Reaching From The Stars
by Theresa

Rating: R
Category: A, Skinner Torture, Skinner/Scully friendship, Skinner POV, tiny bit of MSR.
Spoilers: SR 819, FTF, En Ami, Requiem
Summary: Skinner is experiencing the effects of the nano-technology in his body. Scully comes over to help him through the agony. They share and discover secrets that reveal the cause of Skinner's situation, and of Scully's mysterious pregnancy.
Disclaimer: All characters and references to the X-Files belong to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions and Fox. No copyright infringement is intended. I'm just using them for fun.


... one hundred twenty-two, one hundred twenty-three, one hundred twenty-four...

I don't care how many times I've been told counting can bring down your temper, I'd hit the point of no return once I reached one hundred. Then I realized I was counting the holes in the ceiling tile above me as I lay on my deceivingly plush couch.

A noise, sounding like the Emergency Broadcast System tone, that had been slicing through my brain had finally subsided only moments ago. Now I just lie here, sweating my ass off, in pain, a pain that can't be cured with Advil or Tylenol -- hell, even extra strength Codeine isn't going to help me now. Pushing in the face of one Alex Krycek, now that might do something to ease the agony I'm going through. I smile at the thought of a busted Krycek-cranium.


A shooting pain travels rapidly from the base of my neck down through every nerve ending in my body, shocking my heart into skipping a beat. Tiny spider-like tingles wash over my skin in waves. I can imagine my own skin peeling back from the muscles, bloody flakes dispersing into the air, as the fiery sensation rips through me once again. I almost wish I could tear my skin off. Maybe these damned nanotechs would finally expel themselves from me.

I glance at the blurry digital numbers on the VCR's clock. Scully should have been here by now. I hated calling her so early in the morning but...

Goddammit that hurts! Aahh, Not again! I clutch the cushions of the couch, bracing myself against the next wave of torture. The veins on my arms are already beginning to show their purple rivers through my skin. I hope it doesn't go any further.

Deep breaths. Deep, slow breaths, Walter. You've got to pull yourself together before she gets here. There's little she can do and you know it. That's right. Pain fading. Slow, deep, breaths. One, two, three, four...

Like I said, Scully is the last person I would want to get involved in my problems. She's got enough to worry about with Mulder missing and her baby to think of. What a damned predicament that was. Why did she trust me with that secret? Probably the same reason I trust her with mine. She's the only other person, on earth that is, who knows or even believes about my vulnerability with these micro-machines in me. It has been a while since anything happened. I thought Krycek had given up. Apparently not.

The pain's subsiding some. Now I only feel the remnants of the throbbing in my bloodstream. It scares me like hell to know that I don't have control over my own body. I shiver with the thought of my last experience, so close to death. I don't know if I saw a light and a long tunnel leading to salvation, like all the near-death stories I always heard from Mulder. I don't even know if I believe in that stuff.

I don't know what I believe anymore.

The arm cushion of my couch is now soaked with sweat. It's becoming uncomfortable under my neck, abrasive from the sensitivity of my heated skin, and rough from the dampness of the thick material. I rise slowly to a sitting position, preparing myself for a walk to the bathroom for a clean towel. That's when the doorbell rings. Scully.

I hobble towards the door, fighting to keep the room from rotating sideways. I stretch my arms out in an attempt to reach out to one of the walls, pushing at it, trying to keep it from falling on top of me. Too late. I lose my balance, and my knees crash down to the solid floor. The room is suddenly stable again, but now my head is spinning.

I hear the far away, high-pitched tone threatening to invade the space around my eardrums again. I slap my hands onto my forehead; try to stop the pressure, the noise, the throbbing in my eyes. I wipe the glasses from my face and press at my eyelids. Got to get control. Got to get it together. Stop this madness. Stop that sound.

The single clang of the electronic doorbell rings again, watery and weak, but real and present enough to drown out the tone in my head. I'm close to the front door. All I have to do is pull myself up enough to reach the intercom. I place my glasses carefully back onto the bridge of my nose, afraid any wrong movement will trigger a new and hideous internal reaction.

