Title: Revanche
Author: Fialka <fialka@t-online.de>
Summary: Scully wants a birthday gift. Sequel to 'Phoenix'.
Spoilers: none
Category: S, S/O, Slash
Rating: R
Archive: Auto-archives, Gossamer OK. Others please write for permission, though I generally give it.
Disclaimer: Don't own her, just borrowing, promise to put her back in a reasonably unmutilated state.
First Posting: 23 Feb 2000. An earlier version appeared previously on Scullyfic.
Feedback: Yes, please. <fialka@t-online.de>
More candy - http://welcome.to/TheCandybox
The real meal - The Annotated X-Files - http://smart.issexy.com
Author's notes: The Phoenix stories are my foray into a slash universe. For those of you who don't like that sort of thing, normal programming will resume shortly. This is for those of you that do. The first story can be found at The Candybox (above). If you read that, this one will probably make more sense. Thanks to Yes, Virginia for beta above and beyond...
The title can mean 'revenge', but it's more commonly used to mean 'rematch', as in sports.

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REVANCHE
by Fialka

for Dasha K, who said I could blame it on her...


All of the gin joints in all the cities in all the world and she walks into mine.

Yeah, all right, it's not original. Yeah, I've seen Casablanca about 37 times. And no, I'm not Bogey and she's not Ingrid Bergman and it isn't even in a gin joint that I see her again. Just walking down the street, as I'm blithely coming out of Lord Byron's, where I hang with my boys sometimes.

It's late, past midnight, and she's far enough away that under normal circumstances I wouldn't have noticed her, but since one unexpected night not quite a year ago, little well-dressed redheads always catch my eye.

This time it really is her, no momentary aberration, no wishful thinking. She's walking with a man - tall, well-dressed. He's got that easy walk that speaks privilege and money. She has her face lifted to his, and he's bent slightly over her. They're arguing about something. Arguing in the good natured way of two people who've known each other long enough and well enough to expect the disagreement, to actually enjoy it.

Then they stop walking and he kind of puts an arm around her, like he wants to move her out of the line of pedestrian traffic, only there's no one behind them. I can't see her face anymore, just his hand, splayed huge and white across the middle of her back. It looks like he might kiss her, but he doesn't. I guess they come to some kind of agreement about whose place because they separate and she crosses into the street, around a dull blue Taurus, and stands there with her hand on the handle of the passenger door waiting for him to get in and unlock it for her. And then they drive off.

'See something you like?' That's Brendan, coming up behind me, throwing his own arm over my shoulder. He sees my face and takes the arm away.

'Something you don't like?'

Bren has red hair too, and without planning, I reach up and tug on it. It's not the same red, and Bren keeps it too short, but for some reason it makes me feel better.

'Just had a thought. Do you mind if I bail? I'm suddenly not up for a night with the dancing queens.'

'You were all for it a minute ago.'

'Yeah, I know. I'm sorry.'

Bren looks at me a long moment, then shrugs. I've known him since we were both nineteen, nigh-on twenty years now, and he's long ago gotten used to my moods. 'I'll come by later in the week,' he says, leaning over to kiss me briefly on the mouth, and if you didn't know we were both queer you might think that we made a lovely couple too.

I wish him happy hunting. He lopes off, waving without turning around. And I am left with the after-image of my redhead and her man and the delight on her face when she looked at him.

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A month later, it really is my gin joint and she really is walking in. Just like before, in a neat black suit and heels, briefcase in hand. And just like before she shoulders up to the bar while I loom over her, clutching a handful of dirty beer mugs and trying to get control of my face.

'Hi,' she says, and there's so much weight in that word it practically falls from her mouth and crashes onto the counter. I stare at the old, scratched formica, somewhat surprised to see it still in one piece. I have no idea what to say. Long time no see, didn't expect to ever see, how's the guy, who's the guy, and what do you think you're doing now, Little Miss There is No Place For This in My Life'?

I just say hi.

'Are you... Can I...' Her voice falters, dies away. I sneak a quick peek and she's looking at the counter too, tracing one of the scratches with a manicured fingernail.

Manicured. Jesus.

I can hear my own voice, inside my head. In capital letters, no less.

This Is Not For You.

It helps. It gets me back into business. I'm standing on the platform behind my counter, in my bar. My turf, my world. She's just a visitor here, an occasional tourist. Oh, I was in one of those bars the other day, you know, one of THOSE bars, and you know they were very nice, those women. Some of them even looked like girls.

