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Conhouse I and II

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Conhouse I and II by Erin Stone

TITLE: Conhouse I and II
e-mail Address:
RATING: PG-13
CATEGORY: Scully/Slash
SPOILERS: None
Keywords: Scully Slash/Other Romance
Summary: none
Disclaimer: Fox, Chris Carter and 1013 own them ALL, except Lena Conhouse, she's mine. I'll say it again - please don't hurt me.
Comments are welcomed. Please send them to


CONHOUSE I

Chapter One

Special Agent Conhouse. Lena Conhouse. That was the woman's name.

And Scully liked her immediately because she was intelligent and had an odd sense of humor. And the beauty of the thing was this, Conhouse seemed impervious to Mulder's obvious appreciation of her.

"Alrighty then, family, here's the last of the samples. Call me crazy but they appear to be infused with a drug known as coaxin."

"What's coaxin?" Mulder asked. Scully noted that he was invading Conhouse's personal space as he had done with her since their first day together. Conhouse didn't seem to notice..

"I was getting to that... Coaxin is a drug that is used to sedate patients prior to organ removal. If you're giving a kidney to your brother, say, you'd be given coaxin to sedate you, and - here's the interesting part - to coagulate the blood in your body in order to expedite the removal of organs without much blood loss."

"And the victims had Coaxin in their bloodstream's?"

"Yep, all three, which doesn't make much sense really. Why would a killer be concerned about slowing the blood loss of his victims if he was going to let them die anyway? It makes me think that they weren't meant to die." Conhouse paused, then looked at Scully, quickly raising and lowering her eye brows. "Things that make you go hmmm..."

Scully smiled, she couldn't help it.

The murders were grizzly. Three seemingly innocent people had been killed. Found in their hotel rooms dead, with major organs missing, and she was smiling. But hey, the woman was funny...

"So, my friends, that's what I got so far. I'll keep looking, but the chances of me finding more at this point are a crap-shoot."

Mulder found himself smiling too. This woman had integrated herself into the investigation. She was charming, really. And her use of the words 'family' and 'my friends' were very effective. He could see Scully being sucked in. And felt himself being sucked in as well.

"Here's the good news. Coaxin has only one manufacturer. Chemtech. So - your perp would have to go directly to the source to obtain the substance."

"How do we get a hold of Chemtech?" Scully asked.

"Well - actually, I hope I'm not hopping on your last nerves here agents, but I did that. I called to find out who may have gotten the drug without the benefit of regular hospital pharmacy channels. What I found out is that no one but a hospital pharmacist can get coaxin."

"So... we're looking for a hospital pharmacist?"

"Or, someone with access to a hospital pharmacy, or I suppose, access to a pharmacist. That'd be my guess." Conhouse said.

Scully watched Mulder and Conhouse talk about a possible profile of the murderer. Instead of listening to the profile, she took a good hard look at Conhouse. She guessed the agent at 35 or so. Shoulder length dark hair, almost black, in a kind of messy layered style. Dark brown eyes that had flecks of gold. Really good makeup, not heavy and tastefully done. She regarded the woman with a praise born of admiration for her sense of style. Or so she told herself. She knew how to dress herself, good clothing choices, black pants and top, tight fitting. Probably a blazer gracing the back of her chair at a desk somewhere nearby. She was sporting gold jewelry, although silver may have been a better choice for her. No wedding ring. She had shorter nails with opaque polish and white tips, a French manicure. She wasn't olive toned exactly... she had a skin color that Scully couldn't put her finger on. She was wearing Doc Marten's, Scully was sure of that. It was a more sedate pair, but Docs none the less. Somehow, the shoes matched the outfit, and Conhouse pulled off the 'executive woman' look with no trouble.

"So that about covers it." Conhouse stated, looking toward Scully.

"Well, thanks Conhouse. We appreciate your help." Mulder was effusive, touching his hand to her upper arm.

"Not a problem. Let me know what turns up, this is 'barrel of monkeys' fun compared to what I have been working on."

Scully couldn't resist. "And what would that be?"

"DNA sampling for all new Agents. Directive from AD Skinner. What a bully that guy is huh? He called me into his office, sat me down, I was sure that I was going to be shit-canned. And then he just gave me the directive. All that drama just to ask me to do my job. Sheesh."

The other agents looked at one another, smiling in recognition of Skinner's description.

Conhouse came nearer to where both agents stood, looking around as she did so, gave them a sly smile and lowered her voice in a conspiratorial whisper, "That guys got some issues. I don't know if its personal rage or what, but his inner child is crying out for attention. Maybe a little decaf could take the edge off - who knows."

Scully laughed. Mulder was smiling. Conhouse smiled at them. She liked these two, liked that they laughed at her kidding. Other agents just stared at her when she went off on a tangent. These two were different and it was a blessing.

Mulder gave Conhouse a half wave and opened the lab door for Scully. "Keep us posted."

"You betcha." Conhouse waved them out.

"We've got nothing to go on." Scully was perched on the edge of Mulder's desk, a file in her hands. "Why don't I run a check on DC area hospital pharmacy's? Maybe something will turn up there. Organ selling is a lucrative business, and I think our killer may be selling what he gleans from his victims. There's really no other explanation."

"Yeah, maybe he's new at this and hasn't been able to keep his victims from expiring while he takes the organs."

Mulder's phone rang and he picked it up, "Mulder."

Scully watched as his expression clouded over, "We'll be right there. Don't touch anything."

"Scully, call Conhouse and see if she's into doing some field work. We've got another body and I think she could be helpful at the scene."

"Okay. I'll see if she's up for it. Meet you there?"

He nodded and scribbled on a sheet of paper and handed it to her, "This is where we're headed."

"Thanks."

"You okay?" Scully looked at the woman beside her in the car as she drove through the thick DC traffic.

"Yeah, it's been a long time since I've been to the sight of a homicide. I see the body's in the lab and can disconnect myself a little better from the violence of the crime that way. Know what I mean?"

"Yeah I do."

'No Scully, you don't.' Conhouse thought.

"Listen, if it's too much, when we get there, don't feel like you have to go in."

"I think I'll be okay, thanks though." She smiled at Scully, trying to appear brave.

Scully had forgotten that not everyone sees eviscerated bloody bodies at crime scenes as 'typical'.

"Hoo wee, somebody got crazy with the yellow tape." Conhouse said as they pulled into the motel's parking lot. It was a bit overdone. The police must have gone through a whole role of 'Police Line, Do Not Cross' tape.

"Yeah, hope we can get through it." Scully parked and got out of the car. Conhouse fell in behind her as they walked up to the first policeman in sight. He looked awfully young.

Scully and Conhouse both held up their Federal ID badges, "Scully, Federal Agent. This is Agent Conhouse. Okay if we go in?"

"Go ahead."

Conhouse turned back to him, looking very serious, pointing randomly around the area and said, "You need more tape out here mister." The policeman nodded and started scrambling in the trunk of his cruiser. Scully turned back to look at Conhouse, smiling and shaking her head. Conhouse just shrugged. They walked through the hotel room to the bathroom in back.

Mulder was standing in the bathroom over the tub.

"What have we got?" Scully looked up at him and he started to explain what they knew about the victim. Conhouse remained in the bathroom doorway, looking a little pale.

"38 year old woman from Ohio, here on a sales training through her job with a vitamin company. The maid found her at about 1 o'clock this afternoon. She appears to be missing a kidney and a lung."

"And a pulse." Conhouse stated simply.

"Yeah, that too." Mulder said.

Conhouse eased her way into the room and the other two agents stepped back against the wall to give her space. She knelt by the tub and looked carefully at the wounds in the woman's chest. "Got any latex on you Scully?" Scully handed her a pair of gloves from her pocket. Conhouse pulled them on and touched the edges of the chest wound.

The flash came, as she knew it would.

She could feel herself being lifted and placed in the tub. The ice came next, filling in the spaces around her. A voice, a man's voice, told her not to be afraid. She was drugged, that was certain, and she couldn't seem to open her eyes to get a look at the man. She managed to open her eyes just slightly, but saw only the top of the man's head. She smelled alcohol, and felt a syringe being inserted under the nail of her index finger. The flash was gone and she realized she had fallen back against Scully's legs.

"Are you okay?" Scully had her shoulders and was squatting behind her. "Conhouse?"

"I'm okay, just a little, ah, spinney."

"We should get you out of here. Mulder help me get her up."

Mulder grabbed an arm and Scully grabbed the other. They lifted Conhouse and walked her into the other room, setting her down on the bed.

"It's a man, I'm sure of that." Conhouse stated, rubbing her forehead with her fingers.

"He drugs them first, I think, then injects the coaxin under the nail of a finger, that's why I found no injection marks during the autopsies. "

Mulder was stunned, "How..."

"Just observation Mulder." Conhouse turned to Scully.

"He doesn't want to hurt them. I have a feeling he doesn't enjoy his work. I think we need to check out unskilled hospital workers. Those incisions were done with a scalpel, but they weren't done well. Even a surgeon in a hurry is more careful than that, it's an ego thing. We need to figure out how he drugs them, that's a missing element too."

Scully just nodded, she was fascinated.

"Oh, dark hair, he may have dark hair."

"Conhouse, how could you know all this?" Mulder's eyes narrowed a little.

Skeptic, thought Conhouse. "Observation. Pure and simple."

"Did you see dark hairs on the body?"

"Nope, it's a hunch."

She could see the wheels spinning in Mulder's head. He'd figure it out eventually, especially with his propensity for the unexplained, but she wanted to put it off as long as possible.

"I missed any sedatives during the autopsies. Stupid of me, really. I'll have to check the lab work again. Look for obscure sedatives that aren't easy to get."

"I'd like to help with that if I could." Scully said.

"Please do."

"And this autopsy, can I sit in on that too?"

"That would be swell." Conhouse smiled.

"Well, I'll leave you two to slice and dice." Mulder said. "I'll follow up on the hospital checks you started Scully. Catch you two later." And he made his way to the outside door.

"What is with all this tape?!" They could hear Mulder ask as he fought his way through the door.

Conhouse smiled at Scully and the redhead started laughing. She was alarmed to find that she couldn't seem to stop.

"You're not thinking about snorting are you? Because I just hate that. Such an undignified noise for a grown up to make." Conhouse had a dead pan look on her face and it sent Scully into a new stream of laughter. Conhouse looked smug.

"Let's go Ms. Laughsalot." Conhouse motioned towards the door.

As they drove back to the lab Scully slowly recovered. It had been a lifetime since she'd laughed that hard. She had never been treated like this, teased like this by anyone except her brothers. And that teasing was never this pleasant. She was surprised to find that she liked it. She thought of Mulder and the tape comment again and tried in vain to suppress a laugh.

Conhouse glanced at her, smiling.

"You're a piece of work Conhouse."

Conhouse looked surprised, and then let out a , 'ha'. Scully noted that she looked pleased through her feigned indignation.

Mulder sat at his computer and typed "Conhouse, Lena" into the bureau's ID database. Seconds later, Conhouse's employment record popped up. He read through it carefully.

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Personnel record - Employment Division

**Access limited to L-4 and above**

Name: Conhouse, Lena Elizabeth
DOB: 1st March 1964
Birthplace: Stoneboro, Pennsylvania
Race: Caucasian
Eye Color: Brown
Hair Color: Dark Brown
Height: 5'5"
Weight: 121
Sex: F
Marital Status: Single

Education:

Stoneboro High School - Stoneboro, Pennsylvania

BA - Northwestern University - Evanston, Illinois

MA - New York University - New York, New York

Doctorate - New York University - New York, New York
Internal Medicine & Forensic Science with emphasis in Psychology

Residency served out at Lutheran Mercy Medical Center - NY, NY

Career History:

August - 1994: Recruited into Bureau following completion of residency. Trained at Quantico, VA. Received highest level of accreditation in forensic sciences and deviant profiling. Hired directly by Quantico upon completion of training. Worked on numerous 'hard to profile' cases. Ninety eight percent solve rate.

June 1998 - Assigned to the profiling/forensic sciences division, Washington D.C. bureau office.

Personnel record notes are available through Human Resources Dept. at 202-555-1021.

Mulder clicked on the 'print' icon and then called the number. A half hour later his e-mail notification chimed.

To: S. A. Fox Mulder
From: Human Resources
Attachment: Conhouse1.doc

Mulder downloaded the attached file and poured through it's contents. The words 'uncanny', 'perceptive', and 'unbelievable' were sprinkled throughout the descriptions of Conhouse that were written by her superiors.

He hit 'print' again and sat back in his chair.

'She saw him', Mulder thought. 'I knew it. She can see the killer.'

"Okay, the body is on it's way over. Should be about 20 minutes or so." Conhouse was taking her blazer off and draping it over the back of her chair. Scully looked around the woman's office. Her desk was cluttered, not unlike Mulder's actually. She had stacks of paper in piles, other papers scattered around in no particular order. Her nameplate had little gold star stickers all over it. Conhouse noticed Scully looking at it and said, "The lab administrative assistant gives me a gold star for every expense report I hand in that she can actually read."

Scully smiled, raising an eyebrow at her. "I see."

Conhouse sat down at her desk and scribbled some notes. Scully continued her visual tour of the office. She walked to the corner where a bulletin board was hanging on the wall. Miscellaneous notes were push pinned here and there. There were a handful of fortunes from fortune cookies. After each fortune, someone, Conhouse she assumed, had written the words, 'in jail'.

"Shouldn't this be 'in bed'?" Scully asked.

"Beg pardon?" Conhouse spun slowly in her chair to face her. The look with which she regarded Scully gave her sudden and unexplainable butterflies. Conhouse had her head tipped down, but her eyes were on Scully's, and the way she was looking at her....

"These fortunes," Scully drove on, trying to talk her way through the unfamiliar feeling, "like this one. Shouldn't it be 'You will have a long and fruitful life - in bed'?"

Conhouse laughed. "Well yes, I suppose. I just put 'in jail' at the end of those because I was having lunch with my Dad. Thinking about sex things, and my parents... just gives me the woolies."

"Really?" Scully laughed.

"Yes - really."

"That's funny Conhouse."

"Not too." Conhouse was serious.

"Yeah, that's funny." Scully smiled softly.

The outer door to the lab opened and an EMT pushed a gurney through it slowly.

"Ready?" Conhouse asked.

"Yeah."

They walked out into the lab area. The EMT looked at Lena, "Dr. Conhouse, you'll need to sign here." Conhouse grabbed the clipboard and signed quickly, handing it back to him.

"Thanks Jack."

"You bet."

The professional tone Conhouse was using, along with her being addressed as 'Doctor' made Scully realize that she was in the company of a smart woman. Such wit and an active brain to go with it - quite a combination. Scully imaged that there weren't too many people mentally equipped to handle her.

"Now, Dr. Scully, would you like to do the rap, or should I?"

Scully wanted to watch her work. "You. Please."

"Ok."

They put on smocks and gloves. Conhouse flipped on the overhead recorder and slid the safety glasses into place on her nose.

"September 1, 1998. 4:38 p.m. Doctors Dana Scully and Lena Conhouse, Special Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation - presiding over the autopsy of one Denise Ann Lang, white female, 38 years old, resident of Ohio. We will start by trying to determine time of death, then move on to means of death." Conhouse picked up a scalpel and started to cut.

-end-


Chapter Two

The autopsy was complete, finally.

"And cleanup's a breeze." Conhouse said as she shut the door on the slab that now held the body of Mrs. Lang.

"What time is it?" Scully asked.

"Um, about 8:30 I guess. Kinda late huh?"

"Time flies ..."

"Yeah, my dog is gonna be pissed."

"Uh Oh. What kind of dog do you have?"

"Lab/shepherd mix, she's from the pound, rough trade, you know?"

Scully smiled. "She must be starved."

"Oh yeah. If she had opposable thumbs she'd be dialing the phone right now, calling the ASPCA..."

"What's her name?"

"Wanda."

"Cute."

"Do you have any pets?"

"Just Mulder."

Conhouse laughed hard at that one. Scully was pleased with herself.

"I feel like a bad mamma. I really should head home and tend to Wanda."

"Aw - and I wanted to take you two to dinner," Mulder was standing in the doorway.

He was smiling, apparently having not heard the pet comment Scully had made, much to her relief.

"I'd love to, really, but my dog is probably crossing her little legs, woofing my name in vain."

Mulder seemed to deflate.

Conhouse caved a little. "Tell you what, why don't we make dinner at my house? It's not too far from here. Of course, I can't cook for shit, but between the three of us we can probably avoid giving ourselves food poisoning."

"Scully can cook." Mulder stated, matter-of-factly.

Scully raised a brow at him.

"That true missy?" Conhouse asked.

Scully looked slightly dyspeptic, but nodded none the less.

"Yippee!" Conhouse yelled and sprung toward her office. "I'll get my jacket and you two can follow me home."

"Sorry."

"Sure you are Mulder." Scully said, looking up at him. "It's probably a good idea actually, we have some information to go over with you. Did you find anything out on your end."

"Oh yeah. Lots."

"Good." She was surprised.

"Let's go hoodlums." Conhouse held the door open for them.

