Moment of Weakness

by Nic and Heathers

Moment of Weakness
Story By: Nic & Heathers
Written By: Nic
lonejaguar@home.com
Crosspost: Scullyfic ONLY - DO NOT forward to ATXC, XFF or anywhere else Archive: Please ask - Scullyslash archive okay. Rating: NC-17 - graphic violence and sexual situations Category: ScullySlash, Scully/Other
Spoilers: None... Set sometime during the 6th season. Summary: When an old friend returns unexpectedly with a stunning new look and an intriguing revelation, Scully is forced to re-evaluate her ideas about her own sexuality. Though not everyone at the FBI is intent on giving her an easy ride...
Fox Mulder and Dana Scully belong to Chris Carter, Ten-Thirteen Productions and 20th Century Fox Broadcasting. No copyright infringement is intended. The character of Joanne Thornton is of my creation. Author's Notes and Musical Credits can be found in a separate post at the end of the story. And feedback can be sent to lonejaguar@home.com where it will loved and cherished forever more.
WARNING - If you continue with reading this story, I am not responsible for you feeling offended. Please do not email me with gripes about how horrible and sick and/or twisted I am. If you'd like to email me and talk about the fic itself, how you felt, and/or my motivations, please be my guest.




"If I shed my skin, I won't feel...
If I close my eyes, I won't see you...
I cover my ears and I won't hear...
I cover my mouth and I won't tell the truth..."

*

It's been less than forty-eight hours since I set foot within Washington DC's city limits for the first time in six months and already I want to get away again. I arrived believing I had everything mapped out, everything simplified and everything solved. My slate had been wiped clean and I was at peace with myself.

Leave it to me to fuck it up all over again...




Friday

She passed the city limits of Baltimore as the sun began to rise, the warm colours dimmed through the visor on her helmet. Silently wishing she were back in Brazil, back in the hot and humid atmosphere - instead, riding swiftly down the freeway in the frigid November wind. The traffic had been picking up slowly as she went; the day workers emerging from their warm homes and into the cold as the night workers trudged their way home.

She shivered against the icy wind streaming by her. It had been a long ride, but she was in the home stretch. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the street lights flicker out one by one. Bringing a gloved hand to her mouth, she felt the leather squeak and breathed on it, hoping to warm it up even for a moment as she fought the fatigue that dogged her. The constant hum between her legs had done well to keep her awake throughout her trip. It had almost been six hours since she left New York and her body was aching to stop and rest.

As a mix of Caucasian and Arawak Native, Jo had been born in the Amazon and adopted into a family in Canada. During her childhood, she discovered an ability to metamorphose into a human/jaguar mutant. Jo had left work to go on a personal journey back home to Brazil once she discovered her "ability" to morph was actually a genetic deformity. Her body held two separate genomes: one human, one feline's. After that revelation, she lost what control she had over her self-awareness and decided the only way to help herself was to go home to where she was born.

It had been three months since she had seen Scully and Mulder. Her good friends had dropped in unannounced and uninvited while Jo was on "sabbatical" and were not welcomed with open arms. Turned out they had seen stories on CNN that the tribe Jo was with was in somewhat of a civil war with local authorities and dropped everything to fly down to take her back to safety. She knew what they were doing was only out of love, but she declined and stayed in the rainforest for another three months.

The large green sign that read "Bethesda Next Right" sped overhead and evoked a sigh of relief from the Brazilian. It had been a long time.




Joanne stepped out of the bathroom, sending a cloud of steam into the upper level of her apartment. She sighed and rubbed the last of the road grime from her face and draped the towel over the railing. Jo wandered into her bedroom to grab a tee shirt and a pair of boxers and put them on. She reached back to pull her hair out from under her shirt when her hands ended up in a mop of dreadlocks. She smiled, surprised she had forgotten about her new appearance so quickly. Scratching her neck absently, Jo made her way down the stairs. Once she reached the bottom, she turned around.

"Thai," she called. "Come on, kitty."

A small Siamese cat suddenly appeared at the top of the stairs, scampered down them and followed Jo to the couch. He leaped onto the back of the couch and pranced about her shoulders as she slumped onto the soft cushions. Jo smiled and looked around the apartment. The place was spotless.

"Hey Thai, remind me to ask Dana to look after my place again. I've never seen it so clean."

The cat butted its head into her ear in response. Thornton reached for the phone on the side table and grunted as the cat leapt onto her lap. He watched as she dialed a number and leaned back into the couch.

"Hey Dana, it's Jo. Just calling to let you know that I'm back in town and you don't need to come by today to take care of Thai." Jo scratched her cat's head in thought. "Ah... gimme a call if you wanna go out for a coffee or something. Talk to you later." She looked down at the animal in her lap. "Well," she said and the cat cocked his head. "I'm knackered, so I'm going to bed." Thai dropped to the floor as she stood. "You're more than welcome to join me." Knowing where she was heading, the cat bounded up the stairs ahead of her and sat on the corner of her bed. Thornton chuckled and crawled in for some much needed sleep.




The room had fallen into darkness for about an hour. Joanne slept as soundly as when she first lay down. Thai, who had been curled into a tight ball, raised his head as he heard a key in the door. He glanced back at his owner, then to the doorway as the lights flicked on downstairs.

"Kitty kitty?" called a familiar voice.

Thai leapt off the bed and stopped at the top of the stairs and gazed down at the small redheaded woman standing in the middle of the apartment. She looked up at him and smiled.

"There you are, what are you doing up there?" Dana Scully watched the cat look back towards the bedroom and she frowned. She looked around her for any signs of life and spotted a familiar leather jacket hanging on the back of a kitchen chair. "She's back?" she asked the cat. Thai just blinked at her. Scully rolled her eyes for even thinking for a second that he might have answered her and started up the stairs.

She stopped short of the door and peered in. Sure enough, there was Jo, stretched out on her bed and sound asleep. Scully smiled at seeing her friend again after so many months. The soft bump against her leg made her realise she'd been staring and she looked down. The small cat turned in the opposite direction and repeated the action until she retreated from the door. "Well Thai," she said, "I guess she forgot to let me know she was back huh?"

The cat yowled at her from her feet and ran down the stairs. Recalling the meaning of his behaviour, Scully followed the cat into the kitchen and filled his bowl with food. She set it on the floor and wondered if she should leave or not. Jo did just get home, she thought. It might be nice to see what she's been doing. Opting to stick around for a bit, Dana reached for the kettle on the counter and filled it with some water. Leaning slightly over the counter, she placed it on the stove and grabbed some mugs from the cupboard, silently grateful that Jo wasn't much taller than she.

"Hey," came a quiet voice.

Scully spun around to see Jo standing in the doorway of the kitchen, her eyes half closed, scratching her stomach absently. She smiled until she caught sight of the new hairdo and her eyes widened in surprise. Her mouth opened slightly, but nothing came out.

Jo smirked and rubbed her eyes, walking closer. "I know," she said, opening her arms. "I'll tell you the story in a minute."

Scully accepted the hug and returned the gesture. Her friend was thinner than she remembered, but more solid, if that was possible. The warmth of her bed still clung to her. "Shouldn't you be surprised that I'm in your kitchen?" she asked as Jo pulled back and took a seat at the table. "I could've been a murderer."

Thornton grinned and looked up at her. "Dana, most murderers don't leave their shoes and jacket by the door and offer you tea before they kill you."

"Touche." Scully smiled and dropped tea bags into the mugs in front of her.

She glanced at Jo again and couldn't help but smile. The hair, she couldn't get over it. It was so different yet... oddly fascinating. The locks frayed every which way, giving her a "just-out-of-bed" look. But then of course, Scully thought, she is just out of bed. Her eyes drifted to Jo's ears and noticed that they each sported a couple silver ear cuffs and earrings -also new. Scully wondered absently if there was anything else Jo came home with.

In New York, where Jo originally worked, she was a relaxed, yet passionate FBI agent, when she and Mulder had left her in the jungle, she was a wild and untamed native. Now here she was again, back in DC, all decked out in a new frame of mind, and a new charismatic force. Still, Scully watched her, partly because she still couldn't believe it and partly because she couldn't take her eyes off the "new Jo".

Thornton reached over the table and touched Dana's arm, trying to gain a little awareness in the redhead's eyes. "Dana, please, you're making me feel weird," she said with a smirk.

"What?"

"And the water's boiling."

"Oh," Scully shook herself inwardly and turned to retrieve the kettle. She poured them both a cup and glanced at her friend. "So do I get the story on your hair yet?" she asked.

Jo grinned and she ran a hand into the mop on her head and shook it out. "A product of an absence of toiletries and an excitable young native boy with a hunting knife. You like it?"

"I do, actually," she replied with a smirk. She turned, grabbed some milk out of the fridge and handed it to Jo. "So your trip," she started, bringing the sugar to the table. "Did you get what you needed from it?"

The Brazilian nodded and scratched the scars on her face. "I think so," she replied. "I'll go back... sometime." She stirred her tea and took a sip. "I just needed to a part of civilisation again." She watched Scully sit across from her. "So what about you?" she asked. "Where's Mulder?"

Scully shrugged and sipped her tea. "No idea," she replied. "I never let him come here with me. It's my escape from him." She smiled at Jo. "My safe haven, if you will."

Jo grinned. "Glad to be of service," she said. "You can keep the key in that case. Come on over whenever you want." Scully nodded her head in thanks. "So how's work?"

Scully rolled her eyes. "Well we've been reassigned to the X-Files again."

Thornton raised her eyebrows. "I didn't know you were off them. What happened?"

"It's a long story," Scully told her. "In a nutshell, we've been given this weekend to clean up our office before starting again on Monday. And... if we can get it done on Saturday, we get Sunday off. Which I could really use."

"Well," Jo started. "I might be feeling generous tomorrow..."

Scully looked at her and smirked. "Can I seduce you with a ride to the office in the morning?"

Jo grinned. "Throw in drinks afterwards and you have a deal."

"I'll see you at eight then."




Saturday

The two women pushed through the doors from the parking lot in the FBI building and walked out into the daily hubbub of the bullpen. A few overtired agents turned and frowned at the guest at the redhead's side, coffee cups halfway to their mouths. Jo slipped her sunglasses from her face and leaned closer to Scully.

"Why did I let you talk me into this?"

Scully smirked as they continued to walk. "Relax, half these people are probably still here from last night."

"It's the hair, isn't it?"

Scully chuckled. "Come on," she said. "I'm sure Mulder's waiting for us."

Jo sighed resignedly and looked around the sea of desks as Scully pushed the elevator button. Her heart sank when she saw a familiar figure making its way toward them and suddenly wished she hadn't agreed to come this morning. A tall, gruff looking man had started toward the duo, walking with a slight limp. This was Agent Howard Seaks. He was in his late forties, early fifties, stood about six feet and was of a medium build. His hair was thinning at the top, which he tried to cover by combing his hair over the balding area.

"Oh God," Jo said quietly. "You didn't tell me he worked weekends."

"What?" Scully turned to see the agent hobbled over to them.

He didn't seem to notice Jo at first, glancing through some files in his hands. He glanced at Jo and watched her stare at him for a moment until her features registered in his mind. "Well, would you lookit what the cat dragged in."

"Seaks," Jo said. "How goes the desk jockey business?"

Seaks glared at her silently. His history was no secret to anyone one in the FBI. In fact, he would broadcast it in hopes of some twisted sort of sympathy. After six years of being one of the most active and productive agents in the Violent Crimes Unit, Seaks was injured in the line of duty -one well-placed bullet into his knee - and life as he knew it was halted permanently. Continually depressed, he tried everything he could to break himself of it. His wife left him shortly after that and his attitude changed to one of resentment and bitterness.

Jo soon became one of his favourite targets to tease and harrass, mostly because she was everything he wanted to be again. It was never a big problem for her, however, and usually just tried to stay away from him.

He puffed up a little. "At least I'm earning my keep instead of running off on vacation with my tail between my legs every time my life gets a little difficult."

"Yeah, that's about all you got between your legs."

"And you're just dying for a piece aren't you?"

Jo made a move forward, but was held back by an iron grip on her arm she hadn't noticed until that moment.

"Jo," Scully warned.

Seaks smirked in satisfaction and licked his lips, looking Jo over. "I'll catch the next one," he said with a wink as the elevator doors opened. "By the way," he said before he turned. "What's with the new look, Thornton? You look like a dyke."

Scully, who hadn't even been acknowledged by Seaks, stared after him. She wasn't sure if she should be shocked or furious at him. "I can't believe he said that."

Jo stepped into the elevator. "It's okay," she said. "It's only offensive when it's not true."

Scully's eyes widened slightly at her friend as the doors slid shut. "What?"




Fox Mulder coughed as a cloud of dust rose and surrounded his head. He brushed his old jeans off and put his hands on his hips. After Spender's death and Fowley's disappearance, they needed to wash the stink from the place. That, of course, meant that they needed to tear the office apart to make sure everything got back to the way it was supposed to be. It was a pain, but if they got it finished today, they wouldn't have to be back until Monday. The good thing was that this time, Scully had told him Jo was in on the event, so maybe... just maybe, they'd be finished early. If only she and Scully would show up.

As if on cue, the two women opened the office door and looked around for Mulder. The haze of dust filling the room caused Jo to sneeze.

"Geez," she said, rubbing her nose. "Dust much?" Fox glared at her from the far corner of the office and she smirked. "All right, Boss Man. Put me to work." She put a baseball cap on her head and rested her hands on her hips.

"Over there," Mulder told her, motioning to a corner of the office that was cluttered with books shelves and boxes.

Scully moved silently to her desk and sat down. Seeing Jo the night before had been fantastic; it was good to hang out again. This time, however, was different for Scully. And she still hadn't quite figured out why.

Dana looked up at Jo, standing in the corner and sizing up the task Mulder set her on. Ever since that morning, Scully had been thinking about what had happened and once Jo had disclosed such an intimate detail of her life, she knew it would be impossible for her to clear her mind of it. She couldn't help it, really. It was like a permanent inkling she wasn't sure how to rid herself of. Jo hadn't said anything more after the elevator doors had closed, just dropped the subject altogether and let the silence reign on their trip to the basement.

When she arrived at Jo's apartment building earlier that morning, the Brazilian was waiting on the steps, wearing a pair of sunglasses against the brilliant morning sun. She looked cold, Scully remembered thinking. Probably not yet accustomed to the drastic change in weather. Between that and the exhausting plane ride, Scully was amazed Jo could even stand on two feet.

