Genesis I: Chance Encounter
by Radclyffe
EMAIL ADDRESS: radclyffe@radfic.com
SERIES RATING: NC-17; This story depicts graphic sexual encounters between same-sex consenting adults.
SPOILERS: All eps since The Red and the Black
KEYWORDS: Scully/Other(female);Scully/Slash
DISCLAIMERS: The characters of Scully, Mulder, Skinner and others/events introduced on the X-Files are the sole property of Chris Carter etc, and are used here without permission for entertainment, not for profit.
Comments welcome.
Author's note: The entire Genesis series can be found at my website:
http://www.radfic.com/ or http://www.angelfire.com/nf/radclyffe/


Part One

March 1998

Mercifully the paralyzing force emanating from within the blinding white presence overhead began to move away. The darkness that followed in it's wake was worse. It was more than the absence of light, it was a pervasive emptiness that left her hollow, devoid of knowledge and will. Without those she was helpless, carried along by the press of bodies in the terrifying confusion. Powerless to affect her own fate, she was aware of only one thing--isolation. She was adrift, and so terribly, terribly alone. It was unbearable, and Dana Scully had no choice but to surrender.

Ruskin Dam, Pa. - 5:16am

The helicopter deposited Marsh Black in the midst of chaos. Ducking low to avoid the swinging blades, Marsh scrambled away from the craft and grabbed the arm of the first person passing by.

"Where is triage?" Marsh shouted above the reverberations of the rotors. The distracted young soldier pointed to one of the large tents set up in the midst of a broad field. The quickly erected emergency lights cast a harsh glare over the entire scene. Ambulances and other evacuation vehicles ringed the perimeter of the hastily constructed compound. Military and civilian medical personnel rushed to accommodate the wounded arriving from the dam. The red and blue strobe lights atop the emergency vehicles cast their faces in eerie shadows.

"Over there," he motioned with an arm, anxious to deliver the frozen blood and plasma he was carrying.

Marsh pushed through the tent flaps, and quickly searched the enclosure for someone who seemed to be in charge. A woman in scrubs was directing soldiers carrying stretchers to various parts of the room.

"I'm Dr. Black," Marsh said by way of greeting. "Tell me what you've got here."

"We're certainly glad to see you," the slight dark haired woman replied. "I can't say for sure how many we're getting, but there's a combination of serious burns, exposure, shock, and I think a couple of gun shot wounds. Kids, adults - the works."

"Terrific. How are we fixed for supplies?" Marsh queried, reaching for a cover gown from a pile on a nearby table.

"Well enough. All we've been doing is starting IVs, covering the major wounds with sterile dressings, and transporting as quickly as we can."

Marsh nodded. "Sounds like you're doing the right thing. Point me in the direction of the most critically injured. Any walking wounded I don't need to see. Have a medic or a nurse tend to them and get them out of the way. Move anyone who clearly won't survive to the bottom of the transport list. If you have a question, ask me. I'm sure you know the drill."

The nurse nodded. She had military experience, and knew very well that in a major disaster, there were three classes of patients. Those who would survive without attention, those who would die regardless of treatment, and those who would die if they weren't treated immediately. It was only the third group who demanded immediate attention. She still had no idea what had happened to the hundred or so people burned in some kind of massive explosion on Ruskin Dam. As she leaned down to feel for a pulse in the neck of a young burn victim, she had no time to wonder why the military was on the scene so quickly, nor who the many men searching among the wounded, speaking frantically into hand-held radios, might be.

Marsh stepped to the first patient in the cluster of injured, quickly assessing the extent of the deep burns covering the man's face, chest and arms. "Vital signs?" Marsh asked of the EMT who was starting an IV in the patient's leg.

"BP 100 over 60, pulse 120 and thready, respirations 30."

Marsh grabbed the stethoscope hanging around the young man's neck and leaned down to listen for breath sounds. She pressed the cold metal bell of the stethoscope against the patient's chest, listened for a few seconds, then straightened with a frown. "His lungs are wet, and with those facial burns he's probably got upper airway edema or smoke inhalation at the very least. He needs to be tubed."

The EMT had no idea who this person was, but as he watched the quick and skillful intubation, he was happy to follow the orders. "You got it, doc," he grunted as he attached the compressible bag to the end of the plastic endotracheal tube so that he could begin breathing for the injured man.

"Thanks," Marsh muttered, moving down the line to the next patient. Time was condensed by the sounds and sights of the dying into a series of fleeting images that would be forever indelibly stamped in her memory.

"Excuse me, doctor," a paramedic called hesitantly, "I think this patient is trying to say she's a doctor."

Marsh turned to look at the woman on the stretcher. Her breath caught in her chest, and for an instant she stood transfixed. She had never expected to see her again, but the years had not dimmed her memory of that face. The rich red hair against her clear flawless skin, made paler now by injury, was a striking image that had been impossible to forget. Now there was pain that hadn't been there before, etched into the fine lines between her brows, but it did not detract from her beauty. Marsh stepped closer, leaning down to take her wrist, searching for the pulse. Surprisingly clear although somewhat unfocused blue eyes gazed back at her, struggling for comprehension. Marsh leaned down to hear her faint words, the chaos around her receding into the background as her entire consciousness focused on the woman's face.

"Mulder?" Scully murmured, trying hard to see who was bending over her. The hair was dark and unruly like his, but the eyes weren't quite right. These eyes were dark gray, and stormy like the sea on an over cast morning, not moody and pensive like Mulder's. The fingers wrapped around her wrist were the only points of warmth on her body. Everywhere there was an agonizing emptiness. Was she dying? "I'm so cold," she whispered, fighting panic. "What's happening?"

"You're in a hospital," Marsh said gently. "You're going to be all right. We're taking care of you, and you'll be warm soon, I promise."

Scully struggled to find something solid to hold onto. She dreaded slipping back into that limbo of mind-numbing disorientation. Her free hand squeezed the warm fingers on her arm. She fixed on the steady gaze of the woman above her. "Please keep me here - don't let me disappear," she said urgently, trying to make herself understood. It was so hard, and she was so very tired!

"Listen to me," Marsh said soothingly, "you are safe. I won't let anything happen to you. I'll be right here. I promise. Trust me, you're safe now."

Marsh lifted the thick red hair back from the patient's forehead, quickly assessing the second-degree burns on her upper face, arms, and backs of her hands. They didn't appear serious, but it was clear she was suffering from severe exposure. Marsh glanced toward the paramedic. "Make sure you keep her well hydrated, cover the burns with silvadene, and find some more blankets. She's hypothermic, and if you don't get her warm quickly we'll have a full-blown case of shock on our hands." She didn't want to leave her like this, helpless and frightened, but she had wounded people who needed her more.

Marsh gave a final whispered assurance before moving off, and the younger woman finally seemed calm, releasing her grip on Marsh's arm as her eyes closed. Sometime later Marsh glanced over and noticed two men anxiously crowding around the injured woman. The tall lanky guy was a stranger, but the broad shouldered slightly older man was very familiar. His presence answered the question of why Marsh had been awakened at 4 a.m. for a helicopter ride to a disaster site in the middle of Pennsylvania.

**********

Memorial Hospital, Washington, DC - Twenty-four hours later

Marsh shouldered through the door, looking at the graphic sheet of vital signs on the patient in room 301. The tall good-looking guy from the evac tent was standing in front of the windows, hands jammed deep in the pockets of his rumpled gray flannel trousers, looking about as tired as Marsh felt.

Scully looked up from the bed, grateful for the interruption. Her head ached from trying to remember the events of the last 48 hours, and her recent exchange with Mulder wasn't helping. In his own way, he was as confused and uncertain as she was. It wasn't a state of mind either of them was comfortable with. Up until recently, it had been Mulder with the unshakable vision, and although she often disagreed with him, she had trusted in his certainty. Now he was questioning everything he had ever believed. She still trusted him, but she could not help feeling alone.

Scully surveyed her visitor, trying to remember where they had met. The dark blue scrubs and white lab coat were of no help, but she was certain that she had seen the tall, dark haired woman before.

"How are you feeling, Agent Scully?" Marsh asked as the disgruntled man passed by without a word. "I'm Doctor Black."

*I know that voice* It was deep and soothing, and Scully searched her still fuzzy memory trying to remember when she last heard it. *Her face is familiar too, although it would be hard to forget those piercing eyes and elegant features. Why does it feel like I know her?*

Marsh saw the confusion on her face. "I was at the evacuation center yesterday morning. You probably know by now you're at Memorial. I'm chief of trauma here. Your burns aren't serious, although I'll bet they're painful. Do you need anything?"

*Chief of trauma? She must have started medical school at 12* Scully shook her head, careful not to reveal the discomfort in her neck and shoulders. "I'm fine. Are you here to release me?"

"I think that's a little premature. There's still a slight risk of infection, and I think your headache will improve if we keep the IV in another eight hours to hydrate you further."

Scully smiled faintly. "How do you know about the headache?"

Marsh grinned slightly in return. "Educated guess. I know you tough FBI types are supposed to be impervious to pain, but in here it's allowed."

Scully's face became expressionless. Despite the strange lingering sense of connection she felt with this woman, she didn't know her. What's more, she didn't know what she knew. Mulder hadn't been exactly a font of information, and she desperately wanted to know the details of what had happened on Ruskin Dam. *Well I'm the investigator, I guess I should investigate*

"How many survivors were there?" Scully asked quietly. She pulled herself up on the pillows, ignoring the increased throbbing in her head. For some reason, she didn't want to appear so helpless in front of the surgeon who regarded her with intense dark eyes.

"About 50," Marsh answered. She walked to the foot of the bed, grasping the low rail with both hands, leaning forward. Her eyes never left Scully's face. "Most of the dead died at the scene. The burns were massive. You are suffering from hypothermia in addition to your burns."

Up close, Scully could see the lines of fatigue etched around her eyes and down her sculpted cheeks. Rather than detract from her appearance, the air of weariness enhanced her attractiveness. Scully thought she must be one of those women the Gothic romances she secretly read as a child referred to as handsome. *Now where did that come from! I must be more foggy than I realized!*

"Have you been working all night?" Scully queried gently.

Marsh shrugged dismissively. "I'm used to it. Seriously, I'd like you to stay in until tomorrow." She could see the redhead's shoulders stiffen in resistance. There was a flash of fire in her azure blue eyes, and her full almost bruised-appearing lips tightened slightly. That look of unswervable determination reminded Marsh of the first time she had seen her. It was nearly four years ago, but the event was still clear in her mind. She had answered a trauma call, and when she entered the trauma bay, she found two men with gunshot wounds to the chest, both of them dying. That, in and of itself, wasn't all that remarkable. Street violence in Washington D.C. was common. What was remarkable was the fact that her best resident was following the instructions of someone Marsh had never seen before. The woman who was her patient now had been running that code, insisting that they keep shocking the guy on the table despite the fact that the EKG was clearly flatlined. Marsh would have intervened immediately but something in the woman's face had stopped her. *It's the same look she's got right now. Absolute certainty, and remarkable strength* She had left an indelible impression. Marsh had thought about her long after that day.

"If you must leave," Marsh added softly, to take the command from her tone, "at least spend the next few days in bed. You're not fit for duty, and if pressed, I'll say so."

"Don't worry, she's not going anywhere for a while," a deep voice said from the doorway.

Marsh looked slowly over shoulder toward the voice that still made her want to come to attention. "Hello, Walter."

Scully gaped in astonished. *Walter!! She calls him Walter? Who the hell is she?*

AD Skinner nodded, a muscle along his jaw tightening for an instant. "Hello, Black. I need to speak to you."

"I'm nearly done with rounds. You can wait in my office. You still know the way?"

"I'll see you there after I debrief Agent Scully, doctor." Skinner said in dismissal.

"Not too long, please. She's not ready for an interrogation."

Scully braced for the explosion that didn't come. Skinner flushed, and the tendons in his muscular neck tightened against his starched white collar, but he didn't say a word.

Scully waited until the surgeon had left before turning her attention to Skinner. She knew better than to ask him about the mysterious Doctor Black. AD Skinner wasn't in the habit of sharing information with her. Nevertheless, she desperately hoped he could shed some light on what had happened to her in the last two days.


Part Two

"What happened?" Scully asked Skinner as soon as they were alone.

"That's what I was hoping you could tell me," Skinner said, standing with his legs spread and his hands clenched behind his back. It seemed like one or the other of his two best agents was constantly in trouble, while he was in the dark. This time he had been certain she was dead. Once he saw her in the evacuation tent, his relief had turned to barely contained anger. If he didn't know what they were doing, he couldn't protect them.

Scully sighed. "Like I told Mulder earlier, I don't know how I got there, or why I went there, and I can't remember what happened."

"What about Cassandra Spender?"

"Oh god," Scully gasped, flashing on an image of the woman's face illuminated by a glaring white light. "She was _there_! Is she all right?"

"Missing," Skinner said with a grimace. "Agent Spender is not too happy. He's convinced that you and Mulder had something to do with her disappearance."

"If only I could remember!" Scully groaned, allowing her frustration to show in a rare moment of disclosure.

"I want you stay here at least another 24 hours. This is the third mass extermination that we know of in less than a week. The Russians aren't giving us any information about Kazahkstan, and we don't have much more about Skyline Mountain. You're a witness, and for the time being, you'll be safe in here."

Scully started to protest, then thought better of it. Perhaps if she got a little sleep, she would have a better memory of the events. Then she could convince AD Skinner that she would be more useful back in the field.

**********

Memorial Hospital 6:15 p.m.

When she awoke, the room was dark, and she was not alone. When her eyes adjusted to the dim glow from the baseboard safety lights, she focused on the figure in the chair next to her bed.

"I thought for a second you were Mulder," Scully said to the woman now dressed in blue jeans and an oversized sweat shirt. *She certainly looks as rumpled as Mulder does sometimes*

"He was by this afternoon, but the nurses told him you were sleeping. I'm sure he'll be here first thing in the morning."

"And are you my bodyguard until then?" Scully asked only half facetiously, remembering Skinner's comments. Strangely, she wasn't uneasy in the company of a virtual stranger. It had been oddly comforting to awaken and see her there.

Marsh grinned somewhat sheepishly. She ran her hand through her collar-length hair, leaving it to fall unheeded across her forehead. She appeared to be searching for words.

Scully found the surgeon's unselfconscious mannerisms in stark contrast to her earlier professional demeanor. She relaxed against the pillows, glad for the company.

"Actually Skinner asked me to check in on you. I was just on my way home, and when I looked in..." Marsh uncharacteristically averted her gaze. *How do I tell her that she was so lovely asleep that I just wanted to look at her?*

"What?" Scully probed.

"You looked too peaceful to disturb," Marsh said softly.

Scully felt herself blush, moved by the gentleness and something else she couldn't define in the other woman's tone. She cleared her throat, which was suddenly dry, asking, "Who _are_ you, besides the chief of trauma?"

Marsh leaned back in the thinly padded hospital chair, stretching her long legs in front of her. She steepled her hands under her chin, and thought for a moment. Scully straightened in the bed, holding the sheet just below her breasts over the thin hospital gown, studying Marsh's face. If anything, the doctor appeared vulnerable in her fatigue, and certainly not threatening. Nevertheless, Scully had learned through years of danger and disappointment to trust no one.

"I entered the FBI academy right after medical school. I finished basic training at Quantico. Walter Skinner was my training instructor. I was never actually an active agent. I decided that I had the most to offer as a full-time practicing surgeon and returned to my residency. I have security clearance, but technically I'm considered a _medical consultant_. Most of the time I'm just your ordinary surgeon."

Scully doubted anything about the self possessed, clearly accomplished woman was ordinary. The fact that she called AD Skinner by his first name, and he tolerated it, spoke to the fact that she was not just a casual bureau consultant. Scully wondered just how much Marsh Black knew about her.

"I don't suppose you know anymore about what happened?" Scully asked. *And you probably wouldn't tell me if you did*

"I'm afraid I don't. The autopsies are still underway on the victims, and most of the survivors don't remember much more than you do. I take it your amnesia has not improved?"

Scully shook her head in disgust. "I remember waking up, and being agitated, as if there were somewhere I needed to be. Then nothing but fragments that might have been a dream. The next thing I can recall for certain was looking up and seeing your face."

Marsh heard the tremor in her voice and leaned forward to take her hand. "I can only imagine how difficult this must be for you. There's a very good chance you'll remember more. I know it's hard, but try to be patient with yourself."

Unconsciously Scully tightened her grip on the fingers that circled her own. She remembered the warmth they had given her in the cold early dawn. They were warm now too, and reassuringly steady. In fact everything about Marsh Black seemed solid and safe. She was so used to taking care of herself, and keeping her fears and her pain a secret. Her mother and Mulder were the only people who ever touched her, and that was a rare occurrence. She didn't welcome comfort, she knew, but it had become a habit for her to protect herself physically and emotionally, even from those she loved. For some reason right now, she didn't want to let go of the hand in hers.

"Mulder thinks I should try regression hypnosis," Scully said quietly.

"That might work," Marsh said carefully. She edged her chair nearer the bed, and rested the fingertips of her other hand lightly on Scully's forearm. There was a slight quiver in the firm muscles beneath her fingers. "Mulder--he's your--partner?"

"My partner, my best friend, and probably the one person best equipped to figure out what the hell is going on."

*And lover? Did you leave out lover? As if it would make any difference for you one way or the other, Black*

Marsh struggled to hold onto her objectivity. She hadn't been able to get the injured FBI agent out of her mind all day. She had been captivated by her four years ago, drawn to her unique combination of steely determination, unshakable certainty, and undeniable competence. Those qualities remained, but there was something else now, something more elusive. There was a hint of sadness, a flicker of loneliness, in her beautiful blue eyes when she thought no one could see. Dana Scully was unbelievably strong, unbelievably beautiful, and unbelievably desirable. Marsh couldn't remember ever having been so affected by anyone. And thinking that way could only mean trouble for her.

Marsh hoped her voice did not betray the tightness in her chest. "I have a feeling you're not going to be satisfied until you do something to get to the bottom of this. Medically there's no contraindication to the hypnosis. Just be sure you use someone who is qualified. You've been through a lot."

Scully leaned back against the pillows with a sigh. "I don't suppose you have any experience with it, do you?"

Marsh laughed, a full rich sound that Scully found soothing. "I'm a surgeon, remember? If I can't see it, I can't treat it."

"Now why don't I believe that?" Scully asked drowsily. Despite her anxiety, she felt calm and unusually peaceful. The last thing she heard before she finely surrendered to sleep was Marsh's gentle laughter.

Marsh sat motionless until she was certain the exhausted woman was soundly asleep. She gently disengaged her fingers from the pale hand that gripped hers with surprising strength. She resisted the urge to brush the errant strand of hair from her cheek. It was an innocent desire, but she feared it might be a touch she would never forget.

**********

The next morning 7 a.m.

Marsh knocked on the door to room 301. A clear voice called for her to enter. She stopped just inside and gazed at the woman who stood before the window. Someone must have brought her clothes, for she looked impeccable in a gray silk suit, a white scooped neck blouse, and low black heels. "The nurses said you wanted to see me."

Scully turned with a smile at the sound of the now familiar voice. She was inordinately pleased to see the tall, lean woman whose smile seemed to echo her own. She looked tired, as Scully knew she did herself, but there was a welcome in her eyes that was unmistakable. Scully tried to ignore the slight flush she felt rise to her cheeks. *Probably a slight fever from the burns*

"I'm leaving," Scully said, suddenly feeling shy. "I--I just wanted to say goodbye before I left, and to thank you."

Marsh shrugged slightly. "No thanks are necessary, Dr. Scully. I'm only happy that your injuries weren't more serious."

"Please, call me Dana. Or Scully if you prefer." Scully laughed selfconsciously. "Actually it seems that the only person in my life who calls me Dana anymore is my mother."

"That seems like excellent company--Dana," Marsh said lightly. "Then you must call me Marsh."

They looked at one another as the silence between them grew heavy.

"Are you--"

"I should--"

They both laughed, breaking the tension. Each took a step forward until they stood in arm's reach. Their eyes held, crystalline blue to smokey gray.

Marsh spoke first. "Are you going through with the hypnosis?"

"Yes, later today."

"Be careful." Marsh reached for her hand, meaning only to offer support. She was ambushed by the unexpected combination of Dana's warm skin and captivating smile. She stifled a gasp as her legs trembled.

Scully sensed her genuine concern, and at the touch of Marsh's hand, something stirred deep within. The connection she felt defied reason, and should have been frightening. But it wasn't, in fact she couldn't remember the last time she felt anything so intensely. She didn't want to let go, but there were things she must do.

"I have to go," Scully whispered softly.

"Yes, I know," Marsh said reluctantly, releasing her fingers and stepping aside. She watched wordlessly as Scully gathered her things and moved toward the door. She hadn't meant to, but it happened before she could prevent it. "Dana!" she called.

Scully turned, her hand on the door. There was a yearning on the surgeon's face that called to something in her. "What is it?" she gently inquired.

"Will you call me--when you can? Just to let me know you're okay."

Scully nodded. "Yes, I will." Then she turned resolutely away, pushing through the door and moving quickly down the hall. Mulder was waiting, she had work to do, and questions to answer. As her mind turned to the challenges that faced her, she brushed her thumb lightly across her palm. It still tingled where Marsh Black's fingers had rested.

********

Mulder looked over as Scully slid into the front seat of the bureau car. "So, Scully," he said lightly. "Are you ready for your mind probe? Dr. Werber said he could see us later this morning."

"Mulder," Scully said wearily, "Right about now I'm ready for snake charmers, palm readers, or stargazers. Anything is better than not knowing."

Mulder took his eyes off the early morning traffic to glance at his partner. She looked tired and worn. He had seen her in almost every situation, including near death, and he knew she was suffering now. "Maybe this isn't such a good idea, Scully. We can always do this some other time."

"No," Scully said with finality. "If there's a chance this might work, I want to try it. There's more than just my peace of mind at stake. Remember, Cassandra Spender is still missing."

"There's no guarantee if you remember what happened to you it will help us find Cassandra," Mulder pointed out.

"I know that, but I've got to try. Too many things have happened to me without explanation. I can't just let this go," Scully said in a low, tight voice. "Besides," she said in a lighter tone, "I have a doctor's note that says it's okay for me do this."

"Ah, yes," said Mulder provocatively. "The remarkable Dr. Black."

Scully looked at him suspiciously. After all this time she knew when he had some choice bit of information he was savoring. "What do you mean? Mulder, what have you been up to?"

"Who me?" Mulder asked innocently. A quick look at Scully's face convinced him she was not in the mood for banter. "I noticed her in a head-to-head with Skinner yesterday, and I was curious. Let's just say I'm none too trusting of strangers these days. A little background check was simple. Marshall Ellen Black, grand daughter of Marshall Allen Black, one of the scions of the Boston banking scene. She was one of those seven-day wonders, kind of like you Scully. You know, graduating early from high school, accelerated medical school curriculum, beating out all the other kids for a place at the head of the class. Word has it the bureau recruited her hard, and then just when it looked like she would be the new golden girl, she ups and leaves the program. A great disappointment apparently."

"Sounds more like you, Mulder," Scully said sarcastically. She wasn't in the mood to hear bureau gossip about Marsh Black. *Marshall - I like it*

Mulder laughed, accepting the jibe good-naturedly. "Well, we do have one thing in common. We both like girls."

Scully fixed him with a look that made most suspects shiver. "For God's sake Mulder, repeating things like that can be dangerous."

Mulder looked chagrinned. Scully was more sensitive then he'd ever seen her. "You know I would never say anything like that to anyone but you. I couldn't care less who she dates. Well, I might if I had to compete with her--I'm afraid she might win."

Scully sighed. "Never mind, Mulder. You have your own unique charms." She fell silent and mercifully Mulder left her to her own thoughts. There was no way she could have explained to him how his news affected her. She wasn't sure how to explain the sudden pounding of her heart to herself.


Part Three

One week later

"This is Dr. Black. I was paged to this number?"

"It's Dana Scully, Dr. Black."

Marsh caught her breath. She had never expected to hear from the red-haired FBI agent again. Even though she checked her answering machine the minute she walked in the door of her apartment, and looked for excuses to drop by the pathology department hoping the forensics expert might be there reviewing evidence, she never really thought that Dana Scully would contact her again. She couldn't imagine why the self-sufficient, independent, not to mention beautiful, woman would have the slightest interest in her. She forced herself to answer calmly.

"How are you, Dana? And it's Marsh, remember?"

Light laughter washed over her like the sun breaking through the clouds. Marsh could envision those full red lips turned up in a smile, and the sparkle in her amazingly blue eyes. The image was enough to throw her body into turmoil. *This is very definitely not good*

"Of course I remember. I was here looking for some of the autopsy reports from Ruskin Dam, and I thought I might take you to lunch." Scully knew very well the excuse was thin. She could have had the reports faxed to her office, but she had been thinking about the intense young trauma surgeon all week, and she finally gave in to the urge to call her. As the silence lengthened, she thought perhaps she had made a mistake. Maybe Marsh Black hadn't really meant it when she asked her to call. "Did I catch you at a bad time?"

"No! No!" Marsh nearly shouted. "I mean, this is a perfect time. I was just going off call, and I would love to have lunch with you. Should I meet you somewhere?"

"I'm just downstairs in the lobby. Why don't I wait for you, and we can walk somewhere."

"I'll be right there," Marsh assured her. She hurried to change, stuffing her gear haphazardly into her small duffel bag. She feared she might have imagined the entire phone call, and that when she got to the lobby it would be empty. She knew she was foolish to hope, but she was having a hard time exercising her usual control. Just the sound of Dana's voice on the phone had made her wet.

**********

That same day 12:15 p.m.

Marsh saw her immediately. She was standing just inside the revolving doors of the lobby, wearing a tailored maroon jacket over black slacks. Her hair fell gently forward on either side of her face, and a string of small pearls accentuated the long sweep of her neck. She looked composed and entirely breathtaking. Marsh crossed the tiled expanse of the room slowly, taking the opportunity to appreciate her. She knew Dana Scully was watching her _watch her_. She got the distinct feeling that the self composed FBI agent knew exactly what she was thinking. *That's crazy, Black. If she knew what you were thinking, she'd be out the door*

Scully felt herself grow warm under the appraising eyes of the woman who approached. There was nothing inappropriate, or even particularly obvious, in the way she looked at her, but Marsh Black somehow made her feel like the only person in the room. She wasn't used to that kind of attention, but it wasn't at all unpleasant.

Marsh stopped within touching distance, but she did not reach out to her. "Hi," Marsh said softly, her eyes never leaving Scully's face.

"Hi," Scully responded, amazed at the tightness in her throat. She took a breath, reminding herself this was a simple luncheon between two professional acquaintances. *Then why does it matter so much that she's glad to see me?*

"You look wonderful. How do you feel?" Marsh asked.

Scully shrugged, surprised to find that she was without her headache for the first time all week. "I'm fine. I'm pretty hungry though."

Marshall laughed, that same deep easy laugh that Scully remembered so clearly. "I hope you don't mind something casual. I'm not exactly dressed for anything else."

Scully thought Marsh Black looked just fine in her charcoal flannel trousers and loose white silk open-collared shirt. In fact, so far she hadn't seem her in anything she hadn't liked. She had the kind of lean athletic body that looked equally good in tattered jeans or power suits. "I think you look more than presentable, and I would be delighted to take you anywhere. What's your pleasure?"

Marsh was momentarily at a loss for words, and mortified to find herself blushing. *Oh god, I hope she can't read my mind* "There's a really good Indian restaurant up the street. Does that sound okay?"

"Perfect."

********

Marsh leaned back in her chair, thoroughly satisfied following an excellent meal and an hour of pleasant conversation during which she and Dana had shared stories about medical school and Marsh had described her current work at Memorial. As if by unspoken agreement, they avoided any discussion of the recent events that brought them together, nor did they touch on Marsh's past with the bureau.

"It's been a long time since I've done anything like this," Scully remarked.

"Why is that?" Marsh questioned gently.

Scully shrugged. "Too much work, too much travel--too many things no one except Mulder could understand."

There it was again, the partner thing. *It will hurt a lot less if you find out now* She waited until the waiter brought their espresso, then asked, "This Mulder--is he your lover?"

Scully raised the small cup to her lips, surprised that she didn't find the question more surprising. She had been searching for a delicate way to find out more about Marsh's personal life. She had enjoyed their discussions about medicine, but she felt they were only skimming the surface of waters so deep they might never touch bottom. If she needed to be the one to go first, she would. Something told her it would be worth it.

"I suppose more people than I realize think we're lovers. After all, when a man and a woman work so closely together, it's almost expected. And then of course, neither of us has much of a personal life. It would make sense for us to sleep together. At least it would be convenient."

"I take it that's a no?"

Scully laughed at her own evasiveness. *God, Mulder really is rubbing off on me* "That is most definitely a _no_. Don't misunderstand me, I think the world of Mulder. I'm closer to him then to my own brothers, and closer than I've ever been with any lover. It just never happened between us, and now I can't imagine that it could without somehow completely changing our relationship. He's the only person who really knows what my life is like any more, and sometimes the only person who understands."

"He sounds very special. I'm glad you have him."

Scully laughed. "I think I forgot to mention that he is also the most obstinate, infuriating, inflexible man I have ever met."

"Sounds like every surgeon I've ever met," Marsh commented with a smile.

"What about you? Anyone special?" Scully asked softly.

*Well, there it is* Marsh searched Scully's face for some clue as to how to respond. All she found was the same welcoming warmth she had seen in her expressive face all afternoon. There really was no point in pretense. "There hasn't been anyone serious for a very long time. I made the mistake of getting involved with a field agent when I was a trainee. It didn't work out."

Scully nodded, lost in memory. "I know what you mean," she said at length. "I got involved with my training instructor. We would have made better friends then we did lovers, and of course once we were no longer lovers, we couldn't be friends. There have been a few not altogether satisfactory encounters since then, but there really hasn't been room for anyone in my life since I started work with Mulder."

Marsh cleared her throat and forced herself to hold Scully's gaze. "The story I told you the other night about leaving the bureau is the official version, but it isn't quite the whole story. I did get involved with a field agent when I was a trainee. She was killed during a hostage rescue attempt. Skinner knew about our relationship, and I'm not sure who else. I wanted out after that, and they let me go. I'm not sorry I left."

Scully had a feeling her next words might be the most important ones she ever spoke to this woman. There were so many things she wanted to say, and to ask. "I am so sorry. I know how hard it is to lose someone you love."

Marsh had been holding her breath, and as she slowly released it, the tension in her body began to ebb. "Thank you." She wasn't sure what kind of response she had been expecting, but the empathy and acceptance in Dana Scully's voice were undeniable. Marsh was relieved to be sure, but more than anything else, she felt comforted. Suddenly the day seemed brighter. Taking a chance, she asked, "I think we're both due a little relaxation. There is an Annie Liebowitz retrospective across town I've been meaning to see for weeks. Do you have to get back to the office, or could you sneak away for a few hours and see it with me?"

Scully couldn't remember the last time she had done something spontaneously for herself. There was a pile of paperwork that needed to be done for their quarterly report, but she could finish that on Monday. It was Friday afternoon, and she had done nothing but work since her release from the hospital. The thought of doing something totally unrelated to an x-file, or a dead body, was practically exhilarating. "I'd love to go. Can we walk?"

Marsh laughed. "It's three miles."

"Well, I suddenly have the afternoon free. Let's go."

Marsh rose to follow her to the door, ignoring the warning bells ringing in her head. Of course she knew that Dana only wanted company and an excuse to escape for a little while. She should be safe enough as long as she kept that fact clear in her mind, right?

**********

5: 15 p.m.

"How did it get so late?" Scully exclaimed as they neared the end of the exhibit.

"I think we lost an hour arguing over which was her best Rolling Stone cover."

"That wasn't an argument. That was a _discussion_!" Scully corrected with a smile. "And besides, there's absolutely no question. It's the Lennon/0no photograph."

Marsh shook her head in mock disagreement. "I do believe I've heard that comment once or twice before this afternoon. You obviously are a woman of strong opinions, but fortunately I can always argue that art is in the eye of the beholder."

"That is begging the issue!" Scully replied archly, enjoying their easy banter.

"That is diplomacy," Marsh said with a laugh. "Besides, I happen to agree with you, even though it was fun debating the point. There's hardly any of her work that I don't think is great. If I ever take one photograph half as remarkable as the negatives she probably throws away, I'll be happy."

Scully looked at her in surprise. "Are you a photographer, too? In addition to being chief of service at a disgustingly young age, and a special consultant to the FBI, that is." To her amazement, Marsh looked away shyly. *She doesn't seem to have any idea how remarkable she is*

"I don't call myself that. My mother gave me a hand-me-down Brownie camera when I was ten. I've been taking pictures ever since. It forces me to stop thinking about myself, and reminds me that there is more to life than trauma and the operating room. When I've seen too many kids killed by drugs or guns, I take my camera into the park." She laughed selfconsciously. "I've got a lot of pictures of squirrels."

"I haven't walked in the park in years, but it's a great place to escape to," Scully agreed. "Will you show me your photos someday?"

Marsh nodded. "Sure," she answered quickly, not believing for a moment that they would ever share another afternoon like this. She reached for the gallery door, pushing it opened as Scully preceded her.

"Oh damn! It's pouring!" Scully exclaimed, peering out from under the short awning that was protecting them from the downpour. "And of course, my car is in the hospital garage all the way across the city!"

"My place is practically around the corner," Marsh said, turning up the collar of her light blazer against the chill March air. "We can pick up my car and I can drive you back to the hospital."

"That's way too much trouble for you," Scully protested.

*Nice move, Black. She probably thinks it's a pick up line*

*Oh good, Scully. Now she probably thinks you can't wait to leave* And nothing could be further from the truth. For the last five hours, Scully hadn't thought about work, the sudden devastating turns her life had taken, or the forces that seemed to threaten her from every side. Marsh's company had given her the respite she needed, and she wasn't quite ready to return to her empty apartment and face the many questions that echoed throughout the lonely rooms. Besides, she was quite enjoying this particular company.

"We can call you a cab-" Marsh offered.

"No," Scully said quickly. "Let's go to your place."

Marsh pulled off her blazer and spread it out over their heads like a small tent. "Get under here, and let's make a run for it."

Scully reached her arm around Marsh's narrow waist, leaning close to her to get as much shelter from the rain as she could. "Ready when you are."

Marsh was acutely aware of Scully's body pressed against hers, and the warm hand resting just above her hip. That was all it took to make her tremble. *Jesus, just forget it! It doesn't mean anything to her!* She decided there would be time enough to worry about her runaway emotions when they were dry. "Hang on!" she said as she led them out into the deluge.


Part Four

6:10 p.m. A few blocks away

Scully followed Marsh through the side entrance of a three story brownstone, up an enclosed staircase, and through the arched second floor doorway. She stopped just inside, aware that she was dripping on the highly polished hardwood floors. She craned her neck to see up into the clerestory ceiling. Portions of the floor above had been removed, opening much of the lower space all the way to the exposed rafters two stories up. The rear of the area was all windows which overlooked the park on the opposite block. The remaining portions of the third floor formed a loft reached by a carved wooden spiral staircase. The soaring height and open space of the room was exhilarating. Scully continued to look about in appreciation as Marsh touched a match to several logs in the fire place.

"This place is amazing!" Scully exclaimed as Marsh crossed the room to take her coat.

Marsh smiled shyly. "Thanks. Can I get you a drink, or do you need to go right away?"

Scully glanced down at her dripping slacks and wet stockings. "I'd love a drink, but I'm going to have to borrow something dry," she said.

"Why don't you stand in front of the fire where it's warm, and I'll go upstairs and find you a change of clothes."

Scully watched her cross the room and climb the staircase, admiring her easy graceful movement. *A panther* She stared into the fire, aware that her emotions had taken an unexpected, but not unpleasant turn. She had sensed Marsh's attraction all afternoon, even though Marsh was the epitome of propriety. She would turn her head, and find Marsh looking at her with an intensity that practically seared her flesh. It was exciting to be the focus of such desire, and she couldn't ignore the slow rise of arousal that pulsed between her legs. She shook her head, trying to dispel the slight haze of lust. She liked Marsh too much to treat this lightly.

Marsh returned a few moments later with a pair of navy blue sweatpants and a teeshirt adorned with the FBI logo. She had changed into faded jeans and a polo shirt. She offered the clothes to Scully. "I thought this would be familiar. The bathroom is through that door to your left. Is wine okay?"

Scully reached for the stack of clothing gratefully. "Sounds perfect." When she emerged dry and comfortable, she found Marsh seated on the floor in front of the fire place with her back against the leather sofa. She had placed an assortment of fruit, cheese, and crackers along with a chilled bottle of white wine on a low coffee table. Scully took note of the special touches as she stretched out next to her facing the fire. "This is wonderful," she said with a sigh. She sipped the wine and studied Marsh's profile. *I wonder if she knows how attractive she is. She could be a model with those high sculpted cheek bones and magnificent deepset eyes* She didn't bother to ask herself why she was sharing what could only be called a romantic interlude with a woman she barely knew. The why of it was infinitely less important than how she felt being with Marsh Black. She was suddenly reminded of how good it was to laugh, and share ideas, and enjoy the world with another person. *Not just _any_ person -- Marsh. Face it, Dana, you _want_ her to keep looking at you that way*

Marsh turned her head and caught Scully's appraising glance. Dana's face was half in shadows, both alluring and remote. Her eyes were heavy lidded, hazy, and lush with promise. Marsh had to look away. She swirled the wine glass around and around between her long slender fingers. When she spoke, her voice was husky. "I don't know what to do with my hands, I want to touch you so badly."

"What's stopping you?" Scully murmured, acknowledging her own rush of desire. It was immediate, and undeniable. Blood pounded through her head as it beat simultaneously into her clit. The intensity was almost painful. She wanted-- no _needed_-- Marsh to kiss her. She leaned toward the woman who had captivated her with a gentle touch on the hand, but who hesitated to touch her now. "Marsh?" she whispered softly, holding Marsh's eyes with her own feverish gaze, aching for her.

The undisguised want in her beautiful face was more than Marsh could resist. Groaning, Marsh leaned forward to meet her lips.

