HAEMOPHILUS (Prologue)
Author: Isabel "Izzy" Izenthe (izzy_izenthe@yahoo.com)
Archive: Anywhere
Rating: NC-17
Classification: CRA/Slash (f/f -- Scully/Other)
Note: Though this story borrows themes and characters from the 1983 film, "The Hunger," familiarity with the film is not necessary to understand the story.
Disclaimer: Characters from the "X-Files" are the property of 1013 Productions and the Fox Television Network. Characters from "The Hunger" are the property of MGM and original novel author, Whitley Strieber.

* * *

Chapter 1: Prologue

* * *

The maid had cloaked her incompetence in the scent of Pine-Sol but there was mildew in the tile grout.

Dana Scully dragged her fingers across the shower wall, scratching for mildew, soap scum, any evidence that this wasn't a dream. She'd been touched by unfamiliar hands in dreams, kissed by strangers' lips, aroused by distorted images that melted from place to place and face to face, but dreams were never like this. As unreal and unlikely as it seemed, there were too many mundane details present for this to be illusion.

She'd escaped one city for a weekend in the wilderness of another, to rediscover her own insignificance among crowds and tall buildings. She was anonymous here. A woman of no import standing naked in front of an open window of a dark hotel room. Only the frigid breeze and the fluttering curtains noticed her and even their caress was fleeting.

Her robe was a faint blue, the color of ice, and the synthetic silk was as cold against her skin. Mulder would try to divine the significance in her choice of this particular garment on this particular day. He would look for sexual failings in the frosty color and cheap fabric. In truth, she had chosen it because it was clean and easy to pack, but the practical explanation would disappoint him. So much about her disappointed him.

When she heard the knock, she wrapped herself in the robe and braced herself for Mulder's dissection. He would lecture her for running away, pepper his speech with guilty words like "hurt" and "failure" and "love." He would fuck her and expect her to be healed, as if his cock was an antidote to poisonous doubts.

The shock of finding someone else at the door might account for her initial lack of resistance to an unexpected kiss. There was no tentativeness in the greeting. It was a brazen collision of lips and tongues, flavored with Certs and cigarettes.

Their first meeting had been brief, inauspicious, to say the least, and fraught with misunderstanding. Yet beneath the veil of professionalism and barely civil words, eyes assessed and made promises Scully hadn't fully understood until Sarah Roberts arrived at her hotel room.

Scully recognized that something was wrong. Her attraction to this stranger was too sudden and too overwhelming to be natural, but there was an unearthly and ancient wisdom in Sarah's eyes that insisted on blind faith. Scully's questions were answered with kisses before they were asked and she was unleashed from Mulder's claim with a tug on the sash of an ice-blue robe.

She could recollect every detail of the seduction, of her role in it, but Scully couldn't consciously recall choosing to participate. A loose thread had caught on the third button of Sarah's blouse and Scully cut it away with her teeth, though she couldn't remember deciding to undress the other woman. There was a hint of spicy fragrance along Sarah's collarbone that Scully wouldn't have noticed if she hadn't felt compelled to run her lips over that place. Sarah vowed without words that they would share a bed later, but first she wanted to bathe the traces of Mulder from Scully's skin. Suddenly, more than anything, Scully wanted to be clean of him.

Colors seemed more vivid now, details more clear. If a world existed outside this shower stall, it wasn't worth remembering. Scully watched with fascination the rivulets of water that ran down Sarah's breasts, that diverged above her nipples and converged below. Sarah's flesh shimmered with watery glitter, competing for splendor with the heavy gold pendant she wore. This woman had the kind of beauty Scully would have described as timeless, but Sarah devoured the compliment in a hungry kiss.

They worked together, painting each other's bodies with soap and bare hands, jealous of bubbles that lingered where their mouths wanted to be.

Until the bubbles were gone.

There was cold tile against her back, mildew under her fingernails, hot water stinging her breasts, a beautiful woman touching her, sucking and licking her. This was no dream. The pleasure was pure, real and all-consuming. It blinded Scully to rationality, made her deaf to the ringing phone, insensate to pain when a small blade pierced a vein in her wrist.

When Sarah at last lifted her mouth from Scully's wrist, she offered a promise drenched in blood: "Forever." And sealed the pact with a wet, red kiss. "Forever and ever."

* * *

Chapter 2

* * *

"Why are you here?"

Like faraway music, a melancholy solo overheard by accident, the question was not meant for her hearing and so Scully did not answer. She continued to feign sleep on the pillow of Sarah's breast and considered silently what answer she might have given. If there was an answer at all.

Cowardice had carried her partway. She'd been jaundiced with it when she slipped from Mulder's arms before dawn. She hadn't chanced a kiss goodbye, fearing the painful conversations she might trigger with the brush of chapped lips across a stubbled cheek. To talk was to hurt. She was tired of hurting.

Mulder would try to thieve the blame, but she was the one at fault. She'd known what he was before she opened her legs for him. Mulder looked into her like a mirror and admired his own beauty in the reflection, and why shouldn't he? She only let him see what she loved. If he was blind to how insensitive words and selfish deeds cut her, it was because she'd never allowed him to witness her pain.

Sex was a pretty bandage, but the wounds festered and wept.

She'd spent yesterday bent over the bodies of babies, staring at three cherubic faces painted in death's pale paint. Tiny, plump lips that should have been warm and wet with mother's milk would not drink again. Even Scully's tears tumbled away from their dry mouths. These infants smelled like rot and rancid water instead of powder and pink lotion. Mulder complained about the stench. She swaddled the small corpses in clean linen and tucked them into metal drawers to a lullaby of clanging hardware and her partner's impatient sighs.

Mulder mistook her lethargy for drowsy longing, her lack of resistance for assent, her sobs for passion. He pinned her to the mattress and told her she was beautiful and he didn't see how ugly the day had made her. He sucked at her useless breasts and didn't think of children who could never be.

How could she expect him to understand?

How could she love him if he didn't?

