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TITLE: Saudade(1/1)
AUTHOR: Ana Vicente
RATING: PG
KEYORDS: M/S R, M/S UST
CLASSIFICATION: S, A, R
SUMMARY: Mulder and Scully have parted after the events of the movie. When Mulder disappears, Skinner goes to Scully for help.
TIMELINE: 3 months after the events of the movie.
SPOILERS: Fight the Future, Detour, Travelers(not really)
NOTES OF THE AUTHOR: *Saudade* is a Portuguese word that simply cannot be translated. There is something of love, longing, nostalgia and melancholy in it. It is the feeling you get when you're away from whatever or whoever you call home. It is to miss a place you've never been to, a person you've never met. It is how you fell the distance between you and someone or somewhere that is as much a part of you as every cell in your body. It is something that can only be explained through a sad song. Enlightened?
Also, this story was originally written for the Church of X's Challenge of the Scribes of November 1999.
FEEDBACK: To Thorn17@mailcity.com
DISCLAIMER: Characters and names belong to CC, 1013, and Fox Television.

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Fox Mulder sat in the dark, contemplating the undeniable fact that he would soon be dead, and smiling.

How sweet the thought of death was to someone who had been agonizing for three months. How incomparably liberating it seem to be soon stepping into that long dark night.

Three months. His mind drifted back to the last time he had seen Scully. The pain that lingered on his side, where he had heard the sound of the craking ribs, now paled before the one arising in his chest.

He began to laugh uncontrolably -- bitterly -- as he remembered all the times he had almost lost her. The abduction. THe cancer. All the maniacs that had tryed to kill her. The alien virus.

He had outdone them all. He had told her to leave, and she had gone.

Keeping her safe, that's all he had thought about in that moment. Keeping her well away from all the people that would hurt her, that would use her to hurt him. He hadn't realized he'd be killing himself in the process.

He felt something crawling up his hand, and scooped it up. He could feel the small creature inside his fist struggle to release itself, but when he opened his hand, it didn't skitter away to seek refuge in one of the littered corners.

Mulder stared at the bug in his palm. He wasn't sure of what it was, he had never much cared for insects. It was mostly black, but the parts of its hard shell that covered its wings shone like polished wood in the few beams of light that found their way through the hole in the ceiling.

Light. It was morning again. How many nights had he passed here? Two, possibly three, he wasn't sure. He wasn't even sure it was indeed morning. He was having more and more trouble keeping himself conscient.

He noticed that the bug was still standing on his palm. He pulled a sunflower seed from his pocket and placed it in front of the insect. It examined the seed briefly before taking it and, hurling itself down from his hand, dissapearing in the darkness.

Mulder felt the numbness in his stomach nagging him at the sight of the sunflower seed. He fished in his pocket for another seed, and then just threw it away. No use postponing the unavoidable. And it would only make him more thirsty than he already was.

He wondered if they would tell Scully when he was dead. But they wouldn't know if he was dead, they'd never know for sure. Not if they couldn't find him.

The thought pleased him. He imagined Cancer man and his peers looking over their shoulders, wondering if he was somewhere out there, ready to strike them down.

He then imagined Scully being told he was missing. The years passing, and always the doubt of whether or not he was dead. He didn't like the thought of it, he had lived with such a doubt for too long to wish it on her.

So tired. His whole body was heavy as lead. he could hardly feel the pain on his side now. he could hardly feel anything at all, and that was good.

He smiled again, as his eyes slowly closed. Inside him, he could feel a brighter darkness taking over.

Softly, his lips muttered one last word, "Dana."

*


Dana Scully had just started anothere shift on the ER of the Foster Marshall Hospital in New York. As usual, the ER was teeming with people, and that was just fine with her. Being over-worked wasn't that bad, at least it kept her from thinking too much.

Today, though, it didn't seem to be working. She'd been on call for less than two hours and she had already gone through four sutures, a case of accute appendicitis, the victim of a shooting and two three-year-old twins who had swallowed some moth ball.

"You look awful, today," Susan, one of the nurses, said, "Like you did when you first came here."

She was right, of course. For the past two nights, she had dreamed of Mulder. She generally did, but this was different. These were nightmares, like the ones she had had when she had first moved to New York, nightmares that she could never quite recall, but from which she always arose with an over-whelming feeling of loss.

On the night before, as it so often happened, she had picked up the phone and called him, prepared to hang up if he actually answered it. She had gotten only the familiar message of his answering machine. She now knew it by heart, word by word, each and every inflection. Many times during the last three months, she had called his house at times when she knew he wouldn't be home; unable to speak with him, but needing to hear his voice.

But he should've been home last night. Unless he was on a case. Or with her.

"Aaarrghh!"

