infertile but a good fuck nonetheless," he mocked.

Oh, Jesus Christ.

It was him.

I was right all along. He knew about Dana. He had sent me her medical file. We had been through five months of pure hell because of this sorry excuse for a brother, let alone a human being.

"What did you just say?" I snarl, the rage in me about to boil over.

"You heard me right," he answers with a pleased look on his face. The bastard's proud of what he's done.

"I heard you right, you sick mother-fucking bastard?! I could kill you! I could kill you for what you've done!" I yell at the top of my lungs.

I lunge for him then and begin to smash my fist into his face over and over again. My knuckles split open at the brutal contact while blood starts to spill from Sal's nose, the sight pleasing me immensely. But it isn't enough. I want him to hurt, to suffer, to...to...die.

By this time, Gina and Tony have run into the kitchen to find out what all the commotion is about. I'm surprised they weren't in here sooner with the way I had yelled and the racket some pots and pans had caused when they hit the floor in our struggle. They succeed in calming us down a bit, but Sal and I continue to struggle within each other's grasp, neither of us letting go one iota.

As soon as Sal cathches his breath, however, he's back at it. "Oh, Mikey, you're goin' to regret this. You will pay. You and Red."

And that is all I need to push me over the edge.

Once he threatens Dana, I completely lose it.

In the living room, I attempt to make small talk with the other guests even though something very wrong is going down in that kitchen. I debate about going in there, but it really isn't my place. No matter how worried I am about Michael, I don't want to stick my nose in where it doesn't belong or where it isn't wanted.

Gina then runs into the living room and without explanation pulls me into the kitchen. When I see Michael, I understand exactly why she has done this.

Her brother, my lover, is wildly out of control, his fingers embedded in and around their brother's neck, attempting to strangle the life out of him. Michael's eyes bulge out of his head, his face a bright crimson red in his rage of fury.

"Michael, what are you doing?!" I yell out, appalled at the sight before me. Michael doesn't even flinch at the sound of my voice. "Michael, stop this! Stop this! Please!" I cry again.

I place my hand on his forearm, hoping that my touch can reach him in some way that my voice hasn't. Again, I urge him to stop.

He finally looks to me although rage is still apparent in his face and eyes. "It was him, Dana," he says and then turns back to his brother. "Tell her. Tell her how you dug and dug till you found out the horrible things that happened to her just to fuck with me. . . I'm glad Mom's not around to see the fuckin' monster you've become. Oh, but you were one even back then weren't you? And she knew. She knew what you did to me."

Although I am deeply disturbed by what Michael has revealed, this insanity has to stop. I position myself between the warring brothers, essentially in Michael's face, pleading with him. "Michael, look at me. Look at me. Stop. Let it go. . . He's not worth it. Let it go."

Finally, I get through to him. Our eyes meet, and I know he understands what I'm saying, that he's back with me. Slowly, he releases his hold on his brother, and I move him into the corner of the room, far away from Sal while Tony takes Sal into the living room. Michael and Sal's menacing glares at one another could stop you dead in your tracks. I calm him as much as possible and then return to the living room to grab my bag, not daring to look in Sal's direction.

We make our apologies to Gina, who makes it clear to us that she

holds nothing against Michael. We then leave quietly out the back door.

Michael is too wound, too frustrated and upset to take the wheel; so I drive us back to the hotel. I want to know what in the hell was going on with him and his brother, but he remains mum throughout the ride.

At the door to our room, he shoves in the key card and throws open the door. He enters in a rush, yanking the clothes from his body with force, and rifling through his suitcase for sweat pants and a T-shirt. All the while, he utters not one word.


Once we were in the comfort and privacy of our own room, I thought for sure he would open up to me. Trying to ease him into this, I start off the conversation with my voice as delicate as I can make it. "Michael, talk to me. Why would Sal have gotten ahold of my medical records? I mean, why would he care?"

His sentences are short and clipped. "To hurt me. He hates me. We hate each other."

"Why? Knowing you the way I do, I find it difficult to believe that you hate anyone, let alone your brother."

"Dana, you don't understand. Just leave it alone for now. Please," he pleads.

"Michael, help me to understand. You told me--"

The awful truth flys out of his mouth in a rush, his tone distressed. "Because he's the one that shot me and killed Chris, all right?!"

"No, oh no," I murmur in disbelief.

I try to approach him, offer some measure of comfort; but he continues to dress, pulling a tight T-shirt over his bare chest, the shirt outlining every single, perfect muscle. My groin tingles in response. Why, when we are in the midst of a crisis, am I getting turned on?

"I going with you," I insist.

"No, stay here. Let me run off some of this destructive energy, and

we'll talk when I get back. I promise."

"You're sure you're all right?"

"Yeah. You?"

"I'm . . ."

"You're fine, I know," he finishes for me and manages a slight smile. Then he kisses me hard and fast on the lips and heads out. "Be back soon," he murmurs before the door clicks shut behind him.


He said he'd be back soon.

That was over three hours ago.

It's a horrible feeling to sit and wait for someone you love to return and then they don't. Terrible, terrible things start to cross your mind. I wonder if Michael has gotten drunk off his ass, hit by a car, arrested, mugged, shot, or stabbed. God forbid, but NY, like any large city, is dangerous and unpredictable at this time of night.
When he didn't return by 11:30 pm, those irrational fears really started to take hold. Restless, I take a hot shower and then flop on the bed to channel surf. In between, I field a call from his sister, who also sounds worried. I quickly tired of "57 channels and nothing on" and settle into a chair by the window, gazing out between the drapes at the starry night.

The room is very dark when he finally returns, quietly opening and closing the door to avoid disturbing my presumed slumber. A feeling of genuine relief washes over me at his presence, stilling my jackhammering heart and jittery nerves.

I watch as he strips off his T-shirt and heads for the sink outside the bathroom to splash cool water on his face. I clear my throat to announce my presence and then speak.

"That was some run," I sigh, not pleased with him.

He continues to splash water on his overheated skin, not caring to face me as we converse.

"Sorry, D. Once my feet hit the ground, I couldn't stop. Why are you up? It's late."

"Yes, it is. But there was no way I was getting any rest while I was here and you were out there somewhere, hurting."

"I'm fine "

"Right," I laugh, unconvinced. Had he learned that line from me? How awful it sounds coming from someone else.

He knows what I am waiting for, what I want and ignores me just the same.

An irritating silence settles over us.

I try to get his attention, thinking the last name bit might do the trick. "Anzotti," I call.

"Scully," he responds automatically, void of emotion, aware of my game.

"Come over here. Talk to me. Prove to me that you're not all talk and no action, so to speak."

He obeys and trudges over to me using his T-shirt to wipe the moisture and perspiration from his body. He sits opposite me on the floor, Indian style.

"So," he begins reluctantly, not really meeting my eyes.

"So," I repeat. "You can tell me anything, you know." Our eyes finally meet, mine trying to soothe him and ease his pain.

"I know. . . So...I already told you the Anzotti's are part of the Gambino crime family. All...all those years ago, the drugs Chris was dealing were for my brother who was being groomed all along by my father. Sal shot Chris after realizing he was stealing money; and as I held him, Sal looked me clear in the eyes and shot me at point blank range."

"Michael, how? How could he shoot his own brother? I don't understand...Why?"

"My father wanted all his sons made. Sal wanted to punish me because I was already resisting my father's overtures; in a sense, betraying the family. Plus, he figured I was stealing money, too. He was right on that count, but you know the reason for that."

"I hear what you're saying but I just can't fathom the idea of hurting your own brother like that. How did your family deal with it?"

"We did what a lot of families do. We swept it under the rug, never mentioning it although I told Gina and my mother eventually figured it out. Living that lie was one of the hardest things I've ever done."

"Years later, I suppose wanting to join the FBI didn't go over too well, huh?"

"How'd you guess? But I had just about been written off by my father by then. It was a real ugly scene when we'd had it out. I told him where to go, where to stick his organized crime bullshit. The FBI thing solidified my standing as an outcast. A traitor for joining "the other side." I never told you this, but I was even arrested for dealing drugs once. Sal tried to use it to prevent me from getting into the Academy. We almost came to physical blows over it several times, but my father ordered him to cut the crap."

"What about Tony? What's his place in all this?"

"Tony's in it up to his eyeballs though Gina tells me he hates it. Gina, bless her heart, tries desperately to be the peacemaker, essentially taking over for my mother; but she's out of the loop and doesn't know much of what goes on."

"So that's why you haven't resisted moving around with the Bureau so much. No real family ties grounding you."

"Right, except for Gina. We're close. Tony and I keep in touch, keep up with the things going on in each other's lives; but that's about it. So, wherever the FBI wants to send me I go."

"You're not going anywhere in the near future I hope."

"Nope. I'm stayin' put as long as you want me."

"Oh, I want you, all right. C'mere."