The question had been hiding in the corner of her heart like a nightmare monster. She'd felt its claws hooking into her flesh, trying to tear her from Mulder's grasp, smelled its stinking breath mingled with semen and sweat. It growled to the rhythm of routine sex. Last night she'd looked at it full in its hideous face and, like a coward, she'd run.

New York was a convenient refuge, close by, full of museums and shows and other good excuses. One excuse, a long-neglected chore, had taken her to the Blaylock Gerontology Institute and it was there she'd met Doctor Sarah Roberts.

Sarah was brilliant, as she'd expected, but years with Mulder had made Scully immune to intimidation by brilliance. What surprised her was that this woman with over one hundred publications to her credit looked no more than thirty. Perhaps in deference to her work on aging, time had spared her its ravages. Her hair was copper and gold fused into messy curls and there wasn't a trace of silver. The years had not etched lines around her lips or weathered creases around her intelligent, brown eyes.

Scully could feel those eyes watching her now, watching over her. She felt desired and loved, sleepy safe with Sarah keeping vigil, and the images Scully had feared would illustrate her nightmares, colorless pictures of dead children and dying love, vanished like mirages of memory

Why was she here? Maybe to spend a night, just one, in a place without monsters. All was softness here with Sarah: delicate skin and the subtle perfume of women, graceful, slender fingers that skated over her shoulder and danced in her hair, a heart that hummed beneath her ear a gentle, soothing melody. In this place it was peaceful, and even monsters slept.

* * *

"Why are you here?"

The young woman in her arms stirred at the sound of the thought and Sarah hated herself for what she had done.

Her lovers, the few she had known, had been mindless, narcissistic beauties chiseled out of plastic and silicone, men and women so devoid of gravity the world did not miss their weight. For sixteen years she'd allowed herself only the superficial intimacy offered by shallow minds or her own hands, but still she awoke each morning squeezed in guilt's chilling embrace.

Today, her every dream and every dread coalesced into stubborn, blue-eyed fury. Temptation hissed like a serpent in her ear while an indignant FBI agent lectured her on matters of scientific propriety.

//You could have her.//

"... so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered my name on the manuscript as a coauthor. I suppose I should thank you for mentioning me at all, except those theories of mine you borrowed were ultimately proven inapplicable to the ..."

//You could own her.//

"... wasn't free radicals that caused the symptoms associated with rapid aging, and your inference to the contrary undermines..."

//Imagine how she would look, Sarah.//

"... common courtesy to at least inform me ..."

//Naked. Spread wide for you. Can you hear her?//

" ... then obviously you were misinformed about the state of my medical condition because I am most certainly not dead. I recovered from my illness and if you'd bothered to double-check..."

//Imagine that voice, begging you. Begging you to touch her.//

" ... retraction isn't necessary, but I felt you should be aware..."

//She's sad, Sarah. Someone hurt her. You would never hurt her.//

" ... ask that I be informed should this work ever be cited in future research done by you or your colleagues ... "

//Show her. Show her what you want.//

" ... I certainly hope ... isn't ... I ..." Dana Scully's voice unwound like a tin toy. She swayed, wobbled on fashionable heels.

Sarah held Dana up with mental tethers until she could cross the distance between them and pull the unresisting agent into her arms. The eyes that had burned Sarah with laser-blue were lit now by firelight and desire, wholly artificial. Sarah drew closer and pretended to feel warm.

The books and brass lamps, the malnourished ferns and sturdy furniture in the office washed from their vision like a rain-spoiled watercolor and Sarah showed Dana a place where sunset gilded the walls and drizzled honey streaks across the sheets. Sheer white curtains reached into the room like ghostly fingers greedy for a touch of living skin. Sarah wished away their clothes and the practical veneer of professional women dissolved. It was cool here, she decided, and the breeze touched their breasts with its chilly tongue. It would be warmer in bed, much warmer, and in the space of a wish they were there.

A single glass of wine, for sharing, appeared in Sarah's hand. She lifted the crystal to Dana's lips and told her the wine would taste sweet. Sarah tasted it, too, by drinking a drop that clung to her lover's lips. It was better, richer, when drunk from Dana and so she dipped her fingers into the glass and let the wine trickle from her fingertips onto Dana's breasts, her stomach, her thighs.

All the best scents on earth were in this room. Candle wax and wood polish, freshly laundered sheets, roses in the prime of their bloom, a woman dripping with warm wine and arousal.

She shared it all with Dana, the fragrances, the sights, the tickle of a hesitant first touch, and in a selfish moment, Sarah allowed herself to forget that it wasn't real, that Dana wasn't supposed to be hers. In a perfect and distracting fantasy, nimble fingers made bodies writhe, voices cried an orgasmic duet and all the while a quiet and clever demon was taking possession of an unguarded soul.

When she realized what she'd done, Sarah released Dana immediately, but the connection had been forged. The agent had continued her upbraiding as if nothing had happened, but now her softened gaze drifted over Sarah's body. She stole breaths more often and kissed her harsh words with sighs. She licked a phantom drop of wine from her lips.

Whatever Dana's reasons for coming here, whether it was affront over an erroneous citation in an obscure journal or escape from the man whose scent she wore like a brand, the reasons were irrelevant. Everything, everyone she had ever loved or wanted would become irrelevant.

Tomorrow would be a euphoric day for Dana, filled with music and companionship, sex and decadent food. Sarah would see to that. And she would try, with all the human strength within her, to unravel fate's sticky web before Dana became forever entangled. The truth was, though, human strength had already failed Sarah once tonight. She'd taken a drink, an illicit sip of Dana's blood. The liquid candy had been soured by guilt's poison, yet Sarah craved another taste.

Dana didn't know why she was in this bed. Why, even from the fringes of sleep, she obeyed an unspoken command to lift her hand and allow Sarah to lick clean the remnants of blood on her wrist. Why, though she was parched after their lovemaking, water wouldn't satisfy her thirst.