******************************************

Conhouse drove the 20 minutes home. The two agents followed her separately in their own respective cars. She wove through the tree lined streets near her cabin. It was a beautiful night. Not quite dark yet, but nearly. Stars had begun to reflect off the lake. The weather was perfect, breezy and warm.

Scully was directly behind Conhouse, lost in her thoughts as she drove. She was intrigued by the possibility of seeing Conhouse's home. Actually, she was intrigued by Conhouse, period. She thought again of the look the woman had given her in her office. The 'in bed' look. Scully had thought she was flirting with her, but she just wasn't sure. She seemed to be. Maybe I'm was just reading too much into it, Scully thought, but the possibility that it was flirting made her stomach warm.

I should be freaked, she thought. No, wait, that's premature. I don't know that it really was flirting. Maybe she jokes with everyone that way. She hadn't joked with Mulder, but then, he'd spent much less time with her than I did.

Her thoughts turned to her sister Melissa. She had had an affair with a woman while she was in college. It didn't last more than a couple months, but Missy always said that it was more intense than anything she'd ever felt before. She had said that making love to a woman was amazing. Scully hadn't asked for details, she wasn't sure she wanted the blow by blow. Melissa was such a free spirit. Scully could never be as uninhibited as Melissa was. God, she missed her.

She would have loved Lena. They would have gotten along like sisters themselves. Scully suspected that Lena was a lot like Melissa - loving, warm. Probably not judgmental either, there had been no sign of that so far. She really was a piece of work. Scully smiled.

She pulled her car in behind Lena's in the large driveway. Mulder was there a second later.

As they walked through the door of what appeared to be a small cabin Scully gasped slightly in surprise. It was really quite large inside and the back of this room was all windows. The lake sparkled over a deck that ran the length of the house.

"Lena, this is beautiful."

Lena smiled slightly and turned to look at Scully. "Thank you." Then, "Hey, you called me by my first name. I like it." Her face was soft, thoughtful. Scully flushed - now that was flirting, she was sure of it.

"Wow." Mulder remarked as he walked up to the two women. "What a dump."

Lena smirked at him, "Wanda, come here Buddha!"

They heard a series of thumps and a large blonde dog appeared at the head of the steps that lead downstairs. Her tail was wagging profusely and she saddled up to Lena to get stroked.

"Hello baby, I am so sorry that I'm this late. But, the good news is that I brought some new crotches with me."

Wanda made her rounds, sniffing crotches and looking up at the other agents. They both tried in vain to protect themselves against her inquiries. Mulder seemed to get the brunt of it. Eventually she settled down and sat next to Scully, slowly wagging her tail, looking from agent to agent. Lena said "let's go potty little bear" and headed for the steps. "Be right back."

Mulder took the opportunity to hand some folded papers to Scully. "Look at these." He was speaking softly.

"What is this Mulder?" Scully eyed him, following his lead and lowering her voice.

"Bureau employment records for the good Doctor."

"Why?" Scully was thoroughly confused, her brow furrowing.

"I have reason to believe she has extra sensory perception."

"Have you lost your mind Mulder?" Scully was incensed.

He gave her a 'hush' look and took the papers from her, stuffing them quickly into his jacket's inside pocket.

"Ready to forage for food?" Lena was back upstairs, Wanda on her heels.

"Yes." Scully shot Mulder a look and followed Lena into the kitchen.

Mulder sat down on the large comfortable couch and flipped on the TV.

"Okay, we have pasta, garlic, tomatoes - some chicken, and a pack of gum. What does that make?" She shot a smile at Scully.

Scully smiled back at her. 'She's like a little kid.' "Well, lets see here. Something, I guess. We may be able to save the gum for a whole other meal... Let me work on it."

"I have some play clothes downstairs Dana." Scully warmed at Lena's use of her first name. "Maybe you'd like to change before slinging foods that aren't the color of this blouse?" She reached over and pinched some of the fabric of the blouse that hung between Scully's breasts. She looked into Scully's eyes. "Ya think?"

Scully found she couldn't speak, just nodding. Lena let the fabric loose and rubbed out the pinch mark with her fingertips. "Whoops, sorry, I didn't mean to leave a mark."

Scully thought briefly of Melissa. Her hand came up to rest on Lena's. She squeezed her hand quickly then let go.

"It's okay, I'm not worried about it."

"Let's go get you some play clothes."

They walked through the living room and found Mulder on the couch with Wanda, her head in his lap. He was watching a baseball game. "Is this okay?" He looked like he'd been caught doing something that was against the rules.

"That's perfect Mulder. She likes you."

"I like her." He said, rubbing her head.

"You want some comfy clothes?"

"Na - I'm fine."

"Okay. Be right back."

Scully followed Lena down the steps and into the closest bedroom.

"This is the guest room. I keep all sizes in here. Go ahead and fish through the drawers. Put on whatever you'd like. I'm gonna go change." She left her there to dress. Scully looked through a couple of drawers and picked out a pair of navy sweatpants and a gray sweat shirt with what she thought was a college logo on the front. Upon closer inspection, she realized that it said "Betty Ford Center". Figures, she thought.

She left her skirt, blouse, nylons, blazer and pumps neatly piled on a chair and walked barefoot into the hallway.

"Lena, you still down here?"

"Yep, last room on the right."

Scully walked down toward the voice and slowly pushed the door to Lena's bedroom open. The room was beautiful, with a large bed covered in pillows. There was a chair and table in a sitting area off to the side. Floor to ceiling windows everywhere. Scully could see part of the master bath, and a large tub from where she stood. Lena was sitting on the bed, brushing out her hair. She put her hair into a ponytail, then slid a black baseball hat onto her head. She was wearing a pair of black stretch pants and an oversized black sweatshirt with the words, "Runs with Scissors" on the front in stark white printing.

"Piece of work." Scully said, and shook her head at Conhouse.

"You should talk - Betty. Lets go cook something."

Dinner was long gone and the agents were finishing a second bottle of wine.

"So, speak to me of hospitals Mulder, what did you come up with today?" Lena cocked her head in his direction.

"Well, to be honest, not much."

Scully looked at him, "Mulder, I thought that earlier you said..." she let the sentence fade on her lips. She was wondering when Mulder would confront Lena about the ESP thing. Looks like it was now. God he made her crazy.

"Nothing with the hospital records showed up. No fishy pharmacists. I hate to say it, buy I'm concerned that we're sitting here drinking wine and this guy could be out there harvesting more organs."

"No, not tonight." Lena shook her head slowly. She put her elbows on the table and placed her head in her palms, pulling the bill of her hat down almost over her eyes. "He's taking the night off. We'll be able to pick him up tomorrow, long before he plans to get another one." She let go of her hat and lifted her head to look at Scully.

Scully was surprised. "How can you know that?"

Lena stood up and strolled to the spot where Mulder had laid his jacket. She reached inside and pulled out the papers he had tried to show to Scully earlier that evening.

Mulder tried in vain to hide his embarrassment. Lena came around his side of the table and placed a hand on his shoulder. "It's ok Mulder, don't feel bad, really."

She handed the papers to Scully. "I know all of that because of this."

Scully took a few minutes to look through the papers. She did not understand, at all, what all of the employment files had to do with their case. At least, not until she got to Conhouse's superiors notes. She then understood what Mulder was talking about. It was an exceptional record, but then, it wasn't impossible to maintain a solve rate that high just by using your normal abilities. Or was it?

Lena spoke, "Mulder figured it out. ESP I guess you'd call it. I could see the guy, barely, but a little, from the episode I had at the motel. But during the autopsy, I saw him clearly. His name is Harold Harley. He's a lab tech at Mercy General. When we search his residence we'll find the organs in a freezer in his basement. The hard part will be getting a warrant, we'll have to figure out some story that can prove intent, motive. That's always the hard part for me, trying to convince a judge that I have evidence to warrant a search, when all I'm really going on are visions and feelings."

"Jesus." Mulder was shocked.

Lena smiled softly at Mulder. "You don't think I'd sit here drinking with you two yahoos if I thought another life was in danger, did you Mulder?" She winked at Scully. Scully looked at her, dumbfounded.

"It never occurred to me. How long have you been able to do this, this... thing?"

"All my life."

"Can you read thoughts all the time?"

"No, I can't. It's hard to explain but, I can't read anything that's blocked. If there is something a person doesn't want me to know, I won't know it. That doesn't make much sense does it? It's so hard to explain. A criminal rarely gives me anything to go on, unless they want to be caught. In most homicides, however, the other party, the victim, leaves his or her thoughts behind, like an electrical current. At least that's how I picture it, that's how it feels. I can read final thoughts. Most of the time they're terrifying."

"So, can you read the thoughts of people around you? The ones that aren't blocked?"

"Yes."

"Really. Can you tell me what I'm thinking right now?"

"Yes. If you take a moment, think about it, and stop talking."

"Ok." Mulder shut up and stared at Lena. She looked back at him, occasionally lowering her eyes.

"To your first question, yes, I have a pontoon tied up on my boat dock. The second question is also a yes, you're welcome any time Mulder. You and Scully both."

Mulder raised his hand to his mouth, covering it. His eyes were wide. When he dropped his hand he revealed a huge smile. "Incredible. Scully, I asked her if she had a boat, and if you and I could get a tour of the lake sometime."

"Scully, would you like to know what I got from you tonight?" Scully nodded slightly. "You were thinking about your sister, Melissa, earlier, briefly, in the kitchen."

Scully stared at her in complete disbelief, her eyes widening. "My god."

"That's all I've really gotten from you so far. You're a quiet little thing. Mulder, however, has been an open book all night." She looked at him, "I could hardly hear myself think over your racket, mister." Lena flicked some wine at Mulder.

He yelped a little and tried to dodge the sprinkles.

"Do I have to tell you how important to me it is that only you two are aware of this?" Lena looked seriously from one to the other. "I can't afford to be 'outted' if you will."

"Of course." Mulder said.

Scully looked at her, "yes, of course."

"My being in DC isn't coincidental. I requested the DC bureau because you two were here. I knew, due to the nature of your case files, that you two would be likely to believe me, and not be too freaked out about it. We can help each other. I think."

Mulder nodded, squeezing her hand.

Scully finally spoke. "It must be horrible for you to see killings first hand."

"I can't say I enjoy it."

They sat in silence for a while.

"I'm going to call the DC police and have them pick Harley up. I'll just tell them that I have circumstantial evidence from the autopsies. When they find the organs in his freezer we won't have to explain ourselves further." Mulder stood and went to his jacket, pulling out his cell phone.

"Good point." Lena knew that Mulder was dying to know if Harley was really their killer. She thought that it would make them all feel more secure with one another when the organs were found in his possession. She was also certain that he would confess to the crimes. He never wanted to do the killings in the first place. They would find a group of people linked to Harley that put him up to crimes. Mostly low end criminals looking for new ways to make money.

"Are you okay Lena?" Scully scooted her chair a little closer.

"Yeah. I am now. You two have lifted a huge burden off of my shoulders. Or, I guess, you're now helping me carry it. In essence, you're saving me. I think a 'thank you' is in order. You have no idea how good it feels to part with that secret."

Mulder walked into the room, hanging up his cell phone as he came. "They're gonna call us after they pick him up. If all goes well, the DC police can take over the rest of this case and we're off the hook."

Lena let out a long sigh. "Well, I don't know about you two, but I could use some coffee. Why don't I make some and we can go out to the pontoon and sit under the stars for a while. It's a beautiful night, let's take advantage of it. Mulder, bring your cell phone with."

"Sounds good to me."

"Actually, I'd like more wine." Scully looked a little pale.

Lena laughed, "Better yet. I'll bring a bottle down with us, just take your glasses with you."

A few minutes later they were rocking gently with the waves, each stretched out on the long seats of the pontoon boat, looking up at the stars. Wanda lay in the middle of the pontoon, on it's carpeted floor, snoring gently. Lena sat up and sipped from her wine glass. "I love it out here."

"It's a perfect night." Mulder added.

Scully lay on her back looking at the stars. Her mind was a confused blend of admiration and disbelief. She would look at Lena for a few seconds, shake her head almost imperceptibly, then turn her gaze back up to the sky.

Mulder's cell phone rang shrilly in the dark.

"Mulder." He listened for a while and ended the call by saying, "Thank you Officer, it's all yours."

Looking at Scully he said. "Harley was picked up at 11:46 p.m. at his residence in Georgetown. He confessed immediately and led police to a freezer in his basement that housed all of the harvested organs. He's currently giving the DC police the names and addresses of all those involved in the crimes."

Every hair Scully had was standing on end.

"We are no longer involved in the investigation. They will take the prosecution proceedings from here."

Scully was in shock.

"I've got more questions for you Lena. Ready for a little q & a?" Mulder picked up his wine glass and took a sip.

"Shoot."

They talked until 2 in the morning. Scully remained lying on the pontoon seat, looking at the stars. She said nothing, just listened quietly to the conversation. Mulder finally excused himself from the boat to go inside and lie down. Wanda padded after him.

Scully sat up slowly, looking at Lena. "I'm sorry."

Lena turned her head towards Scully. She knew exactly what she meant. She looked down at the floor of the boat, tears filled her eyes.

Scully stood and walked to Lena's seat, sitting down next to her. She draped her arm over Lena's shoulders. "I'm tired Lena, you must be too."

"Yeah."

"Come on, lets go inside."

Scully thoroughly expected to see Mulder on the couch upstairs. He wasn't, however, so she went back down the steps and pushed the door of the guest room in slightly. There he was, Wanda tucked under his arm, sprawled out on the guest-room bed.

Lena appeared behind her in the doorway. "He's such an angel when he's sleeping."

They stood watching him a moment longer.

"You can sleep with me Dana, my bed so big we may not even be able to see one another from opposite sides."

Scully followed her into her bedroom.

"I have got to brush my teeth. My mouth tastes like I ate a sock." Lena ran her tongue over her teeth. "I think I have an extra toothbrush, would you like it?"

"Yes. Thank you."

"I'll leave it on the sink when I'm done." Lena went into the bathroom and shut the door. Scully could hear the water start to run.

She sat on the bed and inspected the photos on Lena's nightstand. 'That must be her parents' she thought, looking at a picture of a gray-haired man and woman, their arms around each other. On a whim, Scully shut her eyes and pictured the gray-haired couple laying in bed together, in a romantic embrace. She imagined the man's hand running over the hip of the woman...

The bathroom door shot open. "Stop that right now."

Scully jumped, a startled look on her face.

Lena tried to look upset, but a smile was threatening at the corners of her mouth. "I'm serious, now cut it out, it makes me queasy and... uncomfortable."

Scully erupted in laughter.

"Yeah, you're a real hoot." Lena muttered as she shut the bathroom door.

"Unbelievable." Scully said to herself, smiling. "Unbelievable."

Scully took her turn in the bathroom then walked to the bed and striped off her sweatpants. She climbed in to bed, pulled up the covers and stretched out.

"Dana?"

"Yes?"

"I have nightmares once in a while. They can be... bad."

Scully understood. "It's okay."

"I just felt like I should warn you... in case..." Lena sighed heavily.

"It's ok Lena." Scully said softly.

Scully woke to the sound of sobbing. It took her a moment to get acclimated to where she was, but when she did, she instinctively reached across the bed. Her hand came in contact with Lena's back. She scooted over towards her and rubbed her hand over Lena's back in slow circles.

"Lena..." she whispered.

She wasn't waking up, now just crying softly.

"Lena..." Scully pulled gently on her shoulder and the crying woman turned over and into her. Scully wrapped her arms around her, pulling her close. She was on her back with Lena's head resting on her shoulder. She could feel the tears soak into her tee shirt. "It's okay..." she whispered soothingly, "it's okay." She stroked the dark hair with one hand and continued to rub lazy circles on Lena's back with the other. She laid her cheek on top of the other woman's head. "Ohhhh Lena, how can you not cry with what you've seen."

Lena eventually grew quiet, her arm drifted up to rest across Scully's hip bones. Scully didn't move, she didn't want too. It felt too good to be able to comfort her. She didn't think that Lena had even woken up through it all. She suspected that if she had, embarrassment would have gripped her, and she would have moved quickly to her side of the bed.

Scully fell asleep with her hand running up and down the arm that Lena had resting across her abdomen.

-end-


Chapter Three

The first light of day streamed through the windows of the guest bedroom. Mulder got up and pulled on his pants, zipping them up, then grabbed his shirt and pulled it on. He slipped his shoes on and walked out the door.

Wanda followed Mulder up the steps. She watched him with the careful eyes of a dog that needs to go outside. He wasn't noticing. She walked to the door of the deck, sat down, and looked at him. She snorted. He was writing on a pad of paper by the phone, ignoring her.

She padded softly down the steps and to the end of the hallway. Silently, she used her nose to nudge the door of the room open.

Her ears perked up and she stood still briefly as she heard the front door upstairs open and close.

She continued on into the room and sat down as close to the bed as she could. She rested her chin on the comforter and again, snorted. A hand reached out and stroked her head. Then, legs swung over and Wanda skittered out of the way. She wagged her tail, happy to be noticed and ran to the bedroom door.