Scully gasped at the sensation. *Oh my god, how can anyone's lips be so soft?* She parted her own full lips, swollen even further with desire, to admit the warm tongue that tentatively sought entrance. First a gentle probing, then bold strokes against her tongue, along the inside of her lips, reaching further, deeper, demanding a reply. Scully answered with a thrusting search of her own, sliding one hand into the hair at the back of Marsh's neck, holding her head close, keeping her there so she could explore her. She felt the murmurs of pleasure through Marsh's mouth, swallowing the moans, rejoicing in the power and heady thrill of exciting Marsh with her kisses. When Marsh moved her mouth away to place a torrent of kisses along the edge of Scully's jaw and down the side of her neck, Scully felt bereft. She wanted Marsh's lips again, she wanted to be inside her hungry mouth again. She grasped Marsh's head with both hands, raising her face until they were a breath apart. "Don't leave me yet," Scully pleaded, her voice thick with need. "Kiss me - kiss me hard."

"I'm not leaving," Marsh whispered, easing her body closer so that Scully was nestled along her length. She brushed her lips across the fragile lids, trailing her fingertips down Scully's throat, resting her fingers in the hollow above her collarbone. She bent her head, finding Scully's sensitive nipples through her teeshirt. She bit lightly, pulling the taut buds with her teeth, inflaming them with her hot breath. "I want to taste you everywhere."

Scully moaned as Marsh's teeth grazed across her swollen nipples, sending flashes of pleasure to her deepest reaches. Scully pressed into her, aching for the contact, her insides twisting with need. She reached for Marsh's slender hips, pulling her over, guiding the denim clad leg between her thighs. She whimpered at the weight,and the pressure, and the heat that was everywhere at once and nowhere close enough. "I feel like I'm dying," Scully groaned against Marsh's neck, gasping for breath. "I think I might if you don't touch me soon."

Marsh laughed gently, her tongue teasing small circles along Scully's neck toward her ear. She felt Scully shiver against her. "I will -- I want to so much it hurts. You're so beauti--" Marsh jumped, swallowing her words, as Scully slid a hand between them, pressing against the heat between Marsh's thighs. As if she had done it a thousand times, Scully's finger tips found her clit unerringly, massaging her skillfully. Marsh's mind was melting, every nerve ending twitching. "Don't," she managed to force through clenched teeth, "you'll make me come. Please--"

"You're so swollen I can feel you through your jeans," Scully moaned against Marsh's lips, her tongue finally returning to the pulsating sanctuary of Marsh's mouth. She stilled her hand, but kept it cupped between Marsh's legs while she continued her kisses with bruising intensity. Once again she was lost in the heat of their dueling tongues, when Marsh wrenched her face away. "What?" Scully exclaimed.

"I need you naked," Marsh managed, her vision hazy, her senses eclipsed by the fire consuming her. She fumbled with Scully's shirt, raising her hips automatically when she felt Scully's hands on the buttons of her fly. Suddenly they were a tangle of arms and legs, kicking out of jeans and sweatpants, stripping off teeshirts, tossing articles of clothing mindlessly into the room. Marsh reached blindly behind her with one hand, pulling down an old quilt, spreading it on the floor and easing Scully onto it. She straddled Scully's thighs, supporting her own weight on her extended arms, staring down at Scully's face, a mesmerizing chiaroscuro of shadows drawn by the flickering light of the fire. Her throat was dry, and she was literally speechless with wonder. Scully's eyes were open, watching her, her lips parted in anticipation. Slowly, Marsh lowered herself until there was no space between them, reveling in the soft cry the contact wrought from Dana. She trembled with the effort of restraining her raging passion. As much as she wanted to take her, to make her cry out with pleasure, she wanted to make it last. She wanted to imprint every sensation, every sound, every sigh--so that if this were the only time, it would be burned into her memory and every cell of her being.

*She's exquisite-and she has no idea* Scully trailed her fingertips down the firm muscles in Marsh's arms, finally clasping her sensitive surgeon's hands where they lay against her skin. "I'm so ready for you. Don't make me wait any longer."

"No," Marsh murmured, easing her fingers into the welcoming wetness between Scully's legs. She groaned deep in her chest as Scully cried out, hips surging upward. "Tell me what you like," she whispered, slowly stroking the length of her, parting the hot, smooth flesh, brushing lightly over the distended apex. She increased the pressure slightly, circling her quivering clit, pressing, then withdrawing.

"Anything," Scully gasped, "you can do anything. Ohhhhh, yesss---oooh, god, you're good!"

Scully's thighs grew tight under her, straining with the mounting tension in her pelvis. Marsh felt it, knew it for what it was, and forced herself, with tremendous effort, to ease her fingers away.

Scully cried out in protest at her withdrawal, her body twitching, her back arched--dangling at the precipice of release. Her voice was ragged, breaking with the strain. "Please, I need to come--please let me come."

Marsh nearly lost it. She tightened her legs around Scully's thigh, pressing herself against the firm flesh. She was fully aroused and distended; the slightest movement sent currents of pleasure coursing through her. The need in Scully's voice was almost enough to send her over the edge. Her hips began thrusting of their own accord. She pressed her lips to Scully ear. "Soon, soon I promise. I want to taste you. I want you to come in my mouth."

Scully twisted her hands in Marsh's hair, forcing her head up. "Do it now," Scully demanded urgently, her eyes pleading. "Please--put your lips on me."

Marsh couldn't have resisted longer even had she wanted to. She was threatening to explode herself, and she wanted to be as close to Dana as possible when it happened. She pushed herself downward, lying between Scully's legs, searching for her with her lips. She had meant only to kiss her lightly, but at the first taste of her, her control collapsed. She couldn't take her deep enough, couldn't absorb her fast enough, couldn't satisfy a need so long unfulfilled soon enough. Dimly she heard Dana call her name, but all she knew was the essence of her as she consumed her--drawing her in with her lips, driving her with her tongue, filling her with insistent strokes. As Dana strained upward against her mouth, desperately seeking satisfaction, Marsh began coming. She whimpered with the contractions, sucking harder at Dana's bursting flesh, pushing her higher, until they were crying out as one, convulsing together.

Marsh had no idea how much time passed as they lay gasping, the distant crackling from the fire and the faint rasping of their breath the only sounds in the room. Finally she pushed herself upward until she could rest her forehead between Dana's breasts, her hands curled loosely around Dana's arms. "Lord, you're fantastic," she managed.

Scully's limbs felt too heavy to lift, but with effort she managed to drag her arm upward and drop her fingers into Marsh's damp hair. Her eyes were half opened, and she stared upward into the dark recesses of the high vaulted ceiling, stunned. *When has anyone ever made me feel so good?* She trailed her fingertips down over the prominent cheek bones, finding the corner of Marsh's mouth. She pressed a finger to her lips and was rewarded with a soft kiss. "You're pretty amazing yourself."

"Do I need to tell you that I've never done anything quite like this before?" Marsh questioned softly, slowly rolling onto her side, one hand gently resting on Dana's stomach. The muscles under her hand contracted at her touch.

"You can tell me anything you want to, but it's not necessary. What I felt, what you made me feel, is all that matters."

Marsh leaned up on an elbow so that she could look at her. The sharp, pristine angles of Dana's face were softened by the fire light and the lingering lassitude from their lovemaking. To her amazement, she felt herself swell again and begin to throb. Her throat suddenly dry, she whispered, "Will you stay with me tonight?"

Scully clasped her neck, pulling her down, claiming her lips. After kissing her thoroughly, she replied forcefully, "Only if you promise to make love to me again."

Marsh closed her eyes, closed her mind to the warning bells, and gave herself over to Dana Scully's irresistible request.

**********

5:15 a.m.

Sometime in the night they had finished the wine and the cheese and crackers. They had managed to separate long enough to make their way up the spiral staircase to the king-sized bed on the loft level. Naked, wrapped in each other, they had finally slept.

Scully opened her eyes, stretched out her arm, and felt the depression in the adjoining pillow where Marsh's head had been. It wasn't yet light, but the first graying of the dawn was visible through the skylight above her head. She was surprised that she hadn't felt Marsh leaving the bed. It had been so long since she had slept beside anyone, this should have felt strange. What was strange was how natural it had been to slide her arm around Marsh's waist, lay her cheek against Marsh's breast, and simply close her eyes. For a few brief moments she had been aware of Marsh's strong, gentle fingers stroking her face, her neck, her breasts before she slipped into sleep. The only sensation she was aware of now was missing her.

Scully slid her legs out from under the quilt and searched the room for something to wear. Her own damp clothes were in the downstairs bathroom, along with her holster and Sig Sauer. The clothes she had borrowed from Marsh what seemed like a lifetime ago were probably still strewn around the living room. She pulled a robe from the back of a nearby chair and went in search of her errant companion. She found her seated on a small love seat in front of the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the park.

"Was I snoring?" Scully asked lightly, curling up in the corner of the couch opposite Marsh. She rested one hand lightly on Marsh's shoulder, wanting the connection.

Marsh turned, threading her fingers through Scully's. "No," she said gently. "I couldn't sleep. Too many questions."

"About me?" Scully probed gently. *She's worried. How come I'm not?*

Marsh sighed, lifting the back of Scully's hand to her cheek, rubbing it lightly against her skin. "You feel so good," she murmured. "It hurts how much I want you."

Scully tugged her hand away reluctantly. "I seem to be at the stage where all I have to do is look at you to want you, and touching you makes me crazy. So talk to me while I still have some sense left."

Marsh regarded her seriously. "We've met before, you know. You came into the trauma admitting area with two guys who had been shot in a bank hold up. That's when I first saw you. You were so certain, so focused--I couldn't look away from you. I've seen dozens of other doctors do exactly what you did, but your face stayed with me for weeks. You were all I thought about."

"I don't remember you," Scully said, even now aching at the memory. "That was Jack Willis--the training instructor I told you about. I wasn't in love with him, but I cared about him, and I couldn't let him die."

"I'm sorry, I didn't realize who he was," Marsh said quickly, slipping one arm around Dana's shoulders. "I heard that you ended up in a hostage situation, and he was killed.

"Yes," Scully said, once more in control. *She doesn't need to know how close he came to killing me*

Marsh caressed the faint mark left on Scully's cheek from the burn. "That day at Ruskin Dam, I saw dozens of patients, but yours was the only face I saw clearly. It was as if I was there just for you."

Scully curled against Marsh's side, threading her arms around her waist. "I'm so glad you were there."

Marsh drew her close, needing the comfort of her presence. "Do you think things happen for a reason? Or is life just a series of random events, chance encounters that have no greater meaning?" Marsh queried as she stared out into quiet park.

"I don't know if there is some master plan that we have no knowledge of," Scully said softly. "What we do with the events in our lives--that's what matters. I never expected to meet you, and I certainly never expected to make love with you. Last night for perhaps the first time in my life, I followed my heart, instead of a voice in my head telling me what I should do. In the evac tent I wasn't sure where I was, or what had happened to me. I was more than just physically cold, I was isolated, so alone. Your touch, your voice--called me back from some terrible place. Was that a random event--a chance encounter? Maybe. Or maybe it was meant to happen this way. Whatever connection occurred in those few minutes was still there when I woke up. To find you there beside me, to hold your hand, made sense in a way words can't explain. I missed you as soon as I walked out the door, and all week I wanted to see you again. I asked myself why, and I had no good answer. Finally I called you because I had to--because it felt right."

Marsh closed her eyes as Scully spoke. She didn't want her to see the fear in them. *God, I want this to be true*

Scully watched the emotions play across Marsh's face--uncertainty, disbelief, resistance. *Please let her believe me* She took Marsh's face in both hands, forcing her to look at her. "Tell me what you're afraid of."

Marsh looked deep into Scully's eyes, admitting, "For fifteen years I've had two absolute rules I've never broken. All I had to do was look at you and they went right out the window. That scares the hell out of me."

Scully couldn't help but smile. *I think I might have broken a few for you too* She waited.

Marsh leaned forward to press her lips to Scully's forehead. "After Karen died I promised myself never to get involved with another FBI agent again." Her voice was low, but Scully detected the tremor in it.

"Oh Marsh, I'm sorry. There are no guarantees about the future, but I'll do my best not to let that be what comes between us." She tilted her head to brush her lips across Marsh's. Just that quick contact brought a flood of arousal. She kept her voice steady with effort. "And what's the second rule?"

"Never to sleep with a straight girl."

*Now there's a question I don't have such an easy answer for* Scully tried her best to ignore the pulsating heaviness growing in her pelvis. She stroked one finger lightly along the curve of Marsh's breast, visible through her thin teeshirt. Her voice was husky as she murmured, "Define straight girl."

Marsh laughed softly, shifting so that her sensitive nipple brushed along Scully's palm. Her breath caught at the twitch of excitement between her legs. "Someone who sleeps with men," she managed.

Scully pressed closer, nibbling at the warm soft skin below Marsh's ear, slipping her hand under the thin cotton shirt to enclose the taut nipple between her thumb and forefinger. She smiled with satisfaction as Marsh moaned softly. Her own body pulsed in response. "Define lesbian," she gasped as Marsh opened the robe to reach between her legs.

Marsh slid one finger into the wet heat, finding her firm and full, circling the aroused tissues lightly. She was so intent on the incredible sensuousness of Scully's body, she was completely taken by surprise as Dana slipped one hand down the front of her sweatpants. "Oh god," Marsh cried as her hips bucked up into Dana's hand. Just as suddenly as the exquisite sensation began it was gone. She opened her eyes in confusion. "What--," she gasped.

Scully quickly knelt in front of Marsh, tugging at the loose draw string pants as she said urgently, "Define lesbian, Dr. Black."

Marsh could barely think as she's lifted her hips, wanting only for Dana to take her into her mouth. She clenched the soft fabric of the couch in both hands, begging, "Please--" Her voice was nearly a wail.

Scully leaned forward to run her tongue around Marsh's navel, trailing down to be soft hair between her thighs, only a breath away. "Tell me," she demanded, blowing softly across the tip of Marsh's clit.

"A woman who makes love to women," Marsh groaned, opening her legs, offering herself to her lover.

"Thank you," Scully whispered as she lowered her head. Dimly she heard Marsh sob, but she was beyond knowing anything except the blood pounding under her lips, and the exquisite fragrance of Marsh's arousal. She didn't stop when she felt Marsh's first orgasm, or the second, because each time Marsh came her own excitement grew. She groaned in protest when Marsh lifted her head away, pulling her upward, then groaned with pleasure as Marsh cradled her against her chest, holding her securely as she stroked her toward release. She clutched Marsh's shoulders, burying her face against Marsh's neck, barely able to breath.

*oh yes,oh yes,oh yes...* Scully arched her back, tightening her legs around Marsh's hand. "Oh Goddddd...yesssss..." she cried.

Marsh pulled her closer, finding her mouth, drinking in her sobs of fulfillment. When their hearts stopped pounding and the tension in their limbs subsided, they curled around each other on the couch, touching everywhere they could.

"Marsh--" Scully whispered as she nestled her face against Marsh's neck.

"Hmmmm?" Marsh answered, her lips against Dana's forehead.

"That was no chance encounter." Scully said firmly.

"I know," Marsh murmured, daring to hope.

End

 


 

Genesis II: Tempered by Fire
by Radclyffe
EMAIL ADDRESS: radclyffe@radfic.com
SERIES RATING: NC-17; This story depicts graphic sexual encounters between same-sex consenting adults.
SPOILERS: All eps since The Red and the Black
KEYWORDS: Scully/Other(female);Scully/Slash
DISCLAIMERS: The characters of Scully, Mulder, Skinner and others/events introduced on the X-Files are the sole property of Chris Carter etc, and are used here without permission for entertainment, not for profit.
Comments welcome.
Author's note: The entire Genesis series can be found at my website:
http://www.radfic.com/ or http://www.angelfire.com/nf/radclyffe/


Part One

A Saturday 2:23 pm

Scully was certain she did not have the ability to orgasm again. But she thought that the last time, and the time before that. She had lost track of the hours, her muscles long since having ceased to function, her bones slowly dissolving. *My mind will be the next to go* She didn't have the energy or the inclination to tell Marsh to stop whatever it was she was doing with her tongue. The pressure was building, her hips were beginning to rock, and she heard herself making the sounds she made when she was about to come.

"Ahh...ahh...ahh..." She gripped Marsh's fingers, squeezing them with the rhythm of the blood pulsing in her pelvis. So close, ready to explode--*_What_ is that????* Dimly a persistent noise penetrated her consciousness, forcing her back from the brink of orgasm. "Marsh," she gasped, too conditioned to ignore it, "what is ringing?"

Marsh groaned, about to come herself from the urgent movement of Dana's leg between her own. She raised her head a fraction, "My beeper." Then she pulled Scully into her mouth again, not caring who might be calling. All she wanted was one more minute and she would bring them both off.

"That's not your beeper! That's my phone!" Scully exclaimed, rolling out from under Marsh. "Where is the damn thing," she groaned, standing none too steadily.

Marsh pressed her forehead to the mattress, cursing softly as she tried to ignore the insistent throbbing between her legs. Her fingers strayed to her clitoris. It was so hard, and it felt so good to touch it. In another second she would come. *Like the last ten years? Wait for her, you fool!* She dragged her hand away. "It's with your clothes on the window seat," she finally managed as Scully ransacked the room.

Scully tore through the neatly arranged pile, snatched up the phone, and collapsed back on the bed. "Sorry," she whispered to Marsh, pulling Marsh's head onto her lap with one hand while pushing the on button on her cellular with the other. She stroked the damp hair back from Marsh's face as she announced, "Scully."

"Scully? Where are you?"

Scully straightened slightly. "Mulder! What's going on?"

"You didn't come back to the office yesterday--"

"Mulder--it's Saturday morning. Why are you calling me?"

"It's Saturday _afternoon_, Scully," Mulder said pointedly.

Scully felt Marsh tremble against her. *Damn, she was ready to come, too!* Trying to control her exasperation, she said through clenched teeth, "Whatever, Mulder. What's the matter?"

"Well, there _is_ a lot of paperwork and I was wondering if you were coming in."

*He's bored and he wants company* Scully gazed down the long expanse of Marsh's toned body, thinking how much she would like to run her hands over every inch of her. "Mulder, it's Saturday. Do we have a new assignment?"

"No, but--"

"Are you in any kind of trouble?"

"No, but--"

"I'll see you Monday, Mulder," Scully said as she pushed the off button. She reached for Marsh, pulling her up until their faces were at the same level. She pressed her lips to the hollow at the base of Marsh's throat as she slid one hand down Marsh's belly into the warmth that was waiting for her below.

Marsh shuddered, gasping, "God, I need to come."

Scully smiled, circling her with slow, teasing strokes, feeling her tense and swell. "I'm sorry about the call," Scully murmured, pressing until Marsh's hips jerked. "Let me make it up to you."

Marsh whimpered as Scully milked the length of her engorged clitoris between her thumb and forefinger, clutching Scully's shoulders with bruising intensity. "Ohh, you're making me come---" Marsh cried, burying her face against Scully's breast.

"Hold on, honey," Scully breathed into her hair, tightening her hold on the quivering woman with her other arm. "Let me make this good for you."

"Can't-- I'm-- coming--" Marsh sobbed as she exploded under Scully's fingers.

*Oh yesssss, so beautiful* Scully pressed her face to the top of Marsh's head, cradling her against her own body as the orgasm shook her. "I've got you, I've got you," she murmured over and over as Marsh trembled. To her amazement, Marsh gripped her wrist with surprising strength and pushed her fingers inside her, closing her legs and trapping Scully's hand. The power of possessing her this way was intoxicating. "Oh, god," Scully moaned, "what you're doing to me."

Marsh groaned as Scully filled her, her hips thrusting as her internal muscles contracted around Scully's fingers. It seemed like hours before she could speak. "I'm going to kill him."

Scully laughed, hugging the lean, dark haired woman. "Not if I see him first."

"Anything serious?" Marsh asked as she finally found the strength to move. She nestled her cheek against Dana's firm belly, slowly trailing her fingers along the inside of Dana's legs from her knees to the silky hair at the base of her thighs.

"Mmmm--"Scully sighed as she shifted slightly and opened her legs. "No. Just weekend blues."

"Good," Marsh replied softly as she slipped a finger along each side of Scully's clitoris. "Because you seem in need of a little attention," she observed as she massaged the exquisitely sensitive shaft rhythmically.

"Unnhh--I don't think so," Scully moaned. "I think you finally wore me out."

Marsh withdrew until only the pad of her finger lightly stroked the tip. "Is that your diagnosis, Dr. Scully?" Marsh countered teasingly. She caught her breath as the tissue under her fingers stiffened. Still she kept her movements feather soft.

"It feels so good--" Scully whispered, her eyes closed, her hands resting on Marsh's hair. "But I don't think I can--"

"Sshhh--" Marsh murmured. "You don't have to. I just want to touch you." Slowly she inched her face down until she could replace her fingers with her lips. Soft, light kisses--barely a breath.

"Oh!" Scully cried as the silken warmth of Marsh's tongue caressed her. She felt herself opening, distending, reaching for Marsh's mouth-- even as she lay still, surrendering to the total abandon of being pleasured. "You're wonderful--"

Marsh drew back enough to look at the flushed, achingly beautiful woman, her heart filled with wonder at the miracle of her presence. *Oh, Dana--if only I could say--* She had no words to describe what this moment meant, so she set about telling her the best way she knew how. She let her body speak to her. Ever so slowly she encircled Dana with her lips, then began to suck gently, alternating the rhythmic motion with soft, long strokes of her tongue. It took tremendous concentration for her to keep the contact light, because just the scent of her drove her wild. As much as she wanted to consume her, she knew Dana needed this time to be gentle, and she wanted to give her that. Tenderly, she worshipped.

"Marsh--" Scully rasped, her entire body coiled with the tension building in her belly. "Don't stop."

Marsh murmured soft assurances, never leaving her.

The room was completely quiet, the air heavy with expectation, when suddenly a piercing cry broke the stillness. "Ahhhhh--" Scully screamed, her hands fisting in the sheets, her back arching off the bed.

Marsh gripped Dana's legs, cleaving to her, moaning as she felt Dana coming. She thought her heart might break with the sheer beauty of her.*I lo--* Marsh closed her eyes tightly. *Don't you _dare_, Black. Don't even _think_ it*

They lay together, Marsh curled around Scully, her face resting on the smooth skin of her thigh. She reveled in Scully's small sounds of contentment, knowing complete satisfaction herself. Scully's fingers drew faint aimless patterns on her skin as they listened to each other breathe.

"Marsh?" Scully said at length.

"Hmmmm?"

"Are you okay?"

Marsh planted a small kiss on the inside of Dana's thigh. "Perfect."

"Good, because I do believe I've perished. If you can die from too much pleasure, I've been gone for a while."

Marsh pushed yourself up on the bed until she was lying alongside Scully, slipping one arm under Scully's shoulders and guiding her head onto her chest. "I can't think of enough words to tell you how wonderful you are. I hope I've been able to show you."

Scully tightened her grip around the whip slender form, brushing her lips lightly over the soft, full breast beneath her cheek. She couldn't seem to stop smiling. "What you've shown me goes beyond description. Unfortunately, you've melted most of my synapses, and I'm incapable of intelligent conversation. This has been the most incredible 24 hours of my life."

Marsh's squinted at the clock on the bedside table. "Actually, it's been a bit more than that. It's almost 5 o'clock in the afternoon."

Scully's eyes widened in amazement. "Have we actually been making love for almost a day?"

"Just about," Marsh laughed, bending to kiss the top of Scully's head.

Scully couldn't begin to absorb that fact. She had never made such a rapid, intense connection with anyone before. She certainly had never given herself physically so completely, even after she had been with someone for a while. If she thought about it now, her world would tilt, and she was much too happy--simply happy--to begin questioning what had happened so soon. "Is this your idea of a date? You spend hours ravishing a poor unsuspecting female, never feeding them so they are too weak to resist?"

Marsh couldn't imagine anyone less likely to be described as weak and unsuspecting. She responded with a chuckle, "That was my plan. Not too subtle I guess."

Scully rolled over onto her stomach so they were face-to-face. She kissed her, a soft but assertively possessive kiss. When she pulled back, her eyes were slightly hazy. "Who needs subtle?" she said in a low, husky voice. *I'm beginning to think I could survive on your kisses alone*

Marsh ran her hands up Scully's sides until her palms cupped her breasts, thumbs just grazing her nipples. Scully sighed, her lips parting slightly, her eyes losing focus. "Marsh," Scully whispered, "stop. Have mercy. I can't resist you. Please, please--I need you to _feed_ me!"

Marsh grinned, raising her head so she could grasp one nipple between her teeth. She bit lightly for an instant, then rolled out from under Scully. "Your every wish is my command."

"You sadist!" Scully exclaimed. "You know you just made me wet all over again, don't you!"

Marsh placed one hand lightly over her heart, raising her eyebrows in mock surprise. "I meant no such thing."

*God, I hope you did, or else I'm in real trouble* Scully bounded off the bed, grasped Marsh by the shoulders, and forcefully turned her towards the bathroom. "_Shower_! _Food_! _Now_!"

**********

7:10 p.m. Saturday evening

"Is this okay?" Marsh asked. She had seen Scully's surprise when they entered the restaurant.

"It's fine," Scully said, looking about the small dimly lit restaurant. The tables were judiciously placed to allow privacy, and the candles and quiet background music added to the intimate atmosphere. Most of the couples were women.

"I didn't mean to make assumptions," Marsh said with concern, aware of the romantic setting. "I just wanted to have a little more time with you some place where we could be comfortable with one another." She'd forgotten for a moment that their encounter probably didn't mean the same thing to Dana that it had meant to her. Just because _she_ felt resurrected did not make this more than a brief interlude for the attractive FBI agent.

Scully reached across the small tabletop and took Marsh's left hand firmly in her own. "Right now I'd be happy to hold your hand on the steps of the Capitol Building. This was probably a better choice."

Marsh smiled faintly, but her eyes were troubled. She studied the fine lattice of delicate veins in Dana's hand as she traced light circles with her thumb along the palm. There was pain in her face when she looked up. "You've never slept with a woman before, have you?"

"No," Scully said, "and that means nothing more than that I never had reason to before. I slept with men-- not many-- because it was the expected thing to do. It wasn't horrible, but the earth didn't move either. Being with you was like finding I could suddenly speak another language--a language I was born to speak. The earth did more than move, it changed shape entirely. There's no going back from here." Her tone suggested she would hear no arguments.

Marsh was already in too deep to pretend it didn't matter. "You mean something to me, Dana. Yesterday, last night -- it felt like a beginning, and in some crazy way, it felt like something I've been meant to do for years. Being with you, waking up with you, making love--I'll never be able to forget that. If it was just a one time thing for you, I understand, but I need to know."

Scully didn't hesitate. "The only things I've ever really trusted were the things I could prove, the _facts_ of my life. These past few years, I've come to doubt even those. I look at you, and for an instant, my life makes sense. Crazy? Absolutely. But true. You are so many things I admire, Marsh -- and in case you haven't noticed, I can't keep my hands off you. This is _not_ a one night stand."

"I'm sorry," Marsh said, knowing she was pushing. "There's no reason you should need to answer these questions."

Scully gave Marsh's hand a little shake. She waited as the waitress dropped off their menus, then said, "If you need to know, that's reason enough."

"Why me?" Marsh asked softly.

Scully searched for words that would make sense to both of them. It wasn't the sex, although that had been spectacular, and it wasn't just Marsh's kindness or her intelligence or her effortless intimacy. It was somehow a combination of all of those things, and something altogether indescribable. *Because there's no one else like you in the world* She raised Marsh's hand to her lips, pressing a brief kiss to her delicate fingers. If there were other people in the restaurant, she was unaware of them in that moment. "You touch my soul."

Marsh shuddered, her eyes closing with the impact of Dana's words. When she could open them without the threat of tears falling, Dana's eyes were searching her face. "You make me dream again," Marsh said, her voice breaking.

Marsh's vulnerability was palpable. Scully doubted she could allow her own need to be so visible; she wasn't sure she was that brave. "I want to hold you so much," Scully whispered.

Marsh's smile was nourishment itself as she nodded towards the approaching waitress. "I'll not be accused of seducing a starving woman again. Dinner first."

Scully loosened her grip on Marsh's hand, acknowledging the waitress with a faint smile, but her mind was filled with images of Marsh Black naked in her arms. *I can't imagine why I ever thought I was hungry for anything but her*


Part Two

Monday 8:55 a.m. FBI headquarters, Washington D.C.

Mulder glanced up and tilted his head. There it was again, the strange sound that seemed to be emanating from his partner. He leaned back in his swivel chair and stared at her. She didn't _look_ any different. Scully was searching MedPac for any obscure references to mass thermal conflagration. Her beige suit was exquisitely tailored as usual, the small gold cross, her only jewelry, glinted on her pale silk blouse, and she peered with utter concentration through her wire rim glasses at the computer screen. *Maybe I'm imagining things* He shrugged his shoulders and reached for his pencil. His hand stopped in mid-air as he heard the unmistakable sound of humming.

"All right, who are you and what have you done with Scully?" he demanded.

Scully turned in her seat, one arm draped along the back. "Are you okay?" she asked, staring at him as if he had lost his mind.

"_ I'm_ fine." Come to think of it, he hadn't seen her look this relaxed in months. Something was up. "Did something happen over the weekend?" *Damn! She's blushing*

"No!" Scully croaked. She cleared her throat and tried again. "Not a thing." She turned back to the computer, hoping he would let it go.

"Sculleeeeeee---" he called in a light annoying sing-song tone. "You're lyiiiiiiiiing."

Mercifully, the phone rang before Scully was forced to reply. Mulder gave her a look that said he wasn't done with her yet as he picked up the receiver. "Mulder."

She tried to read the expression on his face, but he merely replaced the phone with a shrug and announced, "Skinner wants to see us."

She wasn't prepared for what they found when they entered AD Skinner's office. She resorted to the expression she usually reserved for defense attorneys and chauvinistic local police chiefs--one of complete indifference. She hoped it was working, because her insides were quaking.

Skinner nodded for his two agents to join him and his visitor. "I'm sure you both remember Dr. Black?"

Mulder murmured hello as he took the seat between the surgeon and his partner. She looked different in her navy pin-striped suit than she had in the rumpled scrubs he remembered from the hospital. Her layered black hair looked slightly less wind blown, and she had lost the fatigue lines that had creased her otherwise flawless skin, but it was something more than that. She had a self possessed, confident air that suggested she had done this before, and Mulder remembered her easy familiarity with Skinner at the hospital. There was more to Dr. Black than there appeared, and Mulder was instantly suspicious. His partner, he noted, hadn't even said _hello_.

"I asked Dr. Black to come in because I got a strange report from Memorial this morning," Skinner said by way of introduction. He looked toward Marsh. "Maybe you can fill them in."

She shifted in her chair slightly so she could face Mulder and Scully. She smiled at them both, her eyes lingering for just a fraction of a second on Scully. She averted her eyes before she lost her concentration. She hadn't seen her for 24 hours, and it felt like forever. Just being in the same room with her made her heart race. "I was contacted yesterday by the hospital administrator on call--she was concerned because a large number of patients were being discharged under unusual circumstances. It turns out that all of the patients were victims of the fire at Ruskin Dam. All of their medical records, x-rays, lab reports--everything is gone."

Scully risked a quick glance as Marsh spoke. *She's even more beautiful than I remember* She hadn't expected to see Marsh again so soon, and certainly not in Skinner's office. When they parted Sunday morning, they had not made any firm plans. Marsh had kissed her, caressing Scully's cheek gently. She looked into Scully's eyes and whispered softly, "Call me." Scully knew then that Marsh was leaving the future up to her. It was like her to give Scully time to adjust to everything that had happened. *Focus, Scully!* She considered the information. "There must have been some kind of transfer request?" Scully questioned, grateful that her voice was steady.

Marsh shook her head. "I was in the operating room when I got the call. By the time I got out, most of the patients were gone. The medical transport personnel didn't seem to have any specific information, and wouldn't release their transport destination. I'm afraid I don't know much more."

"Dr. Black has agreed to notify us if there is further contact," Skinner informed them.

*Contact? What does he mean by _contact_, and what does it have to do with Marsh!* Scully glanced quickly from Marsh to Skinner. Their expressions revealed nothing. She was used to this from Skinner, as he was a master at concealing his feelings. She hated being distanced from Marsh. It was the first time she experienced it, and it was frighteningly lonely. *My god, if I feel this way after only one weekend!*

Mulder had been unusually quiet during the entire briefing. "I'm sure anything Dr. Black can tell us would be helpful," he said rather sharply.

Skinner gave him an appraising glance. "Right then. Agent Scully, if you would stay for a moment."

Marsh and Mulder stood, clearly having been dismissed. Marsh dared one last glance at Dana and to her surprise, Dana put out her hand. As Marsh returned the handshake, Scully rubbed her thumb in small soft circles over Marsh's knuckles. Marsh caught her breath swiftly as the unexpected touch electrified her senses. Her eyelids fluttered for an instant as she grew wet with arousal. She caught herself before the moan arising from her belly could escape.

"I'll talk to _you_ again, Dr. Black," Scully said, her voice low and husky, her eyes fixed on Marsh. She sensed Marsh's response and her own body stirred. *You are insane, Scully! Mulder and Skinner are two feet away!*

"Yes." Marsh responded thickly. She hoped she looked more in control than she felt as she followed Mulder from the room.

Skinner waited until the door closed behind them before motioning to Scully to sit once again. He leaned back, choosing his words carefully. "How well do you know Dr. Black, Agent Scully?"

"Sir?" Scully asked, her expression carefully neutral.

"I'm assuming that you know she's a former agent. You probably also know she still functions in an unofficial capacity. Unofficial, but nevertheless important." He stared at her impassively, waiting for her response.

"Yes, sir?" Scully replied. She had enough experience with interrogation not to volunteer information. *Why are we discussing her? She can't be involved in this, can she?* Fear raced through her veins at the thought.

"Most of what she does for the bureau is confidential. It wouldn't be in our best interest--or hers--to call attention to her activities."

*He's talking about covert operations* Scully's anxiety made her short on patience. Usually it was Mulder who played these word games with Skinner. "I'm not sure I'm following, sir."

Skinner removed his glasses and polished them with the perfectly folded, pristine white handkerchief he removed from his back pocket. He took his time replacing them. "I don't know what happened to you and the others at Ruskin Dam, Agent Scully. I don't think anyone does. What I do know is that there are forces involved that we can't identify, let alone control. If someone is watching you, then Dr. Black may also come under scrutiny."

*He already knows about us!* After the shock, Scully's first reaction was anger. "Who were you following--me or her?"

Skinner came around the front of his desk and hiked one hip up on the edge. His granite countenance softened infinitesimally. "I don't know. It didn't come from this office. I'm just the unofficial messenger."

"Meaning?"

"Meaning, Agent Scully," Skinner said pointedly, "we're not having this conversation."

"Is she in any danger?" Scully asked, her voice steady but her throat terribly dry.

Skinner glanced away, grimacing slightly. "Probably no more than you are."

*Yes, but that is part of _my_ job* Scully squared her shoulders, meeting Skinner's gaze fully. "I appreciate the information, sir."

"Just remember--the survivors disappeared because _someone_ thought they would reveal _something_ about what went on here, and possibly in Russia, too. We don't know who those _someones_ might be, but they're powerful enough to make people disappear. Be alert, Agent Scully," Skinner warned. He stood and Scully took it to mean their meeting was over. She was half way to the door when his voice stopped her.

"One more thing, Agent Scully," he called softly, almost as an afterthought.

Scully turned. "Sir?"

"Sixteen years ago a federal agent by the name of Karen Summers was killed in the line of duty. Marshall Black didn't just resign, she turned in her gun and her badge, and she drove her Porsche into the Potomac." He saw her flinch, and knew what he thought he had detected between them was true. He shrugged, adding, "Maybe it was an accident." He didn't want to know.

Scully struggled to hide her sudden nausea. The idea of Marsh in such anguish was physically painful. Her voice was harsh when she asked, "Why are you telling me this?"

"I like her."

Something hard glinted in Scully's eyes as she stared back. "So do I."

*********

10:30 a.m.

"So Scully," Mulder asked when she rejoined him in their basement office, "what do you think that was all about?"

"I think Skinner wants us to go on a fishing expedition," she said caustically. She was beginning to wonder if everyone around her had a hidden agenda. Everyone except Mulder.

"You think Dr. Black is the hook or the lure?"

"What's that supposed to mean?" Scully snapped. She couldn't get the image of Marsh going off a bridge into the dark swirling waters of the Potomac out of her mind. She knew what kind of pain it took to bring someone to that point, she just didn't want to think about the loneliness that must have accompanied it. In her darkest moments, Mulder and her mother had been there for her to hold on to. Without them... *God, how much she must have suffered!*

"Come on, Scully! Who is she? How do we know we can trust her?" Mulder said vehemently. "We don't know who she's _really_ working for!"

Scully tried to control her temper. Mulder had been suspicious of every one since Michael Kritschgau convinced him that most of what he had discovered over the last five years had been an elaborate ruse. Perpetrated by whom for what purpose neither of them understood. She wasn't sure what to believe any longer, but one thing she still trusted was her own experience. Marshall Black was not the enemy.

"You know who she is, Mulder. You told me yourself. She used to be an agent, and now she does some work for the bureau as a consultant."

"What kind of work does a doctor do undercover, Scully? Pretty convenient to have one on the payroll if you want to do a little behind-the-scenes experimentation!"

"In case you haven't noticed, Mulder, Marsh Black is a respected trauma surgeon at a prestigious hospital. And she hardly made her involvement with the bureau a secret. Has it ever occurred to you that she probably spends her time patching up agents injured during _unofficial_ engagements?" Scully countered, her eyes flashing as she slowly lost the battle with her temper.

Mulder was used to Scully's natural skepticism, and most of the time he depended on it to keep his own thinking sharp. It was one of the things he enjoyed most about their partnership. Sometimes, though, she bordered on just plain stubborn. "Why are you defending her?"

"I'm not _defending_her!!"

"Yes, you are," Mulder said softly, watching her with new interest. She wasn't just defending her, she was protecting her. He had never seen Scully quite so agitated either.

"Just trust me on this, will you, Mulder?" Scully responded emphatically.

"What happened this weekend, Scully?" Mulder persisted in the low tone he used when talking to witnesses. The voice that said _You can trust me, tell me your secrets_.

Scully started to protest, then she took a good look at him. His expression was completely open, expectant, nonjudgmental. He simply wanted to understand--because for him _understanding_ was the only goal. He was frequently disappointed, but she had never known him to reject the truth. She valued his friendship, and respected herself, too much to lie about this. He was her partner.