Despite her obvious discomfort, though, Thornton looked relaxed. She was leaning back on the steps, looking up at the sky, her legs crossed at the ankles and arms folded securely in front of her. Dana honked the horn once and watched the woman spring to attention like a gun shot had gone off. When Jo realised who it was, she smiled and jumped down the remaining stairs. Scully returned the smile as the Brazilian jogged up to the car and got in. She smelled good, Dana recalled. Not like soap, but a crisp, clean scent, like how the air smells after a snowfall when it hasn't been sullied by cars and trucks and people. It occupied her mind the entire time it took to drive to D.C. and she prayed Jo wasn't trying to talk to her.

Shaking her head, Scully busied herself at the desk. She hoped this was just a temporary thing.




After a few good hours of work, the office looked like an earthquake hit it.

Boxes all over the place, papers strewn about, five garbage bags scattered around the floor. Dana sighed and rested her elbows on her knees. She'd been sitting in her chair for maybe two and a half hours now and her ass was hurting big time. Having momentarily forgotten about her "problem", Dana sighed and looked up to see how Jo was making out with her titanic chore.

She suddenly froze. Her whole body was static and her heart leapt.

Thornton worked, unaware of being watched, and dropped a heavy box on the floor. She wiped her forehead. She was given the oh-so-lovely task of taking down the boxes of photos and newspaper clippings which rested high atop a metal shelf in the far corner of the office. Each weighed about forty or fifty pounds. Releasing a short breath, she looked up. Two more boxes to go.

Dana Scully blinked. She felt almost lewd for staring at her friend, but...

God, Scully thought, she's something to stare at. Taking in the Brazilian's first appearance was nice enough. A worn pair of green cargo pants and white tank top, which seemed ever-present when she was doing some physical work. Her new hair was something to behold; it was sticking out in places from under the black baseball cap on her head. And that wasn't even all of it. Her dark skin stood out against the white tank and the redhead wondered absently if her skin was that smooth over the rest of her-- Woah, Dana, down girl...

She wasn't even sure why she was going this weird over Jo. She didn't get it, really. Dana had always assumed that she wasn't interested in women in a sexual way, though she never had a problem with those who did. Now she was having a difficult time separating sexual desire and plain admiration. She had no difficulty looking at a woman and thinking she was beautiful. But it had never occurred to her that she was... a lesbian? Dare she say that? Would that jinx whatever heterosexuality she had? Maybe she didn't have any.

Scully rubbed her face with her hands and looked over to Jo again.

The Brazilian reached up finally, striving for the box a foot or so above her head. Her top inched up as she stretched, inadvertently exposing her midriff to Scully's scrutinising eyes. She couldn't tear them away even if she'd wanted to. She hadn't seen a body like that in a very long time. Thornton's stomach was nicely toned from obvious hours of working out, not to mention the months climbing trees in the Amazon. Her smooth skin seemed to wave over the expanse visible from just over her navel to the top of her cargos. Dana frowned and squinted as a glint of light caught her eye. Then her eyes widened.

Oh my...

It was a navel ring. A small silver ring that caught the artificial light in the office and stood out against the dark skin it was attached to. The redhead started to wonder what it was like to get that kind of thing. She had heard so much about piercings that young people were getting nowadays, that she never gave it much thought that Jo, a 37 year old woman would get one done. Her curiosity was piqued. Pondering about how Jo had decided what kind of ring to get, if it had hurt, how the artist went about doing it. For some reason, her mind kept wandering further and further away; making her wonder what that ring would feel like against her lips, rolling over and under her tongue. Scully swallowed as her stomach flipped involuntarily. That ring... god, that ring just gave the Brazilian so much sensuality and so much allure to forbidden territory, she was having a hard time controlling herself.

Scully's eyes flicked up and fixed themselves upon the well-muscled shoulders that bore the weight of the box above. She never realised how much of a shoulder woman she was until she felt her throat produce yet another lump which she swallowed promptly. It was then that she noticed the tattoo.

Dana never noticed it before. Jo's shorter hair coupled with the tank top exposed the length of her neck and most of her shoulders. The tattoo was vibrant blue, red, and green with a black outline. It started at the base of her neck and crawled its way halfway up and two parts of it even curved slightly around to the sides of her neck. The design looked like a mix between flames and vine; curvy, but pointed and intimidating. The flames were coloured red and in the centre of the tattoo, there was a circle coloured blue that seemed to protect a small symbol from the flames. The symbol was an emerald green and a tribal kind of art.

"Ah, Jo," she managed to get out.

The Brazilian looked over her shoulder as she was reaching for the box and paused. "Yeah?"

Scully blinked and swallowed. "Ah, I was looking at the new tattoo... It's nice."

Jo relaxed and dropped her arms to her sides. "Thanks, I got it in Brazil." She walked over and stopped beside Scully's chair. Kneeling down, Jo turned around in front of the redhead so she could get a good look at the body art. Dana sucked in a breath. There it was again. That clean, fresh scent she had smelled when Jo got into her car earlier that morning. It was so refreshing, so cool and invigorating.

"Scully, you all right?"

Dana looked up at her partner, who was peering around a pile of boxes with a mixed expression on his face. It was then that she realised that her eyes must have been closed. The heat of embarrassment washed over her, which would have been fine, but they didn't dissipate any of the other feelings her body was reacting to at that moment. She swallowed.

"I'm fine," she replied, pushing her chair back, away from Thornton. Jo looked back at her with a puzzled look on her face when Scully got to her feet and excused herself, being especially careful not to make any physical contact with the woman in front of her. She walked out the door and into the hallway. When she was far enough away, she stopped and leaned up against the wall, staring at the ceiling. Dana exhaled laboriously. "This is going to be a long day..."




Joanne sighed as she pushed the last box back into place on top of the shelf. Grabbing the metal shelf in front of her, she leaned forward and stretched her back, groaning as she did so. She glanced toward the other two agents in the room who were conversing about some files that had been found in one of the boxes she had brought down. Jo wiped her forehead and wandered over to the far section of the office.

"Hey guys," she said, stretching her arm across her chest. "I don't know about you, but I'm in serious need of food."

Mulder raised his head and was the first to respond. "I could use a sandwich or something," he replied. He looked at Scully who was standing beside him. "What about you, Scully?"

The redhead glanced up at him. "Yes," she agreed. "Yeah definitely."

"All right then," Jo said. "I can run down to that bagel place a couple blocks down and get us some sandwiches, if that's okay."

"I'll go with you," Scully said suddenly.

Jo grinned and nodded. "Great, let me just get my jacket and we can go."

"Hey," Mulder called as they were on their way out. "None of that veggie crap for me," he said. "I want the biggest sandwich with the most meat on it."




The pair walked in relative silence for a while. Scully stole a few glances at Jo as they made their way down the crowded sidewalk and noticed Jo was incredibly cold. Her hands were tucked tightly into the pockets in her leather jacket and her teeth were clenched together. Scully licked her lips, feeling them dry almost immediately.

"Jo," she started. The Brazilian looked at her for a moment, then returned her eyes to the people in front of her. "What Seaks said this morning... when we were waiting for the elevator." She paused, trying to think of how exactly to phrase the question. "You said it was true?"

"That I did," Jo answered, unflapped.

"So..." She paused again as she sidestepped a newspaper stand.

"I'm a lesbian, yes," came the reply before the question.

Even though she knew the answer, Scully was still partially stunned into silence. "What about Skinner?"

Jo sighed. It was somewhat of a touchy subject. When Jo was forced to resign temporarily from the FBI, she and the Assistant Director carried on a relationship for just over six months. Eventually they realised that they were way too different and got into a major falling out before Jo, in a fit of anger, got herself reinstated with the FBI which effectively ended their relationship.

"It's a tough question to answer," she said finally. "I don't like labelling myself, but for the sake of society and the people who live in it, I have to." She pulled the door to the Bagel Company open for Scully, who walked in ahead of her. "Technically," she started again, "I'm bisexual."

Scully noticed a few people turn their heads upon hearing this, but tried to ignore them. "Why don't you like calling yourself that then?" she asked.

Jo tilted her head slightly at the menu above the register. "Because no one takes it seriously," she replied. "Bisexuality is an excuse to most people."

Scully stepped up in the line a few feet. "An excuse for what?"

"Promiscuity," Jo replied flatly. She looked behind her at the line forming. "See... I can see where people are coming from, when they say that kind of stuff. But you know... we need to relax and talk to people like they don't have breasts or a penis, you know?"

The woman beside her grinned. "And you do?" she asked.

"I try to," Jo replied, returning the smile.

Scully looked up at the tall man behind the counter "Ah... Let's go for.. a veggie on sesame, a turkey on poppy seed, and a roast beef on sesame as well... to go." She looked at Jo. "That okay with you?"

"Fine," Jo replied.

They stepped to the side as they waited for their food to be prepared before Jo continued. "I mean, I'm always aware of sexuality, but it's not as important to me as it is for most. I sleep with the people I love. And I fall in love with the person before the sex. Regardless... male or female, it doesn't matter. If the person's right for me, they're right for me. And if you push that right person away because of their gender - you could be pushing away the happiness that we're always searching for."

The two women were silent as the man behind the counter finished their sandwiches and bagged them up. Jo grabbed the bag as Scully paid for their lunch and smiled.

"Well now that I've completely weirded you out, I suppose we should be getting back to feed the beast." Scully chuckled and followed her friend back onto the street. "You know," Jo started. "I wanted to apologise about how I acted in Brazil. You guys came down because you cared about me and I was just a complete asshole about it." She paused for a moment. "I just... after everything that happened; what with discovering I was a lot different than I knew, I just needed to go back. To find out where I really belonged, you know? As cliche as it might sound, I needed to explore myself and find out who I really was - who I am."

Scully looked at her companion. "And did you?"

Jo smiled. "You know... I think I did."

The redhead returned the smile and watched the lunch rush in front of her. Scully was glad Jo was able to accomplish what she needed on her trip, though she realised she was a bit jealous. Between chasing the bad guys and cutting up dead people, it seemed like her logical self never had a holiday.




"Ah, Dana..."

Joanne watched the lights of Bethesda whiz by the car as she and Scully drove along the freeway. It took a couple of seconds, but it finally registered in Scully's mind and she cursed to herself under her breath.

"Damn," she said. She'd been on auto-pilot. After all that had happened to her that morning and afternoon, what with cleaning the office and such, she'd been having a hard time focusing on much of anything. The result: she had missed the turn off for Jo's apartment when she was supposed to be driving her home. "I'm sorry, Jo. I've just been--"

"Spacing out?" Jo answered for her.

Dana half-smiled. "Yeah, something like that."

Thornton put her hand on her friend's shoulder, which made the redhead jump slightly. Jo frowned, but decided to let it go. "It's okay," she said. "Besides. You promised me a drink, remember? I don't mind taking a cab home."

Scully nodded. "I did do that didn't I. I know a decent place near my apartment."

"Perfect. Let's go."




Jo and Scully pushed their way through the thick oak doors of the tavern and wandered inside. Thornton noticed Scully smile at the big man behind the bar as they walked over to a small booth. She had obviously spent some time there on a few occasions. Which was really something that Jo didn't figure Scully for.

The place was as dark as any bar, but for some reason, it wasn't as dirty or grimy as most.. It seemed a little more civilised, though it was still fairly early in the evening. A smiley waitress appeared out of nowhere a minute after they sat down and took their order.

The two women were quiet until their drinks came. Scully sipped at her beer, occasionally looking up at the woman next to her. "So... you came from New York yesterday, right?"

Jo turned to face her, caught off guard. "Yeah, I did."

"Did you..." Scully started, talking to her beer. "I mean, is there someone..."

Jo was silent for a long time, mulling over the situation. "Her name is Finn," Jo started. "She lives in New York - where we met." She cleared her throat. "I spent a couple nights with her before I came back here."

Scully quickly got the idea. "So... how did you meet?" she asked.

Jo stared up at the ceiling as if the answer was written above her head. "I ended up at some cafe after work one day. I can't remember the name of it now. Anyway, the place was packed, so I ended up sharing a table with her." The Brazilian chuckled. "I remember the first thing she asked me was who my favourite actress was." She looked at Scully, who smiled, waiting for more.

"What did you say?"

"I told her I liked Jodie Foster and that seemed to please her. We started talking movies and didn't stop for hours. Eventually, she asked me out to the premiere of 'Karma' at some film festival."

"That was a good movie," Dana added.

Jo nodded. "Yeah. I hardly knew anything about her until then. I really deserved the clueless award that night. You'd think someone who spent hours talking about movies with a director who's made four blockbusters of her own, would pick up on something, right?" Thornton shook her head. "Well... It took me until the opening credits to realise she was taking me to see her own movie."

Dana raised her eyebrows. "Wow." She took another sip of her beer. "So... how did you two get... together? Did she ask you out as a friend?"

Jo nodded. "Yeah, just as friend. It didn't take long for us to become more than that, though."

"But then you moved."

"That I did," Jo sighed. "When I moved here, it quickly became too hard to maintain. Between Finn going on location every six months and me going off on cases more often, we never saw each other."

Scully nodded, twirling her glass in her hands. There was one thing she still wanted to know, but she had no idea how to ask. Taking a breath, she decided to go for it.

"This may not be appropriate... but why do you still sleep with her if you're not together?"

Jo chuckled, running her thumb down the side of her glass. "Ah, the million dollar question." She chuckled to herself and looked at Scully. "Dana, you'd never believe me," she said, the smile gone.

Scully didn't smile. "Try me."

Thornton stared at her for a moment, her heart suddenly beating faster. She'd never really bared her soul to the degree that Scully wanted it to go and to be honest, she was a little scared. After another moment's contemplation, Jo nodded. "Okay," she said. Downing the last of her beer, Jo pushed the glass aside and took a deep breath. "She was the best thing that had ever happened to me. I never felt as alive as I did when we were together. It was..." She tried to find the words. "It was the most incredible relationship I've ever had and nothing could compete with it." Jo sighed. "I hated having to give her up. I hated it so much, I almost didn't get on the airplane. I was so close to leaving my job here and going back to the New York Bureau."

"But you didn't."

"No... I came anyway and it took me a long time to forgive myself. Eventually, I got over leaving, but I never totally got over Finn. I mean, I could have a healthy relationship with someone else, but I'd never stop loving her." Jo traced the grains of the table with her fingers. Scully watched her until she continued. "That's why we do it." Thornton raised her head to look at Scully. "To relive what we had even if it's only for a night. We only get together once every several months. It's hard to get time when we're both available, but... We never plan it, it just kind of happens."

Scully reached her hand out and slipped her fingers under Jo's hand. When the Brazilian looked up at her, she smiled. "I understand," she said.