I put on my work smile. 'What can I get you? White wine?'

She shakes her head. 'I can't stay. I didn't really think you'd be here, but I was in the neighborhood ...' She pauses, then finally lifts those big ole blues of hers. And my belly goes and does that damn twist thing. She looks like she did that night, just before she kissed me. So hungry.

Then I remember the guy and the hand on her back and I can breathe again.

'Yeah?'

Okay, make nice, give her a drink. She'll go away. That's what tourists do.

'I came in once before, a few months ago. But you weren't working.'

'You came in twice,' I say pointedly. 'Once you left a note. The second time, nothing. You know where I live, where I work, who I am. You could have come back any time. I, on the other hand, don't know a goddamn thing about you.'

All right, so I'm not making nice. The hunger fades from her eyes and I can't read what replaces it.

'I'm sorry,' she says, bending to pick up her case.

'What is it, your birthday or something?'

She stops with her hand on the case so that only her eyes show over the bar.

'Why do you say that?'

'I appear to be your once yearly frolic.'

She picks up the case and straightens. 'I'm sorry. I shouldn't have come.'

'You should have come a year ago. Or not at all.'

I don't mean to hurt her, I really don't. I just don't want to start this whole thing over; one great night, then I'm useless for months, mooning over a woman I don't even know. I hadn't realised she has no armour, or at least her armour doesn't cover her completely.

I watch her take it in, and her whole body changes, collapses slightly in on itself. She looks back down at the counter, brushing away crumbs that don't exist, like she's brushing away whatever idea she walked in here with.

'Yes,' she says. She draws a long, carefully controlled breath and the assimilation process is complete. You don't see the barb I've stuck in her flesh anymore. You just see a small woman making herself stand tall, nothing on her face as she walks out of a bar.

Cal comes over with a rack and starts putting glasses back on the shelves.

'So that was her?'

I wake up and start helping with the top shelf. Cal is too short to reach it.

'That was her.'

'You're out of your mind, you know that?'

I look at Cal and she looks back. We've done the bone dance, she and I; once or twice when we were both too lonely for strangers. That's all there is between us - the occasional fuck and a lot of great friendship. No fire, just a salt sea where we keep each other afloat.

'I can cover,' she says.

I go.

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She hasn't gone far. Only as far as the Taurus, which is parked just outside the bar. Amazing, there's never a space when I come.

The Taurus, though. His car. She's borrowed his car, for what? A fuck for old time's sake? Do we have a time old enough, memorable enough to have a sake?

Maybe it's their car. I wonder if he knows where she's taken it. I bet he'll snipe at her tomorrow for leaving the seat too close. Or maybe it's a joke between them. Readjusting everything. Seats, mirrors, lives.

Wrong. Wrong thought. Forget about readjusting lives. Forget about her, go back to the bar.

But I'm in the street already and it's too late. I can see her through the windshield. She's just sitting there, in her boyfriend's car. Head back against the seat rest. Her eyes are closed, so she doesn't see me standing there like an idiot, staring at her for what has to be a full minute before she opens her eyes.

I imagine this is what it's like to be shot. In the first moment, just a stunned blankness, an instantaneous turning to ice. A moment later the pain sinks in, and the realisation that something has happened, something momentous, and there's no going back. All you can do is fall down and hope you survive.

Somehow I'm still standing when she opens the door of the car and gets out. And then I'm on her, grabbing her by the front of her jacket and pulling her almost off her feet. Her mouth opens in surprise and I clamp mine on top of hers, hard. Hard enough to bruise my lips, and I think I taste blood between us.

This is it now, I'm thinking. This is the place where she pushes me away, maybe even slaps me good and proper. This is the place where she gets in her boyfriend's car and drives home crying, and I never have to worry about her wandering into my gin joint again.

I feel her hands work their way into my hair and I almost welcome the pain when they turn into fists and pull my head back. I realize now I've got her up against the car, and she's breathless, flushed, mouth already swelling and her eyes ... there are no words for the expression in her eyes. No, there are a dozen words, and every one of them means take me. Right here, in the street, against the car, in my neat little suit, take me now.

She whispers my name and my belly opens, my knees dissolve.

Her hands soften, molding themselves to the shape of my head, and I kiss her again, not quite so rough now. I'm still pressing her into the car, waiting for her to remember where we are, who we are, still waiting for her to tell me to stop. Instead, she's making that noise she makes in the back of her throat when she wants more than I'm giving her and her hands are coming down from my head, down along my arms, back to my own hands, still fisted in her suit.