I hold out my hand to him, stands, and we embrace. God, it feels like heaven to have him in my arms again, and I become acutely aware for the thousandth time of what I've been missing all these months. My hand greedily caresses his muscular back, still damp with sweat.

"Dana, I never want to let you go again, but I think I need to jump in the shower," he announced sheepishly.

I scrunch up my nose. "I think that's probably a good idea."

He looks at me in mock shock. "That bad?"

"No, not really. It's a good smell. A manly smell." No doubt about it, Michael is all man.

"I'll show you manly," he snarls and descends upon me like a cheetah on its prey.

I can barely string two words together, our hot kisses rendering my brain useless. Words somehow rasp out of my throat between kisses and roaming hands.

"I know...you will...Oh, God. . . how long...has it been...since we . . ."

Apparently, he is having the same kind of problem even as he interrupts me.

"Five months. . . two weeks. . . six days. . . eighteen hours...but who's...counting? You feel...so. . . incredible . . ."

As it always seems to, the ringing of the phone stopped us dead in

our tracks. We slump into each other, frustrated that the only intimate moment we've been able to glean in forever is being interrupted yet again.

"Who could that be at this hour?" Michael wonders with irritation.

"Probably Gina. She called earlier, worried about you."

"I guess I should let her know that everything is all right."

Even though Michael knows he should take this call, deep sighs punctuate the disentanglement of our overheated bodies. He kisses me lightly on the head before leaving me to answer the phone although he dispatches his sister in record time, assuring her that everything is okay.

Great. Now I have him all to myself.

Once he hangs up, however, he bypasses me and starts heading for the bathroom. I am beyond disappointment, positive that we were going to pick up where we left off before we were so rudely interrupted.

"Where are you going?" I quickly ask, my brow furrowing with confusion and disappointment.

"Hitting the shower."

"But. . . but . . ." I stutter.

"Believe me, D, you'll love me more after I've showered," he announces with a big smile and then disappears inside the bathroom.

"I sincerely doubt that," I mutter to myself. I already love this man more than I thought it possible to love another human being.

After only a minute or two of being alone, I crave Michael's touch again and head for the bathroom. The shower curtain is partially open, revealing a tired-looking, beaten down man. Eyes closed, Michael's head rests up against the tiles, the hot water cascading down his body, soothing him and healing him.

But I know I can do it better. I want to do it better.

"Mind if I join you?" I ask softly, hoping I'm not disturbing him and this quiet time.

He looks at me and smiles broadly. "Of course not, get in here."

He holds out his hand for me, his eyes raking over my naked body with an intense heat. I climb in behind him and immediately reach around him for the soap, lathering up his back, greedily touching him in a fashion reminiscent of that night on my couch. His hands clench at his sides, steeling himself from reaching out to stroke me back. It's getting mighty steamy in here, and it isn't because of the hot water.

I maneuver in front of him, lavishing the same attention on his chest. His eyes bore into mine, hot, intense, wanting, needing; and I understand perfectly. Our faces are close enough to kiss as he leans down into me though we did not.

He still does not touch me until my hand, not able to resist any longer, reaches down between us to stroke his penis. Then in an instant, he hoists me up in his arms, my back crashing up against the tiles.

Our eyes lock. Poised at my entrance, he thrusts into me swift and hard, just the way I want it.

"God, Dana," he murmurs with wonder at our joining.

I ache for it, but he doesn't move. I pull back to look in his eyes, questioning his hesitation.

"What is it?"

"Nothing, baby. I missed you, I want you, I need you, I love you so much," he whispers.

"I know. I love you, too. Everything's going to be fine. Everything's fine now," I promise, stroking his lips.

He smiles and then begins to pump in and out of me slowly and as best he can considering the awkward position we are in. His pace increases almost immediately, my back crashing into the shower tiles with increasing force. God, this feels good, so good. I had wanted this to last a little longer; but it's inevitable that it wouldn't with our pent up passion. Michael is going to come, and I will soon follow.

"Dana,...are you...close?" he grunts in between thrusts.

I'm not there quite yet, but that's okay.

"It doesn't matter. Let go, Michael. Come for me."

With two or three more frantic thrusts, he fills me with his life. How did I do without this, without him for so long? I always want to feel like this, feel him inside me.

We semi-collapse into a heap after our passionate lovemaking. Once we get our bearings, we rinse off again, and take turns towel drying each other off.

Then, before I know what's happening, Michael grabs my hand and

leads me to the bed to finish what we had started in the shower. His tongue ravages the lips of my vagina, and I think the next town can hear my moans as I come. God, the things he can do with that body and that mouth are almost criminal.

Due to our, um, extracurricular activities, we're up most of the night. Making up for lost time is always intensely pleasurable. We sleep in late the next morning; and before we catch the next shuttle back to DC, we enjoy a wonderful Sunday brunch.

Maybe I'm coming down with the flu. I've been home from work for two days straight, and the last time I stayed out of work for this long was when my cancer was in its final stages.

Saturday, I was fine. Sunday, I was fine, too, spending the rest of the day in bed with Michael when we'd returned from New York. And it wasn't because I was feeling under the weather either. But Monday I awoke feeling like death warmed over, something I shouldn't joke about because death and I were very nearly acquainted.

As sick as I feel, I just have to wonder if I have any kind of luck. I finally get my love life straightened out and then I'm sick as a dog. Well, at least I got fucked good a couple of times in between. I hate to sound vulgar, but it's the truth. I could always count on Michael for some amazing sex.

Unfortunately, as much as I would love to thing about sex with Michael right now, I can't. The bright light from the early afternoon sun is streaming through my window blinds. I lie in bed trying to summon the strength to rise and trek to the bathroom for some over- the-counter remedies. I get up slowly, not wanting to induce any dizziness or nausea, my hand shielding my eyes from the unwelcome light. I proceed to the bathroom in the same slow-motion mode and manage to scarf down some Tylenol and a nasal decongestant.

Then I hear a pretty loud noise. It sounds like something fell over in the living room.

I go to check it out, not really thinking anything could be the matter. It's probably just a book that fell over on my bookshelf or from my stacked pile to the floor.

But I couldn't be more wrong.

A man looks up at me, startled, like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle. He's searching through my drawers for something. I'm frozen in place, partly because I'm just as startled as he is and also because my brain is in a fog right now.

He crosses the room to come stand in front of me and asks in a demanding voice, "Where is it?"

I hesitate and then answer, "I don't know what you're talking about."

"C'mon, bitch. I know it's here. Just give it to me, and I won't hurt you."

His hands have clamped down on my wrists, holding my arms in place, effectively preventing me from taking a swing at him. I'm starting to really get nervous. I have no idea what is going on here or what he wants.

"I swear I haven't a clue what you're looking for. If you just tell me what it is, maybe I can help you."

"Don't play dumb with me, bitch! Just give me what I came here for and I'll leave. I don't have time for your fucking games!"

He's holding me with much more force, and the tone of his voice has turned venomous. I'm going to have to try something here, and I just hope it doesn't backfire.

I attempt to knee him in the groin, but I'm only partially successful because of our extreme height difference. I've clipped him enough to cause pain but not enough to subdue him. He immediately counters

with a hard, close fisted punch to my face that has me seeing stars and then backhands me across the mouth for good measure. I'm momentarily in a state of shock and practically fall back on my ass.

With a limping jog while he holds his groin, he attempts to dash across the room but ends up tripping on the straps of my handbag. It's the bag I used over the weekend in New York, and I had dropped it down on the floor near the coffee table on Sunday when Michael and I returned home to my apartment in a rush.

The contents of my bag have spilled out and now he's rummaging through that, too. Still a bit stunned, I watch him as I try to figure out what to do next. He picks up a clear bag of fine white powder and holds it up to the light. He then lets out a jubilant exclamation when he realizes he's found what he's been searching for all this time.

The man rises and starts to take off while I take off into my bedroom to retrieve the gun from my nightstand. I quickly slip on a pair of shoes and follow off after him. I'm chasing after him down my hallway even though he's too far ahead, and I feel too sick to give it my all. I practically knock down my poor, unsuspecting elderly neighbor as I run past him in the hallway. I reach the ground floor, and the perp has disappeared.

I mutter an expletive, trying to process what the hell just happened; but it takes too much effort to think right now and my head is starting to pound; I return to my apartment and collapse into the couch, my head between my knees to stave off the coming wave of nausea.

After that alarming encounter, I fell asleep on the couch for close to two hours.

I awaken now feeling much better than I have in two days except for the pain radiating from my face. I head for the bathroom to check my reflection, grimacing at the sight I make in the mirror. Before I can make it to the kitchen for some ice, the phone rings.

"Hello?" I answer a bit weakly.

It's Michael's welcome voice. "How's my girl feelin'?"

"A little better actually." Except for the round or two I look and feel like I've gone with Mike Tyson, it's true. "But I'm going a

little stir crazy here. I need to get back to work."