They didn't hear the doors open. They couldn't have over the noise of the bar. The burly man behind the bar narrowed his eyes at the patron. He'd never liked this guy. He always caused trouble with someone in the course of the night.

The balding man chose his regular table, a small table big enough for three and ordered his usual. The bartender filled up the pitcher of beer and sent it off with the waitress. The guy would sit there all night and drink the entire thing himself. Sometimes he'd be joined with friends, but he seemed to have arrived alone this evening. So far, anyway.

The bar man picked up a cloth and wiped the bar down. His eyes caught sight of that little redhead standing up with her friend. He always liked her, she was quiet and polite and gave good tips. They walked past him and he smiled at her. She always smiled back, too.

As they exited the bar, he noticed the older man look after them. The bartender frowned at the vehement look in his eye, wondering what they could have done to deserve that. He stared at the lonely man in the corner until his head turned from the tavern door. The middle aged man only looked at the barkeep for a moment before his eyes drifted to the blonde waitress in the back of the bar.




"I've had a lack of inhibition
I've had a loss of perspective
I've had a little to bit to drink
and it's making me think
that I can jump ship and swim
that the ocean will hold me
that there's got to be more
than this boat I'm in."

Scully unlocked the door to her apartment and stepped inside, flicking the lights on. Joanne followed her through the door and slipped her hands into her pockets like a kid in a museum. She looked around at the pristine walls and floors, wondering how on earth Scully kept her apartment this clean all the time.

"You want some coffee?" the redhead asked, slipping her coat off.

Jo nodded, removing the sneakers from her feet. "Yeah, please." She watched Scully head into the kitchen and took her leather jacket off, draping it over the back of a small arm chair not far from the door. Finding her way to the couch, Thornton made herself comfortable, looking around at the paintings she loved to stare at on the walls.

"So what you said this morning, Jo," Scully started, peering around the wall from the kitchen. "I'd always... I mean..." Well now that she had the opportunity to find out more about this, she had no idea how to phrase a question.

Jo wore a crooked smile in the living room as she listened to the coffee brew. She leaned back into the back of the couch and watched the cars drive by the apartment building. She liked this apartment, it was cozy. Although, she did think that Scully needed to work on the whole museum feel.

"Here."

Jo started and looked up at Scully, who handed her a mug of coffee. "Geez..."

Dana smiled and sat down next to Thornton and sipped at the steaming cup. She watched the woman beside her as she drank until the Brazilian noticed.

"What?"

"I've always wondered..." Scully stopped again, unable to form the words. "I mean, I know it's not a choice... I don't think it is. Is it... How do you--"

"Dana," Jo said with a smile. "I have this saying... 'If you're brave enough to ask a question, I'll be brave enough to answer.' So... what do you want to know?"

Scully swallowed and blinked at Jo for a moment. "How did you know you were...?"

"Homosexual?"

"Yes."

Jo smiled reassuringly at Scully who seemed very apprehensive. "A fine starting point. Let me ask you this: How did you know you were heterosexual?"

Dana felt herself visibly backpedal. It seemed like such an obvious question. She shrugged. "I just knew."

Thornton winked and touched a finger to her nose, then pointed it at the redhead. "Exactly."

Scully smiled at the Brazilian and sipped her coffee. Staring into her mug, she chewed her lip and lifted her head to find Jo staring out the window. "So what's it like?"

Jo smiled without turning her head and closed her eyes briefly. "It's amazing... fulfilling... and very frightening." She looked at Scully, shifted closer to her and set her coffee on the table in front of them. "You know... In ancient Greece, true love was described as a complete and total understanding of your partner. The Grecians believed that men and women were two separate animals, different. It was obvious to them that two completely different creatures could never totally comprehend what each other was about. So they subscribed to the belief that true love, as rare as it is, could only occur if the two individuals... were the same." Jo looked at Scully and blinked a few times, as if clearing her clouded mind. "I mean, it's great with men and there are obvious things they can do that we can't... but women... the only things they wholly understand are other women." Jo swallowed. "And there's nothing that can compete with that."

Scully watched her for a long time, reveling in the story she was just told.

It had never made more sense to her than it did at that very moment. Any doubts she had harbored the few times she had even had a fleeting thought about being with a woman just vanished as fast as they'd materialised.

Dana leaned forward slightly, stopping about an inch from Jo. Her mind screamed at her to just do it; that there was nothing to lose. Pushing any and all other thoughts aside, she bridged the gap, touching her lips to Jo's. Their eyes drifted shut and neither moved as the world around them spun in circles.

Scully pulled away slowly, her heart beating so hard in her chest, it felt like it might stop. She opened her eyes and looked at the woman in front of her. Neither of them said a word; they just stared. And instead of talking in an attempt to quell the tension in the room, Scully opted to push forward. She pressed her lips against Jo's, bringing a hand up to the Brazilian's neck. The feeling was more than she could have ever imagined. Jo's mouth was so warm and soft, she couldn't stop. Even if she had wanted to.

Raising her other hand to join the first, Scully pulled Jo toward her backing up as she did so. She ended up with her back against the cushions of the couch, her head resting on the arm. This was perhaps the best first kiss she had ever had in her entire life. Jo whimpered softly as Scully's tongue tentatively came out and flicked over her lips. She parted them slowly and was surprised as the redhead's tongue thrust into her mouth, not wasting any time.

Joanne shifted a little and lifted her leg, straddling Scully's hips, her tongue stroking over Scully's as they explored each other. She jerked slightly, feeling Dana's hand fingering the hem of her tank top and pushing it up slowly. She smiled against Scully's mouth. The redhead grinned in return and Jo sucked in a breath as her hands disappeared under the cotton on Scully's back. Dana moaned, arching under her roaming hands. It was amazing. It felt wonderful.

Scully tore her mouth away, gasping and closing her eyes. "God..."

Jo took the opportunity and bent forward, her lips touching Scully's throat.

The redhead moaned and gripped Thornton's hips, pulling them against her. Both women groaned. Jo nipped at the skin along Dana's neck as the redhead pulled at her tank. Jo moved back slightly, allowing the woman under her to pull the article of clothing from her body. She returned to Scully's roving hands and leaned in, her mouth finding the soft lobe of Dana's ear.

Scully moaned and placed her hands gently on Jo's bare stomach. She pushed the Brazilian back, slipping out from underneath. Finally getting her onto her back, Dana moved over her and kissed her deeply. When she pulled away, Scully trailed small kisses along the scars on Jo's face to her ear sucking and nibbling it gently. The Brazilian lifted her arms to rid Scully of her shirt, only to have them held down by the woman hovering over her. The redhead kissed her way down Jo's neck, to her collarbone and further still through the valley of her breasts. Thornton gasped at the sensation and closed her eyes.

Dana examined the firm stomach underneath her hands, moving them to every inch she could reach. She was right. Jo's skin was as smooth over the rest of her body. She trailed her fingers to the waistband of Jo's cargos and deftly undid them, spreading them to reveal what she had wanted all day. Scully reached the silver navel ring she was so captivated with since that morning and stared at it, circling it with her fingers. There was a small design on it, something that had been carved in. She felt Jo suck in a breath when she lowered her lips over the metal. Slowly, her tongue inched out and flicked over the skin the ring was attached to. Joanne gasped as Dana continued, circling the ring with her tongue and then taking it between her teeth, tugging it gently. Surrounding the ring with her mouth, she sucked on the metal, feeling the woman beneath her getting restless.

Jo was trying her very best to let Scully go at her own pace, but things were getting a little difficult for such luxuries like self control. She sighed as Scully lifted her lips from her navel and waited for the next move. Scully kissed a small area above the ring and crawled back up her body. Slowly, she dragged her warm tongue along a straight line, leaving a wet trail cooled by the air around them. Jo groaned, running her hands over Scully's back and pulled her shirt over her head. She watched Dana fumble with the front clasp of her bra for a moment before helping her do it.

Scully stopped short when Jo pulled the cloth from her body and dropped it on the floor. She had never... She couldn't even form the thoughts in her mind. She was beautiful, so vulnerable, so trusting. Dana knew that this was definitely something she would never forget. She stared at the Brazilian, her naked body waiting for her. Scully tentatively raised her hand from the couch and placed it on Jo's breast, watching the woman's eyes flutter shut. Sensing she was on the right track, Dana flexed her hand, squeezing the flesh underneath it. She closed her eyes, feeling Jo's hardened nipple press into her palm.

"God..." Jo moaned. She pushed her head into the arm of the couch, her breathing laboured.

Feeling more confident with herself, Scully removed her hand and bent forward, running her lips over Jo's breast, grazing her nipple. The woman beneath her groaned again and arched under the sensation, begging for it. She cried out softly as the redhead's lips closed over her. Scully's tongue danced over her breast, suckling with a more feverish pace as every second passed. She was driving Jo slowly mad, the woman emitting a continuous moan and writhing in pleasure.

Reaching down, Jo undid Scully's jeans and pushed her hands underneath the fabric. The Brazilian pulled her hands out and grabbed Scully's hips, positioning the woman above her right leg. She moaned as Scully lifted her mouth and shifted to the other breast, taking to it with eagerness. Jo shoved her hands beneath Scully's underwear, grabbing her smooth ass in both hands. She felt, rather than heard Dana moan into her as she lifted her leg and pushed it between her thighs. Scully broke away, gasping in surprise.

Her hips moved in small circles, grinding her clit into Jo's leg, reveling in the waves of pleasure that coursed through her.

Jo reached behind Scully's back and unclasped her bra, pulling it from her body. She placed her hands above Scully's head and lifted it from her chest, feeling the cool air rush her breast. Grabbing her arms gently, Jo moved Scully's hands and planted them on either side of her head. She shifted down the couch slightly and immediately closed her lips over Scully nipple. Dana groaned loudly and pushed her breast against Jo's face, urging her to take more. She thought that she could honestly say now that she'd never felt this good in her life.

She was quickly proven wrong.

Scully opened her eyes and looked down as she felt Jo's fingers curl around her wrist. She watched her hand being carried past Jo's navel, to the cargos' open zipper. Her eyes suddenly lowered and locked the gaze with the woman underneath her. They stared at each other for a long time; one unsure, one encouraging. Jo covered Scully's hand with her own and without her eyes wavering, she pushed their hands under her cargos and against the wet heat between her legs. Jo's eyes closed as Dana sucked in a breath. She'd never done this before...

Her hand still, Scully felt a few fingers snake their way down her bare stomach. Pushing aside the undone jeans, Jo's fingers moved in a little farther, mimicking their distant twins. Scully gasped, then groaned at the sensation. Her hips ground into Jo's hand involuntarily, begging for more. Jo watched Scully's face closely as her hand moved away and to the elastic waistband of Dana's underwear. They watched each other, their gaze intense, as Jo's fingers slipped under the fabric and travelled through the curls. Scully whimpered, her hips jumping forward in anticipation. Jo slipped a finger into the slick heat between Scully's legs, eliciting a loud moan and quickly found the small opening. Without any hesitation, the Brazilian pushed a finger deep inside the woman above her, the soft warmth engulfing her. Scully cried out and Jo slipped her finger out again only to thrust it back in. Gauging her expression carefully, Jo pulled her hand away, hearing the disappointed sound that came from Dana's throat. Quickly, she pushed her finger back in, adding a second to the first. She felt Scully's legs spread further apart and lower her hips, desperately trying to take more of the delicious penetration. Jo moaned, watching and feeling Scully's hips rise and lower at an uneven pace.

Finally getting a small grip on herself, Scully looked down at Jo and shoved her underwear aside, staking claim between her legs. The fingers inside her stopped their assault suddenly as her own fingers were lured into the sultry heaven. Jo arched under her touch as she explored, caressing, stroking the delicate softness under her hand. She lifted her hips, urging Scully to follow her lead. Tentatively, Scully pushed a lone finger inside the woman under her and her eyes closed. The feeling was unbelievable, so hot, so soft and so tight. Slowly, she pulled it out, feeling the muscles clench around her and pushed it back in again. Jo moaned, tilting her head back.

She started a little faster, adding a second finger and pushing them in and out roughly.

Dana whimpered as Jo started her assail again, thrusting her fingers into her, feeling the wetness spill down her hand. They pushed into each other like that for a long while, their bodies radiating heat as a sheen of sweat covered them. The amount of concentration Jo needed at the moment was perhaps the hardest thing she had ever done in a long time. So without warning, she pulled her fingers out completely and pressed them against Scully's swollen clit. The redhead cried out as she started stroking, her soaked fingers sliding over it. Jo grunted as Scully pulled her fingers out of her, flattening her palm against Jo's stomach and trying to balance herself. She stared up at the blue eyes above her and began to rub faster, her fingers a blur between Scully's legs. Their breath came faster and faster in each second's passing, Scully digging her nails into Jo's stomach as she came closer and closer to orgasm. She felt the muscles under her hand clench as Jo lifted herself up a little, leaning close to Scully's ear.

"Come for me," she whispered.

The Brazilian pressed harder as she massaged her clit, sending the small redhead over the edge. She growled as Scully's nails dug into her, piercing her skin. Her cry was something Jo had never heard in her whole life. Her hips riding Jo's hand as if it meant life or death.

After a couple minutes, Scully slowed down and dragged her hand from Jo's stomach to where she knew she wanted it. Her fingers slipped into her and easily found the spot craving the most attention. Dipping her fingers a little deeper, Scully dragged them back up again and circled Jo's clit. The Brazilian moaned and lifted her hips, trying to seek that sweet friction. Dana easily complied, running her slick fingers over and over her. This wasn't going to take long.

She sped up quickly, not wanting to waste any time anymore. Her fingers flew over Jo's clit, causing the woman to grasp her arms, one in each hand and push her head back into the arm of the couch. The column of her throat was bared to the redhead and without a second thought, Dana leaned forward, her hand never wavering. Her lips brushed the hot skin of Jo's neck. She opened her mouth slowly and brought her teeth down on her. Jo cried out, arching off the couch and tumbled over the edge into orgasm. She held Scully's hand still as her hips ground against her. Scully released her grip on Jo's throat and kissed it lightly as her breathing slowed.

Scully shifted down Jo's body a little and rested her head on her chest, nuzzling in. Jo's arm wrapped around her, tracing lazy circles on her side until the woman on top of her fell sound asleep. The Brazilian stared at the ceiling for a good half hour, looking for faces in the stucco. She looked at Scully and watched her breathe evenly over her naked breasts. She looked so peaceful. Jo looked back at the ceiling, feeling her heart beat faster. This was not good.