"I slept with her this weekend."

Time stopped. There was no sound. Mulder didn't blink or change expression in any way. He did sit down. He reached for a pencil, turning it end over end between his fingers. His eyes met hers straight on. "Jesus, Scully."

She grinned a little ruefully. "Yeah."

"I didn't know--"

"Neither did I."

"You okay with it?" Mulder asked. Friend to friend.

"Yes." No hesitation.

Carefully, he said, "You don't know much about her." Still suspicious.

"I know enough." Certain.

"How much does she know?"

*About what? The abduction, the cancer, Emily??* Again the slightly proud, slightly sheepish grin. "We didn't do a whole lot of talking."

Mulder was glad he was sitting. "Dana--" He cleared his throat. "I trust your judgement, you know that, right?"

"I know, Mulder." She believed it.

"If it's the real thing, I'm for it. Just be careful, okay?"

"Of what?" Scully asked softly, making him say it.

"You could get hurt. She could break your heart." Thinking of Phoebe, of Diana.

"She won't."

Her blue eyes were clear, calm, and absolutely sure. He had to trust her; she was his partner.


Part Three

Later that day 5:10 pm

"Hey Scully! There's a couple of messages for you," the bureau dispatcher called as she and Mulder walked through the warren of desks and busy agents toward the stairs to their office. He waved a handful of pink message slips in her direction.

"Why don't you go ahead, Scully," Mulder said. "We're not going to get anything else done today. We can go back to the hospital first thing in the morning and finish the questioning."

His tone implied he didn't think they'd find anything, and she agreed with him. No one at Memorial Hospital knew anything about the fate of the missing patients. She had barely been able to keep her mind on the repetitive fruitless interviews they were conducting. Instead she had been looking everywhere for Marshall Black, her disappointment growing with each passing moment. Ever since that morning, all she wanted was to see Marsh and assure herself that she was safe.

"Scully?" Mulder queried.

Scully jumped, realizing he was watching her, waiting for an answer. She looked around the room, disoriented for a moment. "Yes, sure. Good idea," she said hastily.

"Wool gathering, Dr. Scully? Or just a little x-rated reminiscence?" Mulder added with a smirk.

Scully colored, snapping, "Cut it out, Mulder."

He leaned close, smiling evilly, "Ooooo-- but Scully, I finally have a chance to get back at you for all those rude remarks about my videos."

Scully lowered her voice, but her tone was scathing. "I would hardly put Marshall Black and your videos in the same category!"

Mulder raised his eyebrows, his smile growing. "Now there's an idea I hadn't thought of."

"If it weren't so hard to break in a new partner, I'd be forced to shoot you," Scully seethed, although she was struggling not to smile. She was grateful she did not have to hide something so important from the one person she was closest to.

Mulder relented, giving her a little shove in the direction of the dispatcher. "Go on, get your messages and get out of here. I'm sure there's one or two things you'd rather be doing."

Scully blushed again, answering, "You're not going to quit, are you?"

Mulder simply grinned and walked away.

Scully leafed through her messages on her way to her car. Her heart tripped when she saw the familiar name, and she immediately reached for her cell phone. She waited impatiently through the interminable number of connections until she heard the deep, sonorous voice. "Marsh? It's Dana," she said, unable to disguise her excitement.

"I meant to wait for you to call me, but I couldn't. I need to see you. I need to talk you," Marsh replied seriously.

Scully was instantly concerned. "Has something happened? Has someone tried to question you about the missing patients?"

"I'm all right. Can we meet somewhere private?"

"Name the place," Scully said, all business. Something was definitely not right, and she wasn't going to be happy until she could see Marsh.

"My place in 45 minutes?" Marsh suggested.

"I'll be there," Scully assured her.

**********

Marsh held the door open so Scully could proceed her into the apartment. Scully turned just as Marsh reached for her. She lifted her arms to encircle Marsh's neck as Marsh slipped her hands under Scully's suit jacket. Scully pressed close to the taller woman as their lips met, closing her eyes as the sweet sensation of want washed through her. She opened her mouth, seeking the strong demanding tongue, eager for the joining. Scully moaned into Marsh's mouth and pushed Marsh back against the door, her skirt riding up as she straddled Marsh's thigh, her hips slowly rocking against the firm muscles. Her moans became short cries as her clit twitched with pre-orgasmic spasms. *Oh god, Dana, slow down--you _can't_ come already!*

Marsh tugged Scully's blouse from the waist band of her skirt, hungry for her skin. She hesitated for just a second when she encountered the holster clipped to the back. The feel of the heavy weapon in the leather sheath catapulted her back to another time and another woman in her arms. For an instant the old pain pierced her anew. Then she heard Dana's voice, and felt Dana moving against her, and she knew exactly what she wanted. She wanted Dana Scully, and she wanted her now. She growled as she slid her hands under the flimsy bra, grasping the hard nipples at the same time as she clamped her teeth onto Dana's earlobe. Her head threatened to explode when Dana jerked against her, her fingers digging into Marsh's upper arms.

"Marsh-- Marsh--" Scully gasped, "I'm going to come--"

"Yeah," Marsh groaned in her ear. Marsh pushed one hand up under Scully's skirt, pulling clothing aside until she could slide inside of her, her palm cupping her swollen flesh, her thumb riding over the top of her clitoris. Her vision clouded, her arm pumping upward as Dana ground against her. She tightened her hold around Dana's slim waist when the smooth muscles inside closed around her fingers. "Oh, yesss," Marsh rasped, "do it now."

Scully sobbed in a breath as her whole body stiffened, her entire consciousness focused on the nearly unbearable pressure in her clit. Then Marsh thumbed across it hard and she was screaming and bucking and coming and sobbing...

Marsh braced her back against the door, trying to hold them both up, but the best she could manage was to slide to the floor with Dana in her arms, still coming into her hand. "Oh god, oh god, oh god.." Marsh moaned, her chest so tight she could barely breathe. She would die from wanting her.

They ended up in a tangle of body parts, Dana lying between Marsh's legs, curled up on her lap. Marsh rested her chin on the top of Scully's head, trying to catch her breath. The room was dimly lit by the light from the street lamps outside. They hadn't even touched a light switch or said _hello_ before they had fallen on one another. All she wanted to do now was hold her. She had been so frightened all day.

Scully stirred, shifting enough to let Marsh slide her hand from inside her. "Ohh.." she gasped, feeling the loss. "I miss you already," she murmured, "how can that be?"

Marsh shook her head against the silken red hair. "I don't know. I've been walking around since you left yesterday wet from wanting you. I'm so swollen it hurts. I wanted to make myself come, just to ease the pressure, but I knew it would only make me lonely. It's crazy - I've never been like this before."

Scully smiled, pleased. "And how are we now, Dr. Black?" she said teasingly, lightly stroking Marsh's stomach below the bottom of her shirt and the top of her trousers.

Marsh tilted Dana's chin to kiss her. "_We_ are just fine, thank you, Dr. Scully. I think you might have come for both of us."

Scully leaned against Marsh's shoulder so she could watch her face. She worked the zipper down on the silk slacks, reaching under the fabric beneath. She smiled again as Marsh lifted her hips to give her room. "Uh huh," she murmured as she found her wet and ready. Marsh's eyes began closing as Scully rolled her clitoris between her fingers. "Look at me, Marsh," she whispered, her heart nearly stopping as she watched the elegant planes of Marsh's face dissolve with need. *I don't think I can bear it, she's so beautiful* Scully bit her lip to silence her own moans as she pulsed in time with Marsh. "Not until I say," she gasped.

Marsh tried hard to focus, searching Dana's face for an anchor. She found it in her fathomless blue eyes, a strength and certainty so profound, she let herself fall into them. "Tell me when," she cried softly, rigid with the effort of containing her imminent orgasm. "Ohh--I can't hold it!--God--hurry!"

"Ohh--almost--uh-uh-uh..," Scully intoned to the rhythm of their bucking hips, "oh yes, oh yes -- now, Marsh--come with me -- _noooowww_oh,oh,..ooooooohhhhhh." Her vision dimmed as she exploded but she kept her eyes on Marsh, watching the reflection of her own orgasm in Marsh's face.

"Dana..." Marsh murmured, her neck arching with the gripping spasms, her tone a benediction. Scully grasped her face with both hands, pulling her down into a kiss. They were wed for what seemed like an eternity in the swirling kaleidoscope of their twin climaxes. Finally their pounding hearts stilled, their harsh gasps subsided, and they rested in peaceful communion.

Scully stirred first, unable to ignore the questions clamoring in her mind any longer. "Marsh--what's going on? Why were you in Skinner's office this morning? Why did you need to see me?"

Marsh stood, offering a hand to help Scully up. "Come on, let's change and find something to eat. I'll tell you then."

Scully wanted answers immediately, but she reminded herself that Marsh was neither a suspect nor a colleague. She couldn't deal with her in the same way she conducted her professional relationships--she was, after all, her--*why not say it, Dana. Lover--she's your lover* She took Marsh's hand, pulling herself up and sliding her arm around Marsh's waist. She leaned against her slightly, not wanting her too far away. "Okay, food first."

A half an hour later she was standing in Marsh's well equipped galley kitchen watching Marsh put together a passable dinner from odds and ends she found in the refrigerator. She sipped her glass of red wine and watched Marsh's hands as she worked. Her fingers were long and supple, sure surgeon's fingers. She thought in amazement that just a few moments ago those hands had owned her body, inside and out. It was like nothing she had ever experienced, and it was the most natural thing in her life. Scully went to her where she stood working at the counter and pressed against her back, wrapping her arms around her waist. She laid her cheek against Marsh's shoulder, breathing in the faint smells of her shampoo and the aftermath of their love making. "Talk to me, Marsh. I'm worried, and I have to know what's going on."

Marsh carefully placed the chopping knife on the counter, turning in the circle of Scully's arms until they were face-to-face. Her expression was serious, but her eyes were tender. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to worry you. I called Skinner this morning when I couldn't sort out by myself exactly what happened to a dozen of my patients. He asked me to come in to review what information I had on them. I didn't realize he would call you. I'm sorry if that was awkward for you."

"It was only awkward because it was hard to concentrate with you so close, and me wanting to kiss you so badly," Scully said with a small smile. "I would prefer a warning next time so I don't disgrace myself."

"Well, you got back at me with that _handshake_," Marsh replied ruefully. "I'd been thinking about you non-stop for 24 hours. When you touched me like that, I almost came on the spot."

Scully placed her fingers lightly against Marsh's lips. "Don't talk about it, don't even think about it. If you do, we're going to end up making love right here on the floor."

Marsh took a deep breath, afraid of what she was going to discover. "When the bureau calls me, it's usually because they need a doctor with high level clearance. Most of the time I don't know the circumstances, and I've learned not to ask for explanations. This time is different. This time whatever is going on involves you. I need to know why."

"I'm not sure I know myself," Scully replied. "What I've been able to remember doesn't make much sense."

"Your partner seemed very interested in the x-rays of the patients from the fire," Marsh continued. "They've all disappeared, except one set. Yours had been pulled from the general circulation, which isn't uncommon when we admit a law enforcement agent. I looked at them today."

Scully's stomach churned. *So soon? Couldn't we have just a little time to be happy--without all of this?* She searched Marsh's worried eyes and knew it was already too late. Her past was upon them, and would be part of any future they might have. "And that's why you called me," she sighed.

Wordlessly, Marsh turned her around. She lifted the thick, soft hair at the base of Dana's neck. She ran her finger lightly over the inch long vertical scar. The choking fear she had experienced when she first looked at Dana's x-rays and saw the foreign object returned. She clenched her jaw, forcing herself to ask, "What is it?"

Scully leaned back against her, grasping Marsh's hands were they lay encircling her waist. She closed her eyes, envisioning the small metallic chip which was lodged adjacent to her spinal cord. "I don't know. I _ do_ know it saved my life." Marsh's arms tightened around her.

"How?" Marsh questioned, her voice tight.

"Six months ago I nearly died of cancer. That chip somehow induced a remission."

*oh Jesus, please--please don't let me lose her* Marsh closed eyes as the panic escalated, bending her forehead to rest against Scully's hair. She struggled to keep her voice even. "And now?"

Scully flinched. There it was, the question that haunted her waking moments and invaded the landscape of her dreams. She didn't talk about it with Mulder; she didn't talk about it with her mother; she didn't talk about it with her priest. She had to talk about it now, because this woman had held nothing of herself back--she had allowed Dana to see her vulnerability, and her fear, and her need. Marsh had trusted Scully with her body, and her secrets. It was time. "There's no sign of it--so far. I can't predict the likelihood of recurrence because no one has ever seen anything quite like it."

Marsh wanted to curse, to rage against the injustice, to rail against the incomprehensibility of such a thing. She didn't. Instead she kissed the top of Scully's head, then turned Scully to face her. She lifted Dana's face in both hands, aching inside at the pain in her eyes. "I wish I could have been there for you. I'm here now."

Scully pressed a kiss to Marsh's palm. "It's not fair to you, Marsh. I've gotten used to living day to day--but you shouldn't have to."

Marsh clasped both of Scully's hands, bringing them to her lips. "If you're in my life every day, I wouldn't ask for more."

*How can I ask her to live with this?* Scully pressed her forehead to Marsh's chest. Her voice was shaking as she said, "I want you so much, I don't think I can be rational."

Marsh laughed gently, stroking her back tenderly. "Who wants a rational lover? Since I seem to be crazy about you, it seems only right."

Scully nuzzled her face against the soft curve of Marsh's breast, brushing her lips over her nipple. "Crazy doesn't begin to describe it," she murmured softly. She was afraid to even _think_ the words she wanted to say.


Part Four

Tuesday 4:55 am

This time Marsh awoke alone. She lay for a moment listening for some sound, some movement, to tell her Dana was still there. She expected her to be gone, expected her to be a dream. There was only silence. She stepped into her sweats and pulled a tee shirt from the pile on the floor. Their clothes had suffered somewhat in their eagerness to undress one another the night before. She crossed softly to the top of the spiral staircase, and looked down into the room below. Marsh released the breath she hadn't been aware of holding. Dana was there--by the window; she was not a dream.

"Bad dreams?" Marsh asked as she settled beside Scully on the sofa.

Scully turned so that she could lean back into Marsh's arms. "Not exactly." Her voice was quiet, sad somehow. "I was thinking about us."

*Here it comes* Marsh swallowed the sawdust in her throat. "Feeling guilty?" she asked lightly.

Scully turned in surprise. "God, no. Is that what you think is going to happen? That I'm suddenly going to have second thoughts, and walk out of here?" There was more than a hint of anger in her tone. "Just what is it you think I've been doing, Marsh? Amusing myself with a little recreational sex?" She stared at Marsh, suddenly uncertain. "Or have I been reading _you_ wrong? Maybe you're the one who isn't serious."

"Hey, hey--slow down," Marsh pleaded. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that. It's just that I've been too happy _not_ to worry. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? You are the most amazing thing to ever happen in my life, and I can't quite believe it. I couldn't be more serious about you, or more certain of what I want. I want you--every way, every day."

Scully knew it was true, she had felt it in Marsh's touch. She sighed, reaching for Marsh's hand. "I'm sorry, too. I can't bear the thought of anything, or anyone, hurting you. I'm afraid that being with me might put you in danger."

"Why?" Marsh asked, less frightened by the prospect of harm than of losing her.

"Skinner so much as warned me this morning not to see you," Scully admitted. "One of us is being followed, and I suspect it's me. It wouldn't be the first time."

Marsh laughed grimly. "So much for the privacy act. Did you tell him to stuff it?"

It was Scully's turn to laugh. "I'd like to keep my job a little longer. I also got the sense it wasn't coming from him. No matter where it's coming from though, it's a problem. I don't want to jeopardize your position with the bureau or the hospital."

"So what are you suggesting?" Marsh asked sharply. "That we not see each other?"

"No!--I don't know, Marsh. I can't even bear to think about not seeing you for a day! I just don't want you hurt!"

"Believe me, nothing could hurt me as much as not being able to see you," Marsh insisted. She looked at Scully closely. Her unhappiness was apparent. "There's something else, isn't there?"

Scully debated not answering. In the end, she chose honesty, because without it they had nothing. "Skinner told me what happened when Karen Summers died."

"Walter was quite talkative this morning, wasn't he?" Marsh said bitterly. She stood up suddenly and walked to the window, her hands clenched at her sides. "What difference does it make now?"

Scully wanted to go to her, but she knew she was the cause of her pain. "Marsh," she said softly, "my job is pretty safe, but it's not without risk. And then--" She took a deep breath, steeling herself for her next words. "What if my cancer returns?"

Marsh's back was rigid, her voice harsh. "I was just a green recruit, and she was a seasoned field agent. I couldn't believe she'd even talk to me, and when she asked me out, I fell hard. I was very young, and she was my first lover. Did Walter bother to tell you the whole story? Did he tell you that I was there when she went down? Did he tell you she was wearing her vest, but the shot caught her in the throat? Did he tell you I was out of my mind with grief when I went off that bridge? I don't even remember getting into the car!!"

"Marsh, don't," Scully pleaded. The anguish in Marsh's voice was breaking her heart. "You don't have to do this."

Marsh turned, her jaw tight. "But I do, don't I? You want to know what will happen to me if you die. That's it, isn't it? That's really what you're asking me."

Scully couldn't stand it any longer. She went to her, wrapping her arms around her waist, laying her head against her chest. "I don't want to be the cause of your pain. I would never forgive myself."

Marsh tightened her arms around Scully. "Then believe this--nothing would ever hurt me as much as not spending whatever time we have together."

"I have to believe it," Scully whispered, "because there's no way I can do without you."

"You won't have to," Marsh replied, "I'm here for you as long as you want me."

**********

7:48 a.m.

"Come on, come on," Scully muttered under her breath while trying to maneuver through rush hour traffic in the center of the nation's capital. "If I show up late for work, Mulder will never let me forget it."

She would have had plenty of time if it hadn't been for the shower. It seemed reasonable at the time for her to jump in while Marsh was showering for work. She hadn't counted on losing herself in the beauty of Marsh's body as rivulets of water streamed over it. She hadn't meant to do anything more than catch the tiny droplets that cascaded from Marsh's nipple on her tongue. But then she had pulled the tight pink nub into her mouth, and Marsh had moaned and trapped Scully's thigh between her legs. Marsh was hot and wet where she rubbed against her, and suddenly Scully was throbbing. Then she had backed Marsh up against the rear of the shower, and she was kneeling, the water beating on her back, so she could part the silky hair between Marsh's taut thighs with her tongue. Marsh's clitoris was already hard and standing out, waiting for her mouth. Marsh began to whimper as she sucked her, clutching Scully's shoulders for support. Her own clit pounded insistently in time with Marsh's, and she touched herself without thinking. Then she couldn't stop, and she was rubbing herself as she circled Marsh with her tongue, both of them moaning, their bodies quivering, the escalating pressure nearly unbearable. Marsh went off first, her head banging back against the glass enclosure, her legs rigid with strain. When Marsh started spasming between her lips, Scully's hips bucked in response, and she came into her hand. Marsh ended up on the floor with Scully more or less on top of her, and both of them nearly drowning. It was the best shower Scully ever had.

Scully smiled at the memory and the flush of arousal that accompanied it. Just as she pulled into the underground parking facility, her cell phone rang. She slammed into a parking space, reaching for her trench coat with one hand and her phone with the other. "Scully," she said.

"Scully, it's me," Mulder said. "Don't bother coming downstairs, Skinner wants us in his office _now_."

"Okay," Scully replied, crossing toward the elevator. "What's going on?"

"No idea," he said. "See you in a minute."

As it was, they both arrived outside AD Skinner's door at the same time. Miraculously, Mulder carried two cups of coffee and handed one wordlessly to Scully.

"Bless you," Scully whispered as she followed him into Skinner's office. She took her customary seat next to Mulder across from Skinner's desk. Skinner looked humorless as usual, his jacket off and his shirt sleeves already rolled up. He had probably been at work since six a.m.

He regarded them both intently for a moment, then leaned back in his leather chair with a grimace. "Marshall Black is missing. She had a seven a.m. surgery scheduled and didn't show up. The--"

"That's impossible!" Scully interrupted, half rising from her chair. She was having a hard time focusing on Skinner; there seemed to be something wrong with her vision. She shook her head, trying in vain to clear it, repeating urgently, "That's impossible. There must be a mistake."

Mulder reached a steadying hand to her arm. "Scully," he said in a cautious tone, "let's hear the rest of it."

She turned on him, her azure eyes flashing fire. "I just left her two hours ago, Mulder! She was fine!"

*Jesus Scully, get a grip. This is no time to be making announcements like that* She obviously didn't know what she was saying, or she wouldn't be exposing herself this way in front of Skinner. Mulder thought frantically, trying to formulate a plausible explanation for Scully's statement.

Before Mulder could speak, Skinner leaned forward, saying, "I don't care _why_ you were interviewing Dr. Black at 6 o'clock in the morning, Agent Scully. What can you tell me that might help us locate her?"

Scully looked at him helplessly, her mind blank. *This can't be happening! She's all right. She _has_ to be. Good God, don't let me lose her now!*

"Scully," Mulder whispered urgently, forcing her to focus on him. *Come _on_, Scully, you can do this*

She stared at her partner, at the face she knew so well, and her mind began to function. She was a federal agent, she was a professional, and if Marsh needed anything from her now, it was her thinking like one.

"She left her house at 6:05 a.m., driving her Porsche. She was wearing--," For an instant, her voice failed her. She cleared her throat and continued, "She was wearing blue flannel slacks, a light blue blazer, and a white turtleneck. I don't think she had an over coat." Scully looked at Skinner, her eyes filled with pain. *She kissed me goodbye. She said she'd call me between her cases to talk about dinner* With effort, Scully asked quietly, "Have you found her car?"

"Yes," he said, biting off the word. "It's in her marked slot in the hospital garage. She was due in the OR at seven, and apparently it's unheard of for her to be late. When she wasn't there by seven-fifteen security checked the garage, saw her car, and became suspicious. A heads-up security chief remembered the missing patients and thought there might be a connection. That's the only reason we were notified so quickly."

Scully fought back the bile rising in her throat. She would _not_ fall apart! "Was there any sign of a struggle?" she asked, nearly choking on the words. *oh god, Marsh--please, no*

"No," Skinner growled. "We need to jump on this one, people. We must assume this is related to the incident at the dam, and the missing patients. In all likelihood, someone thinks Black knows something, since she is the attending physician of record for all the survivors. We need to find her before they discover she doesn't know anything."

He didn't elaborate, and he didn't need to. It was unlikely that Marsh would be returned unharmed whether she provided useful information or not. There would be no request for ransom. Her best hope was if they found her quickly. Her chances of survival beyond tweny-four hours were slim.

Mulder stood, addressing Skinner, but speaking for Scully's benefit. "Marsh Black _is_ an agent, whether she's active or not. She's smart enough to stay alive until we find her. And we _will_ find her."

Skinner gave them both a hard stare. "That's what I expect. So get started."

He watched them leave the office, wondering if he was making a mistake letting Scully work the case. She was white as a sheet, but she hadn't lost her composure, he'd give her that. Still, he hadn't forgotten, could never forget, the look on Marsh Black's face the day Karen Summers went down. Scully had looked like that just now, and he didn't want another agent taking a drive off a bridge. He just hoped Mulder was smart enough not to leave her alone.

**********

"Scully--" Mulder said urgently the moment Skinner's door closed behind them. "We'll find her."

Scully silenced him with a raised hand. "Don't. Don't tell me lies, Mulder. Not now."

Mulder stopped, grasping her by the shoulders, turning her to face him. He peered intently into her face, not caring that people passing by were staring at them. "Don't give up before we've started, Scully. It's way too soon for that."

"I know. It's just when I think of someone taking her ..." *Hurting her...* She clenched her hands tightly, her nails biting into her palms. She was having trouble feeling anything. The small crescents of pain were actually comforting. After a second, she met his gaze. "How in God's name did you stand it?"

He wasn't sure whether she meant Samantha's disappearance or her own. His answer was still the same. "I got angry. Get angry, Scully."

She forced herself to think, turning from him and starting toward the stairs to the parking garage. "It doesn't make any sense, Mulder. Why would anyone risk this, when she couldn't possibly have any useful information?"

Mulder hurried to keep pace, grateful to see some color returning to her deathly pale cheeks. "When has any of it made sense, Scully? Five years of smoke and mirrors, truth and lies. Maybe there's something _we're _ missing. Maybe there _was_ something on the x-rays, or in the lab tests, or in the physical examinations. There has to be some reason why the patients were all removed, and there has to be some kind of common bond. They were all at Ruskin Dam for a reason. Marsh is the only one who's had intimate access to all of them."

"She would have told me," Scully insisted.

"Maybe she hasn't figured the link out, but someone is afraid she will," he said as gently as he knew how. He could name half a dozen people who had disappeared or met untimely deaths because of what they _might_ have known. He knew Scully could, too.

She refused to consider that possibility. Shaking her head, she pulled open the driver's side of her bureau car with enough force to shake the entire frame.

"You sure you want to drive?" Mulder asked. She might be functioning again, but her hands were shaking, and she looked shell-shocked.

Scully looked at him over the hood of the car, her eyes smoldering. "Three hours ago I was making love to her, Mulder. Now I may never see her again. Yes, I want to drive. I want to shoot someone--is that angry enough?"

Mulder nodded seriously, opening the passenger side door. "It's a good start."

**********

Five hours later they sat slumped over cups of lukewarm, over-brewed coffee in the hospital cafeteria. Scully stared unseeing into the muddy liquid. Mulder stared anxiously at her.

"We still have to interview all the employees who were changing shifts about the time Marsh would have arrived at the hospital. We're going to have a lot of people to wake-up," Mulder said, trying to sound enthusiastic. They were down to their last possibilities, and they both knew it. No one they had talked to thus far had seen Marsh drive in or had noticed anything the slightest bit out of the ordinary. Without a witness, they would have absolutely no hope of finding her.

Scully mustered every remnant of her shattered will power and tried to concentrate. As each hour had passed, hope dissipated, leaving behind a strange lassitude. It was not unlike the emptiness she had felt upon awakening at Ruskin Dam. It was a little bit like dying, only there was no promise of peace. Marsh was not here to call her back.

She looked at Mulder, her blue eyes so wounded it tore his heart. "Can't you contact someone, Mulder? There has to be someone who knows more than we do -- about the implanted chips, the abductions, about whoever or what ever is behind it all."

"Oh, Scully," he murmured sadly. "Anyone who might have helped us is dead. And I don't know any longer if anything they told us could be believed."

"There's _ got _ to be something we can do," Scully said frantically. She had to move, or she feared she might surrender to the relentless despair that pounded at the defenses of her mind. If she contemplated the reality of Marsh being gone from her life, of never hearing her voice again, or looking into her eyes, or feeling the comfort of her presence, she wasn't sure how she would survive it. She knew with absolute certainty what desolation accompanied Marsh on that near fatal ride so long ago. With everything she had endured, nothing had prepared her for the loss of someone who had touched her so deeply and so intimately. For the first time in her life, she had felt completely known. To have experienced it, no matter how briefly, would make living without it unbearable. She looked at Mulder, and saw his caring, and drew strength from his presence. She said with determination, "Let's get that list of night shift employees who have parking stickers for that lot. Then let's start waking people up."

"You've got it, partner," Mulder said with relief. The way she looked had been starting to scare him. He'd seen her lose her father, and her sister, and very nearly her own life. He'd seen her emotionally battered and physically beaten, but he had never seen her eyes so empty. He didn't need to understand how to know that Marshall Black had touched a place in Scully where no one else had ever been. He'd give anything he had to see that she didn't lose that.


Part Five

2 a.m. The next morning

Eight hours ago they had gotten a break. Their questioning had turned up a nurse who reported leaving early that morning and seeing a white van with its motor running in the parking garage. She thought at the time it was odd, because there was still an hour until change of shift and it was much too early for visitors. That was the only reason she had paid any attention to it. She couldn't remember it having any distinguishing logos, but she had recalled a portion of the license plate. With that information, they were able to notify all the local authorities to look for anything resembling it. It had given them their first bit of hope.

Since then nothing.

Scully glanced across the room at Mulder. He was slumped in his chair, his neck at an awkward angle, asleep. There was nothing more they could do. There had never really been any hope of finding her. It was strange--now that she accepted Marsh was gone, the despair had been replaced by an eerie calm. It was as if the pain had engulfed her completely, separating her from the rest of the world, insulating her in a separate reality. Methodically, she straightened her notes and gathered her things.

Mulder looked up to see her at the door. "Where are you going, Scully?" he asked softly.

"Out for a walk," she said hollowly, reaching for the door knob.

"I'll come with you," he said, rising. He didn't think there was any point in mentioning it was the middle of the night in downtown Washington D.C., and hardly a safe place for a stroll.

"No, Mulder," Scully said, still not looking at him. "I don't want any company just now."

"Scully," he protested, crossing the room to stand beside her. She looked up at him then, and he nearly gasped at the desolation in her face. *Oh Jesus, what is she thinking!*

Their eyes met and held, neither able to hide the truth, neither needing to speak. They had always been able to communicate their deepest emotions without words.

*This time you don't understand, Mulder. You can't help me*

*I can't let you go, Scully*

The ringing of the phone shattered the surreal silence like glass.

Scully watched Mulder's face as he listened, aware that she had stopped breathing. He looked at her, triumphant. Sensation began to return to her body as her heart thudded painfully. *Please god -- let us find her*

Then Mulder was slamming down the phone, rushing toward her. "DC police just found a white van partially submerged in the river. They're pulling it out now. Come on Scully, it's got to be her."

**********

They were forced to a halt behind a pile up of police cars and other emergency vehicles. Scully was out of the car before Mulder brought it to a stop. She ran, badge extended in front of her, toward the vehicle being winched out of the river. A burly police sergeant attempted to block her path.

"Federal agent," Scully shouted, shouldering past him. She got her first clear view of the white van, and her heart plummeted. With the exception of the double rear doors, the entire vehicle was submerged. It didn't look like anyone inside could have survived.

"Hey! Are you crazy, lady?" an officer shouted as Scully waded into the water.

"Let her go," Mulder said, grasping the officer's arm to restrain him. He watched as Scully pushed her way to the front of the vehicle and peered through the half exposed windshield. He held his breath, not knowing what to hope for. If Marsh weren't in the vehicle, they were back were they started from with nothing to go on. If she were inside, she was very likely dead.

Scully knew immediately the cab was empty. She stared inside for an extra second just to convince herself that Marsh was not there. The rear half of the van was windowless, and separated from the cab by some kind of partition. She was in water nearly to her waist, but she didn't feel the cold. Her chest burned with every breath, but she pushed her way insistently through the throng of men crowding around the rear of the vehicle, which was now balanced precariously on the bank of the river.

"For God sake, get this thing open," Scully commanded in a tone that could make a room full of agents come to attention. "If she's in there, she doesn't have much time." *Just let her be inside. Let her be alive*

Two men forced a jack between the door handles and popped the lock. The doors were difficult to swing open with the van angled so steeply downward. Scully tried to get closer, frantic for a look inside.

Suddenly Mulder was beside her. "I'm taller, Scully. Let me get in there." He managed to block her view as he helped the others pull the door open. If someone had put a bullet through Marshall Black's head, he didn't want Scully to see what was inside that van. He almost couldn't believe it when they finally got the doors opened.

"Jesus Christ," one of the policemen uttered.

Scully took a deep breath, steeling herself for the answer she feared would come. "Is she alive, Mulder?"

"Can't tell," he grunted as they lifted Marsh's body up out of the vehicle.

Scully was beside her the instant they transferred her onto a backboard. She motioned the EMT's away. She registered the blood on Marsh's face and around the cord binding her hands. *Oh Marsh, what have they done to you?* She pressed two fingers to the carotid artery in Marsh's neck. *She's cold* For a moment, her fears were realized. She didn't feel anything. Then, a faint but steady pulse rippled beneath her fingers. She closed her eyes, biting down on her lip so hard she drew blood. When she looked up, no one could see the tears. "She's alive. Get her into the ambulance _now_! You can start support measures while we transport."

The last thing Mulder saw as the ambulance doors swung closed was Scully, kneeling on the floor beside the stretcher, cradling Marsh's body, her head bowed. He wondered if she was praying.

**********

Memorial Hospital 5 a.m.

Skinner found Mulder standing in the hall, peering through the glass of the intensive care unit. He glanced in, but the curtains were pulled around the bed.

"What the hell happened?" he asked roughly. His level of concern was reflected in the fact that he was unshaven, and had appeared in public in corduroys and an unpressed shirt.

"Someone got sloppy," Mulder said flatly, "and Marshall Black is one brave woman."

Skinner clenched his jaw, in no mood for Mulder's obliquity. "Would you like to explain that, Agent Mulder? And where is Scully?"

"She's inside with Marsh," Mulder said, gesturing toward the closed curtains. "Whoever was behind this, they don't have very good help. He was obviously supposed to kill Marsh and dispose of her body and the van. My guess is he was in a hurry. They apparently had her drugged to the point of unconsciousness, so he didn't bother to finish the job. He simply dumped the van the first chance he got. Didn't even bother to wait until it sunk--which it didn't."

Skinner waited. He generally knew when Mulder was holding back. He usually didn't tolerate it, but there was something in Mulder's face that gave him pause. He'd seen him look this way before, when Scully had been ill, like he was trying to find someplace to put his pain.

When Mulder continued, his voice was hard. "She must have been awake enough to realize what was happening, but too weak to get out. The van was nose down into the river and nearly filled with water. They had her wrists tied with electrical cord, and she managed to hook the cord around the inside handle of the door. She was literally hanging by her wrists with her head barely above the water. She was pretty torn up."

Skinner's eyes narrowed, and a muscle bulged in his jaw. "And how is she now?"

"Still hasn't regained consciousness."

"Why don't you and Scully go home," Skinner suggested. "I'll post some men, although I doubt anyone will make an attempt here. They were done with her, and if she was drugged, she probably won't remember much of it. She's not a threat any longer."

"I think both Agent Scully and myself would prefer to be here to question her when she wakes up," Mulder said, hoping Skinner would accept his flimsy excuse. *There's no way Scully is leaving, and I'm not trusting her back to anyone else*

Skinner wasn't buying it, but he doubted he would get either of them to leave. "Right," he said curtly. "Call me with any news."

Mulder pulled a chair over next to the door and made himself comfortable. It wouldn't be the first time he sat vigil outside a hospital room for Scully.

**********

7:30 a.m.

Her head felt twice its size and filled with sawdust. Her shoulders ached and her wrists burned like hell. She couldn't remember much after pulling into the parking lot. There were men, and lights, and she remembered thinking how much she wanted to tell Dana she was sorry for leaving her. She turned her head and opened her eyes. Scully was there, hastily brushing tears from her cheeks. *God, I'm glad you're here. I never thought I would see you again* She swallowed the dust in her throat. "Didn't they teach you that FBI agents aren't supposed to cry?" Marsh asked softly.

Scully leaned forward to brush her lips gently across Marsh's. "They were only talking about being tortured or shot. I don't think they were talking about almost losing the love of your life."

Marsh wanted to touch her so badly. She tried to raise her arm, and winced at the laser-like pain the small movement evoked.

Scully gently wrapped her fingers around Marsh's below the bandages. "You're banged up and bruised pretty badly, and you've got severe contusions on your forearms. Your wrists are lacerated--the nerves and tendons seem to be intact. Your hands should be fine."

"Screw my hands," Marsh said with surprising strength, more concerned about the dark circles around Dana's eyes and the perceptible tremor in her body. "Are you all right?"

"Now that you're back, I am," Scully said, brushing her fingers through Marsh's hair tenderly. *God, I was so scared. If we hadn't found you--*

Marsh was struggling to stay awake, but she was losing the battle. "I told you I wasn't going anywhere," Marsh murmured faintly as she drifted off. Her last words were barely audible. "Don't you know I love you?"

Scully smiled tenderly at the sleeping woman. The last 24 hours had felt like an eternity. An eternity in which she had come face-to-face with her own vulnerability. Marsh had entered her life with a force and passion that she could not resist, that she had no desire to resist. Marsh had exposed a need only she could fill. Scully knew with absolute certainty that without Marsh her life would be forever diminished. Whatever shape the future took, they would forge it together.

She laid her cheek against Marsh's bruised and battered hand. As she closed her eyes, she whispered softly, "And I love you, too, Dr. Black."

Scully slept, while outside the door Mulder kept watch.

End

 


 

Genesis III: Forging the Bonds
by Radclyffe
EMAIL ADDRESS: radclyffe@radfic.com
SERIES RATING: NC-17; This story depicts graphic sexual encounters between same-sex consenting adults.
SPOILERS: All eps since The Red and the Black
KEYWORDS: Scully/Other(female);Scully/Slash
DISCLAIMERS: The characters of Scully, Mulder, Skinner and others/events introduced on the X-Files are the sole property of Chris Carter etc, and are used here without permission for entertainment, not for profit.
Comments welcome.
Author's note: The entire Genesis series can be found at my website:
http://www.radfic.com/ or http://www.angelfire.com/nf/radclyffe/


Part One

April 1998

Marsh picked up the phone on the first ring. "Dr. Black," she said.

"You're not supposed to be at work," the familiar voice said sharply.

Marsh smiled, leaning back in her chair and cradling the receiver between her shoulder and ear. She closed her eyes, imagining the dynamic redhead at the other end of the line. She could almost feel the heat from that kilowatt smile. "And when exactly can I expect you back? I miss you like crazy."

"Nice try, but you're avoiding the issue," Dana Scully persisted, watching the traffic with half a mind as she pictured Marsh in her navy blue scrubs--long, lean, and sensuous. That was the way she had first seen her, and just the thought of her was enough to make Scully's pulse race. "Why aren't you home?"

"It was either come in here and catch up on paperwork, or die of boredom," Marsh said with disgust.

Marsh wouldn't be able to scrub for surgery until the abrasions and lacerations were healed. Scully knew it had been a difficult two weeks for her intense lover, and it hadn't helped that they had been separated. Marsh had only been home from the hospital a few days before Scully and Mulder were called out of town on a case. To be apart was hard on both of them after what they'd just been through. The ordinary demands of Scully's job seemed doubled when she had to leave Marsh. "How are your arms?" Scully asked gently.