She was here, as innocent as Sarah had once been and as damned, a beautiful mate for an ageless Hell. Sarah sent her dreams of peaceful places and watched Dana Scully as she slept sweetly in the arms of a monster.

* * *

Chapter 3

* * *

In the city that never sleeps, Dana Scully did, and soundly, until the phone rang.

She wanted to ignore it, to return to dreams where guilt did not exist and phones did not ring after midnight. Consciousness, then conscience dragged her from luxuriant fantasies and Sarah's warm arms, tossed her into a wasteland of cold white sheets and harsh noises.

Reality greeted her in Mulder's voice: "You left without saying goodbye." Monotone. Scrubbed clean of anger and worry, made presentable for her benefit.

"Mulder --"

"Did I do something wrong?" Self-blame began to blacken his words, flowing like ink into patterns familiar and indelible.

Scully sought an anchor, something more substantial than a telephone receiver, more tangible than supplications whispered through wires, but Sarah had slipped out of bed and out of reach. On her own Scully found the stamina to resist apology, but was disappointed to hear herself begging. "Please, Mulder. I just need some time."

"How much time?"

Sarah was standing by the window, a shapely silhouette outlined in moonlight chalk like a classroom illustration of infidelity. Scully found it difficult to speak. Words snagged in her dry throat. Regret and lust together left a disagreeable aftertaste. "A weekend," she said, she coughed, she greedily drank from the glass of water by the bed.

"I need to see you." Of course, he was pleading. He would grovel until his knees bled, until she kissed and made him better.

A match flared and Sarah lit a cigarette, then tossed the match aside, uncaring of the purpose it had served. It left behind a sulphur stink and that was all. Scully wondered if Sarah would discard her with the same kind of indifference when the weekend was through. She wondered why the possibility appealed to her.

"I'll see you on Monday, Mulder." The vow was hollow and its echo mocked her, yet Mulder would believe and wait. He might ignore her, might crush her in carelessness, but he would not abandon her.

He would pin everything on the promise that Monday they would begin again and he said the words he always said to mend what thoughtlessness had torn -- "I'm sorry." So sincere. So unaware of why he was apologizing.

"Me too." She was sorry and the reason was standing only a few feet away, tall and slender, clad in sex smells and cigarette smoke. She was sorry for wanting Sarah more than she wanted Mulder at that moment. Sorry for hanging up. Sorry for not saying goodbye a second time.

* * *

She had gorged herself on the blood of vagrants and whores, the filthy and the low, the diseased and the insane and even so, she had relished the taste. Tonight the sweet drink boiled in Sarah's stomach, curdled by self-reproach and a dozen acid emotions that belonged not to her, but to Dana. Sarah shared them, but adrift in her own suffering, she could not soothe them. She could only ask, "So, Mulder's the reason?"

"The reason?" Dana nibbled at the question, pretended confusion, and then in a cleverly evasive move, pulled aside the covers to reveal her body and hide her mind.

"The reason you're here in New York." She baited Dana with silence, took a long, slow drag from her cigarette and waited, but in battle with Dana's defiance, patience surrendered. "It would be flattering to think that you burned off some frequent flyer miles just to come here and reprimand me for using your name in a manuscript, but you could have done that over the phone."

She stood, Dana did, graceful, compact and feline. Bravely wresting control with a walk, a look, the press of her bed-warm body against Sarah's, a gentle kiss. "Why do you care, as long as I'm here?"

"I do care." Too much, she was certain. She set aside the cigarette and unlocked Dana's arms from her neck, seeking space and breath. "And you didn't answer my question."

"Mulder's my partner. He was just checking in." The lies spilled with nonchalance and wet kisses over Sarah's breasts and deceit, so sugar-coated, dissolved in the distraction. "This is pretty," Dana told her as she traced a finger over the pendant Sarah wore. "Is there a meaning behind it?"

"It's an Egyptian ankh." The gold captured the colors of streetlights and neon as Dana admired the object. Its beauty concealed death and a tiny blade, still sticky with Dana's blood, stained with the blood of a hundred innocents. "It's a symbol of eternal life," Sarah continued, and decided irony would be more palatable with a fresh cigarette.

Dana stepped back, simultaneously offering Sarah reproach and room to light a match. "You won't live forever if you keep smoking those."

"I'm not worried."

"Give me a call after a round of chemo and let me know if you're still not worried."

"You had cancer."

"Cancer had me."

The curious taste of Dana's blood made more sense to Sarah now, but she'd experienced the bitter tang of cancer. This, perhaps, was the flavor of the cure. "What stopped it?"

"I'm still not sure." She was bothered by the mystery, Sarah could sense it, but there was acceptance. Dana turned away. It was easier for her to converse with traffic and buildings than to look into sympathetic eyes and talk of painful things. "None of the traditional approaches were working, so I underwent some experimental treatment. We tried so many things that I'm not sure what it was that saved me, but . . ." Dana shivered. The breeze and the memories were cold.

"You think it was this?" Sarah's kissed the nape of Dana's neck and set off a surprised tremor in the woman who hadn't detected her approach or anticipated the question.

"You felt it?"

"I could taste it." Metallic, like wine sipped from an aluminum cup, but Dana didn't understand. She suffered from blissful amnesia that recalled all the sensual pleasures and none of the perversion and pain of their lovemaking. So Sarah laughed, made truth a joke and supplied a tenable lie. "You have a scar. I noticed it in the shower. We've been doing research at the Institute on the use of microtechnology and implants to control diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, but I didn't realize there'd been any human trials done."

"Can I ask you a question, Sarah?" Small talk with Dana Scully was the conversational equivalent of dancing in a minefield and Sarah had inadvertently tripped another explosion. Dana turned, she stood close, her tone was civil, but an unfocused anger oozed from her words and sent Sarah reeling backwards from the infection. "Do you ever stop and think about what you're doing? The consequences of your research? That by prolonging lives with computer chips and machines, you might end up destroying what makes us human?"