I look up at the wall beside the door, cool blue in the early morning dimness. I know the intercom buttons are no more than two feet above my head from this seated position, but it seems that the wall has inexplicably grown taller. I feel like Alice in her Wonderland dilemma: too small to reach her salvation, and ready to drown in her own tears. I want to cry -- want to cry hard, let the tears fall, big and round and wet. Let it all out. I need help, but I'll never get it if I don't answer that door.

I bite it back. I bite it back and swallow the salty fear in my throat because I know I can't let my troubles wash away into a dream world. As insane as the situation is, it is real, and I have to get up. Now. Get Scully in here.

I unhinge my buckled legs and force my weight up against the door, clinging to the doorknob like a crutch. With a heavy finger, I buzz Scully in. No need to ask who's there. Who else would come to my apartment at 3 a.m. on a Wednesday?


Who else but the asshole that controls the mess of nano-technology inside me. I begin to panic. What the hell does he want?! What is it this time? They've got Mulder for God's sake. What do they want with me?

The cowardly thought instantly sickens me. I'd give anything to see Mulder alive, even if they were to take me as an abductee and imprison me with him. I don't doubt Krycek had some dirty hand in setting us up for Mulder's abduction in the first place.

I'm still supporting myself on the doorknob when I hear footsteps in the hall, but they're not heavy enough to be from a man Krycek's size, nor are they soft enough to be from a man who is trying to be stealthy. They stop before my door.

The knock from the other side, although tentative when it comes, is so excruciatingly loud to my ultra-sensitive ears that I jerk my head hard in reaction, nearly hitting it against the door.

Deep slow breaths, Walter. It's Scully. Has to be.

I lean my forehead on the door above the peephole and peer through the tiny lens. I'm relieved to see a shock of red hair pulled back in a ponytail, away from the pale face of my agent, my friend.

It takes quite a bit of effort to rotate the doorknob, but when I finally hear the click of the release, the door swings back easily and Scully slips into the narrow opening like a slick tabby cat.

The sour expression on her face tells me that I must look at least half as bad as I actually feel. Wasting no time, she pushes herself up underneath my arm, and supports me as we hobble together back to the couch. I lie back and try to act like a good patient while Scully gives me the once-over. As she waves her finger to the left, and then the right, my eyes follow obediently. When she reaches down to unzip a gym bag full of First Aid supplies, my eyes follow her precise, slow movements.

She's tired. God, I wish I didn't have to call her. I notice that she is paler than usual. Her cracked lips are tinged slightly blue and slathered with Chap Stick. Before she pulls out a stethoscope and some cold packs, she pops a Wint-O-Green Lifesaver into her mouth; the kind that taste like Pepto, but don't quite make you wretch like the devilish pink stuff. I must have just caught her in her newly acquired 3 a.m. morning sickness ritual.

She catches sight of my pity-laden expression and offers me a mint in consolation. I shake my head carefully in rejection, and she stuffs the roll of mints back into her pocket. She cracks a cold pack, wraps it in a thin towel, and lays it upon my brow. I'm almost touched that she remembered my fevers from the last time.

"Sir. What has happened so far?" Scully asks in her doctor voice, a little roughened by lack of sleep.

"I ..." I cough against my own raw throat, suddenly aware that I hadn't spoken to anyone since leaving the Hoover building earlier in the evening. "I can't believe this is happening again."

"Sir, you have to tell me exactly what you've been going through up until now. I want to take as many precautionary measures as possible. We've been through this before ..."

I look at her with a hopeless scowl. There was only one way to stop this. The only person who could help me was the same one I wanted dead. Fat chance of us finding the Rat before I had any chance of recovering by "normal" methods.

She sees the doubt in my eyes and becomes frustrated at the implication of her incompetence. "I WILL help you, sir."