"Let me take your mind off things. I'm on my way over with some chicken soup for your soul and me for every other part of you."

"Michael, you don't have to come over to check up on me. I'm fine, really. Plus, I look like shit."

That's very true. After only a few hours, my lip is twice its size and the area around my eye is already starting to turn a deep purple.

"You've been sick. We all look like shit when we're sick."

He's right; but I continue my efforts to dissuade him from swinging by. "But I'm not even dressed."

"Is that supposed to be a turn off?" he laughs. "Besides, I'm really close by."

"How close?" I ask apprehensively.

"Knocking on your door close."

Yep. I knew it. There he is. Fuck, fuck and more fuck.

I hang up the phone and dare a look through my peephole. My heartbeat speeds up as it always does when he's near, but I'm dreading this meeting. I inhale deeply, undo the lock, turn the knob, and retreat to the couch.

Glancing at me with a wink and a smile, Michael proceeds to drop the bag of soup as well as a bouquet of roses on the kitchen table.

There's no hiding it, so I make no attempt to do so when he comes to me for a kiss.

"Jesus . . ." he mutters and drops to his knees when he gets a good look at me. He gently takes hold of my face. "What the hell happened?" The care and concern evident on his own face is immeasurable.

"It's nothing," I lie, my eyes darting about the room. Anywhere but away from him and his own eyes that are begging me for the truth, his scrutiny making me a nervous wreck. "I just had a little accident. You know how clumsy I can be."

"Dana, . . ." his stern voice starts until someone's knocks startle us both.

Saved by the bell, er, knock. Or so I think.

I jump up from the couch to answer the door, eager to escape.

Shit. It's my elderly neighbor, James Nichols. The one I had ran past in the hallway as I chased down my intruder to no avail. Any chance I have of getting away with this is now blown out of the water even though I already lied unconvincingly to Michael's face. Pinocchio has nothing on me; I am the worst liar ever.

"Hi, Mr. Nichols. What can I do for you?" Ordinarily the man is

okay but right now he's the biggest and nosiest pain in the ass.

"I just wanted to see if you were okay, Miss Scully. Did that man hurt . . ." he's about to ask until he gets a load of my bruises.

I chance a glance at Michael, pacing like a caged animal who can't contain himself much longer.

"I'm fine. No real harm done, Mr. Nichols. Thanks for your concern." I try to smile.

Like I knew he would, Michael comes over to stick his well meaning nose in.

"Excuse me, Mr. Nichols, I'm Dana's boyfriend. We were just discussing what happened. Can you shed some light on it by telling what you saw." Michael and I glare at each other.

"I was just coming back to my apartment from the store, and I saw this man tear out of Miss Scully's apartment. He almost knocked me down as he passed. Then a few moments later, Miss Scully ran out after him, identifying herself as an FBI agent. That was all."

While I slowly drift away from the utterly uninteresting details, Michael asks Mr. Nichols some more questions regarding the incident. Then Nichols is gone, thank goodness.

Michael volleys. "What do you think the intruder was after?"

For his sake, I keep up the facade and return with, "Money and jewelry, I imagine."

Oh, he's pissed with my answer--I guess I haven't scored an ace.

"You expect me to believe this was a random robbery? When are you going to start leveling with me?"

Now, we're both pissed. Michael's accusation is accurate, but I'm only trying to protect him. I don't want to fight, so I then lay the truth on him.

"The guy found what he was after when he fell over my bag spilling the contents. He found a stash of coke or heroin, I don't know which, I assume was planted on me at your sister's house. That's what I believe happened. Is that what you want to hear?!" I yell.

"Fuck! I don't believe this," he yells back, uncontrollably.

Rage and a wildness that I only witnessed when he was about to beat the pulp out of his brother rolls off him in waves, and I'm afraid. Not of him. Never that. But for him. For us. He grabs his jacket, blazing a path to my door.

"Where are you going?" I call desperately, following after him.

"To make sure nothing like this ever happens again."

When I wrap myself around him from behind, his intentions to flee begin to crumble.

"Michael, stop. I'm not letting you leave here like a raving lunatic. Stay with me. Just hold me. Please," I plead softly.

He turns around in my embrace, tenderly caressing my cheek.

"I don't know what to do, what to say. Except that I am so very, very sorry."

"There's nothing to do. Nothing to say. This is not your fault. We forget about it, and we move on."

"I don't know if I can do that."

"Yeah, you can. You have to. For me. And mostly for yourself. There's nothing to gain by feeling guilty or exacting revenge."

Michael shakes his head, not agreeing with my conclusions. "God, Dana. Look at what he did to you. I can never forget."

This cloud of tension we are under starts to take its toll on me. First the lying, then the arguing and now this...impasse. I feel a tad dizzy and nauseous again and return to the couch, hoping that if I sit down and relax the feeling will pass. A concerned Michael comes to sit by my side, rubbing my back in a soothing manner. My hand clamps over my mouth in anticipation of vomiting but thankfully, I don't embarrass myself in front of Michael. We sit quietly, and the feeling does indeed pass.

Once I'm feeling better, he takes my hand, saying, "C'mon let's get you to bed. You need your rest," he says slowly leading me to the bedroom.

He tucks us in under the covers, holding me close and lovingly stroking my hair. When he speaks, his voice is soft and caring.

"You need anything, sweetheart?"

I've never been a clingy female, and I'm not one now; I never usually say lame, needy things like what I'm about to say but I'm worried. I'm worried Michael's going to go off and do something crazy. I know him; and if there is a breaking point to this whole mess with his brother, I know for a fact that my assault will be the final straw.

"Just you. Only you...in one piece," I stress, hoping he gets the message. He smiles slightly in response but says nothing in words; and his eyes are unreadable in the dark of our room.

"Sleep, baby."

"You'll stay, won't you?" I ask with sleep already creeping into my voice.

"I'll be with you, Dana. I'll always be with you," he responds.

His words sound cryptic to me, but I don't have the energy to call him on it. I'm so tired.

So very tired.

Despite my best efforts, my eyelids have become heavy and all I want to do is sleep with Michael right here beside me, holding me safe and secure. I hope he is able to rest, but I honestly don't think he will. He'll probably watch me all night long and torture himself over what has happened. He's very much like Mulder that way.

We don't speak any other words for I practically fall asleep soon after my head hits the pillow. I don't mean to. I want to talk to

Michael some more, assure him that I'm okay, that we're okay; but I cannot keep my eyes open despite the nap I took earlier.

I promise myself we'll talk more in the morning--there will be time enough tomorrow.

Everything will be fine tomorrow.

Morning arrives.

The alarm clock sounds, waking me from a restless slumber to ready for work. All through the night, my mind fretted about the situation we find ourselves in, creating all sorts of Michael revenge scenarios. It's telling how I don't think much of what was done to me, only Michael's possible reactions and the repercussions for him and the two of us.

I blindly reach over for him, but he's not there. Furthermore, his side of the bed is very cold, like he's been gone for some time. A chill runs down my spine as I glance around my empty bedroom.

But I will not panic. He's probably in the shower I tell myself. When I check, however, the bathroom is as empty and cold as my bed.

C'mon, Dana. Think.

Okay. Okay.

He probably just went for a run or to the gym to lift weights before work. He does that quite often. But when I go through the drawer, all of his workout clothes are still there, untouched, as are his sneakers on the floor.

This is not good--I do not have a good feeling about any of this. I have to find him, make sure that he's all right, that he hasn't gone and done something crazy.

I grab my phone and dial his cell. I pace the floors of my apartment as his cell rings and rings. It's then that I realize there's a faint ringing in my apartment that corresponds. Sure enough, I trace the sound to a partially open draw of my dresser. Michael's cell phone lies inside, purposefully placed there; and I curse aloud. Just for the hell of it, I try his house and then his office with no answer at either.

Damn it, Michael. Where are you?

I madly search for my book of phone numbers. His partner's number is in there somewhere, and I pray that he'll know where the hell Michael is, although I'm not betting on it. And just as I suspected, Brian doesn't know a blasted thing.

Now, what the hell do I do? The panic and dread within me is at a fever pitch as I pace my apartment like a woman gone mad.

What the hell am I supposed to think? I know what I feel and that, coupled with my dreams of last night, are frightening. Sometimes I

think I'm freaking psychic.

When I go into the kitchen, my worst fears are confirmed.

There on the table lies a sheet of paper with a rose from my bouquet on top of it. It's a note from Michael that I read with trembling hands even though I already know what it will say.


You know what I had to do, and I can't express how sorry I am for everything but especially for what's been taken away from us.

I will always love you. Never forget that.

Yours forever,


I read the note over and over a few times--for whatever reason I'm not certain. It sure as shit won't change the words or the implication of the words written on the page.

I stand in the middle of my kitchen almost in a state of shock, my hand slowly and involuntarily crumpling the note. I need to sit down before I fall down; and unaware, I reach out for a chair that is nowhere nearby. With much effort, I mentally shake myself of this state I'm in to contemplate what the hell I am to do next.