She drags her mouth away from mine.

'Please,' she groans. 'Get in the car.'

How we manage to get to mine without killing ourselves is a mystery that's not worth solving. She's pulling at my clothes before we're barely inside the apartment, half climbing on me in her frenzy. The door slams closed as we fall against it, rattling the pictures on the walls.

Yeah, the neighbors will have something to talk about tomorrow. Right now, there's fire in my belly and I do something I've never done to anyone - I tear her jacket in my rush to get it off her, buttons rolling across the floor.

I expect her to be pissed off about that, but instead she laughs and drags my jeans down over my hips. I can't believe this is the same woman who was so shy and sweet the last time I saw her. There's nothing shy about the woman who's pushing me to the floor, taking exactly what she wants. Nothing but a dark, ravenous hunger I willingly embrace as I throw myself open to greet her.

And when she's done with me, I'm going to drag her into the bedroom, clothes trailing from her body, throw her on the bed and take her back, just the way I saw it in her eyes before.

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When I wake up, halfway through the night, she's gone. A crushing weight descends on my chest and sits there. It's like a stray beast, that weight - if I don't feed it, it goes, but I always give in. Then it hangs around, day in, day out, wanting more and messing up the apartment.

I'm still throbbing between the legs, aching in back and forearms. That's how I know it really happened, that I didn't dream her. But now she's gone. The weight shifts, settling in. This is going to be a long one.

'Hello, beast,' I whisper, and I get up to give it some vodka.

The living room is a dark gold from the streetlamp outside my window, the floor bare where we scattered my mexican rug. She's left the torn jacket, like Cinderella's slipper, lying by the door.

Great. In addition to the damned jacket, I'll be finding buttons for days now. Like shards from a broken glass, waiting to cut me when I least expect it. I should never have let Cal entice me into going after her.

In the kitchen there's always a glass; in the freezer, usually a bottle. I hold it up, peering through the frost to see how much is in it. It's been a while since the beast needed feeding.

Half a bottle. It's enough.

I pour a nice four fingers, move into the living room to put something suitably depressing on the CD player. Suitably depressing describes most of my music collection, so I just grab the first CD in the stack. Torch. Fine. A little Carly singing oldies, a little vodka, I just might soothe the beast to sleep before it manages to dig in its claws.

I go to curl up in the corner of the couch and damn near drop the glass when the shadows move, shape themselves into her.

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We stare at each other for a moment. I think she must have fallen asleep on the couch; she looks heavy-eyed and blotchy. I put my hand on her cheek and my breath stops when I feel how hot her face is.

Hot and damp.

She's been sitting out here, crying, alone in the dark.

'Dana?' To say her name gets my breathing going again, but my heart is playing catch-up by throwing itself against my ribs. 'What's the matter?'

I reach over her to turn on the table lamp. She stops me, her hand light on my wrist. It's like she's two different people, predator and prey, the wolf and Little Red Riding Hood rolled into one small package, curled up tight in the corner of my couch.

'Please,' she says softly. 'Don't.'

She gives me my hand back, but all I want to do is put it on her. Anywhere on her. All I want to do is hold her.

So I do.

I find it doesn't take that much tugging to get her to move, to uncurl herself enough to fit in my lap, her cold bottom cradled between my warm thighs. I cuddle her up close, chiding her for coming out here without anything on, for being too silly to even find the blanket I keep at the end of the couch for the nights I feed my own beast, alone in the dark. This couch has seen a lot of solitary tears, like the wall across from it has seen more than one glass shatter. I wonder if she's got her own beast-couch, her own gouges in the wall.

I wrap the blanket tight around both of us, and I'm surprised when her arms go around my neck and her hot face presses itself against my throat. 'I'm sorry,' she whispers, and her breath tickles my neck so that I have to move her away.

'For what?'

She's looking up at me now, her head resting against my arm, her face frighteningly serious.

'For hurting you.'

I trace her bottom lip, swollen and bruised where I caught it between my teeth and hers. 'I should apologise. I'm the one that hurt you.'

She moves my hand from her mouth and holds it to her chest. 'Not that. You were right. I could have come back any time.' She smiles a little, a sad little flicker. 'I did think of you.'

'I stopped thinking about you,' I tell her, 'But it generally took a bottle of vodka to do it.'

She looks over at the glass. 'Is that what brought you out here?'