I sigh in resignation. How can I doubt her? Who else can I turn to? My head begins throbbing again with too much thought. I close my eyes as Scully continues to examine me, her breath falling across my nose as she leans over me, the faint smell of mints and stomach acid tingeing the air. God, that's giving me a headache. I wonder at how something so faint and insignificant can make me react so easily.

The pain deepens in my brain. No, that's not a normal reaction. How could it be? I feel my skull absorb the pain expanding in my head again, and hear the Emergency Broadcast System tone, growing louder with every breath. It's consuming my whole awareness, and I feel Scully holding me down, bracing me against my own convulsions.

"No! Stop!" I shout, and I feel Scully's grip loosen slightly. I grab her wrist and try to hold down my barking, "No, not you. Hold me down, Scully. I don't want to hurt y..." I grit my teeth with the next wave of lightning in my brain, feeling it starting to travel down the rest of my body as before. I try to press my face into the cushions before the next one hits. I can't do it in time. A flash sears through my vision, and then blackness takes over.


Blackness. It flutters away in a swarm of wings and chirping. A flock of dark sparrows shoot out across a gray sky as one unit, following an instinctual pattern, looping around and around, until they all settle into the bare trees surrounding me. Funny. Didn't notice the trees until now.

What is this place? The chirping of the flock continues. I look around me and feel as if I know this place. The gray sky and bare trees should denote a cold atmosphere, but I feel warm, familiar, comfortable. The noise of the flock becomes a quiet background to the endless forest. Birds flit from branch to branch, but I hear no sounds of trees swaying or dry leaves dancing in the fall breeze. Only quiet, friendly peeps.

And then there aren't only chirps. Tiny tinkling noises, almost electronic-sounding, lace themselves within the bird noises, so subtle I almost miss them. I turn to look for something within the intricate grid work of the branches above me, but all I see among them are the dots of sparrows and a gray sky.

My neck aches as I crane my face toward the heavens, hopeful that I might catch something unnoticed if I don't look away. Then I hear it. It's a small whisper. It is like a faint heaving of breath grazing down my throat, searching for an entrance to my soul.

The birds stir. They hear it too. They react quickly, frighteningly fast. They gather themselves up into a cloud of blackness, and I realize their intention too late, as they direct themselves all straight down, plummeting toward me, shrieking their high-pitched cries.


A burning, vibrating sensation tears through my esophagus. My ears ring with it, my hands tremble, and my lungs sting like I have just gone for a five-mile run.

I am screaming.

It takes a good ten minutes for Scully to calm me down, soothing me with her even voice, stroking the sweat from my brow with a cool, damp washcloth.

I vaguely realize, as I focus on my surroundings, that the morning sun has stretched its tendrils of daylight across the floor of my living room. I welcome the light, especially after that God-awful dream I just experienced. But as the room grows brighter my eyes become extremely sensitive, the sunlight piercing my vision like a hot branding iron.

"Your pupils are dilated," Scully remarks, noticing my squinting.

She moves to draw the vertical blinds at my window. I follow her silhouetted movements as she pulls the cord. She hasn't changed much since learning about her pregnancy. She certainly isn't showing yet. It's too soon for that. But she does move a little slower, a little more carefully, and she bends forward slightly when she walks, as if she were subconsciously protecting her abdomen from harm.

I smell coffee brewing in my sad excuse for a kitchen and realize I must have been out cold for a few hours. I sit up on the couch, attempting to make up for the terrible hosting job I've done for my guest. Rubbing at the glands in my neck, I try to speak in a volume a little lower than my previous outburst. Scully comes over and sits beside me.

"Coffee?" It's half an offer, and half a request.

"Are you up to it?" she asks, her eyebrows lifting skeptically with the question.

I nod. "Want some?" My voice is pathetically scratchy, but I sincerely want to thank this woman in some fashion for putting up with the bulldog of a boss that I am.

She smirks and answers, "I've had some already, but I'll join you with half a cup. Be right back."