These were strange questions coming from a woman who owed her life to technology, but Sarah understood. Dana had gained years of life and paid with a portion of her spirit. Sarah had gained eternity and paid with her soul. "Everyone wants to live forever," she argued, but did not quite believe.

"Eighty or ninety years is long enough to suffer." Dana stole the cigarette from Sarah's fingers and brought it to her own lips. She exhaled and smoke drifted over her like a shroud, suicide gray.

"Who says you have to suffer?" Sarah took away the cigarette, dropped it and let it smolder to death on the carpet while she tried to find a comfortable fit for her body against Dana's.

"We all suffer." A weariness that had nothing to do with the hour weakened Dana's voice. "Even if you find a way to stop the effects of aging altogether, friends will still die in accidents. Marriages will fail. Lovers will grow apart."

"Yes, those things will happen, but there will be joys, too, and new lovers." Sarah coaxed unruly curls of sleep-ravaged hair to rest behind Dana's ear. Their bodies relaxed, curve and concave aligned in voluptuous symmetry.

Trucks rumbled by on the street below, a siren wailed, a radio played, a diva screeched. In such a din as this the women found tranquility, but only briefly until Sarah destroyed their peace with a whisper. "Why did you leave him?"

Dana went so still, Sarah marveled that she found breath to speak. "Who?"

"You know who."

"I told you, Mulder is just my partner." As was her habit, Dana concealed dishonesty in seduction and she pressed her hand between Sarah's legs.

"And if he pretends to believe your lies, does he get to fuck you, too?"

Sarah could have slapped her and the reaction would have been smaller. Dana stumbled backwards. "What?"

"I just want to be sure I'm clear on the rules here." Her bluntness had been cruel, she'd meant to provoke, and Dana's reaction was predictable.

She didn't scream, didn't hit, but there was more menace in her careful control than there could have been in the loss of it. "You can go to Hell."

"Been there." Actually, Hell was here in this room, and a furious devil was throwing wrinkled clothes at Sarah's feet.

Anger skidded into Dana's voice; a little of her control was lost. "What do you want from me?"

Sarah took her time, concentrated on buttoning her shirt, then said with remarkable calm, "I want an honest answer. What is it that you're running from?"

"This was a mistake. You should go."

It had been a mistake, all of it, but since they'd come this far, Sarah wasn't averse to making one more. "You're not very good at intimate conversation, are you?"

Dana wrapped herself in a robe and it didn't ignite, though it wouldn't have surprised Sarah if rage had set the fabric on fire. "I don't remember signing up for your after-fuck therapy session, Doctor Roberts."

Sarah flirted with the flame like a moth, daring fire to destroy her, emboldened by the knowledge that she wouldn't be the one destroyed. She drew close to Dana, impinged on well-guarded personal space, caught her by the arm and held her still. "I'll make it easy for you then, Doctor Scully. If there is someone who loves you back in D.C., go back there and talk to him. Leave on the next flight and hope you never see me again."

Sarah let her go and Dana did not step away, but neither did she cling to her. She didn't run when Sarah turned her back to scribble a note on the hotel stationery, but she didn't follow Sarah like a shadow. Didn't tell Sarah to leave, or ask her to stay, or speak at all. Dana was willful, to an exasperating degree, and stronger than Sarah had ever been. If anyone could throw off the curse that bound them, it would be Dana.

Sarah wished that for her, and yet . . . "If you decide you want to be with me, here's my address." She handed Dana the paper, but resisted physical touches as she spoke. She caressed her instead with words, adored her with images, worshiped her with gifts the mind could bestow. "I'll love you, Dana, more than you've ever been loved, but if you come to me, be prepared to stay for a very long time."

Sarah walked away from Dana Scully, pleased to discover that she could, disappointed to learn she still had a heart that could be broken.

* * *

Chapter 4

* * *

She was lost.

The rain had ruined her shoes and pasted once casual clothing to her body in a way far too provocative for the neighborhood. A man in a suit offered her twenty dollars for a blow job. She might have done it if he'd offered his umbrella. She might have fucked him if he'd offered a glass of water.

The directions Sarah had given her were blurred by raindrops and frustrated tears. She couldn't remember why she'd decided to make this trip. Why she'd walked instead of hailing a cab. She drank water that poured from a broken gutter, let the filthy liquid splash over her tongue and fill her throat until she gagged. An old black man sat on his porch and watched and shook his head in pity.

She remembered her name, recalled enough to diagnose her own insanity, but could not stop herself from walking except to pause now and then to drink the rain. Time stopped for lost souls or maybe her watch wasn't waterproof, but it was ten after nine on Saturday morning when Dana Scully left her hotel and ten after nine when she knocked on Sarah Roberts' door.

* * *

"I'm thirsty," she said in the dry rasp of old, sick women, and that was the only greeting she gave. Dana pushed her way past Sarah and roamed the apartment in search of a drink. Sarah went behind the bar and allowed her guest freedom to wander, didn't complain about the muddy tracks on her white carpet or the rainwater that dripped from Dana's clothes and seeped into the hardwood floors. It was small punishment. Worse, more deserved, was the suffering that came from finding the beautiful, formidable woman she'd met yesterday now huddled in the bathtub, dirty, frightened, still fully dressed, and lapping up the soapy, tepid water Sarah had abandoned to answer the door.

"Dana." Sarah crouched by the tub, speaking gently, gently touching. "Dana, drink this."

The wine was old, delicious and rare, of inestimable value to a connoisseur. Sarah had saved a bottle, locked it away and called it an investment. It was tainted by a memory and she had hoped never to breathe in its bouquet again. Once, a very long time ago, it had quenched her thirst and it would do the same for Dana, at least for a while.

Sarah held the glass in one hand and in the other a cloth to wipe the soap and water from Dana's eyes. The madness in them could not be so easily blotted. Sarah lifted the glass and Dana snatched it away. She filled her mouth to overflowing with blood red, wine spilled and pinked the water. While Dana drank, Sarah reached into her mind and pieced back together what had come apart. It was a makeshift repair, at best.