Touching one foot on the floor, Thornton carefully slipped out from under Scully. Seeing the redhead still asleep, Jo bent down to pick up her bra and stuffed it in her pocket. She grabbed her tank top from behind the couch, pulled it over her head and buttoned her cargos back up again, trying to ignore the stinging sensation from her stomach. Grabbing her jacket from the back of the chair, Jo pushed her shoes onto her feet and reached for the door.

"Where are you going?"

Jo closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. She turned around to face Scully, who was now sitting up on the couch. "I just didn't want this to turn into 'The Awkward Morning After', so I thought I'd spare us both the embarrassment."

Dana blinked. "I don't understand."

"This was a mistake, Dana. It shouldn't have happened." Jo sighed and looked at her hand on the doorknob. "I'll... see you later."

Scully watched the door close with a soft click.




"I guess that push has come to this
so I guess this must be shove
but before your throw those stones at me tell me, what is your house made of? And if you think you know what I'm doing wrong you're gonna have to get in line"

Joanne walked for a very long time, her hands in her pockets, eyes staring into space. Her body still hummed in the pseudo-afterglow, she felt like she was wearing a big sign around her neck that read "Just Fucked" or something equally as embarrassing. She sighed, having difficulty with telling herself no to feel what she was feeling. Trying to block out the fact that she enjoyed what she just did - it wasn't right. Her mind was telling her that she'd been through this before, reminding her what had happened then. Her body, however, was having its own little party complete with balloons, streamers and blasting Kool And The Gang despite her efforts.

Jo sighed again, feeling the bitter cold air shock her lungs and kicked a rock on the sidewalk. It was getting colder - much colder than it was that morning and her nose was numbing under the wind. She figured she should find somewhere to warm up a little before continuing. Though whether to warm up with atmosphere or alcohol, she hadn't decided yet.

As it happened, the first open bar she came to was the same she had left not three hours ago. Thinking this was as good a place as any, she pushed through the door and took a seat at the bar.

The bartender recognised her almost immediately. "Evening," he said with a smile.

Jo feigned a smile in return. "Hey."

"You were in here with that redhead, earlier."

"Yeah... I was."

Sensing she wasn't in much mood to talk, he quickly flipped into Barkeep Mode. "What can I getcha?"

"Tequila... please." She ran a hand over her face as he poured her shot and placed in front of her. She downed it immediately and grimaced a little. She looked up at him, feeling her throat warm. "'Nother one."

"Well, well, lookit who it is."

Thornton looked over her shoulder to see Howard Seaks approaching, or rather staggering in her direction. Paying no attention to him, she looked back at the little glass in front of her.

"Have a nice fuck, Thornton?"

She frowned and looked back at him. "What?"

He smirked, pleased he got her attention. "Just a quickie, huh?"

"Why do you insist on bothering me?" Jo asked, drinking the shot. She tapped the glass on the bar for another.

"Oh, come on. I saw you leave with Agent Scully."

She stared at the array of bottles on the wall in front of her as the bartender watched and listened closely. "Haven't you read that statute about stalking, Seaks?"

He put his hands in his pockets. "Yeah, what's a little pussy lickin' between friends, eh?"

Thornton looked over at him, unimpressed. "You're not my friend."

Seaks leaned a bit closer and she could smell the volume of alcohol all over him. He had obviously been there for some time. "Tell me something," he said. "Did she taste good?"

Jo made a noise of disgust and took the last shot. "God, Seaks," she said, throwing a couple bills on the bar. "You're fucking sick, you know that?" She glanced at the bartender, who watched her walk out of the bar and head down the street. Before he could do anything, Seaks and his two buddies disappeared out the door after her.

Thornton walked with a quicker pace down the street, wanting to get as far away from that man as she could. She looked up and down the block for any sign of a cab, but the place was deserted. The cold air made her suck in a breath.

"Hey Thornton!" She kept walking, hoping he'd go away. "You never answered my question!"

Jo turned, then suddenly wished she hadn't. The three men, all taller than she, came to a stop in front of her. "What do you want me to tell you, Seaks?" she said, trying to cover her sudden apprehension. "Because I'm not going to tell you the finer points of lesbian sex just so you can get it up." The man in front of her said nothing. "What's the matter? Did I find out your dirty little secret?"

Seaks crossed his arms in front of his chest and smiled smugly. "Looks like I found out your dirty little secret."

Thornton rolled her eyes and started away from him. Seaks and his buddies walked after her, not willing to give it up.

"So how was Scully, then?" he prodded. "Was she sloppy? I bet she's a real firecracker. Bitches that uptight are always wild between the sheets."

The middle aged man almost squeaked with fright as the Brazilian spun on her heel and grabbed his collar in her right hand, holding him close to her.

She looked up at his six foot height. "Listen, asshole. Neither myself, Scully or the rest of the female population want to be a party to your wet dream, so why don't you go get your rocks off somewhere else?" She pushed him back a few feet as she let him go and started to walk away again, hoping he'd had enough.

Seaks' buddies chuckled at him and chided him for getting told off by a woman. His pride hurt, Seaks rushed to catch up with her and grabbed her arm. Jo pulled away from him roughly and turned in time to catch her balance before Seaks pushed her hard.

"Listen, you little bitch..."

"What?" Jo stepped up to him, unafraid. "Am I just a lesbo who needs to be fucked by a big man like you, Seaks? Is that what I need, huh? You want to turn me around and fuck me into heterosexuality?"

If she had wanted to say anything more, she couldn't have. The force of his fist connecting with her stomach knocked the wind out of her and suddenly, she yearned for the stinging pain she felt earlier in Scully's apartment. She staggered back a few steps and doubled over, trying to catch her breath as Seaks stepped up to her.

"I ought to, fuckin' dyke."

He reached to grab the back of her jacket, but before he could, Jo belted him in the crotch. The older agent yelped in pain, grabbing his injured self and backing up a bit. Thornton stood up and watched him groan in pain.

She turned to walk away yet again, but Seaks' lackeys did more than pick up his slack. The much larger man to her right lashed his leg out and caught her above her knee. Jo fell to her knees, realising she had better get up as fast as possible before it got really dirty.

The swift kick dealt to her ribs sent her rolling onto her back, preventing her from escaping. She clutched her left side where the kick had impacted and winced at the pain rushing through her. The second unidentified man came at her from her right side, grabbing her jacket in his hands and hoisting her to her feet roughly. He backed up a step before rearing back his arm and dealt her a right hook. She felt her lip split under the force and staggered back into the arms of the man who had kicked her in the knee.

He looked up at Seaks and pushed her toward him, letting the agent get the last of her.

Seaks handed her a punch to her already injured ribs and while she recoiled to protect herself, delivered an uppercut, catching her above the eye. The Brazilian collapsed to the cold sidewalk, clutching her side. Through her rapidly swelling eye, she saw the trio of men look down at her, no doubt wondering if she was going to get up again. She glanced at Seaks and her heart sank. His hand fell on his waist and started to undo his belt.

"Shit..."

She rolled over, trying to pick herself up when she heard the faint wail of sirens. They couldn't be just a coincidence, could they? She looked up and saw one of the men stop Seaks, putting a hand on his arm.

"Man, the cops are coming."

Seaks looked over at the bar from the way the came and realised it. "Shit, the bartender musta called 'em." Doing his pants back up again, he looked down at Jo. "This ain't over, Thornton."

Jo watched the trio of men run away as the sirens got a little louder. She growled at the pain that surged through her as she tried to get up. She did not want to be around when the cops got there. Getting to her feet, Jo started to run as best she could. She hobbled quickly along the sidewalk and turned down another street, hoping the police would miss her. The sirens stopped just as she turned the corner and waited silently. They wouldn't come down here. Stepping up to the side of the street, she hailed a cab and ignoring the look from the driver, headed for home.




"a little bird told me
that jumping is easy
that falling is fun
right up until you hit the sidewalk
shivering and stunned"

The door to the apartment opened quietly. Jo walked in, hurt and mad -never a good combination. Ignoring Thai, who'd come to greet her, she walked to the wall adorned with martial arts weaponry and chose the long wooden bo off its rack. Instead of holding it in front of her with her hands shoulder width apart, she grabbed it like a baseball bat. Thai looked at her strangely and sat on the floor as his owner reared back the bo and smashed the lamp sitting helplessly on a small side table. The shards sent the cat flying down the hall and into the bathroom as the smashing continued. He peered around the bathroom door and watched the woman trash the apartment; knocking over tables and breaking glass.

When the noise finally stopped, the small cat crept out of the bathroom, his belly touching the floor. He made his way into the destroyed living room, and focused on the woman who sat on the floor, talking into the telephone.

"I need you to come down here," she said. The cat jumped as she sniffed and wiped her eye with the back of her hand. "Please?" She sighed. "Thanks, come as fast as you can."

Quietly, Jo got to her feet and headed up the stairs to the bathroom adjoining her bedroom. She slipped out of her clothes and stepped into the shower, turning the water on as hot as she could bear it. She needed to wash off as much of that man as she could. The water stung the cuts on her face. Her stomach had started stinging again and she looked down at it, her heart skipping a beat. Three small cuts glistened beneath the soap. Jo's fingertips grazed the wounds, her fingers almost matching the cuts perfectly. Scully had broken the skin when she came. Jo scrubbed them with soapy hands, trying to tell herself that she just wanted to get them clean.




The apartment door opened again, pushing shards of lamp to the side. A tall woman entered and set her bag down beside the door. She was slightly large, a form she liked to call 'round and jovial'. Pocketing her keys, she stepped in, hearing the crunch of glass under her shoes. Finn Asnay looked at her feet and pushed her brown hair back as she hunkered down to get a better look. Not bothering to turn the lights on, the woman walked further into the apartment, nearly tripping over the purring cat at her feet.

"Hey Thai," she said quietly and picked him up. The Siamese batted at her face, holding it still so he could sniff her. The woman carried the cat with her as she walked up the stairs toward the bedroom. She set the cat down at the door and walked into the room, spying Jo sitting on the bed in the dark.

"Hey you," she said.

"Hi."

Finn made her way to the queen sized bed and sat down beside the brooding Brazilian. She rubbed her back, hugging her close. "I like what you've done with the place," she said.

"It's a disaster," Jo replied softly.

Finn scoffed. "Not as bad as that one time when Julia Roberts pulled out of 'Goddess' and I got stuck with fuckin' Sarah Jessica Parker."

"It's just hopeless, I can't deal with it."

"Yeah? Try to frame a sympathetic close up with a nose that big. Not to mention lighting. That thing casts shadows bigger than Rhode Island."

That finally got a giggle out of Jo, who looked at her friend. "Shut up, you came to listen to my problems."

"Yeah," Finn replied. "I'd say you need a new interior decorator."

Jo turned and gave Finn a hug. "Thanks for coming."

As she held Jo with one arm, Finn reached for the bedside lamp and flicked it on. When she pulled back, her eyes widened. "Shit... what happened?" Her hands went to Jo's face, touching the cuts and bruises.

"Just a few good ol' boys teaching a dyke a lesson."

"God, they didn't--"

"No," Jo said before she could finish. "It was close, but the police came and they ran."

"What happened to the cat thing? Why didn't you claw their asses?"

Jo shook her head. "They weren't gonna kill me." She was silent for a moment before she looked up at Finn. "But that's not the problem I wanted to talk about."




"I'll come by and see you again
And I'll have to be a very good friend
If I whisper they will know
I'll just turn around and go
You will never know my sin"

Sunday

The next day came quickly. Finn stayed at Jo's place and cleaned up the carnage from the night before while Jo did some stuff at work. What it was, Finn didn't know, not that she really cared. She knew why Jo went to work and it wasn't because she had something to do.

By late afternoon, Finn was parked on the couch, watching cable television.

The knock at the door came as a surprise. After all, Jo had a key. Switching the box off, Finn got to her feet, walked over to the door and opened it. Standing before her was a small and attractive woman looking very worn.

"Can I help you?" Finn asked.

"I was just looking for Jo," the woman replied. She seemed caught off guard.

"She's at work."

"Who are you?" the woman asked.

"Finn Asnay, who are you?"

"Dana Scully," she paused. "You're the director."

"You're the straight girl."

"What?

Finn smirked and opened the door wider. "She should be back any minute, you wanna come in?" Dana hesitated for a moment. "Come, come, come." Finn pulled her inside. "Can I get you some tea?"

"Sure," Scully replied, following Finn into the kitchen. She took a seat at the island in the middle of the room.

"So Jo tells me you've been having woman troubles."

Scully studied the table. "I'm not really comfortable sharing intimate details of my life with someone I just met two minutes ago."

Finn sighed. "Well if you're not willing to share your feelings and Jo's hiding from you at work, then you girls aren't going to get very far." Scully was taken aback and considered what she was beginning to think was a pretty good point. "Somebody's gotta talk, so I'll start." Finn rescued the screaming water and poured two cups of tea. "We used to be lovers back when Jo lived in New York." She chuckled. "That's girl's got some crazy moves... but then you already know that, don't you?" The woman in front of her blushed, staring at her hands. "So I can imagine you're pretty confused right about now."

Dana didn't look up. "I don't know what I should feel."

Finn lowered her head, trying to get Scully to look at her. "Forget what you should feel... how do you really feel?"

The redhead finally broke down and sighed. "I know it shouldn't have happened and I know it can't happen again, but I don't wish that it didn't happen."

Finn shook her head. "A thirty-five year old Catholic girl experimenting with lesbian love... That should be a movie."

Scully looked up at the woman across from her. "How can she think it was a mistake?"

"That's just Jo," Finn replied. "She's just trying to spare you both the pain of a doomed relationship." She reached out her hand and patted Scully's arm. "Rest assured, Jo doesn't just go hopping in and out of bed with people she doesn't care about. It always means something to her."

The sound of a key in the apartment door stopped the conversation. They both looked at the door as it opened and Jo walked in. The woman stopped in her tracks, her helmet between her hands.

"Shit..."

Scully's eyes widened as she saw the extent of damage on Jo's face and got out of her chair suddenly, quickly flipping into doctor mode. "Oh my God," she said. "Who did this?"

Jo dodged Scully's attempts at consolation and walked further into her apartment, setting her helmet down on a small table. "Nobody," she replied, taking off her jacket gingerly. Much to her disappointment, she winced at the pain in her side.

Scully appeared at her side again. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing, I'm just sore." The last thing Jo wanted Scully to hear was how she got beat up and why. Trying her best to avoid the subject, she walked into the kitchen where Finn still sat silently. Feeling the side of the kettle carefully, she reached up into one of the cupboards to get herself a mug, careful to use her right hand.

"Have you been to a doctor yet?" Scully asked.