She returns in a few minutes carefully balancing two big mugs of the steaming liquid, and as promised, she only fills hers halfway.

"Thank You," I reply, raising my eyes to her in gratitude.

She nods behind the big mug almost filling her hands completely.

"For everything, I mean. For staying."

She puts her cup down and stares at me, as if she were reading into my subconscious, trying to find that place I hide, where I hate to show my vulnerability to anyone. She's seen a glimpse of it, and acknowledges what I have borne.

"You're welcome," she says simply, and presses her lips together in a reserved smile.

We sit for a while in the quiet. I'm quite thankful that it is so silent for a change. The tension in my muscles begins to melt away with every sip I take of the warm coffee. Fatigue is bearing down on me fast. Despite the jolt of caffeine, I feel myself succumbing to my drowsiness, and I lie back again onto the couch. Scully brings me a pillow from the bed, a much better cushion than the flattened puff of the couch arm.

She takes the opportunity of my reclined position to feel my head for fever, my glands for swelling and to inspect my chest and forearms for signs of abnormally raised veins and capillaries.

"How are you feeling," I manage to whisper, fighting to hold off the drowsiness a little longer.

She glances at me quickly, an almost scolding look that says, 'How could you possibly worry about me at a time like this?' She begins to pack some used towels away into the duffle bag as she answers.

"I called the office. I said you'd be out today." She zips up the bag and sits on the coffee table opposite me. "Don't worry. I spoke to Kim. I said I'd look after you." She shifts slightly as if the hard surface of the tabletop isn't a wise choice of seating. I'd normally agree with her, but that's not why she shifted.

"She um ..." Scully slowly begins, "She was a little terse with me after I told her that. That I'd look after you." She gives me a strange, inquisitive look. She wants to gently coax some information from me, but isn't sure if it's appropriate to ask.

I chuckle softly. "Kim's a little protective of me."

It's not the answer she wants, but she seems to understand. Her response is far away and fuzzy. I'm drifting to sleep again.

"It gets that way when you work with someone for a while."

"Mm ..." is my only reply. Darkness envelops me again.


I see the gray sky again; big, empty and cold this time. The forest of trees is gone, but I know this is the same place I was before. The flat expanse of earth goes on forever, unblemished by hill or mountain, clear to the horizon. Orange, yellow and brown leaves carpet the ground as if my forest had been plucked up by a giant, the leaves left behind as the only evidence of the trees ever being there in the first place.

There are no birds this time, thankfully, at least, none that I can see. A storm is brewing; the dark gray clouds stampede towards me from the horizon. They gather quickly above me, like a Nature film on fast-forward. I crane my neck to face the sky, listening for the familiar sound of thunder rumbling in the thickening atmosphere.


Lightning flashes within the charcoal gray puffs in the sky. But there is something strange about it. Instead of the fiery streaks branching out randomly, they follow a grid. The white hot lines form paths at uniform right angles and sharp diagonals.

Then I do hear something -- something as unnatural as the predetermined path of a lightning bolt. It starts out as the sound of a breeze shifting the leaves. Subtly, like the sound of a car engine approaching from a long distance away, the whisper grows. I can feel the vibration of it searching down my throat again, prodding my insides to find a place to strike.

In my peripheral vision a form, human size, distracts me, but every time I try to turn and focus on it, it jumps away, still hanging at the very edge of my sight. I turn and turn, making myself dizzy, trying to chase it down. I have to know what it is, 'who' it is.

It is then that I hear the whisper grow its loudest and perceive a recognizable diction.

"Hhhhhhhhhhhh... Ssssskkaaahhh... sssssssssskkaahh..."

It is a tinny, metallic sound, but I can recognize a definite human voice. I hear the invading whisper twice more as it probes through my brain, realizing for the first time that it is not from the air around me, but somewhere deep inside my own head.

A sharp, hissing crack suddenly stops everything; all movement, all sounds. It is a dead silence in the true sense of the word.

And I feel it.

A presence.

