Author: Isabel "Izzy" Izenthe (izzy_izenthe@yahoo.com)
Archive: Anywhere
Rating: R, Scully/Other slash
Classification: VA
Note: "Eclipse" further explores the relationship of Dana Scully and Iris Greber established in "Down Falls the Moon." That story is available at http://members.xoom.com/goatgir1/
Disclaimer: Characters from the "X-Files" are the property of 1013 Productions and the Fox Television Network.

* * *

I've never liked poetry. It feels pretentious to me, the way it complicates and obscures and stuffs sentiment into meter and rhyme. I prefer concise language that says what it means without embellishment.

Iris writes poetry for me. Dreadful, treacly poetry, or so it seems, though I'm hardly qualified to judge what is art and what is not when it comes to these things. She described me as "A singular bloom in an untended garden, splendor amid mediocre minds and suits in dead foliage hues," which only demonstrates how little she knows about me. I've never aspired to be, if I may borrow her metaphor, a singular bloom. I've always been most comfortable when surrounded by other intelligent people -- people like Mulder, like Iris, who are brilliant if somewhat obtuse when presented with something they'd rather not hear. It's probably not by accident I find myself planted in the stubborn row of the garden.

I didn't think Iris, being such an intelligent woman, needed to be told that what happened between us was a one-time occurrence. Even if office romances weren't inherently messy, I don't have the emotional resources required to maintain a love affair, not after Mulder has exacted his toll. Mulder doesn't take anything I don't offer, but maybe Iris didn't understand that. Maybe she thought I needed saving or she believed she could share me with my partner, but whatever her motivation, she wooed me with poetry until I was forced to go to her and apologize for the misunderstanding. To explain that I couldn't possibly share part of myself with her and hope to keep anything in reserve.

That was the plan at any rate.

She's a lousy poet, that much I knew, but I also learned she kicks off her shoes and leaves them in disorganized piles by her front door, she reads Jackie Collins for God's sake, and she has this exasperating habit of kissing me when I'm trying to tell her something important. There wasn't anything particularly appealing about Iris, except that she was beautiful and smart and sensual and she made me feel like I was all those things. Hardly seems reason to lose perspective to the extent I did, but in my defense, there are studies suggesting a dampening effect on the logic centers of the brain brought about by intense sexual stimulation. So I slept with her again and figured I could come up with enough citations to justify my impulsivity.

She has feather pillows. Did I mention that? I'm allergic to feathers. I should have seen that as a sign, but that night I rested my head on a feather pillow and stifled the urge to sneeze as she pulled off my clothes. She wouldn't undress for me or let me undress her. "This is about you," she said. It felt a little odd being naked when she wasn't, being touched without reciprocating. I'm ashamed by how much I enjoyed the selfishness of that night and embarrassed that I so carelessly forfeited my opportunity to talk to Iris about the relationship we couldn't have. It seemed impolite, somehow, to bring up the subject while her ears were muffled by my thighs.

I was determined to talk to her the next morning. While Iris was cursing at an uncooperative omelet, I sat on her sofa, devising and discarding segues into a conversation that never actually took place. I certainly wasn't ruminating over the condition of her upholstery, but Iris became so upset when she saw me staring at the arm of her couch that she launched into a tear-filled explanation of how Ray, her clumsy brother-in-law, managed to ruin her new furniture with cigarette burns. I was worried the kind of news I was planning to deliver might just push her over the edge. Instead of the gentle disassociation I'd intended, I found myself holding and consoling her, helping her turn over the sofa cushions, hiding the rest of the burns behind strategically arranged throw pillows, and offering to cook her dinner on Saturday night.

For three days I rehearsed that evening to the last detail. She'd be a few minutes early but I'd be ready. I would welcome her, offer her wine and a dinner of chicken and pasta, some crusty bread and a nice dessert that I'd picked up from the bakery. Between bites of something highly caloric we would discuss the impracticality of a sexual relationship, vow to remain friends, and then I would send her home with leftover cheesecake and fond memories.

She was, in actuality, late. She kissed me before I could take her coat and we made love on my living room floor while the pasta boiled over on the stove. We ate cheesecake for breakfast.

This morning I found myself smiling, even though it was Monday and I was trying to reconcile expense reports, because shuffled in with the memos and reminders and reports in my mailbox was another awful poem from Iris. In it she compared me to the sun, "bringer of light and warmth" to her world. "I'll sleep tonight," she wrote, "with faith that my sun will shine again tomorrow."

Aside from composing unforgivably bad poetry, Iris seemed too good to be true, which was incentive enough to request a cursory background check. I'd neglected the chore before, overly confident as I was in my ability to end the relationship, and was understandably relieved when the report confirmed her uprightness.

I read her background check three times and on my fourth trip, I abandoned my search for deception and read only to glean facts about the woman I was beginning to think I could let myself love. She was a high school honor student, performed well at the Academy, broke her arm during her first field assignment. She always took her vacations in August, but in February of 1996, Iris requested a one-week bereavement leave to attend Ray Gardner's funeral. Her brother-in-law. Scapegoat for the cigarette burns on her brand new couch.