Marsh examined the road map of red marks encircling her wrists. There would be scars. "They're fine. Another couple of days and I should be able to operate safely."

Scully knew that fine was not exactly accurate, but she accepted that Marsh was not ready to discuss it. She understood the need to appear strong, even to those who would offer comfort if allowed. "How would you like to take me to dinner?" she asked lightly.

"Nothing would please me more," Marsh said seriously. Pause. "On second thought, there is one thing --"

Scully's body responded to the innuendo in Marsh's voice with a quick surge of excitement. She tightened her thighs against the sudden pressure. They hadn't slept in the same bed or made love since Marsh's injury. Her voice was husky when she replied, "Maybe we should order takeout."

Marshall laughed, her spirits lifting for the first time in days. "Oh no, Agent Scully. I've been waiting a week to see you--you'll have to hold that thought a few hours longer."

"It had better be worth it," Scully said teasingly, wondering how she was going to control her rampaging libido for that long. Memories of Marsh and her own self-administrations had kept her sane during the past week, but it had hardly begun to satisfy her need for Marsh to touch her, or to have her hands on Marsh's skin.

"Oh, it will be," Marsh promised.

**********

6:58 pm

Scully handed her coat to the hostess with a perfunctory thanks. She was already scanning the seating area, searching for Marsh. She couldn't contain her grin, or her excitement, when she found her. How pale her memory had been compared to the reality of Marsh's presence! How fine Marsh looked in a tailored silk suit, that endearing shock of black hair falling unheeded over her forehead. *She is so damn beautiful!* Her heart was pounding as she threaded her way between the tables. *I can't believe it's only been a week! I've missed her so much!*

Marsh started to rise as Scully approached. With an uncharacteristically shy smile, she held out a single white rose. "Happy anniversary, Dr. Scully," she said softly. *How I wish I had words to say what you mean to me*

Scully stopped a foot from the table, gently taking the hand that offered the rose. She smiled into Marsh's eyes, then leaned forward and kissed her softly on the lips. "Thank you, Dr. Black," she said, her voice husky. *I am definitely not going to make it through dinner*

"Careful, people will stare," Marsh said lightly, not caring in the least. She let her fingers linger for just an instant on Scully's forearm before she sat back down.

Scully was grateful to finally sit; her legs were shaking. She lay the rose reverently beside her plate. When she met Marsh's gaze, her eyes were moist. "Has it really only been a month? I can't recall how I managed before you."

"All I did was manage," Marsh said quietly, remembering years of soul numbing loneliness. "I owe you my life, and everything that makes it worth living."

Scully looked at Marsh's hands were they rested lightly on the white linen tablecloth. They were supple and strong, precise surgeon's hands, capable of inflaming her with the slightest touch. Below the edge of Marsh's white cuffs she could make out the last of the healing lacerations. Very gently she placed her fingertips against the scars. "Without you my life would be so empty." She raised her eyes to Marsh's, the pain of nearly losing her still fresh. "I need you so much."

Marsh threaded her fingers through Scully's. "This dinner was a bad idea. I want you so much I can't think."

Scully tightened her fingers around Marsh's. Her throat was dry. "Leave a generous tip."

They were gone before the waiter had a chance to drop off the menus.

**********

11:21 pm

"I'm starving."

"There's cold pizza somewhere," Marsh commented lazily.

"Hmm, where did that end up?" Scully mused. There was very likely a trail of discarded garments leading directly to it. When the delivery boy knocked at the door, they were on the other side of it, half-undressed, hands inside each other's clothing, ravenous only for each other. All she could remember was a hasty rebuttoning of blouses and fumbling with zippers. Moments later, the pizza had been forgotten in their rush to get one another naked again.

"If you let me up, I might be able to find sustenance for you," Marsh said with a laugh. Dana was curled up next to her, one leg thrown over hers, and an arm possessively encircling her waist.

"You're my sustenance--food is only metabolic fuel," Scully murmured contentedly, pulling Marsh closer. *God, I can't believe I almost lost you. What would I do without you now?*

Marsh kissed her, lingering to run her tongue over the ripe fullness of Dana's lower lip. Dana tasted like warm honey and exotic fruits, and Marsh knew it was a mixture of their own nectar. "Mmm, you taste good," she said, kissing her more deeply, beginning to lose herself in the lush softness of Dana's mouth. She moaned when Dana took a nipple between her fingers, twisting it just enough to send showers of excitement up and down Marsh's body. Soon her clitoris was throbbing in time to the thrusting of their tongues. She slid one leg around Scully's, trying to ease the building tension by pressing against Dana's thigh.

Scully felt Marsh's arousal, hot and wet against her skin, and was amazed that she could affect the other woman so. It was a new experience, one she enjoyed, and one she had no intention of ignoring.

Marsh groaned as Scully slid a finger deeper between her legs, dipping into the moisture there, finding her full and hard. Scully purposely avoided her clitoris, tormenting her with light caresses along either side of it. When Marsh nearly sobbed, pushing desperately against Scully's hand, Scully smiled, satisfied that she had her lover's attention. She tangled her fingers in the light wavy hair at the base of Marsh's belly, tugging softly. "Hey, you were going hunting and gathering, remember Doc? Time to go."

"You're killing me," Marsh moaned, lifting her hips, wordlessly urging Scully to increase the pressure of her strokes. Her mind was cloudy with need. *God, just touch me for a second. I'm so close!*

Scully wanted nothing more than to satisfy her, but she had no desire to rush. *Face it, Dana, you love to tease her. It's such an incredible turn on when she begs* It was all she could do not to slide her other hand to her own throbbing clitoris. She moved her hand away from Marsh's intoxicating heat. "I'm too weak from hunger to go on."

Marsh growled and rolled over onto her, pinning Scully's hands above her head at the same time. She straddled Scully's midsection as she leaned down to bite the tender flesh just above Scully's collar bone. She rocked her hips in short thrusts, rubbing her clitoris over the soft skin of Scully's stomach. The friction was making her come. She moaned, short staccato cries, her face pressed to Scully's neck as her clitoris twitched with preorgasmic spasms. *Oh, yesss--so good!*

"Oh, no you don't!" Scully warned as she realized what was happening. With surprising speed and strength she freed her hands from Marsh's grip, pushing Marsh back, breaking their contact.

"Oh, lord, Dana--" Marsh pleaded, her face taut with need. "I want to come!" She could barely focus, her eyes dark pools of yearning. "Please! Just make me come!"

Faint smile. "Move up here, then." Husky demand.

Marsh slid forward, bracing herself with her hands against the headboard. Her legs trembled so much she thought she might fall.

Scully grasped Marsh's firm buttocks, supporting her as Marsh lowered herself toward Scully's mouth. Scully looked up, exulting in the moment. Above her, Marsh's tight belly and pink-tipped breasts stretched like a living sculpture, her coiled muscles quivering with tension. Their eyes met as Marsh looked down at her, and they connected in that place where lovers go when all they know is the wonder of each other. Slowly, Scully raised her head, full lips parting. A small sob escaped as Marsh braced for the contact. Scully took her deeply into her mouth, drinking of her, savoring her rich essence. At the same time, Scully reached between her own parted thighs. Her moans vibrated around Marsh's clitoris. When Scully ran her tongue the length of her, deliberately pressing hard against Marsh's extended clitoris, Marsh came instantly, a wrenching cry accompanying her jerking hips. That, and the pressure of her own circling fingers, was enough to set Scully off. She clamped her thighs tightly around her hand as the contractions began, holding Marsh to her lips with the other. Scully nearly forgot to breath as she immersed herself in the sounds and sensations of her lover's orgasm. She didn't stop her adorations until Marsh literally collapsed beside her.

"Oh, god, I love you," Marsh cried, wrapping her arms around her smaller lover.

Scully pulled Marsh close, kissing first her mouth, then her still fluttering eyelids. When she could bear to break the contact, she whispered, "I love you, too. So much."

Scully's words electrified Marsh as the satisfaction of her orgasm gave way to lust. She rolled over onto Scully, her hand searching for Dana's center, urgent with the need to possess her. Scully arched to meet her, pulling her inside, demanding to be taken.

The pizza could wait a little longer.

**********

6:45 a.m.

Scully found Marsh leaning against the counter in the kitchen munching a piece of cold pizza, clad only in a half-buttoned, oversized shirt. Her hair was wild, her lips slightly bruised, her eyes liquid with satiation. She was adorably irresistible.

"Is that my breakfast you're devouring?" Scully asked with a smile. On her way to search the refrigerator for something to drink, she ran her fingers lightly up Marsh's naked thigh.

"Mmmm," Marsh acknowledged, grinning sheepishly.

Scully shook her head in mock disgust. "You're as bad as Mulder. I guess I'm destined to eat take out for the rest of my life."

"Oh now, be fair. I can cook. Let's see," Marsh said, opening the cabinets behind her. "We could have...well, there's tuna fish, cereal, and canned mushrooms." She grinned, that slightly crooked grin that caused Scully's heart to melt. "Okay. I can cook, I just don't shop."

"Like I said, take out," Scully laughed. She poured orange juice, coming to stand beside Marsh, threading an arm around her waist and leaning against her comfortably. They hadn't had much time to enjoy the simple moments of day to day life, and Scully found she liked it. Waking up with Marsh beside her was as satisfying in its own way as the passionate love they made well into the night. She even liked listening to her sing in the shower. She had never shared such intimate moments with anyone, and there were times, like now, when she wished she had never heard of medicine, or the FBI, or the x-files. All she wanted was to fix breakfast, read the newspaper over a leisurely cup of coffee, and coax her lover back to bed. She sighed. "If Mulder and I didn't have to finish the paperwork on the Wilmington case, I'd be tempted to call in sick--if I could get you to stay home, too."

Marsh draped an arm around Scully's shoulders, drawing her closer. "I wish I could. I'm not ready to leave you either." She kissed her, letting the soft connection grow until they were both a little breathless. She pulled away reluctantly. "So how is Mulder?"

"Mulder is Mulder," Scully said. "He stayed in Wilmington to tie up some loose ends after I left. The case was closed, and all I wanted to do was get back here to you."

"Is he okay with us?" Marsh asked carefully.

Scully tilted her head to study Marsh's face. "Yes, I think so. Why? What happened?"

Marsh shrugged. "Nothing happened. It's just that when he questioned me in the hospital, I got the sense he didn't entirely trust me. I was still a little under the weather. I probably was imagining things."

Scully kept her voice carefully neutral. "I didn't realize he questioned you. When was this?"

"That first afternoon, when you went home to get some sleep."

*When I wasn't around, you mean* Scully worked to keep her temper under control. It was exactly like Mulder to pursue his own agenda without telling her. Generally, at some point in an investigation, he would let her in on the information he had gathered. This time, however, he had been interrogating her lover. This time, she was furious. "What did he want to know?"

Marsh set about getting coffee ready. "What you might expect. How much did I remember; did I recognize anyone; what did they want to know; what did I tell them. I'm afraid I disappointed him. I was drugged almost the entire time, and I don't remember specifics."

Scully was torn. Mulder was her partner, and she had a deep and unshakeable faith in his integrity. But Marsh was her lover, and something fiercely protective surfaced as Marsh spoke. Mulder should have known from the statement Marsh had given Skinner that she had no memory for the events of her disappearance. The fact that he questioned her later meant he didn't believe her. *I know he suspects everyone of a conspiracy, but he could have told me he was going to talk to her!*

"Didn't he tell you?" Marsh asked in surprise.

"We were pretty wrapped up in this case. Between me driving back and forth with the forensics, and the two of us trying to coordinate an investigation with the Wilmington police, I don't think Mulder and I said two words to each other that wasn't about work."

Marsh poured them both mugs of coffee. "I know he's important to you, Dana--he's more than just your partner, which is important enough. If there's a problem--"

"If there's a problem," Scully interrupted firmly, "I'll take care of it. Mulder is damn important to me, but you, Dr. Black, are my life."

Marsh paused, the coffee cup halfway to her lips. "You're really serious, aren't you?" she asked in wonder.

Scully was constantly surprised to rediscover that her capable, competent, accomplished lover hid a heart full of disappointment and uncertainty behind her confident exterior. "Yes," she said very gently. "I am totally serious. I love you."

"In that case," Marsh asked quietly, "I was wondering if you would like to go to a birthday party with me Saturday night."

"Birthday party?" Scully echoed. *Why do I get the feeling this is a loaded question* She set her coffee cup carefully on the table before taking both of Marsh's hands in hers. "Come clean, Black. Let's have the details."

"My grandfather will be 75 on Saturday. I don't know how many more birthday's he'll have. I'd like him to meet you."

"Meet me as what, Marsh?" Scully probed. *She's as difficult to get information out of as Mulder!*

Marsh met her gaze squarely. "As my lover. I want him to know I have someone. I think he'll be happy for me."

Scully contemplated the significance of Marsh's request. Until this point, Mulder was the only person who knew about her relationship with Marsh. If she met Marsh's family, she was making a statement about her place in Marsh's life. She was making a statement about their future. A few weeks ago she had faced losing her, and that event had crystallized her feelings into diamond hard certainty. She loved her. What Marsh was asking, without demanding an answer, was what she intended to do with that love. Scully hadn't been raised to run from the truth. Her gaze never faltered as she squeezed Marsh's hands lightly.

"I'd love to go."


Part Two

2:20 p.m. Friday
FBI headquarters, Washington D.C.

"Hey, Scully," a tired, disheveled Mulder said as he flopped gratefully into his chair. "Anything happening?"

Scully looked up from the computer terminal, noting the day old stubble and rumpled clothes. "You look like hell, Mulder."

He grinned, propping his feet up on the corner of his desk. "Thank you. I missed you, too."

"Did you talk to her?"

He frowned. "Yeah. But I didn't get anywhere. She's convinced that she's free now, and she's ready to spend the rest of her life in prison if she has to."

"She did kill a man, Mulder," Scully reminded him gently. The circumstances were bizarre to be sure. She still couldn't quite reconcile exactly how a blind woman could lay in wait for someone, and then shoot them.

"It was self-defense," he insisted.

"But it appears pre-meditated! She knocked out a cop and took his gun, for pete's sake! That blows the self-defense argument right there," she pointed out.

"But it is self-defense if she were seeing the killer's crimes, psychically, and he realized that. She was protecting herself the only way she could!" Mulder protested.

"You try selling that to a jury, or better yet--Skinner," Scully snorted.

"I thought you could do that," he said, grinning.

Scully shook her head emphatically. "My field report is almost finished, and it does not say anything about psychic visions originating from intrauterine trauma!"

"Ooo, Scully--that is so exciting when you say it like that." Big leer.

"Knock it off, Mulder." Hiding smile.

"You left town awfully quickly yesterday," Mulder commented off-handedly. *Oh oh, she's blushing again* He waited.

"The case was finished," Scully noted flatly.

"Uh huh."

She fixed him with the look, one eyebrow raised in exasperation. "And I hadn't seen Marsh in a week."

"Uh huh!" he grinned.

"Why didn't you tell me you were going to question her, Mulder?" she asked, her earlier anger abated, but not altogether assuaged. He should have told her.

His grin disappeared and he sat up straight in his chair. "It was just a follow-up interview," he said. It was lame, and he knew it. Hell, she knew it. He took a breath, beginning again before she had a chance to jump all over him. "I thought if I talked to her I might get her to remember something--anything."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Scully repeated. She was used to Mulder pursuing things his own way, but she couldn't help but think there was something he wasn't telling her.

"I didn't want you along."

*Now we're getting to it* Her voice was cold, controlled, but her temperature was rising. "Why not?"

"Because I wasn't sure what she might say, and I didn't want you to interfere if I had to push her," he admitted.

Scully blew. "What do you suspect her of, for God's sake? She had burns on her neck from the taser gun they used to knock her out. There were needle marks on both arms from the drugs they gave her to keep her sedated. And let's not forget the lacerations from the electrical cord they tied her hands with. The cord she was hanging from when you found her, remember?" It was painful still for her to think about what Marsh had been through, and how very close she had been to dying. Her voice trembled. "They left her for dead, Mulder! How could you possibly think she had anything to do with it?"

He felt miserable. He hated it when she was angry at him, and this time he had no defense. "I just had to be sure," he muttered almost to himself.

"Why?" she persisted.

"Because of you!" he blurted.

"Come again?" Scully asked in bewilderment. Something wasn't tracking here.

"I've known you for five years, and I can count your dates on one hand. All men I might add. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Marshall Black appears and you're head over heels for her! Come on, Scully! It's practically an x-file!"

"What are you saying?" There was a dangerous edge to her tone.

He braced himself. "Maybe she's a plant."

Scully stared at him, momentarily speechless. His expression was half defiance, half chagrin. *Just keep reminding yourself he's your partner, and your friend, Dana. Don't kill him* She waited until her pulse rate stabilized. "Mulder," she began carefully, "it couldn't have been planned--who could have known what it would take to get close to me?"

"What do you think profilers do, Scully?" he pointed out. It hurt, realizing that even he would have been hard pressed to have predicted it.

"You're a profiler, Mulder. Would you have chosen Marshall Black to put next to me?"

*Never in a million years* He grinned, signs of his old self showing. "I wish."

Her anger never held in the face of his charms. She tried to hide a smile. "Don't even think it."

He regarded her seriously. "Maybe if I understood how she did it, I'd feel better."

Scully reminded herself that this was not Bill, or Charlie. This was Mulder. He wasn't trying to judge her. How to describe falling in love? "Marsh just--happened. One day my life was as it had always been--a study in black and white. I worked, I tried to make some kind of a difference, I spent my nights alone. The next day Marsh was there --she brought light, and warmth, and color into my life. _I'm_ the same, but the world has changed because of her. I love her for that, Mulder, and for the way she loves me. She doesn't keep secrets; she lets me see her fears. She comforts me without resenting my strength. She trusts me with her heart." She lifted her hands in frustration, helpless to explain. *I don't have words. I need her in some deep way that defies description*

"So--what is it?" he asked, amazed that this was his rational, skeptical partner talking. "You just accept this--thing--between you on faith?!"

"No, Mulder! Faith is believing without proof. I have proof. I have the way she behaves, I have--" There were some things too sacred to tell even Mulder. She finished silently, *--the way she lets me touch her, the way she makes love to me*

He blushed and fumbled on his desk for a pencil, something to occupy his hands. Her face revealed what her words hadn't. She looked downright ripe with satisfaction. So much for imagining that the sex wasn't a big part of it. He cleared his throat. "So you think it's reasonable for me to accept her on faith?"

Scully returned her full piercing attention to him. "No, Mulder, I expect you to trust my judgment on a lot more than faith." Her tone implied the discussion was over, and that she would thank him not to reopen it.

He studied the impressions on the side of his number two pencil for a long moment before raising his eyes to hers. She was waiting. "Agreed. No more questions."

The phone rang, startling them both. She smiled her thanks as she reached for it. She listened a moment, then replied, "Yes sir, right away."

Mulder grimaced. "Skinner?"

Scully nodded, gathering her papers. "He wants our reports."

Mulder followed reluctantly. *Hoo boy, this should be fun*

**********

Skinner sat ramrod straight behind the desk, perusing their reports while Scully and Mulder sat waiting in the two chairs facing him. Mulder fidgeted, while Scully stared off into the middle distance. She hadn't seen Mulder's report, but she was sure it didn't resemble hers. As usual, they had two very different explanations as to what exactly had occurred. This case wasn't even an x-file, and at the moment she was a lot more intrigued by the message from Marsh the dispatcher handed her a few minutes ago.

Skinner laid the papers on the blotter in front of him, carefully aligning the edges. "So," he summarized, looking at neither of them, "Marty Glenn killed Charles Gotts, but you believe that Gotts killed the others?"

"Yes, sir," Scully responded, hoping this would be quick.

"And the Wilmington police are satisfied with that?"

"Yes, sir," she echoed.

Skinner nodded, seemingly satisfied. Then he looked at Mulder. "Why did you visit the prisoner this morning, Agent Mulder?"

"I just wanted to clear up a few details, sir," Mulder admitted. *What's the big deal?*

"Something you neglected to put in your report?" Skinner queried.

Mulder glanced at Scully, wondering how she had presented the case. As if it had ever mattered before if they agreed or not. He took a breath. *To hell with this* "I wanted to know why she wasn't making a self-defense plea."

Skinner feigned surprise. "The facts certainly don't support that--unless of course you know something Agent Scully doesn't."

"There is reason to believe that the subject experienced visual documentation of the earlier crimes being committed, and as a witness, was in danger herself," Mulder stated emphatically.

Skinner looked at Scully. "Do you believe Marty Glenn _saw_ those crimes being committed?"

"No, sir, I do not."

*Thanks partner* Mulder drew his head in a little closer to his shoulders. *Why does she always have to be so damn precise?*

Scully continued unperturbed. "Both Agent Mulder and myself witnessed the evoked brainstem visual response tests that were administered to Marty Glenn. She is blind."

Skinner looked pained. He cast a weary glance at Mulder.

"But," Scully stated, deflecting Skinner's wrath for the moment, "it does appear that Ms. Glenn had some perception of the crimes. However, the exact mechanism by which that was accomplished remains unclear. Perhaps with further testing--"

Mulder shook his head. "She refused."

"Then we'll never know," Scully said with finality.

Skinner pinned Mulder to the chair with his eyes. "Your job, Agent Mulder, is to investigate the crimes, not try them."

"I thought my job was to discover the truth," Mulder bristled.

Skinner leaned back an inch in his chair, his only sign of concession. "If the Wilmington police are happy, then the case is officially closed. In the future, Agent Mulder, take a page from your partner's book and stick to the facts in your reports. Just because the x-files is still in existence doesn't mean people aren't watching your work, and looking for some reason to shut you down."

"What people, sir?" Mulder asked sarcastically. *Do even you know their names?*

Skinner ignored him, carefully initially the bottoms of each page of their reports.

Mulder and Scully rose together, eager to end the post-mortem.

"Sit down, Agent Scully," Skinner requested, trying not to make it sound like an order.

Mulder cast a questioning glance at his partner, but her neutral expression told him nothing. He hated it when Skinner split them up, but there was nothing he could do about it. He left with as much nonchalance as he could muster.

Skinner waited until the door was firmly closed. He dropped his pen, steepling his hands before his chest, elbows planted on the arms of his chair. He surveyed her critically. Perfectly attired, perfectly composed, as usual. "How is Dr. Black?"

Scully never blinked. "She's fine, sir."

"Working yet?"

"Not for a few more days."

He removed his glasses, rubbed his eyes. "I take it you see her regularly?"

Scully faced him squarely, her expression unchanged. "Are you asking me, AD Skinner, about the nature of my relationship with Marshall Black?" There was a hint of challenge in her voice.

"No, Agent Scully," Skinner bit back, his eyes flashing. "I'm not asking, and you are not required to explain."

She waited.

He fixed her with that flat stare he used when he was trying to intimidate her or Mulder into seeing reason. "Someone may ask. What then?"

She didn't hesitate. "If asked--which I might point out is against regulations--I will not lie." Her eyes were as hard as his. *I won't deny her. I won't deny us*

He sighed almost imperceptibly. "And I don't suppose Marsh would either."

The corner of Scully's mouth lifted in the faintest smile. Her tone softened just thinking about her headstrong lover. "I would think that very unlikely, sir."

He couldn't read her thoughts, but her body language was plain. It was serious, all right. "In that case, considering the recent attack on Dr. Black's life, it might not be a bad idea if you kept her under unofficial surveillance. For the time being. I'll put a note to that effect in your orders."

Scully couldn't hide her surprise. "Why--"

He interrupted before she could ask the question he couldn't answer himself. "You both have valuable jobs to do. I don't want your work impeded over false issues. See that that doesn't happen, Agent Scully."

She stood, her eyes relaying her appreciation of his honesty. "Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."

Skinner watched her as she walked toward the door, but it wasn't Scully he saw.

**********

It was July 4th, 1981.

"You know I hate these things," he growled.

"It's a requirement, honey," Sharon Skinner said. "You have to socialize if you want to get ahead. And somehow, I can't see you as a training instructor for the rest of your life."

"It suits me just fine," he said, only slightly annoyed. They had been married long enough that he knew Sharon would accept whatever decision he made about the promotion. He couldn't see himself sitting behind a desk, but the idea of being Section Chief was appealing. Sharon patted his rear affectionately and left him morosely flipping hamburgers while she went to greet their guests.

"Hey, Walt," a familiar female voice said in his ear. "Who's the new fish you brought to the party?"

He glanced sideways at the tall lanky blonde next to him. She was grinning, a confident, somewhat suggestive grin, one hand in the back pocket of her jeans, the other cradling a beer. He'd seen that look before, in the early hours of the morning, in hotel lounges or dark smoky bars, when they were out of town on a case, and Karen didn't want to sleep alone.

"My new trainee. Sharon bugged me to invite her."

"Good for Sharon. I'll have to thank her."

"Come on, Karen," Skinner growled. "She's just a kid."

"She must be legal, if she's in the program. Besides, an FBI agent has to learn to take care of herself."

Skinner couldn't explain exactly why he felt so protective. Maybe it was just because Marsh was younger than most of the recruits, even though she was a medical school graduate. She was one of those precocious kids who condensed high school, college, and medical school into one intense foreshortened marathon. It wasn't that she seemed immature, anything but. She was focused and intense, exactly what you would expect. But there was something in her eyes, like something he recalled in the eyes of the boys around him in the jungles of Vietnam. Something lost, and lonely. "She doesn't need the kind of training you're offering, Summers," he snarled.

Karen laughed, the epitome of feline seductiveness. "Relax, Walt, I'm not going to hurt her."

"Yeah right," he mumbled to himself as he watched her wend her way through the crowd in his backyard toward Marshall Black. He didn't need his wife's recounting of her old college roommate's multiple conquests to know that Karen Summers left a trail of broken hearts in her wake. He had seen enough over the last six years to know she was the 'love them and leave them' type. He wondered, on occasion, if there had ever been anything between his wife and his previous partner, back in their younger days. He pushed the thought from his mind. He didn't want to know. "Shit," he muttered when he saw Summers and his young trainee wander off together.

The next morning was the first time Marsh had ever been late for class. She tried to slide into her seat unnoticed, but Skinner fixed her with a steely glare.

"Nice of you to make it, Black," he snapped.

"Yes sir, sorry sir," Marsh said smartly. That was the last thing she remembered about the rest of Skinner's lecture. She kept replaying, over and over, the previous night.

"Come on over to my place for a nightcap," Karen had said. Marsh had agreed eagerly, happy to spend more time with the charismatic, older field agent. Somehow, before the night was over, Karen had kissed her. And Marsh had kissed her back. She was lost with the first kiss. Karen was passionate in bed, charming and funny with her colleagues, and fierce on the street. She was everything Marsh wanted, and wanted to be.

Everyone who noticed knew it wouldn't last.

Nearly a year later they were still together. No one was more surprised than Walter Skinner. He had known Karen Summers a lot of years, and he had never known her to be serious about anyone. But then what the hell did he know?

He wished he could have known it would be their last conversation. It was the story of his life, never saying what he wanted to say until long after it didn't matter anymore.

Karen had been suiting up with the rest of HRT team, closing the velcro tabs on the vest that was supposed to be impenetrable. She looked over at him as she strapped on her weapons.

"Are you bringing the kid?" she asked casually.

"Yes."

"Make sure she stays in the van, will you?" Karen asked, her voice pitched low so that the others around her would not hear. "You know how fast these things can go bad."

Skinner looked at her in surprise. He had never seen her quite so solemn. "Are you okay?"

"Absolutely," she grinned, cocky as ever. "Nothing I like better than snipers. But she's still wet behind the ears. I don't want her getting under foot."

"If I didn't know better, I'd think you're actually serious about this one," Skinner grunted.

Karen shrugged sheepishly, a glow in her eyes even Skinner couldn't miss. "You might be right, but don't tell her that." She slugged him affectionately on the shoulder as she left to join the team.

Two hours later, Skinner was screaming for a medic, while everywhere around him, men cursed. The only thing he could hear was Marsh, pleading, as the blood welled up between her fingers.

"Oh Jesus, please, Karen--please don't die, baby. I'm here--oh god, I love you-- please hold on. Don't leave me, please --please--somebody --help me. Karen, oh god, Karen--"

They had to drag her away from the body.

**********

Skinner pulled off his glasses and tossed them on his desk in disgust. He dug the heels of his hands into his eyes, forcing back the memories. Karen was dead. His wife had divorced him. The young recruit was gone, changed forever. Now there was Scully--and Dr. Marshall Black. This was one nightmare he was not going to relive.

He pulled out Scully's file, and reached for his pen.


Part Three

Mulder was slumped in one of the uncomfortable wooden chairs in the hall outside Skinner's office, waiting. "What did he say?" he inquired as he unfolded himself to join his partner.

Scully shook her head, perplexed. "I'm not sure. It wasn't about the case."

"Then what was it about?"

"It was about Marsh."

Mulder looked at her quickly in concern. "Was he giving you trouble?"

"No. I think he was telling me he didn't care about us."

Mulder considered it. Skinner had always been fair with them, although sometimes he was so 'by the book' that he seemed adversarial. On the other hand, Mulder couldn't recall a single instance when Skinner had interfered in their personal lives. "Maybe he doesn't. Nice of him to say."

"Yes," Scully commented, still surprised. It was hard to believe that anyone actually cared who she slept with. *I guess I'm supposed to feel grateful* She didn't. What she felt was outrage at the fact that her personal life was anyone's business but her own. And she'd be damned if she would explain or defend it to anyone. "Actually I don't care what he thinks."

"Are you going to start wearing one of those little pink triangle pins soon?"

"No, I thought I'd get a button that said 'How dare you presume I'm straight'."

"Oh, that's much better, Scully. Subtler," Mulder observed wryly.

Scully smiled. "Don't worry about it, Mulder. I'll be fine. Besides, I've got more important things to worry about."

"Like what?"

"Like flying to Boston tonight to meet Marsh's family."

"Yep. That's definitely on my list of potentially life-threatening experiences," Mulder proclaimed, shuddering. "Better you than me."

Scully pictured Marsh as she had last seen her that morning, anxiously awaiting Scully's response to her invitation. She had been both beautiful and vulnerable. Scully smiled, her eyes radiant. "For once, Mulder, you are absolutely right."

**********

Friday 6:50 pm Georgetown

"Okay," Scully remarked as she slid into the front seat of Marsh's Porsche. "What's with the cryptic message?"

"Cryptic?" Marsh queried as she pulled out into the early evening traffic.

Scully rested one hand lightly on Marsh's denim clad thigh. "Mmmm, you know, meet me by the forked tree at midnight, come alone, bring the money."

Marsh laughed, covering Scully's hand with her own. "I believe what I said was 'I'll pick you up at seven. Pack light'."

"So why won't you tell me any details?"

"It's a surprise," Marsh said softly.

Scully studied Marsh's profile as she drove. The angles of her face--the strong jaw, the prominent cheek bones, the deep set eyes--were softened by the barely perceptible smile that pushed upwards at the corner of her finely drawn lips. She was exquisite. "I love you."

Marsh's fingers tightened around Dana's. "Lord, I love you too." She glanced at her lover, and for an instant dark eyes melded to blue, and the air grew heavy with promises unspoken.

"Marsh," Scully said, her voice husky.

"Hmm?" Marsh responded, mesmerized by the way the lights from passing vehicles shimmered over Dana's delicately etched features. She was as hauntingly lovely today as she had been the first time she had seen her four years ago. She never tired of looking at her.

"You just passed the airport," Scully murmured, struggling unsuccessfully to quiet the storm brewing in her body.

Marsh nodded, pulling over to the exit for the adjoining commuter terminal. She stopped the Porsche in front of the small control tower, leaving the engine running as she got out. "I'll be back in a second."

Scully watched her as she sprinted up the sidewalk. She wore a dark brown leather flight jacket over a v-necked sweater, her jeans, and well-worn brown boots. Scully felt herself grow damp. *god, she's sexy. And I am in so much trouble. How am I supposed to keep my hands off her for an entire weekend?*

She tried to take her mind off her physical state by watching the activity around her. She didn't notice Marsh approach until Marsh leaned down through the open window and kissed her. The heat of Marsh's mouth did nothing to quell her arousal.

"We're all set," Marsh said after releasing her from the kiss.

"I hope you got us seats in the back," Scully muttered, shifting on the seat in a vain attempt to lessen the uncomfortable pressure between her legs. Forget the weekend, she wasn't going to be able to make it through the night if she didn't get Marsh alone soon. Never in her life had anyone affected her this way. If she thought about it too long, she would surely panic. Need was not something she was comfortable with.

Marsh grinned as she maneuvered the Porsche between the rows of small planes. "Not exactly."

They came to a stop beside an open hanger adjacent to the runway. Marsh reached behind the seat for their bags. Scully looked over at the small plane two men were wheeling out. One of them waved hello.

Scully climbed hastily out of the car, fixing Marsh with a piercing glance. "Tell me you're flying that plane."

"I'm flying that plane," Marsh responded, smiling broadly.

Scully stepped close enough that their shoulders touched. She wanted to put her arms around her, but she settled for a quick squeeze of her hand. "It's a wonderful surprise--just like you."

Marsh turned slightly so her back was to her plane and the mechanics, bending her head to kiss Dana swiftly on the lips. "Lucky for me you think so."

**********

Boston 10:45 p.m.

"You were supposed to be nervous in the plane, not now," Marsh remarked, gently teasing. Dana had been strangely quiet ever since leaving the airport in Boston. She took one hand from the wheel, slipping it into the thick, rich hair at the base of Dana's neck. She massaged the tight muscles, silently waiting.

Scully leaned back into Marsh's hand, letting Marsh's strong fingers drive the tension from her body. "This is the first time I've ever met anyone's family," she confessed. "I'm not nervous. Just a little performance anxiety."

Marshall laughed. "Believe me, darling, there is nothing wrong with your performance."

Scully squeezed Marsh's thigh affectionately. "I hardly think your family will be judging me on my lovemaking capabilities."

She didn't miss the serious tone beneath Dana's jest. "They won't be judging you at all. I would never subject you to that. You won't have to wonder what they're thinking, either. My mother and grandfather are known for speaking their minds. Please don't worry."

Scully smiled, not wanting to concern her. "I managed to survive medical school interviews and the FBI screening tests. This should be a snap."

Marsh pulled through the wrought iron gates that fronted on a long winding driveway. Up ahead, lights blazed in a three-story Victorian estate. "I love you, Dana. You're all that matters to me."

"You can believe I'll remember that every second," Scully assured her. She glanced at the formidable edifice looming large in the dark. She realized Marsh had said very little about her family. A sudden thought froze the blood in her veins. "They _do_ know about you, don't they? They're not expecting you to bring home a man?"

Marsh laughed, pulling the rented BMW around the circular drive, stopping in front of a wide front staircase. "My mother always said she knew from the time I was two."

"Thank God I won't be the first woman they're meeting," Scully breathed in relief.

Marsh looked past Scully toward the house, but her gaze was reflective. "Actually, you are the first." Her voice held the barest hint of sadness. She had never brought Karen; there had never been time.

Scully ran her hand through the soft wavy hair that brushed against Marsh's collar, gently cupping her jaw. She turned Marsh's face to her until their eyes met and held. She might have been jealous of that first love, if she hadn't seen the softening of Marsh's expression when Marsh looked at her, and the obvious love in her eyes. She watched Marsh return from the past to her. "I also intend to be the last," Scully stated firmly.

Marsh's spirits lifted, and she pulled Dana against her. "God, how I love you."

Dana Scully smiled. Never had anything sounded quite so good. "Let's go in before I'm tempted to make a spectacle of myself in your driveway."

"Hold on to that thought," Marsh murmured, kissing her swiftly before pushing the door open and swinging her long legs out. *Like I could resist her if she wanted to fuck on the front porch*

As Scully stepped from the car she saw a shadow moving swiftly around the corner of the house, directly for Marsh. Everything happened at once. "Marsh, get down!" Even as she spoke, Marsh was blind-sided and sent sprawling. Scully reached for her gun, only to remember it was locked in her luggage. She was about to tackle the large form pinning her lover to the ground when she heard Marsh laugh.

"Pilot, you fool! Get off of me!" Marsh sputtered.

Scully sagged against the fender of the sports coupe, staring at a huge brindle Great Dane, thinking how close she might have come to shooting the dog had she had her weapon.

Marsh managed to get to her feet, avoiding the dog's exuberant kisses. One look at Dana brought her instantly to her side. "Hey, what is it? You're shaking!"

Scully shook her head, grasping Marsh's hand. "For a second, I thought you were being attacked. God! If I'd had my gun I could have killed him."

Scully pressed her forehead to Marsh's chest, willing her nervous system to equilibrate. She tightened her arms around Marsh's slender form unconsciously, assuring herself Marsh was safe.

Marsh felt the lingering tremors. "What's going on, Dana?" she questioned gently, rubbing her cheek lightly against Scully's hair. She gathered her closer in her embrace, wanting nothing more in the world than to comfort her. This was not the cool, unflappable FBI agent Scully appeared to the world; this was the woman who had awakened in her arms that morning, and she was hurting.

Scully sighed in frustration. *Get a grip here, Dana. So you overreacted. You don't need to make her paranoid, too* She tilted her head up, forcing a smile. "I'm a little on edge since you went missing on me." Marsh had almost no memory of those nightmarish twenty hours, but for Dana every minute had been an eternity in hell. *On edge?? Terrified, actually, that someone will decide to finish the job*

Marsh studied Scully's face for what she wasn't saying, and caught just a flicker of fear, quickly extinguished, in her amazingly expressive eyes. She knew the cause. "Oh, love," she murmured, "don't. I promise you, I have no intention of leaving you, in this life or any other."

*But you can't promise that, can you?* Death was no stranger. Scully pushed away the last remnants of her disquiet. She would see that nothing threatened Marsh again, no matter what it took. She wouldn't hesitate to do whatever was necessary. She _ would not _ lose Marsh. "We should get inside. The neighbors will talk."

Marsh laughed. There wasn't another house for half a mile. She took Scully's hand and grabbed the luggage with the other. "Come, Pilot," she called to her dog.

As Scully reached for the rest of the bags, she surveyed her lover's elegant countenance in the moonlight, the large regal dane at her side, and the mansion looming in the background. She was suddenly struck by the gothic image of it all. "Besides, I'm anxious to meet Mrs. Fairfax, my dear Mr. Rochester."