The scream had come from the twelve-year-old she was prepping for a cast, and whose broken leg she had just squeezed a little too hard. "Get a grip, SCully," she silently ordered herself. She'd end up making some serious mistake, if she didn't start focusing.

Just as she was finishing the cast, a voice came through the speakers on the cailing, "Dr.Scully to Dr.Ewell's office. Dr.Scully please reply to Dr.Ewell's office."

Jonesy, one of the other doctors, winked at her. "Being called to the principal, huh? Have you been a bad girl?"

She smiled and headed for the elevators, wondering what did Ewell want with her. Even now, she could see Ewell's old cat-fish face making strange contortions as he explained something about the-way-this-hospital-works, while she tryed desperately not to laugh.

But the first face she saw when she walked into Ewell's office was far more familiar than his. Assistant Director Skinner was sitting behind Ewell's desk. Leaning against one of the wall was the man Mulder usually called Cancer.

She looked hard at Skinner. "Don't tell me, I'm being assigned to the X-Files."

"Your sarcasm is contraproductive here, Agent Scully," Cancer maan puffed out the words with the smoke of his cigarette.

"*Dr.* Scully."

Skinner had gotten up. "Scully, Mulder is missing."

"Missing?"

He nodded. "he was assisting in the search for an escaped serial-killer. We assume he went out on his own two nights ago. He hasn't been seen since."

Skinner held her by the shoulders. "I need you to come with me. If anyone can find Mulder, it's you."

She pointed at the smoking man. "And why is he here? To make sure I don't go?"

"Quite the contrary. I have all the interest in the world in having Agent Mulder back in Washington, safe and sound."

She bet he did. I f Mulder was missing, they couldn't control him. But she had no time to think of the smoking man's motives or his endless schemings. Mulder needed her. "Where are we going?" she asked Skinner.

"Come. I'll fill you in on our way to the airport."

And that was how, two hours later, she found herself sitting by herself in a plane, heading for a small town she couldn't even find on the map. Skinner and the smoking man had caught a plane back to Washington.

After the plane had landed, it still took a drive of an hour and a half for her to get to Lake Semple. By the time she managed to find the sheriff, sunset was only a few hours away.

Mulder had already spent two nights out there, she wasn't sure he'd be able to survive another one. She knew how Mulder was; he had stumbled into something -- the thinniest lead -- and had left to investigate it immediately, without bothering to warn anyone or make any preparations.

Of course he hadn't, that had always been her job. But she wasn't there for him anymore, was she? She shook the guilt off, no time for that now. Mulder was out there, probably here, with no water and no food other than a bag of sunflower seeds.

"This here is marshland, miss," the sheriff was saying. "I'm afraid we're not expecting to find him."

"Show me to his room," she ordered.

The sheriff led her to the motel where Mulder had been staying, telling her all the way there that they should be calling the search off soon * on account that it was getting dark*. She fought the urge to tell him to shut up, no use antogonizing the man; she would need all the help she could get to find Mulder in time.

The owner of the motel opened the door of room 12 for. She would've smiled when she got in, if she hadn't been so worried. This was Mulder's room alright.

The bed clothes were all jumbled up, the clear result of a restless night. There were clothes thrown over the couch and the wooden rail at the foot of the bed. And on the nightstand was a large ashtray brimming with sunflower seed husks.

She walked in, picking up a book from the floor and setting it on the cluttered coffee table. There were no notes on the case in sight, and she wasn't surprised. If Mulder had taken any notes at all -- which most of the times he didn't -- they were probably on the notepad he always carried with him.

"I'll go see of a room for you," the motel owner said.

"No need, I'll stay here."

"My men have just returned," the sheriff told her, too dangerous out there in the dark. They didn't find your partner."

She tryed not to wince at the word *partner*. "Thank you, sheriff."

"If you ask me, you're wasting your time here."

"*Thank you*, sheriff!"

Mumbling something she was certain she'd sooner not understand, the man finally left. When she heard the door closing, she sat on the couch, head between here hands. She had no idea of where to start looking.

She had had a chance to take a look at the surrounding landscape as she was driving there. On one side of the road was a broad expanse of flat land with a few strange elevations that couldn't be over one or two feet high. On the other, the swapy grounds were partially covered with trees.

The sheriff and his people had been looking for Mulder on those swampy woods. But, even from the road, she had been able to see what a maze they were. And if Mulder had fallen in --

No, Mulder was not dead, not yet. she would've felt if he were, she would've known.

She leaned back, and the smell of him filled her. She sat up, stunned. She had leaned against one of his t-shirts, lying over the back of the couch. Scully took the shirt and held it against her face. Two tears ran down her face, no more. They offered no release to the pain that had been welling up inside her for the past three months, and faster since her meeting with Skinner.

This never would've happened, if she hadn't left. No use denying it.