I whip around to see the form that had been lurking at the edge of my field of vision. She stands about fifteen feet away from me, dressed all in black, a suit, her hair gently caressed be the silent breeze.


But at the same time it is not Scully, more like a memory of her. She stands before me, unmoving except for her lips.

"Skinner," she says, but not in her own voice. It is coated with the same silvery sharpness as the mysterious whisper I keep hearing. I blink at the strangeness of it. In the split second that my eyelids block my view, the Scully thing moves to stand not more than six inches in front of me, disturbingly close, eye to eye.

I don't move. I can't. I look at her, watch her eyes turn from a clear blue to a slightly muddier hazel. Her lashes become shorter and her forehead protrudes subtly. The red locks that frame her face shrink back into her skull and turn darker until every hair is almost black.

As I adjust my perspective to take in this intriguing transformation, I realize just what I'm looking at. It says my name again in a deep, husky voice, no longer laced with ghostly robotic undertones.

"Skinner," it says.

The voice and the face that says it are Mulder's.


This is crazy! Absolutely insane! This is sick and twisted and I can't believe my subconscious would ever create such a bizarre likeness of my friends.

I wake to the feeling of undigested liquid swishing around in my stomach. My mouth tastes like I had been sleeping with steel wool under my tongue. Scully stands in the kitchen doorway watching me, whispering into her cell phone. I can't hear her words. In fact, I can't hear anything at all.

Panic tugs at every muscle in my body again, stealing away the precious blood being used by my stomach to unsuccessfully digest the leftover liquid. Shooting pains jab at its walls as if the coffee has suddenly become a deadly acid.

Scully remains still and unresponsive, as if she hasn't realized yet that I have woken up.

I try to sit up, desperately seeking a bucket or bag -- something that will catch the noxious liquid about to lurch from my insides.

"Scully," I grunt out, trying to hold back the continually threatening sickness, gurgling to break free.

As if the mention of her name were an invocation, she finally sees me. She beeps her phone off -- I can hear that! -- and she scans the room for a receptacle. Spotting a small wastebasket by my desk, she grabs it and rushes to my side just as I lose all control.

It isn't until after I have finished that I allow myself to think about what has just happened. I am disgusted that Scully had to witness me puking my guts out, vulnerable to the natural reaction to expel, no control over etiquette or machismo.

She ties up the small bag inside the wastebasket -- thank God for that -- and carries it out to the hallway garbage chute. Upon returning she falls into automatic pilot, unzips the gym bag, takes out a fresh towel and wipes the cold sweat forming on my face and neck. I shiver at the contact.

Her hair is in a less than perfect ponytail than when she first arrived, and the soft area above her cheekbones matches the dull blue in her lips. She must be running on nearly four hours of sleep. How could I have thought to bring her into this? This is beyond friendship -- at least, any I've ever had.

"Scully," I whisper in a ragged breath. "You don't have to..."

"Yes!" The first word is louder than she expected, and she closes her eyes to regroup. Then in a gentler tone, "Yes, sir, I do. I want to." After she gives me a glass of water to rinse out my mouth, she continues. "Besides, if you don't mind my saying it, who else is going to?"

I can't look at her. That one hurt. She didn't mean it to, but it did. Ever since Sharon left me, I haven't allowed anyone else to dare get close to me. It was too painful to think of replacing my wife when she left, and it is still an inconceivable thought now. I love her. Scully's right, there will never be anyone else who will care for me the way Sharon did.

"And --" her word is no more than a peep. "I can't let you leave me too. Everyone I trust is gone." Then, more forceful, determined, "I need your friendship. I think you need mine, too."

The orange color of evening illuminates Scully's wan cheek when I look up at her with wet eyes. Yes, I do need her friendship.

I vaguely realize that the blinds are open again and that I'm having no trouble with the brightness of the sunset. Must be getting better. As I look at my friend, the reflected color on her cheeks is disturbed by a fluttering shadow outside. I glance quickly to see a couple of sparrows land on my balcony, silhouetted against the gorgeous evening sky.