Jo sighed, pouring some of the recently boiled water into the mug. "No, I don't need one." She felt a hand on her arm and looked up at Scully who was watching her with concern.

"At least let me look at it," she said in all sincerity. "Please."

Jo stared at her for a few moments before she finally gave in and turned around, leaning up against the counter. She looked at Finn who shrugged. Reaching over the counter, Scully flicked on the overhead light and lifted the edge of Jo's shirt. Her eyes couldn't help passing over the shining silver ring as they travelled along the massive bruise that had manifested itself on Jo's side. She decided against asking how it happened and instead lifted a hand and felt around the warm skin gingerly. It didn't take long for her to find out what was wrong, but there were a few marks that she couldn't figure out.

Three small cuts just under her ribs. Scully took a second to run her fingers over them before they froze. Her heart skipped a beat as she realised what they were. Her fingers matched perfectly with the wounds. Swallowing nervously, she glanced at Finn who was watching with raised eyebrows. Scully's heart beat faster as she glanced up at Jo who was trying to dress her tea with one hand. Her fingers jumped off her skin and she looked at them like they'd been burned. Balling her hand up, she straightened and smoothed out her clothes.

"A few ribs are bruised, maybe fractured," Scully told her, trying to cover her sudden frazzlement. "I can't tell for sure without an x-ray."

Finn shook her head. "Jesus, Jo, stop being so stubborn and go to a doctor."

"I don't need a doctor, I told you," Jo said, walking into the living room.

Scully glanced at Finn who motioned for her to follow Jo. Reluctantly, she did as was suggested and left the kitchen. Jo stood, staring out the floor to ceiling windows which overlooked a small park, the steam from the tea rising above her head. Finn had opted to stay in the kitchen and out of the way of the impending discussion and Dana thanked her for that. Stepping a few more feet into the room, she was caught off guard by Jo's voice.

"I know why you came here, but I'm not really in the mood to talk," she said.

"Jo, we have to talk about what happened. We can't just leave it open ended."

Jo turned around and looked at Scully. "I don't know what more can be said.

It was a mistake, it won't happen again, I'm sorry."

Dana frowned. "Do you have any idea how cheap that makes me feel, hearing you say that?"

She saw the Brazilian's eyes soften slightly. "I'm sorry," she replied. "I didn't mean that to hurt you."

"It's not all your fault, Jo. I was there too, remember?"

Jo sighed. "Y'know, this is awkward and it's exactly what I wanted to avoid."

"Avoiding things doesn't make them go away," Scully told her.

"Why can't we just forget this ever happened?"

"Because I don't want to forget it happened," Dana said, feeling a sudden rise in her.

Jo shook her head in defeat. "We don't have a future, Dana. It's a dead end relationship."

"So that's it then," Dana said. "You'd rather erase almost three years of friendship because you're too stubborn to sort out one night with me?"

Jo stared at the hardwood floor. "I never said I didn't want to be your friend."

"Well where do you divide the two, Jo? How can you tell where one stops and the other begins?" Scully waited for a response, but never got one. Sighing, she grabbed her jacket and started toward the door. She looked over to the woman in front of the windows. "If you aren't going to talk to me, we don't have a leg to stand on."

Jo waited for Scully to walk out the door before she looked up from the floor. She felt like shit for doing what she just did. It was all for the best, though. She hoped. Moving to the couch, Jo sat down gently, hearing Finn's footsteps from the kitchen.

"That went well," the director said.

"Shut up," Jo shot back, rubbing her forehead.

Finn slumped into the large armchair next to the couch and watched her friend. "I honestly can't believe the mess you've gotten yourself into."

Jo rolled her eyes from behind her hand and looked up at Finn. "I know, Finn. I've outdone myself."

"No kidding," she replied. "You slept with a straight girl, Jo, what the hell were you thinking?"

"Nothing," Jo said. "We weren't thinking anything - it was a moment of weakness and it shouldn't have happened."

"Maybe not, but it did." Finn watched Jo stare at the coffee table. "Now what? Dana's pretty damn confused; she isn't sure what she feels, but if you ask me, I think she liked it."

"Thanks," Thornton feigned a smirk.

"So what are you gonna do?"

"I don't know, okay?" Jo snapped. "I'm pretty confused myself."

Finn paused for a moment. "Did you like it?" she asked.

Jo sighed and leaned back, looking at the ceiling high above her. "I loved it... but it was just sex."

Finn raised her eyebrows, thinking of the marks on Jo's stomach. "Was it?"

"You're not helping."

"Hey, I'm just trying to help you sort out your issues since you seem to have so many."

"Even if I wanted to pursue anything, it wouldn't work; it wouldn't last. And I don't want to be responsible for ruining a great friendship and hurting Dana like that."

"Naw, it seems you're doing a pretty good job of that without doing anything."

Jo lifted her head and glared at Finn. "Who's side are you on?"

Finn stared back, never wavering. "I'm not on any side. I just want to see some good come out of this."

"And how do you suggest I do that?"

"Tell her the truth, Jo," Finn replied, shifting forward in the chair. "About how you feel and what that night meant to you. Tell her what she means to you."

Jo shook her head. "I can't do that."

"Why not?"

Jo sat up on the couch and rubbed her face with her hands. "Because then she'd want something that couldn't work."

Finn sighed and stared at the woman across from her. "Boy, you got it bad, girl." She stood up and started off to the kitchen for more tea.

"That's not it," Jo called after her.

She turned around. "What, then?"

"It's Mulder."

"Who's Mulder?"

Jo sighed. "Her partner at the FBI. Ever since I've known them, I'd always thought that they might have had feelings for each other."

"Woah, woah, woah. Let me get this straight." Finn retraced her steps and braced herself on the back of the chair. "You not only slept with a straight girl, but you did so believing that she liked a guy, who also might happen to like her?"

Jo nodded, not looking at her. "Something like that."

"Oh my God, Jo. You sure screwed this one up."

"Thanks for the moral support."

Finn was dumbfounded. "What do you want me to say? Brava! Beautiful job fucking up your best friend's head? I'm sorry, but I can't tell you 'these things happen' because they don't. At least not to people who use their heads." She looked down at her hands and shook her head. "Shit, Jo, I would've rather'd you went down to the Dyke Den and picked up a girl to fuck because at least she would have known what to expect. Dana's got no clue how to deal with you, Jo, much less how to cope with the fact that you're dumping her for no apparent reason."

"But we were never an item to being with," Jo tried to reason.

"Then you shouldn't've slept together."

"Yeah, well... we all have 20/20 hindsight."

Finn sighed and pushed herself away from the chair. "You have to tell her what you're feeling. Last night obviously meant something to you, you have to let her know. And it's gotta be soon. Don't let this hang in the balance, I know she's more important to you than you let on."

Jo groaned, covering her face with her hands. "I just spent six months in the Amazon trying to figure out my life. I finally found some peace and simplicity after so much searching and now, I'm home for 72 hours and my life is more complicated than ever. I don't want this."

"What if she does, Jo, huh?" Finn was frustrated and angry that Jo wouldn't listen to her. "Stop being so damn selfish and show her some respect."

Without a word, Jo got to her feet and walked by Finn. Grabbing her jacket, she strode to the door and opened it. "I need some air," she said.




"From my eyes flows glacial water
From my soul, sick obscenities"

Monday

By the morning, it was back to work. The Federal Building bustled as usual, the constant noise level a reminder to Jo that life does eventually go on. She sat at her desk in the bullpen with her partner, Seamus, talking as they normally did. She hadn't offered any information about her injuries and he hadn't asked, though she knew he wanted to. Maybe he didn't feel comfortable doing so - they hadn't been partners very long and didn't really do much outside work. Instead, he just recapped her on everything that went on while she was in Brazil.

Just about everyone that passed her stared and a few threw some insults her way. For the life of her, she didn't understand why. Until Seamus brought it up.

"So Jo," he started tentatively. She looked at him. "Are the rumours true, then?"

Thornton frowned. "What rumours?"

She could tell he was uncomfortable. "You know... about you and Agent Scully."

Jo was usually up on all the Bureau gossip, but for some reason, this one had missed her ears. "There are rumours?" she asked, trying to remain calm.

The tall man ran a hand through his short hair and looked around, as if he was afraid to actually tell her what the rumours were. "People are saying you're... you know... that way..."

"Spell it out for me, Shay," Jo said, not willing to decode any secret messages.

Seamus swallowed. "People are saying that you and Agent Scully... slept... together."

Jo suddenly felt ill. The bastard. "Who told you that?" she asked, knowing the answer already.

Seamus looked up at her. "It's all over the place, but I mostly hear it from Seaks." He watched his partner jump up from her seat and hurry off, he guessed in search of Seaks. It looked as if she knew exactly where to find him.




She did know exactly where to find him. She pushed her way through the agents that crowded the aisles between desks as her fellow co-workers jeered her as she passed.

"Hey Thornton, I hear you and Scully did the wild thing..."

"Repayin' ya for the job there, Jo?"

"I gotta ask... she a real redhead?"

"How can I getcha to meet my wife?"

"Does everyone who goes to the rainforest come back gay?"

Seaks hung out near the coffee machine all morning if he could get away with it. Which he normally did. Jo made her way there and stopped just short of the crowd's edge standing in front of the small array of machines. Waiting until she knew if Seaks was even around before she went off.

It didn't take long. The loud guffaw could be heard anywhere. Jo glanced at a gathering of three on the other side of the room. He stood with a cup in his hand, chatting it up with two other men she recognised. It took her a moment to remember that it had been that very three that had beaten her two days ago.

A couple people watched her as she started across the small room, falling silent. It wasn't until she was a few feet away when he noticed she was even there. He flashed her a knowing smile before she grabbed the front of his suit jacket with both hands and shoved him against the wall, sending the coffee to the floor. Seaks thumped against the wall with a grunt. Jo pushed her forearms into his chest, her knuckles turning white.

"What the hell is the matter with you?" she growled at him, ignoring the hot pain that was throbbing in her ribs. "Do you get off by making up little fantasies for your and your friends?"

Seaks smirked at her and licked his lips. "Did Scully like getting off with your face in her pussy?"

"You're fucking disgusting," Jo spat out at him, pushing him harder and ignoring the audience they'd garnered.

"Careful now," he told her in a low voice. "I don't wanna have to kick the shit outta you again."

Heat washed over her face and she suddenly felt so angry, she wanted to cry. "You think this black eye means you own me?" she spat out at him with her jaw clenched. "Huh?" Jo shoved him again. "Let's try it again when you don't have two buddies to pick up your slack. Then we'll see who owns who."

"Excuse me?" The deep baritone came from the door. Jo'd know it anywhere. Looking to her right, she caught sight of Assistant Director Skinner and backed off Seaks immediately. Skinner glanced at Jo, then to Seaks, who was straightening his rumpled suit. The elder agent looked at Skinner as if thanking him for intervening. Instead, the AD glared at him. "In my office, now."




"He'll see you now."

Joanne nodded at the secretary and got to her feet. She walked into Skinner's office to find him sitting in his chair, facing the door. His elbows rested on his knees and he looked up at her when she closed the door.

"I'm sorry you had to go through this," he said quietly.

Jo nodded silently and remained standing in front of him.

He sighed, watching his hands clasp in front of him. "I've taken care of Agent Seaks."

"I don't need you to protect me," Jo replied quietly, but sternly.

Skinner looked up at her. "Well obviously you need something," he told her.

"I'm not going to stand by while some arrogant bastard spreads lies about good agents."

She watched him for a moment. "What if that arrogant bastard was spreading the truth?"

He frowned at her. "What? You're not..." He searched her eyes for some kind of answer, but didn't get one. She simply watched him silently, her hands held behind her back, waiting for anything else he might have to say. Sighing, Skinner turned around in his chair and grabbed a couple of files. He wasn't ready to deal with this kind of thing. "I think you need some time off," he said.

That wasn't exactly what Jo was expecting. "What?"

"Time off," he repeated. "You need some time off."

Jo shook her head. "I didn't think you'd be like them."

Skinner sighed and stared at his desk, not wanting to look her in the eye. "Just go home, Joanne," he said. "Please... I'll let you know when it's okay for you here."

"When it's 'okay?'" She was amazed he'd come up with something like that. After everything they'd been through, she would have thought he'd have more respect for her. She shook her head when he didn't say anything more, turned on her heel and walked out of his office.




Thornton returned to her desk and grabbed her jacket. She couldn't believe she was being suspended over something someone else did. Sighing, she looked around for Seamus, so she could say goodbye to him before she left, but he was nowhere to be seen. The bullpen was much quieter. She wasn't sure if it was because of what she did to Seaks, or what. At any rate, there were a lot of people watching her and it was making her a little uncomfortable. Slipping her jacket on, Jo was caught off guard by someone calling her name.

"Hey Jo!"

She turned around to see Mulder jogging up to her. "Hi," she said.

He smiled at her, then turned serious. "I heard about what happened," he told her.

Jo sighed. "You and everyone else," she replied.

Mulder leaned closer to her. "Don't worry," he said. "I don't believe it."

She smiled. "Thanks."

He glanced over his shoulder to see Scully approaching. "I won't tell Scully. But you think I could get the rumour to include me?" He winked at her as his partner arrived at his side. "We were just on our way to lunch," Mulder said with a smile. "We thought we'd ask if you wanted to come along."

"Sure," Jo replied and they started toward the door. "Where to?"

"Let's go to Guiseppe's," Mulder suggested, his mouth watering at the thought already.

"We can't go there," Scully said. "They take forever to fill our order."

"Yeah, but the food's so gooooooood."

Jo shrugged. "Guiseppe's it is then," she said.

Mulder frowned and looked at Scully then back to Jo. "You don't care about being late on your first day back?"

Thornton pushed the doors open and smirked. "Mm, not really... I just got suspended."

"What? How'd that happen?"

She scratched her head, not making eye contact. "The principal sent me home for fighting."

"At least you can spend more time with your friend, then, huh?"

Jo shrugged. "Not really. She's doing business stuff while she's down here."

The trio stopped at the entrance of the parking garage. Mulder turned around and halted the two women following him by holding out his hands. "We can take my car," he told them. "You two wait here, I'll get it and drive it around."

Jo and Scully stood in awkward silence as Mulder jogged off, neither making eye contact. Jo shoved her hands into her pockets, her fingers getting cold already and shivered. Scully looked over in her direction briefly only to look away again, staring at her feet. Jo glanced at the redhead and caught the movement of a figure just beyond her. Howard Seaks, with an armload of files, limped toward them.

"Shit," Jo whispered.

Scully looked at her. "What?"