Lena whispered, "Ok, I'm coming, I'm coming. Hold on."

Lena went to the outside door downstairs and opened it. Wanda shot out toward the lake. Lena walked back to her bedroom, back to the bed, and looked down at Dana. The red head was sound asleep. Her arms in the same position Lena had left them moments ago, when she maneuvered herself out of Scully's embrace to tend to Wanda.

She wasn't sure exactly what had taken place, and she couldn't read anything from Dana as she slept. There was also a good chance that Dana would block the events of last night upon waking. Maybe she could just ask her what happened. Now there was a new concept. Lena sighed and left the bedroom.

On her way to the coffee machine she noticed Mulder's note on the countertop upstairs:

Ladies -
I'm going to take a run. Then I plan to go into the office to round up some files. I'd like Lena to take a look at them. Should be back in a few hours. I hope you two don't have other plans for you weekend... you can call my cellular if you plan on dissing me.
Thx - M.

Lena smiled. 'Guess I'm Mulder's newest toy.' She turned her attention to the coffee machine.

A couple minutes later she let Wanda back in and gave her some kibble. The coffee was done and Lena considered taking some down to the woman asleep in her bed, but thought better of it. There was no good reason to wake her, short of Lena missing her company.

She walked into her living room and put on her favorite CD. Soft music filled the room. She sat on the couch, sipping coffee and running her hand through her hair. An internal dialogue started:

'God, I hope I didn't start that.' She flushed with embarrassment. 'I was crying, my eyes feel like they were strapped to a belt sander... shit... shoulda slept on the couch...'

"Good morning."

Lena turned to see Scully at the top of the steps. She was wearing the sweats she had on from the night before. She looked woozy.

"Well hi. There's coffee in the kitchen with your name on it."

Scully was using both hands to rub her head. "Oh good." Wanda got up and followed her into the kitchen. "Good morning blondie." Scully leaned over and kissed Wanda on the top of her head. "You are so sweet." She rubbed the dog's neck. "I used to have a doggie too Wanda, but Mulder killed it." Scully could hear Lena gasp from her place on the couch.

"Just kidding." She paused. "An alligator killed it, actually."

Lena just stared at her, stunned.

"Remind me to tell you the story sometime when I'm more awake."

"I'm not sure I want to hear it."

"Where do you keep her treats?"

"In the cabinet under the coffee maker."

Scully fished around and pulled out a dog biscuit. "Does she do any tricks?"

"Well, there's the pooping trick, but she does that one outside."

Scully gave her a slight scowl.

"Oh... you want her indoor trick. Hold the biscuit between your teeth and Wanda will take from you."

Scully scowled more. Lena laughed, "really!"

She put the biscuit between her teeth and bent down. Wanda very carefully removed it and padded off to a small carpet to chew it up.

"We've really got to work on her trick repertoire." Scully stated as she stood up, reaching for a coffee cup.

"You're welcome to try, but keep in mind that she's got a brain the size of a walnut."

Scully shot a look in Lena's direction and poured herself some coffee. She noticed the note that Mulder had left and stood at the counter for a second to read it. She walked to the couch and sat down next to Lena. "I can't believe this view." Steam was rising off the lake. "All I can see from my front window is another apartment building."

They sat quietly looking out the window.

"Is this Luther Vandross?"

"Yeah. I bought this CD a couple weeks ago. I'm wearing it out."

"He's got such a smooth voice."

"Doesn't he? He's my favorite. I just love his smarmy backup singers. I love all backup singers, frankly. Patti LaBelle's got some great ones, so does Chaka Kahn."

"Doesn't Patti LaBelle sing that French sex song?" Scully asked. Lena turned toward her in surprise. Scully looked serious.

Lena cracked up, Scully just sat, looking puzzled.

"Oh my god Scully, are you always like this when you wake up?"

Scully looked hurt. "Like what?"

"Well... goofy ... in an adorable way."

"I was serious. There's a song, I think Patti LaBelle sings it, voo-lay-voo something something."

Lena smiled, "I have that one on an old LaBelle CD somewhere. It's called 'That French Sex Song.' I'll dig it out and play it for you sometime."

Scully was smiling vaguely, looking a little pouty. "Thank you." She chuckled a little and sipped some coffee. Pulling her legs up under her on the couch she turned to face Lena directly. Her smile faded into a look of concern.

"Can you tell me what you dreamed about?"

"My parents... having sex." It was all she could think of to say.

"Let's try that again."

"I can't honestly remember."

"You were sobbing."

"I'm sorry Dana, I hope I didn't frighten you."

"I'm not looking for an apology."

They sat in silence for a few moments.

"Lena, do you sleep at all when you're alone?"

"Rarely."

"Do you remember what happened last night?"

"No."

Lena looked... pained ... embarrassed.

Scully put her cup down on the coffee table and held both of Lena's hands in her own. She closed her eyes and recalled, in her mind, the events of the night before. She could again feel Lena's back... feel Lena turning into her. She relived the feel of Lena's arm across her body... her touch... the way she smelled... the incredible softness of her hair. She wondered if her feelings were translating to the other woman along with the physical aspects of her memories.

"Yes..." Lena said aloud, softly, "they are."

Butterflies floated through Scully's stomach.

Lena gently pulled her hands away. Scully opened her eyes and sat back a little.

Scully said, "Could you feel that too?"

"The butterflies?"

Scully nodded.

"I thought they were mine."

Scully's breath hitched in her throat and she let out an involuntary 'oh...'

Somewhere a muffled ringing started.

She stared into Lena's eyes a moment longer. "That's my phone."

Lena smiled. "What a relief. I thought you were making me hear bells."

Her comment made the butterflies in Scully's stomach flutter a little faster. She reluctantly got up from the couch and rifled through her bag and pulled out her phone.

"Scully." She watched Lena as she listened to the caller. Her face suddenly molded into a look of mock surprise, she held the phone away from her mouth for a second, "It's Mulder!"

Lena returned her look, "No way!"

She returned her attention to the call. "Yes, we're up, barely."

Lena was half listening to Scully's side of the call as she sipped her coffee, staring out the window. She found that her mind was drifting to the visions of Scully's hand running through her hair...

"I haven't asked her Mulder. Hang on."

Lena looked over at her.

"Mulder would like to know if we've seen his note, and if it's ok for him to bring some files over later."

"That's fine."

"We saw your note Mulder, she says it's fine."

She addressed Lena again, "He would also like to know what you'd like for dinner."

"Really? Hmmm, chinese I think, we can order out from here."

Dana turned back to the phone to relay the information, then listened for a minute.

"Yes, I plan on being here. I have to run home and clean up, get some clothes, maybe a bathing suit..." she paused. "Well, there's a first time for everything Mulder." She paused again while he talked. "Hang on, I'll ask."

"How would you feel about having overnight guests again?"

Lena smiled at her. "I'd feel good about that."

Scully smiled, raising her eyebrow at Lena slightly. She tipped the phone back to her mouth. "Yep, bring as much wine as you can carry Mulder, but remember, you drink-you stay, got it?" He must have agreed to the terms, a moment later she said, "Okay, see you later."

She rung off and put the phone back in her bag then reclaimed her spot on the couch.

"You sure you want Mulder picking your brain all night?"

"I don't mind. I've got some picking of my own to do."

They were quiet for a minute.

"I should run home and get some things. Can I bring these clothes back to you later?" Scully stood.

"Absolutely."

She walked to the staircase and stopped suddenly, turning back. "You know..." she paused, regarding Lena with seriousness. "I haven't left yet, but I can't wait to get back here."

Lena smiled at her.

"I've known you for how long now? A week maybe, at most?" Scully looked perplexed. She shook her head. "Are you even aware of what you do to me?" She apparently didn't expect an answer. She turned slowly and walked down the steps.

Lena sat on the couch, the wind knocked out of her.

Scully made her way back to her apartment. Traffic was light at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

She thought about how her words must have affected Lena. She wasn't sure why she'd said that; 'do you even know what you do to me?' Unless, of course, she wanted Lena to know... what she was doing to her.

And what would that be?

'Making me come undone.' Dana thought.

And what had happened to being freaked out? That was gone, not even an option now. There was no reason for it. She wasn't freaked out, worried, or anything else even mildly uncomfortable for her. She wasn't even going to waste time wondering =why= she wasn't, she knew in her heart that it wasn't important to figure out the why.

She knew only this. Her words to Lena were true. She couldn't wait to get back to her. She didn't know where they were headed together. She felt that it would all work itself out.

Scully smiled to herself. She wasn't picturing how her furniture would look in Lena's front room; she wasn't worrying about what Monday might bring, or even what Mulder would think if he were to find out. She had gone through too much in her relatively short lifetime to question the way she was feeling.

What this was, whatever that turned out to be, was a gift. She decided simply to take it and praise life's generosity.

She pulled into her parking space, turned the car off and sat for a moment. There was something she had wanted to imagine, but she was afraid. She wasn't sure she could block it; thinking maybe it would be too, what?... emotional... to keep blocked in Lena's presence. She gathered her courage and closed her eyes. In her mind, she saw Lena's face, as it had been, when they were together on the couch. Her lips were a deep red color, as though they had been stained with wine. They looked ... soft. Scully had felt pulled toward them, this morning, after letting Lena in to re-live the night before. She took that memory a step further now, imagining that she had leaned in. She felt her lips meet Lena's, let herself smell her warm skin, she imagined running her fingers over Lena's jaw... pulling back slightly to lick that dark bottom lip slowly with the tip of her tongue...

A shudder ran through her and she moaned softly.

Oh my,

that felt...

so good.

She opened her eyes slowly and pushed her hips back into the seat. Another shudder worked its way up from deep in her abdomen and fanned out, shimmering across her back.

She inhaled deeply, blew the air out slowly, and opened her car door.

-end-


Chapter Four

When Scully walked through her apartment door she immediately noticed the message light on her answering machine flashing. She set down her bag and walked over to hit the play button.

...Beep... "It's me. I have 3 files here that I'm going to bring to Lena's but I wanted to talk to you about them before we get over there. I'm in the office, call me when you get home." She could feel his excitement through the answering machine.

She had picked up the phone and dialed the office in the middle of Mulder's message. She was curious about the files he had picked, wondering if Samantha's was among them...

The message machine continued on:

...Beep... "Hi..."

At the sound of Lena's voice Scully pulled the phone away from her ear and hit the 'phone' button on it to hang up.

"I'm calling to say... I guess I don't know what I'm calling to say..." Lena laughed softly. "Hurry ... just... hurry."

There was a soft click as she hung up.

Scully smiled, closing her eyes. An "ohhhhhhhh" escaped her, riding out of her lips on a deep sigh.

She pressed the play button on her machine, quickly deleting Mulder's message and listened again to Lena's.

She sat on the couch, staring at nothing while the answering machine whirled briefly.

When she had left Lena's earlier no words were exchanged between them. Lena was still on the couch when Scully had come back upstairs, and she had been wearing the same expression Scully was wearing now. Stunned, in a way. Now she knew what Lena was feeling. A high-octane crush kind of feeling, like her synapses were overloaded and now simply numb with... want.

There was a knock at the door. She knew it was Mulder. She walked to the door, checking the peephole before opening it.

"Hey Scully." He was smiling broadly. "I was on my way back to Lena's so I thought I'd just stop here on the way... "

"Come on in."

"Just get home?"

"Yeah. Do you want some coffee?"

"That'd be great."

She walked to the kitchen with Mulder on her heels.

"Mulder, I want to talk to you about Lena. I think we need to be careful with her."

"What do you mean?"

"I know that the prospect of her gift, her insights, could have an untold impact on the X-files. But I think we need to be cautious not to take advantage of her abilities. She has put a tremendous amount of faith in us Mulder, and I don't want her to be hurt."

"I don't want to hurt her either Scully, but think of the light she could shed on our work..." he looked frustrated, waving a handful of files in the air to make his point.

"Listen," Scully sighed and faced him, "I'm not saying that you, we, shouldn't ask her to help us with our cases, old and new. What I'm saying is that we need to keep in mind that she =lives= all of these crimes. She was there as that woman was being taken apart in that bath tub Mulder, she could feel what the victim felt." Her tone was insistent, she wanted him to realize that he would be asking Lena to relive dying... possibly over and over. "It may be that she needs to be in the presence of a body to feel the violence, but I don't know if that's the case. It may not be. I think until we know the impact that this replaying of violence causes Lena, we should stick to cases that don't involve death."

Mulder looked at her for a second, then nodded, reluctantly. "Well... I guess I need to go back to the office and find something a little tamer than the batch I have with me now."

Scully took the files and quickly scanned their labels, finding the one she wanted and pulled it from the bunch. "Take this one Mulder." It was Samantha's file.

"Scully..." Mulder looked wary.

"You can explain it to Lena, and what you can't explain you can visualize and she'll be able to feel it, believe me."

"Do a little experimenting this morning?"

"You could say that." Scully knew that he would miss the gist of her comment. She was certain that he was oblivious to the chemistry working between Lena and herself.

"Well, Samantha is alive, or so I've been led to believe."

Scully gave him a gentle smile. "Take it Mulder."

He smiled back at her.

"Now, I need a shower." She crossed the room and picked up her bag.

"Okay, well, I'm going to steal a cup of coffee and go back to the office, maybe get a couple of files that fit the 'non-death' criteria."

"No fluke men..." She yelled over her shoulder as she walked down the hall to her bedroom.

"Right."

Scully was surprised that she had beaten Mulder to Lena's house. It must be taking him a long time to find some case files that didn't involve death...

She grabbed her overnight bag out of the trunk and walked the flower-lined path to Lena's door. Through the glass she could see Lena at the dining room table. Wanda was lying across her bare feet. Her full hair was pulled back in a loose twist, held in place with a hair clip. She was writing in a checkbook, paying bills Scully assumed. She had a pair of glasses perched at the end of her nose - small rectangular lenses with thick black frames. Lena was wearing a bikini top tied at her neck and back, and what appeared to be a pair of jeans. Scully stared at her a moment longer before knocking.

She knocked lightly and Lena looked up over her glasses toward the door. Scully decided that she liked those glasses... a lot. Lena waved her hand for Scully to come in and Wanda padded over to get a sniff.

"Hi."

"Hi."

"I hurried."

Lena smiled, "I'm glad."

"Paying bills?"

"Yep, gotta get the last of Mr. Spiegel's kids through college."

"So you're the patron saint of catalogue mogul's huh?"

"You bet."

Lena got up from the table and slid her fingertips into the back pockets of her jeans. Scully could feel the hot blood race through her system. Lena's jeans hung very low on her hips, her stomach was flat and her hips flared seductively. And, although she couldn't have been much taller than Scully, she seemed to be all leg.

"Can I take your bag?"

Scully swallowed. "No, but you can come down to your room with me while I put it away."

Lena bit her bottom lip, slowly reaching to remove her glasses and set them on the dining table. She extended her arm toward the steps. "After you."

"Go ahead," she cocked her eyebrow at Lena, tilting her head slightly, "I'm enjoying the view."

A blush rose in Lena's cheeks, and she turned to walk down the steps. Scully followed, letting her eyes linger over the other woman's bare neck, the smooth planes of her back, the jeans that hugged her body.

They walked into the bedroom. Lena turned to face her. Scully dropped her bag where she stood and they stared into each other's eyes.

"Mulder could be here any minute." Scully said.

"Then I shouldn't be standing here in my bedroom with you looking at me like that."

Scully smiled. "I can't seem to help it Lena, the way you look..."

"I could say the same."

Scully was happy she had chosen the tight jeans and the simple white tee shirt. They were having their desired effect.

"Lena... I..."

Lena closed the distance between them. She never took her eyes from Scully's. Her fingers came to Scully's face and she let her fingertips graze over her lips lightly.

"I can't keep my eyes off you Dana- and it's getting harder to keep my hands off as well."

Her fingers were shaking slightly as they made there way down Scully's throat to the vee neck of her tee shirt. Her hands came down to her sides and she reached for Scully's, holding both of them in her own. Scully kept her eyes open slightly as Lena gently pressed their lips together. Her hands squeezed the other woman's and she pulled them toward her in an effort to not break the contact. Their lips came together over and over, soft against soft, never fully separating between the sweet contact. Scully let go of Lena's hands and held her by the waist, the feel of bare skin setting her senses on fire. Lena's fingers again came to Scully's mouth. She slid them between their kisses, using them to pull Scully's bottom lip down slightly, so she could lick at it with the tip of her tongue. Her free hand went to Scully's neck, then through the hair at the back of her head.

Scully was drowning. She loved the way this woman touched her, the feel of her fingers and tongue. She let her hands come around to the front of Lena's body, to the soft warm skin of her stomach, up over her breast. She felt the nipple and was drawn back to it, rubbing through the bathing suit fabric with just the palm of her hand. Lena moaned into her mouth and bit at Scully's lower lip.

"We should stop Lena... " she said it as she lightly pinched a nipple. She wanted to feel it with her tongue. "before I completely loose all my restraint."

"You're right." Lena pulled back slightly but laid her hand over the one Scully had on her breast and pushed it into her, breathing in sharply.