Despite my roiling emotions, I have to remain calm and rational, to be of any help to Michael.

I will figure this out. I have to. I have no other choice--Michael's

life most likely rests in my hands. And his life is my life now.

Although I would never admit it to Mulder in a million years, I am freaking psychic.

But what the fuck good does it do me now?

Most importantly, what the fuck good does it do Michael?

My head pounds.

I lie here on a cot in this godforsaken place, various memories assaulting my mind.




<"Where is he?! I want to talk to him.">

<"No, now. My Sig, here, says I'll talk to him right fuckin' =now ">

<"Sal, my big prick of a brother, how are you? Get your scumbag of a friend out of here...Get out! Get the fuck out!">

I cornered him. Terror in his eyes. Fury in mine. Then fists against flesh. Over and over and over again. Pounding. Beating. Punishing.

He fought back as best he could, even damaging the brow of my eye with his bulky ring, but he was no match for me. Certainly not physically. And mentally, I think I was on a different plane.

Vaguely aware was I of the commotion on the other side of the door.

My hand ached, my knuckles split open and bleeding from the

punishment I reigned on him.

I was out of breath. The adrenaline coursing through my body so furious, so strong, urging me forward.

I continued to pound him, and he seemed unconscious.

I could give a fuck.

My gun was at his head.

My finger twitching on the trigger.

Would I do it? Could I do it?

I may have hesitated, but I would never know for sure.

They took me away before I had the chance.

Pulled me off him.
Dragged me away.

The police.

On the take.

In his pocket.

The fuckers.

Without a lawyer of my own, the Big Apple appoints me one; but I've refused. I had come here specifically to harm Sal. No, that's not entirely accurate. I had come here specifically to kill him.

Attempted murder charges no doubt await me, but I will face the consequences of my actions head on. Sal's hatred of me and my love for Dana have made her an object to be used against me, a pawn for revenge. She's been used one too many times, and I won't allow her to be hurt again.

I make my allotted phone call to Dana but she's unreachable both at home and on her cell. And I won't leave a message; there's too many feelings to express, too many things to explain, too much to apologize for. I can't remember her number at work, so I call Brian. He will get in touch with her for me, let her know I'm okay but that I desperately need to see her.

Turns out she had already contacted him, deeply concerned about me and my whereabouts. He assures me he will assuage her fear and that the two of them will do everything possible to get me out of this mess.

I'm not holding my breath.

Early morning the next day, I'm told someone is coming for me. A couple hours later, the door opens, and I jump up from the cot in anticipation of Dana's arrival. Mulder files in, and she's nowhere to be found. My throat suddenly goes dry with surprise, disappointment, and confusion.

"What- What're you doing here? Where's Dana?"

"In DC. She tried her damnedest to be here but couldn't get out of a court date. She asked me to come here and take care of things. . . Just so you know, she was worried sick about you, not that she would admit it though. You didn't handle this too brightly."

"Thanks, I really feel like hearing that right now," I say, sarcasm creeping into my voice.

Mulder drops my clothes and the rest of my personal belongings on the large table in the center of the room. I pull out a chair and slide into it, Mulder doing the same.

"Well, Scully and I both called in a few favors, and you're brother is dropping the charges. Basically, you're free to go."

That's good, but I'm not worried about that right now; there are other pressing matters at hand. I'm very curious why he's here doing what he's doing and call him on it. "Why are you helping me?"

"Because Scully asked me to."

"It's as simple as that?"

"Yeah," he says and shrugs.

"You came all this way just to help me " I say incredulously. "Why?"

"Scully asked me to," he repeats, annoyed. "All she needs to do is ask."

"All she needs to do is ask, and you'll do anything she wants," I conclude. "Even help your rival. We are rivals, aren't we, Mulder?" I prod him.

He shakes his head, more annoyed than before. "You know, I don't get you. I'm trying to help you out here and instead of thanking me, you're questioning my motivation."

"C'mon, Mulder, you know what I'm getting at. Dana's a big motivator; that's why I'm here. Now, you're here; and I'm assuming our motivation is one in the same. . . You're in love with her,

aren't you?" I ask outright. He hesitates, staring blankly at me; but I wouldn't let it drop. "I have a right to know. This effects me, too," I add, hoping to persuade him.

"I think you know the answer to that, but I'll spell it out for you. Yes, I love her. More than you can imagine. And I think things are going to change."

Change? Change how? Meaning Dana with him and not with me? Fat fucking chance if I had any say in the matter. If he really believed things were going to change then there was only one thing to conclude.

"You think she's in love with you," I said. It wasn't a question.

He took the easy way out. "That's not for me to say."

I continued on, however. "If there was a choice to be made, you think she would choose you." Again, not a question. He was oozing a confidence I could only envy.

"I don't know, but I wouldn't exactly bet against me."

"And why's that?"

"C'mon, Mike, enough. If you want to get out of here sometime today, we need to get back to business." He removed some papers from the inside pocket of his suit jacket and tossed them in front of me along with a pen. "Sign these," he instructed.

I did as told after I skimmed each page. For all I knew, I was signing my name to papers ordering me to stay out of Dana's life. Mulder would just love that.

I scrawled my signature multiple times with effort. Something as simple as that drained the energy I had left which wasn't much to begin with. Mulder eyed me the entire time and then broke the silence.

"You know, Mike, you might want to clean up a bit before you see Scully; you look like shit."

"Fuck you, Mulder."

"Look, I'm just trying to help. I have nothing against you except for the shit Scully's been put through because of you."

I shook my head, struck by his audacity. "You should talk." I was silent again for a moment until I asked him what had been on my mind the entire time. "I want to know why it is that Dana would choose you exactly."

There was no hesitation this time. "We have a history, been through stuff you couldn't possibly understand. We have a rare connection. If I hadn't have fucked things up some time ago, I'd be the one making love to her every night."

"Well, I think you underestimate the love that Dana and I share. I understand plenty of what she's been put through with you, and I've helped her deal with it. She and I have our own connection. And if you think I'm going to pack it in because she suddenly realizes she's in love with you, too, you're sadly mistaken. I won't let her go unless that's what she wants."

"I wouldn't expect any less of you."

"As long as we understand each other."

I gave Mulder a long look and rose up from the table gathering my clothes while he pressured the guard outside the room for a key to the phone on the wall. Sure enough, he was calling Dana.

God, I needed to talk to her. I needed to explain.

"Scully, it's 12 pm. I hope you get a chance to check your voicemail. Everything worked out in NY. We have a shuttle flight in 2 hours and 15 minutes, #809. See you at Dulles."

Thank God. The flight from hell in what felt like a tin can was finally over. Mulder hadn't said much and neither had I, lost as I was in my own thoughts. This is so ridiculous. I had almost killed my own brother and been sent up the river for it, but my thoughts were of Dana and her dutiful partner.

Though I had guessed some time back that he was in love with her, having him actually say the words had caused my heart to ache. Like she herself had told me that she loved him and wanted to be with him. I felt totally defeated. I knew it was only a matter of time before this game they were playing with each other was over. Before the jig was up and I was left the odd man out.

I let everyone exit the plane ahead of me, not having the energy to fight my way through the crowd. Mulder is patient and doesn't comment. I trudge slowly towards the gate, my limbs feeling stiff and weak. Mulder keeps pace about a step behind me.

People rush past me in a hurry towards their destinations and their loved ones. I'm glad no one accidentally bumps into me because I think I would fall flat on my face.

My loved one stands there impatiently, checking her watch, pacing a short, tight line. When she looks up again, she catches sight of us though we are still a ways away. As we near, her worried eyes dart between the two of us; and then focus solely on me as she takes in my appearance. She looks horrified.

I can't blame her. I look nothing like the man by her side a few days ago. I'm disheveled; my hair is a mess, I have a full beard, my eyebrow is cut and decorated with dried blood, and my white shirt adorns a fair amount of Sal's blood.
She runs up to me, and I mutter a quick "Thanks, man" to Mulder who then moves off to the side about ten feet away, waiting for his turn with her. My hands land on her strong shoulders, her hands supporting me on my waist. The compassion and concern on her face and in her eyes makes me feel extraordinarily wanted and loved.

"Jesus, Michael, you're sick," she says tight with emotion as her hand feels my forehead. "And hurt," she adds when she notices the cut at my brow.

She's right. I feel sicker than I ever have in my life, but I swear, just touching her makes me feel better. My hands jump to the sides of her face, my fingers tracing her immensely kissable lips.

"I'll be fine. You're here now." But for how long I secretly wonder.

"Michael, you'll be all right for a minute? I just want to thank Mulder and tell him we can manage from here. I'll take care of everything," she vows.