But it was too late. He'd seen them. "Well, if it isn't my two favourite muff divers," he sneered.

Jo shuffled her feet, feeling her nose go numb. "Go spread your sunshine somewhere else, Seaks," she told him.

"You think this is some kind of joke, Thornton?" he growled. "I'm not going to lose my job over some big mouth dyke who can't keep her hands out of other people's pants."

"No, I imagine you'll be fired for beating off in the men's room while you concoct these little fantasies of yours."

Seaks puffed up in anger and stepped toward Jo angrily. "You fucking cunt..."

Jo's heart skipped a beat and backed up a step when he moved forward. She wasn't even sure why, she just seemed to do it without thinking.

"Back off, Seaks." This from Scully who'd moved between them, looking up at the older agent. Thornton was surprised and a little impressed that after all she did, Scully was willing to defend her.

Seaks smirked down at the redhead. "I kicked the shit outta her yesterday, what makes you think I won't do the same to you?"

"Because I'll have your badge," she replied coolly. "Now get the hell out of here before you make a bigger ass out of yourself."

Reluctantly, Seaks started to turn. Before he walked, he turned and stared at Jo. "This isn't over, Thornton."

"You sound like a broken record, Seaks," she said.

"Fucking bitch," he muttered as he walked away. "I shoulda fucked you when I had the chance."

Scully's jaw dropped and she looked at Jo with wide eyes. "What the hell does that mean?" she asked, knowing exactly what it meant.

Before Jo could answer, Mulder's car appeared behind them. The passenger window rolled down and he leaned over, catching a quick glimpse of the retreating Agent Seaks. "You guys okay?" he asked.

Jo sighed and got into the back seat of the car without a word. Scully followed suit, getting into the front seat and closing the door. Before she could roll up the window, Seaks turned around and saw Mulder in the car.

"Hey Mulder!" he called, getting the taller agent's attention. "If you're a good boy, do they let you join in?"

Scully rolled the window up at Mulder's confused expression and smoothed her clothes out on her lap. "We're fine," she told him. "Let's just go."




That evening, Dana Scully stood in the middle of her living room. She rested her hands on her hips and looked around the apartment, searching for something to keep herself occupied. It had been two days now since it happened. And still, she hadn't been able to get a straight answer out of Jo. It had been causing her sleepless nights and embarrassing days; being caught with her mind elsewhere at work. To be honest, she didn't know how Jo could handle it. She seemed like everything was under control, she had made up her mind. Scully was beginning to think that this wasn't a new situation for her.

Sighing, Dana moved a few steps, acting like she knew what she was going to do. Turned out, she just stopped and looked around her apartment again. So far she'd cleaned the apartment twice, moved her furniture, tripped over the new layout and moved it back, and played with a tennis ball she found under the couch until the neighbours banged on the wall and told her to knock it off in not so many words. And it was only eleven. She was going to have to find something else to do if she wanted to keep herself busy in what she was assuming would be another very long night.

Suddenly, she walked into her bedroom and flung open her closet doors. Well, she thought. There's no way I'm going to be miserable in my own place. I'm going out.




The sound of the door opening drew Finn's attention away from the television and to the woman stepping inside. She watched Jo kick off her shoes and slip gently out of her leather jacket, waiting for her to acknowledge her presence on the couch. She stared at Jo until the woman met her disapproving eyes.

"Where have you been?" Finn asked, turning the television off.

Jo started toward her. "Why?" she replied, crawling onto the couch. She splayed herself across Finn's lap and looked up at her. "Did you miss me?"

Finn grimaced at the stench of smoke and alcohol on the Brazilian and pushed her off her lap to the other end of the couch. "God, you reek," she exclaimed.

Paying no attention to the previous gesture, Jo crawled back over. "You smell really good... Much better than those other girls."

More shocked than upset, Finn looked into Jo's eyes. "You went cruising for chicks, didn't you?" It was more of a statement than a question.

Jo lifted a hand and trailed her fingers down Finn's chest. "Yeah, but I came back for you," she said.

"I can't believe you." Jo fell forward as Finn got to her feet quickly and looked down at the inebriated woman on the couch.

"What?" As if she didn't know already.

"I am not going to sleep with you, Jo."

Thornton sat up on the couch and frowned. "Why not?"

It was like she genuinely didn't know the answer. Finn shook her head and started to the kitchen until Jo spoke again. This time in irritation.

"Fine," she said and got up off the couch. She made her way slowly to the telephone and picked up the receiver.

Finn turned around. "Who are you calling?"

"Walter," came the sharp reply.

"God, you're fucking unbelievable." The taller woman moved quickly to Jo's side and took the phone from her hand and hung it up. Taking her shoulders, Finn forcefully sat her down on the couch. "Do you even understand what you're doing?"

It was a rhetorical question. Jo understood that much.

"There's a beautiful woman waiting for you to get your head out of your ass and say more than three words to her and I am not going to help you push her away. Nor am I going to stand by and let you use someone else to do the same."

Jo glared up at the director. "You were supposed to come down here to support me," she said coldly.

"I did," Finn replied with equal vehemence. "But I didn't come down here to be used as a convenient excuse."




It was through the hazy smoke that he caught sight of her. He squinted at first, unsure that it was the right woman, but after taking a few steps he realised that it was. The bartender returned to his regular position behind the bar and watched the redhead approach an empty stool.

She looked much different than usual. Normally, she'd arrive dressed in her tasteful suits or a more casual ensemble. This time, though, she seemed to be after something different. Her hair was tied up and she wore a dark dress, maybe blue, maybe black. In this light, he couldn't decide. The material might have been velvet, which was even harder to pinpoint in the bar's atmosphere. At any rate, it was very sexy and left little to the imagination. He could easily tell he wasn't the only one who was surprised.

Okay, maybe surprised wasn't the word.

She smiled at the barkeep and ordered a drink. The bartender wandered to the other side the bar, keeping a close eye on his favourite patron. There were several of the regulars who had zoomed in on her the moment she sat down and ordered; stalking her and waiting for the right moment to move in.

He watched one man after another approach her and try to buy her a drink and strike up conversation. Strangely enough, she never seemed very interested in any of them, just simply smiled and waved them away like unsuccessful suitors.

After a couple hours of watching the redhead's odd behaviour, the bartender smiled at her as she stood and placed some money on the bar. "You joining the high society tonight?" he asked, taking the bills to the cash register.

She smiled halfheartedly. "Not really," she replied. "Just an... experiment of sorts."

The bartender returned the smile and held out her change. "I assume it worked."

"Sort of," she said, picking up her coat. "And keep the change."




"What bugs me
is that you believe what you're saying
what bothers me
is that you don't know how you feel
what scares me
is that while you're telling me stories you actually believe that they are real"




Scully banged on the door for the third time, losing her more and more of her patience as each minute ticked by. She raised her hand to knock on the door again when it swung open. She stopped suddenly and took in the appearance of the woman in front of her.

Joanne Thornton rubbed her eye wearily as she focused on Scully. "Dana? What are you doing here so late?"

"I came to talk," Scully replied, glancing at the couch inside the apartment. No pillow, no blanket, which only meant one thing. "Where's Finn?"

"She's asleep," Jo said, adjusting the boxers she was wearing.

She wasn't sure why the wash of jealousy through her was a surprise. "In your bed?" the redhead assumed.

Jo frowned. "Yeah, so? I don't imagine you came over to check out the sleeping arrangements."

"No, but now that I'm here, I'd like to know what other arrangements you have with her."

"I don't have any arrangements with Finn," Jo told her. "I asked her to come down here as a friend."

"But you're sleeping with her now," Scully said. "Just like you did last week."

Jo sighed and ran a hand over her face. "Look, I don't want to have this discussion with you right now. I don't owe you any explanation."

Dana scoffed at that. "What, you fuck me, but you don't owe me anything?"

"It's not like that, Dana..."

"Then tell me what it is like because I'm having a hard time figuring it out." She walked across the hall and turned around, leaning against the wall. "I haven't slept since it happened, Jo. My head hurts from thinking about it and then I come here to find you sleeping like a baby with another woman. What the hell am I supposed to think?"

Jo leaned against the door jamb and stared at her hands. "I'm sorry if you think I used you, but I'm trying to move on the only way I know how. I shouldn't have happened, I know that, and I feel like shit for ruining one of the best friendships I've ever had."

Scully pushed herself from the wall. "That mistake meant a lot to me, Jo. I'm sorry that you don't feel the same way."

Jo watched Scully walk down the hallway closed her eyes. She closed the door softly and padded back to the bedroom. Rounding one side of the bed, Jo crawled under the covers, her bare legs brushing against the soft flannel of Finn's pyjamas. Sighing, she stared at the light dancing across the ceiling and didn't fall asleep again that night.




The sudden change in temperature made her shiver slightly, but she pushed on. So far, it had taken her almost twenty minutes to find the right office since she left the visitor's desk. Finn flicked the plastic badge on her jeans and looked either way down the hall as the elevator doors opened.

"Below the visitor's desk, below the bullpen, and below the motor pool," she muttered, squinting in the dark. "They must have seriously pissed someone off to end up down here."

She sneezed at the smell of dust and mildew, trailing her fingers along the wall. She was amazed that they even let people work this far underground. Her heart almost skipped a beat when she spotted some light at the end of the hall. Walking a little faster, Finn cleared her throat and mentally went over what she was going to say. After all, she was appearing out of nowhere at Scully's place of work without any prior notice. As she approached the open office door, she suddenly hoped that Scully wouldn't be too upset.

Finn's eyes squinted shut under the sudden light, but she forced herself to adjust faster than normal. She frowned at the figure in front of her, sitting at the desk, then remembered that Scully had a partner. He looked up at her with a blank expression before he caught sight of the visitor's badge attached to her pocket.

"Get separated from your tour group?" he asked in a smooth voice.

"Ah no," Finn replied, stuttering slightly. "I'm Finn, a friend of Jo's." She saw his face visibly relax at the mention of their mutual friend. Looking around the office, Finn finally caught sight of the person she came to see. Scully was off in another section of the office, going through some files. Finn smiled at her, but received nothing in return. Despite the unfavourable look on Dana Scully's face, Finn thought she looked stunning. "Do you have a few minutes?" she asked.

"I guess," Dana replied, setting the files down.

"Great," Finn said. "I'll buy you a coffee." She watched the redhead walk to her jacket on the coat rack and slip it over her shoulders. Finn flashed Mulder a smile as Scully walked out of the office ahead of her. "I'd invite you, but this is strictly girl stuff."

Mulder returned the smile and raised his hands. "I've worked long enough with her to know not to ask any more questions than absolutely necessary."




The two women looked up at the young woman who brought the coffee they had ordered not long ago. They sat at a secluded table in a small cafe that neither had heard of before. Finn thought it best that they didn't go where Scully might be recognised. She watched the redhead curl her fingers around the mug of steaming coffee and study it as if it held life's answers. They had been silent ever since they decided on a place to talk and Finn was grateful. She needed the time to think about what she was going to say, even though she'd spent the entire morning and afternoon thinking about it.

For some reason, nothing was coming to her right.

She dressed her coffee in the silence and sighed. Taking a sip of the hot liquid, she looked up at Scully. "I suppose you're wondering why I asked you out here," she said. Dana met her gaze, but still said nothing. Licking her lips, Finn continued. "I know that Jo's using me to keep you at arm's length... and I know... by the way you're looking at me that it's working." The director swallowed and urged herself to continue. "She called me late Saturday night at one, maybe two. She was shaken and scared and I knew that something was wrong. So I came down as quickly as I could get a flight." Finn looked at Scully imploringly. "Dana, she called me because she needed someone to talk to, not because she wanted sex. I came to talk to you today because I can't bear to see you two go back and forth like this anymore. I know you both have been great friends and I'd hate to see that go to waste." She sighed. "I'm sure you don't think you need a meddling lesbo like myself in what's an already crowded scene, but I think I'm one of the very few people in this world who can get it through Jo's head."

Finn watched Scully stare at her, waiting, begging her to say something because she'd just used up all the material she thought about.

Scully swallowed and nodded slightly. "Okay," she replied softly. "I'll give it one more shot."




The street in front of the apartment building was quiet. It had been for quite some time. This was good.

The woman and her dog rounded the corner finally. It had been too long since she'd left. He'd almost lost his nerve.

Almost.

It was easy to find the right place. It was going to be even easier to get in, he knew. He'd been planning for almost two days now. The man opened his car door and stepped out, keeping a sharp eye on the woman and her dog. They were getting closer and he had to time this just right. She caught sight of him limping across the street and yanked her dog back from smelling his crotch when they met. He smiled at her warmly.

"Woah fella," he said and reached into his pocket. The woman started up the stairs to the front door of the building, pulling her dog along behind her.

The man struggled up the stairs behind her, digging in his pocket. "Don't you fuck this up," he cursed at himself.

"What?" the woman turned around as she pulled her keys out.

"Oh, I..." the man paused to catch his breath as he massaged his pained knee. "I forgot my keys," he said, glancing at the table of apartments and buzzer codes.

"Well you're in luck then," she told him with a smile and held the door open for him.

"Oh thank you so much," the man said, grabbing the door. He watched the woman walk around a corner beside the elevators and open up what he guessed was a mailbox. His eyes flicked back to the table and found the line he needed before letting the door close and limping over to the elevators. He smiled at the woman and bent down in the elevator car to pet her dog, repeating the numbers he saw on the table; memorising them and committing them to memory.

412 - Thornton




The elevator doors opened on the fourth floor and the man smiled at the woman as he stepped out. When the doors slid to a close he took a deep breath, thankful he no longer had to pretend. He stalked down the hallway, looking at the golden numbers on the large doors. The disgust he felt only evolved into a deeper hate as he realised that she even had a better apartment than he did. Not to mention in a better neighborhood.

Finally arriving at number 412, the man stopped and took a deep breath. "Come on, Seaks," he reassured himself. "She's just a woman."

He looked down at his left hand as it pulled a small black switchblade out of his jacket pocket. He covered it with his hand, lifted his empty fist and knocked lightly on the door.




"Mulder?"

He hadn't moved from his spot since they left. Mulder raised his head from the paper in front of him and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose.

"Hey Scully, what's up?"

Scully glanced at Finn. "I'm gonna cut out early today," she said. "Can you cover for me?"

"Sure," he replied without hesitation. "Oh, but before you do, I need you to look at a few files."

"All right." Scully walked into the office and took the files out of his hand as he stood.

Mulder looked at Finn, who was waiting by the door. "Where's Jo?" he asked.

Finn grinned. "I left her at home in her pyjamas watching the Cartoon Network and eating ice cream. A truly pathetic sight."