When I see her tonight, I'll ask Iris why she lied, not because I can trust her answer, but I'm curious what her face will reveal. I might tell her those things I didn't have the strength to say before, or I might just say goodbye and watch from my window as she drives away in the dark. I'm confident I won't cry, since ending this trivial romance is the most prudent course of action. At worst I'll lose a little sleep, but by morning I'll be fine and Iris will be relieved to discover I don't control the sunrise after all.

* * *

If she loved me, I could afford to be careless with details. Her favorite color or flower, her preference for sex by candlelight or in darkness; my ignorance of those things might be forgivable if the seduction was mutual. She could teach me and I would gladly learn her secrets over the span of a lifetime.

In my solitary infatuation, I watched her and became educated. The way she walked and dressed, the words she chose, the light that would go absent from her eyes on difficult days, I extrapolated a thousand details from things no one else might notice. So, when I sent her poetry, I knew with the confidence of a scholar that she would hate it.

Anyone who moves and speaks with such precision would be impatient with an art form that so compromises simplicity. Poetry was perfect for Dana because it would annoy her, make her anxious for an end to it. Desperation would lead her to my door.

It was a brief wait, only three poems long, but I kept expecting resentment to arrive first. It seemed logical that I should despise Dana, since my one night with her carried consequences I never could have fathomed. I would fall asleep fearful of sinister threats and vow to stop loving her the very next day, but in the morning I would remember the collage of flawless skin and brave scars, the perfume of no perfume, the sound of incomprehensible phrases chanted in a rhythm my fingers dictated.

Of the man I met in my apartment last week I know two things: he would threaten the life of a child to attain his goals, and Dana Scully is his enemy. Were she not all beautiful things to me, that distinction alone would make her worthy of devotion.

I was motivated by fear when I sent her the poetry, but when she stumbled over the shoes at my threshold to deliver a tactful rejection, I was motivated by love and baser urges. "I came to apologize for what I believe is a misunderstanding --" and that's all she managed before the first kiss and until she instructed me that her bra "hooks in front."

She's not malleable or weak, Dana isn't, but she is divided between what she wants and what she allows herself to have. It's not fairness of face or body or any rare sexual talent I possess that undermines her defenses. I simply communicate with her needier side, and with ways that don't require words. Still, poetry was inspired that night as I touched her.

There were so many pretty thoughts to think about the exquisite woman in my bed that there was scarcely room for trepidation, but I did pretend to be selfless rather than undress for cameras I knew were there. If my passion was dimmed, hers was not. She felt it. It made her sweat. She couldn't stay still in the heat. Later, she slept on the edge of the bed without touching me. I hoped the man watching would believe the room had grown too warm for intimate sleeping poses and not wonder why Dana kept distant in such a small bed.

My mother calls them Humpty Dumpty days, when the fragile thing holding a woman together cracks and the only repair is a good cry. How fitting that I began the next morning by dropping eggshells into Dana's omelet. I knew she was in the living room, still keeping that distance, surely plotting some compassionate closure. I was going to sit very near and listen to all her reasons, then I was going to move close enough to change her mind. Even after the omelet became scrambled eggs and I poured coffee on my thumb, my confidence remained intact. My great, fracturing fall came when I found Dana staring at the burns on my couch. All the king's horses, and all the king's men couldn't keep me from babbling inane excuses over something Dana never actually questioned.

It was not the diversion I'd planned, but my hysteria over those hideous burns brought out Dana's sympathetic side. She stayed while I cried over what must have seemed an inconsequential thing. She listened intently to a story knit from panic and lies. My brother-in-law was imminently blameable when he was living, I blame him still for leaving my sister with a child and a broken heart, but blaming Ray for that terrible smoker's deeds was nearly my undoing. I've never been good at improvisation, I love words too much to resist rehearsal, and when cast on stage in front of such vicious critics, I said all the wrong things. Even after I stopped talking, the lies rang on in my ears and I was sure Dana could hear the noise. She held me, though, and whispered comforting nonsense. Then, "Let me make dinner for you on Saturday."

Would she have rearranged my pillows and made the invitation if she'd known I just ruined her silk blouse with mascara stains? An apology could wait until Saturday, I decided, since she seemed most smitten with me when I wasn't talking. With just a kiss goodbye for breakfast, she left, but she left me with hope.

As reward for her generosity, I spared her my poetry for the remainder of the week. We did pass in the hall on Friday and her partner nudged her along when she paused at the sight of me. She gave me the same tight-lipped smile of greeting she gives to everyone, but Dana Scully doesn't blush for the boys in Violent Crimes. Despite my elation over her reaction, I was not blind to the doubt she radiated, nor unseeing of the motive behind her dinner invitation. Love, the poet in me promised, would find a way. And if love failed, the pragmatist knew lust would suffice.