Scully moaned, "god..."

Lena kissed her again, lifting her own head slightly at the end of the kiss to break it. "Maybe we should separate for a minute, because I can't seem to not kiss you."

Scully smiled, "Good idea, I'm having trouble not kissing you too."

"I need to change my bathing suit, why don't you go upstairs and I'll be up in a minute."

"Change? Why? The one you have on is perfect." Scully reached over and, surprising herself with her boldness, ran a finger across the underside of one of Lena's breasts.

Lena smiled dangerously at her. "I've compromised the integrity of the bottoms."

Scully returned her smile, "Due to?"

"Your exceptional kissing skills."

"Really?" Scully slowly drew the word out in a whisper.

Lena unbuttoned her jeans, then unzipped them. She reached slowly over to hold Scully's hand, then drew it down the front of her pants.

"Really." She whispered.

Scully thought she could come right there. Lena was soaked, wetting Scully's hand immediately. She let out a deep moan and let her forehead rest on Lena's shoulder.

Lena whispered into her ear, "See what you do to me?"

Scully cupped her gently, wanting to slide her fingers inside.

The doorbell rang.

"Oh shit," Scully whispered, "guess who." She carefully pulled her hand out of the front of Lena's pants. "I should go up."

Lena smiled, "yeah."

"See you in a minute."

"Could be two..." Lena had started to pull her jeans down over her hips.

Scully smiled and reluctantly made her way up the steps.

-end-


Chapter Five

Scully made her way up the steps, trying to regain her composure and look pointedly innocent as she crossed the room to open the door for Mulder.

"I expected to see you in your bathing suit Scully."

"Well Mulder, the day is young."

He sat his bag down on the tile entryway floor. "Where's Conhouse?"

"Downstairs, I think she's putting on a bathing suit."

"Are we going out on the boat?"

"I imagine so, yes."

They didn't noticed Lena until she spoke, "You two look like a Calvin Klein ad." She meant it. Mulder was dressed in jeans and a white tee shirt just as Scully was. Lena sighed inwardly, thinking to herself, 'I have the 'Wetdream Poster Children' in my living room'.

Mulder smiled at her, "Don't hate us because we're beautiful..."

"Not a chance." She said, "I'm passive aggressive. I'll just silently resent you until my stomach is a knotted mass of anger."

Scully noticed that Lena had indeed changed her suit, but the new one was very much like the other. She had forgone the jeans and was wearing a beach towel around her hips instead.

"Are we going on the lake tour?" Mulder asked.

"Yep, I already have a cooler and some food out on the barge. Oh, and fishing equipment. You two do fish, don't you?"

They stared at her, Mulder's mouth moved slightly, but nothing came out.

"Alrighty, well, my little mimes, we'll work on that later."

"Same room assignments as last night, right?" Mulder was heading toward the steps.

Lena and Scully glanced quickly at each other. Scully said, "Yeah."

"Okay, be right back." Mulder practically skipped down the steps.

Lena turned to Scully, "They grow up so quickly." She had a mock look of pride on her face.

Scully rolled her eyes at her, "I should go get my suit on."

"Seeing you in a bathing suit should just about kill me."

Scully looked toward the steps quickly checking for Mulder. She then turned back to Lena, grabbed her by her toweled waist and pulled her close. She rubbed her cheek to Lena's and licked her ear lobe, whispering, "I don't know how I'm going to get through this day without throwing you down and ravishing you."

Lena's eyes were closed, she looked pained, "You just made me blow out another pair of bottoms."

Scully laughed lightly and headed downstairs to change.

As she passed the guest room door Mulder stuck his head out, "Scully?"

"Yeah?"

"If I were Frohike I'd have passed out up there."

Scully smiled at him, "She got to you huh?"

"She'd get to a dead man in that bathing suit."

"Yes well, she is attractive."

"No, Scully, Bambie was attractive, Conhouse is =stunning=."

"Smart is sexy Mulder. Lena is brilliant, Bambie had a bug fetish. There's a difference."

"Ouch..." and he winced, and was gone behind the door once again.

Scully should have been upset. She should have been angry at Mulder's objectification of Lena. But, she wasn't.

She was pleased.

She thought, ironically, 'Mulder thinks my girlfriend is hot'. The thought made her laugh aloud. The word 'girlfriend' made her laugh aloud as well. Such a nondescript word for such a complicated, emotionally enormous, inexplicably hot thing - not to mention a little 'Jan Brady-ish'.

Mulder was back upstairs in a pair of bathing trunks and a towel wadded up in his hands. Lena was back to paying bills as she waited for them to get ready.

"Hey cute man, why don't you grab a couple CD's from the rack to take on the barge?"

"You actually trust my musical judgement?"

"Hey, I bought all those CD's. You'd have a rough time picking something I don't like."

Mulder ran a finger along the ample CD selection and pulled one out. "I LOVE THIS!"

"What?"

"Earth, Wind and Fire, Greatest hits Live. This is perfect boating music."

"I pictured you as more of a 'Violent Femmes' kinda guy."

Scully came up the steps in a two piece black number that stopped both Lena and Mulder's breath.

"What?" she said, looking at Mulder, a little agitated.

"Nothing. It's just... you look good in black, small... black." Mulder said, not wanting her to feel self conscious, but physically unable to stop staring.

She eyed him warily. "Thank you Mulder."

Lena was flustered. She wanted to rip the small suit off of Scully's sweet little frame and bury herself in the beautiful pale skin. She tried to cover up by saying, "I guess we're ready, let's go float."

Mulder passed Scully with his CD selections and she followed him down. Lena watched her take the steps. 'How do I get you alone Dana... Jesus.' She was blurry eyed with lust. She leaned over to Scully and asked if she had a current CPR certification. Scully glanced over her shoulder at her, a sly smile at the corner of her mouth. The look made Lena hotter. 'Hope we live...' she thought.

The group climbed onto the pontoon boat, Wanda taking her spot in the center, lying prone across the floor.

Lena steered the boat a lap around the small lake, pointing out the good fishing spots. She was the only person to build a home on the lake, and she thought of it as hers. She had purchased all of the surrounding acreage to make certain no one else would be able to build nearby.

"What do you catch out here?" Mulder asked. He started to tinker with one of the fishing poles Lena had set out for them as she pulled out into the middle of the lake and dropped anchor.

"Bass mostly, some blue gill and sunfish. I've seen pike in here from time to time, but I've never caught one."

"Does the lake have a name?" Scully asked.

"Not really. It's too small to even show up on most maps. When I got the survey and assessment for the property it was labeled 'Lake 41'."

"Okay," Mulder walked to the front of the boat with a fishing pole. "How does this thing work?"

"It's a thumb release trigger, you push here and cast. There are worms under the back seat in a white container."

"Worms?" Mulder wrinkled his nose.

Lena smiled at him. "I'll put one on for you, how does that sound?" She grabbed the container and loaded Mulder's hook. "Okay, you're ready to go. You want to cast, without hooking the ones you love, of course, and then just keep an eye on the bobber."

Mulder let the line fly.

"Nice job Mulder. Now just reel in a little until you hear a click." She looked at Scully. "Do you want to fish too little white girl?"

Scully gave her a broad smile. "No thanks, I'll watch."

"Fair nuf." Lena dug around in her tackle box and pulled out a lure. She put it on her line and leaned the pole against the driver's chair. She unhooked the towel from around her waist and leaned over to lay it across the long back chair of the boat. When she turned to walk up front she noticed that Scully had been staring at her ass over the top of her sunglasses.

She looked at Mulder. He was busy reeling his line in. She took the opportunity to lean down and whisper into Scully's ear. "Were you staring at my ass Ms. Scully?"

"Yes, I was." Scully was whispering too, keeping one eye on Mulder.

"Maybe we can work out a lap dance later, would you like that?" Lena winked at her and stood to arrange her fishing pole.

Scully smiled slightly and looked to the sky, taking a much needed deep breath. How could this woman go from baiting a hook one second to reducing her to molten lust the next? Her eyes slipped shut and she let herself imagine a very naked Lena sitting on her lap, rotating her hips...

"I got one!" Mulder yelled, scaring the daylights out of both the women and sending Wanda skittering for safety.

Lena walked up behind him. "Good deal! Set the hook in the fish's mouth by pulling up firmly, =but gently= on the line Mulder, and then start reeling."

Excitement gripped Mulder and he yanked the pole up with enough force to launch the space shuttle. The hooked fish shot out of the water and was launched into the sky. It wiggled erratically, liberating itself from the hook in mid air. The line, complete with empty hook and bobber, landed on the fiberglass roof of the pontoon's sunshade and the fish landed back in the water, next to the boat with a 'smack'.

Lena stood up from her terrorized crouching position and pried Mulder's hand from the fishing pole. She looked at him seriously while carefully reeling in the line, "That went well."

Scully howled.

Lena continued on, "Maybe we should just sit and relax for a while Mr. Spasmatic, ya think?"

Mulder was chuckling. "I'm sorry Lena, I didn't mean to scare you." He laughed a little harder. "You should have seen the look on your face."

Lena could not resist the urge to tease him further. "Would that be the 'Mulder is gonna hook me in the tender meats' look? Or the 'a fish is coming at me like a fucking dart' look?" She shook her head slightly, "Can you recall?"

She noted with joy that her comments rendered Mulder a temporary asthmatic. Tears streamed down his cheeks. Her face remained stoic, making Mulder laugh harder. Lena turned to see Scully bent over, holding her stomach.

She shrugged. "I need a glass of wine." Lena opened the cooler and pulled out a bottle of Chardonnay and a corkscrew. She opened the bottle quickly and poured out three half-full glasses. She handed one to each of her recovering victims then sat back and sipped on her own.

A ringing started somewhere. Scully looked at Mulder, "Did you actually bring your phone out here?"

Mulder looked sheepish, "Yeah. I had it hidden in my towel." He walked over to where his towel was wadded up and pulled out his phone.

"Mulder."

Scully looked at Lena, shaking her head. Lena smiled at her. She really liked Mulder, but she hoped that this call would take him away, if just for the rest of the day. She wanted Scully all to herself.

"Now is not a good time Frohike."

Lena was startled to get a very strong stream of thought from Dana, ~yes it is... it's a great time...~. She looked over to her, raising her eyebrows and smiled.

"And it can't wait?"

~nope...~

"This better be good. Tell Byers I'll be there in a little while."

Mulder hung up and looked at the women. "Is it okay with you two if I take a rain check on dinner?"

Lena squeezed every cell in her body trying to look disappointed. "Dissing us for some guy, huh?"

"No, it's not like that, believe me. These friends of ours..." he looked at Scully.

"Yours Mulder." She replied, pointedly.

"Ok, mine. They're onto a little hacking deal that could get me into the pentagon's internal database."

"Mulder, that's illegal." Scully looked slightly disgusted. "Don't let those three take you down that path."

"They're harmless Scully."

"Hacking into federal computer systems is anything but harmless Mulder."

"Don't worry, I won't let them do anything stupid."

"So you're going to protect them from themselves?" Scully wasn't buying it, and as much as she wanted him to go, she didn't want to spend Sunday bailing him out of jail.

"I promise I'll be careful."

Lena walked to the front of the boat and pulled up the anchor. "I should probably get Ms. Thing out of the sun anyway, I can smell burning flesh." She turned around and winked at Scully.

"Thanks, sorry about this." Mulder really did look sorry.

"It's ok, just make good on your rain check." She smiled at him, turned the engine on and made for the dock.

"Can we go over the files I brought with me on Monday?"

"Sure, I can come to your office first thing, if you'd like."

"That would be great."

"Consider it done."

A minute or two later Lena docked the boat and tied it up. Scully said goodbye to Mulder and excused herself to go take a shower. Lena followed Mulder into the guestroom as he gathered his things. "For what it's worth Lena, I had a great day."

"I'm glad."

"Honestly, I haven't laughed like that in a long time, and I've =never= heard Scully laugh like that. She really likes you."

"Good, I like her, and you too, even though you tried to fish me to death."

He chuckled a little. She followed him up the steps and to the door. "See you Monday?"

"Yep, first thing. Have fun hacking."

Mulder waited until he was on the highway to pull out his phone and call Frohike.

"What do you want Mulder?"

"I'm calling to thank you."

"No problem. What did we get you out of?"

"A 'third wheel' afternoon."

"Huh?"

"I think Agent Scully has finally found someone worthy Frohike. Someone even you'd approve of."

"Really?"

"Yeah. I didn't want to hang around and hold up the process."

"What's his name?"

"None of your business."

"That's harsh Mulder."

"Talk to you later Frohike."

"Hey wait, the offer to spend the afternoon tip toeing through Pentagon records is still open Mulder."

"Sorry, that's illegal."

"Right. Bye."

Mulder hung up and took a deep sigh. He hoped that Lena hadn't been able to tell his quick exit was a rouse. He thought he had blocked it from her well enough, and even if she had known what he was up to she didn't give it away.

He shouldn't have listened to Scully's messages at her apartment. But she was in the shower and he honestly did think he'd hear his own voice and erase the message for her.

But it had been Lena's voice on the machine, not his.

And then, being here with them together this morning, he became aware of their attraction to one another. He thought about the way Scully looked at Conhouse. He could tell she was falling.

His Scully.

She had never looked at him that way.

There had been times when he wanted to tell her he loved her, but he knew in his heart that it wouldn't be right. She deserved the undivided attention of someone who loves her. He loved her, more than he had ever loved anyone, but could never promise to make her the central focus of his life.

Conhouse could be that person. He was suddenly washed in a flow of muddy emotion, jealousy, fear... but most of all, sadness.

It was time for him to let Scully go.

To give her a fair shot at being happy.

He could tell from the look in her eyes.

His Scully.

Was in love.

-end-


Chapter Six

Lena leaned her back against the closed door. She let tears stream down her face, considering Mulder's sacrifice.

His emotions were still palpable in her mind.

And through it all he smiled.

Then gracefully left them alone.

She wondered how could he endure under such suffocating loss; his sister, his father, now... his Scully?

It was too much emotion for her to embrace, the years of want that dripped off of him seconds ago in the doorway. His heart breaking around her.

And still he smiled.

She squeezed her eyes tightly shut. She saw a dark room, a black couch. She suspected that he was going home. She could not, in good conscious, make love to the beautiful woman downstairs, knowing that it could do irreparable damage to a man with such a good soul.

When she opened her eyes, Dana stood before her. She was wearing one of Lena's robes, her wet hair combed back from her face. She looked so worried. Lena let her head drop. Tears falling freely now.

"Dana, he loves you."

"What?"

"He loves you. He made up the Frohike thing so he could leave us alone. He knows, I think he heard my message on your machine."

"Oh god." Dana turned slowly and walked to the couch, numbly falling back onto it.

Lena felt a rush of emotion, some Mulder's, some her own. She knew suddenly what it would feel like to lose Dana, from Mulder's perspective, and hers as well. "He would never tell you..." Lena walked to the couch, sitting down next to Dana, "Dana, he's so incredibly sad." Lena winced, stricken by the pain she had felt from Mulder.

"Where is he going?" Dana asked, tears now pooling in her eyes.

"Home, I think."

Dana took Lena's hands in her own. "I have to go."

"I know."

She got up from the couch and went downstairs. Lena remained there, staring at the floor.

Dana reappeared, dress and packed. She smiled weakly at Lena and walked out.

Lena dropped her head into her hands and let her own sorrow wash over her. There was a dull ache in her stomach.

She's gone.

A rush of warm tears streamed down her face.

As soon as Lena had said, "He loves you", Dana had shut down, blocking Lena out with every ounce of her consciousness. It occurred to Lena, then, too late, that she had let herself fall in love.

Too much, too soon.

Lena let out a bitter laugh... and now, too gone.

"I know better." Lena chastised herself aloud. "Honestly."

Wanda padded over to her and pushed her snout at her hands.

"Yes baby, I liked her too." Lena rubbed Wanda's soft ears. "We're gonna miss her aren't we?"

She patted the spot next to her on the couch and Wanda jumped up, lying down and laying her head in Lena's lap as she cried softly.

"Scully, what are you doing here?"

She walked through the door and past him, to his couch, and sat down.

"I could ask you the same question."

"Well, I was with Frohike..."

"Don't lie to me Mulder, I can see right through it."

"Oh." He walked over and sat next to her on the couch, avoiding her gaze.

She faced him, holding his hands much like she had held Lena's an hour before. "Listen to me, please."

He raised his eyes to look at her, she could see the pain on his face so clearly.

"Mulder, I love you. And there was a time when I would have jumped at the chance to be in a relationship with you. But now..."

"I understand Scully."

"No Mulder, I really don't think you do. I've been so lonely for the past 6 years. Lonely =with= you. Do you know how that feels?"

He shook his head, confused.

"You are the king of the dodge Mulder. I could never quite compete with the next case file, the next lead from the gunman, the next lead on Samantha..."

Mulder winced.

"I'm not trying to hurt you, I just want you to understand that I do love you, but it's because you're my soul mate, not my lover. That would never work between us and I think you know it as well as I do."

He shook his head.