I nod and watch her go to her partner, who has been watching us

intensely the whole time. I maneuver myself against the nearby wall feeling I need the support, especially with the little spectacle I'm about to witness. Just seeing them do something as mundane as conversing bothers me. With them, nothing is ever simple.

The air about them crackles as soon as they look at each other. He moves into her personal space, hanging on her every word like she's explaining all the mysteries of the universe. His hand automatically pokes back some unruly strands of hair behind her ear, neither of them surprised by the action. At the same time, their hands reach for the other's, squeezing waves of thanks and support.

Dana then returns to me, and I catch Mulder glancing over his

shoulder at her as he departs. She threadd her fingers through mine and says, "C'mon, let's get you home."

We walk out of the airport hand in hand. With her hand enmeshed in mine, her body supporting me, I already feel 10 times better.

I take Michael to my apartment so I can care for him properly. From what I gathered at the airport, he was running a pretty high fever and was suffering not only physically but emotionally.

He collapses into my couch, and I make him lie down. I force some aspirin into his system and try to cool his skin down with a cold compress to his face and neck. The wound on his brow concerns me so I clean it along with the other cuts and scrapes on his face. I instruct him to sleep but as I leave to give him some peace and quiet, he grabs my hand, asking me to stay. He wants to explain what he's done and why and assure himself that I'm was not angry with him.

After we sort everything out, I busy myself with chores as he sleeps soundly. About three hours later, my prince awakens and greets me.

"Hi," Michael says, rather shyly.

I look over my shoulder and see him standing in the doorway of my kitchen, his shoulders slumped and his hands buried deep in his pockets. A shower and a shave have served him well, however.

"Hey, baby. How are you doing?"

"Better," he remarks without much feeling and pulls out a chair at the kitchen table, plopping into it heavily.

I carry a sandwich and a bowl of soup to the table. "Here, I fixed you something. Why don't you put some food in your stomach."

"Thanks, but I'm not hungry," he replies and pushes the food away.

Well, he's a big boy. If he doesn't want to eat, I'm going to force him. I change the subject. "How's that eye?"


Whatever you say. I'm going to check it regardless. My fingers

gently inspect the area and his forehead for traces of fever.

"You probably could have used a couple of stitches, but I think it should heal okay."

He's quiet for a moment and then looks up at me with the saddest, sweetest face I've ever seen. His arms pull me close, wrapping around my waist, his head pillowing lightly against my abdomen. I hold him tightly, thankful that God has heard my prayers and returned him to me relatively unscathed. When he doesn't let go, I ruffle his wet hair and look down at him.

"What's wrong?"


"Don't give me that. I know you. Something's still bothering you. What is it?"

He finally releases me, apparently ready to reveal what is upsetting him. He begins to trace invisible patterns with his index finger along the surface of the table as he speaks.

"I don't know. Sometimes. . . Sometimes I think I'm a fool for having come anywhere near you."

"Uh, okay," I practically choke. "You really know how to charm a girl."

"No, I don't mean it like that. Part of it is the pain you've been put through because of me. But we talked about that, and we talked about what I did. Even though you don't necessarily agree with how I handled it, you understand why I did what I did. Mostly, I'm talking about partnerships. I know what they're like, what feelings they involve, what they come to mean. And still I pursued you. Because I couldn't help myself."

I sigh. "I think I know where this is going, and I don't know why we keep coming back to it."

"I just tried to tell you why. I think I may have made a mistake in overestimating what you could feel for me and underestimating what you must feel for your partner."

"No. You've made no mistakes. If the two of us loving each other is a mistake, I'd gladly make that mistake over and over again. Look, Michael, I take it you and Mulder had some sort of talk; and that's why you're feeling threatened by him. But there's no reason to. I already told you I spoke to him about us. He's fine with it; it's not an issue. But apparently, it's an issue with you; one you won't let go of no matter what I say."

"I don't know how I'm supposed to after what I learned," he groans.

"And what's that?"

"He loves you, Dana. He's in love with you," he announces matter of factly.

"He told you that?"

"Yes. He did. And that you love him."

"Oh? And I suppose he told you that, too?" I ask coldly. What the fuck is Mulder thinking?

"No, but he inferred it...You do, don't you?" he asks with a disgustingly pained face.

"Michael," I sigh, my fingers sweeping across my eyes and then pinching at the bridge of my nose, my frustration evident. "we've already been through this. I love you What else matters?"

"You're avoiding the question, Agent Scully."

"And you're badgering me, Agent Anzotti."

"Is that what I'm doing?"

"Yeah. You obviously want me to say something or admit to something. Have I given you reason to mistrust me?"

"No, of course not. But I wonder how Mulder can see it all so clearly, how I can see it but you can't or won't."

I shake my head in bewilderment.

"I don't understand. Are you deliberately trying to make things

harder for us? Haven't they been hard enough?"

"I would never do that, Dana. I'm just being realistic. I'm waiting for you to wake up one day and realize that you should be with him, that you want to be with him."

"Why, because of what Mulder said to you, what he believes? I honestly don't care about that. I only care what you believe. I don't know why you're letting him put these doubts in your head."

"Dana, as much as it pains me to say it, you and Mulder are like two halves of a whole. The two of you exist in your own world when you're together. I see it and so does everyone else."

"And anyone with eyes sees how crazy I am about you, how much I love you. Don't you believe me when I tell you that?"

"Yes. I see it in your eyes, and I feel it. I feel it in your body whenever you make love to me. But I don't know if it's enough."

"In comparison to what?" I ask, my voice rising, completely exasperated.

"Your feelings for Mulder."

For what seems like the millionth time, I wonder how to get through to him and pull up a chair beside him, grasping his hand.

"Michael, you spoke of the relationships between partners. Mulder and I have, I admit, a relationship that is inexplicable. But he is my work partner, my friend; that is all. We are guarded with one another, our capacity for sharing things, sharing feelings, limited. But that's not the way it is with you. I like to think we share everything because you are my partner as well. My life partner. At least, I want you to be. We have spoken of a future together, a commitment, be it living together or marriage and the possibility of adopting a child. I don't take any of that lightly. The bottom line is that I want that. I want you. I love you so much."

After my declaration, he looks at me, looks into my soul. I can

see the thanks in his eyes for reassuring him of my feelings. And I can also see his vulnerability, the fact that I hold his heart in my hands. If I can help it, I will never hurt him or disappoint him again like I have in the past.

I kiss Michael then with every once of the love and passion I feel for him. It starts out slow and sensual and gradually deepens and intensifies, to the point where we are both breathing heavily. I break the kiss, wondering if he can feel what I'm trying to convey.

He breaks out into a broad, satisfied smile. "mmm. That was...amazing. You're amazing."

"You liked that, huh? I can give you so much more if you'd just believe me, believe in me, in us."

"I do, Dana. I'm just scared, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I've always believed in you and I always will."

"No more doubts?"

"No more doubts."

"Good because I want to show you the truth in my words...if you're up to it...in your weakened condition and all. Is he up to it?" I asked suggestively, my right eyebrow shooting towards the sky.

"Always where you're concerned," he answers seriously and with a hint of amusement at the same time.

I smirk at the affirmative reply I knew I would receive and start to undo the buttons of my blouse. "Then I'm going to slip out of these clothes. I expect you to be waiting for me in bed, stripped naked, in less than five minutes," I instruct and drop my blouse to the floor for good measure as I depart for the bathroom. "Well?" I called out from the hallway.

"I always follow Doctor Scully's orders."

Yes, you do. And you will tonight. To the letter. It's my turn to be in control again.

I poke my head back into the kitchen and see him still sitting there with a shit-eating grin I imagine has been there since the subject turned to sex. But why is still sitting there? Did I have to light a fire under his ass? I want him and that ass, and I want them now

"Snap to it, Michael. Precious time's a wasting. Sex time that is."

With that, he must have launched himself out of the chair for the next thing I know is that "rocket man" has darted past me for the bedroom, already stripped of most of his clothes.

I lie in bed watching her sleep on a Sunday morning nearing 11 am. Her faint snore makes me smile, and I finger the beautiful strands of her soft, silky hair.

It's not unlike other Sundays we've spent together. Sometimes we lie in bed till noon reading the paper, talking, or eating breakfast. She rarely sleeps late but I woke her twice last night to make love. Yeah, I'm a bastard; but even after nearly a year of being together, I still can't get enough of her. And from her enthusiasm last night, even after I woke her from a sound sleep, I think it's the same for her.

I love to watch her like this when she's unguarded with no mask or facade to uphold. Most of the time when she's with me, she's not an FBI agent or a doctor; she doesn't have to be strong, unbreakable, or infallible. She's just a wonderful, feminine woman with an endless capacity for love and compassion when you get through her protective walls. I understand why they are there, being an FBI agent aside- she's been through some hellish shit. Breaking through those walls may have been arduous, but the reward was absolutely, positively worth it. I love her more than I ever could have imagined.
Luckily, I'm lying on the side of the bed where the phone is when it rings. I snatch it up on the first ring, hoping it doesn't disturb her.