On Saturday, I went shopping for the lust contingency. I chose sheer white lingerie, a frost for my skin that might melt if she touched it. Perfume so rich it would make her dizzy and so expensive it made my credit card sweat. A blouse for her to replace the one I'd ruined, but low cut and vibrant blue instead of modest white. For a few hours, I forgot to be afraid and reveled in romantic extravagance.

Desire and other pleasant fragrances were subdued by the stench of burning fabric when I returned to my apartment. "I have a gift for you," he said in a voice like sugar-coated poison. "Agent Scully is allergic to feathers." He patted the new foam bed pillows that rested on the couch beside him. "The poor dear was so miserable, she barely slept at all." He, of course, offered a photograph to illustrate the point. I was in it, the lifeless lump under the covers, and Dana was wide awake, reaching for tissues on the bedside table. "We wouldn't want her to associate your bed with anything unpleasant, now would we?"

The question didn't require an answer, rhetorical as it was. A fortunate thing since I couldn't pry my teeth unclenched.

He nodded toward the bags I was strangling in his stead. "You made some lovely choices today. I was beginning to grow concerned over your sudden modesty."

The camera I found in my bathroom cured me of that. Modesty became rather pointless after I realized this man had watched me shave my legs in the sink.

I was mildly amazed when he stood and walked. It seemed more fitting that he should slither. But he walked up to me and patted my cheek with his age-withered hand. Grandfatherly, gentle in a septuagenarian pedophile sort of way. "I'm sure Agent Scully will be very satisfied." He was the only one of us amused by the double entendre.

"Oh, and one other thing," he said like an afterthought though it was the reason for the visit. "Agent Scully has been doing some research on pharmaceutical companies. It's a pet project of hers, one she hasn't even mentioned to her partner, but she's very protective of the files. If you happen to run across any information on a company named Prangen, perhaps during a midnight stroll for a drink of water, you'll be sure to make me a copy."

Anger made me bold enough, or stupid enough, to speak. "You don't think she'll notice if I slip out for a little post-coital trip to the Xerox machine?"

His lips curled into a cruel caricature of a smile, and his hatred for Dana was audible when he said her name. "Agent Scully is a very sound sleeper when she's exhausted. Someone will be nearby should you require a courier."

He left before I could ask where on the corporate ladder a photocopy errand boy resided, but I was fairly certain it was a few steps up from the thief who would fuck a woman to sleep and then steal her files.

I was late for dinner. Steam and water, soap and shampoo washed away the stink of cigarettes, yet I didn't feel clean so I kept washing until the hot water was gone. The soap could not purify betrayal, and white lace didn't restore my innocence. Dana never struck me as the type who was aroused by plastic perfection, but I saw in the mirror someone more imperfect than she deserved. I drove slowly to her apartment and weighed the consequences of warning her or of taking some eastbound highway and driving into the ocean. I arrived at her door, though, with a gift and a seduction, because I wasn't free to choose otherwise.

Oppression has never been quite so lovely as it was that night, from first touch on through to morning when Dana woke me with cheesecake kisses. It could very well be that she sleeps soundly when exhausted, but she was inexhaustible. Loneliness builds stamina in women unloved too long.

The files weren't in her bed, or on her living room carpet, and there wasn't opportunity to venture far beyond those places. She didn't murmur dark pharmaceutical secrets in her sleep because she didn't sleep. She communicated in the coded half-syllables of lovers who have better things to do than finish words.

"I'm a patient man," he told me today when he arrived with more pictures. Erotic images of Dana with me in shadow behind her. Sickening images of Patrick with a threatening stranger in shadow behind him. He is death, that man, looming quietly, almost inconspicuous without his shroud, but the well-tailored suit doesn't go far enough as a disguise. Maybe that's why Dana is always dressed for a funeral.

Today was no exception, and when she arrived unannounced, I sensed it was to mourn a passing. There was no kiss and I was warned with a look not to try. "Tell me again about those cigarette burns," made for a pitiful eulogy.

My reply, all lies tucked between solicitations for her to trust me, believe me, did not convince her. "I love you," I told her when she made to leave.

"Love," she said, then swallowed to wash away the acrid taste, "is just a word, and words mean nothing to me. I trust what I see." And it was clear by the slamming of the door she didn't want to see me.

Which leaves me with nothing but words to persuade a woman who will dismiss them.

For all it lacks, there is a message in the poetry Dana so despises; there always has been, sweet and sentimental as it was. Now the message must become a syrupy-worded warning, a rambling petition I hope she won't ignore or disbelieve when I've given her so many reasons to doubt. I'll write about love and, in subtext, about faith that she can overcome all dark things. I'll tell stories of devils and soulless men, of eyes that see what they shouldn't and ears that hear every sound and worlds that might cease for want of a savior.

I'll tell her all those things in my inadequate way, then somewhere before the end, I'll scribble in a selfish wish for a day when there is only me and only her and nothing between to eclipse the sun.

* * *

This series will be continued in Eye of Heaven III as soon as real life allows. Thanks for reading. Feedback is always much appreciated. -- Iz

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Isabel "Izzy" Izenthe

"Please leave your values at the front desk."
                  -In a Paris Hotel Elevator