"I know you're right Scully, I guess I just always hoped something would change. That things could be different for us."

"I hoped for that too Mulder, but it won't happen that way. It's not meant to be."

He sighed and dropped his head.

"I'm here now to show you how much I love you. To show you that I'd do anything, and I always will, to take your pain away. You're my best friend Mulder. I don't want to see you hurt."

"Are you in love with her Scully?"

She sat back, looking at him intently.

"I think I am, yes."

He sat quietly for a second, biting the inside of his lip. She watched him carefully, trying to gauge his response to what she had just said. He finally looked at her.

"Then what the hell are you doing here?"

She smiled at him and stood up.

"Are you going to be ok?"

He smiled at her, "Get outta here."

She turned and left, shutting the door behind her.

Lena stood under the shower head, letting hot water cascade down her back. She was suddenly very tired. She had decided to shower and go to bed, even though it was probably only 7pm.

She had hoped that maybe sleep would take away the events of the day, if only for a little while.

She stepped out of the shower and towel dried her hair, running her fingers through it to comb it out. She dried the rest of her body off and brushed her teeth, thinking absently that she couldn't remember eating anything today, and then realizing that she didn't really care. She wasn't hungry.

She opened the bathroom door and was startled by a figure in the darkness of her room. Her eyes adjusted to the early evening light and she could see that the person sat in a chair by her bed, facing the bathroom door.

It was Dana.

She stammered, "I thought..."

Dana raised an eyebrow at her. "You thought wrong."

"But Mulder..."

"Well yes, there was that. He's ok. I talked to him."

"And..."

"And I told him that I think I'm in love with you."

Lena could hear her heart beating in her ears. She closed her eyes and smiled. "I see. So what are you doing in my bedroom, in my dining room chair, in the dark?"

"Waiting."

"For..."

"My lap dance."

Lena opened her eyes and looked at Dana. She could see her smiling in the soft darkness.

Blood raced hotly through her body. She felt a warm seeping between her legs at Dana's seductive words. She walked very slowly to where Dana sat and lifted a long leg in the air in front of the redhead's face. She put it down just as slowly, and settled herself onto Dana's lap.

Dana's face remained closed, with a slight smile. She stared at Lena with piercing blue eyes.

Lena leaned into her, pushing her bare breasts into Dana's clothed chest. She captured an earlobe in her mouth, sucked gently and whispered into Dana's ear, "I'm glad you came back." She licked the rest of Dana's outer ear with the tip of her tongue, then left a slick trail down her neck, working her way to the skin of Dana's clavicle. Dana gasped and sucked in a breath, her jeans and tee shirt feeling suddenly much too tight.

She pulled back to look at Dana's face. So beautiful, her lips were parted slightly, eyes closed. Lena grabbed onto the chair behind Dana's shoulders and slowly started to pump her hips against Dana's zipper. Her eyes never leaving Dana's face. She ran the tip of her tongue over the pouting lower lip, eliciting a low moan from the trapped woman. She cupped Dana's breasts through the fabric, rubbing herself against Dana and her own hands.

She felt Dana's hands come up to her ass, feeling the motion of Lena's ass pumping against her. She loved the way the warm hands felt, not pushing, just resting on her, wanting to feel the motion. "Are you going to help me come Dana?" Lena whispered it in her ear. Dana moaned, biting her bottom lip, "oh yes..."

"You've got me so hot already Dana... I don't think I can last much longer..." Lena pumped against her harder. Dana brought a hand around between them and laid it, palm up, against her jeans. Lena brought herself down on it, covering Dana's palm in wetness.

Dana gasped, "Ohh.. god... you're so wet..."

Lena wanted to push her over the edge. "Your fingers baby, I need them inside me, please..."

Dana captured Lena's lips, raking her tongue over her teeth, through them, and finally in circles to the rhythm of Lena's hips.

Lena felt Dana's fingers enter her, her head spun deliriously and she started to slowly fuck the fingers, seconds from coming all over Dana. She tried in vain to hold off, wanting it to last. Her body lifted up off of Dana and she held firmly to the back of the chair, driving herself onto Dana's fingers over and over. Dana brought her other hand to Lena's clit, milking it between two of her fingers. Lena came, falling back onto Dana's lap, rocking her hips against Dana with the convulsions that rolled through her. Dana cupped her as her body racked. She felt warm come seep out of Lena and onto her thighs, soaking through the denim. She had never seen a woman come, much less be the cause of it, and the brilliance of it was devastating to her.

She held Lena in her arms, waiting for the fade. Lena clung to her, slowly feeling them subside.

Dana brought her hands to Lena's face, lifting her chin. She stared into her eyes, running her thumbs over Lena's cheekbones.

"Where did you come from?" Dana asked the question in a low whisper as tear made it's way down her cheek.

-end-


Chapter Seven

"Where did you come from?" Dana asked the question in a low whisper as tear made it's way down her cheek.

Lena kissed her softly. "Does it matter?"

"No." She said, staring into her eyes.

"Come with me..." Lean stood and pulled Dana up into a standing position. She walked her over next to the bed. "I'd like to get you out of these clothes."

Dana nodded, still staring into her eyes. She was overwhelmed. The high-octane crush she had felt earlier in the day had evolved into something much thicker. She wondered if she'd ever be able to put words to what she was feeling. It was like she was wrapped in a thick warm fog. Never in her life had anyone opened themselves to her like Lena had, letting her in, giving herself to Dana in her most vulnerable moments. And asking for what she needed, unashamed.

It had taken every bit of courage Dana had to sit in that chair, waiting for Lena to get out of the shower. She had played a good game up until then, talking recklessly to Lena, boldly, about how much she wanted her. She had wanted to bolt from the bedroom, not knowing what reaction to expect, but the need in her body kept her pinned to the chair. The promise of touching Lena again, like she had before Mulder had showed up this afternoon was alive in her memory. Could she do this? Could she really pull off her smoldering sensuality act? Insecurities she hadn't felt since high school gripped her. She felt vaguely ashamed at what she was about to do; it was an unwelcome gift from her upbringing that wasn't easy to shake.

But it had worked, and Lena had given herself over to Dana without reservation.

And it was stunning. To see such a beautiful woman; losing control. She wanted to give that to Lena in return. Give all of herself without letting insecurity and shame keep her in check.

It was different with the men she had been with, not that there were many. Dana felt a superiority over them, feeling almost sorry for them in a way, like they were animals that had no control over themselves. She never felt like she was giving anything up to them, ever, always feeling like she had the upper hand. She knew, going into these encounters, that she would feel next to nothing. It wasn't the man's fault, she predetermined the outcome long before they had a fair shot at making her feel ...anything. It wasn't a sin if you didn't enjoy it.

The truth was, Dana letting herself go enough to have an orgasm was not a gift she was willing to give to anyone, at least not until now.

But she wasn't sure she knew how.

Lena pulled the white tee shirt out of Dana's waistband, lifting it carefully over her head. She put her hands on the button of her jeans, tugging gently until it gave way, then slowly slid the zipper down. She took a second to run her fingers down the length of Dana's exposed skin and felt her shiver under the touch.

Lena had felt Dana seize up slightly, moments ago, as she reached for her hands to pull her out of the chair. The feelings she was having tumbled forth into Lena's mind and she silently cursed the damage catholic school had done to too many little girls. She started to undress Dana, picturing old terrors being shed away with layers of her clothing. She had to figure out a way to release the Dana that would trust her enough to let go.

"You have no idea how beautiful you are, do you Dana?"

Dana shook her head slowly, watching Lena reach around her to unclasp her bra.

"No one has ever told you?"

"No." It was said in a whisper so low that Lena could hardly hear it.

"How can that be? They must have been blind." She paused and looked into her eyes, gauging the reaction Dana was having to her words. She felt Dana slip, a brick falling from her mental wall.

"I noticed your eyes first. They're a color of blue that seems to shine from within." Lena pulled Dana's bra forward, off of her arms. "Do you remember when you were in my office? I looked into your eyes for too long at one point. I thought that maybe you'd be able to tell that I wanted you." Lena stroked the skin of her cheek as she whispered to her, never breaking eye contact. "Could you tell Dana? That I wanted you?"

Dana made a soft whimpering sound, unable to answer. Lena felt another layer of self-doubt drop in a veil around Dana's consciousness.

"I noticed your mouth next. You were talking to me in the kitchen." Lena's whisper intensified. She put her hands on either side of Dana's waistband, pulling the jeans and underwear slowly down together and helped Dana step out of them. She stood up to face her again. "I caught myself watching your lips as you spoke to me," Lena smiled slightly. "I had no idea what you said Dana. Your mouth is incredibly sexy."

Dana shut her eyes, her body swayed gently. Lena wrapped her arm around Dana's waist, setting her down on the bed.

"Lie down, I have more to tell you." Dana eased herself back onto the pillows. Lena lay down beside her, facing her. She used her fingertips to draw small slow circles over Dana's abdomen.

Lena laid her head on the pillow, placing her mouth next to Dana's ear. "Your hands caught my attention next. You were running them through your hair. I imagined what you could do to me with them." She flattened her hand out on Dana's stomach, drawing it slowly down to run over the inside of her thigh, then back up, just as slowly. Bumping over her ribs and up between her breasts. Dana arched up slightly, almost imperceptibly into her palm.

Lena could feel the uncertainty in the other woman's body lift away with the arch in her back. She knew she was close to breaking through.

"I've noticed other things too. The way you walk, something in the way that you carry yourself... it just makes me weak. The way you give your smiles to me, they're like gifts..."

Dana's right arm bent at the elbow and her hand reached out blindly for her. She found Lena's face, and rested her hand on Lena's cheek, applying gentle pressure so that her lips touched Dana's ear. She turned her head slightly to increase the pressure of the contact and Lena ran her warm lips slowly over the delicate skin.

"I belong to you now Dana. You hold all of me in your hands. I'll be yours as long as you'll have me ...just yours.

Lena felt the last shroud of shame fall from Dana's consciousness. It seemed to rise off of her body, leaving a clearer more vivid image of Dana beneath it. She closed her eyes, wanting to see what Dana saw, and her vision was filled with the image of her body being lifted from a thick gray haze. Golden shimmering light surrounded her, shining at her from no discriminate direction, possibly from within as well.

"I would give you anything, everything Dana."

"ohhhhhhh..." Dana sighed and rolled her body restlessly, arching her back again, against Lena's palm that rested on her abdomen.

Lena brought her hand down, running over the pale thigh, down to the back of the knee. Dana shifted, her body moving in an unconscious effort to guide Lena's hands. Lena continued to tease the skin of Dana's legs, letting her hand brush the auburn hair between them, but not quite touching it fully. Dana pushed her hips forward, rolling them. She raised her right leg and draped it over Lena's body, opening herself to her.

Lena ran her bottom lip over Dana's ear, continuing to whisper to her as she brought her hand up to Dana's nipple. She ran her palm over the nipple lightly, eliciting a moan and more arching from Dana.

"I watched you walk into my office in your gray suit..."

Lena pinched her nipple with a light flicking motion, then quickly flattened her hand and rubbed Dana's breast firmly. Dana responded by pushing her hips into the air and running her hand into Lena's hair, a moan making it's way out of her mouth.

"covering this stunning body..."

Lena focused her attention on the other breast, repeating the motions.

"so brilliant, so serious..."

Her hand ran down between Dana's legs, her fingertips running lightly over the patch of hair.

Dana spoke, her voice shaking, "I... wanted you..."

Lena felt her heart lurch in her chest. She knew that saying the words must have been so difficult for her, it blew Lena away.

Lena drew her index finger between Dana's wet lips, bringing it to her clit, then back down. Dana's head turned into her, she was biting her lip. Lena repeated the motion slowly, until Dana's hips rocked gently against her finger, picking up the rhythm she needed. She would rock her hips slowing until Lena's fingertip reached her clit, then she would push her hips down quickly, to speed the finger over the her nub.

"I lied... to Mulder... I lied..." Dana whispered.

Lena didn't speak, just letting her finish when she could. Dana's hips were moving faster, and pushing harder against her hand. The hand that wasn't in Lena's hair was clenching and unclenching the bottom sheet of the bed. Her body was twitching; her abdomen was tensed, hard. Lena could tell she was getting close to cumming. She increased her finger's pressure, letting it slip inside Dana slightly with each rocking of her hips.

"... I told him... I thought I was in love... with you..."

The hand that had been clenching the sheet came to Lena's wrist. Dana held to it tightly, holding the fingers in place as her hips slowed and her body twitched. She pulled it tightly to her, the heel of Lena's hand pressed firmly against her clit, and her finger buried itself inside of her.

She was breathless, her voice catching as she whispered "... but even then... I knew that I was... in love with you..."

She pushed her head back into the pillows, pushing her hips with deliberate motion into the hand. She started slowly, her grip on Lena's wrist loosening slightly. She laid her hand on top of Lena's, pushing her own finger inside of herself, on top of the one Lena already had inside of her. Her movements quickened, she took a deep breath, then held it and rode Lena's hand wildly, unashamed of her loss of control.

"...so lovely Dana... you are so lovely..."

Dana came violently, her hands releasing Lena's hair and wrist, then fluttering against her own chest. Her hips pushed impossibly hard against Lena's hand. Lena cupped her, feeling a torrent of spasms against the finger she had buried deep within Dana's folds... her head swimming with emotion.

It took several minutes for the spasms to subside. When they did, Lena slowly withdrew her finger. She lifted Dana's leg off of her and put it flat on the bed, raising her own and resting her thigh between Dana's legs in an effort to quell the shaking in Dana's thighs.

Dana rolled into her, resting her head on Lena's arm, tucking her arms between them. She brought her leg back up over Lena's and Lena wrapped her free arm around Dana's waist.

Dana looked into her eyes, "We have a lot to talk about."

Lena smiled at her, "Yes, I imagine we do."

"But not now."

"Ok."

"Right now I feel like I'm floating."

"Mmmm, that's a good sign."

"How soon can we do that again?"

Lena laughed, "As soon as you'd like to honey."

Dana tucked her head under Lena's chin. "Honey," she murmured, "I like that..." and she slowly drifted off to sleep.

-end-


Chapter Eight

Scully awoke to the sound of soft snoring and reached over, in a sleepy haze, to stroke it's creator. She was not surprised to feel a cold wet nose nuzzle it's way into her hand, a contented sigh emitted as she rubbed Wanda's soft head.

"Hello sweetie."

Wanda turned onto her back, all four legs in the air, trying to entice Scully into rubbing her belly. It worked, and she was rewarded with belly rubs and kisses. Wanda gave a contented dog's long scratchy sigh.

"Where's your momma?" Scully noticed that the sun was coming up, shining brilliantly through the windows. "Is she outside?"

The word 'outside' sent Wanda wiggling for a foothold. She stood up on the bed, gave Scully a sloppy lick on the chin, and jumped on the floor, her whole hind quarters shaking from the violent wagging of her tail.

"My my, someone's in a hurry, huh?" She swung her legs over the bed and stood. Rubbing her head she went into the bathroom and stole one of Lena's robes from the hook on the back of the door.

"Come on Wanda, wanna go outside?" She went out into the hall, to the back door and let Wanda out.

She walked to the stairway and made her way up, but stopped when she heard Lena talking. She waited a few seconds, waiting for another voice. When none came, she realized that Lena was on the phone and went up the rest of the way.

Lena was sitting on the couch, a pad of paper in hand. When she saw Dana she patted the spot next to her. Dana came over and sat down, then curled up and laid her head in Lena's lap. Lena ran her hand through Dana's hair, looking at her as she listened to the caller.

"Ok Laverne, lets have that list."

She scribbled some things down on the pad, then turned it around so that Dana could read it.

Bran Flakes Raisin Bread Milk FE Iron Tablets Roses

Dana look up at her, her brow furrowed.

"Ok, see you tomorrow. I'll try to come right after work, so probably around 6."

"Yep, love you too, see you soon."

"I won't forget."

"Bye."

She leaned over carefully and put the list on the coffee table. Then sat back and resumed Dana's head petting.

"That was Laverne."

"Oh." Scully said, not wanting to admit that she was dying to know who was on the phone.

"She's 87."

"Oh." Scully was relieved, very relieved.

"When she runs out of raisin bread... well... it's not pretty. It's best to just not let it happen."

"Is she family?"

"No, I met her at the grocery store actually."

"Pickin up babes?"

"No, picking her up, she wiped."

"As in 'out'?"

"Yep, as in 'surf's up'."

"Jeez."

"That's what she said. She was carrying this loaded bag of groceries, trying to maneuver a cane at the same time and she fell. I helped her up, talked to her, ended up finding out that she's on a fixed income and refused to have a doctor check her out... Long story short, I followed her home, checked her out, and I've been doing her weekly grocery shopping ever since."

Dana was looking up at Lena while she spoke. When Lena finished explaining, Dana reached up and pulled her face down to kiss her. She released Lena and continued to stare into her eyes with a look that was... well, moony.

"Did I just score some points?" Lena asked, smiling.

"Oh yeah, big points."

"You like the whole 'helping hand' thing?"

"Very much."