"I thought you were going home," Sarah said, more to herself than to Dana, but the other woman answered.

"My plane leaves at noon." She was better, more self-aware because of the wine and Sarah's grounding presence, but not yet whole. Dana glanced at her watch and panicked, "I have to go now," climbed out of the bathtub and headed toward the door in her mud-dyed clothes and sodden shoes.

Sarah didn't allow her to go far. She caught her, held her, pressed her clean body to Dana's dirty one, felt wet cold seep through her silk robe and rake over her skin with frosty fingers. She hoped Dana was stealing warmth in exchange.

"It's too late, Dana," she whispered and didn't pretend not to cry. It was well past noon already, but the hour of the day didn't matter. Sarah had tried to set Dana free during morning's earliest hours, a lifetime before noon. "Too late."

* * *

Such sad music, she thought. A single note, repeating, repeating, repeating like a dull heartbeat to keep the song alive. Melody moved upward, downward, louder, softer, but that one note was always separate. Distinct and alone. "The music," Scully said, and leaned her head against Sarah's shoulder. "What is it?"

Sarah stopped her playing, the solitary note rang on piano wire and filled in the space between question and reply. She turned and looked at Scully with such joyous surprise, relief, and it was puzzling to Scully why Sarah would be delighted by so simple a question. "It's Ravel. Le Gibet. You're feeling better."

Scully tried to recall feeling unwell, to find a reference for the conversation, but the canvas of her memory was disturbingly bare save for a few ugly daubs of embarrassment, desperate thirst, soaking wet, cold that froze the marrow of her bones, a watch paralyzed at ten minutes past nine. It was possible she'd fallen asleep sitting here on the piano bench while Sarah played, that she'd been awakened from nightmares of floods and dehydration by lovely, lonely music, but that didn't explain how she'd arrived at Sarah's apartment or the soft sweater she wore that wasn't hers or the pants that extended past her toes.

Sarah told her not to worry, touched her face with tenderness, kissed her, gave her a sip of extraordinary wine, and then it seemed profoundly silly to Scully that she'd even bothered to wonder over such trivialities. With anxiety subtracted, she spoke the words that remained and were the sum of all she felt, "I love you."

She expected, of course, for Sarah to offer the sentiment in reply. Instead, Sarah stood, paced. Her hands fondled the black and polished wood of the piano. She did not touch Scully at all. "This piano was a gift."

"A gift," Scully echoed, feigning understanding in the hope that understanding would eventually come.

"From someone I thought I loved." Sarah's restless fingers stopped at the pendant she wore. "Just like you think you love me."

Sarah wasn't asking for reassurance, although reassuring words were resting on Scully's tongue. She stayed silent and watched Sarah move around the room studying souvenirs of another lover.

"It would be a terrible way to live, to love someone and never be sure they loved you. To know it was all artificial," Sarah said softly, almost privately, as if reciting something haunting and familiar. "Maybe that was enough for her but I don't think it could ever be for me."

"What was her name?"

Sarah looked at Scully like she'd forgotten she was there. She looked at her like she was memorizing her face so she would never forget again. But when she said the name, "Miriam," she looked at her own distorted reflection in the piano's varnish.

"You're not Miriam." Scully rose to stand behind Sarah, not far out of reach but allowing distance. "You're not like her."

"I am." She pounded a fist without force on the lid of the piano and continued to talk without turning. "I tried so hard not to be. I didn't want this, Dana, I swear to you, I didn't. I wanted to live alone and never do to anyone what she did to me. Least of all someone like you." Tears splashed the wood, three repeating, as melodious in their own way as the song had been, with the same lonely ache.

Finally ready to confess her confusion, Scully began, "I don't--"

"I shouldn't have kept the piano," Sarah turned and shrugged. She disrupted the melancholy with a smile, only a little wilted on her salty-wet face. "You know, I didn't know how to play when she left it to me, but I always had this fantasy of myself as a singer, wearing something slinky and covered in sequins, draped over a big grand piano like this one." She leaned back on her elbows in demonstration, "and singing Cole Porter while men looked at my tits."

"You do have nice tits." Scully tossed off the observation because she wanted to make the other woman laugh, and it worked for a moment, until the would-be chanteuse became solemn and Sarah again.

"I love you, Dana. I do."

Scully found it was easier to talk to the lounge singer. "In this fantasy of yours, did any of the men throw you up on the piano and have their way with you."

And the lounge singer, evidently, had a few things left to say. "Not the men, but there was this sultry redhead sitting at a table, near the front, and I wanted her bad."

"No." Scully stalked her. She pretended she was sultry, that her hair wasn't damp and messy and that her feet weren't tangling in the hem of her pants. Sarah wasn't wearing a baggy shirt over frayed blue jeans, but sequins on silk, something in red, poured over curves like rubies painted-on.

"No?"

"No. She wanted you," Scully whispered, so close now that her wet breath left a shine on Sarah's lips. "She wanted you and she came up to you after the show and stood very close to you, just like this."

"What did she say?"

Scully brushed a hand across Sarah's shoulder, cotton bunched up under her palm but in her imagination, a thin strap fell away. "She told you that you were beautiful and it made her sad that she couldn't kiss you."

"What stopped her?" Sarah sounded afraid of the answer.

"You did, I guess."

Sarah shook her head. Their noses nearly touched. "I wouldn't stop her."

"Even if it wasn't real?"

"It feels real," Sarah admitted and her doubtful eyes and stubborn, stiff body relaxed in acceptance.

"Then who's to say it isn't?" With a kiss, Scully robbed Sarah of opportunity to answer.

* * *

Sixteenth century glass breaks with no more provocation than glass of any age -- something Sarah had forgotten in a rapturous moment. The vase, once glorious and gloriously overvalued, had shattered into worthless pieces that mingled with the water and damaged roses on top of the piano. Such was the price paid for being too fragile to hold a woman steady during orgasm.