Marsh grinned, delighted at the sudden change in Dana's mood. Between the demands of Dana's job, and the recent agony of Marsh's disappearance, Dana's brilliant smile had been far too infrequent lately. "She might be out on a date with Mrs. Danvers. But welcome to Manderly, my darling."

"And I suppose you fancy yourself Maxim de Winter?" Scully teased as they climbed the stairs to the porch.

"Only you can answer that," Marsh whispered as the heavy front doors swung open. She grinned when she spied the small, gray-haired woman standing on the other side. "Mrs. Dovocek!! This is Dana!"

"And about time, too," the elderly woman chided in a still heavy Slavic accent. She extended her arms fondly to Marsh. "I thought you were going to keep the girl standing outside all night." She hugged Marsh, then turned to Scully. "Welcome to Blackwood, my dear. Come in out of the cold! I've got something warm for you in the kitchen!"

Scully, thoroughly charmed, followed Marsh and Mrs. Dovocek down the hallway to a large modern kitchen in the rear of the house. The something warm turned out to be tea and freshly baked cinnamon bread. It smelled heavenly, and Scully realized she was starving.

"Your mother has been held up at the governor's fundraiser, young Marshall," Mrs. Dovocek explained as she cut still steaming slices from the loaf. "She says you shouldn't wait up--she'll see you for breakfast."

Scully smiled as Marsh blushed. Young Marshall? Scully mouthed mischievously when Mrs. Dovocek turned away. Marsh looked endearingly discomfited, and Scully was nearly overcome with another wave of desire. *My god, I'm not fit for polite company!*

As if reading her mind, Marsh pushed her cup aside. "Mrs. D, this is wonderful, but would you mind if we took it upstairs with us? It's been a long day."

"Of course not. I'll fix a tray while you take your things to the master suite. Your mother said to put you in there."

Marsh studied the family housekeeper quizzically for a moment, trying to place something in her mind. A phrase kept repeating itself in her memory, but she couldn't quite make it out. There was something about Mrs. Dovocek's voice. She sighed in frustration, unable to capture it. She noticed Dana watching her with that penetrating gaze she got when she sensed something wasn't right. "Something I want to remember--but it keeps alluding me," she explained, clearly troubled.

Scully nodded, instantly vigilant. Marsh had shown no signs of any traumatic aftermath of her kidnapping, probably because the drugs she had been given were powerful amnestics that had literally expunged the events from her consciousness. Still, Scully was worried. "It's okay. Don't force it; it will come."

"You're right. I'm okay, really," Marsh said, reaching for the tray. Whatever it was, it would surface in it's own time. "I'll take this, Mrs. D. We'll see you in the morning."

**********

"Put the tray down, Marsh," Scully commanded as she shut the bedroom door and turned the lock. She dumped their bags unceremoniously in the middle of the floor. She walked toward Marsh, unbuttoning her blouse, stepping out of her shoes. "You have exactly two seconds to get out of your clothes before I start doing damage to them."

Marsh had her sweater off and her jeans unbuttoned by the time Dana reached her. Her swift intake of breath turned to a groan as Scully's hands found her breasts and a firm thigh pushed between her legs. She lost her balance and barely landed on the bed before Dana was on top of her, bare skin to bare skin, her demanding tongue probing inside Marsh's mouth. Dimly she was aware of her jeans being not so gently pushed off her hips, and hot breath against her ear. She groaned again as teeth pulled at the sensitive skin below her jaw. The pleasure verged on pain as Dana squeezed first one nipple, then the other, sending pulses of excitement directly to her clit. She grabbed Dana's ass, pulling her closer, gasping as the soft hot skin of Dana's leg rubbed against her tensely swollen flesh. A quivering began in her belly. "Be careful, baby," she said urgently, "you'll make me come. You know I can't hold it."

Scully heard, but the words didn't penetrate her awareness. All she knew was the heady thrill of exciting her lover, of taking her into a realm where they belonged only to each other. Marsh yielded to her, trusting her, surrendering to her, and Scully wanted to possess her with all the tender power in her soul. She twisted one hand in Marsh's hair, pulling her head back, exposing her throat. As she pressed her lips to the pounding vessels, feeling the life force surge and ebb, she pushed inside with the other hand, groaning as the silken muscles closed around her fingers. Slowly, she stroked, sliding her thumb along the length of Marsh's clitoris with each pass. Each time she caressed the swollen shaft, Marsh whimpered, her legs trembling, the muscles in her taut abdomen twitching.

"Don't come, Marsh," Scully gasped hoarsely, "not yet." She tore her mouth away from the sweat slick skin of Marsh's neck, moving rapidly down to take Marsh's clitoris between her lips. She bit lightly at the base and Marsh jerked. Her own clit twitched in response. *Oh Jesus, I think I'm going to come*

Marsh's hips arched off the bed as she cried, "Oh! Here it comes--oh, Dana--I'm coming--"

Scully pressed her fingers deeper, keeping her mouth around the wildly contracting flesh, moaning as an answering climax erupted between her legs, a thousand neurons discharging simultaneously, burning a path through her bones to her brain. She screamed as the fireball exploded, carrying her beyond conscious awareness.

She might have slipped from that out of body state into sleep if she hadn't heard Marsh sobbing. She hurriedly moved up beside her, gathering Marsh into her arms. She cradled Marsh's face against her breast, holding her fiercely. "What is it, sweetheart? Have I hurt you?"

Marsh struggled to contain her tears. "God no, you didn't hurt me. You just make me feel so damn much. You're in every part of me." She looked at Scully, her face a study in naked helplessness. "My soul would never survive without you now."

Her words pierced Scully to the core. She never dreamed love could be such sweet pain. She never imagined wanting anyone so much. "Oh god," she whispered, wanting nothing more than to touch every part of Marsh at once, able only to press close to her until not even the air separated them. "We belong to each other now. Nothing will ever change that."

As Marsh quieted in her embrace, finally drifting off, Scully lay awake, reluctant to allow even sleep to separate them.


Part Four

Saturday 8 am

"What do you think?"

"I think we should lock the door."

Scully blushed, amazed that Marsh's desire still surprised her. "The door is locked. And don't come near me. Just tell me if I look okay."

Marsh threw her legs over the side of the large leather easy chair she was occupying, and leaned back, surveying Scully with a smile. "You look fantastic. That shade of green is perfect, the linen is just the right touch of casual elegance, and--the pants show off your tight little butt very nicely." She laughed, ducking as a pillow sailed past her head. She caught the next one in her hand as she crossed the room, grabbing Dana around the waist, kissing her swiftly. "Why don't you just wear a pair of jeans and a sweater? You'll be gorgeous in anything."

Scully let herself enjoy the firm planes of Marsh's body pressed to her own for a moment before gently extricating herself. "You may be able to make a pair of 501s look like a fashion statement, but I can't." In fact faded jeans, along with a loose, off-white cashmere v-necked sweater was exactly what her tall, willowy lover was wearing. Scully knew Marsh didn't have anything else on under either one. "Lord, but you're sexy," Scully groaned. "Can't you find something a little less stimulating?"

Marsh grinned that crooked grin. "I'd rather distract you from your nervousness with a bit of erotic foreplay. Besides, I fell asleep last night before I had a chance to undress you. You owe me."

"I owe you!!" Scully exclaimed, trying desperately to contain a smile. "You are obnoxiously sure of yourself, Dr. Black!"

Marsh regarded the trim red head in the perfectly tailored outfit, the very definition of class and grace, and wondered in amazement how Dana could possibly not know how magnificent she was. "You, Dr. Scully, are the most enticing woman I have ever seen. My mother is going to adore you, and my grandfather is going to want to run away with you."

Scully warmed under Marsh's approving glance, but the obvious omission didn't escape her. "Marsh, what about your father?"

Marsh shrugged. "I was getting to that, but I've never known the best time. There is no Mr. Black. Never was. My mother is my grandfather's daughter, not his daughter-in-law. My sire, as it were, was a teacher, and married apparently. My mother was very young, but stubborn. She never let anyone suggest I was anything other than a Black, which is probably why she named me after my grandfather."

"It must not have been easy," Scully said softly. "She sounds quite remarkable. I can see where you get your confidence."

Marsh laughed. "Wait until you meet my grandfather."

Scully squared her shoulders unconsciously. "Yes, I think I'll like that."

**********

The woman who awaited them in the breakfast room looked impossibly young to be Marsh's mother. Marsh was more muscular than her mother, and had that slight hint of androgeny that Scully found so appealing, but other than that, Marsh's mother appeared to be a slightly older version of her daughter--tall, slender, with the same dark hair and deep gray eyes. She set down her cup and watched her daughter cross the room with a very attractive woman by her side. She could tell by the glow in Marshall's eyes that she was fairly bursting with pride.

"Mother, this is Dana Scully," Marsh said as she leaned down to kiss her mother's cheek.

"Claire Black, Dr. Scully," she said as she extended her hand.

"Please," Scully said with a smile. "It's Dana."

"I'm very happy to meet you, Dana," Claire amended.

The hour that followed was filled with easy conversation, and some charming stories about Marsh's childhood that made Marsh groan and Scully laugh with pleasure. As they lingered over their last cups of coffee, Claire turned to Marsh. "You should call your grandfather, darling. He's going to be anxious to see you."

"I thought we'd stop there this afternoon. I'll be right back," Marsh told Scully, brushing her fingers over Scully's hand as she stepped away.

Scully watched her go, then returned her attention to Claire. Claire was watching her. "What is it you wanted to ask me?" Scully said softly.

Claire smiled ruefully. "Am I that obvious?"

Scully shook her head. "Your face is as expressive as Marsh's."

"Marshall told me about you some time ago. She said on the phone then that she loves you. I can see from the way she looks at you that she does," she began. Her dark eyes met Scully's. "The only thing that concerns me is her happiness. She has been alone a very long time, and she's not the kind of person who is meant to live without love. She has suffered for the lack of it."

Scully thought of Marsh's tears falling on her breast just a few hours before. She thought of the loneliness of her own existence before awakening from a nightmare to find Marsh at her side. "I'm not sure any of us are truly meant to live without it; we just tell ourselves we can." *And I believed it, until I met her*

She took a deep breath, meeting Claire's steady gaze. "She won't be alone again, I can promise you that." Scully hoped with all her heart she could keep that pledge.

Claire could only nod as she heard Marsh approaching, but she squeezed Scully's hand in silent thanks.

"Has my mother been warning you about my bad habits?" Marsh asked as she joined them. She rested her hand lightly over Dana's where it lay on the table.

Scully smiled, giving her lover's hand a little shake. "Not all of them. Not yet!"

"Come on. I'm taking you for a stroll along the Charles before we go visiting. That way, my mother won't be able to tell you any more stories," Marsh announced.

"I'd love a walk, but don't think that's going to save you. I intend to hear all your childhood escapades before we leave!"

Marsh tugged her to her feet. "This place is dangerous to my reputation!"

**********

2:35 pm Saturday

The maid led them through the first floor of the old brownstone to the rear patio. Scully could see the resemblance to Marsh in the man who was stooped over a window box of young plants, carefully removing stray weeds. He turned at their approach, pulling off worn work gloves to extend a hand to Scully.

"How do you do, my dear," he said in a rich, full baritone.

"I'm fine, sir," Scully replied. He looked ten years younger than she knew he was, and he projected an air of sophisticated gentry. She followed Marsh to a stone bench off to one side of the flagstone patio, while Marsh's grandfather sat in a wicker rocker facing them. They helped themselves to iced tea from a serving cart near at hand.

"I've been waiting a long time for my granddaughter to bring someone home," he remarked unexpectedly.

Scully blushed. *Marsh did say he was direct!* In her own family they had rarely discussed their feelings, sometimes until it had been too late.

He continued with an understanding smile. "You'll discover when you get to be my age, Dana, that small talk can be a waste of precious time. I'm afraid I have no patience for it any longer."

Scully nodded, liking his candor.

"I was rather hoping you might turn out to be an ally, Dana," he said after a moment.

"Sir?" Scully asked in surprise. She thought she heard a faint sigh from Marsh.

"Marshall probably hasn't told you that she's been a bit of a disappointment to us," he continued.

Scully stiffened slightly. She didn't care if he was Marsh's grandfather, she wasn't going to listen to criticism about Marsh, no matter how bad an impression she made. "I find that impossible to believe." Her tone was hard, and she made no effort to soften it.

She thought she detected a glint of approval in his eyes.

"It's this stubborn infatuation with medicine she seems to have."

Scully glanced at Marsh in confusion. Marsh gave her a sympathetic smile.

"Granddad, do you think you could at least wait until after dinner to badger Dana about this?" Marsh requested, her tone suggesting this was a familiar conversation.

"Carpe diem, Marshall," he continued unperturbed, turning his attention to Scully once again. "She was raised to take over the business, you see, and thus far she has refused. I've given up trying to convince her that she is making a mistake. My only hope has been that when she found someone she loved, she'd listen to them."

Scully nearly laughed. Never in her wildest imagination could she have envisioned this conversation. She wasn't even entirely sure he was serious. "I can assure you, sir, I don't have that kind of influence over her, nor would I want it."

Marsh spoke up. "Besides the fact that I like being a doctor, I'm hardly suited for that kind of life."

"If you're talking about your relationship with Dana, I shouldn't worry," her grandfather pronounced. "Businessmen don't care about that sort of thing. That's for priests and politicians who need something to talk about. How you manage the money is the bottom line."

"It's not for me," Marsh said with finality.

He looked at Scully. "And you won't make her see reason."

Scully shook her head solemnly, holding in a smile. "I'm afraid it's beyond my powers, sir."

He shrugged his shoulders in acquiescence. "I was hoping to find just one person in the family who saw things my way. I suppose it has something to do with the differences between men and women. Women seem to have this inherent need to follow their hearts. Men are much more practical."

"We're not exactly conventional, Granddad," Marsh pointed out with a laugh.

He regarded his heir, the affection in his eyes evident. "It would still be nice to have some male company. Perhaps you and Dana could work on having a son while I'm still around."

Marsh exploded in fond protest. "We're hardly at the point to be discussing children!!"

If pressed, Scully wouldn't have been able to recount a single word of the conversation that followed. She must have participated, because neither of them seemed to be regarding her oddly, but her mind felt frozen. She hadn't thought, hadn't wanted to think, about what this might mean for her and Marsh. The short car ride back to Marsh's mother's was mercifully silent. She wasn't sure she could form coherent sentences.

Marsh waited until they were upstairs, alone. Dana was at the window, staring down into the gardens. Marsh went to her, gently easing her arms around her waist from behind. She rested her chin on Dana's shoulder, her cheek against Dana's. "What is it?" she softly asked.

"There's something you need to know," Scully said, her voice curiously flat. She looked at the beginnings of new life bursting from the spring soil, but she didn't see the tender young growth. Her vision was of her own internal landscape, stretching endlessly forward like the dry sands of the Sahara.

Marsh steeled herself. She had waited so long for love to come to her again, long after the hope of it ever happening had vanished. All her dreams resided in Dana's smile, in the touch of her hand and the warmth of her body in the night. She feared nothing, not even death, as much as she feared losing her. Her heart would never heal. "Tell me," Marsh whispered.

"Four years ago I was--kidnapped. I don't know by whom, I can't remember. Whoever took me put the chip in my neck."

"The chip that saved you," Marsh stated, remembering what Dana had told her about the cancer.

Scully laughed hollowly. "It may be the disease as well as the cure. I'll probably never know."

Marsh waited, knowing it was not over. *How much more has she had to bear?*

"Whoever gave me the chip apparently took something as well. They extracted the eggs from my ovaries. All of them. As far as I know, I'm sterile."

Marsh closed her eyes, willing herself not to shake. This was a nightmare the proportions of which she could not begin to imagine. This wasn't human; this went beyond monstrous. She swallowed painfully. She wanted to scream. Dana was as still and silent as a statue, and just as remote. *I need you, Dana. Don't let this separate us*

She turned her head, brushed her lips across the pale smooth cheek. "I'll live on your love for the rest of my life," Marsh said softly. "It's all I need, and all I'll ever want."

"I didn't think--," Scully began, running her fingers lightly up and down Marsh's arms as they lay encircling her body. "I was so happy just to be with you. I didn't think about the future."

Marsh laughed ever so gently. "I don't think we have to plan all the details just yet."

"Would it have made a difference--if you'd known?" Scully couldn't help but ask. There was so much she couldn't be sure of--what had they really done to her? What else would she discover had been altered, manipulated--destroyed-- during the time she had been unaware.

"Not for a second," Marsh said fiercely, holding her tightly. She took a breath, then took a chance. "I've never had a burning desire to be pregnant, but the idea of raising a child with you at some point is appealing. If we ever decide to do that, I have eggs. With in vitro fertilization, you could carry the child. If you wanted."

Scully was quiet a long time, thinking of that other child, who she had not born, but who had carried her genetic legacy. She thought of her as her daughter, despite the absence of physical connection. With her death, she had abandoned all hope of having another. She was almost afraid to consider what Marsh was offering. It was a gift nearly as precious as the love Marsh tendered so selflessly.

"I can just imagine what Skinner would have to say," Scully finally said shakily, her voice thick with unshed tears. *God, you make me feel loved*

"Let me take care of Walter," Marsh murmured, turning Scully to face her, lifting Scully's chin to claim her lips. Her kiss carried all the intensity of the words she hadn't said--*I love you; I'm so sorry for what you've suffered; I'd give my life to undo it*

Scully kissed her back--*You give me hope; you give me dreams; you give me the future*

"Marsh," Scully asked breathlessly, finally lifting her lips away, "how much time do we have?"

"Time enough," Marsh growled, sliding her hands up to cup Scully's breasts, her fingers searching for the nipples through the shear fabric of Scully's blouse. When Scully pulled her hands away, Marsh draw back uncertainly.

"What's wrong?" Marsh asked with concern.

"Take my clothes off; take me to bed; take your time," Scully commanded hoarsely. "I don't want to feel anything but you."

Marsh took Dana's hand, leading her gently across the room to the side of the bed. She knelt to slip Scully's shoes off, then reached up to ease the linen slacks down over her thighs. "Anything you desire," Marsh whispered, as she slowly and reverently expressed her devotion.

**********

"Kindly remove your hands," Scully ordered in a voice she barely recognized. She cleared her throat and tried again. "Marsh--stop. We have to get up."

Scully lay face down, with Marsh lying along the length of her body, one hand between Dana's legs, inside her. The other was under her, barely brushing the soft, wet triangle from the front. Together Marsh's hands formed a circle, holding her, enclosing her, owning her.

Marsh's lips were a whisper away from Scully's ear. "I can't. Not while you're still so ready." Her words brought an answering contraction from deep inside her lover. She groaned and began to slowly massage the smooth inner vault with her fingers.

Scully closed her eyes, arching her hips, rocking in time to Marsh's gentle but firm hands. With each movement her clitoris rubbed along Marsh's palm, adding to the stimulation that seemed to be everywhere at once. She needed just a little more contact--just the barest attention to the tip and she would crest. "Oh yes, oh yes--" she gasped, feeling the distant spasms begin. She clenched her jaws to hold back the scream. Every muscle was tight, poised for the explosion. Marsh slid her fingers forward, stroking them over Scully's clit from the base to the tip. "Oh God!" Scully cried as the rolling waves of almost painful intensity began. "Oh, I'm coming!"

It went on forever, the last lingering tremors wrenching small cries from her lips. Sully turned so that her breasts met Marsh's, their legs entwining, their tongues clashing in a desperate exchange of mutual need. When Scully finally broke contact she could still barely focus, her body drained from the physical and emotional catharsis. She felt rather than saw the adoration in Marsh's gaze. "Thank you," Scully murmured.

Marsh smiled gently, luxuriating in the satisfaction of having pleased her lover. "I love you, Dana." She stretched, peering past Dana to her watch on the night table. "And in half an hour, the rest of my extended family will get a chance to love you, too."

Scully's eyes snapped open, instantly alert as only doctors and cops can be at a moment's notice. "Tell me you're lying!"

Marsh grinned, impudent and infuriatingly desirable. "I'd never--"

Scully was out of bed before Marsh could capture one last kiss. "Hey!" Marsh called to her swiftly disappearing lover, "is that any way to leave me?"

Scully turned from the door to the bathroom, goddess beautiful in her nakedness, and fixed Marsh with a look that could stop a man twice her size in his tracks. "You owe me big time, Black. I'm not done with you, so don't expect to be getting any sleep tonight."

Marsh crossed to join her, slipping an arm around her waist. "Promise?" she asked, her voice husky.

Scully regarded her seriously. "It will take more than one lifetime for me to be done with you."

"Then we've got plenty of time."

End

 


 

Genesis IV: Conceived in Innocence
by Radclyffe
EMAIL ADDRESS: radclyffe@radfic.com
SERIES RATING: NC-17; This story depicts graphic sexual encounters between same-sex consenting adults.
SPOILERS: All eps since The Red and the Black
KEYWORDS: Scully/Other(female);Scully/Slash
DISCLAIMERS: The characters of Scully, Mulder, Skinner and others/events introduced on the X-Files are the sole property of Chris Carter etc, and are used here without permission for entertainment, not for profit.
Comments welcome.
Author's note: The entire Genesis series can be found at my website:
http://www.radfic.com/ or http://www.angelfire.com/nf/radclyffe/


Part One

Book of Ruth, Chap 1, verses 16-17

_And Ruth said...onto Naomi..., Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me._

**

Good Friday 8 pm

"Mom, this is Marsh Black."

Margaret Scully extended her hand to the tall, raven-haired woman standing next to her daughter. "Come in, both of you. How was the drive?"

Scully blushed unaccountably, careful not to look in Marsh's direction. "Fine, Mom, the usual."

She felt, rather than heard, Marsh stifle a laugh.

**********

Good Friday 5:30 pm
Washington Beltway

Dana Scully looked at the long line of stopped traffic and knew that the short trip to her mother's house was going to be a very long ride. She glanced at her lover, who was leaning back in the passenger seat, long legs spread out as much as the Porsche would allow. Marsh's eyes were closed, and her breasts rose and fell gently under her cotton tee shirt with the rhythm of sleep. Marsh's left hand lay on Scully's thigh. Scully traced tiny patterns on the soft skin with a fingertip, marveling at the delicacy of the fingers that could turn her body to molten fire with the merest touch. *I wonder how long it will be before I can look at her without wanting her*

"I can feel your eyes on me," Marsh murmured. She threaded her fingers through Scully's, her lids still closed.

"Can you?" Scully said throatily. She continued her slow perusal of the woman who had captured her heart. She envisioned the tight pink nipples under the stretched white fabric, and the flat plane of her abdomen sloping down, beneath the denim and buttons, to the soft dark hair between her thighs. Marsh's legs were slightly parted, and Scully remembered being between them the night before, holding Marsh's swollen clitoris in her mouth, sucking her slowly toward climax. The muscles in Marsh's belly had fluttered under Scully's hands as Marsh got ready to come.

Scully swallowed the lump of desire that threatened rational thought. Thank god they were barely crawling, because she couldn't keep her attention on the road. "Your beeper interrupted us last night," Scully said, her voice thick with the memory. "I didn't get to make you come." She was wet thinking about it.

Marsh opened her eyes, turning to her with that crooked grin. "I took care of that in the shower."

Scully arched an eyebrow. "Oh, did you now?"

"I had to. I was about to explode. I'd never have been able to walk to the car, and I had to get to the hospital."

Scully glanced ahead. There was no sign of a break in the traffic. "Tell me about it."

Marsh's surprise quickly gave way to intrigue. "There's not much to tell," she said softly, watching Dana carefully. She could just make out the beginning of a flush on her neck. *Jesus, she's excited* That realization brought a flood of warmth between her own legs. She shifted slightly inside her jeans. "You had me so ready," Marsh murmured, "I thought I'd die if I couldn't come. I was aching."

Scully tightened her grip on Marsh's hand. "What did you do?"

"I used my fingers," Marsh said thickly, remembering the orgasm that bent her double with its force the moment she slid her clitoris between her fingers. She'd shouted as the spasms hit, clutching herself tightly with her palm, hips pumping, trying to keep her balance on quivering legs.

"Show me," Scully said hoarsely. *I wish I had seen you. You're so beautiful when you come*

Marsh let her other hand fall against the soft worn denim covering her crotch, spreading her fingers slightly, drawing them slowly up and down the seam. Her breath caught as the vibration tingled through her clitoris. *Oh! I wish you were touching me*

Scully looked from Marsh's hand moving between her legs, up to her lover's dark eyes, growing liquid now with arousal. "Open your jeans," Scully whispered, amazing herself with her words. *You make me crazy, Marshall Black*

Marsh's eyes widened, excited and uncertain by turns.

"It's all right," Scully said. "Only I can see." Her heart tripped harder as Marsh pulled the buttons of her fly apart, lifting her hips enough to expose the damp hair beneath. Scully knew very well she wouldn't be wearing anything underneath. Marsh started to slide her hand inside. "Uh uh," Scully said quickly. "Not yet. Reach up under your tee shirt. Squeeze your nipples first--both of them."

"Jesus, Dana," Marsh gasped, her nipples stiffening instantly. She squeezed first one, then the other, to the rhythm of the blood pounding in her pelvis. She groaned, her thighs clenching; she was never going to last.

"Tell me what you feel," Scully rasped, quickly glancing at the traffic, which was mercifully still not moving.

"They're hard." Barely a whisper. "And--oh god! I can feel it in my clit when I twist them!" Marsh shifted on the seat, grinding her thighs together, becoming more engorged by the second. "This is torture!"

"Don't stop."

Marsh ran the flat of her hand from her nipples down her belly, brushing the hair below. That was enough to make her clitoris twitch. "Let me touch myself!"

Scully was having trouble keeping her hands off her lover. She had both hands on the wheel now, grabbing it so hard her knuckles were white. *If I so much as put a finger on her I'm going to come myself* She forced her voice not to shake. "One finger, Marsh. And don't touch your clitoris."

Marsh's hand flew to her crotch. "Ah, god," she cried, just grazing the tense hood, feeling the tremors through to her spine. She turned bruised eyes to Scully, clinging to the thin edge of control. "Please-- I want to make myself come," Marsh whispered, her throat so tight she could barely speak. *I don't think I can keep from touching it*

"Circle it. Stay off the tip." Scully was beginning to twitch, somewhere near the base of her clitoris. *I'm not even touching myself!* Her breathing was unsteady now. "Talk to me, Marsh," she gasped.

Marsh drew a shaky breath. "My clit is standing up --oh!, uh--god, it feels huge. If--if I just press--oh, --I --can't--"

*She's going to come. I can tell from her face* Scully stopped breathing, in awe of the beauty.

Marsh was whimpering brokenly, low cries paced to the jerking of her hips. Suddenly her eyes grew wide. "I'm gonna come, Dana, I'm gonna come," she warned frantically, biting her lip hard. Her fingers worked herself faster.

Scully could feel it starting now, a deep gripping eruption of pleasure so intense it was almost painful. Her gasps matched Marsh's. Her vision tunneled but she forced herself to focus. She would have to ride this one out with her eyes open.

Marsh kept her eyes open as long as she could, watching Dana's face fade and then come into crystal clear relief at the moment she began to come. As the muscles in Marsh's thighs clenched and her clitoris exploded, her only awareness was of Dana, filling her vision, eclipsing reality. She closed her eyes as the orgasm ravaged her, arching her neck against the seat, clenching her jaw around her screams.

"Ohhhh," Scully half cried, pushing back against the seat, stiff arming the wheel to keep upright. Scully came just seeing Marsh's face as she shuddered into orgasm.

"Oh Jesus," Marsh gasped a lifetime later. She still held herself, slowly coaxing the last tremors from her now hypersensitive clitoris with long, firm strokes. "Ahh-hh." She raised heavy lids with effort, finding a flushed and triumphant Scully grinning at her. "Are you absolutely out of your fucking mind?" she managed to croak.

"Apparently."

"Thank you, Jesus," Marsh said fervently.

Scully shifted into gear as the traffic began to edge forward. "Jesus had nothing to do with it." She fixed Marsh with a stern look. "And next time, wait for me."

"Or what?" Marsh laughed as she began buttoning her jeans. "You'll punish me by making me come all over myself again?"

Scully smiled, a deeply satisfied smile. "Well, there is that, I guess."

**********

"Dana! Are you going to stand in the door, or are you going to come in?" Mrs. Scully asked, wondering at the odd look on her daughter's face.

Scully jumped, her color reddening even further. *Not now, Dana. Definitely not now!* She pulled Marsh inside by the arm. "I'm sorry, Mom. Just daydreaming."

"Take Marsh into the living room and get her settled. Then come help me finish dinner."

Scully gave Marsh a drink and the remote control. "I'll call you when it's ready," she murmured, leaning down to brush her lips quickly across Marsh's.

"Are you sure about this?" Marsh asked for at least the tenth time.

"I can't very well keep you a secret if I'm going to have any kind of relationship with my family, now can I?" Scully replied, her expression radiating calm. *And I don't intend to leave you behind every time I visit. I hate being apart*

Marsh nodded, still worried, but trusting her lover's judgment. "What ever you want, Dana."

"I want you to relax, Dr. Black. Doctor's orders." She left Marsh stretched out in her father's old recliner. There was something oddly right about seeing her there.

"Okay, Mom, what can I do," she asked, joining the other woman in the kitchen.

"Keep me company while I put a few things together. And you could fix me one of those highballs your father used to make."

Scully mixed the drink, and hoisted herself up on the counter out of her mother's way. She remembered sitting up here as a child, watching her mother cook. She hadn't been quite this comfortable at home in years. *And you should be nervous as a cat!* Being with Marsh had given her life a balance, a certainty, it hadn't had before. For the first time since she started med school, she could see a future that felt right to her.

Margaret Scully studied her daughter out of the corner of her eye. She looked different. She was still too thin. She'd never regained the weight she'd lost during that wretched chemotherapy, but now she appeared merely slim, not gaunt and hollow. Her eyes were sparkling, her skin was glowing, and she seemed to have lost that tightly wound coil of tension that had shimmered so near the surface this past year. Something had changed. *Why is it I never seem to know what's happening with her? Melissa always talked to me about everything, but not Dana. So many secrets!*

"So, tell me about your friend," Mrs. Scully said conversationally, shredding lettuce into a bowl. *Why haven't you mentioned her before?*

*Friend* The word rankled, but now was not the time. "She's a surgeon, Mom. We met at the hospital."

"Have you known her long?" She started in on the carrots. *I'm surprised. You haven't brought a friend home in years*

*An eternity, a minute, forever* Scully shifted on the hard formica surface. "A few months."

"You must have a lot in common." Dicing onions now, a few reflex tears in her eyes. *She must be special. You haven't let anyone close to you in years*

*We love each other, Mom* Scully jumped down, gathering the plates. "Yeah, we do. Work--"

Scully nearly dropped the stack of dishes at the sound of a strangled cry from the other room. "Oh, god," she gasped, running from the kitchen, her mother close behind.

Marsh fought her way through the blinding glare, resisting the relentless voices, struggling against the terrible heaviness in her limbs, desperately drawn toward the one sound she trusted.

"Marsh! Marsh, honey, wake up. You're all right. You're safe," Scully repeated softly, taking Marsh's trembling hands in hers. "Marsh, wake up."

"Oh, god, I'm sorry!" Marsh exclaimed, bolting upright in the chair, staring from Scully to her mother. "I fell asleep. I'm so sorry!" She slipped her hand from Scully's grasp, wiping the beads of cold sweat from her forehead. *Great impression, Black! She'll think you're a lunatic!*

"It's okay," Scully said as evenly as possible, aching to hold her. This was getting ridiculous. Nightmares, every time she went to sleep. Marsh couldn't go on this way, and neither could she. Scully touched Marsh's damp hair briefly, just to brush it off her forehead. "Go wash up. The bathroom's down the hall," she said softly.

Scully worriedly bit her lip, watching her lover wearily cross the room, wondering if she shouldn't have insisted Marsh see someone as soon as the dreams began. Marsh had resisted, saying she was fine. *Goddamn stubborn pig-headed surgeon!*

Margaret Scully watched her daughter watching the tall, whip slender stranger with the soulful eyes. She had never seen that combination of fierce protectiveness and unbridled tenderness on Dana's face before.

"Is she all right?"

Dana looked at her mother, all barriers down as concern for her lover took precedence over everything else. "No. But she will be. I'll make sure that she will be."

"Bring her into the dining room. Dinner's ready," Margaret Scully said, turning away from what she saw in her daughter's eyes. The only word she had for it was love, and that was a word she wasn't ready to contemplate.


Part Two

7:45 am
Marriott Hotel

Scully lay awake, trying not to disturb her still sleeping lover. She leaned back in the pillows, cradling Marsh's head against her breast, running Marsh's soft wavy hair through her fingers. This was the first night since they visited Boston two weeks ago that Marsh had not awakened drenched in sweat, twisting in the sheets, struggling with some half-formed memory. Scully smiled. Maybe it was all due to her tender ministrations of the night before. Marsh had fallen asleep pretty quickly after their lovemaking. Remembering spurred a twinge between her legs and a slight quickening of her pulse. She shifted slightly, running the fingers of her free hand up the inside of her thigh. She was wet.

Marsh awakened slowly, Dana's heart beating beneath her cheek. Not wanting to break the peaceful spell with words, she nudged Dana's nipple into awareness with the tip of her tongue. When it was erect, she moved her head a fraction and caught it between her lips. She smiled as Scully hissed her approval. Slowly, she teased it, rolling it back and forth, sucking, first hard, then barely a whisper of pressure. The rhythm was a soothing, lazy hypnotic. There was no hurry. They were two felines, lolling on a warm rock on some long forgotten savanna, a curling, shifting mass of indolent muscle.

"Marsh--"

"Hmm?"

"I'm not going to be any good to you. I don't think I can move. It feels wonderful, but I'm so content I can't even muster a lustful thought."

Murmured words, still half asleep. "So don't move. In fact, don't move. Don't talk. Just be still and feel me."

Scully considered it. How strange, to willingly give so much control to another person. *oh, shit* Marsh had one finger in the moisture pooling in the warm folds between her legs. Scully unconsciously opened her thighs to admit Marsh further. Neither of them spoke. She stopped thinking. Sharp twinge in her nipple. A bite. *Ahh-- Christ, I can't do this* Now the fingertip was separating her, exploring the soft inner reaches below her clitoris. *That spot--right there. Yesss* Totally relaxed, completely aroused. Immobile, every sensory fiber centered in one pulsating point, a fraction of an inch above that maddenly slow-moving finger. *Jesus, just slide up a little. Oh, yeah -- almost there--* A whisper of air from the open window, blowing cool across the exposed, sensitive tip. *Touch it, come on--uh, yeah--just slide back the hood* Tension building, straining through the motionless limbs, tightening the taut belly further. *Oh, fuck--I want to come* That finger dipping rapidly downward, then dragging the thick shimmering nectar up and over the tip, spreading it along the shaft in quick, light circles of pleasure. *Oh yeah-- that's gonna do it, baby-- making me come--* Hips lifting. *Uh, oh-- it's coming - ahh-* Half strangled cry, trying so hard to hold on, beginning to arch off the bed, pelvis thrusting, heels and head anchored. *Ahh, FUCK--* Rolling paroxysms, beating through her pelvis, twisting into her thighs, curling through her belly--

"Marsh!" Scully cried, grabbing Marsh hard enough to leave marks on her arm, jerking against her now, heaving with the repetitive explosions. When the tetanic convulsions released her, she fell limply back against the pillows. "God."

Marsh smiled, a secretive, seductive smile. "God had nothing to do with it." Then she went back to sleep.

**********

5:10 pm Saturday
Marriott Hotel

"How do I look?"

"Sexy."

"That should please your mother."

Scully grinned. "Turn about is only fair, my darling--" Remembering Boston and her own uncertainty when meeting Marsh's mother and grandfather.

"This is different! My family knew we were lovers when I brought you home!"

Scully's expression grew solemn. "Somehow I don't think it's going to matter what you look like when they find out."

Marsh sat on the end of the bed, studying her lover. "Why are we doing this now?"

"When should we do it?"

"After they get to know me--when they're used to us being together."

Scully shook her head, her lips tight. "I'm not going to be paranoid about every word I say to you in front of them, or try to remember not to look at you like you mean something to me! And God forbid, I might touch you like you belong to me! You're my lover, Marsh. Pretending anything less would be a lie. And unless you think that's going to change, there is no better time."

Marsh was on her feet in an instant, her arms around Dana the next. "Of course I don't think it will change! I love you! I just wish I could make this easy."

Scully tilted her head to look at her, still amazed at the presence of this woman in her life. Dark serious eyes gazed back from beneath even darker hair, her face reminiscent of the Grecian statues that depicted women in the same bold lines as men. Marsh was so solid, so certain in her devotion. She was finally something Scully could trust.

"You do make it easy. Loving you is the simplest thing I've ever done." Scully leaned back in Marsh's embrace, casting an eye down her sinewy length. "Blue is your color, and silk has such a nice feel under the fingers," she commented huskily. "You're perfect."

**********

8:40 pm Saturday evening
Margaret Scully's Home

Dinner went smoothly enough.

As soon as Charlie discovered Marsh was a pilot, he monopolized her attention during the entire meal discussing engines, turbo feeds, and other mechanical esoterica that no one else could understand. Scully recounted their day's adventures at the Baltimore aquarium and described shopping along the waterfront galleria to Bill's wife Tara. The only time Bill didn't look bored to tears was when he was bringing them all up to date on his latest professional accomplishments. No one asked Scully or Marsh about their work. The first ripple on the deceptively placid surface came over coffee.

"So, are you Catholic, Marsh?" Bill asked casually.

Marsh turned from Charlie to focus on the man who was eyeing her intently from across the table. *He wants to know what I'm doing here* She shook her head. "No, we're Unitarians."

He laughed, but there was an a edge to it. "So how did my sister get you to come all the way here for Easter mass?"

Scully's hand moved gently onto Marsh's thigh under the table. *Don't forget I love you*

Marsh never moved her gaze from his. "She asked me to."

Bill's voice was steely. "That's all it took?"

"That's all it took." Marsh sipped her coffee, noting the look of irritation he quickly suppressed. *Your ball*

He leaned forward slightly, his body tense, and then he let the serve sail past. He wasn't quite sure he knew the game. "You'll probably be disappointed."

"I don't think so."

"Marsh didn't come for the service, Bill," Scully said calmly. "She came to meet Mom and to spend the weekend with me."