"Did I mention that I clean for her too?"

Dana laughed and reached up for another kiss.

"Did the phone wake you up?"

"No, Wanda the wonder dog did."

"She wasn't on the bed was she?"

"Would she be in trouble if I said 'yes'?"

"I'd have to put her down."

"She was definitely =not= on the bed."

"Good thing." Lena said, giving Dana a tough girl look that made her laugh.

They sat quietly for a while. Lena watched her fingers as they ran through Dana's hair.

"Should we talk now?" Lena asked the question because she'd been anxious about having this discussion with Dana. Part of her just wanted to get it over with.

"Probably."

"How do you feel Dana?"

"Better than I have in years."

Lena smiled, "Super, me too. Glad that's out of the way."

Dana smiled at her, "But..."

"Oh."

"This is sort of a first for me. And I'm guessing, but I'd say I'm not your first. True?"

"True."

"So, I should be concerned about public opinion, what my Mom will think, our ability to work together..."

"And are you?"

"Yes."

"Well, I've been living as a lesbian since puberty."

Dana was surprised. "Has it been hard for you?"

"Yes. I can't lie about that. The hardest part was work. I generally don't come out at work. I find that it sometimes taints people's viewpoints whether they like to think it does or not. I'm one of those 'get-to-know-me' queers. You know, get to know me first, then I'll tell you in confidence and hope like hell you keep your mouth shut."

Dana had a look of concern on her face that broke Lena's heart.

"At Quantico, it was widely known that I was a lesbian. I was respected, in spite of that, and I have reason to believe the same will happen here in DC. In other words, you won't see me with a "I'm not a lesbian but my girlfriend is" tee shirt on at the office, but if I'm asked, I won't lie."

Dana looked at her solemnly. "I could be saying something that is very un-PC here, but I have to say that I never would have known that you were a lesbian. That is, if you hadn't flirted with me." She smiled, "You are such a =girl= Lena."

Lena laughed out loud. "That's funny."

"I'm serious."

"Well, be that as it may, I'm still a lesbian."

"So you always knew you were gay?"

Lena looked at her seriously, a rare occurrence, Dana was discovering. "Pretty much. I had a wicked crush on Mrs. Gardner, my kindergarten teacher. We used to lay down for nap time and I would lay on my little towel on my back, hoping to get a peek up her skirt when she walked around to make sure we were asleep."

Dana sat up. "Sick little twist, weren't you?"

Lena chuckled. "Horny, I guess, even at 5."

"Dana looked at her for a moment, took a deep breath and said, "I had a crush on my 7th grade English teacher. Her name was Ms. Howe."

Lean tried to not look shocked, "Really?"

"Yes." Dana nodded slightly. "She was smart, pretty. She was getting a divorce that year, and I rationalized it by thinking that I felt sorry for her. You know, wanting to comfort her. When I think about it now, I realize that it wasn't just that."

"Did you have other crushes?" Lena broached the subject carefully, not wanting to push.

"One or two." Dana threw her a half smile, remembering.

Lena sat quietly, hoping she would elaborate.

Dana thought for a moment, then continued, "In college, I had this friend, her name was Sheila. She lived in the dorm next to mine my freshman year. I met her in a class and when we found out that we lived so near each other we decided to walk to class together. We ended getting really close. We would go to dinner together on Sunday's. The dorm didn't serve dinner on Sunday. Anyway, she had long dark hair, a little taller than me, and she was incredibly funny."

Lena smiled, she noticed that the parallels between her and Sheila were not lost to Dana.

"We got together on her birthday, it was a Saturday night. Her dad had been up to see her, and had bought her a six pack for her birthday. I think he knew that between the two of us we couldn't do much damage with that amount of beer." Dana smiled wryly. "We went to the college gardens, it was by a river, and sat on a blanket in the dark with her six pack. We hadn't even gotten through one beer a piece, and she leaned over to me, we were lying down, and pretended to pull something out of my hair, like a fuzzy or something, and she kissed me."

Lena felt her heart flutter. She loved first kiss stories, even though this one involved Dana, it was so long ago that there was no jealousy, just the feel of the sweetness in the actions of two young women.

"What did you do?" Lena asked softly.

"I kissed her back." Dana said, looking down. She ran her fingertips over the fabric of the couch.

"And?"

"And continued to kiss her for another hour or so..." she looked up.

Lena smiled. She was delighted with Dana's openness, but tried to contain it. It was soothing to her to know that she wasn't the first woman to try reeling Dana in. That meant that Dana had considered the consequences of her feelings toward women at least once already. Maybe that fact would make the process easier for her now. Lena hoped.

"Does this story have a happy ending?"

"No. Sheila couldn't cope. I mean, I wasn't coping either, really, but she felt so good to me that I was willing to at least play the coward and hide a relationship. She ended up standing and pacing. I was confused, like, 'come back down here'. She was terrified. We walked home, went our separate ways. She wrote me a letter and delivered it the next day. It said, for the most part, that she was sorry. That she was just home sick and confused, and that it wouldn't happen again. It gave me the perfect 'out' really. She blamed the whole thing on herself so I was off the hook. We went back to walking to class together, but the Sunday dinners stopped. The next semester we just sort of lost touch with each other. I have no idea what happened to her."

"Were you devastated?"

Dana shook her head. "Not really. I was confused. I guess I just figured, 'ok, well, it was just her', like I wasn't a lesbian, she was just too persuasive... or something. I even rationalized it by thinking that one beer screwed up my judgement, that was a reach." Dana shrugged. "How about you? Who was your first?"

"Sheryl Richie, 11th grade."

"Started young eh?"

"Yeah. She was a shrew. I still contend, to this day, that she took advantage of me. She knew =exactly= what she was doing."

Dana rolled her eyes. "Ya, I believe that."

Lena gave her a mock look of indignation. "But it's true."

"Tell me."

"She was in my choir class. She had reddish hair." Lena leaned over and gave a strand of Dana's hair a soft tug. "And this beautiful complexion. One of those rare red heads that still tan." She rubbed Dana's tanned cheek. "And, she sat next to me. She kind of announced, when she walked into class, that she wanted to sit next to me because I was so beautiful. Which was funny, because I had braces, slight acne, and really bad hair; a real ugly duckling. I figured she was making fun of me. So, of course, I didn't believe her, and it totally rattled me. I was afraid of her for a while, because she always said inappropriate things to people. She seemed older than the rest of the 11th grade, but she wasn't, she just... had this way."

"Go on..." Dana looked amused.

"Well, I was painfully shy. I mean, speaking to me was like a random act of violence against me, from my point of view, anyway. So Sheryl seemed to recognize that, and she was gentle with me. She noticed that I would draw little pictures in my notebook, so one day she came in with a small drawing pad for me. It had a little bow on it. She just handed it to me, not saying anything. I was thrilled. For two reasons. One: it was the first important gift I had gotten from anyone that wasn't family, and Two: because when she handed it to me I got this image in my mind of myself, except, I saw myself through her eyes. I hadn't fully developed my 'insights' yet, so the images were blurry, but the way she saw me was quite a bit different that the way I saw myself. I thought of myself as mousy, insecure. She saw... well... beauty, I guess. She seemed to focus on my eyes and lips, the two parts of me that weren't ravaged by acne and braces."

Dana was absorbed in the story. She became aware again that Lena wasn't like the other 'kids', as she had put it. She realized that it was easy to forget that the woman was a mind reader.

"That's when the crush began. She continued to give me little gifts, and little touches along with them. I got progressive images of her touching me, kissing me, and some other things that I couldn't even see on late night cable." Lena looked at Dana and winked. "So, one day during class she tells me that she asked her mom if I could spend the night at her house. She said that they had a camper parked in the driveway and that her mom said we could sleep in that. She asked if I could call my Dad and find out if I could do it, then if I could, I could just ride home with her. I was freaked, but also, a walking bag of active hormones. The thought of having her to myself, regardless of the outcome, was just to much to refuse. I called my Dad at work to ask, and he was on to the whole gig immediately."

"What do you mean 'on to'?"

"Well, he knew all of my friends, and I had never mentioned Sheryl around him, knowing that he would feel my attraction to her, so he was a little concerned. And, he just =knew=. He knew where I was leaning, I had had many crushes on women throughout my childhood. I think he was aware that I was feeling something about Sheryl that was 'crush' like. You see, he's a little different than the other kids too."

"Ohhhhh." Dana said, drawing it out. Then the implications of the statement really hit her. "Wow... he's..."

"Yes. But he's better at it than I am."

"You'll need to elaborate on that when you're done with this story." Dana said to her, in all seriousness.

"I will, there's a lot I need to elaborate on. My family is odd."

"I don't doubt that a bit. Now finish telling me about Sheryl."

"Well, Dad knew something was up. He didn't seem upset, exactly, just unnerved. He wasn't opposed to my lesbianism, I think at that point he had expected it, but he hadn't had to put a face on it. He agreed to my spending the night at Sheryl's, nonetheless, and I went home with her after school. Her mother was wonderful. I was brought up without one, for all intents and purposes, and when Mrs. Richie found out that it was just my Dad and I left at home, Brian was already in college, she doted on me. She fed me, gave me lots of momma-style hugs. I swear, she was nearly in tears half the time thinking about me not having a mother. I'll elaborate on that later too."

"You'd better."

"So it got late and Sheryl and I retired to the RV. Her Dad, who was also golden, had hooked up the electric and water for us, it was like our own little world in there."

Lena stopped. She was smirking a little, shaking her head.

"What happened?" Scully prodded her.

"She was on me like white on rice."

Scully laughed. "Just like that huh?"

"Yep, barely got out of there with my life." Lena said, laughing.

"Well, my goodness. You poor thing."

"I know... tainted so young."

"How long did it last?"

"Until I met a boy and started going steady with him. Scott was his name."

"Ok, I'm confused now."

"Well, I had always liked him. I thought he was cute, and he ignored me through most of high school. Then the summer before my senior year I somehow lost my baby fat, got my braces off and my skin cleared up."

"And he noticed you?"

"Yeah. And I was flattered and wanted to see what boys were like. I still regret the way I told Sheryl. I just said, "Sorry, I'm straight now, see, this is my boy... I think she's married now..."

"Did you sleep with Scott?"

"Yes. But he had to work for it. I wasn't easy..."

"Unlike now..." Scully whispered under her breath.

"Dana!" Lena said emphatically, scolding her.

"I knew that'd get ya."

"I had to try boys at least once. Well, in Scott's case, about 30 times..."

Scully raised a brow at her, smirking slightly.

"He was like a Dapper Dan Doll. I could undress him, bend him this way and that. Make him lie still or move around... he was an angel, really. He put up with a lot from me. He made me confident around men, which I hadn't been up until that point."

"So you liked the intimacy?"

"Yes, I did. But I didn't get much out of the other 90% of the deal."

"Oh."

"And I think I felt guilty about Sheryl for the entire 12th grade."

"You wrecked her."

"Oh don't say that." Lena placed her hand over her heart. "That would be awful."

"I'm kidding, sorry." Scully leaned up and kissed her. "What happened to Scott?"

"I broke up with him my first semester in college. I fell in love with the girl across the hall and came out with a vengeance."

"I suppose you broke his heart too?"

"Doubt it. We were going to different colleges and I had heard rumors that he was seeing some little slut named Jennifer."

Scully snorted laughter. "You are something else Conhouse."

Lena let out a full laugh. "You know what?"

"What?"

"I love it when you say stuff like that."

"Really? Why?"

"I have no idea, but I love it." She smiled a goofy smile at Dana, shrugging her shoulders.

"Hmmmm, well, get used to it."

"Really?"

"Yeah, really." Dana was thoughtful for a second, then continued. "I can't promise you that things will be smooth. In fact, I can probably promise you that they'll be tough. I mean, I don't know how I'll behave tomorrow at work, if I'll be able to tell my mom right away, or any of that. But I do know that I'd like to see where we go together. I have a history of crushes on women, it's time that I got the courage up to find out what it's about."

Lena was gazing at her intently. She could tell that Dana was talking to herself as much as to Lena. Trying to convince herself, maybe, as she tried to convince Lena, that this was the right thing for her to do.

"I love your company. I love your peacefulness and stability. I love your sense of humor. I love your dog." Scully said, smiling, as she looked into her eyes. "I know this won't be easy for either one of us, but I need to take the risk at this point in my life. I've squandered so much time already Lena, wasted it. I don't want to be alone anymore, I haven't for a long time. But, I haven't come across anyone who makes me feel like you do."

Lena still hadn't responded and it was making Dana nervous. "Do you want to take this chance? On me, Lena?"

"Yes." Lena reassured her. "Yes I do. It's just... I don't want to screw it up. I'm worried that I'll push too hard or that you'll realize this isn't right for you."

"If I thought that would happen I wouldn't be here now. I can guarantee you that you'll never meet anyone more cautious than I am. I put so much thought into every move that I make that it sometimes gives me a migraine. Honestly, I wouldn't be here if I felt that it was wrong for me. I'm all together too anal for that."

At that, Lena stated, matter-of-factly, "I have to take you to bed now."

Scully laughed in surprise. "What?"

"The bed, now... please."

-end-


Chapter Nine

Lena let Wanda in through the downstairs door, then walked into the bedroom. Dana had already shed her robe. She was laying on top of the bed's comforter, belly down, looking at the picture of Lena's parents.

"You're not planning on thinking about..." Lena asked, warily.

"No, no." Dana laughed. "I was just wondering who this woman is. Is it your Mom?"

"No. It's my step-mom, Judy. My Dad married her about 3 years ago."

"Do you like her?"

"Very much. She keeps him normal... ish."

"Is she aware of his..."

"Nope."

Lena had moved to the side of the bed. She lay down beside Dana with her head propped up on her hand.

"Are you thinking about doing to me what you did to me last night?" Dana asked, putting the picture back on the night stand.

Lena nodded slightly. "Would you like me too?" She was whispering.

"Yes." Dana lowered her voice to a whisper, matching Lena's sudden intensity.

"Do you like it when I talk to you while I touch you?"

"... yes." Dana rested her head on the backs of her hands and looked into Lena's eyes.

Lena ran her hand from Dana's shoulders slowly down to the dip in her back. She leaned in to Dana's ear and whispered, "I adore you..."

Dana sighed deeply and let her eyes slip closed.

"And I am amazed... that you picked me..." Lena whispered as she ran her hand down over the swell of Dana's ass to the back of her knee and up again.

Lena got to her knees on the bed and shed her robe, letting it fall to the floor. She straddled Dana's hips, sitting down on her fully, then laid herself out on Dana's back.

The groan elicited from Dana's lips made her head swim with desire. She consciously chose not to read any thoughts from Dana, she wanted to feel her way through responses. She ran her hands over Dana's arms then back to her shoulders. She brushed auburn strands off of the back of her neck and ran her tongue lightly along Dana's skin, stopping at her ear, "... you are so soft..."

Lena let her hands glide down Dana's sides. She could feel her own wetness start to rub off onto Dana. She moved her hips slightly, sliding herself gently along the crack of the other woman's ass. She felt Dana push her hips back up against her. A sweet 'ohhhhhh god' from Dana rang in her ears... making her slide against her again.

"... Lena, god... that feels incredible... "

Her nipples were grazing Dana's back, her hips moving slowly against her ass. Lena sat up, slightly, and the change in pressure was overwhelming, "ohhhhh..." she sucked in a breath through clenched teeth...

"... don't stop Lena... please..."

Lena sat straighter, her hands resting on either side of the dip in Dana's back. Her hips moved of their own accord, her clit captured between the cheeks of Dana's ass.

"... can you feel that?..."

"... yes... you're so hard..."

Lena laid fully against Dana's back once more, her hands ran down Dana's sides. She pushed her hips into her ass again, and when Dana's hips lifted off the bed to meet her thrust, she slipped her hands beneath her.

"... ohhhhhh... " Dana let out a choked moan as Lena slid a finger into her. The fingers of her other hand found Dana's clit and she rubbed it in slow circles.

"I want you to cum with me Dana... can you do that?"

"... yes... "

She pushed her clit into Dana, wanting her to feel it hard against her. Dana clenched her ass and captured it, pulling it back with her as she pushed herself down into Lena's fingers.

"Jesus... Dana... oh god..."

Dana's hands came up, she grasped Lena's face and the back of her head, craning her neck to kiss her. Their tongues met. Dana's fingers sliding into Lena's mouth. Lena kissed her mouth and fingers at once, running her tongue over both. Each continued riding the other and they came together, as they had promised each other, moaning into one another's mouths - hips rolling in release.

"...I can't believe what you do to me..." Lena whispered, rolling off of Dana's back after slowly withdrawing her fingers. "No one has ever made me as hot as you do... how do you do that?"

"Mmmm, I don't know, but I like it... I like it." Dana whispered back, her back suddenly cold. She shuffled a little, getting under the comforter. She held the covers up and Lena snuggled in with her. "Get closer..."

Lena scooted into her. She reveled in the feel of the warm arms around her. "I can't believe how good you feel. I could get so used to this."

"That's the plan." Dana stroked her back softly, breathing in deeply, loving the smell of her skin.