Dana mumbled an apology around the wet kisses she smeared over Sarah's thighs. It would have been polite of Sarah to tell her not to worry about it, or at least to thank Dana for owning such an amazing tongue, but she couldn't find energy to speak, to raise her head or even to lift her arm out of the mess of broken glass and stale water. Dana crawled up on the piano with her and nestled against her side, cue enough for Sarah to close her own legs, but she left them apart and dangling over the curved edge of the piano. She was anesthetized with blissful exhaustion. She wanted to fall asleep to the sensation of Dana's mouth and fingers tugging at her nipples and dream of reciprocating.

She drifted on white sounds of rain and wind, Dana's tuneless humming against her breast, heartbeats slowing for slumber. Something primitive, a growl, and the feral emotion it carried brought her awake.

Dana was above her, balanced with animal poise. Beautiful, the way a panther must look beautiful to its prey. Naked and sleek, sweat-glossed, her mouth already dripping from one sensual feast, eyes hungering for another.

Sarah knew without looking what Dana wanted, what she craved beyond reckoning, but she followed Dana's gaze and found proof.

Blood trickled from a small cut on Sarah's arm. Red and thick like the wine had been, but only blood and only hers would quench Dana's thirst for good.

"Not yet, Dana. Please, not yet."

This moment had been bearing down on them, though Dana hadn't felt it approach. Sarah had mourned the loss of every second that ticked from Dana's humanity. Even so, it was too soon. With the wine Dana could have a few more hours, maybe another day, before she was given over as eternity's slave.

"Please, no," Sarah begged and tried to protect her arm, but Dana caught her by the wrist and bent to drink the blood of a vampire.

* * *

Chapter 5

* * *

To protect her, to give her time enough for one last taste of chocolate, Sarah had pushed Dana away. The creature that lived inside Sarah pushed too, and pushed too hard. Dana would not remember screaming when she fell into the glass. Sarah would never forget the sound or how the creature had laughed. When Dana tried to crawl away and lost her balance on blood and slippery wood, Sarah couldn't catch her, and when Dana tumbled over the edge, the creature pushed so she would fall faster and hurt more. Dana's arm bounced on the piano's keys, her body thudded against the bench, she moaned and struggled to lift herself with limbs too weak to hold her. Sarah bent over Dana to offer comfort and help. The creature smelled a feast.

Broken glass sprouted from Dana's skin like blooms bursting through snow. Blood leaked from the cuts, warm and fragrant, pomegranate red and rich. Fat drops of it chased each other into the small of her back and collected there. Sarah scooped a portion into the cup of her hands and drank.

Dana was in pain, Sarah could sense the suffering, but she could not steal it, not like she'd stolen everything else that was Dana's. It was more than pain, though, that made the injured woman's muscles flex and her fingers seek leverage in the carpet. "Be still," Sarah cautioned, her voice gurgled through the liquid in her throat, but Dana would not rest. Jagged chunks of glass sawed deep into her skin as she twisted, yet like the animal she was becoming, her want of blood was stronger than her want to survive.

And so Sarah snared Dana by the wrists, bruised her with an inhuman grip, and pinned her with body and voice. "Be still." For awhile Dana was quiet, the tension in her ebbed with the flow of blood down her back. Sarah released her hold and let attention follow her gaze out the window. The rain had stopped but the storm wasn't over. The clouds were low and pregnant and she thought she could hear thunder now that Dana was hushed. It was far better to contemplate the weather than to think about Dana, easier to resist cravings for blood and a weak body if she could pretend neither were within reach.

A warm and hungry mouth began to search her arm like a suckling seeking milk and Sarah could not pretend then or put off the death of her human dreams.

Regret often grew in the shadow of impulsivity, but not this time. Her decision to kill Dana wasn't wrong, not wrong in the way letting her live would be. The wrong had been in waiting, falling in love and lingering to enjoy it, and that was the mistake that would haunt Sarah for more years than anyone should have to live and grieve.

* * *

She'd been there a moment ago, right there, and she'd smelled so good. So good and so close and Scully wanted to taste what it was that made her smell so delicious.

"Sarah." She summoned her, but Sarah did not come. Didn't she know how difficult it was to speak? That it took two breaths just to say her name? "Sarah."

Scully closed her eyes. The carpet was rough on her face, wool, she thought. It looked softer than this. White carpet should be softer than this, like cotton balls or clouds, like snow only warmer.

She hurt, hurt like when she'd tripped into a rosebush as a child, but much worse.

Much worse.

Much worse and she was so hungry. "Sarah."

She was there. Finally there. She'd come back and brought that wonderful aroma. "It's okay, Dana," she promised. What a nice voice. "Everything's going to be okay."

Sarah touched her hair and Scully liked that. She loved how Sarah touched her.

She loved Sarah.

"Please," she asked, politely even, but Sarah did not give her food. "Please," she demanded and pushed the word through clenched teeth, but Sarah misunderstood and stroked the bruises on her wrists. "Please," and this time she begged and raised her head, opened her mouth to show her readiness to be fed.

But Sarah only cried and said "I'm sorry."

* * *

The tissue paper sound of Dana's voice brushed over the rustle of linen as Sarah worked at the knot. She tried not to listen or to think about the bloody fingerprints she was leaving on the fabric. Her decorator had warned her about using so much white. Made the place look like an upscale sanitarium, he'd told her, but she found it apt. In her well-appointed asylum, she scribbled across elegant drapes in crayon red and imagined she could disappear into the color of nothingness. The knot gave way, the drapes spilled over the window when Sarah stole the cord that bound them. The silk rope did not fall through invisible hands. She was tangible, no matter how she wished not to be.

Dana did not see her, even when Sarah crossed the room and stood near, but that was no consolation. Dana was relying on senses other than sight. She dragged her mistreated body over abrasive carpet to be a few inches closer to her abuser's blood. Sarah dropped the cord, it coiled like a snake between them, and she knelt beside Dana. "It's okay. Everything's going to be okay." The vacant words were enough to soothe at least one of them.