Mulder chuckled. "Sounds like something I'd be doing right now if I was on vacation."




"I raise a toast to our saviours
each so badly behaved
it's too bad their world
is the one that they saved"

Joanne walked out of her bedroom after hearing a soft knock at her door. She pulled a green tee shirt over her head and walked carefully down the stairs, her bare feet shocked against the cool metal of the spiral staircase. Water from her recent shower dripped onto the colourful tattoo at the base of her neck as she heard the door knock again. Grabbing the television remote from the end table beside the couch, Jo turned MTV down a little and made her way to the door. A deep growl stopped her suddenly and she frowned at the frazzled cat that crouched on the coffee table.

"What's up with you?" she asked the cat as she reached for the lock on the door. Thai stared up at her one second and then took off, scattering a few magazines. Sighing, Jo shook her head and muttered something about the greater psychology of the cat and opened the door without looking through the peephole.

When she opened the door, her expression faded. The gruff face in front of her had a day's worth of stubble and was not interested in any kind of pleasantries. Without wasting any time, Jo calmly but firmly closed the door, only to find it blocked by Agent Seaks' foot. Seaks shoved the door open and Jo stumbled into her apartment. Before she could get a grip on what exactly was happening, Seaks lashed out his right fist and hit her square in the mouth. Jo fell backwards, her back hitting the wall squarely and knocking the wind out of her. She held her face in her hands, the blood flowed easily as her previous injuries were reopened and Seaks advanced on her, leaving the door open. Jo moved her hands from her face, looking at the crimson liquid that covered her fingers.

Seaks moved forward quickly, backing Jo further into the apartment and away from the door. "You wanted to try again," he said, flexing his hand. "Let's try again."

The Brazilian looked behind her and searched for a way out, damning her sensibility of keeping her gun in her bedroom. She tried desperately to think of an escape plan when she heard, rather than saw, the small blade flick out of its handle. Her eyes widened as he backed her against a wall and raised the weapon for her to see. Before he had a chance to use it, however, Jo grabbed it with her right hand, smearing her blood on his fist.

"What the fuck are you doing?" she grunted, trying to restrain him. Her grip was slipping and she prayed she could hold on for just one more minute.

Seaks pushed his face up against hers, his breath making her face hot and humid. "What I've wanted to since you set foot inside the Bureau doors last Friday."

Jo turned her face away and tried to think of a way out of this mess before it got out of hand. As if it hasn't already, she thought to herself. Her eyes squeezed shut as she felt her grip slipping from Seaks' knife hand and tried desperately to keep hold of it. Just until she had a plan in mind. She turned her head and looked at him grinning like the Devil, knowing there was more on deck when her hold slid. Jo's breath escaped her as she felt her hand slip, the blood too slick to hold on. The blade buried itself in the wallpaper beside her head and her eyes opened, realising she was unscathed. Wasting no time, Jo reached for Seaks' shoulders and raised her knee, pulling him into it.

Seaks doubled over, the wind knocked out of him and staggered back. Jo reached for his head, holding it steady as she lifted her knee into his face, hearing an almost satisfying crack under the force.

"Fucking bitch!" Seaks yelled, holding his bleeding nose.

Jo looked back at him as she raced for the far wall to her right and grabbed the long bo from it's mounting place. With it in her left hand, she grabbed the phone receiver off the wall and backed away from Seaks as he stalked her. Jo dialed 911 and kept a sharp eye on the older agent before her. He suddenly rushed the phone on the wall, causing her to start and drop the receiver. Taking the sharp blade, he cut the phone line and moved toward her, convinced they'd have no more interruptions.

Jo's heart beat heavily in her chest. In every fight she had been involved in, she was able to hold some semblance of self control and calm, but this was different. Seaks was different. She couldn't think or reason, she had nowhere to go. Which is why when he came within five feet of her, she reared her left arm back as far as her injuries would let her and swung the bo at him. He swore at her again as it made contact with his elbow and grabbed the weapon with his right hand and held it tight. Jo knew she wouldn't be able to hold her own with her weak arm, so she lifted her right leg and kicked Seaks' left hand, sending the small switchblade skittering a few feet across the wood floor. The older agent growled at her and grabbed the bo, yanking it easily from her grasp.

Her disarmament sent her off balance, and she took a step closer to him to steady herself before he could take advantage of it. When she stood straight again, Seaks wielded the bo with two hands above his head. Jo lifted her arms instincually and shifted, her left side bared. Seaks took the opportunity to swing the weapon like a bat, connecting solidly with Jo's already damaged ribs. The sharp cry from the Brazilian was a satisfying sound to the middle aged agent. He let the bo clatter to the floor and watched her arms tighten around herself as she dropped to her knees.

Jo cringed as she bent over slightly, her right arm holding the side that screamed with pain. She whimpered and swallowed her tears. Don't you dare cry in front of him, she scolded herself. That's exactly what he wants.

"God..." she closed her fist tightly, her fingernails digging into her palm and looked up at Seaks. He walked toward her, the few steps it took and smiled.

The bastard smiled. The blood draining over his lips and chin, dripping onto his white collared shirt.

Jo blinked, taking in extremely short breaths. It was all her ribs allowed without sending the searing pain throughout her body. She stared at the floor in hopes to garner a little more strength and resilience and watched her blood dot the hardwood floor. She knew what was going to happen when he stopped beside her, but she didn't make any move. She couldn't move. The pain in her side was severe and only got worse when she disturbed it.

Just don't cry...

Seaks flexed his hand again, making it into a fist. He watched her look up at him with a pained expression and raised his hand again, bringing it down hard. Jo collapsed on her side as the pain washed over her in giant waves, feeling the blood trail over her cheek. Seaks knelt beside her and pushed her onto her back. He spotted his knife a few feet away and stretched out to get it, bringing it back clenched tightly in his left hand. Bracing himself on his hands, Seaks lowered himself a few inches from Jo's face.

"We're gonna have a great time, Thornton."




"Send me an angel to love
I need to feel a little piece of heaven Send me an angel to love I'm afraid I'll never get to heaven"

She wasn't looking at him; her eyes closed under the pain, but she heard him, felt his blood spatter against her face as he spoke. Her throat constricted as Seaks pushed his left forearm against her, the blade not three inches from her face. He stared down at her with a feral look in his eye. "You move a fuckin' inch and I'll kill you."

God, don't cry...

Jo coughed. Between his arm pressing into her throat and the immense pain that prevented her from breathing normally, she wasn't getting enough oxygen. She coughed again, struggling to swallow. Jo opened her eyes and watched him look down between them, pushing a knee between her legs and forcing them apart. The fear gripped her as her situation set in and she grabbed at his arm across her throat, clawing and pushing against it. He didn't budge, so in a last ditch effort, she opened her mouth and closed it over his forearm.

"Fuck!" Seaks yelled and ripped his arm away. Seething, he replaced his arm against her throat and pushed until the woman underneath him squeaked and closed her eyes. He drilled his fist into her ribs, trying to get his point across and Jo tried to scream, yell, anything, but the pressure on her throat allowed her only the ability to whimper a little. She clenched her eyes closed, feeling her throat tighten.

Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry...

Seaks held his fist steadfastly, pushing into her a little at a time. The pain shot through her like a thousand nails, tearing her apart. "Don't be stupid, Thornton," he said. "I won't think twice about jamming this into your throat."

Jo knew he wasn't kidding. So she silenced herself with great difficulty and held her body still. Finally his fist retracted and Jo made a small noise, relieved. She opened her eyes, watching him reach down between them and heard the soft clink of a belt. Jo swallowed and closed her eyes again as she felt him push against her, grinding his hips into hers.

"Feel that, Thornton?" Seaks asked, making sure she could. He watched her face even though she wasn't looking at him. He wanted to cause her pain, he wanted to humiliate her, he wanted to dominate her. "I'm gonna show you what you're missing, y'fuckin' dyke. See what it's like to be fucked the way you're supposed to be."

Jo swallowed again, not wanting to look. She hoped it was all a bad dream like the ones she had every so often. Shifting slightly, she wished it all away; Seaks and Scully. She wished she was back in Brazil, back in the rainforest where the sights and smells told her she was okay. But instead she smelled the stank sweat, blood and faint remnants of cheap cologne from herself and the man above her. His rough hands began pulling at her jeans frantically as if he suddenly remembered he needed to be somewhere. In the darkness behind her eyes, she prayed it would go quickly.

The button of her jeans popped open and she felt a warm tear slide down her bruised cheek, the salt stinging the cuts along its path.

Jo suddenly frowned slightly when she realised that Seaks hadn't moved for a good minute. She didn't dare open her eyes, but she wondered... Had he lost interest all of a sudden? She left it up to her ears to decide when she felt him move slightly.

A shuffle of feet.

A gun cocking.

And a very familiar voice.

"Unless you want your face splattered against the wall, I suggest you get your hands off her."

The hands suddenly lifted off her. Jo opened her eyes slowly to see the hardened face of Dana Scully, her silver Glock resting comfortably behind Seaks's ear. "Get up," Scully demanded and watched him to make sure he did as he was told. "Drop the knife." The small switchblade fell to the wood floor with a clatter that made Jo recoil slightly. Scully kicked the blade to the side and turned the man away from her. "Put that thing away and put your hands behind your back."

Seaks's hands disappeared into his pants, adjusting himself enough to zip his pants up. He held his hands behind his back and felt the cool metal of FBI issue handcuffs landing securely around his wrists with a quiet click.

Scully pulled him around to face her again, her gun still trained on him. "You just did a very stupid thing."

"Hands up," came a rough voice from behind her.

Finn, who was still in shock over the scene unfolding in front of her, turned to see two police officers clad in blue, their guns drawn. They took a couple steps forward, waiting for Scully to lower her weapon.

"I'm FBI," she told them, holding her hands up. She pointed her gun to the ceiling and opened her jacket with her free hand, offering the officer to reach inside for her ID.

The young man pulled the badge out of her jacket and studied the photo. When he was sure it was good, he handed it back to her and replaced his gun. "What's going on?"

Scully glanced down at Jo and turned back to the officers. "Can we speak outside?"

Jo held her breath as she pulled herself upright. Once she was up, she groaned and held herself still. She looked up and watched Seaks stare at her as they tried to usher him out of the apartment. He stood steadfastly, glaring at the injured woman on the floor.

"You think this is so great, don't you?" he spat at her. "Poor ol bastard's getting what he deserves. I have no wife... no fucking family. Some inconsequential lowlife piece of shit shoots me in the knee and damns me to a life of pushing papers. And now you've taken that away from me, too. I've got nothing."

Jo looked up at him with a blank expression.

"Hey, knock it off," the young officer grabbed Seaks with both hands and yanked him nearly off his feet.

Jo watched him smirk at her as he was dragged out the door. "I woulda enjoyed fucking you senseless..."

She closed her eyes again listening to her attacker being ushered to the patrol car. She knew Finn was watching her. She also knew that Finn had no idea what to say. Which was fine, she didn't really feel like talking. The silence hurt her ears. She thought about listening to what Scully was telling the officers, but decided against it. Turning her head to the side, Jo opened her eyes again and fixated immediately on the shadow underneath her couch. With much effort, Jo slowly rolled onto her good side. She saw Finn start to move, coming to her aid.

"Don't," Jo grunted, getting to her knees. She held her left arm close to her body so as not to anger the pain any more than it needed to be.

Finn stopped short and watched her friend crawl slowly to the couch, flopping down on the floor next to it.

"Thai?" Jo said, trying to sound like there wasn't anything wrong. "Thai, honey..." The cat didn't budge, not believing for a second that everything was normal again. She swallowed, taking a deep breath and tried again. "Come on, kitty," she said her voice wavering slightly. Jo wiped the blood from her hands onto her jeans, leaving red streaked prints on the denim and stuck her fingers under the couch. She smiled when she felt the furry paw bat at her fingers and she gently grabbed hold of it, pulling the cat out from under the furniture. Thai purred madly as his owner cradled him in her arms, scratching his face.

Finn turned around as she heard the officer return to the apartment door. Scully walked past him and glanced at Jo, her face buried in her cat's coat.

"Ah..." The officer tried to get Scully's attention and motioned to Jo. "You want us to take her to a hospital?"

Scully didn't waste any time before shaking her head. "No, I'll take her," she said.

"If she can come down to the station in the next few days to give us a statement..."

Taking the door in one hand, Dana started to close it. "Thank you, we will," she told him. He offered a slight smile and disappeared down the hall. Scully watched them go and closed the door. "Finn?" she asked before turning.

Finn's head snapped up as if she was awoken from sleep. "Yeah?"

Scully put a hand on her arm. "I'm going to take her to the hospital," she said, her voice low. "Can I--"

Finn dropped her rental car keys into Scully's hand and nodded. "I'll tidy up," she replied. "Just give me a call when you know something." Scully squeezed her hand and Finn leaned closer to her. "Put her up in a hotel or something, huh? I don't think she should stay here."

Scully nodded. "I'll call you as soon as I can." She turned back to Jo to see her trying to right herself on her feet. "Hey, hold on," she said, rushing to her friend's side. "Let me take him," she told her, gently taking the cat from Jo's arm and set him on the floor. When the Brazilian was on her feet and steady, Dana noticed her jeans were still undone. Hesitating slightly, she reached down and did the button up again, her hands suddenly shaking. "Okay," she said quietly, "come on."

Scully helped Jo to the door and helped her jacket on, feeling guilty when her friend winced under the sharp pain. She paused, using this moment to survey the damages. Her heart sank. Jo's face was covered in blood - some hers, some Seaks's. The cuts that Scully had noticed not two days ago had been reopened and a few new ones made. Her lips and cheek swelled, but her nose wasn't broken, thank god, Scully noted and remembered the skewed position of Seaks's when she arrested him.

Dana looked at Jo to see if she was still with her. She took Jo's arm gently. "Let's go."




"I'll fall
but I'll heal
So hold me tight
Cause I'm so lonely"

It seemed like every hospital in the continental US was now her second home.

She'd lost count of how many times she stood off to the side of Mulder's room and watched nurses and doctors scurry around him. More often than not, she'd be right in beside them, doing everything possible to make him heal. Hospitals were funny places. So many people standing around in silence and never sure what to say. This was her problem tonight. Because this wasn't Mulder she was watching from behind the glass window of the exam room, it was Jo. The ever vibrant and impenetrable Jo.