"So you're sucking me in are you?"

"In a manner of speaking, yes."

"Lulling me into a sense of safety? So you can... let's see..."

"Steal your dog?"

"Too obvious."

Dana laughed. She had no idea what she was saying. It didn't matter. This silliness was all she could muster after having every synapse in her body fire at once. She was thinking of the definition of an orgasm that she and Melissa had looked up in the library when they were in their teens. It had said something that ended with, 'resulting in a feeling of euphoria and relaxation'. For the first time she knew what that meant. It made her smile.

"So which are you little white girl? Relaxed, or euphoric?"

"Both."

Lena responded by laughing and sighing at once. The resulting noise making her sound simple minded. "My god Dana, you killed some of my brain cells."

"Dork." Dana whispered, and kissed her on the forehead.

Lena laughed out loud.

It was early afternoon and the two women were out on the boat, lying in the sun.

"So, tell me about your family Conhouse. Who can do what?"

Lena looked over at her, smiling. "Now don't beat around the bush Dana..."

"Come on - spill it."

"Well, let's see. Where to start? My Dad is able to do just about anything. He's had nearly 65 years to develop his skills. He's proficient in all types of clairvoyance, including, but not limited to, thought transference, automatic writing, tachometry, telepathy, and remote viewing. Now Brian, on the other hand, has struggled with his abilities for most of his life. He's tried to suppress them, although, as a result of that, his unconscious mind, his dreams, mostly, are filled with real life events. He's been in and out of counseling most of his life. Lately, I think, he's been able to control his depression with medication."

"Is he alright now?" Dana was looking over at Lena, her brow furrowed.

"Yes. I think so, anyway. The last time I talked to him was a couple of weeks ago. He seems to be able to sleep now, and he was cheerful. He had met someone, which I think probably makes him happy. He's gay, also, by the way. He lives in California."

"What does he do?"

"Set designs for award shows. He was a theatre queer."

"No kidding."

"No kidding."

"Wow."

"Yeah."

"Where does your dad live?"

"He lives in Delaware. A place called Harmony Hall, this big farmhouse that's an historical site. It was weird how he got the place. He and I were really in to doing a family genealogy a couple of years ago and we found out that this historical site called Harmony Hall was owned by a General Conhouse back in the late 1700's. We went to the site and found that the county was taking bids to lease it out. Dad bid on the lease and he got it. He and Judy have been there for a couple of years now, restoring it to its original style. It's not far from here, about an hour and a half. I'll take you out there some time."

"Was it in bad shape when they moved in?"

"Oh yeah. They lived in one room for the first year while they tried to make the others livable."

"Tell me about your abilities. I know you can read my mind... when I want you too." Dana shot her a smile. "What else can you do?"

"Just about everything my dad can do. I haven't developed as much as he has, I mean, it takes me longer to get answers sometimes."

"Can you move objects?"

"Yes, but it takes forever. The kind of concentration I need to have in order to do that takes several hours to obtain."

"Can you read objects?"

"Like hold something in my hand and tell you where it's been?"

"Yes."

"Yes, I can."

"I've heard about remote viewing but I'm not sure I know exactly what that is..."

"It's the act of traveling outside the body to a remote location. You visualize the location, gather your senses, and push them forward in your mind and out toward the location you want to view. I could talk you through it sometime, you may be able to do it."

"Really?" Dana wasn't buying it.

"Really. It's a process, not so much an ability."

"Did you ever worry that you wouldn't be able to get back into your body?"

"Once. I was terrified; just kind of hovering above myself."

"What did you do?"

"I tried to remember what it felt like to lift my arm. Before I knew it, I was laying in bed with my arm straight in the air."

Dana shook her head, "Incredible. And you think you can teach me how to do that?"

"Yes, I think I could."

"How? What's the process?"

"Well, I lay on my bed and relax. First, I tense and release every muscle that I have, starting with my toes and working my way up to the top of my head. I tense my toes tightly, hold them, then release them, then I move on to my feet, then my calves, etc., the idea being that I become aware of every muscle and therefore am able to completely relax every muscle. After every muscle has been tensed and released I then pull all five of my tangible senses to my sternum. I do this by concentrating on my sense of touch by feeling the bed beneath me, then I visualize the sense running up my arm, across my chest, and hovering at my sternum. I then go on to my sense of hearing, taste, sight, and smell, centering them together. Then I visualize the place I want to go, take a deep breath, and push, mentally and physically. The senses travel off by themselves."

"Incredible."

"Yeah. It's a cool thing."

Dana continued her interrogation, "Where's your mom?"

"My mom?" Lena looked pained; "I don't know where she is."

"Did something happen to her?"

"Sort of, she's got addiction troubles, drugs, alcohol, your typical dysfunctional stuff."

"I'm sorry."

"It's okay. She left when I was five. I was heartbroken for a long time, but I think I've made my peace with her."

"Your dad raised you alone?"

"Yep, he's my hero. I was lucky to have him."

"Are you a daddy's girl?"

"Yep, just like you."

"Yeah." Dana smiled at her slightly, remembering Ahab. She wondered something briefly, then shook her head as if to shake the thought away.

"You can ask me Dana." Lena looked at her pointedly.

"What?"

"The question... about Ahab."

Dana looked startled, then whispered, so that Lena could barely hear her, "Can you?"

"Yes. I can. Melissa too."

Dana's eyes filled with tears. She felt her throat seize. "Where are they..."

Lena felt tears come to her eyes too. "Heaven. They're together."

"Can you see them?"

"Sometimes, behind you... when you're thinking of them. Ahab rests his hand on your shoulder." Lena closed her eyes, her head shivered. Melissa... she's got her arm around you when she's here. She's taller than you, longer hair..."

Dana's eyes were wide, she let tears stream down her face, disbelieving, shaking her head slowly...

"They love you..." Lena's eyes opened. "Oh god Dana, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you." She was suddenly terrified that she'd said too much. "Are you okay? I'm so sorry."

Dana spoke through her tears, "How do you know... where they are?"

Lena smiled softly at her; "I wouldn't be able to see them otherwise."

"Do you see anyone else?"

"Let's save that for later, ok?"

Dana stared at her for a moment, wanting desperately to know if she saw Emily.

"Later Dana..."

"So there is a heaven."

"Yes, and a god, and everything else that's good."

"You must be religious?"

"Not really. There is a theory that god is in everything. God, from my viewpoint, is the collective consciousness or rather, the collective memory in every living thing. It's not a guy with a white beard, unless, of course, you want it to be."

"So the bible..."

"I honestly don't know. I don't know the how or why of the way things work. But I do know that death isn't the end, and that we have nothing to be afraid of."

"Do you think being gay is a sin?"

"No. I think it doesn't matter. I think that love is a gift, in whatever form it takes." Lena took a breath. "Dana, I'm not some kind of messiah. I can't tell the future. I can't say that the end is near. I've got very little knowledge of religion." She rested her head in her hands. "I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm just a person who happens to be able to use more parts of my brain. Just a person, nothing else, really."

"So you don't think you were put here to make a difference?"

"I think we all were, I just think some people choose not to."

Dana thought about it for a second. She looked at Lena, drying her tears with her fingers. "So that's the key? You use the parts of your brain that are dormant in other people?"

"I believe so, yes. That's it, no frills."

"Have you ever had a CAT scan or any other brain function related testing?"

"No, but I was hoping you could do that for me."

"Of course I will."

"Thanks."

Dana pulled back slightly. She looked into Lena's eyes thoughtfully for a minute. "I feel like I should call Mulder."

Lena's eyebrows raised. "Do you want to head in?"

"Yeah. I keep getting little pangs of guilt when I think about him. I'm worried that I didn't take enough time with him yesterday, I was in too much of a rush to get back to you." She smiled at her.

Lena got up and pulled the anchor in and they made their way back to the dock.

Soon they were back in Lena's living room. Dana was fishing through her bag.

"I think, if you don't mind, that I'll call him and see if he wants to go to dinner. I feel like I need to talk to him before we meet in the morning."

"Oh that's right, I'm supposed to be in your office first thing tomorrow to go over those files. It could be mighty painful if he's angry."

"He's usually very professional. I think he'd keep things impersonal enough to get by."

"That could be even worse."

Dana shrugged. "Lena, did you see anyone around Mulder?"

"Yes, a couple of people."

Dana looked at the floor.

"But not his sister Dana, not Samantha."

Dana let out an audible sigh of relief.

"Do you have any idea where she is?"

"Not yet, but I think that I will."

Dana nodded and dialed the phone.

-end-


Chapter Ten

"So Scully, how was your night?"

They sat at a small table by the window. Their wine had already been set in front of them, food was ordered and presumably being prepared.

"Good Mulder." She knew, or thought she knew, what he was getting at, but thought that maybe he didn't know how to ask.

"She's an amazing person."

"Yes," Dana tried to be casual, "she is."

"Listen Scully, if your inviting me to dinner is some kind of mercy mission you don't need to bother. I'm a big boy, I can handle this."

"It's not a mercy mission. I just didn't feel comfortable with the way I left things yesterday. I appreciate that you gave me your stamp of approval to go back to Lena's Mulder, I just don't feel right about being sketchy with you regarding my relationship with her."

"So, you've upgraded to a relationship?" The pain in his voice was palpable.

She sighed, then regarded him honestly, "Yes."

"That was quick."

She was going to argue, but realized that he was right, it was quick.

"I suppose it was."

"Scully, are you sure you can make a decision like that over the course of a weekend?"

"Well, I know it sounds unlike me, considering my history of careful, intentional living... but, yes... I think I can make a decision like that over the course of a weekend. In fact, I already have."

Mulder stared at her across the table. His expression was unreadable.

"And I'm hoping that it won't be a burden on the relationship I have with you, work or otherwise."

"We have no relationship other than work Scully. It's the thing that binds us together."

"And I don't see why that should change. Do you?"

"In my mind, no. In my heart..."

Dana dropped her gaze to her wineglass. She ran a finger around the mouth of it. She was thrown by Mulder's statement, considering it.

"Scully, I'd be lying if I said that I had never considered kissing you. As a matter of fact, I've considered it often over the past few years."

She looked up at him.

"I thought about it all night and I tried to figure out why I had never done it."

"You did. Once." She stated, seriously.

He smiled at her, "Once, I tried."

She smiled back.

"And failed." He said.

"After that," she said, "I just thought it wasn't meant to be."

He sighed. "That's one way to look at it."

"How did you look at it Mulder?"

"Like I couldn't do anything right. Like I have no luck and bad timing."

"Well..."

"Well, now I know that I've blown it."

"No Mulder, you haven't blown it." She regretted her phrasing when she saw the hopeful look in his eye. "What I mean to say is that I would have blown it for you. I'm..."

"You're what?"

"A lesbian."

He was shocked, and... angry, "Scully, one weekend does not a lesbian make..."

"Mulder listen, it wasn't just one weekend. I had experiences... in college. Attractions..."

"You don't have to tell me this."

"But I do. I don't want you to think that Lena is out there recruiting. She didn't seduce me Mulder... well... anyway, she wasn't the first, exactly."

He was looking down now, staring at the tablecloth. "So, you're telling me that I would never have had a chance to begin with?"

She sighed, "Well, you may have had a short run, but I would have been setting us up for failure from the beginning, and we would have ruined a brilliant partnership for a lie."

"Well, there's not much more to say then, is there?"

"Yes. There is. I need to know if you have any prejudices I should be aware of."

"Oh Scully. I never could. Especially against you. If I do have any prejudices, I'm unaware of them, and you can correct me along the way."

She smiled at him. "You're pretty amazing Mulder."

"I am?"

"Yes. You're complete lack of malice humbles me."

"Really. Well, good. I'm not always an asshole."

"I know that."

The waitress delivered their food and Scully watched Mulder shovel some into his mouth. It was a relief to her. She knew that he wouldn't eat if he were upset, the fact that he was able to was a clear indication that they could get through this.

He noticed her staring at him and raised his brows, questioning.

"Have you named you tapeworm yet Mulder?" She asked.

He smiled at her and tapped her wineglass with his own.

She knew then that everything was going to work out.

Dana called Lena as soon as she got back to her apartment.

"Hello?"

"Hi."

"How'd it go?"

"Well, ok, I think."

"Hmmm."

"He hesitated when I used the word 'relationship'. He was surprised."

"Is he okay?"

"Well, he ate."

"And that's good?"

"Yes, that's good."

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, yeah, I am. What have you and the wonder dog been up to?"

"Wrestling."

"Who won?"

"The pawed one."

"Good for her."

"She's got a mean sleeper hold."

Dana smiled into the phone. "I miss you."

"I miss you too. I'm feeling needy and clinging. Not sure it's a good look for me but I can't help it."

"I could be there in half an hour."

"I would love that, but it would be a huge hassle for you, wouldn't it?"

"No, I could get some clothes together and get ready for work at your place in the morning."

"You're sure it's not a pain?"

"I'm sure."

"Do I sound desperate?"

"No more than I feel."

"Then come here."

"See you soon."

Monday - 8:10 am

Mulder was sitting at Lena's desk when she walked into her office.

"Good morning Mulder." She eyed him warily.

"Good morning."

They stared at each other tensely.

"Listen Lena, I'm not here to cause trouble."

"That's a relief. I hate trouble." She smiled tentatively, placing her briefcase on the edge of her desk.

He smiled back. "Scully means a lot to me Conhouse."

"You mean a lot to her too. She was worried about you this weekend."

"I know, and I appreciate that. I also appreciate that she is the consummate professional, and that our work environment could be jeopardized if I chose to be an asshole about your feelings for each other."

Lena continued to stare at him, knowing there was more.

"So, I'm not going to be... an asshole."

She smiled. "Okay, well, then I won't be an asshole either."

"I would be, that is, if I thought you weren't good for her."

"I understand."

"But I have to admit, I haven't seen her this happy in a long time."

Lena smiled, she tried not to look to pleased with herself, but she was... quite.

"Conhouse, I have worked with Scully for over 5 years. This morning, when I came into the office, she was humming."

"Humming?"

"Yes. Humming. I didn't even know she could hum."

Lena tried not to smile wider. "That's odd."

"Yes. It is. And when I asked her =what= she was humming, she replied, under her breath, I assure you, 'that French sex song'."

Lena pressed her lips together, trying to suppress a laugh. "French sex song... hmmm."

"Any idea what that could be?"

"No Agent Mulder... no idea."

They regarded each other for a second, then his face broke into a smile. "You comin down to the dungeon to look at some files this morning?" He got up from her desk and walked to the door of her office.

"You bet. Just let me check my email and I'll be right there."

"Okay, see you later."

Lena waited to make sure the Mulder was out of earshot and she started to laugh. She pounded her palms lightly on her briefcase and stomped her feet in unison. "Too funny..."

"Your job brings you that much joy Conhouse?"

She looked up to see Skinner in her doorway.

"Yes sir."

He scowled. "Well, let's hope it continues to."

Lena quickly made her way around the desk to her chair, adjusting her skirt as she went. It had ridden up slightly during her foot pounding. "What can I do for you?"

"I'm wondering where we stand on the DNA testing."

"I have samples from all new agents sir, half of them are completed. I should have the other half for you be the end of the week."

"Good."

"Is there something in particular that I should be looking for in the samples?" She got some strange images from Skinner, mostly blocked, but some were slipping through. He was looking for oddities in the DNA testing; it was not routine, as he had led her to believe.

"Not yet Agent Conhouse. I'll let you know when I want you to extrapolate." And with that he walked out.

She watched him leave. 'Thank you Agent Conhouse,' she thought, 'good job. appreciate the hard work... you look nice today... is that a new suit?...' then, she simply mouthed the words 'Dick head'.

Finally alone she unpacked her briefcase, looking through her daytimer to map out her day. She could start the next set of DNA testing now, then go down to the wonder twins office and be back up to the lab in the afternoon to set up the next group of DNA tests. She was determined now to get the rest of the DNA run by Wednesday. Maybe Mr. Surly would cheer up a little if she came in under the wire.

She walked out into the lab area to set up the DNA blocks. It took her half an hour. Finished, she stripped off her lab gear and left a note on her door that read, "Need me? Page me." With her pager number written below it.

She knocked gently on the door to the office and heard Mulder say, "come in".

She entered, looking briefly toward Scully, then to Mulder, and sat in the only chair available. "Hello family."

"I have presents for you." Mulder said, grabbing some files off the debris field on his desk and reaching to hand them to her.

"For me?" She smiled. "You shouldn't have."

Dana sat at her desk watching them interact. 'It's going to be okay.' She thought. She let her eyes wander the length of Lena's crossed legs. She had left that morning before Lena was dressed and hadn't seen this suit. Lena's skirt was shorter than anything Dana would dare wear. It was camel colored, resting above her knee when she stood. But when she sat down, it rode up. Not too much, but some. And Dana liked it. She had on a matching blazer and a shirt that was also camel colored. Her nylons and heels matched perfectly and the overall effect elegant and professional. And she had just put on her reading glasses. Scully felt her abdomen warm slightly with desire. She quickly looked away, to Mulder, to see if he had noticed. He seemed unaware. When she looked back to Lena, she was surprised to have her gaze met. Lena regarded her over the tops of her glasses, her eyes narrowing slightly. Dana felt wetness pool between her legs. Lena smiled slightly and looked back down to the file in her lap.