He looked from one to the other. Their bodies weren't touching, but he sensed they were connected nevertheless. "Can't be much of a vacation--just the two of you."

The lean muscles under Scully's fingers grew tight. Her lover was starting to get annoyed. Her brother would not fare well, she feared. "So far it's been great." She looked to her younger brother. "What do you say to a little friendly game of poker, Charlie?"

Charlie grinned. "Come into my parlor, sucke-- er, sister."

An hour later and twenty dollars down to the table, Scully went in search of her mother, who had been strangely absent since dinner ended.

Dana found her mother sitting alone at the kitchen table, a glass of wine, apparently untouched, in her hand. "You've been in here a long time. What's going on, Mom?"

"Why did you want to stay at a hotel? There's plenty of room, even with Bill and Tara here."

*Here we go* Dana sat down across the small maple surface from her mother, feeling as if an ocean separated them. "It was more private." *We haven't been away alone, ever, and we wanted to be able to make love"

"You never needed to stay at a hotel before." Mrs. Scully searched her daughter's face uncertainly. *Why would the two of you need privacy?*

"I stayed at the Hilton with Jack Willis, that Christmas," Dana reminded her gently.

"But that was different--wasn't it, Dana?" Mrs. Scully asked, holding her breath unconsciously. *How could it possibly be the same?*

"Yes," Scully responded firmly, "it was different." She took a breath, saying out loud what she had only been saying to herself these past few months. "I never loved Jack the way I love Marsh Black."

"But you slept with him."

"Yes. Mom--"

"Are you sleeping with her, too, then?"

"Yes. Mom--"

"When were you going to tell me?" Margaret Scully questioned, unable to hide her bitterness. *You've never really trusted me, have you?*

"I am telling you! Mom, Marsh and I are lovers. I love her."

"But how could this happen? You're not--you've never--have you?" Mrs. Scully asked, suddenly unsure. *Maybe I don't know you at all*

Scully reached for her mother's hand across the gulf. "No, Mom, never. But that really doesn't matter. I'm with her now."

"But have you thought about this? What about your job? What about marriage and --" Oh, god, she'd almost said children! Is that what this was all about? Some reaction to everything Dana had been through? Melissa, the cancer, then the infertility-- "Dana," she began cautiously.

Scully interrupted her. "Mom, I know this seems strange, but it isn't really. We're two people who love each other--it's as simple as that. She makes me happy, she makes me feel safe, she makes me feel -- sane. I have every intention of spending the rest of my life with her."

"Dana, do you expect me to suddenly believe that you're a lesbian?"

Scully almost smiled. "Well, Mom, the answer to that is in the other room beating the pants off the boys at poker."

"This is hardly the time to get smart, Dana Katherine Scully!"

Scully squeezed her mother's hand, nodding. "I know, but it's hard for me to be upset over something that's made me so happy."

*Happy. When is the last time she seemed happy* Margaret Scully clasped her daughter's hand. "I know how hard it's been for you, Dana. How much you've sacrificed. And I can imagine how lonely you've been. But a woman? There must be men--"

*Steady on, Dana. Give her a chance* Scully chose her words carefully. She didn't want there to be any doubt about her feelings for Marsh. "I'm surprised, too, Mom--at least I was for about the first five minutes. I can only tell you that being with her feels as right as anything I've ever done. No one has ever given me what she does, or ever could. No one could ever replace her in my life."

Margaret Scully looked at her daughter's hand resting on hers. Dana's fingers were tapered and graceful, strong in a delicate way. A woman's hands. "And the physical part? Is it necessary?" Her voice was tight with the effort it took to acknowledge the nature of their relationship. *How much could that really matter?*

Scully pictured Marsh in the other room, sleeves rolled to mid-forearm, slightly flushed from the wine and the pleasures of victory, leaning forward over her cards, a hint of breast revealed through the open top buttons of her silk shirt. Just the image of Marsh's body called to Scully, stirring her blood, making her fingers itch to lightly trace the curve of her ear, down the creamy column of her neck, along the ridge of collar bone to --"Yes, Mom," Scully said softly. "It's necessary."

"I'm going to need some time to think, Dana," her mother stated. "It's so far from anything I ever expected--"

They were interrupted by an exuberant Marsh holding a plastic bag of change aloft. "Dana!" she called as she walked into the kitchen, "I've won our gas money ho--" She stopped, staring at the two women seated at the table. Margaret Scully was looking at her as if she'd never seen her before. Of course, she hadn't, not the way she did now. "Ah," Marsh murmured, looking to Scully for a sign. *Should I leave?*

Scully smiled, unable, unwilling, to hide the pleasure Marsh's presence always evoked. "Come on in, honey. Sit down."

Marsh took the seat between Scully and her mother. "Dana's told you about us," she said softly, meeting Mrs. Scully's piercing gaze. *Please don't hurt her because of me*

"Yes." *How is it you've been able to do what no one else could?* She looked down at the table. Marsh's hand was just touching Dana's. Larger than her daughter's-- long, lean fingers--still, a woman's hand. She averted her eyes from that simple sign of possession. "Does your family know about Dana?"

"We visited two weeks ago." *She stole their hearts, as easily as she did mine*

"And are they happy?" Margaret asked sharply. *Am I the only one who doesn't understand this?"

"They've had a lot longer to get used to the idea," Marsh replied quietly. "They expected a woman."

Margaret looked quickly at her daughter. *So she's experienced at this sort of thing?*

Scully read her mother's mind. "Mom, I'm sure you don't want to hear the details--but Marsh did not exert some strange influence over me. I wanted her; I wanted this."

Dana's mother rose from the table, looking from one to the other. "I don't for a minute think anyone is capable of leading you somewhere you don't want to go, Dana. I'm embarrassed to find I'm not as liberal as I thought. It's different when the issues affect you personally. I'm glad you told me, and Marsh is welcome in my home. For now that's all I can say."

Dana nodded. "We'll see you at mass, then." She hadn't known what to expect. For now she would be content with honesty.


Part Three

11:30 pm Saturday night
Marriott Hotel

"How are you doing?" Marsh asked as she leaned against the bathroom door, watching her lover remove her make-up and do all the little before-bedtime things that Marsh found fascinating. Dana had been quiet on the ride back from her mother's.

Scully wiped the last of the mascara from her lashes with the small cotton pledget, peering into the mirror, looking for any smudges. "I'm fine."

Marsh was silent.

Scully looked from her own face in the glass to Marsh's reflection. Her dark eyes were concerned, her expression patient. *How is it you know me so well, so soon?*

Scully turned, leaning back against the counter, her fingers curled over the smooth edges. Her eyes were an even deeper blue than usual. Two tiny lines creased her brow. "I was hoping it wouldn't be such a shock for my mother, I guess."

"Parents generally expect their children to grow up to be heterosexual. It's usually a surprise when they don't."

"I know. I always seem to be presenting them with surprises."

"Like--?" Marsh asked, reaching out a hand.

"Like leaving medicine and joining the FBI. Major disappointment." Scully allowed herself to be led into the next room, where Marsh had turned down the sheets and dimmed the lights.

Marsh slid under the covers and tugged Scully down beside her, slipping an arm around Dana's shoulders and settling her smaller lover into the curve of her body. "I'm sorry I never got to meet your father. I can't believe he wasn't proud of you. It takes a lot to finish medical school and make it in the bureau."

Scully didn't bother reminding Marsh that she had accomplished the same thing, at a younger age than Scully. "I think he was, but it still wasn't what he had hoped for me. Somehow we never got around to talking it out, and now--" She tightened her arm around Marsh's waist, rubbing her cheek gently against Marsh's breast. *I swear I will never let that kind of silence separate us*

Marsh gently massaged Dana's neck and shoulders as they talked, finally feeling Dana begin to relax in her embrace. "Your mother loves you, Dana. That's the most important thing. She may never completely understand what we feel for each other, but then who ever does with any couple?" Marsh shifted her hips as Scully slid a leg across her thighs. *I hope to god she'll accept us someday. I love you so much*

Scully turned enough to kiss Marsh fully on the lips. "Yes, but I want her to know how happy you make me, and how wonderful you are."

Marsh smiled against Scully's skin, fitting her leg between Dana's, gathering her close. "You don't want much, do you, Dr. Scully?" she asked as she slipped one hand up to the underside of Dana's breast, squeezing gently.

"Only everything, Dr. Black," Scully murmured against Marsh's mouth, stretching out on top of her, closing her eyes as the familiar fire began to burn. *Only you*

They didn't hurry. They didn't need to. What they sought, instinctively, wordlessly, was that unique harmony of spirit only physical union could bestow. Scully moved against Marsh's body, their nipples, erect and sensitized, rubbing against each other, their legs scissored so that their wet, exposed clitorises touched fleetingly -- the intermittent flickers of contact tantalizingly exciting. Hands stroked breasts and buttocks, squeezing, gently probing, guiding their movements over and into one another. Their skin became moist with sweat as they teased and incited each other, neither wanting to give in to the explosion inexorably gathering in their bellies.

"I want to come with you," Scully gasped against Marsh's neck, her legs trembling. She rubbed herself up and down Marsh's thigh, her hips jerking slightly with the friction against her clitoris. "Oh, god, Marsh. It feels so good!" She moved faster, losing herself as the muscles in her pelvis gathered for the internal contractions. "Oh, no--I don't want to come--" she cried desperately.

Marsh reached for Dana's hips, lifting her up and away from her leg. "Swing your legs up here," Marsh directed, her voice tight. Her clitoris was twitching wildly. She was dying to be touched. "Let me lick you."

"Oh, Christ," Scully groaned. "I won't be able to stand that."

"Then suck me first," Marsh begged, raising her hips, settling Scully's knees on either side of her face. "Please--put your mouth around me--" She waited, her face a breath away from Dana's moist, hot center, every muscle tensed. Then she felt it -- soft warm lips pulling gently at her engorged clitoris, sending waves of pleasure coursing through to her spine. "Ohhh--,"" she whimpered, her breath catching in her chest. She pulled Dana closer to her, spreading her open with the fingers of one hand. Marsh could tell from the size of Dana's distended clit that she was ready to come. She began to stroke her with her tongue. Long, sweeping caresses over Dana's swollen inner lips, circling her hard, pulsating clitoris, pausing to push her tongue inside her, coaxing the juice from within onto her lips. She swallowed, sucking the tender flesh into her mouth.

Scully moaned as Marsh worked at her with her lips, clamping her mouth around Marsh's clit, shaking her head from side to side with the excruciating pressure pulsing through her belly. She pressed harder against Marsh's face; Marsh beat her clitoris with her tongue. Scully jerked once, hard, as she started to come. She clung to Marsh's hips, sucking at her madly, pulling her into orgasm. Their cries blended into one peal of agonizing ecstasy as every inch of their bodies fused.

When they could move, they shifted to face each other, surrendering to sleep wrapped in each other's embrace.

**********

Easter morning, after services
Alexandria, Va

Scully found her lover relaxing on a stone bench behind the church, waiting for her. She slid onto the broad seat beside Marsh, taking her hand gently. "You look lost in thought," Scully remarked.

Marsh smiled, moving closer so that their thighs touched. "I was thinking about Mrs. Dovocek, our housekeeper. When I was a child, her English was a little fragmented, and she used to lapse into Russian frequently."

Scully studied Marsh's face carefully. She had been awake half the night again, despite their lovemaking, and she looked weary. "And--?"

"Does the term 'black death' mean anything to you?"

Scully shook her head. "No. Why?"

"Mrs. D would often call my grandfather 'Mr. Black' in Russian, and I keep hearing someone asking me, over and over, something about 'black death' in my dreams."

"That's what you were trying to remember the first night we were in Boston," Scully said with certainty. "Mrs. Dovocek's accent probably triggered the memory, and your dreams." Scully's stomach knotted painfully.*Maybe she does know something about what happened at Ruskin Dam. Oh, god, does that mean she's still in danger?* Scully took a deep breath, steadying herself. She needed information if she were going to protect her. "What else can you recall?"

Marsh grimaced. "Not a thing. I know there's something else, but I can't quite get it."

"I'll mention it to Mulder. It might mean something to him."

"I feel so damn helpless!" Marsh exclaimed. She was used to be in control of her life, and this nagging torment was getting to her.

Scully squeezed her hand reassuringly. "We'll figure it out."

Marsh nodded, shaking the tension from her shoulders. "What did your priest want to talk to you about after the mass?"

"He asked me to look into the death of a child, the daughter of a family in the parish."

Marsh looked surprised. "Something suspicious?"

"I'm not sure. I told him I'd talk to the girl's family tomorrow."

"So you're staying here for a while," Marsh questioned quietly.

"Just for a day or so. Do you mind driving back alone?"

"No," Marsh said, her tone curiously flat.

Scully searched Marsh's face, saw the uncertainty clouding her eyes. "What are you thinking?"

"Is it really about a case?" Marsh asked, "or do you need some time away from me?" *Are you going to leave me now, now that you know how hard it can be to love a woman?*

Scully turned to face her fully. Her blue eyes were snapping. "Damn it! Is there some test I haven't passed yet, Marsh? Some lesbian initiation ritual I should know about? What is it going to take to make you believe that I love you, and that nothing is going to make me leave you?"

Marsh looked away, tears brimming in her dark eyes. "I keep expecting to wake up and find you gone," she whispered.

Scully's anger evaporated instantly. She slipped her arm around Marsh's waist, leaning against her, wanting to enfold her completely in the safe circle of her arms. "I'd move in with you today if I could think of some way to avoid questions at the Bureau. I want to spend my life with you, Marsh. I just haven't worked out all the details yet."

"What about your family, Dana? Your brother Bill keeps looking at me like I'm about to steal the silver! He knows something's going on, but he hasn't figured it out yet. He's going to be rabid when he does. And your mother's not happy -- she thinks I've seduced you into this, but she's too polite to say so! People -- women -- have split up over less!"

*Why didn't I realize how threatening this would be for her!* Scully took a deep breath. "Marsh-- honey -- I don't know about other women like us, how they handle it. I love my family, including my brother Bill. He's rigid like most military men, and traditional in a way that is more ignorance than intent. But he loves me, and when he understands how important you are to me, he'll come around. Charlie's a sweetheart. He'll be fine. Mom--" Scully sighed. "She's going to need some time. I saw her on her way in to see Father McClue as I was leaving. I can just imagine what that about!"

"I don't want to be the one to come between you and them!" Marsh insisted.

*Now she's going to be noble. Goddamned surgeons -- they've all got a god complex* Scully's eyes narrowed slightly as she fought with her temper. "What if they don't accept us? Would you let me go?"

"I--," Marsh couldn't bear to think about her life without Dana. "Oh, Jesus--"

"Would you?" Hard, pushing her.

Marsh trembled slightly. "I couldn't," she whispered. "I couldn't go on."

"Well, neither could I, goddamn it! I love you, and if I could stand up in this church with you, in front of God and my family and everyone else in the world and say so, I would!"

Marsh stared at her, hearing her anger, hearing her need to be believed, to be trusted. "Are you by any chance proposing to me, Dr. Scully?" she asked softly, smiling through her tears.

Scully released a long, tremulous breath, letting go of her fury. She leaned forward, in the garden of the church in which she had been baptized, in the daylight, unafraid -- and took Marsh's face in her hands. She kissed her, slowly, not with urgency or concern for retribution, but triumphantly, claiming her and the love they shared. When she could bear to leave the warm, yielding sanctuary of Marsh's mouth, she pulled back only far enough to look into Marsh's eyes. She stroked the hair back from her forehead, traced the sharp line of her cheek down the angle of her jaw, brushed her finger tips over her lips, wet from their kiss. She wanted her in a way that transcended the physical, that went beyond simple possession. She wanted their lives, their futures, their eternities, to be one. "Yes, Dr, Black, it seems that I am."

Marsh rested her forehead against Scully's, covering the hand that caressed her face with her own. "Then I accept."


Part Four

Easter Sunday 3:30 pm
Margaret Scully's home

"Are you out of your fucking mind?"

People seemed to be saying that a lot to her lately. "No, Bill. I am very much in my control of my faculties."

"Um, Bill--" Charlie began.

Bill turned on his younger brother, his fists clenched at his sides. "Shut up, Charlie. You're never around when there's a problem in this family, so don't interfere now!"

"Wait a minute, Bill! Charlie can't help being stationed where he is -- and this isn't about him anyway! It's about me!" Scully protested. They were huddled under the oak tree in their mother's back yard, where Scully had asked them to meet her so she could tell them about Marsh. She had sent Marsh to check out of the hotel before they all had a late lunch together. So far, things were going about the way she expected.

Charlie ignored his brother, leaning over to kiss his sister's cheek, whispering, "Way to go, sis -- she's a looker, and a damn good card player." He left the two of them to round up his sons for a little football.

Bill struggled to keep his voice down. "Okay, Dana--you and --Marsh--are having an affair." He ran his hand distractedly over his close-cropped hair. "I can't believe I'm saying this." He stared at her as if he didn't know her. "It must be some kind of delayed reaction to your illness--"

Scully tried not to laugh, but she couldn't hide the grin. "As far as I know, cancer does not cause lesbianism."

"Jesus Christ, Dana! This isn't funny!" Bill snapped, turning toward the house.

Scully reached for his arm, stopping him. "You're right, Bill. It isn't funny. But it's not a family tragedy either. I'm in love with a woman --a good, kind, decent woman who happens to love me, too."

"It's not that simple!" Bill snapped. "What about your job! What about your reputation? Maybe people in Washington, DC don't mind this kind of thing, but the rest of the world might!"

"Who are you concerned about? Certainly not me. I've never been happier." She suddenly realized that that was true. She had been many things until now -- proud of her accomplishments, certain of her responsibilities, more or less pleased with her work -- but never happy.

"What about Mom?" he said accusingly.

"What about Mom? For god sake's, Bill -- give her a little credit. She's not going to fall apart!"

"She'll be hurt," he said, wanting to hurt Dana, not even sure why. He saw her flinch, knew that he had. It didn't make him feel any better.

Scully sighed. "I know, and I wish I could change that. I think she'll be okay with it eventually."

"You're being selfish, Dana," he said curtly, trying his last shot.

She looked at him in surprise. "Am I? Because I want to be with the only person who has ever made me feel safe, and cherished, and whole? I should give her up because the neighbors, or the church, or the goddamned FBI doesn't approve? I don't think so!"

"What about for your family, Dana?"

Her blue eyes turned to ice. "Don't ask me to choose, Bill. Marsh is my life."

They stood at an impasse, bound by childhood love, but separated by a lifetime of differing goals and expectations. They stared at one another silently until they realized they were not alone. They both looked toward the house as Charlie, his sons, and Marsh came down the lawn. Scully felt, rather than saw Bill's shoulders stiffen.

"Don't, Bill," Scully warned in a voice only he could hear. "This isn't her fault."

He bit back the angry accusation he was about to throw at the woman in the jeans and tee shirt walking toward them. There was something in his sister's tone that sounded almost threatening. Something he was not at all sure he wanted to provoke. He settled for a muttered curse to no one in particular as he brushed past Marsh on his way to the house.

Marsh looked after him in surprise, then turned worried eyes to Dana. "Well. Charlie shook my hand and said it was good to have another poker player in the family. I guess Bill isn't quite there yet, huh?"

Scully laughed despite her irritation at her brother. "Bill is a lousy card player." She slipped her arm around Marsh's waist, giving her a quick hug. "Let's say he's less than ecstatic."

Marsh squeezed Scully's hand where it rested on her hip. "You okay?"

"Yeah. It isn't the first time Bill and I have been at odds. We'll work it out. What about you?"

Marsh tipped her head toward Scully's younger brother and nephews. "I've been elected to run post patterns for football practice."

"Huh?" Scully asked. *God, now she's starting to sound like Mulder. It's probably Charlie's influence. Maybe I shouldn't have brought her home*

Marsh laughed. "We're just going to toss the ball around for a while. Unless you need me?"

"No--stay. I'm going to help Mom. I'll call you for food, okay?"

Marsh turned away from Charlie and the boys, looking intently into Scully's face. "Okay. I love you, Dana."

"I love you, too. Now go."

**********

Margaret Scully found her daughter in the kitchen, leaning against the sink, staring out the back window. She poured herself a cup of fresh coffee from the pot Dana had brewed and went to stand beside her. She followed Dana's gaze, and watched her son and grandsons running up and down the yard. She watched the woman Dana was watching, too. Marsh was graceful and quick on her feet, and easily outran Charlie for the ball the boys were throwing. Margaret wondered if she would have noticed there was something just a little masculine about her, if she didn't already know about her and Dana. Her and Dana.

"I talked with Father McClue about -- this," she began.

"I thought you might," Scully answered evenly, still watching Marsh. *I've never seen her quite so free. She is so lovely*

"I didn't mention your name."

"It's okay, Mom, if you need to. We're not hiding."

Mrs. Scully nodded. "He said the church is quite clear on this. It's considered a sin-- not the love, but the -- the physical part."

*A sin* Scully looked through the glass at her lover, her head thrown back, laughing at something Charlie said. She could love the way Marsh's hair whipped about her face when she ran, and the lean sinewy elegance of her body, as long as she didn't brush that untamable stray lock from her forehead or lie down beside her at night. *A sin* She could love Marsh for her nobility of spirit, for her honesty, for her deep caring, as long as she didn't express the intimacy of those emotions with her body. *A sin* She could let Marsh soothe her and comfort her with her words and her constancy, as long as she didn't let her speak those passions with her hands, her mouth, those sweet lips. *A sin*

She turned from the image of her lover to meet her mother's questioning gaze. "Then I will gladly be a sinner, if that's what it means to love her. What we have between us is pure, Mom, and good. It arose from the simple desire to comfort, and heal, and nourish one another. It was conceived in innocence, not born of sin. I will never believe that."

"You're sure?"

"As sure as I am that you and Daddy loved each other."

"You would risk your career, your whole future, -- maybe your soul --for her?"

"Wherever Marsh goes in this life, and in any other if there is one, I'm going with her."

Margaret searched for any doubt in her daughter's eyes, any hint of uncertainty. There was none. What she saw was the same resolute determination she had seen in those blue eyes since Dana was a little girl and had made up her mind to do something. She sighed and slipped an arm around her daughter's waist.

"You always did have to be different."

Scully laughed, but her eyes filled with tears. "I wish you could know how happy I am, Mom."

Margaret looked out the window at the stranger who had rent her world asunder simply by her presence -- just in time to see her ten year old grandson blind side her with a tackle, sending her sprawling face down on the ground. Dana stiffened beside her.

"Oh my god," Scully cried when Marsh failed to get up.

Margaret restrained her from dashing outside with a hand on her arm. "Wait a minute, Dana -- I've seen this move before."

Scully stared at her mother. "What are you talking about! He could have broken her leg for god's sake! Let go!"

"Just watch."

Scully stared out the window, her heart pounding. Charlie Jr. ran to where Marsh lay motionless. Scully's throat ached. *Get up, baby, please*

Just as the boy leaned over, Marsh rolled onto her back, grabbed his legs and pulled him to the ground. In the next instant she was sitting on him, tickling him while he screamed with laughter.

"I'm going to f--," Scully glanced at her mother. "-- freaking --kill her for that!" Her stomach was still fluttering. "How did you know?"

"Your father used to do that all the time with the boys." She turned away from the window, reaching for her apron. "Now go get your --girlfriend--for lunch."

**********

Two hours later it was just getting dark. Scully helped Marsh carry what was left of their luggage down the walk in front of her mother's house to Marsh's Porsche.

"I'll pick you up in a few days?" Marsh asked. *God, I wish I didn't have to leave*

"I'll call you when I've talked to the girl's family. Maybe I'll need to look at the autopsy report. It shouldn't be long." *I miss you already. I've gotten used to sleeping with you every night*

Marsh glanced toward the house. "Do you think things will settle down about us?"

Scully tossed the bags into the trunk, then reached for Marsh's hand. "Well, we know you're a hit with Charlie, and Bill will just need to rant a while. Something happened for my mother this afternoon, watching you outside. She had something very interesting to say while you and Charlie and the kids were getting cleaned up."

"What?"

"She said it was good to have the house full of love again."

Marsh gasped in surprise. "You think she meant us?"

Scully wrapped her arms around her waist and kissed her, hard, before stepping back, still holding her hand. "We're the only newly-weds."

Marsh laughed, bending her head and returning the kiss swiftly. "Not so fast, Dr. Scully. I expect a right and proper ceremony some day."

Scully smiled. "That can be arranged, Dr. Black."

End

 


 

Genesis V: Hiding in the Light
by Radclyffe
EMAIL ADDRESS: radclyffe@radfic.com
SERIES RATING: NC-17; This story depicts graphic sexual encounters between same-sex consenting adults.
SPOILERS: All eps since The Red and the Black
KEYWORDS: Scully/Other(female);Scully/Slash
DISCLAIMERS: The characters of Scully, Mulder, Skinner and others/events introduced on the X-Files are the sole property of Chris Carter etc, and are used here without permission for entertainment, not for profit.
Comments welcome.
Author's note: The entire Genesis series can be found at my website:
http://www.radfic.com/ or http://www.angelfire.com/nf/radclyffe/


Part One

FBI Headquarters
Washington, DC

AD Walter Skinner stared in amazement at the intercom on his desk. It was making noise. That should not be happening. He expressly told his secretary he was not to be disturbed. He had reports of his own that needed to be done, and so many agents in the field he felt like a puppeteer. If any of his people wanted him, they had his private number. Shit. Sometimes this office felt like Grand Central Station. He stabbed at the button on the goddamned buzzing box.

"What?" he barked.

"I'm sorry, sir, but there's a Marshall Bla-- Hey! You can't --"

Skinner looked up in disbelief, barely able to maintain his expressionless facade, as the door to his office blew open and a very stormy-looking Marshall Black stalked toward his desk. He forced himself not to lean back in his chair. She wasn't heavy, but she was tall -- lithe, saber-sharp and radiating fury. He had forgotten how feral she could be when angered.

"Why am I out of the loop?!" Marsh demanded, leaning down, straight-arming his desk. Her dark eyes burned hotly in a face pale and hard as granite.

"I didn't hear you knock," he said, his tone glacial.

"Because I _didn't_! Goddamn it, Walter, why are you stonewalling me here? I called Herb Myers for a consult this morning and his office said he'd been called away on an emergency. Since he works for me, and _I_ didn't know anything about it, I figured it must have been you." She stared at him, willing him to refute her accusations. She had a very bad feeling about what he was going to say.

"I sent Herb to Chicago three hours ago." Shit. He had been hoping the whole mess would be resolved by now. In fact, if he didn't hear something positive from the SAC out there soon, _he_ was going to have to go himself.

"What is it?" she asked, trying to keep the tremor from her voice. He didn't need to know, would never know, how much it demanded of her every time he called. "Covert or hostage?"

He cursed himself, and not for the first time. He should never have started using her, but she was so damn good, and there had never been one solid reason not to. And she _was_ the fucking chief of trauma, for Christ's sake. But he felt it -- what she hid from every one who didn't know her like he did. He felt her bleed every time he sent her into the field. She was fine with black ops situations, when a man was down who needed attention, and couldn't be handled through ordinary channels for security reasons. *Deny all knowledge* missions. It was the fiascos like this Oak Brook stand-off, where the potential for civilian _and_ bureau casualties was high, that stretched her to the breaking point. This time he'd had a very good reason not to send her.

"Hostage," he admitted reluctantly. "Some office worker thinks he's seeing monsters and came to work with a rifle."

"Why didn't you call _me_?" Marsh asked, her stomach churning as she reached into the pocket of her grey wool trousers for the small piece of paper. Her fingers closed painfully around it.

"Because I called Herb," Skinner snapped. *Let it go, Marsh, just this once.*

"_Herb_ is a plastic surgeon, Walt -- a very good one -- if I ever break my face I want him to fix it. But he works for me -- _I'm_ the trauma surgeon. _I'm_ the head of the medical response team. _I'm_ the one who goes into the field." She leaned closer, nearly over his desk. "Try again."

Skinner rose swiftly, a panther springing from the grass. "Sit the fuck down, Black. And it's AD Skinner, in this office and anywhere else!"

Marsh hesitated for a second, considering his size, knowing his strength. She could still remember having been thrown by him back when he was her instructor, hitting the ground hard enough to drive the air from her lungs. She almost didn't care -- almost. Dana would be so pissed if she did something stupid here. Without knowing for sure. She stepped back, giving ground, but not relenting. She held out her hand, the crumpled note in her palm. "She left this on my desk. She said she had been called away suddenly. She said she'd call me as soon as she could. That was twelve hours ago." Marsh stared at him, daring him to pretend he didn't know. *She's never been gone this long before without calling me*

"She's in Chicago -" he grimaced. "Some little town outside of Chicago -- with Mulder --" He met her gaze squarely. If possible, she looked paler.

"With the hostage team?" Marsh asked quietly, her voice oddly uninflected.

"Yes."

Not a muscle moved. "Goddamn you, _AD Skinner_," she said, each word falling like a hammer blow. "Why did you bypass me?"

A muscle in his jaw twitched. *You know why. I couldn't send you into something like that -- with her there*

"If something happens to her and I'm not there, I'll-- " She took a deep breath, acid in her throat. *Jesus, Black, don't go there*

"We _have_ a medical team on site--"

She laughed harshly. "Yeah, right. Paramedics and a goddamned plastic surgeon. You only have a minute, or have you forgotten? Five liters of blood in sixty seconds -- that's what the heart pumps out through a major gunshot wound. You want _Herb_ to handle that? You want to take that chance?"

He kept silent, but his eyes said he remembered. That he hadn't forgiven himself for bringing Marsh along that day, on the kind of mission that was notorious for going wrong. If she hadn't been there, she never would have seen Karen --

"I could have saved her --" Marsh said bitterly, as if reading his mind. *I _should_ have saved her*

"No," he barked. "Christ -- you were fresh out of med school!" He understood only years later why she really quit the bureau, returning to take a surgery residency, rising meteorically to the top of the specialty. *But you're not green now, are you, Marsh? Now you're a trauma surgeon, and you're going to spend the rest of your life trying to make up for her death*

"She wasn't dead, you know that, Walt. There was a hole the size of a half dollar in her trachea, and her jugular vein was pouring blood into it--" Marsh's eyes had gotten cloudy; she was watching the film roll again, the images still so clear, everything happening in slow motion -- the shot, Karen falling, the shouting, the flood of warmth on her hands as she tried to hold back the tide. Her voice was barely a whisper. "She drowned in her own fucking blood. I could have saved her--"

"You don't know that--" he rasped. *For Christ's sake, let her go* He forced himself to sit. "Agent Scully is not in danger."

"Are you sure? She's just like Karen -- she'll be the first one through the door--"

He heard her fear, wanted to rip it from her. "_No_ -- they're not the same. Karen is _dead_." He meant to shock her, drag her away from the hold of that long ago day, that long ago love.

Marsh flinched. Her eyes cleared. She swallowed. "I'd like to be there, sir. It's my job." She wouldn't say it, but he knew. *She's my life*

"Get out to the airfield," he said gruffly, reaching for a stack of files, dismissing her. "You can catch a lift with the relief teams."

"Thank you. Sir."

He watched her out the door. Then he pressed the button on the intercom. "Get me someone on the ground in Chicago. I want to know what the fuck's going on out there."

**********

Oak Brook, Ill
Outside VinalRight offices

It was controlled pandemonium. Marsh arrived just as the assault teams were getting into position. A huge steel-plated vehicle with a battering block extension was moving ponderously toward the building. HRT members were crouched beside it, helmeted, vested, shielded. Marsh knew one well-placed shot, or one lucky one, could reduce all that armor to superfluous baggage. She couldn't see Dana, but the emergency medical van was easy to pick out. So was Herb Myers' distinctive bulk.

"Marsh!" the linebacker-sized man called, his relief evident. "Shit, am I glad to see you. We're going to have some business soon. I was just trying to remember how to put in a chest tube."

Marsh knew very well he could do it if pressed, but not as quickly as she could. And out here, quick response time was all they had to offer. "What's the situation?"

"One loony bastard holding a couple dozen civilians, plus one of ours -- shots fired about an hour ago." He looked from the swarm of people converging on the office complex to his chief when he heard her gasp. "Marsh? Hey, you okay?" She looked so unsteady he put his hand on her arm. She was trembling.

"Who--" she croaked. She took a breath, willed herself to focus. Tried to quell the panic. "Who's the agent inside?"

Herb had never seen anything shake her before. She was always the picture of control in a crisis. He searched for the name. "Um -- Miller-- Muller -- something like that. Why?"

Hers eyes closed for the briefest of seconds -- when they opened, they were focused, intense. "We need to go in right behind the first wave. If there's uncontrolled fire, we need to get to the victim's fast. Point me toward the man in charge -- "

SAC Rice never questioned the tall, dark-haired woman who announced she was the head of the medical response unit and wanted to go with the secondary assault team. She seemed to know what she was doing, and he had a dozen other people waiting for his attention. He told her to get a vest and join the others.

Marsh saw Dana conferring with the HRT commander as they stared at a closed-circuit TV monitor, but there was no time to talk with her. If Mulder was a hostage, Dana had more than enough on her mind. Scully didn't notice Marsh join the group poised to enter the building through the hole about to be punched by the armored tank.

And then Marsh was running -- crowding forward through the dust and falling debris, deafened by first the rending of steel and disintegrating stone, then the hoarse shouts of adrenalized men ready for war. Mash jumped at the loud crack of gunfire, paralysed for an instant, before her conscious mind gave way to her training. She moved automatically, following the nightmare figures bristling with guns into the rubble.

She saw Mulder, blood streaking his face, but standing, staring down at the man on the floor. She pushed past the commando stripping the kidnapper of weapons to kneel at the victin's side. His eyes were open; he was trying to speak despite the fist-sized hole in his chest. Most of his blood volume was crowding the space around his lungs or already on the floor. *No chance*

Marsh straightened up as Mulder leaned down, trying to catch the dying man's last words. She looked over his hunched figure into the deep blue eyes of her lover. Dana stared back at her in astonishment.

"You should be wearing a vest, Agent Scully," Marsh commented stonily as she stepped away. *This room is barely secure. Is he so important you would risk yourself?* She felt so cold. There was blood soaking into her shoes.

Scully barely recognized the woman she had slept with nearly every night for months. There was a frightening emptiness in her eyes. *Marsh?* And then she was gone, and Scully's mind focused on her responsibilities. Mulder needed her.

**********

Scully found her waiting to catch a ride to the airport with the technicians whose surveillance expertise was no longer needed. Marsh was leaning against the side of a nondescript tan government issue van, smoking a cigarette. That seemed to make as much sense as suddenly finding her in the middle of that insanity --

"I didn't realize you did this sort of thing," Scully said, stepping to Marsh's side, brushing her hand lightly down her arm. The muscles under her fingers felt like steel bands. *God, she's wound tight. What the hell is going on?*

Marsh dropped the cigarette, stubbed it out with her toe, her gaze averted. "I don't usually -- Skinner only calls me when there's potential for mass casualties, or an agent is in jeopardy." Her voice was flat, almost hollow. *It could have been you in there -- it would kill me --*

"That's a little more active than _medical consultant_," Scully replied, unable to hide the edge in her tone. "Why didn't you tell me?" She was stunned by how frightening the prospect of Marsh being anywhere near danger was to her. She and Mulder were so used to being threatened, injured, and generally in harm's way that she no longer gave it any thought. She looked after him, and he looked after her. The two of them against all comers. Suddenly, there was someone else, someone she very much wanted to ptotect. *Christ, you're practically in the line of fire. Don't you think I should know that?*

"I didn't think of it." Marsh swallowed, trying to dispel the lingering terror that annihilated all feeling. *I can't think about it. If I think about it, I can't work*

That hurt. She had just spent the better part of a day watching Mulder on his knees with a lunatic's gun to his head, struggling to contain her fear, and now her lover decides to become cryptic and cold.

"Skinner shouldn't have sent you. You were a hostage yourself just a few weeks ago," Scully seethed. Scully's anger gave way to concern. Marsh was visibly trembling. *Doesn't anyone ever think about the consequences to the _people_ in this job?*

"I forced him to -- it's my job, too." Marsh's words came out harsher than she intended. This time had been the hardest yet - it was the first time in all the years since Karen died that someone she was close to was involved. She couldn't stop the flashbacks, only now Dana's face seemed to alternate with Karen's in her memories. She struggled not to shiver, looking anywhere but at Dana. If she did, she was afraid she might crumble.

Scully felt Marsh withdraw. She was ambushed by the sudden pain. *Oh,fuck it* Scully tried unsuccessfully to hide her anger, but she was too stressed to succeed. Her voice was cold, as hard as her gaze. "Go home, Marsh. I've got to debrief with Mulder, and close this case out. I'll call you."

Marsh nodded, wanting to touch her, unable to move. She hadn't felt this way since -- she looked away, afraid she would cry. *God, Dana, I love you so much* She clenched her jaw until her teeth hurt. When she spoke, her voice was as hollow as her soul. "Sure."

Scully walked back in search of Mulder, wondering what the hell had just happened. First Mulder acted like he'd just seen a ghost, interrogating one of the victim's like _he_ was the perpetrator, and then her lover behaves as if they barely knew one another. Fuck, maybe she didn't know either of them. Scully was starting to feel very alone.


Part Two

Scully eased herself into the seat beside Mulder, totally exhausted. *He must be ready to collapse* They had easily spent six hours with the Chicago bureau and local police wrapping up the details of the tragic demise of the delusional VinalRight employee. Mulder had been inordinately quiet the entire time.

"How you doing?" Scully asked as the plane taxied toward take-off.

"Something's not right, Scully. I can feel it."

"Mulder," she said softly, "give yourself a break. You just went through a terrible ordeal. Of course it doesn't feel right."

He shook his head in irritation. "That's not what I mean. Something happened in there. I _saw_ something."

*God, I don't need this now* She took a deep breath. "Mulder, it was dark, everyone was terrified. A man standing beside you, with a gun on you I might add, was shot to death. You could have seen almost anything."

His looked wounded. Why did he always have to convince her? His chin lifted in stubborn certainty. "It's not over, Scully. I _know_ it."

Scully sighed. "Try to stick to the facts with Skinner, okay?" Lately their boss seemed even less tolerant than usual of any breech in protocol, and they were always straddling the line of proper procedure at it was.