During the time they had been apart, she had asked herself so many times why she had left. She had asked herself every night she had spent awake, tossing and turning in pain that was as physical as emotional, knowing she was not going to see him the next day.

She had come up with so many answers. It had been a troubled time, she had been hurting, she had been tired of fighting all the lost battles, she had been afraid. Of all the answers, she knew this last one had been closer to the truth. She had been afraid; afraid of the way their relationship had been changing lately, afraid of her own feelings, feelings that weren't nearly as under control as she had thought them to be. And she had been afraid of *her*: Diana Fowley.

She stood up, still holding the shirt. This wasn't helping Mulder. "Come now, Mulder, talk to me. Where are you?"

She started going through the room. She opened every drawer, looked under each piece of furniture, inside each book. All she found was dust, dirty clothes and the remains of his last meal.

Exhausted from the journey and the despair, she dropped herself onto the bed. She just needed to calm herself down, she had to think straight. Getting too emotional about this would only make everything harder.

Her hand reached for the pillow, and her fingers found something hard under it. Scully sat up and examined the object Mulder had left on his bed.

It was a book by someone called Samuel Desargues on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Just the sort of thing Mulder would be reading in bed.

Suddenly a thought sparkled in her head. She examined the t-shirt she had found discarded on the couch. It was faded and torn in a couple of places, it was one of the shirts Mulder wore for sleeping.

She now could see the scene as if she had been there; Mulder reading the book in bed, coming upon something that had made him suddenly realize where the man they were looking for was hiding, and changing hastily before running out the door. Now, if she could only figure out what that something had been.

She started leafing through the book. There was a large fingerprint of what looked like tomato sauce on one of the pages containing photos. Whatever Mulder had had for dinner that night had left a generous amount of red traces on the plate still on top of the coffeee table.

Looking closely at the photographs, she was reminded of something she had seen on her way there. She smiled, she knew exactly where Mulder was.

Opening her suitcase, she changed from the dark suit she was wearing into jeans, a sweat-shirt and hiking boots. When she was dressed, she tryed in vain to find the sheriff. Finally, she decided to leave a message with the motel owner.

She found an unopene fifteen ounce bottle of water and another half full by Mulder's dinner tray and stored them both in her bag. She also decided to take the two packets of salt he had left on the tray.

Soon, she was hiking vigorously across the flat land she had passed earlier that day. She had borrowed the red umbrella someone had forgotten a long time ago behind the door of room 12, and was now using it to test the soil for firmness.

As she walked over one of the slight elevations she had observed earlier, the metal tip of the umbrella struck something hard. Scully cleared the dirt and grass on a small patch of ground to expose the cement underneath it.

She had been right: nuclear shelters. She was sure Mulder had figured it out as well and had come here to look for the escaped convict. The man had been born in the region, he might know about the shelters.

The possibility now occurred to her of Mulder having found who he was looking for. She checked her gun, and continued walking, refusing to give up hope.

She was walking around another one of the shelters, when the umbrella bore deep into the ground, almost making her fall. Pulling the overgrowth aside, she discovered an opening.

Shining a light through it, she was able to make out the silhouette of a man prone against one of the walls. "Mulder! Mulder!"

Without hesitation, she stuck the umbrella firmly on the ground so it would be visible to anyone who came looking for them. She then eased herself through the gep, and dropped to the floor some eight feet below.

She scraped her hands on the fall, but was other wise unharmed. As she expected, she found Mulder uncounscious, displaying clear symptoms of dehydration.

Scully took the water and the salt out of her bag and began mixing them, hoping she could get the porportions right. She held his head up and tryed to make him swallow, but the water kept streaming out the corners of his mouth.

She would never be able to get enough water in him this way. She took a swig of water and, closing her lips firmly over his, let it flowly steadily into his mouth.

By the light of the flashlight she had set upright on the floor, she repeated the process over and over again. She had found Mulder alive and she was determined to keep him that way until someone came for them.

*


Mulder was floating in still dark waters. There were no waves, no wind; nothing but the all-engulfing darkness and a feeling of wheightlessness, as if he were being pushed upwards.

And then he could taste the water. An almost salty flavour. He remembered swimming in the river with his sister, swimming not far from where the river went into the sea -- the taste of the two waters mixing in the high tide.

The darkness was unwillingly relenting. There were lips over his, firm but gentle, guiding the water into his mouth. His lips moved forward, avidly.

The lips were replaced by a voice, a voice so familiar it brought him completely back to his senses. "Mulder? Mulder, can you hear me?"

His eyes opened slowly, painfully, the fear that she would just fade away razor-clear through the haze in his head. As the image of her came into focus, he saw the serene blue eyes and the halo of shiny red hair he had gazed upon almost everyday for the last six years.