I reach out to take Scully's hand in thanks, craving a familiar, real contact that I can hold onto, that I can trust. My shirtsleeve inches back away from my wrist as I extend my hand, revealing purple tracks branching out to my fingers. Oh, no. It's happening. Just when I thought I was getting better, the damned things are back! Scully notices as well, and grabs both my hands to inspect them.

*--- More birds gather on my balcony, converging fast, blocking all the light. ---*

*--- I see the Scully thing again, face to face with me. No, Scully's here, holding my hands, this thing is invading our space, trying to force itself between us. No, it's trying to get inside us. ---*

*--- I see Mulder, reaching out to me. He's taller. "You're an abductee, Scully. I don't want to lose you." What's this? I'm Scully? ---*

*--- I hear a sob coming from the real Scully. She clutches my hands tighter. "Mulder." ---*

*--- The walls of my apartment have fallen away. We are both on the empty plain, leaves blowing against our ankles. I hear the metallic, piercing noise again, "Sssssskkkkaaaaahhhh..." ---*

*--- "Skinner, what's going on?" ---*

*--- I can't -- I don't know . ---*

*--- The bright light in the forest is blinding. Mulder's been taken! I can't save him. I lost him. I lost him. ---*

*--- The Scully thing with Mulder's face calls again, "Skinner, Skinner, listen." It fades. What? Speak to me! What?! ---*

*--- I watch as my two agents face each other, holding the other's face in an intimate embrace. Their lips nearly touch. When did this happen? I had no idea, no idea. I'm sorry, Mulder. I lost you. ---*

*--- "She's there with you." Mulder's voice is loud in my ears. Where is he? My confusion surrounds me. I can barely determine which things I'm seeing are real. Mulder speaks again, but not to me. ---*

*--- "Scully, thank God you're all right." ---*

*--- Scully in a hospital bed. Scully wrapped in gauze. Scully with tubes down her throat, encased in ice. ---*

*--- "Mulder? What is...? Yes, I'm here." ---*

*--- Mulder's apartment. A bowl of popcorn. The taste of butter on my tongue. No, that's not me. I'm watching now. Mulder on top of Scully, brushing the tears and strands of hair away from her face. Scully reaching up to his head, running her fingers through his hair. They kiss passionately, deeply, and lovingly. ---*

*--- "You must be pregnant by now." ---*

*--- Scully's grip on my hands loosens. ---*

*--- "Don't let go, Scully!" I shout at her. She can't! Somehow, I know that if she does, all will be lost. Mulder will be lost. I won't lose him again. ---*

*--- "How did you know, Mulder? How?" ---*

*--- Scully smiling. Mulder laughing back at her. Mulder's hand gently removing the strap of Scully's bra. ---*

*--- No, I can't take this! I whimper. ---*

*--- "Skinner, I have to talk!" ---*

*--- Yes. Talk, then. ---*

*--- "It is ours, you know, Scully. I made sure of it." ---*

*--- "The baby?" She sobs again. Joy. Hurt. Anger. Confusion. ---*

*--- "I met with him." ---*

*--- Spender smoking in my office. Spender at the end of a gun barrel. Spender in a car speeding down the highway, with Scully driving, offering her a Life Saver.

*--- "No." ---*

*--- "I had to. I had to fix it. It was all my fault. I wanted this so much for you, Scully. Wanted it so much for us. I wanted a family, with you, Scully. I love you. I had to make a bargain." ---*

*--- "Damn you, Mulder!" ---*

*--- I lost him. ---*

*--- "It isn't worth the bargain!" ---*

*--- I lost him. ---*

*--- "I knew it would cost something, but anything was worth you having happiness in your life." ---*

*--- "YOU are my life!" ---*

*--- I lost him. ---*

*--- "No, I caused pain in your life." ---*

*--- Selfishness. Betrayal. Failure. Hope. ---*

*--- "He promised me on that trip you took, that he would give you back some of your ova. I knew what would happen, Scully. I knew the whole plan. I knew you couldn't pass up a cure for all illnesses, even if it came from him. Your trusting him was the only way he could get close to you." ---*