She hummed through the pain, sweet, contented noises when Sarah stroked her hair, and then Dana spoiled the moment with an ugly word. "Please." Sarah let her plead, refused to answer and studied the bruises she'd left on Dana's arms. She cried that she would have to leave more. How strange to cry over bruises, she thought, when she'd consigned herself to kill.

Perhaps it was the death of a delusion she mourned. If Dana could embrace her, she could make herself believe Dana was embracing death. When Dana raised her head and bared her teeth to bite, Sarah knew there could be no last embrace for them. "I'm sorry," she whispered, and picked up the rope.

The knots were necessarily tight. Despite her injuries, Dana fought. She jerked against the cord, twisted it against the piano leg and tried to slide it underneath. Her physical strength failed, so she stared at the dense wood as if force of will would make molecules dissolve and set her free. She appeared smaller to Sarah now, like she'd been erased around the edges, reduced by a size equal to Sarah's guilt. Sarah stood back and let her labor, until angry epithets became frail sobs, a broken-voiced question of "Why?"

The reasons were plentiful, horrific every one, yet trying to explain would be pointless when hunger had so disarranged Dana's logic. This would be better for her than spending even one night crouched between dumpsters, suffocating on the stench of urine and rotting food, competing for space with roaches and rats while waiting for homeless men to stumble by. Dana would never have to wonder whose blood she was brushing out of her teeth in the morning. The memories of her partner would not include the look on his face when she ripped a blade through his throat or the taste of his blood. Why? "I love you," and death was the best lover's gift Sarah could offer.

She plucked a fragment of broken vase from Dana's back, translucent blue purpled by blood, and Sarah licked it clean. She drank from the wound, sucked at the torn skin until it refused to bleed more for her, then pulled free another piece of glass. Exhaustion and the silk rope that snared her hands to the piano leg rendered Dana docile now. Somewhere she found strength not to cry with each new hurt, or else she didn't have strength left for it.

Instead, it was Sarah who cried out. She thought she must have swallowed glass her stomach ached so badly, but she would heal, always heal. Fresh blood would relieve her lacerated stomach, her badly broken heart would beat on to break again in other centuries.

The air was perfumed with rain and the copper incense of blood, and as Sarah ventured down Dana's body, anxious legs spread for her and drenched the air in arousal. She breathed the wetness and prayed to drown.

Sarah remembered little of her transformation, though not because memories had faded. It happened in a white room, as white as this, and details were brighted out like in overexposed photographs. She hadn't known then that white was a deceitful color, that harlots in white dresses could be made to look like virgin brides. If the sheets had been scarlet satin and not bleached cotton, she might have known better than to lay down with the devil. If Miriam's skin had been ash, not ivory, if her hair had been wiry witch black and not sunlit sand, Sarah might have recognized evil at first kiss. That night she'd known all and only what Dana was feeling now: hunger and lust, pain that registered but was inconsequential, trust that no lasting harm could happen in so pure a place.

Sarah coaxed Dana to turn over, careful because the rope would abrade her wrists, the carpet would scrape sensitive skin. Dana's breasts were reddened and her nipples rubbed raw by her thrashing against the rug. Sarah bent to kiss and console. Dana pushed against her, greedy for more than sympathy. Her mouth was open and her legs were spread and Dana probably didn't care which appetite was assuaged first.

Sarah impaled Dana on long fingers, two first, then three when Dana asked for more, kissed over her heart and sealed a vow that Dana would die only half hungry.

She promised to drink Dana's pleasure with as much relish as her blood, every drop of both to the last, but she felt strangely weak as she lifted Dana's hips from the floor. The taste that had been so sweet before mixed with sour blood and bile that surged from Sarah's stomach.

Only once before had blood made her sick, and that was animal blood from an early experiment after her turning. Only then, and then briefly last night, when she was sure it was regret that made her stomach burn. Sarah raised her face and looked at Dana. She was flushed pink, so beautiful, heated with blood that tasted almost human.

"What have they done to you?" Dana didn't hear the question through her own climactic screams.

Sarah stayed, kneeling between Dana's legs while the other woman found her breath. The flush faded and Dana began to pale again, white, but not pure.

"What have you done to me?" Sarah asked before pain closed its fist around her throat.

* * *

Chapter 6

* * *

She'd always been afraid of storms, but was glad when flashes of lightning and thunder that rattled the windows made her tremble. If monsters were unafraid, phobia was the litmus test of humanity.

It was storming now. Sarah closed her eyes and pressed her face into Dana's stomach so she couldn't see the lightning. Thunder was impotent when Dana's heartbeat was louder.

With one fear subdued, Sarah could concentrate on the other. Death resided in her shadow but she'd feared it only vicariously through the people she killed. She feared the guilt death hung on her shoulders. She worried that her coworkers would detect its putrescence and wore heavy perfume for a week after she'd killed. She feared the tally should she ever have to give account. For sixteen years she had furthered death's purpose, and in that time Sarah had forgotten how it felt to fear dying.

She'd spent a year, at least, trying to disprove her immortality with every test she could think to invent, and now, based on a stomachache she was judging herself terminal. It was true, though, no matter how ironic. She was acutely aware of her own blood and felt herself being consumed from the inside by accidental poison.

"Sarah." Further evidence of Sarah's demise was the return of strength to Dana's voice, lucidity to her eyes. "Sarah, untie me."

Didn't Dana know she'd already been set free? Ropes and knots were feeble bindings compared to what she'd escaped. Sarah wrestled with the cord, her fingers weren't as agile as they'd been minutes before. Tears poured out of her eyes and sweat poured in, both salty but the sweat burned.

Dana's wrists bled delectable venom, enticing even now. Sarah let her addiction starve and concentrated on her task. The rope dropped away, Dana's arms fell heavily and she looked no different than when she'd been tied except the bruises on her skin were visible, vivid against the white rug. Greedy fibers sponged up the color of blood.