"Hello?" I ask, trying to keep my voice low.

It's not a voice I particularly want to hear.

"Let me speak to Scully, it's important."

"Yeah, Mulder," I sigh. "Dana's sleeping. What do you want?"

"I need to talk to her now."

"I said she's sleeping."

"C'mon, Mike, let me talk to her."

"Is it a matter of life or death?"

He hesitates, so I take the opportunity to call his bluff.

"I didn't think so. I'll wake her up and you can call back in ten minutes."

I hang up before he can utter another word, and though I know it was kind of mean, I can't help the pleasure it gives me. Despite how much he helped me a few months before, the guy pisses me off. He calls here on a Sunday demanding to speak to Dana without any explanation.

I take another minute or two to look at her before I decide to rouse her. I say her name softly and place light kisses on her neck and mouth. I think my morning stubble has scratched her face; but she doesn't seem to mind as she mewls, "mmmm. You're here."

"Where else would I be?" I return. It's unnecessary, but I still want her to know.

I continue to place chaste kisses on her lips, but she wants more, opening her mouth and inviting me in. When I don't comply, she lightly grabs at my lips with her teeth and plunges her tongue inside again and again. I can't resist any longer, and we're kissing madly as her hand snakes into my boxers to take hold of me. The familiar heat between us is about to burn out of control as my hand aches to touch her clit but I don't want to start this right now.

She's knows something's up. "Michael, touch me."

I pull back from her wonderful touch and say in almost a strangled voice, "Baby, wait."

She shoots me a questioning look. "What is it?"

"Nothing. Mulder called while you were asleep. He's going to call back in about five minutes."

Apparently, she doesn't give Mulder another thought as she smiles and pulls me back into her embrace. "Then get over here. I don't want to waste five seconds let alone five minutes with you."

Things start to heat up yet again as she makes love to my mouth with hers.

Then the dreaded call finally comes.

"That's for you," I grumble into her neck.

I try to disentangle myself from her as she reaches for the phone, but her hand grasps mine, holding me in place. I'm only trying to give them a moment of privacy.

"Don't go," she pleads. Her gesture is nice, welcome. She doesn't want there to by any secrets between us.

She peers right in my eyes with a sweet smile on her face as Mulder begins to talk to her. As he goes on, though, the look on her face plummets; there is nothing there now but fear and a terrible sadness. Her eyes begin to tear up, and I have to look away from her. The connection between us remains, however, as my hand stays firmly grasped within hers.

God damn him. I want to kill him right now for doing this to her. I want to rip that phone from the wall so she can't hear another word, so he can't hurt her anymore. I don't want to see that look on her face ever again.

Dana finally speaks to Mulder again, quelling my unproductive thoughts. "Where? What's the address?...I'll be there."

She hangs up the phone and stares after it for a long moment. Her hand squeezes mine, and we finally look at each other again. I don't like what I see in her eyes, the tears still poised to fall.

"Baby, what is it?" I croak out, fear taking over my voice.

"Umm...Mulder was contacted by a man who wants to meet with him. This man knows about me...about my abduction, the chip, the cancer. He says...this man says that I may not be in remission much longer. . . We're going to meet with him in about two hours."

No. God, no. This cannot be true. This is the worst possible news there ever could be. My heart feels like it's been ripped from my chest, but I have to be strong for her.

Just as I'm about to tell her that she cannot believe this character, this bastard with his own agenda to serve, she gathers her strength and realizes we'll cross that bridge if and when we come to it. Certainly not now, not before we know anything for sure.

In front of me, she lets her tears fall; and I wipe them away.

"I know, Michael," she says softly.

"Know what? I didn't say anything."

"I know what you're thinking, that I can't jump to conclusions based on what some...stranger says. You're right, and I will not do that again. I'll get myself checked out, and we'll deal with it, if anything, then. Not now, not before we know. Together. We'll deal with it together, right?" she says as her chin juts upward confidently and defiantly.

"Absolutely," I say without a moments hesitation. "I'm always there for you no matter what. Your mother and...Mulder are, too."

I add Mulder's name, but I don't know why exactly. I guess I want her to remember that everybody important in her life loves and cares about her. And as much as I want to deny it, I know Mulder is important.

I take her into my arms, and we hold each other. At this point, I don't know who's the strong one, who's comforting whom; but it doesn't really matter. After everything we've been through, we're always there for one another now.

Dana leaves the comfort of my arms to shower. I don't move and continue to sit on the mattress lost in my thoughts of her and everything that we are to each other.

By the time Dana is showered and ready, it's time to go.

We arrive at the appointed location, what appears to be an abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of D.C. Dana notices Mulder's car, but there is no other vehicle in sight. We stand around looking for some sign of him as she calls out his name, but it's eerily quiet. I tell Dana I'll check around back to see if anything is amiss while she waits for me in the front.

When I came back around, I shake my head and mutter, "Nothing."

Her face is unreadable to most, but I know what she's thinking and feeling. She immediately pulls her gun from the holster at her back and checks the clip. Her words echo in the cold, damp air.

"Something's wrong. I can feel it."

I imitate her movements with my own gun. I trust her instincts implicitly.

We move as one to the door of the warehouse, guns cocked, at the ready. I try the door which is locked of course. My days as a high school football player touch my memory as I attempt to bash in the semi-rickety door with my shoulder. But it's to no avail.

"Michael, stop. Let me."

I'm ready to question her-she would have to think I'm nuts if she thinks I'll let her smash her shoulder into the door. Then I realize what she has in mind as she stands in a perfect shooting stance, aiming at the lock with an uncanny precision.

I move aside and sure enough, after one shot, the lock is history.
I looked at her, mild astonishment evident on my face. She quirked an eyebrow and a smirk at me as if to retort, "I'm good; what can I say?"

She joins me at the door, her left hand momentarily rubbing at my throbbing right shoulder. She flashes me her "make it up to ya later" grin, and I flash her my "you're on" grin.

We enter the warehouse cautiously and alertly. There is no sign of Mulder or anyone else in the main part of the structure, so we continue our search onto a row of what looks to be old offices. I fling open the door of the first one, and there he is. Dana pauses, a look of horror overcoming her beautiful face when she sees Mulder's body lying still in the corner of the empty room.

"Oh, God. Mulder?" she murmurs and runs to his side. She kneels down beside him and begins to assess his condition.

Immediately, I pull out my cell phone and dial 911. With a federal agent down, they will be here as fast as humanly possible.

She begins to speak to him, the tone of her voice close to desperation. "Mulder, can you hear me? Mulder? Wake up. Stay with me."

I look on as she examines him, pressing and palpating his chest area. She isn't letting on what she knows, and I'm getting restless.

"What can I do?" I ask, hoping I can be helpful in some way.

"Nothing," she replies mildly and continues her task.

"Dana, just tell me what to do," I insist, feeling totally useless and really wanting to help Mulder.

"I'll handle it. I'll take care of him," she states with irritation as she looks up at me.

I don't deserve that tone but I know she's under duress. "What's

going on with him?"

"...He's got some facial and possible rib injuries. What I'm worried about is this head injury. He's conscious but barely," she replies without taking her eyes off Mulder.

I then watch her attend to him with such apparent love and compassion that it scares me. It scares me because I feel as if that

is how she would be if I was the one lying there. I'm supposed to be the man that she loves, not him. She wiggles out of her trench coat and places it over his body. Then she removes her blazer and folds it up into a makeshift pillow, placing it carefully under his head.

I start to feel like I'm intruding on them; so I inch my way into the hall just outside the room, watching them intently. I think Dana has even forgotten I'm here; she's totally focused on Mulder.

"C'mon, Mulder. It's me. You've got to stay up. Please wake up for me," she practically coos and gently taps at his face.


"Yeah, I'm here. Hello, sleepyhead."

"Where...What happened?"

"Shh, just relax," she soothes.

"I feel like...absolute shit...I think...I'm dying."

"=I think you're being melodramatic, but I would never let that happen."

"No...No you wouldn't."

There is a long pause and then the conversation continues.

"Scully...there's something I want to make sure you know...I want you to believe me when I say it."

"Shh, Mulder, it can wait. Just rest now."

"No...Scully...I want you to know that. . . that I really do love you...I want you to believe me this time. . . You do don't you?"

Oh, God, help me. I don't want to hear this. I don't want to hear her reply. Dana's mine, but I'm the outsider here. It's like I don't exist, and it's been like that since she saw him lying there. Before she answered him, I knew what she was going to say. I knew and even braced myself but it couldn't help the ache inside me as she utters the words.

"I do, I do...I love you, too."

"Scully, . . ."

"Shh Mulder, just rest now. The ambulance is on its way."

And it can't come fast enough.