'I thought you'd gone. No point wasting time.'

She looks at me, saying nothing, but I can see each thought reflected in her eyes. All the things she said as she was walking out the door last year.

'Has something changed since the last time I saw you?'

'Me,' she murmurs, reaching up to trace the shape of my lips. It's tempting to suck her finger into my mouth, but I manage to refrain. 'I'm a year older.'

'And?'

'I've always ... it's always been work, work, work. That's what I chose. But time is passing. I look into my future and I think ... I don't like what I see coming. I don't want to live that life.'

'So, you want -'

Her fingers stop over my lips, silencing me. 'But I don't know how to do this,' she says, and her fingers are trembling. 'I've never tried. I... when I went back, before ... I didn't realise how badly I wanted to see you again, until you weren't there. And then tonight, when I opened my eyes and saw you standing outside the car ... I've never wanted anything so much, never wanted anyone like I wanted you in that moment. It scares me. It *isn't* me. Not the me I've been.'

Her hand moves away, freeing my lips. 'So this is the part where you tell me that it's just too much and you'll love me forever but you have to go now.'

'No.' She drops her eyes and picks at a frayed patch on the quilt covering us. 'This is the part where I tell you that my work would always be dragging me out of your arms. That I would wind up breaking every date we ever make, that there would be a lot of things I can't or won't talk about. That I have no idea if I know how to be anyone's lover, even if I wanted ...'

She trails off and I wonder if she can even see me with her heart filling her eyes like that.

'I just...' She looks away. 'I just think that all I would do is hurt you. And that's not what I want.' She slides out of my lap, but I grab her by the wrist and keep her from walking away.

'Dana.' I tug on her arm and make her turn around. 'What do you want? What are you asking me for?'

She's trembling now. 'I don't know.' She looks around, like she's expecting someone to barge in. 'I think there are some things I'm just not supposed to have.'

'Why not?'

She tries to draw back her arm. 'Please. Let me go.'

I open my hand. She's going to go get dressed now and she'll be gone and that's it. She's not coming back again.

You don't need this, says the reasonable, sensible side of myself. Just let her go.

I can't. Goddamn it. I can't.

'Who's the guy?'

The words blurt out of my mouth, but they stop her. She turns around, genuinely perplexed.

'What?'

'I saw you with a man. Walking down College Avenue, about a month ago. You seemed awfully close. What is he? Husband, boyfriend?'

She tilts her head, frowning. She really doesn't have a clue what I'm talking about. Then her face clears and she almost laughs.

'Oh, god, him. I work with him. He's a friend.'

'A very good friend, by the look of it.'

The smile disappears.

'Yes. Yes, he is.' She turns away and bends down to pick up a bundle. Her clothing. I hadn't even seen it.

'Only a friend?'

She straightens, clothes clutched to her chest, and looks me right in the eyes. 'Really. Only a friend.'

I take a step closer. 'If I asked you to put your clothes down, right now, would you do it?'

The tip of her tongue darts out, flicking the corner of her open mouth.

I wait.

And wait. Just as I'm readying myself for her to turn away, readying my arms for the beast to leap into them, I see one leg of a pair of trousers slip from her grasp.

A white shirt flutters to the floor like a dying bird.

A black bra. The other leg of the trousers.

Her arms are empty now and she clasps them around her naked self. She has the same look she had the very first time she walked into my bar. So sweet. So vulnerable. So sad.

I take another step.

'If I asked you to come back to bed, would you do that?'

The tongue flicks out again. This time she clamps down on her bottom lip to keep it in. But she nods, a shallow bob of the head. I take the final step.

'And if I asked you to tell me about yourself? Who you are, what you do, what you're so afraid of?'

She takes one step back, breaking the spell.

'No,' she says, and I see her shiver. 'I can't do that.'

I think of the bottle sitting in the freezer, the glass still sitting on the coffee table. Beast or famine.

'It's my birthday,' she says, blindly, out of nowhere. 'You were right. I just wanted ...' She's starting to cry, and she doesn't like that. I can see her shutting down, retreating, and before she can start gathering her things again, I take the last step and pull her into my arms.

She doesn't say a word. She's looking up at me and her eyes are wide and blue and scared. I don't know what she expects, or what she wants, or even how old she is. And then she closes her eyes and lays her head against my shoulder and for the moment, it doesn't matter.

'Happy birthday,' I whisper, and touch my lips to the top of her head.

At least with famine there's a chance that things might get better.

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