With eyes closed, breaths deep, Dana seemed to be sleeping but Sarah wasn't sure. The connection between the women was tenuous, shriveling like an umbilical cord between healthy child and dead mother. Sarah could no longer protect Dana from disturbing memories or control her. She could not persuade her to stay if she decided to leave.

At last, too soon, Dana looked at her. She opened her eyes and saw Sarah naked, not just undressed, but unmasked. Reflected in startled blue eyes was the monster Sarah had hoped Dana would never see. "You can keep the clothes," Sarah told her, then somehow found balance to stand and stumble out of the room.

With the wall to support her, she slid down and held her knees close. In a dark hallway, as small as she could make herself, Sarah waited for the front door to open. Only unoiled hinges would protest Dana's leaving.

She listened, but thunder would not leave silence alone and Sarah was afraid the storm had stolen the last word from the last voice she would ever hear.

* * *

She was a pale eclipse of darkness. Her voice was a vapor. "I thought you were gone." Sarah tipped over on her side, still hugging her knees and panting from the effort of speaking.

Though her battered body protested the movement, Scully bent to offer help. Sarah's skin was cold, cast in an unhealthy pall Scully could detect even in dim light. Her hands skidded on sweat as she tugged on Sarah's arms, but together they managed to raise Sarah to her feet. Sarah rested against the wall, Scully rested against Sarah and asked, "What can I do?"

"Nothing. There's nothing to be done." The words were pressed to Scully's forehead, she was baptized with a disconsolate kiss and Sarah's forgiveness. "Stay, maybe, for a little while."

"I'm so sorry." Scully did not offer contrition to the vampire. She'd been assailed with memories of the vampire's deeds, the humiliation she'd suffered, the pain she'd felt and was feeling still. There would be no remorse for the vampire's passing, but Sarah was only a conduit. She did not deserve what she was forced to endure, not before and not today, yet she held Scully in trembling arms, held her blameless. Scully did not feel absolved.

Sarah took her hand and begged her, "Come to bed." Scully went, though reluctantly, and slowly as Sarah leaned on her. In the bedroom Sarah paused in front of the mirror, frowned at her own face, then looked at Scully beside her in the reflection. "Are you surprised you can see me in a mirror, now that you know what I am?"

"I know what was done to you. It doesn't define who you are." She saw Sarah, just Sarah, and no monster but the one with tainted blood who stood beside her.

"I feel old," Sarah said. Gravity and age seemed to be pulling on her shoulders.

"You aren't."

"I look old."

"No," Scully reassured her, though it was somewhat a lie. She did look older. Gray mottled her hair, new lines threaded around her eyes and mouth, gravity was doing its work on her breasts, but not so much that she wasn't beautiful. "No, you don't."

Leaning in to kiss, Sarah faltered and nearly fell. Scully led her to the bed.

This room wasn't like the others Scully had seen. It wasn't pristine white or austere or self-important with carefully arranged art. Everything here was blue, green, tranquil. A peaceful ocean without storms. Pictures of family, never-forgotten friends from another life decorated the walls. The sheets didn't match the bedspread and the bed wasn't made. If the rest of the apartment belonged to a vampire, this room belonged to Sarah. All the things that mattered to her were here, save for one possession. "I want you to have the piano."

"I don't know how to play," and she wondered how many years it would take to learn the song Sarah had played for her.

Sarah answered what wasn't asked. "You have time, Dana." She patted the empty space beside her on the mattress, inviting Scully to lie beside her. "I'm glad you stayed."

If she had not been trapped in the tangle of Sarah's legs, Scully would have turned away. "I didn't think you'd want me to, not after --"

A shaky, blood-stained finger stopped the words, then Sarah moved her hand to caress the back of Scully's neck, the scar there. "This doesn't define you."

"But it's killing you."

"It saved me. You saved me." Sarah was growing tired. She brushed her lips over Scully's, then let her head sink into the pillow they shared. Quietly, like a child on the verge of sleep, "Do you think God will let me into heaven?"

"I'm certain of it." Surely there was a place where damaged souls were repaired, and if such a place existed, they would see each other again.

Sarah's eyes closed and Scully hoped imagination was previewing for her all the wonders she would find. "I hope they have chocolate there. I haven't had chocolate in so long."

Denied even a fond memory of food, Sarah's body arched in pain, she convulsed and Scully didn't know if touching her would ease Sarah's suffering or add to it. "Hurts," Sarah sobbed when agony gave her a brief reprieve.

That it hurt was obvious and it would go on hurting because death was enjoying the game. Its triumph was assured, yet death lingered to savor every whimper and moan of Sarah's defeat.

For Sarah's sake, the game had to end.

The pendant around Sarah's neck was as heavy as it looked, but not entirely solid. The base pulled free to reveal a blade so sharp it barely stung when Scully pulled it through the bruised skin at her wrist.

For Sarah's sake, she bled again.

Blood splashed a trail over wrinkled sheets and aging skin as Scully raised her arm to Sarah's mouth. "Drink, Sarah, and it won't hurt much longer," though Scully knew her own hurt was just beginning.

Between greedy sips, Sarah swallowed, she let blood run over her chin while she spoke. "I'm sorry we didn't have more time."

"Me too." Scully stroked Sarah's hair and watched it gray before her eyes.

"You'll remember me?" Her voice was old, too, and very weak.

"Forever and ever."

And Sarah smiled. "Not forever."

Lightning illuminated the room. The light was gone from Sarah's eyes before the thunder came.

"Not forever," Scully whispered into a kiss. She had the length of her life to remember Sarah and grieve, but not all the years between goodbye and forever.

* * *

The End of "Haemophilus"

* * *

Author's Notes:

Thanks first and always to my beta readers, S, M, A and D, for encouraging me on this project and letting me off the hook on others.

A year's supply of black eyeliner to the Goth Chicks.

And thanks especially to the woman who told me to watch a movie called "The Hunger" and pressed me into service writing this crossover. I wrote without boundaries for someone who believes, as I do, that love and friendship should never have limits.

* * *

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Isabel "Izzy" Izenthe
http://members.xoom.com/goatgir1

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