After Dana's little revelation, I lose track of their conversation. She's leaning into him, into his face, whispering sweet nothings for all I know. And the truth is, I don't want to know. I know far too much as it is. At this moment, I wish for some divine force to happen upon me. Maybe the floor can swallow me up whole and take me out of my fucking misery.

Along with their conversation, I also lose track of time; and when the ambulance finally arrives, it jerks me from the funk I've been ensconced in. I lead the EMTs to Mulder, and they practically have to pry Dana off him to load him into the back of the vehicle. Maybe they should load me into the ambulance as well--I'm a man dying of a broken heart.

The EMTs listen with mild annoyance as Dana barks out her orders for Mulder's treatment. I try to calm her but succeed only minimally.

She shivers in the cold air as we haggle out who will be riding with whom. I take off my jacket and place it around her shoulders, and she accepts it with genuine gratitude. I had meant to give it to her in the drafty warehouse, but I'd been just a tad preoccupied.
As you can guess, I'm on my own. Dana decides to ride in the back of the ambulance with Mulder. Neither surprised nor pleased with her decision, I follow along in my truck.

At the hospital, Dana flashes her credentials and states her case. The hospital staff is less hostile than most and agrees to keep her apprised of Mulder's condition as well as their plans for treatment.

She plants herself in a corner, keeping mostly to herself as we wait. She seems more closed off than I would like, but I'm not exactly engaging her in thrilling conversation. I'mselfishly plagued by my own problems, specifically the state of her health and our relationship. Will we even have a relationship after today?

More waiting. I buy a couple of bagels and cups of coffee in the hospital coffee shoppe hoping Dana will put something in her system since the last time we'd eaten was the night before. In the span of an hour, all she manages is one bite and a few sips before I throw the food away. I haven't fared much better myself.

She continues her stance in the corner; and after I haven't stirred from the chair opposite her in quite some time, she comes over and crouches down beside me, grasping my hand. We engage in some small talk, and she even tells a joke that I find to be very amusing. Unfortunately, it cannot shake the feelings of despair that reside within me. Ordinarily, I would have been trying to comfort her in this trying time; but I don't have it in me. We need to talk this thing out, but it's not the proper time.

A couple of hours after Mulder was initially admitted, Dana receives word that his CAT scan is negative. He is going to be okay, but it

will be a little while before he can have visitors. She tells me the good news over a turkey breast sandwich that I brought to her from a local deli. I had pulled her into an empty conference room to force her to sit down and eat since she was looking pale and shaky. Her spirits are up over the good news, but she notices I'm still not myself. I shrug off her concern with effort, and we speak of inconsequential things once again.

At this moment, we stand outside Mulder's room waiting for the go ahead to see him while the nurses breeze past us busy with their work. This waiting is making my predicament worse; I need to be busy doing something, not sitting around thinking about Dana and Mulder. And now (when he is about to receive visitors)is the time to make my getaway.

"Dana, I'm gonna take off for awhile," I inform her.

"Michael, wait. Mulder can see us in a minute."

It's true enough as a nurse then gives us the okay to go inside his room.

"No, I'm out of place here. I can assure you that I'm not the one Mulder wants or needs to see."

As if to confirm my observation, Mulder calls out loudly for her. She doesn't react other than to go over and pull the door to his room partly closed.

"Are you going home?"

"No, no. I wouldn't leave you alone for that. Brian and I are gonna go back to the warehouse to see if we can lift some prints or blood, see if we can get a handle on who did this."

"Sounds like a good idea. Thanks."

"You never have to thank me. I would do anything for you."

"I know you would, but thanks just the same. Don't be gone long."

She then plants a kiss on my lips that I don't really respond to. It's not that I don't want to; I love kissing her, and she makes me weak in the knees. But I don't want to give in to my hunger for her when I face the very real possibility of losing her. She shrinks back, confused, her brow furrowed.

"You okay?" she asks with concern.

"Honestly, no. No, I'm not," I admit.

"Why? What can I do?"

"Dana . . ."

"Are we okay?" she asks, her voice sounding like a frightened girl.

"I don't know. You tell me. Are we?"

She looks to me, perplexed. "Michael, I have to admit I don't understand what's changed between us since this morning."

Oh, Dana. How could you not know?

"We'll talk about it, but now's not the time."

Mulder calls out for her again, but she doesn't react to his voice.

"Then when? I don't want you to leave like this. Tell me. Tell me what to do."

"Go see Mulder. He's waiting."

"Michael," she sighs, not wanting to leave me with this uncertainty between us.

"Go ahead," I lightly encourage.

She shakes her head slightly and turns for Mulder's door, her gait slow and leaden. When she looks back at me, her hand poised for the doorknob, her face and eyes are full of sadness. She is terribly torn and confused. Mulder is calling her, he needs her; and I am encouraging her to go to him while expressing in not so many words that things are wrong, we're falling apart. How is that for a little angst?

But instead of disappearing into Mulder's room, she glides back to me, invading my space with her heat. She looks up at me, eyes dark and intense, my eyes mirroring her own. With one look, this look, she turns me to jelly, and I want nothing but to crush her to me. She wraps her arms around me and brings my head, specifically my ear, to her mouth. That mouth, that tongue licks and kisses and suckles my neck and my earlobe, sending arousing chills up and down my body.

When she blows her warm breath into my ear and whispers between kisses, "Love you...Love you, Michael. Never forget that" I nearly lose it. Her ministrations stop, and we cling to each other. I want to tell her I love her too but the words will not come.

We let go, staring into each other eyes. She reaches up and straightens the collar of my jacket and pulls the leather around me. It is chilly outside but hot as hell in here with her.

"=Go " I urge softly, motioning with my head.

Without another word, Dana turns and slowly makes her way to Mulder's door again. Once there, she looks back at me, waiting. I hold her gaze, hers never wavering. I need to concentrate on the task ahead, and I can't do it with her looking at me like this. I couldn't do it anyway with all that has happened, but the point is mute.

Staring is getting us nowhere, so I turn and start to walk, glancing back at her over my shoulder, her eyes still fixed on me. I continue to walk away and leave her, knowing I can never do so in any real sense of the word.

God, help me to do what needs to be done. I pray that this shall not consume me. Help me to think of something else besides Dana Katherine Scully...I don't know if I can do it, but I have to.

This is so hard...

So damn hard when all I can feel are her eyes burning into my back every single step of the way.

So damn impossible when all I can smell is her perfume, her essence, her lingering in the folds of my jacket. It is there everywhere I am, everywhere I go.

Despite the cold, I shed my jacket in an unsuccessful attempt to banish her from my thoughts.

Mission accomplished and my emotions still ajumble, I return to the hospital only to find the source of my swirling emotions puffing away on a cigarette outside the ER. She has been carrying around that pack of cigarettes I bought when we first made love, and I figure she finds them useful at heightened times of stress. Today more than qualifies.

"Hey," I greet her without much enthusiasm.

"Hey, you. I was just taking a few drags. You want?"

"No, thanks," I reply and she stubs out the cancer stick.

"How'd it go?"

"Well, we lifted prints and blood, but I suspect they're our prints and Mulder's blood, naturally.

"Naturally," she sighs.

"We'll have to wait and see what the lab boys have to say though," I offer, trying to give her some hope. I don't want her to dwell on the bad news, the fact that we will probably never know who did this and why; so I ask about the only good thing I can think of at the moment. "How is he?"

"As well as can be expected. He has to stay overnight for observation because of the concussion, but he should be fine. He just needs to rest, which I think we could use as well. Michael, will you take me home."

Dana, I want to take you home, take you home with me more than anything; but I don't think you mean my home. You want to go home, home to your own apartment. I know this. I know you want to be rid of me. So I, being the glutton for punishment that I am, again encourage you to be with him. What the hell is wrong with me?

"What about Mulder? I would've thought you would want to stay with him."
"No, I called his mother, and she's going to stay with him tonight. She's in with him now."

"Oh," I remark stupidly, not really expecting her reply. I don't say anything else because I'm at a loss. I thought she would jump at the opportunity to be with Mulder. No matter. She probably spilled her guts to him while I was gone, and they plan on living a long, happy life together.

My cell phone sounds in the inside pocket of my jacket, mildly startling me, but I'm thankful for the interruption. I just don't know what to expect from Dana.

"Anzotti...Brian, yeah, I said I'd pick up the file...I just have to drop Dana home first...Georgetown...Right, later."

Before I even click off the phone, Dana is speaking to me.

"Michael, I think you misunderstood. By take me home, I meant your home. Take me home to Rosslyn."

Oh, I get it. You want to tell me to get lost but you want to do it in private. Ensure that I don't go crazy, that I don't do something crazy, that I don't hurt myself by driving into a ditch over this heartbreak.

I never meant to love you this much, Dana. I never meant for you to be the center of my world. But you are, and I can't change that. And when I lose you, I'll go on even if I really don't want to. I will, however, be forever miserable and alone because I am positive that I will never know another love like yours. You are my one and only.