"If I knew what the facts were," he grumbled, "I'd be happy to." He leaned his head wearily against the seat back. "Was that Marsh I saw you with back there?" he asked almost idly. He hadn't seen Scully's lover since the day he talked to Marsh in the hospital following her kidnapping. Still, hers was not a face, or a form, easily forgotten.

"Yes," Scully said abruptly, still smarting from their encounter. She did not like finding out her lover was a bit more of an active agent than she had claimed, and she definitely did not appreciate discovering that fact in the middle of a dangerous engagement. Besides that, she was miserable about the way they had parted. She couldn't believe, didn't even want to think about, how forlorn she felt since she'd left Marsh that afternoon. *This is worse than missing her. I feel like part of me has been amputated*

"That must be tough for her," he murmured, watching the night pass by out the window. He tried unsuccessfully to bring into focus the strange form he _thought_ he'd seen. *Maybe he _had_ imagined that -- _thing_*

"What?" Scully asked, not certain she had heard him correctly. *Tough on _her_?*

He turned to her, really looking at her for the first time in hours. She looked terrible. The creases between her sculpted brows were fast becoming furrows, and the unhappiness in her blue eyes had darkened them to nearly black. They were swimming with pain. "What's going on, Scully?"

"Nothing," she answered reflexly. "What were you saying about Marsh?"

He tried to concentrate. "Today -- it must have been hard -- isn't that how Karen Summers died? In a hostage rescue attempt?"

*Oh, fuck* She stared at him, saw Marsh trembling as she leaned against the van. *Dana, you _asshole_!*

He continued, oblivious to the color flooding her cheeks. "I can't imagine that kind of encounter is ever easy for her, and then with you there --I guess it's a good thing it was me, and not you inside."

*Double-fuck*

"I'm surprised Skinner sent her," Mulder added.

*I bet she didn't give him a choice*

"She seemed perfectly cool inside though," he commented. "Totally in control."

*Yeah, and we both know what that costs, don't we? Nice, Dana -- way to be sensitive to the person who means the most to you* She rubbed her forehead, sighed. "I didn't know she was doing this kind of work."

"She didn't tell you," Mulder said. It was not a question.

"No."

"Not surprising, really. She's got a bit of a hero complex, as well as a hell of a lot of survivor's guilt." He was thinking out loud, the way he did when he was profiling. He forgot he was talking about Scully's lover.

"Excuse me?" Scully snapped, instantly protective.

Mulder didn't appear to notice. "Oh, come on, Scully. Don't tell me that never occurred to you. She's an agent, a surgeon, -- chief -- no less, and she spends her time flying around to disaster sites saving people? What's she trying to prove?"

Scully barely kept her voice to a civil level. "Mulder," she seethed, "did it ever occur to you that she just might be a truly noble person, trying to do something worthwhile, something selfless?" *God, what's happened to the two of us, that all we can see is the worst?*

"No, Scully," he said softly. "What occurred to me is that she is working overtime to forget something that you have probably brought back with a vengence. Now she has another lover who spends way too much time around people with guns. I'm not surprised she doesn't want to talk about it."

*Triple-fuck*

She undid her seat belt. "I need to walk around." She didn't look at him as she made her way down the aisle. *I hate it when he's so right, and I never even saw it coming*

**********

It was 4 am when Scully let herself into Marsh's darkened apartment with the key she had carried for two months. She kicked off her heels, hoping to creep quietly across the expanse of hardwood floor to the loft stairs and the sleeping quarters above. She placed her briefcase down carefully, and took one step into the wide living room.

"I'm up."

Scully turned at the familiar sound of Marsh's deep alto voice, and could just make out her shadowy form on the sofa at the far side of the room. Scully made her way to her, navigating the space by memory. For some reason, she knew not to turn on the light.

"Have you slept?" Scully asked as she stopped in front of her lover. She was aching to hold her. *God, I've missed you*

"No. Did you just get in?" Marsh asked, changing the subject. She sounded weary beyond fatigue. *I was so afraid you wouldn't come*

"Yes. The debriefing was interminable." Scully leaned down, ran a hand through Marsh's thick hair, lingered to caress her cheek. "Is there some reason you smell like a barroom?"

Marsh had still not raised her head, but sat staring at Dana's chest, slowly rising and falling beneath the silk blouse. Comforting in its steady rhythm. "The plane trip back turned into a little impromptu celebration for the team. Happy ending and all that. Dead perp, no casualties. They broke out the booze."

Scully was worried. Marsh rarely drank, and she sounded drained, almost defeated.*This has got to stop* She reached for Marsh's hands, pulling her to her feet. "Come on -- I'm not sleeping next to you until we both shower off this day."

Marsh stopped her, holding her arms tightly. "Dana, I'm sorry about showing up the way I did. I don't know why I never mentioned it --"

Scully pressed her fingers to Marsh's lips. "Not now. Come with me."

She pulled Marsh to the stairs and up the spiral staircase into the bathroom adjoing the bedroom. She turned the night light on, suffusing the room in a dim glow. She pulled her blouse off, quickly unzipped her skirt and let it fall to the floor. Undergarments were next, then she stepped naked across the room to Marsh and began to unbutton her shirt.

"Dana," Marsh murmured, feeling as if she were awakening from a dream. Since she had left Chicago in the small bureau transport plane nine hours ago, her mind had been strangely blank. She drove herself home from the airfield, but she didn't recall parking the car or coming upstairs. She had been waiting, simply waiting, for the sound of footsteps on the stairs, a key in the lock, some disturbance in the air to tell her Dana had come home. She couldn't sleep without her there. "I thought you might go to your place tonight."

Scully hesitated for a second, then unzipped Marsh's chinos. *This is not just about me* For the first time she resented the other woman Marsh had loved, and the torment her death still caused. *Get a grip, Scully. Marsh is the one who's hurting. You can be jealous later* She grasped the pants, pushed them down, taking Marsh's briefs with them. "Step--" She reached behind them and turned on the water. "Why would I go there? You're here."

"I know you were angry--"

"Umm -- in." She followed Marsh into the spray, found the soap, began lathering Marsh's chest and belly. *Lord, you are beautiful* She gently guided her lover with a hand on her hip, working the foam up and down her sides, over her thighs. "I was angry -- you're right. I'll still always come home. Turn." Her voice was thick. Marsh's body under her hands was supple, strong -- slick from the soap, sensuously smooth. Scully stood behind Marsh, circling her well-muscled back down to her ass.

"I don't talk about it much --"

*You should--you will. If not to me, then _someone_* Scully slipped her fingers in the cleft between Marsh's tight asscheeks, gently stroked lower to the warmth between her legs, stopping before she touched her soft inner lips. "We can talk tomorrow. Spread your legs."

Marsh sighed softly, bracing her arms on the far wall as Scully traveled down the inside of her thighs to her knees, then back up, moving further forward over the sensitive folds, nearly touching Marsh's hooded clitoris, drawing away at the last second.

"Dana," Marsh whispered, a throbbing ache settling in her pelvis. She wasn't thinking about death and loss any longer. Her world was suddenly in focus, she felt very much alive, and Dana Scully was the reason. "Oh god, I need you so much."

Scully's legs were shaking. Her hands were trembling. She wanted her so much. She twisted the knobs, slid the door open. "Out." She grabbed a large bath sheet as Marsh grabbed her, throwing it around their shoulders as they pressed into each other's arms. Scully wrapped her fingers in the wet hair at the base of Marsh's neck, holding Marsh's head back as she brought her teeth down on the exposed flesh of Marsh's neck, biting softly as she moved up to her jaw, along the sharp edge, to her soft lips. She nibbled, harder than she meant, barely able to control herself. She had an overwhelming desire to drive every thought of any other time, any other person, from Marsh's consciousness. It was a possessiveness that frightened her, but she had gone too far to stop.

"Dana," Marsh gasped, clinging to the smaller woman for support. "I want you inside of me -- I need you deep-- oh, god--"

Scully growled, lowering her head to Marsh's breast, taking her nipple hard in her teeth. *Jesus, Dana, be careful. Don't hurt her!* Dimly she heard Marsh whimpering as she pushed her hand between Marsh's legs, immediately surrounded by her wetness, her heat. Two fingers, then three -- Marsh was open, yielding -- beginning to sag as Scully reached beyond her body, into her soul. Scully wrapped an arm around her waist, holding her up as she thrust -- faster, harder than she intended -- her mind empty of any thought other than her desire to own this woman. She backed Marsh up against the counter, never stopping her motion. She was groaning, blind with lust, her own clit pulsating --threatening to go off just from feeling Marsh clench around her fingers.

Marsh clutched the edges of the vanity, her body spinning out of control -- she fought for breath, wave upon wave of pleasure pounding through her with each driving stroke. "Oh Dana!" she cried as Scully brought her thumb down hard on Marsh's exposed clit, triggering an instant explosion. "Oh my god -- I'm coming!--"

"Oh yess-" Scully moaned, raising her head to watch Marsh come. "I love you," she gasped, her arm a blur - taking her hard and deep. "I love you-" Before the powerful contractions stopped, Scully dropped to her knees, replacing her hand with her mouth. She captured Marsh's clitoris with her lips, biting the base -- gently now, pulling her into her mouth.

Marsh drove her hands into Scully's hair, pulling Scully's face tightly to her. "Oh, yes, baby -" she cried, head thrown back, eyes closed in ecstasy. "Suck me, lick me - oh, god - yess"

Scully grasped Marsh's firm asscheek with one hand, the other flying between her own thighs, spreading her drenched, swollen lips, rubbing herself wildly. She worked Marsh's jerking clit with her lips and tongue as she slid two fingers into herself, bringing her palm down roughly on her own clit. She tried to contain her imminent orgasm, waiting for Marsh to blossom again, but she was too far gone. The first touch triggered her climax, and she could do nothing but groan and try to stay on her lover's convulsing body. Marsh was coming again, her wails joining with Scully's, as they surrendered to the force of their passion.

"I'm going to fall," Marsh murmured when she could draw a breath.

"I've got you," Scully panted, her face pressed to Marsh's thigh, her arms wrapped tightly around her hips. She rose unsteadily, pressing close to her lover along every plane of her body. "I love you so much, Marsh," she whispered.

"I'm yours," Marsh whispered, leaning her forehead against Scully's. "Completely."

"Mmm- then come to bed. I don't think I'm done with you."


Part Three

14 hours later

Marsh entered the dark bar, standing at the top of three steps that led down into the long narrow room, waiting for her eyes to adjust in the dim, smokey haze. She'd never been there before, but it wasn't far from the hospital, and she wasn't there for the ambience. She was still unsettled from the trip to Chicago, the memories that the rescue had triggered, and her lingering fear for Dana's safety. Their frenzied lovemaking had gone a long way toward dispelling her unease, but she wouldn't feel truly settled until she saw Dana again. Unfortunately, they had fallen into bed only to have Marsh's wake up call come an hour later, and now Dana was working late. Marsh stepped down, then stopped. The hunched figure at the end of the bar looked very familiar. She threaded her way through the haphazardly scattered tables and chairs to stand beside him.

"What are you doing in this dive, Mulder?" she asked. He looked up, his gaze slightly unfocused. He was more dishevled than she'd ever seen him -- he needed a shave and a fresh suit.

"Waiting for my partner to finish an autopsy," he replied, only slightly startled to find Scully's lover beside him. She looked tired, and there was something deeply unsettled in her dark eyes. He looked away, wishing sometimes he saw less of what was inside people -- especially these last few days.

"Funny -- so am I. Buy you a drink?" Marsh asked as she slid onto the cracked red vinal stool beside him.

"Tequila." Mulder replied.

Marsh signaled for two and they sat in silence, heads bowed, contemplating the wet rings slowly drying on the scarred surface of the bar.

"I was surprised to see you in Oak Brook yesterday," Mulder commented at length.

'So was Dana," Marsh muttered, nodding her assent as Mulder signaled for another round.

"Hhm -- she mad?" He didn't envy her. Scully angry was not a thing to take lightly. He tried to remember exactly what he and Scully had discussed on the plane back, but he kept being distracted by visions of -- something.

Marsh laughed without humor. "You could say that."

"Why didn't you tell her about those little assignments?" he asked, licking the salt off the shot glass before tossing back the firery liquid. "She'd want to know you were running around playing with people who carry guns."

Marsh shrugged, downed her shot. She considered not answering -- after all, she didn't know this guy -- except to know her lover would risk her life for him. She glanced at him. He looked back at her, his eyes warm, welcoming. "I don't like to talk about it," she said truthfully. She lifted her glass to the bartender, who refilled their drinks.

"How come?"

"Bad memories."

"Umm." He knew a little about that. He laughed harshly, realizing that bad memories motivated almost everything he did, everything he felt. He had spent his life making up for that paralysing moment when he let his sister slip away -- no, be _taken_ away. His career choices, the direction his professional life had taken, the abysmal state of his non-existent personal life -- all hinged on that one pivotal moment when he could have, _should_ have, rushed forward -- pulled her back, let them take him. Maybe he and Scully's lover had more in common than he thought. Besides Scully of course. They did have her in common.

"You can't change it," he muttered, almost to himself.

"No," Marsh agreed grimly, "I can't." She was beginning to feel the tequila, a slight not so unpleasant light-headedness. She hadn't slept the night before, and she rarely drank. She wasn't energizing her usual control, talking about things she never acknowledged to herself. "I can't even stop seeing it. And every time I go out on one of these calls, I see her again."

"Karen Summers?"

Marsh gave him a hard look as the Bartender silently replenished their drinks. "Been doing a little digging, Mulder?" she asked harshly.

"It's a matter of record."

Marsh snorted. "Sure -- in the archives of Rumor and Innuendo, maybe. What you're getting at isn't written down anywhere."

"I'm good at deductions," he added, wondering not for the first time why he never anticipated someone like Marsh in Scully's life. He knew she rarely dated, and never seemed particularly anxious to impress any of the men who were constantly sniffing around her. But he had never thought about a woman. *Maybe because you always secretly hoped she was thinking about you?* He flipped back the shot. *Jeez, Mulder, you're earning your Y-chromosomes tonight. Next you'll be challenging Black to arm wrestle*

"Skinner knows, though, doesn't he?" Mulder said quietly.

"He'd never say," Marsh said flatly.

"He was your training instructor -- he probably should have -- and he is a by-the-books guy."

"Karen was his ex-partner, his wife's best friend, and -- I always thought he was a little in love with Karen himself," Marsh admitted. "She had that effect on people."

*Must be common* Mulder stared at his reflection in the spotty mirror behind the bar. "Do you still love her?"

Marsh flinched, met his eyes in the glass. "Yes."

"What about Scully?" he bristled.

"Have you loved more than one woman in your life, Mulder?"

*Three* He hesitated. "Yes"

"The same way?"

He shook his head, thinking about Phoebe, Diana -- thinking about --*Fuck*

"No." He didn't want to go down that road. "Still -- it's got to be hard, being in the kind of situations where she was killed. Like yesterday."

Marsh shrugged. "It's hell."

"Why don't you quit?" Mulder asked, beckoning for refills. "I know how tough it is to be constantly reminded of something like that."

"Why don't you?" Marsh bristled.

He contemplated the amber liquid in the small neat glass. "Wouldn't know what to do with myself."

"Get a life?" Marsh suggested not unkindly.

"You have a life -- you have Scully now," he said, just a trace of heat in his voice.

Marsh heard it. "You're not happy about us, are you? Still think I'm some kind of spy?"

Mulder jerked in surprise. *Scully _told_ her that? Jesus*

Marsh continued unperturbed. "I just got that feeling from your questions after I was missing. Dana never says anything about you that isn't glowing."

He heard the heat in _her_ voice. "Jealous?" *Oh, fuck, Mulder -- that was juvenile. What are you trying to prove?"

Marsh flinched, studied her hands loosely holding the shot glass. "Yes, I think so. She loves you, she puts her life in danger for you -- there are times when you are the only one keeping her alive." She downed the shot. "I don't like having to depend on you for that."

"You don't trust me either," he commented. She surprised him with her honesty. Then again, he shouldn't be surprised. Scully loved her; she must be extraordinary.

"From what I can gather, your track record is a little spotty," she said matter-of-factedly. She was thinking about the scar on Dana's neck, the puncture wounds on her abdomen from the extraction probes -- the cancer.

"Touche," he grunted. He wondered how much she _really_ knew of what Scully had suffered. *You're going to have to tell her soon, Scully. She deserves to know*

She looked him in the eye, after a few seconds of attempting to focus. "I love her, Mulder. If I could find words to tell you how much, you'd understand why the thought of losing her terrifies me."

He didn't need to hear the words; it was written plainly in the agony in her dark eyes. "I love her, too," he whispered, "and I'd give my life to see that nothing harms her."

"Thank you," she managed.

He grinned, a lopsided, boyish, altogether charming grin. "I'm glad you're going home with her, and not me."

"Huh?" Marsh questioned somewhat sluggishly. She really wasn't thinking too quickly.

"Cause she's coming this way, and the air around her seems to be crackling."

Scully had seen them from the door, amazed for a moment how alike they were physically. Both tall, thin, androgenously handsome, with unruly dark hair and wounded eyes so deep you could drown in them. They could have been siblings. They were leaning shoulder to shoulder, their heads bent close together, deep in conversation. That wasn't what bothered her, even though for a second she was a little jealous. She _wanted_ them to get along, but for the first time she realized that until now, she had had both of them entirely to herself. That thought had quickly fled in the face of the observation that both of them looked like they were sliding off their stools, and there were at least ten empty shot glasses lined up in front of them. *Fuck. They're _drunk_!* At any other time it might not have bothered her, but she had been worried about Marsh all day, afraid that she was about to develop full-blown post-traumatic stress syndrome. And to top it all off, Skinner had called her in to question her about _Mulder's_ erratic behavior. She couldn't handle both of them falling apart at once.

They both turned at her approach, matching shit-eating grins on their equally fuzzy-eyed faces.

"Scully!"

"Hi love--"

Scully stared from one to the other. "Goddamn it, Mulder! Did you get her drunk?"

"Yep, and I almost had her talked into going home with me. Bad timing, Scully." He was a little too drunk to notice she wasn't smiling.

"Hey!" Marsh protested, only slurring slightly. "_I_ got him drunk, and I wouldn't go home with him if he was the last human on the planet." She grinned and punched him lightly on the arm. "Sorry, Mulder -- you're just not my type."

*Wonderful. They're bonding. My lover has now joined my partner on the functional level of college frat boys* Scully turned on her heel. "Stay there," she barked. "I'm calling a cab. Mulder, you're coming home with us. I'm not squiring you all over town. I'm too damn tired from doing the unnecessary autopsy you wanted, by the way."

Mulder and Marsh stared at one another.

"Oh oh," they said simultaneously, then threw their arms around each other's shoulders in comradely solidarity, determined to face their fates together.

**********

7am

Scully lay awake, listening to Marsh move around in the bathroom, trying to tell if Mulder was up. They had left him sprawled out on the couch downstairs. She wondered if he found it strange to see Scully climb the stairs to Marsh's bedroom with her arm around her unsteady lover's waist. He'd never seen her with a lover before. She looked over to see Marsh leaning against the bathroom door, looking considerably better than she had the night before.

"What are you thinking about?" Marsh asked, crossing to sit on the side of the bed.

"You, me, and Mulder," Scully replied, taking Marsh's hand.

"Hhmm --" Marsh nodded, trailing her fingers lightly over Dana's abdomen. "Problems?"

"No. I just realized how much I wanted you two to like each other. I couldn't tell last night if you were becoming friends or not." Her nipples tightened as Marsh brushed lightly over her breasts.

Marsh circled Scully's navel with a finger tip, watching the muscles flicker and withdraw slightly from her touch. "Rivals I think."

Scully stilled the hand that was starting to distract her with thoughts that were decidedly not about Mulder. "Are you jealous of him?"

Marsh sighed. "He's your best friend, your partner, and he loves you." She looked away, then met Scully's gaze. "And it'd be a lot easier for you all the way around if he were your lover."

Scully sat up in bed, unmindful of her nakedness. "I am going to pretend I didn't hear that -- because if I _did_ hear that I would think that you doubted how much I love you. And if I thought _that_, at _this_ point, I would have to shoot you."

Marsh stared at her, saw the mixture of fire and tenderness in her gaze, and laughed. "I'm sorry. I think it's the hangover. The three aspirin did not seem to help."

Scully returned her lover's hand to her belly, pushing it down to the red curls at the junction of her thighs. "We're going to have to talk about that, but I think I liked the conversation you were starting a minute ago better."

"Jesus, Dana -- Mulder's downstairs!" Marsh protested feebly. Her fingers moved lower of their own volition, discovering Scully's clit moist and hard, ready for her. Her heart raced at Dana's swift intake of breath, and the way she jerked slightly at the first light touch over the distended tip.

"If he's awake, the TV will be on," Scully gasped, her eyes turning a deep violet as she raised her hips into Marsh's hand. "I'll be quiet."

Marsh bent to capture one pink nipple in her teeth, circling Dana's clit with the pads of two fingers. "You're never quiet," she murmured, closing her lips around the erect nub, sliding her fingers further into Dana's wetness.

Scully grasped Marsh's head, tangling her fingers in the thick black hair, tugging Marsh's face toward her own. "Then kiss me and keep me quiet," she managed, barely able to focus now.

Marsh eased up on the bed, stretching along the smaller woman's length, parting Dana's lips above with her tongue as she entered her below. Scully groaned and arched against the lean, firm frame, fumbling with the ties on Marsh's scrub pants.

"Un uh," Marsh managed to whisper, pulling her hips away from Scully's enticing hands. "I _can't_ be quiet. Just let me touch you -- let me make you come."

"Oh, yes, please," Scully breathed, finding Marsh's lips again, stroking them softly with her tongue, probing the warm inner sanctuary. Marsh was already bringing her close with the steady rhythm of her deep, slow thrusts. She didn't want to come, not yet -- and she forced herself to focus on the texture of Marsh's skin, the liquid heat of her mouth, the soft murmur of her sighs.

Marsh curled all four fingers together, slowly pressing them inside her love, bringing her thumb under the quivering clit, working it in circles, first fast, then tantalizingly moving away. Dana groaned, a deep gasping plea, and shuddered in Marsh's arms. It took all of Marsh's will power to maintain the controlled pace, when every instinct urged her to take her fast, and hard. The crotch of Marsh's cotton scrubs was dark with her own cum, and she knew if she brushed her aching clit against Dana's thigh, she would come instantly. Fiercely, she held herself back, determined to pleasure Dana first. She moved her thumb higher, pushing back the slick sheath, exposing all of the engorged clitoris to her caresses.

Dana pulled her mouth away from Marsh's kiss, struggling to breathe. "I'm -- so close -- now," she whispered in Marsh's ear. There was a storm raging in her pelvis, centered in the muscles clamped around Marsh's hand, lightening flickering from the nerves coiled to explode in her clit. She dug her fingers into Marsh's back, raised her hips as the pressure approached the unbearable. "Make me come," she choked against her lover's sweat-slick skin. "Oh -- god -- make me co--" Fire flashed through her, stealing her breath.

Marsh closed her eyes as Dana's teeth sank into her shoulder, thrusting into her in time to the rapid internal contractions, drawing out each spasm with a flick of her thumb over the still swelling clit. *I love you, I lo -- oh! oh jesus--*

Scully reached for Marsh without conscious thought, driving her fingers between Marsh's legs, squeezing her clitoris through the damp cloth. As Scully peaked yet again she thrilled to Marsh's strangled cry. For an eternity they pressed close together, limbs entwined, contracting muscles fused, hearts pounding in unison.

When she could manage to speak, Scully kissed the bruise on Marsh's shoulder where her teeth had left marks. "Told you I could be quiet."


Part 4

1 pm The same day
Memorial Hospital, Washington DC

Marsh flicked off her beeper and reached for the wall phone, punching in the numbers on the digital display. "Black," she announced as the call was answered.

"Marsh, it's me."

Marsh straightened, hearing the strain in her lover's voice from just those few words. "What is it?" She heard Dana take a breath. "Dana?"

"It's Mulder," Scully said when she had control of herself. She rattled off the details of the disastrous encounter between Mulder and several VinalRight employees in Skinner's office impassively enough. But the next part came hard. "He pulled his gun in Skinner's office, making wild accusations. He's been committed, Marsh. Skinner's orders."

Marsh whistled faintly. "You mean as in _psych ward_ committed?"

"Yes."

"Shit."

"Can you check on him? Find out what's going on? I'll be there as soon as I can. Mulder also dumped another corpse on me, and I think I better look at it. It's one of the victim's from the Oak Brook shooting."

"Sure. Anything -- but I don't know how much help I'll be. I'm a surgeon, not a shrink."

Scully laughed despite her concern. "Believe me, my love, no one would ever mistake you for anything else. I'll call you."

"I love you," Marsh replied. *Fuck. I hate going to the psych ward. It gives me the creeps* Resolutely, she left the comfortable terrain of traumatized bodies for the shadowy environs of the mind.

***********

*Aw, fuck* They had him tied down, and it was not pleasant to see. He looked like he'd been struggling with the soft cotton restraints - his wrists were red, but didn't look abraded yet. She slipped a finger under the wide bands, checking to be sure they weren't too tight. He opened his eyes, regarded her seriously.

"Hey, Mulder," she said softly.

"Where's Scully?" he croaked.

Marsh pulled a chair close to the bed. "She'll be here soon. How are you?"

"Crazy."

"Are you?"

He closed his eyes, sighed helplessly. "I don't know -- I don't think so. No more than usual." He jerked the restraints on his wrists and ankles ineffectively. "This kind of tends to make me wonder."

Marsh winced, the memory still vivid. "I woke up in a place like this the morning after Karen died -- I know the feeling." She grinned humorously. "Don't lose sight of the truth because of the circumstances."

"That seems to be my life's mission."

"Wanna tell me?"

He turned his head, studied her face. She had beautiful eyes -- intense, radiating strength. He was tempted. He shook his head. "I'm not even sure Scully's gonna believe this one." He tried to smile. "I don't suppose you can get me out of here?"

Marsh grimaced. "Jesus, Mulder -- I don't think so. I'm not exactly on friendly terms with the folks over here. But I'll find out who's in charge, see what I can do, okay?"

A look of near defeat passed over his face. "Yeah.'

Marsh edged closer to the bed, laid her hand on his arm above the restraints. "Listen, Mulder -- Dana will get to the bottom of this. Whatever's going on, she'll figure it out. Just hold on."

He felt her words penetrate the curtain of fear that surrounded him. Scully. Scully was on her way. "Don't let anything happen to her," he said quietly.

Marsh smiled. "I won't. You neither."

He grinned, a fair facsimile of his usual disarming smile. "Deal."

**********

Scully collapsed into the molded orange plastic seat bolted to the one next to it, which happened to be occupied by her lover. She rubbed her temples, and tried to dispel the heartbreaking image of Mulder strapped down in that cold, stark room. God, she had never felt so helpless. She jumped slightly when Marsh took her hand.

"I'm sorry, darling," Scully murmured. "I didn't mean to ignore you."

"What did her say?"

Scully deliberated for a second. She was used to protecting him. "He's not making any sense. Maybe it's the stress of being held hostage." *He's babbling about monsters for god's sake*

Marsh was very aware that Dana had avoided answering her question. She knew Mulder and she had a special relationship, one as powerful in many ways as hers and Dana's. She pushed that thought away. If Mulder were in any way correct in his fears, Dana could be in danger. "He didn't seem delusional when I talked to him," she pointed out reasonably.

"He didn't tell you about zombies, either, did he?" Scully snapped. Christ, he was _her_ partner wasn't he? She ought to know what was really going on.

"He's talked about monsters before, hasn't he?"

Scully laughed hollowly. "Enough that no one has any trouble believing he's finally gone round the bend."

"Has he ever been right?" Marsh asked quietly.

Pause. "More than a few times."

"Well, then -- maybe--?"

Scully pressed the heels of her hands into her eyes, searching for inner clarity. "It's so preposterous. But I told him I'd look at the body again." Maybe Marsh was right. It wouldn't hurt to check a little more. It wasn't as if she could do anything here. She _hated_ being so powerless.

"Want company?"

Scully laughed; leaned over and kissed her quickly. "This body's long dead, Dr. Black. Not as appealing as the one's you're used to. I'll call you if I find anything." She stood, stretched wearily. "Would you stay here for a bit? Just in case he needs anything?"

"Sure."

**********

Marsh awoke to the sound of gunfire. For an instant she thought it was just the old familiar dream, but then she heard shouts and people running.

*Oh god! That's Mulder's room!*

By the time she got there it was over. Or, the crisis was under control, she should have said. The nightmare was not over for any of them.

Lying in bed later that night, Dana in her arms, Marsh asked, "Will you tell me what happened?" *Will you trust me?* Her heart sank as the silence stretched around them. *Will you ever let me be part of your life with him?*

"I saw something," Scully began hesitantly. *How can you possibly understand? You don't know the things I've seen -- the things that have been done to me. How can I bring those things into our life?* She took a deep breath. "Do you believe in monsters?"

Unconsciously, Marsh's fingers strayed to the scar on the back of her lover's neck. Like a slide show, images flickered through her mind -- the metallic implant next to Dana's spine, Karen -- bleeding to death in her arms, countless patients dying of gunshot wounds, stab wounds, drug overdoses -- evil manifest in innumerable forms. "Yes, I believe in monsters."

"Tonight I saw one," Scully confessed quietly.

Marsh pulled her closer, kissed her hair, then her lids, then her mouth. "There are no monster here," she whispered.

"No," Scully murmured, daring to feel safe. "There are no monsters here."

End

 


 

Genesis VI: Eve of Destruction
by Radclyffe
EMAIL ADDRESS: radclyffe@radfic.com
SERIES RATING: NC-17; This story depicts graphic sexual encounters between same-sex consenting adults.
SPOILERS: All eps since The Red and the Black
KEYWORDS: Scully/Other(female);Scully/Slash
DISCLAIMERS: The characters of Scully, Mulder, Skinner and others/events introduced on the X-Files are the sole property of Chris Carter etc, and are used here without permission for entertainment, not for profit.
Comments welcome.
Author's note: The entire Genesis series can be found at my website:
http://www.radfic.com/ or http://www.angelfire.com/nf/radclyffe/


Part One

   _She had a need to feel the thunder
   to chase the lightning from the skies
   to watch the storm with all its wonder
   burning in her lover's eyes

   She had to ride the heat of passion
   like a comet burnin' bright
   Rushing headlong in the wind
   out where only dreams had been
   Burnin' both ends of the night_

May 1998
Basement, FBI Building

Scully pushed open the door that after five years still did not have her name on it. Not for the first time she wondered if she had spent those years as nothing more than an interloper in someone else's life. She might not have been as sensitive if she weren't so affected by the current case Mulder had somehow gotten them embroiled in. *He wasn't even supposed to _be_ on this team, and now he's got us interrogating some poor kid he's convinced is -- fuck, what? -- the missing link!? God, I can't take much more of this*

If only it hadn't been a child. Was nothing sacred any longer?

She halted abruptly just inside the crowded windowless basement room that had been her second home for longer than she cared to contemplate. Her lover was perched on the edge of Mulder's desk. That in and of itself was surprising enough, but Mulder had a gleam in his eye -- a gleam that usually meant trouble. Something had excited him. Marsh looked tired, with the faint hint of circles under her deep soulful eyes. Scully's stomach clenched. Something was wrong, and it had to do with Marsh.

"What?" she asked sharply, her blue eyes flashing. The warning glance Marsh shot at Mulder was not lost on her. "Goddamn it, Marsh, don't do this! Don't keep things from me." Her temper was short these days, a reflection of too many demands, from too many directions. Skinner expected her to watch Mulder for any further *breaks* from reality, Marsh still slept fitfully - plagued by vague dreams of danger, and now she had this damn assassination attempt and Mulder's strange ex-partner to deal with. She looked angrily at her lover. *Don't leave me in the dark like he does*

Marsh heard the slight tremor in Dana's voice. *Fuck, Black, you're just making it worse!* She crossed the small space in two strides, taking Scully's hand, stepping close to her. "It's all right. I was telling Mulder about something I remembered -- from the day you and I met."

Scully's fingers tightened around her lover's hand. "From Ruskin Dam?" *Oh god, not that again! I don't want you to be involved in this insanity* She glanced at Mulder. He had that far away look he always got when he was hot on the trail of a new theory or another implausible explanation for the latest unlikely occurrence. "What is it?"

Marsh feigned indifference. "Probably nothing, really. I just remembered this boy. He was in the evacuation tent with you -- he was speaking Russian -- it's his voice I've been hearing in my head, but I couldn't make out the words before."

"What did he say?" Scully asked calmly, while inside she was screaming. *He must be the key -- he's the reason she was kidnapped. This is why she's been having nightmares. Oh god -- please don't let her be in danger!*

Marsh shrugged in frustration. "All I could really understand was something about _black death_ -- I wasn't paying that much attention. I remember he was burned, and had a cluster of lacerations around his eyes and his mouth, but he wasn't in any danger. I was only with him a second -- " She stopped, a shadow crossing her elegantly etched features.

Scully rubbed her hand lightly up and down Marsh's arm, leaning toward her, their bodies not quite touching. "Is there something else, darling?" she asked, her tone low, soothing, unconsciously intimate. *I love you. I'm here*

Marsh smiled into her eyes. *I know. I'm fine. Don't worry*

From across the room where he sat watching, Mulder blushed. There was something more sensual, more erotic, about seeing these two women completely clothed, standing in the bright glare of the overhead fluorescents, talking, than there was in any video or film intended to titillate he had ever seen. They were connected by more than the light touch of his partner's hand -- the air around them practically shimmered with heat. He expected to hear it crackle. He stared at his desk-top. *Scully adores her*

"He kept repeating a name -- several names -- he was terrified-" Marsh ran a hand through her thick black hair, clearly frustrated. "I can almost hear him -" She stared at Scully. "Kazahkstan."

Across the room, Mulder gasped, jumped to his feet. "That's it, Scully! A witness to both scenes -- someone who can tie it all together!" He was next to them now, his eager gaze fastened on the tall, slender woman in the black gabardine trousers and white silk shirt. He didn't stop to notice that she looked thinner than she had the last time he'd seen her, or how tormented was her gaze. He also failed to notice his partner's shoulders stiffen the way they did when she was about to throw a body block. "What else, Black -- what else did he say?"

"Mulder-" From Scully -- the tone dark, a low warning.

Marsh closed her eyes, struggling with the kaleidoscopic images -- there were voices -- men -- asking her the same thing -- *who was he, what did he say, you must remember* over and over. There was pain --- in her arms. Sweat broke out on her forehead.

"Come on, Marsh -- what did he say?" Mulder - intent, demanding.

Marsh drew a ragged breath, fighting the nausea -- the bright light seared her eyes-- faces, swimming out of focus -- floating above her. God, her head hurt. She moaned softly.

"Try to remember--" In his eagerness, Mulder reached for her arm, grasped her wrist still tender with scars. Marsh gasped, swayed unsteadily.

"That's _ enough_!" Scully raged, forcing him back with her own body, stepping in front of her lover, circling the slender waist protectively. In a tone as soft as it had just been harsh, she murmured, "It's all right, darling. Marsh -- it's all right. You don't have to remember now."

Marsh shuddered, leaned her head down to rest against Scully's. "I'm sorry."

"Don't," Scully whispered, unmindful of Mulder's presence, not caring. "I love you. It's going to be all right."

At length, Marsh straightened, drew a shaky breath, grinned ruefully. "God, a little bad dream and I'm wasted. Good thing I'm not a spy." She saw the worry written plainly on Dana's face, even though she was trying hard to hide it. *Jesus, I want this to be over. She doesn't need this*

Scully brushed the errant dark lock off Marsh's forehead. She wanted to hold her. She wanted to take every last ounce of her pain and destroy it. She wanted to hit something. "You're a surgeon. All talk -- no one expects you to be tough like us real feebees." She smiled, hoping it didn't look as false as it felt.

"Marsh," Mulder began tentatively.

"Not _now_, Mulder," Scully ordered, not taking her eyes off Marsh's face. The threat in her voice was chilling. *Thank god her color's coming back. I thought she was going to drop*

He cleared his throat. Softly, "I just wanted to say it's probably best not to think about any of it for a while. It'll come to you in time."

Scully looked at him then. He was leaning against the desk, dejected, penitent. Her eyes gentled. *Thank you*

He shrugged. Threw her that lop-sided smile. *I'm an asshole*

She smiled back, a genuine smile. *Yeah*

Marsh stepped back, out of Scully's embrace. "I should go." She was acutely embarrassed that Mulder had seen that. She hated to appear weak, especially in front of him. *Nice show, Black. He probably thinks you're a lousy bargain for her*

Scully nodded, still concerned. "Go home. You're off-call. I'll be home as soon as I can."

Marsh leaned down, kissed her swiftly. "All right, love," she said very quietly. *Thank you for being here*

Mulder watched Scully watch her lover out the door, wondering exactly how it felt to be loved like that.

**********

Two hours later Scully crept up the spiral staircase to the loft. She stopped at the foot of the large platform bed. Marsh was stretched out on her back, asleep. She had showered -- her hair looked still damp, and she wore only faded blue scrub pants. One hand rested in the vee between her thighs, her legs loosely parted. Her breasts, rounded and pink-tipped, were bare. Her face in repose was restored to its classic perfection, all signs of weariness gone. She looked so defenseless, so innocent.

Scully stared at her, her throat tight. Tears flickered on her lashes. She wanted so many things for her -- she wanted to color each of her days golden with sunlight; she wanted to crown her nights with wonder and passion; she wanted to fill her world with joy and laughter -- she wanted a lifetime and beyond to show her how much she adored her. She felt so powerless to even begin.

Marsh opened her eyes, drawn to the deep blue ones searing her skin with their intensity. She smiled softly in welcome.

Scully's eyes never left Marsh's as she shrugged out of her jacket, dropping it beside her. "Take off your pants," she said hoarsely, kicking off her shoes.

Marsh reached for the ties at her waist, captured by the heat in her lover's gaze. "You'll ruin your suit," she whispered as Scully climbed onto the bed.

"Fuck my suit," Scully muttered, pulling Marsh's bottoms the rest of the way off and tossing them behind her. "I want to taste you."