The few times Jo had been in the hospital, she'd never refrained from making jokes and causing a little trouble. No matter if it was a gunshot wound, or any other kind of accident, it was like she was there on holiday. This time, though... this time it was very different. The Brazilian still remained on the exam table - unmoved - when she would always be up and moving around. You couldn't keep her still for more than ten minutes sometimes it seemed. Underneath severe bruising, her eyes were lifeless and her expression blank, staring at the few x-rays that displayed her broken ribs to the room. She hadn't moved an inch in the past hour and Scully was starting to worry. The doctors and nurses had checked Jo out and bandaged her and her ribs up neatly. She had been cleared for release since there wasn't any actual rape involved and Scully watched the whole process with more disgust than sadness. If only she'd been there a little sooner.

Sighing, Scully pushed the exam room door open, trying not to make any noise. Jo didn't move. The quiet chatter and intercom buzzes that drifted in from the hallway was a brief, but welcome distraction. Scully walked up to the x-rays and studied them for the fifth time. Four ribs broken. She assumed there were one or two hairline fractures on a couple of them from the fight a few days ago that were encouraged to shatter by one force or another, she wasn't sure. Her fingers traced two of the ribs on the x-ray in front of her before her eyes closed.

"I'm sorry," she said.

Jo's eyes flicked to the back of Scully's head. "Don't," she replied, almost a whisper. It was the first time she'd spoken since they left. "Don't blame this on yourself."

Dana turned around. "Are you okay?"

Jo didn't answer. Instead, she stared at her hands in her lap. Scully noticed that Jo must have opted against the prescribed hospital garb; she was still wearing her bloodied clothes. Walking around the room a bit, Scully started examining the tools one would normally find in an exam room and began reorganising them.

"Can you tell me what happened?" Scully asked softly. She paused, realising the callousness of her words. "If... if you want to, that is."

Jo suddenly felt cold and shivered. "I, um..." She cleared her throat and winced. "I'd just come out of the shower... and I heard someone knock on the door." She tried to clear the imaginary blockage from her throat again.

"I went to answer it, but Thai... was acting weird." Closing her eyes, Jo lowered her head. "I didn't look through the peep hole. Even after everything that happened."

Scully walked over to her friend's side and put a hand on her shoulder. It pained her to see Jo's head whip to the side when she did so. "Jo," she said quietly, taking her hand away. "Don't blame yourself. This is the last thing anyone would expect to open their front door to. And it's the very last thing that anyone should have to experience."

Jo nodded silently and studied her lap. Scully watched her spread her fingers and match them to the marks on her jeans. The Brazilian stared at them for a long time - whether remembering why they were there, or trying to forget. Scully stared at the red prints on Jo's thigh, instinctively trying to piece the evening together. She didn't want to, it just happened. She didn't dare ask Jo to expound; she wasn't even sure she wanted her to. Scully mentally rifled through her knowledge of local hotels. Ideally, she wanted to keep Jo at her place to make sure she was safe and comfortable, but she knew that wasn't a good idea. Jo didn't need to be reminded of anything so soon. She wished there was something she could do for her friend, something to make everything okay, even for just a brief moment.

"Dana," Jo said softly. She swallowed. "I know I... haven't really shown it lately, but..." She scratched the streaks on her pants absently. "Your friendship means the world to me."

Scully smiled and nodded even though Jo wasn't looking. She reached down and took Jo's hand in her own, pulling it away from the offending souvenier of the evening. Her smile faded when Jo pulled her hand away and she nodded to no one in particular, resigning herself to the fact that she needed to be more careful about being even slightly physical for a while. She was about to walk out to the pay phone when Jo wrapped an arm around her shoulder.

Still without any eye contact, the Brazilian pulled her a little closer and wrapped her other arm around her as well, resting her head gingerly on Scully's shoulder. Scully hesitated slightly before gently encircling Jo's waist with her arms. She closed her eyes as Jo sniffed into her blazer and tightened the grip around her shoulders.

"It's okay," she whispered and tried to settle the shaking body in her arms.




Sunday - two weeks later...

"My second skin is wearing this
my polished visage aches"

Jo walked to the door as quickly as she could without irritating her injuries too much. It was a couple of minutes since the knock came before she was able to open it. The face that greeted her was warm and sympathetic.

"Hi Dana," she said, smiling slightly. "Come on in, I've got some water boiling."

It wasn't a surprise that Scully was there. She'd made it a habit to visit every other day to make sure her friend was healing okay. To be honest, Jo appreciated it. While her physical self was slowly but surely returning to normal, her mental health was taking its time to recover, so she looked forward to seeing Scully if just for the company.

Scully closed the door behind her and slipped out of her jacket. She surveyed the apartment and noted how immaculate it was - like nothing had ever happened. A few things had been moved around, whether the victims of boredom or necessity, she didn't know. Scully sighed, wringing her hands. They still hadn't talked about it. She didn't think it appropriate considering the circumstances, but it was eating away at her and she needed to get it out in the open. For the past few visits, she had been ready to, but backed out every time. That wouldn't happen this time, she was sure of it.

Scully looked toward the kitchen to see Jo struggling to reach for a mug. "Oh," she said, rushing to her friend's side. "Let me get that."

Jo smiled her thanks and went about taking the pot of tea and sugar to the table. Settling into a chair, she started pouring the hot liquid into the mugs Scully had set on the table. The two women sat in relative silence as they dressed their tea and sipped it gingerly. As much as she was grateful that Scully came by, Jo still felt somewhat uncomfortable. She knew eventually, Scully would bring it up and for some reason, she felt like today was the day.

"Jo?" As if on cue.

The Brazilian curled her fingers around the mug in front of her and looked at the woman before her.

"I've..." Scully started, but stopped, opting to take a sip of tea before continuing. "I've been doing a lot of thinking lately," she said. "I wanted to thank you for what you did... that night; allowing me to go at my own pace."

Jo carefully nodded in response.

"I just... I learned so much from that, Jo. I learned things about myself that... I never even knew existed." Scully paused and took a deep breath. "I wanted to tell you that I want to learn more."

Jo looked up at her. "I can't do that, Dana," she said.

"No, I know. I didn't mean right away..."

"No," Jo repeated. "I mean I *can't* do that... ever."

Scully continued to rationalise. "Seaks is in jail and is most likely getting fired," she said. "There's nothing to be afraid of anymore."

"Dana, you don't understand," Jo said, her eyes closing briefly. "This will never go away. I've been bisexual all my life and what happened that night is something I've had nightmares about since I knew this evil existed. To live it is something I would never wish on anyone and if this was you... sitting here in my place, with broken ribs, two black eyes and a dozen cuts and bruises to match, I just couldn't..." She shook her head. "Whether or not Seaks is staying in jail or getting fired, there are hundreds of thousands of people just itching to take his place. This is the risk we take... we have no choice in the matter."

"But Seaks and his buddies were the only ones who knew," Scully pointed out. "And now they're out of the way..."

Jo shook her head again. "Everyone in the FBI knows, Dana, thanks to Seaks." She took a short breath in place of a sigh. "But it's not really Seaks or the FBI that I'm talking about." She stared into her mug in deep thought. "See, it's just a touchstone for you. Something to look upon to decide whether or not you think being a lesbian is you or not. I appreciate that you trust me and I'm flattered that you want to share that with me. But... there'll come a time when it'll end and I'll be worried about what I wouldn't have after it's all over." Scully opened her mouth to speak, but Jo held up a hand to silence her. "Dana... that night was amazing, but I can't keep doing it, not knowing where it's going. I can't spend that time with you and then let you go like I never cared. I know that I'll invest too completely in those moments and then it'll be finished... and I can't do that to myself. I'm sorry."

Scully straightened and couldn't decide if she should be flattered, or upset at Jo's remark. "I wouldn't use you like that," she replied.

"Not intentionally, but whether you realise it or not, this is just a trial, one that most girls go through in college these days. Unfortunately, when our time is over we won't be graduating, going our separate ways and having 2.5 children. We'll end up being two friends who can't look each other in the eye. I just want to try to salvage what's left of this relationship before we completely demolish it."

"Don't you think it would make us better friends?"

"It wouldn't work, Dana. I've thought this through."

"Why not?"

"Because I've been down this road before and I don't like where it leads."

"Jo, you're not giving it a chance..."

"I *can't* give it a chance, Dana, don't you get it? If I do you this favour, even for a little while, I'll be the one left standing alone when this path has taken you as far as it can." Jo paused and rubbed her eyes, considering how bad all this sounded. "Please don't take this to mean that I don't like you or wouldn't want to do it. I would just rather head this off at the beginning than realise halfway through that I'm going to be left behind when some handsome man catches your eye."

Scully sighed and nodded. She stared at her hands. "I think I understand," she said.

"Thank you," Jo replied, grateful she didn't need to spell it out.

"Well..." Dana pushed herself to her feet. "I should get going. I've, ah... got to give Mulder a call."

Jo smiled sadly at the mug in her hands and nodded. She watched Scully move to the her jacket draped over the back of a chair. She pulled herself to her feet as gently as she could and walked over to see her friend out. "Dana?"

Scully slipped her jacket on and turned around.

"Thanks," Jo said. "Thanks for having good timing and, ah... taking the time to check up on me... I really appreciate it."

Scully smiled broadly and nodded, moving closer to her. She reached forward, hooking a couple fingers under Jo's collar and pulled her within inches. "You're welcome," she whispered and touched her lips to Jo's softly. They lingered together for a few moments until Scully pulled away. When she did, she was no longer smiling. "Let me know if you change your mind," she said, turning for the door. "I'll see you Tuesday."

Jo watched her leave, knowing the kiss was more than an invitation. She just wished she could have enjoyed it more than she had. Sighing, Jo watched the door click closed and tried to ignore the tingling in her lips.




"Nobody wants to take the blame
everybody wants to stay the same
all I want is what you had
I never meant to make you feel so sad
But you should have known it
cause I tried to show it
so it wouldn't happen this way
I tried to show you
my beautiful angel
I only wanted you."

I'm starting work again next week. I can't stand it in here anymore, I'm going insane. When you stay home for more than a few weeks, eventually there's only so much you can do; eat, exercise, check your email and watch TV. Speaking of which, I've recently found myself enjoying Martha Stewart. I even know what time she's on, I'm that pathetic. I caught myself just this afternoon staring at my cupboards and wondering if my life really would be more satisfying if I just alphabetised my canned goods.

I haven't seen Dana in a good week or so. Her visits have dwindled down to phone calls and then nothing for weeks. It's been six weeks since the attack and while my physical appearance has just about recovered, I'm still a little whacked out. I can finally sleep in my bedroom, though, that's progress. I have to work on turning out the lights next.

Yesterday I thought it might be nice if I stopped by Dana's place to let her know how I was doing. When she wasn't home, I went for a walk by her apartment and found myself at the bar I'd visited a few times. I hadn't planned on going in and when I glanced inside, I saw her chatting it up with someone. Okay, a woman. I'd gone through this scenario in my mind before, but always thought I'd be okay with it. Instead I watched the two of them, at the familiar table, talking, laughing and I noticed the fleeting touch of their hands. It suddenly occurred to me that I wasn't okay with it, though I couldn't do anything about it. I opted to keep walking and to forget about it.

So here I sit, watching Martha Stewart. I'm eager to tell Finn about my latest problem. I wonder if I should call her. I know what she's going to say, I always know, but I harbour some hope that she'll say what I want to hear. Somehow I know that's a wish that's destined to lay flat.

You could've had her... you could've had her and you let her go.




The phone rang and startled Jo from her journal, her grip on the pen tightening slightly. Grabbing the remote, she turned the television down a little and snatched the phone from the table.

"Hello?"

"Hey..."

"Hi," she said, a little surprised. A wide smile spread itself across the Brazilian's face and she leaned back into the couch, patting her lap for the cat to leap up on. Crossing her legs at the ankles, she stared at the ceiling. "I was just thinking about you..."

[[END]]




Author's Notes next...

Moment of Weakness - Author's Notes/Musical Credits Story By: Nic & Heathers
Written By: Nic
lonejaguar@home.com

I'm still somewhat shocked that this is actually finished. Part of me still thinks it needs work, but I know sometimes you just need to let it be. I think I started this story some two years ago on a whim. I wanted to write a threesome fic just for shits and giggles when I suddenly got a yearning for something with a little more meaning.

I haven't read Scullyslash for a long time. In fact, I only read a few here and there, not because I don't want to, but because I have a hard time finding the time and the mood to do it. It takes a lot to sit in front of a screen and read page after page, though I'm sure I don't need to tell you that. One thing I found missing in the fics I read (and heard about) was the absence of what I'm sure many gay and lesbians are afraid of -prejudice and bigotry. It's certainly something that I'm scared to death of and sometimes feel I'm too scared of it.

It was incredibly difficult for me to write the attempted-rape scene - I hope that didn't turn anyone off the story - I don't get off on that sort of stuff. Getting into the head of a character like Seaks was pretty damn close to my worst nightmare and I actually had to stop several times while writing that scene. Too often my imagination got the better of me and I had to go watch TV or play a video game to get my mind off it. For some reason, though, I really felt the needed to write this. So I hope that at least some of you enjoyed it.

I wish to thank a few people:

-->Thank you first and foremost to Heathers - my tireless co-conspirator and loving girlfriend - Babe, I couldn't have done this without you, remember that. Mwah!

-->To Jo - my favourite Scot next to my Mom - for the amazing beta help, suggestions and pointers. Sorry I couldn't rub Mulder out completely for you =)

-->And to ebXphile - the World's Slowest Beta (tm), but also one of the best. Thanks for making my first important story even better than I could have imagined it.

And again, send any and all feedback to lonejaguar@home.com

I used quite a bit of lyrics in this story. I didn't want people to think it was a song fic, so I just inserted lyrics at the beginning of certain scenes to help create the mood. I've listed the songs below, as well as the artists and the albums the songs can be found on. If you'd like to discuss music, I can do that too =) And I honestly didn't mean to choose so many Ani DiFranco songs...

In order of appearance:

Bif Naked - "If I..." - I Bificus
Ani DiFranco - "Swan Dive" - Little Plastic Castle Ani DiFranco - "Glass House" - Little Plastic Castle Ani DiFranco - "Swan Dive" - Little Plastic Castle Melissa Etheridge - "Angels Would Fall" - Breakdown Bif Naked - "I Died" - I Bificus (American)/ Another 5 Songs & A Poem (Canadian) Ani DiFranco - "As is" - Little Plastic Castle Ani DiFranco - "Deep Dish" - Little Plastic Castle Garbage - "My Lover's Box" - Garbage (Debut) Texas - "Breathless" - White On Blonde
Stellar* - "Slowburn" - Mix
Texas - "Beautiful Angel" - Rick's Road




Thanks for reading!


If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Nic and Heathers