Since I really don't want to face the truth that lies ahead, I inquire if that's what she really wants. That's right. Delay the inevitable.

"Are you sure that's where you want to be?"

"Of course."

"You ready to go then?"

"Yeah, let's get out of here," her voice rasps from the emotion of the day.

She closes a few of the buttons to her trench coat to ward off the evening cold and then wraps her arm around my waist as we stroll to my truck. I'm a little surprised by her action since she's about to cut me loose; but I can't help from touching her back, draping my arm around her shoulder. Eventually, her heads falls to my chest as we go.

Physically, we are closer than we've been in many hours; but emotionally, I feel that we are farther apart than we've ever been. Even farther apart than when we were separated for five months--if that's at all possible.

The ride home is disturbingly quiet, save for Michael asking me how I'm doing, how I'm feeling. Surprisingly, that's about the extent of our conversation. His body language is different, it's off, telling me that something is still very wrong. He had just about said as much at the hospital, but after the hours that had passed in between, I didn't have the energy to get into it. I am tired and drained from the day's events and had hoped he would get over whatever was troubling him despite how worried I remember feeling about us at the time.

Once we arrive home, he unlocks the door to his house and allows me to enter first. Since I plan on spending the night, I hang up my coat in the closet and then ease out of my shoes to get more comfortable.

Michael throws down his leather jacket on the couch and immediately heads for the liquor cabinet.

"You want a drink?" he asks abruptly.

"No, I'm fine."

"Well, I want one. I need one," he says as he looks at me pointedly. He throws back two large shots of Jack Daniels, one right after the other.

Oh, yes, something is very wrong. He never does this unless he is about to lose it usually over an emotional case. I know he is worried sick about me, and frankly, I am, too, but there has to be something else. It seems like his anger had grown steadily from a slow burn this afternoon to a rapid boil now.

I have to try and put out the fire. "What's bothering you? Why are you so upset?"

He laughs, throws back another shot, and then slams the glass down on the kitchen counter.

"You really don't know?"

"No, I don't. Why don't you enlighten me."

After he takes the time to finish off his fourth shot, he broaches my question.

"Oh, maybe it's because I asked you time and again if there was anything between you and Mulder and you told me no over and over. Do you even realize what you said back at the warehouse?"

I wrack my brain for a minute and then it hits me. Oh my God. How can I be so fucking oblivious? Yes, I do realize it now but how can I even attempt to lay this on him? I don't know what to say, so I don't say anything at all.

"Think of something fast, Dana, because I'm dyin' here," he pleads, his voice breaking my heart.

"Yes. Yes, I do realize what I said; but it doesn't change anything. Not one thing. I'm sorry. I swear to God I haven't been lying to you."

"Is it possible you were...caught up in the moment or...do you really love him?"

I don't want to give him my answer.

As much as I can't bear to hurt him, I can't lie to him either. He deserves so much more of me, least of all the truth.

". . . I think...I think I've known...I loved him for a

long time subconsciously, but it just hit me consciously at that moment and I verbalized it."

"That's just great " he responds and chucks the shot glass into the sink, shattering it into a million shards. I jump at his sudden outburst, the loud crash of glass against porcelain shocking us both into a moment of silence. I then walk over to the sink intending to help him clean up the mess.

"No, Dana, just leave it. It's not important now...What are you going to do about Mulder?"

"Nothing," I shrug. "There's nothing to do."

"=Nothing? You realize you're in love with your partner and nothing changes? Nothing changes between us?"

"No, I already told you that. I loveyou=; that has not and will never change...Do you want things to change?" I look at him with fear evident in my eyes.

"No, I don't...but"

"You don't? But what?"

"Dana, I've spent so much time agonizing over this and you assured me that I was being ridiculous. Now, I'm right back where I started, wondering where I fit in or if I fit in at all."

"How can you even think that? Michael, I'm sorry. I never intended this to happen. I love you and nothing and no one else matters to me the way that you do," I say with certainty.

He stares at me for a moment and then is quiet for a long while, but I can tell the wheels are turning in his head. We are far from done with this. He is still very upset and doesn't seem to know what to say next or what to do with himself. He then starts the clean up of the broken glass as I stand off to the side.

When he speaks again, his voice is low but holds an edge of hostility. "Tell me something, Dana, did you the two of you ever think of fucking each other just to get it over with?"

I stare at him in disbelief, angered by his callousness, that he would think that I could just have sex with anyone to get it out of the way. Mulder isn't just anyone but that is besides the point. I turn away from him, not even attempting to dignify that question with an answer.

That seems to really agitate him. He stalks over to me and roughly turns me around to face him. He shouts now and it startles me.

"Huh, Dana? Did you? Answer me...Why don't the two of you just fuck each other till your blue in the face, till you've both got it out of your systems!"

Man, he is angry. I guess I can't begrudge him that, but he is making my blood boil with his assumptions and insinuations.

I fix him with one of my cold, hard stares usually reserved for the interrogation of a suspect. "You know, I expected more of you. Leave it to a man to think that a quick fuck or two will solve everything." My voice is as cold as ice.

I slip my shoes back on and gather my coat and bag. I am not going to stand here and take this. He needs some time to sort through this situation and his own feelings. We will talk then and hopefully work everything out. Mulder won't come between us unless Michael lets him.

"Dana, where are you going?" Michael asks in a panicked voice.

"Home. I'm calling a cab," I say as I fish out my cell phone from my bag. "I think you need a little time to think things through."

"No, don't leave. Please. I'm sorry. You don't understand what it's been like for me, wondering and waiting for this to happen. You know I've suspected something for a long time, and it's been eating away at me. I just don't want you to regret the choice you've made or resent me years later because you really wanted to be with Mulder."

"I want to be with you, plain and simple."

"You aren't going to wonder what it would have been like to be with him?"

"To be honest, I used to wonder about it a lot. But that was a long time ago, before you came along. Since we've been together, I don't wonder about Mulder or anyone else."

"Dana, I apologize for getting rough and upset with you like that before. The truth is, if you told me you wanted to sleep with Mulder to see what it was like and if you followed through with that wish, it wouldn't be the end. Not for me. I wouldn't leave you."

"You want me that much, huh?"

"I do. I love you that much. . . What do you want, really?"

"You," I say simply and see the elation in his eyes. He cannot leave it at that however.

"What about Mulder?" he asks.

I smile at his inability to leave Mulder out of the equation even after I've laid my cards on the table. "Michael, I love you, truly, madly, deeply. The time for Mulder and I has passed, I know this. Just as I know, you and I, our time is really just beginning."

He melts into me then; and he will be mine, and I, his, always.


Time has passed so fast.

Michael and I are strong, solid while Mulder and I remain close, respectful, united in a way that we were at the strongest times in our partnership.

Believe it or not, I don't regret the choice I've made. And despite Michael's fears, I never will. You know much about Mulder first-hand but you only know about Michael from what's been relayed here. Hopefully, that is enough for you to understand where I'm coming from, why I've made the choice I've made. I know it is harder for you to like Michael. I can understand that, but let me assure you that he is a wonderful, special man, one that is very good to me and for me. I hope the following can explain it better for you.

I love Mulder in a unique way, but I will never know what is like to be with him physically. I no longer fantasize about his hands touching me, his body filling mine. After the bee debacle in his

hallway and especially after the incident at the Gunmen's lair, I was resigned to the fact that Mulder and I would never be more than partners or good friends. But that's okay. It allowed me to let go, move on, and find love with Michael. He will always be a close friend and a part of my life, and I just want him to be happy.

As skeptical as I still may be, I honestly believe that I was meant to be with both men. Just at different times, different stages of my life. I know you are probably disappointed that Mulder and I did not find our way to one other. But there is always hope. By that I mean

if soul mates existed and if I believed in such things, I would say that Mulder is my soul mate in the next life. We were just not meant for the here and now. I would also say that if soul mates existed and if I believed in such things, Michael would be my soul mate in this life.

Earlier, I'd wondered if I was ready for a relationship, if I could function in one, and the answer was no. But Michael and I are where we are today because of him, because of the exceptional man that he is. Any other man would have been scared off by the things perpetrated against me. And any other man would have been chased away by the little stunts I'd pulled. He was patient and/or persistent when he needed to be. He allowed me to work through my problems and become whole and strong again. I'm finally able to see the admirable things he sees in me, and it took me a long time to get that back despite the good I tried to do on a daily basis. He gave that back to me. And what I see in him is everything.

I love Michael. I love Michael uniquely and completely. He is the most amazing lover I've ever known, pleasing me in every way imaginable. With him, I have finally found happiness, contentment, and a peacefulness in my life that I longed for for years. In all the good times and bad times, he is my confidante, my champion, my rock. He is my best friend as well as my lover, and he makes me happier than words can express. That is all I can ask for.

It's what I want.

It's what everyone wants.


go onto What I Want 2: Coming Together

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