"Oh god--" Marsh gasped, watching in wonder as Dana parted her thighs and stretched out between them. Dana looked up, her eyes hazy, hungry. Marsh stopped breathing for a second as her stomach clenched, then sighed shakily as warm cum flooded from her. *Anything -- you can have anything*

Scully smiled triumphantly, catching her scent, seeing the arousal flush her neck and face. "Watch me," she whispered. "Tell me when you're going to come."

Marsh leaned half-sitting against the pillows, one long-fingered hand stroking Scully's face. "I'll try," she managed. Her head was spinning. *God, how did I live before you came*

Scully brought both hands between Marsh's legs, spreading the moist pink lips with her thumbs, opening her. She took her time, smiling again as the fine muscles there flickered at her touch. "You're beautiful," she murmured, watching the colors deepen to dark roses and violets. The colors of the heavens at sunset. Above her, Marsh whimpered, fingers trembling against Scully's cheek.

Scully pressed her thumbs against the sides of the deep red clitoris, blew softly across it, amazed as it twitched and stiffened. She ran her thumb up and down the shaft. *I want to touch you like no one ever has*

Marsh's hips jerked violently at the exquisite pressure. "Ohhh-- oh yes! -- there-- " Her thighs trembled against Scully's arms. "oh yeah -- pull on it-- "

"Mmm-- not yet," Scully crooned, holding Marsh's hips still. "Be patient, darling." She lowered her head, caught a pearl of clear fluid that clung to the tender inner lips on her tongue, then softly pulled each one into her mouth, licking the last remaining drops. She groaned at the first sweet taste, pushing her tongue deeper. An answering surge of her own soaked her pantyhose.

Marsh shivered, clutching the sheets in her free hand. "Dana--," she moaned, "ah, jesus -- don't stop -- it's so good, baby."

"Never," Scully pledged, shifting her fingers to pull back the thickening hood over Marsh's clit, at the same time slipping down to massage the tight circular sphincter of Marsh's ass with a finger tip.

"uh -- no -- I can't -- take that --" Marsh warned breathlessly, "you'll -- make me come." Her belly was tight, and a quivering tension was building in her pelvis.

"Don't -- you can wait -- try, honey--" Scully breathed as she licked along both sides of Marsh's clit, pushing it from side to side. She wanted her, in every fiber of her body and her soul. Her fingertip slid past the muscle, into the tight tunnel. *Oh lord, she's so warm*

"I'm -- almost there --" Marsh groaned, looking down, trying to focus as Dana's crimson lips placed soft kisses on her hard clit. "ooohhhh --please -- do it -- suck me--"

"Soon," Scully promised, beginning a slow in and out rhythm with her finger, matching it with the strokes of her tongue over the erect distended tip. Scully's clit jerked in response. Marsh's sobbing gasps echoed her own.

Marsh's arms were rigid, twisting the sheets in her fists, her legs locked out, her hips thrusting upward. She barely remembered Dana's request as the inferno began to consume her --"Dana -- oh god Dana -- I'm gonna--come--"

Everything happened at once. Scully enclosed Marsh's clit with her lips, sucking it hard into her mouth, as she pushed one finger all the way into the rear opening, and slid two into the one above. She filled her, claimed her as her own, moaning as Marsh heaved upward, contracting around her hands, spasming between her lips. Scully shut her eyes tightly, trying to ignore the pounding between her legs as Marsh thrashed against her, Marsh's choked cries sounding a benediction in her ears. *Oh yes -- my darling, my love -- come for me--*

"Oh god -- oh god -- ohgodDanaI'm yours--"

Scully stayed with her long after Marsh's body stilled, easing gently out as the internal muscles tightened, stroking the still quivering clit softly with her tongue. She didn't stop until she became aware of a gentle tugging at her hair. She raised her head, found Marsh's gaze tender on her face.

"Hey," Scully whispered. *You take my breath away*

"Hey," Marsh smiled back. She tugged the lock of red hair again. "If you come up here I might find the strength to lift a finger and help you with the state I'll bet you're in."

Scully grinned ruefully, shifting to pull her hose off. "One finger is about all it would take." She pulled her rumpled skirt up and straddled Marsh's waist. "Ahh," she sighed as her inflamed clitoris rubbed over Marsh's tight belly. "So good--" She began rocking, both arms extended beside her lover's shoulders, as she slowly lowered her head toward Marsh's waiting lips.

Marsh's arms came around her, held her as they kissed. Marsh slid her hands to Scully's ass, guiding Scully's hips back and forth as she lifted her own, increasing the pressure against Dana's pelvis.

Scully's lips moved urgently on Marsh's -- her tongue searching for contact as her hips thrust harder, erratically. Her vision dimmed, her breath grew short, all her senses strained for release. She flung her head back, biting her lips, holding on to her screams. Her breasts heaved as she clutched Marsh's arms, riding her furiously. Suddenly her eyes flew open and she sought Marsh's gaze frantically. "I'm --uh, oh-- " Her fingers dug into Marsh's flesh, the tendons in her neck taut. "uh, uh -- com --ing --"" She shuddered, her eyes flickering closed, as a series of shock waves traveled through her, streaming from her spine down her arms and legs. She fell forward into Marsh's waiting embrace, still coming.

"Don't let go," she managed to gasp, pressing her face to Marsh's neck.

Marsh's grip tightened, her lips against Scully's temple. "Never, my love. Never."


Part Two

Scully opened her eyes to the sound of rain against the skylight. The room was suffused with grey, the dawn come and gone, leaving only the shadows behind. She listened to the steady comforting rhythm of Marsh's heart beat under her cheek, and wondered how she had managed to sleep without her all those years. These were the calmest, sanest moments of her day -- here in Marsh's arms -- these few precious minutes stolen from everyone and everything that laid claim to her time, her energy, her spirit. It was so simple here -- Marsh loved her, needed her -- and she loved her. And needed her? Scully shifted slightly, afraid of the word. She wasn't sure she had ever let herself need anyone before-- except that one time -- for those few brief tormented days. And it had very nearly broken her heart -- what would it do to her if she lost Marsh? Her mind rebelled at the thought, racing frantically from the glimpse of an emptiness too painful to endure.

"Whatever you're worrying about, stop," Marsh said quietly, running her hand over Scully's shoulder, down her back.

Scully pressed her face against Marsh's breast, kissed her nipple softly. "What makes you think I'm worrying about anything, Dr. Black?"

Marsh slipped her hand through the thick hair at Dana's neck, rubbed the knots bunched under the skin. "Because every muscle in your body just got tight. And don't think you can distract me either." She tried not to lift her hips as her nipple telegraphed the rest of her to sit up and take notice.

Scully smiled, sucked the stiffening nipple harder. "Can't I?"

Marsh shifted onto her side, easing away from those tantalizing lips until she faced her lover. "Yes. Always. Every time you touch me." She took a breath, tried to ignore the tingling Dana had started. "What's wrong?"

Scully touched her finger to Marsh's lips. "You first. Are you all right -- about yesterday?"

Marsh's dark eyes grew pensive. "About the goddamned dream? Yes, I think so. I didn't dream last night -- "

"It's more than a dream, Marsh," Scully persisted gently. "You're having flashbacks -- that's serious." She felt her lover stiffen. *And I know it's not just about your kidnapping. It's about Karen -- and me*

Marsh's gaze flickered away. "They're better. It'll pass."

*God, she's a terrible liar. She could never go under cover* Scully cupped Marsh's cheek, forced her to look at her. "If they don't, will you go talk to someone?"

A muscle in Marsh's jaw bunched. "Dana--"

"Will you?"

"If I need to, yes," she growled. *When hell freezes over and they carry me away*

Scully considered that a partial victory and decided to fight the next round another day. She burrowed a little closer, fitting one leg between Marsh's. "Thank you."

Marsh kissed the top of her head. "I love you."

"Mmm," Scully sighed contentedly.

"Your turn," Marsh stated, stroking small circles down Dana's back.

"Mmmm -- I had my turn last night," Dana reminded her. She lifted her head from Marsh's chest, stared at her seriously. "What happened to my clothes?"

"I undressed you."

Scully flushed. *Great lover, Dana. Come once and pass out* Her color deepened, remembering the mind-shattering intensity of her orgasm, her stomach clenching anew with a sympathetic surge. "And what exactly did _I_ do while you were doing that?"

Marsh grinned. "You muttered _argh, mmph, and urp_ as I recall."

Scully pressed her forehead to Marsh's chest. "Lovely."

"You were," Marsh agreed, sitting up against the pillows, pulling Scully up into her embrace. She rested her chin on the top of Scully's head, watching the rain stream in rivulets down the windows. "You didn't tell me what you were thinking about this morning."

Scully sighed, trailed a finger down Marsh's abdomen, watching the tight muscles flicker at her touch. "I was thinking how much I love you -- that I wouldn't know what to do without you." She circled Marsh's navel with an exploratory fingertip.

Marsh stroked her cheek, waited.

"This case we're on -- I don't like it." Scully brushed her fingers through the soft dark hair at the base of Marsh's belly. "There's a child -- a boy--"

Marsh stilled the hand that was getting dangerously close to making her forget that she wanted Dana to talk.

"Mulder seems to think he has extrasensory abilities," Scully continued softly. She wanted to make love, forget about the pain. *I don't think I can talk about this*

"Such things exist, right?" Marsh asked quietly. *Talk to me, Dana. I'll always be here*

Scully sighed. "There are things that exist that I wish I didn't know about sometimes. It's just so much harder when it's a child. I hate questioning him. He may not even be involved." Her arms tightened almost painfully around Marsh's waist. *He _shouldn't_ be involved. Children should be protected, spared these things*

There was something else -- Marsh could sense Dana struggling to find words. "I love you, Dana."

*Trust her* Scully took a shaky breath, closed her eyes. "I had a child."

By some miracle Marsh managed not to move or utter a sound. She tightened her hold on the smaller woman, curling instinctively a little closer around her. "Tell me."

"Her name was Emily," Scully began, and then between the tears and the choked silences she told her what she knew of the little girl who shared her genes, but never her body. Of the short time they had known one another, of the bond she felt so acutely, and the devastation she had suffered when she let her die. And later the knowledge that she would never have another, and the horrifying reason why.

Marsh continued to cradle her throughout the heartwrenching tale, Dana's head tucked under her chin, their arms and legs entwined so that nothing could come between them. Marsh murmured meaningless phrases meant only to assure Dana that she was not alone. She didn't even attempt to assimilate all the unbelievable circumstances that were somehow made credible by the x-rays she had seen of the implants in Dana's neck, and the scars on Dana's abdomen, and the strange events of her own disappearance. The why of it was unimportant -- all that mattered to her was the enormous pain her lover had endured. Scully's hair was damp with Marsh's tears by the time she was finished.

"Oh, Dana," Marsh whispered, "I am so, so sorry."

Scully nodded wordlessly. *You make it easier just by being here*

There were no words to lessen the pain, only each other's presence to make it bearable. They held each other, offering silent caresses of comfort while outside the rain continued to fall.

Eventually Scully wiped the tears from her cheeks, drew a shaky breath. When she spoke again her voice was steady. "I don't even want to _think_ that something like that could be going on with this boy."

"Any way to tell?" Marsh asked carefully. *I wish you didn't have to work this case. Let Mulder do it. You've been hurt so much already!*

"Maybe. I'm meeting the other agent, Diana Fowley, this morning. She's supervising a battery of psych tests, and then I'm taking him for a PET scan and some other diagnostics. I'm sure he'll turn out to be exactly what he's billed as -- a chess prodigy." She kissed Marsh firmly, then swung her legs out from under the covers. "I need to get ready for work." *And I need to stop thinking about things I can't change. I can protect this boy - that's something I can do*

Marsh followed her into the bathroom, asking, "Who's this Diana, any how?" as she turned on the shower.

"I'm not exactly sure -- she and Mulder worked together about eight years ago. She's a psychologist like him." Scully stepped into the shower and reached for Marsh's hand. "Come on in -- but don't start anything," she warned. "We're already late."

"_Me_!" Marsh protested, pulling the glass door closed as she reached for her lover. "I'd never --"

Scully let herself be kissed. They were both late for work.


7pm Memorial Hospital

Marshall Black pushed open the door from the OR suites into the surgeon's lounge, nodded to the one other person sitting there, and continued her conversation with her senior fellow.

"If you wait until you lose the pulse in a crushed extremity, there will be irreversible tissue damage. You have to do the fasciotomy and reduce the internal pressure compressing the nerves and vessels _before_ that." She tossed her mask and cap into the overflowing trash bucket. "By the way, nice job in there."

Susan Feldman, petite, blonde and blue-eyed, smiled brightly. "Thanks." She halted Marsh's motion with a tentative touch on her arm. "Hey -- you want to catch some dinner before the cafeteria closes?"

"No, thanks," Marsh responded. "You go ahead."

Susan tried not to look disappointed. "Sure. Okay then. I'll see you for sign outs."

Marsh nodded as the younger woman disappeared into the locker room.

"She's got a thing for you," the woman on the couch observed dryly.

Marsh laughed. "There has been an offer of a backrub once or twice."

"Hhhmph. Should I worry or simply shoot her?"

Marsh leaned over and kissed her fiery red-headed lover on the mouth. "Neither. She's a good resident; I need her. And I'm crazy in love with you."

Scully kissed her back, letting her tongue trail over the inside of Marsh's lower lip, sucking lightly until Marsh groaned. "Mmm -- good answer," she sighed.

Marsh sank onto the lumpy coach beside Scully, propping her long legs up on the scratched coffee table, threading the fingers of her right hand through Dana's left. "So, wanna tell me why you're hanging around this place?"

Scully sighed. "I have bad news, and worse news. Which do you want first?"

Marsh looked at her quickly in concern. She was paler than usual, her eyes a deep violet, the color they became when she was troubled. There was something else -- an air of sadness Marsh had rarely seen her display. "Is it the boy?"

Scully smiled faintly. "Do I have no secrets from you?" She tilted her head against the outside of Marsh's shoulder, glad for her undemanding comfort. "I had the Lone Gunmen take a look at the PET scan I ran on him -- they've got access to some imaging equipment that's probably twenty-first century technology. He's definitely displaying enhanced activity in parts of the brain we don't understand very well. That lends some credibility to Mulder's theory that he has extrasensory abilities."

"As in extraterrestrial abilities?' Marsh ventured cautiously. She wasn't sure she accepted all of Mulder's theories, or even all of what Dana had told her, but she trusted that her lover would not make judgements without facts. And she didn't doubt that something unexplainable in known scientific terms had been done to the woman she loved.

Scully shrugged wearily. "I don't know yet. We won't have the DNA analysis back for a week." *Lord, I can't believe I'm even considering the possibility*

"And the other bad news?"

"We're doing around the clock surveillance on him."

Marsh stiffened, her breath catching in her throat. "So now you think the assassination attempt _was_ aimed at him?"

"Maybe," Scully answered. "Mulder thinks so. So does -- Diana." She felt the fine tremor in Marsh's fingers. She remembered only too well Marsh's response when Scully was in the middle of the hostage situation. She wasn't sure Marsh was yet recovered. "Marsh, he's in a safe house. No one will even know we're there. There is no danger."

*Yeah. And that's why you had to move him --because there's no danger* Marsh nodded, trying to ignore the cold hand that squeezed her heart. She didn't want Dana to know how hard it was to watch her walk out the door every morning into potential harm. She hadn't wanted another lover who did this kind of work, ever. But she loved Dana, and this was part of her - a big part of her. "I know. You will be careful though?"

Scully turned further on the couch, slipped an arm across Marsh's waist, hugged her hard. "Of course. I'll miss sleeping with you every night, though."

"Well, I'm on call in the hospital tonight anyway," Marsh replied, hoping her anxiety didn't show. Something didn't feel right about this situation, but it was Dana's job. She had to get used to it.

Scully was silent.

"What?" Marsh asked suspiciously.

"It's going to be at least a week."

"Fuck." Marsh sighed, stroking Dana's arm where it circled her waist. "I'll survive -- I'll just miss you. You'll get home though?"

Scully nodded. "I just can't predict when." She glanced at the clock on the opposite wall. "Marsh?"

"Hhmm?" Marsh asked absently, thinking about Dana somewhere she couldn't reach her, couldn't see her. That thought made her very uneasy.

"How long before you have to make sign out rounds?"

Marsh looked at her quickly, a small grin forming on her full lips. Dana's eyes sparkled a deep blue. "About three hours."

Scully stood, tugging her up by a hand. "On call room?"

Marsh tried to look serious, her heart already hammering. "No noise, okay?"

Scully nodded just as seriously. "Absolutely not."


Part Three

"Couldn't you get a bigger bed?" Scully whispered none too quietly.

Marsh turned on her side, making room for her lover on the hospital issue smaller-than-a-single bed. "It wasn't meant for couples," she said dryly.

Scully pulled Marsh on top of her, settling Marsh's hips into the hollow of hers, their legs intertwining. "Good -- I don't want to worry about you sharing it with anyone."

"Not a problem," Marsh murmured as she leaned down to kiss her. It was a nice kiss -- Dana's lips were soft, yielding, warm. Dana's tongue met hers gently, the tips touching, sliding over and past one another, moving to explore the inner edge of lips and mouth. It was a very nice kiss --but it wasn't the way Dana kissed her when she wanted to make love. Marsh pushed herself up on her arms, gazing down in the dim light of the reading light at her lover. "Want to tell me where you are?" she asked gently.

Scully sighed, ran her hand over Marsh's cheek. "Could you manage to be a little less sensitive on occasion, Dr. Black?"

Marsh turned her head, kissed Scully's palm. "Shall I simply grunt and fuck you?"

Scully laughed. "That's one solution." She regarded her seriously. "I was thinking about Mulder and Diana Fowley."

"Oh?"

"Frohike says they were an item."

Something about the way she said it made Marsh's stomach clench. "What do _you_ think?"

Scully was silent a long moment. "It makes sense. They're remarkably similar. They were together back at the beginning, when no one took Mulder seriously. She believes in the paranormal --he doesn't have to convince her of anything." *Not like he does with me* She remembered the way Mulder and Diana's eyes had connected across the briefing room the day before. Like they were speaking without words. *And they've been apart for years. Must have been some partnership*

"Is it a problem working with the two of them?" Marsh questioned, beginning to fear the direction of the conversation.

"I don't like navigating in the dark, and I don't think Mulder is telling me everything." She snorted. "Like he ever does."

"What makes you think he's telling her?"

Scully stared at a point somewhere past Marsh's left shoulder. "I saw them talking together today -- well, they were holding hands actually --it looked pretty cozy to me."

She sounded -- confused, a little hurt. Marsh felt something starting to break, somewhere deep inside. *Oh god, this can't be happening* But she knew it could. Had feared it would. She tried to keep her voice even, not to scream. "Were you jealous?"

Scully looked at her, surprised. "Yes." As if it had just now occurred to her.

Marsh shuddered, her eyes closing for a second. Her head was pounding. *I can't hear this, I can't. Oh jesus, what am I going to do* She started to move away -- it hurt to be next to her. She forced her eyes open, wondering if she was bleeding somewhere. She felt like she was dying. "Dana--" she whispered. *Tell me you're not leaving me* She had never been so afraid.

Scully's eyes cleared and she stared at Marsh in amazement. "Now I know how Mulder feels about us."

"What?" It was Marsh's turn to be confused. What was she saying?

"_I'm_ used to being the one he bounces his theories off. The one he commiserates with when things aren't going well. Hell, the one he calls for almost everything." Scully gave that some thought. "It's hard sharing his attention."

Marsh held her breath, trying to prepare for Scully's inevitable realization that she and Mulder were lovers in every way except the obvious already, and that could easily be changed. She was suddenly very cold.

"For almost five years we've been alone together -- god, that's true in more ways than one. Neither of us has had a lover --." She didn't think Phoebe Green or Ed Jerse actually counted on that scale. She preferred not to think of Ed on any level at all. "There's no one we can trust --well, maybe Skinner. Yes, Skinner. But we've pretty much been it for each other. We've been intimate on every level except sexually."

She smiled softly up at the dark-haired wonder leaning over her, raised her head to kiss the tiny hollow below Marsh's collar bone. "And then I found you. No wonder he's been a little cranky. It's an adjustment."

Marsh was trembling.

"Marsh?" Scully questioned. The silence was her answer. She pushed herself up on the thin pillow until she was sitting, her back against the cold tile wall. "What did you think?" She took Marsh's face in both her hands. "Look at me."

Marsh's eyes were bruised, anguished. "I thought-- I thought you were going to say you wanted him."

Scully wasn't angry. She was furious. Furious at whatever forces had conspired to make Marsh doubt she deserved to be loved, and cherished, and desired. Very quietly, in the tone that made men twice her size jump to attention, she spoke. "There are two reasons I'm in this bed with you instead of Mulder. First, in all the years and all the ways we've been close, he has never touched the places inside of me that you have. His obsessions, my fears -- many reasons. You make it impossible for me to bar you from my soul, and I trust you with it."

She paused, taking Marsh's hands -- pulling her closer until Marsh knelt with her legs on either side of Scully's thighs. "The second reason is this." She grasped Marsh's neck, brought their faces close together. "He can't give me this."

Scully kissed her, hard, drawing Marsh's hand between her legs, into her wetness. She shuddered as Marsh's sensitive fingers tentatively moved over her tensely swollen flesh. She let go of Marsh's head, reached down for her, finding her open and ready. At another time she might have teased her, might have taken her time. But not now.

"I want you inside me," Scully gasped, lifting her hips, pressing against Marsh's hand as she slid her fingers into Marsh's depths.

Marsh groaned as the sweet pressure filled her. She sought Scully's lips, hungry for her kiss as she thrust into Dana at the same time.

"Oh yes --" Scully whispered, feeling Marsh immediately clench down on her. "This --," she moved her fingers up against that sensitive spot, making Marsh moan and shiver, "is what I want." She groaned as Marsh reciprocated inside of her. "This--," she slowly thrust in and out, "is what I need." Marsh matched her, stroke for stroke. "This--," she gasped as she brought her thumb over the top of Marsh's clit, feeling Marsh follow her on her own aching flesh, "is -- what -- you-- give --me."

Their faces were inches apart, dark eyes on blue, spellbound, hazy with desire. They watched their own passion reflected in the others gaze. They were both shaking, limbs twitching uncontrollably, struggling to stay upright. Their foreheads touched as they watched their hands disappearing into one another.

"Dana--" Marsh warned helplessly. She was getting so close.

"Shh--" Scully soothed, finding Marsh's lips, distracting her from the incredible pressure building inside. "Kiss me," she murmured.

Marsh whimpered, unable to keep her eyes open, as her tongue sought her lover's in the warm haven of her mouth. Even as their hands pumped faster, more erratically, they kissed slowly, reverently, calming the fears as their bodies spiraled beyond their control. Scully broke the kiss first.

"Make me come, darling," she implored, shivering, her breath starting to desert her. "Please--"

Marsh pushed deeper, brought her thumb down harder on the thick, distended clitoris. With each wild thrust she rubbed the tender tip. Dana jerked in her arms, her head thrown back, the tendons in her neck and legs taut.

"Oh yes -- that's-- gonna -- do it," Scully wailed, rocking her hips hard on her lover's hand. Her stomach clenched as Marsh flicked her clit from side to side. "Yess--" Scully growled. "Do it-- oh FUCK--"

Scully' head snapped forward as the first burst detonated in her pelvis, ripping the last breath from her. She clutched Marsh's shoulder, her other hand moving automatically in Marsh with the same frantic rhythm as the explosions rushing through her. Dimly she heard Marsh's shout of release, felt the exquisitely soft muscles close on her fingers. *I love you* she cried from her soul.

****

"There's a rock under my left butt," Scully muttered irritably, shifting so she was lying a little more on top of Marsh.

"That's my beeper," Marsh mumbled, pulling Dana closer.

"Unh -- we're going to have to get up," Scully sighed. *God I don't want to*

Marsh nuzzled Scully's ear. "You think?"

"If we don't want that little blond bombshell resident of yours to come searching you out," Scully groused. "And there is Diana. I need to relieve her."

Marsh sat up, wrapping her arms around Scully. "You okay with her?"

Scully nodded. "Yes. Now that I know what's been bothering me so much about her." She nestled her cheek against Marsh's shoulder. "I think _she_ thinks I'm after Mulder, though."

Marsh nodded calmly. "Makes sense." She kissed the top of Scully's head. "Of course, _I_ know better."

Scully laughed softly. "Finally."

"You'll be careful, huh?" Marsh asked one more time. She couldn't shake the feeling that there was something not quite right about this assignment.

Scully kissed her reassuringly. "The only thing threatening about it is the cartoons the little genius watches."

Marsh didn't like it, but she would never stand between Dana and her mission. She just pushed the uneasiness to the back of her mind, where there seemed to be plenty of company for it these days.


Part Four

7:45 am Memorial Hospital

Marsh opened her locker with a sigh. She'd been up most of the night patching holes in a thirteen year old who had gotten into an argument with another teenager over a pair of sneakers. They decided to settle the issue with guns. She was due to go home, but the prospect did little to lift her spirits. Dana wasn't there and there was no telling when she would be. *Oh for god's sake, Black. It's only for a few days. She's been gone longer than that before*

"Yeah, but at least then I could call her," she muttered as she slammed the metal door with a bang. The clatter was diminished as the hall door thudded open and the head trauma nurse barreled into the room.

"Thank god you're still here. There's a red liner coming in any minute! Must be a VIP -- they're calling ahead for you."

A _red liner_ referred to an injured law enforcement agent or government official. Marsh's heart rate jumped as she followed the nurse at a run toward the trauma admitting unit, but she said calmly, "What do you know about it?"

"Not much," the woman responded, pushing open the double doors to the trauma suite. "Gunshot -- a fed -- Harry took the call."

Marsh pulled an impermeable gown over her scrubs, reached for a pair of gloves. "Harry!", she called to the unit clerk seated in front of a bank of monitors and a field radio. "Fill me in!" Behind her two nurses readied the operating table in the middle of the room for the incoming patient, pulling instrument packs and hanging plastic bags of IV fluid. She could here the page operators calling a _trauma alert_ to assemble the rest of her team. Xray techs and anesthesia personnel should arrive any second.

The clerk looked down at the transmittal form. "ETA 2 minutes. Female, mid-thirties, GSW left chest -- they're bagging her in the van. No blood pressure --- I called for eight units of O-neg."

*Female -- Federal agent -- god, it couldn't be!* Marsh felt something shift in her chest. "Name -- do you have a name?" she demanded urgently. She was having trouble drawing a deep breath.

Harry Flynn looked at her in astonishment. A name? What the hell did that matter? When did they ever get a name, or care? The look on her face sent him scrambling through the telex. He'd never seen her anything but cool as ice, and at that moment there was something close to panic in her eyes. "Um -- no ID -- a priority call came through on a scrambled line -- somebody Skinner requesting you --"

*Dana!* Marsh felt like a hammer hit her. *Oh no, no, no -- jesus god not again* She swayed, suddenly light-headed. *Dana! Please not Dana too!* Her vision dimmed and she couldn't hear what Harry was saying. Her legs seemed to be buckling. She reached out, managed to grasp the side of an emergency cart to steady herself.

Through a haze she heard a phrase she had heard thousands of times, a phrase that instantly cleared her mind. "Patient on deck!" Marsh straightened, a hard certainty her only thought. *Not this time, goddamn it. I won't lose her this time* She turned toward the double doors as the EMTs crashed through with the stretcher.

"On the table -- move, move --" she called, grabbing one end of the transfer board. Her eyes were riveted on the patient's blood-soaked chest as they slid her onto the steel surface. She never raised her eyes to the face covered by the ventilation mask. Marsh stepped close to the left side of the table as the nurses cut open and discarded clothing on the floor, her stethoscope searching each side of the thorax for breath sounds. An anesthetist expertly slipped an endotracheal tube down the patient's trachea and began ventilating her lungs mechanically. At the same time other members of the team were hanging blood, inserting catheters into her bladder and stomach, drawing serum specimens for the lab to analyze her blood volume and oxygenation.

"I've got no breath sounds on the left," Marsh called. "Get me a 36 chest tube." The left lung was collapsed. A nurse opened a thoracotomy tray which held all the instruments Marsh would need to insert a thick plastic tube between the patient's ribs into the chest cavity to evacuate any blood and allow the lungs to expand. Marsh held out her right hand as someone swabbed betadiene disinfectant over the patient's chest. A large irregular hole had been torn through the upper part of her breast at the bullet entrance site. Marsh pushed the breast up and out of her way with her left hand as the scalpel was slapped into her palm. She made a two inch cut between the fifth and sixth ribs just below the arm pit, dropped the blade on the tray, and reached for a large curved hemostat. She probed the tips of the instrument into the wound, felt the rib, and pushed up over the top of it, through the thin covering of the pleural cavity, and into the chest. Dark blood gushed from the wound, soaking her legs and shoes. "Fuck." She threaded the chest tube into the space and the blood flowed bright red through it onto the floor. "Major bleeder here! Let's crack her!"

She extended the incision from just under the mid-point of the breast toward the back, curving along the rib. She cut deeply through skin and fat and muscle directly into the chest cavity on the first pass, not worried about minor bleeders. Time was of the essence. The patient was bleeding to death. "Pass me the spreaders," she ordered, not looking up from the wound. She held the tissues apart with her fingers as she fit the large square jaws of the rib-spreaders between the fragile struts of the chest. Rapidly she cranked it open - a faint pop signaled one rib fracturing from the strain. She peered into the left chest at the bruised lung, the heart pumping sluggishly just beneath it. She couldn't see a thing through the blood. "Where's the fucking suction? Somebody get me some suction --"

A tech aimed the overhead light into the wound while Marsh aspirated out the old clots and new blood. It continued to well up dangerously fast. "Okay --" she said calmly. "There it is -- there's a hole in the left atrial appendage." She reached into the chest with her left hand and pinched closed the small hole in the upper chamber of the heart. The bleeding slowed considerably. "I need a two-oh silk on a long needle holder -- quickly now." She held out a rock steady right hand.

Marsh maneuvered the instrument into the cavity toward the injured heart and inserted a figure-of-eight suture through the rent, tying it down deftly. The torrential hemorrhage stopped. "Somebody alert the OR -- get the pump team ready. She's going to need to go on bypass for the rest of the repair." She straightened, noting that the chest tube was finally clearing of blood. "What's her status?"

"She's stable, Marsh," one of the nurses called. "The heart team's ready -- we can transport."

*A save* Marsh thought. She looked at the patient's face for the first time. *oh god thank you -it's not Dana - it's not Dana* The surge of adrenaline was starting to wear off and she felt suddenly weary. "What's her name?" she asked quietly.

Somebody picked the bloody leather folder up off the floor, flipped it open. "Diana Fowley."

Marsh watched them roll the stretcher out of her trauma unit toward the elevators and the OR, her face pale, her eyes strangely vacant.

*****

Mulder, Skinner and Scully waited wordlessly just outside the closed doors of the trauma unit for what felt like an eternity. Mulder paced, Skinner stood glowering with his hands pushed deep in the pockets of his perfectly creased trousers, and Scully leaned against the wall, arms crossed over her chest. She knew what was happening behind those red doors. She'd seen the location of the entry wound, had heard the EMTs struggling to stabilize Diana's vital signs, and she knew that only the skill in Marsh's hands would make any difference at this point.

"Can't you go see what's going on, Scully?" Mulder pleaded in a low voice. "They've been in there forever."

"It's been ten minutes, Mulder. Let them work. Marsh is with her." As if that said it all. Scully touched his arm sympathetically, all thoughts of the strange rivalry with Diana Fowley gone. A fellow agent was down. Nothing else mattered.

Just as it appeared that Mulder was about to storm the gates, the doors banged open and three people rushed a stretcher up the hall toward the open waiting elevators. Mulder trotted along side, stopping helplessly as the doors slide closed, excluding him once again.

"Find Black," Skinner said in a low flat tone, his eyes glinting dangerously. "Find out if Fowley said anything. I want whoever did this."

"Yes, sir," Scully replied.

The trauma bay looked like a war zone. The floor was littered with empty IV bags, xray film, and pools of blood. The techs and nurses milled about, still high from the incredible intensity of those few short moments when they were the only ones who stood between the patient and death.

"Oh man -- did you see her? -- calm as could be, sticking her hand in there and grabbing the heart-- man, what a rush--"

"Jesus -- look at this floor -- hey, somebody call housekeeping--"

"Fuck I hope we don't get another one right away -- it's too fucking early in the day --"

"Full moon, you know -- we're in for it--"

"Oh shit -- and Black isn't here tonight--"

"Don't worry -- they'll call her if the shit hits --"

The head nurse looked up from where she was gathering bloodied linens into a red biohazard bag at the intense, impeccably dressed woman standing inside the doors. "I'm sorry. You shouldn't be in here. Are you a family member?"

*You could say that* Scully opened her ID. "Special Agent Dana Scully. I'd like to see Dr. Black."

The nurse hesitated for a second, eyeing Scully carefully. She looked familiar for some reason. "She went back to her on-call room." She pointed to a door opposite the ones Scully had just entered. "Down that hall. Last door on the left."

*I know exactly where it is. I just left there ten hours ago* Scully stepped carefully around the congealing mess on the floor. "Thanks."

As soon as she entered the small room where she had lain making love the night before, she heard her. She crossed to the adjoining bathroom and pushed the half-open door back. Marsh was leaning over the toilet, vomiting.

"Marsh!" Scully cried, stepping quickly to her side, slipping an arm around her waist. "God, honey -- what's wrong?"

Marsh struggled for air. "I'm okay," she gasped. Lord, she didn't want her to see this. "Wait - other room --" She wretched again, her sides aching with the futile effort. Her stomach was already empty. Sweat beaded her face, ran down her neck. "Fuck--" she croaked. "Go away--"

Scully reached beside her and turned on the cold water tap, soaking a hand towel in the spray. She kept a hand on her lover's heaving back and wiped her face with the towel. She didn't stop until Marsh finally straightened with a shaky sigh. She waited while Marsh rinsed her mouth, brushed her teeth.

"Christ, I'm sorry," Marsh muttered, feeling humiliated.

Scully led her unprotesting into the other room and sat her down on the edge of the bed. She tilted Marsh's face up with a hand under her chin and studied her face. She looked terrible. Her cheeks were dawn and pale, and the circles under her eyes were darker. "What the hell just happened?"

Mash's eyes skittered away. "Must have been breakfast."

Scully's teeth clamped down hard. "Bullshit. You tell me now and you tell me all of it. I've had it with this crap Marsh. Was it another flashback?"

Marsh shook her head miserably. "No. Nothing like this has ever happened before, I swear."

Scully moved her hand to the back of Marsh's neck, stroking her fingers through the soft hair there. "Then what was it?"

*Oh, hell* Marsh took a deep breath. "When they called it in, I was afraid it was you."

Scully's heart twisted. "Oh jesus, I'm sorry. I never even thought--"

"It's okay -- you were working, for god's sake -- another agent was shot. You're not supposed to be thinking about me!" Marsh closed her eyes in disgust. "It's my goddamned problem."

Scully pulled the beautiful face protectively against her breast, holding her gently, kissed the top of her head. "No, my darling, it's _our_ problem." She sighed. *But not now. Skinner's waiting. God, when will there ever be time?*

"How's Diana?" Scully asked.

"Critical. Blew a hole through her heart. She's lost a lot of blood, was hypotensive for too long. She's going to have pulmonary and probably renal problems at the very least. Fuck. If they'd gotten her here sooner. If I'd been closer --"

"You got her to the OR -- that's your job," Scully reminded her. "Did she say anything?"

Marsh laughed without humor. "Nothing."

"Go home, darling. I'm going to take Mulder back to his place. I'll be there for a while."

Marsh stood, her nausea passed. "I'm going to wait for them to bring Diana down from the OR. Make sure she's stable."

Scully started to protest, then caught herself. *She's just doing what you would do, Scully. She'll be fine* She hoped that was true, because she couldn't do anything about it now. "All right. Try to get some sleep before then?"

Marsh kissed her fervently, so glad she was safe. "I will. I promise. I love you."

Scully returned the kiss, still worried. "I love you, Dr. Black."

5:30 pm

Mulder lay on the couch in a worn sweatshirt and jeans, one arm thrown over his face. Scully sat across the small dim room at his cramped desk, talking first with Marsh, then with Skinner. She hung up the phone and observed him in silence. She was afraid they were facing some difficult decisions. Maybe more so for her than for him. No matter what changes the bureau tried to foist on them, she knew nothing would deter him from his quest. She wasn't so sure any more about herself. For a time his journey had become hers, and his mission hers by association. She wasn't sure what to believe any longer, or even if the enemies they faced were capable of being uncovered. All she knew was that whoever or whatever conspired against them was considerably stronger than they were. She wasn't afraid so much for herself. Fear wasn't something she gave much thought to. She was afraid for Marsh -- both for what she might know that endangered her, and for what the whole situation seemed to be doing to her.

"How's Diana?" Mulder asked dispiritedly from across the room.

Scully sighed, resolving to deal with those issues later. "Not good. Marsh said she's stable, but still on life support. The next few days are going to be rocky."

"Well, at least Marsh is there," he muttered.

"Mulder," Scully said seriously, "there's another problem."

He turned his head toward her in silent question. He looked beaten.

She hated to say it, but they had to face it. "Skinner said Justice is talking about shutting us down."

He managed to resurrect a sneer. "They've tried before Scully. We always bounce back."

"This time it sounds serious. They're talking reassignment, Mulder. For both of us."

There was something in her voice that brought him upright. He looked at her carefully. The creases between her eyes had deepened, and the corners of her full lips curled down. She was struggling with something.

"What?" he asked, not at all sure he was ready to hear the answer.

"Maybe it's time, Mulder. Maybe there's nothing to find, or what is there is just too big for us to change."

He stood, started to pace. "I don't believe that Scully --- every time we get close -- like with this boy -- someone stops us. There's something there all right. And someone's afraid we'll find it." He looked at her, saw her uncertainty, and he felt warning bells. "Don't give up, Scully. I need you."

*Marsh needs me, too. And I need her* Before she could reply, the phone rang again. She snatched it up, listened impassively. "Thank you, sir. We're on our way."

Mulder's heart dropped. "Diana?"

Scully grabbed her coat, looked at him blankly. "Our office is on fire."

9pm FBI Headquarters

They stood in the rubble, clinging to one another, dazed. Mulder turned slowly, surveying the destruction. It was more than his mind could comprehend.

"Oh god, Scully, it's over."

She held him tighter. "It will never be over, Mulder."

End