Scully smiled at him. "Welcome back."

She placed her arm under his shoulders and forced him to raise a little. Then she pressed the neck of plastic bottle against his mouth. "Drink. You need as much water as you can get right now."

"What are you doing here?" The words scratched his throat as they came out.

"Skinner called me in."

He lapsed back into silence, and drank obediently, enjoying her presence, quenching a whole different sort of thirst. Then he started wondering if she had come to stay. If whatever had made her go before, would pull her away again.

"Why did you leave?"

She looked stunned for a moment. "You told me to."

He tryed to laugh, he couldn't. "Nice time you chose to start listening to me."

She threw the empty water bottle away, and picked up the flashlight. She started examining him, the light on his face keeping him from seeing hers.

"You left the Bureau, Scully, but you also left my life. You could've called."

She sat next to him, placing the light between them. "You could've found me, if you wanted."

He noticed she still hadn't answered his question. He grabbed her wrist. "Why did you leave?"

"You didn't want me around anymore. It's just like I told you when I went to your house that day, I was in your way." She closed her eyes and rubbed her temploes. "In more ways than one."

He didn't have to think too hard to know what she was talking about. And it made him smile. "Diana?"

Scully took a deep breath. "Maybe I wasn't about to stand around and watch -- "

He pulled her to him. "Diana has led me to do some very stupid things in my life. But ... " He was looking for the right words to tell her. "There's always some tension between us when there's someone else around, someone one of us finds ... intriguing. I guess we tend to get torn between a certain territoriality over each other and the need of not standing in each other's path."

"No, Mulder, we get torn between the anger at what the other one is doing and the doubt of whether or not we're allowed to be angry."

Mulder pulled her to him, and kissed her hard on the lips. "Permission granted," he whispered, moving to kiss her again.

She pulled away. "Carefull, you're hurt." She sat against the wall and pulled him carefully onto her lap.

He smiled, remembering something, as she started caressing his hair. "You're not going to start singing are you?"

"Hey, you asked me to."

He chuckled. "I didn't know better then."

"What stupid things?" she asked suddenly.

"What?"

"You said Diana had led you to do some very stupid things."

He hesitated, he wasn't sure he wanted to talk about Diana right now. But he had no secrets from Scully. "Marriage."

She startled. He felt the movement sharply on his side. "You and Diana were married?"

"No. It was after she left for Europe. I was hurting and I met this woman. You can guess the rest."

She looked down at him. "You're FBI record states you as single, not divorced."

Obviously, he would have to tell her the whole story. "I met Betsy in Las Vegas, I was there on a case for over two weeks. When I was coming back to Washington, we decided to get married. We went to one of those *chappels of love*.

"Some three months before you were assigned to the X-Files -- we had been married for little over that -- we were notified that the person who had married us wasn'ty licensed. We decided we didn't want to get re-married."

He could hear the smile in her voice. "I guess that when you saw me walk into your office you must've thought than the last thing you needed was another woman in your live."

Mulder rolled over, so he was looking up at her. "No. I thought I would love to teach you a few things."

"Such as?"

He motioned for her to draw nearer, and whispered the reply in her hear, even though there was no one else around to eaves drop on their conversation. She laughed.

"Actually, that works much better if you ... " And it was her turn to whisper something in his hear.

He stared at her in mock shock. She shrugged. "I'm a doctor, remember?"

Mulder was starting to wish his side didn't hurt the way it did. I was thinking of the best reply, when he heard the voices over their heads.

A man's voice was yelling, "In here!" It was followed by a powerful beam of light searching the room.

Mulder felt Scully moving to stand up, and wished they would become invisible for a moment. He wished for the men up there not to see them and leave them there, alone.

*


A week had passed. A week in which he had not seen Scully.

She had come to him in the hospital, and told him that they had found the escaped convict in one of the other shelters. Then she had walked out of the room, saying he needed to rest.

The sheriff had later told him that she had caught a plane back to New York on that very same day.

He had tryed to find her in New York, he had called every hospital, every clinic. Finally, he had been told, by the receptionist of the Foster Marshal Hospital that Dr.Dana Scully no longer worked there.

He had been hopeful then, and on his return to Washington he had gone to her house. But he had found it empty.

Mulder rode the elevator down to the ground floor of his building, preparing to go back to work. He had come to terms with the fact that he had lost her once again, but it didn't hurt any less.

He turned the corner, searching his pockets for the car keys. He stopped in mid-motion.

Scully was sitting on the hood of the government issue car, an impish smile lighting her face.

"I just talked to A.D.Kersh. A certain Ms.Reynolds wishes to join the FBI, and we're supposed to check a claim that she was previously fired for stoling office supplies."

Her smile broadened, as she slid down from the car. "What do you say, *partner*? Ready for some action?"

THE END


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