*--- "Damn you, Mulder." ---*

*--- "I had to do the rest. He had a time release -- something inside of you. I only had two weeks. We had been so close for so long, Scully. It was my greatest wish in the world come true. It was time for me to give back to you what you had lost. I gave my own life to do that. I love you so much." ---*

*--- I lost him. ---*

*--- Crying. Sadness. Loss. "I lost him too." ---*

*--- "I'm coming back". ---*

*--- "How?" ---*

*--- Fear. Exposure. Anger. ---*

*--- "I can't stay. I can't be seen! I WILL be back." ---*

*--- Metallic voices invade the space between Scully and me. Mulder's voice fades. ---*

*--- "I wiiiilllll..." ---*

Fluttering darkness consumes the two of us, and the Emergency Broadcast tone rips through my ears, shaking my hands from Scully's grip. We break apart violently. She slumps heavily to the floor. I crash back into the couch damp with my sweat.

It is night. The sun has disappeared, and we lie in darkness, drained by the unexpected message from a billion miles away.


I hear her crying, lying on her back, groaning her despair freely into the night air above her. "Oh, my God," she whimpers out between sobs.

I crawl down to the floor beside her, searching for her face in the dim light. I hear her before I see her. She grasps my hand to her chest, and it's all I can do to keep myself from embracing her in a secure hug. She probably needs it now, but I'm her boss. I'm her friend, for God's sake! I squeeze her hand back, and sit beside her in the darkness.

"He's alive," she says, almost inaudibly. The sound of tears crackling at the back of her throat are almost louder than the words.

She's letting herself believe.

The tears begin rolling down my cheeks as well. I am overjoyed at the contact, but I am still guilt ridden with the thought that I was there when he disappeared. But now I know he didn't disappear because of me.

"He's alive," I assure her. "We'll get him back."


I awake with a clear head and a deep appreciation for a dreamless sleep. Scully insisted on staying another night. She also insisted that I opt for my bed rather than the couch.

"I've got to have somewhere to sleep, too, you know," she jibed, giggling as she took my arm.

She had been up taking care of me for nearly twenty hours straight, and with little sleep before she arrived. I directed her toward a linen closet for some extra sheets to use for the night, and then she led me to my bedroom. I don't remember anything after that.

I walk slowly into the living room and find her folding up the sheets she used during the night. I lean against the doorway, watching her until she notices my presence.

She comes over to check my wrists and neck to find them free of hideous purple veins. When Mulder had ended his message, my body returned to its normal state of being. He must have figured out somehow to tap into the nanotechs inside me in order to relay his message. How he knew that Scully would be present is a matter only God himself could answer. Perhaps the bond between two lovers is strong enough to span the galaxies. Was it ever that way with Sharon and me?

Scully turns to sling the gym bag over her shoulder. "I've already taken the liberty of calling in sick for you again, sir."

Work. Scully is always business first. It was as if she were preparing to erect her proper exterior before leaving my apartment and setting out for the outside world. She could at least suspend the formalities after sharing such intimate details of our respective lives.

"Please, Scully. When we're like this, call me Walter."

Her gaze snaps down in embarrassment. Taking a deep breath, she looks up again. "You take care. Walter." I follow her to the front door and let her out. "I'll be back later. We need to figure out what we're going to do."

I catch her arm. "Scully." She looks at my fist clutching her arm, then back at my face. "We wait."

She doesn't like the answer. She twists her face in a scowl, ready to prove me wrong. But she stops and thinks for a split second, and realizes that I'm right. She won't sit by and wait, though. I can see it in her eyes as clear as glass.

"Goodbye, sir."

And she leaves.

I know what I said, and I don't want to believe it myself. There has to be a way. As I close the door to my apartment, I've already taken the words back. We'll keep on looking -- we will not give up!


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