"Mulder, do you have access to the logged evidence in this file?"

"You mean the swatches of cloth?"

"Yes."

"I can get access."

"Good. I think that would help."

"Tachometry?" Mulder asked, surprised.

"Yes."

He looked at Scully, smiling in slight wonderment. He mouthed the word 'cool' at her and she smiled.

Lena looked at Mulder again; "You haven't identified one of the girls?"

"I was hoping you could do that."

"I believe I could, if I had the fabric heart from her clothes."

Mulder picked up the phone and dialed, "I'll have someone bring it over."

As he made his request Dana spoke to Lena, "Those little girls were brutally murdered Conhouse."

"So the file says."

"Can you figure out who the girl was without having to see her killed."

Lena smiled, "I think so. Don't worry."

Dana did not smile back.

Mulder hung up the phone. "It's on its way."

The FBI courier showed up an hour later with the evidence pouch in hand. Mulder signed for it and carefully removed the fabric heart from the plastic bag. He handed it to Conhouse, then sat at his desk, watching her intently. She held it in the palm of one hand and ran the fingertips of her other hand over it slowly; her eyes closed.

"Uh... six... she's six years old... she was on her way to the bus stop..."

Dana was concerned; thinking that Lena was leading up to the murder.

"Kelly... her name is Kelly... she's from Virginia... Chapel Hill, I think..."

"Are you getting a last name?" Mulder asked.

"...It's ... Westfall... Kelly Westfall." Lena opened her eyes. "Kelly Westfall."

Mulder got busy looking up the Chapel Hill police department while Scully made arrangements to have the girl's skeletal remains sent to Lena's lab. They had to verify dental records, assuming there were some, before being able to notify the victim's family.

Three hours later the women were in the lab, Kelly Westfall's remains lay on the table in front of them.

"Poor baby." Lena said. "So little."

Dana placed her hands on the table and looked into Lena's eyes. "Did you see it?"

"No, I saw her parents briefly. I could see her walking to the bus stop. She was singing to herself. She never saw him coming."

"Well, the dental records faxed over by the Chapel Hill PD are a match." Dana said as she examined the small teeth. "She hadn't even lost all of her baby teeth yet."

She sighed and placed the skull back on the table.

"Is Mulder calling the parents or is he having the Chapel Hill PD take care of it?"

"He's going to let them handle it, they seem to know the Westfall family pretty well."

"I wonder if it's true that it's better for the families of missing persons to know what happened to them. I mean, it kills their hope for finding the person alive... and to realize what kind of horrors that little girl saw before she died. It must be awful."

"I don't know. I've watched Mulder struggle for years not knowing where his sister is."

"Why do you think he hasn't asked me about her yet?"

"I'm not sure. Maybe he doesn't want to know."

Lena nodded. "Well, it's his call. I'll wait until he's ready."

Scully nodded in agreement, then looked at her watch. "Are you hungry?"

"Mightily, what time is it?"

"Two. Let's go round up Mulder and get something to eat."

-end-


Chapter Eleven

Monday - 2:30 pm

Mulder was under the gun to finish a field report he should have gotten to Skinner the Friday before. As a result, he begged off on lunch and the women walked to a nearby deli to pick something up.

As they walked back to work Lena suggested that Dana go wait in her office while she scared up something for them to drink, and they could eat together at her desk.

Dana opened Lena's lab door and immediately noticed a man, with his back to her, leaning over Lena's desk with her lap drawer open. She set the food bag down on the nearest file cabinet and walked to the office door. In her best strong girl FBI voice she said:

"You there, what are you doing in here?!"

The man turned his head slowly, his warm brown eyes resting on her.

"I'm filling my daughter's desk with candy." He lifted his hand and shook a small brightly colored box at her, "Nerds, actually. They're her favorite. I paid for 4 years of braces and this is my reward." He shook the box again and shrugged, "Nerds."

Dana smiled. "Mr. Conhouse?"

He turned and offered his hand. "Call me Steve, please." His smile was brilliant. Both of his large warm hands encircled Dana's at once and he shook her hand sincerely. His silver hair was thinning on top, short and swept away from his face. She could see all of Lena's features mirrored in his face. He was tall and trim like Lena also.

"Mr... Steve, I'm Dana Scully, I'm a colleague and friend of your daughter's. It's so nice to meet you."

"Thank you Dana, it's nice to meet you too. I apologize for scaring you. I stopped by Lena's this morning to kidnap Wanda for the day and was just going to leave the candy there, but I though it would be more of a surprise if I could hide them here instead."

"Nerds huh?"

"Yeah, she chews these things up like they're out to get her." He smiled. "Is she around?"

"Yes, she should be here any second. We were going to have lunch at her desk. Would you like to join us?"

"Oh, that's sweet, but Wanda is in the car and I worked her into a frenzy saying the word 'walk' over and over again. I'm afraid if I leave her there too long she'll figure out how to drive and head to the park on her own."

Lena walked in, smiling. "Dad?"

"Hi honey."

She walked to him and they hugged each other.

"What a great surprise! You've met Dana?"

"Yes," he looked at her and smiled, "she's great."

Dana blushed furiously, suddenly aware that it was possible that he knew she had spent the last two nights with his daughter.

"What are you doing here?"

"Well, I was telling Dana, I stole Wanda and was going to take her to the park, but I stopped to do a drive-by 'nerding' first."

"You did?!" Lena skittered around her desk and yanked open her lap drawer. There, in all it's glory, was a pile of little boxes of differently flavored nerds. "You!" Lena said it loud, pointing at him, "Are the one that is the best."

He looked at Dana and said, shrugging, "She loves me."

"It's true Dad, I do."

"Hey, I saw a list of groceries on the counter at your house that smacked of Laverne."

"Oh yeah, I have to pick those up for her and drop them off on my way home."

"Well, I did that already." He smiled at her a little, looking shy.

"You did?" Lena wrapped an arm around his shoulders.

"Yep. I thought maybe I'd just get it out of the way for you."

"Well thanks Dad"

"Your welcome. You know I love her. She's so..." his hands waved slightly in front of him,... "little." He said it like he was talking about a puppy.

"Did you watch you're back?"

"Yep, got out without an incident."

Dana tilted her head at Lena.

Lena explained, "Laverne has a crush on him."

Dana nodded, "I see."

Her dad looked vaguely embarrassed, "Well, I've got to get back out to Wanda. I'm keeping her, by the way. I'll bring her back Wednesday."

"Okay. Give her a smooch for me."

"I will honey. Dana, it was great to meet you."

Dana was engulfed in a hug. Steve squeezed her lightly then stepped back, giving Lena a hug as well.

"You two have a good day."

"See you soon, say hi to Judy."

"You bet, bye." He walked out, waving behind him.

Dana watched him leave, then turned to Lena. "He's wonderful."

"Yeah, he really is."

"He seems so gentle... and sweet."

"All that and he shows up bearing Nerds. Gotta love it."

Dana smiled at her. "You have any other addictions I should be aware of Conhouse?"

"Hmmmm. Probably." She smiled wolfishly at her, "I'll tell you about them later."

"Do you think your Dad knows about us?"

"I think so, yes. He hugged you."

"He did, didn't he?"

"He sure did. He wouldn't have done that if he didn't approve Dana."

"You're sure?"

"I'm positive. He can tell so much from a person by just looking in their eyes. He must have liked what he saw in yours."

"I'm glad."

"I knew he would love you, and Judy, well, she'll fall all over herself when she meets you."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because you and she have something in common."

"Which is?"

"Well, she always tells me that my dad and I are exactly alike, and that she wishes I would meet someone and bring them to dinner once in a while so that she has somebody to commiserate with."

"Commiserate about what?"

"How hard it is to put up with a Conhouse, I guess."

"Have you ever brought anyone home for her to meet?" Dana's eyebrow jutted up.

"No, no I haven't."

"So I'd be the first?" Dana smiled triumphantly.

"Yes, you'd be the first."

"Does Judy know that she'd be commiserating with a woman, as opposed to a man?"

"Yes, she's aware of that."

"Well then, I'd like to meet her."

"Really?"

"Yeah, maybe we should offer to pick Wanda up on Wednesday night and take them to dinner."

Lena looked at Dana. "Are you sure?"

"I guess I am." She looked surprised at her own words.

Lena looked equally surprised, "I'll call them tonight and set it up."

"Hey, since Wanda is away for the next couple nights, why don't you spend the night at my place?"

"I'd love to."

"Good." She found that the longer she looked at Lena the more she wanted her.

"I'll go home and get some clothes for tomorrow and meet you there after work."

"Why don't you bring a couple day's worth?" Dana looked into her eyes.

"Ok." Lena was losing herself in the smoky timbre of Dana's voice... she let her eyes rest on Dana's lips.

Dana whispered, "I'm finding myself not wanting to do anything at all that doesn't involve you. You need to let me know if you start to feel suffocated."

"Suffocated is the last thing I'm feeling."

"Do you know that I'm desperately in love with you?"

Lena's breath was knocked from her body. "I like to hear you say it."

"I am, desperately."

"I'm in love with you too."

"You don't know what you're doing to me, do you? I've never had anyone in my life like you. Never felt this way about anyone. The more I find out about you the more in love I am."

Lena sighed deeply. "Are you worried about the way you feel?"

"A little, I guess. Not worried exactly. I feel a little overwhelmed by the strength of my feelings."

"Tell me if you want to slow down. Or if you need time to yourself, ok?"

"Yes. I will. You have to promise that you'll do the same."

"Deal."

Dana looked over her shoulder quickly, out into the lab. Once she had determined that they were truly alone, she leaned into Lena and kissed her gently on the lips. Lena kissed her back.

"We should eat huh?"

"I guess so. I left the food on the file cabinet. I thought your Dad was a bad guy so I set the bag down in the lab; I was getting ready to kick his butt."

"Tough ass."

"That's right, don't forget it Conhouse."

Dana walked out into the lab and retrieved the bag. She walked back in and sat down. They talked quietly as they ate, trying to decide what to do that evening. Dana watched Lena as she opened a box of purple nerds and shook some into her mouth.

"Do I need to go over the evils of sugar consumption with you?"

Lena chewed the nerds up, smiling at her. "Have you ever tried these things?"

"Nerds?" Dana looked dyspeptic.

"Yeah."

"Uh, no. I rarely get cravings for potentially harmful purple dye covered sugar granules."

Lena cracked up.

"What does your afternoon look like? Are you busy?"

Dana thought for a second. "No, I think I could actually be out of here by 5 tonight, unless something comes up."

"Well, I've got another group of DNA blocks to run for Skinhead... but I should be able to get out by 5 too, if I start now. I could be back to your place by about 6. Can I bring anything?"

Dana smiled, "Nope, just you."

"Ok, then it's back to the lab. I'll see you later."

Dana made her way back to her office, thinking along the way that she should do some grocery shopping on her way home. She glanced at her watch, 3:15. Six o'clock seemed like a long time away. She sighed. It was her every intention to get everything she would need for the evening on her way home, so there was no reason for them to leave. She wanted to get Lena into her apartment and not let her out until they had to leave for work the next morning. She thought about how Lena's legs looked in her high heels, the calves flexing as she walked, the professional air she had as she sat in her and Mulder's office that morning reading files. Those reading glasses... Then she pictured her naked, Lena's long legs straddling her as she rubbing herself against her bare ass. She wondered if there was a way to lure Lena to her bedroom while she still had that suit on, maybe she'd have her put on the glasses too. Mmmmm. She pictured them in her bedroom, running her hand up under Lena's skirt to her ass...

She realized with a start that she had walked past her office door and was nearly to the exit door at the end of the hallway. She shook her head slightly, turned and walked back. 'I am so whipped...' she was thinking, as she opened her office door.

-end-


Chapter Twelve

Dana was putting groceries away when her phone rang. She crossed the room and reached for it just before the machine stole the call.

"Hello?"

"Hi."

"Hi." Dana was surprised by Lena's voice. "Are you lost?"

"Nope. I just pulled off of the highway. I'm about 5 minutes away." Lena paused for a second, then continued, matter-of-factly. "Just long enough for you to unlock your apartment door, take your clothes off and get into bed."

Dana stopped moving. She felt her face warm and her eyes closed of their own accord. It took her several seconds to find her voice, and when she did it was only a whisper, "ok."

She heard the dial tone and hung the phone up, then walked to her front door and unlocked it.

Her heart had started to race and her legs felt wobbly. She could feel her nipples tense under the silk shirt. She had been thinking about getting Lena into bed most of the day, and apparently Lena had been thinking the same. When in her life had she felt so governed by her attraction to another person? Never, she thought. Never so enmeshed in another, so completely willing to hand over the reins to someone else. Of course, no one else had ever had the courage to take her on... to see how far she would let them in.

She looked quickly at the groceries on the counter to see if anything needed refrigeration, and determined that nothing did, and if something turned, well... whatever.

She walked into her bedroom and started undressing. She was thinking of Lena's camel suit, her legs in those heels... she wished she had remembered to ask her not to change before she came over, and to wear the reading glasses. God she loved those glasses. She wondered briefly what kind of Freudian slip lived behind her eye wear fetish.

With every layer of clothing that was carefully hung in the closet Dana got wetter. She kept imaging Lena in that office chair, the way she looked at her over her glasses. There was something erotic in the way Lena had caught her staring, first on the boat, then in the office. Dana had never let herself be so blatantly obvious about her attractions. She had always prided herself on being subtle. So much for that, eh? Of course, with Lena, subtlety was lost in her ability to tell what Dana was thinking at the instant she thought it. Sometimes at least. And Dana didn't waste time blocking her feelings towards Lena. She had no need to protect herself from that, knowing it would never be used against her, at least not in an unpleasant way.

She lay on top of the comforter naked. She reached down and ran a tentative finger lightly over her pubic hair. She felt her clit jump, then a wave of light spasms make their way up her stomach.

"Starting without me Ms. Scully?"

Dana looked up to see Lena, and noticed that she was indeed still dressed in the suit, and, she had her reading glasses on. Her lips were pursed and she was watching Dana's hand as it ran between her legs.

"Couldn't help it. It's that suit..."

"Like it huh?" Lena's voice was deep; she walked slowly to the bedside and sat down on the edge.

"...and the glasses..." Dana looked at her. She felt dangerous, letting her finger sink in between her lips. She gasped, her lips slightly parted.

Lena reached down and gently stroked Dana's breast. She plucked at her nipple with her thumb and finger then leaned down and ran her tongue over Dana's lips, "You're incredible, so hot..." Dana's mouth was the most kissable Lena had ever witnessed... pouty, full lips, warm and so soft...

Dana's fingers found Lena's thigh and she pushed her skirt up slowly. Hidden beneath the professional facade of the camel suit was a beige garter. Dana's eyes opened wide and she forgot what she was doing. She sat up to get a better look beneath Lena's skirt, pushing it up farther.

"You've had these on all day?" Dana whispered intensely, her brow raised.

"Yes."

"And you didn't tell me?"

"Now when would there have been a good time to blurt that out?"

Dana regarded her seriously, a look in her eye that Lena hadn't seen until now. She pushed up against the headboard to sit taller and stated, "Show me."

"Show you?"

"Yes. Stand up and show me."

"That sounds like an order." Lena's eyes narrowed.

"It is."

"Oh." Lena felt her body react, her nipples stiffened and she shivered slightly with arousal. She stood, her hand coming to her face to remove her reading glasses.

"Leave those on."

Lena smiled. "Alright."

She stood next to the bed and lifted her skirt. The intensity of the moment made her skin burn. She spread her legs shoulder width apart. An undercurrent of mild embarrassment was flooded away by the urge to continue the voyeuristic exercise by touching herself. She resisted, wanting desperately to have Scully say the words.

"Higher."

She pulled the skirt higher, up around her waist. She had exposed her garter belt completely, as well as her damp silk underwear.

"Very nice." Dana's voice was strained slightly, she struggled for control, wanting to grab her and rib the underwear off. She swallowed before speaking, "Take the skirt off..."

Lena reached and pulled the skirt down, then unzipped the side and stepped out of it, laying it across the chair next to the bed.

"Now... please... the jacket and blouse."

"No need to be polite baby."

Dana raised a brow, a smile playing at the corners of her mouth, "NOW." It was a spoken command, no louder that the previous ones, but somehow more intense.

Lena took a sharp breath. She took the jacket off slowly, then the blouse.

"It was wise of you to keep this to yourself all day." Dana pushed her legs over the edge of the bed. "I'm certain that I couldn't have made it through had I known about them." She reached out for a strap, wound her fingers around it and ran them up the length of fabric.

Lena leaned into the touch. She couldn't wait a second more, and brought her own hand down between her legs, stroking the fabric at the front of the silk panties. She was certain now that the entire crotch was wet; in fact, she could feel that it was.

Lena watched as Dana lowered her blue eyes to the wet place between her legs. She watched Lena stroke herself slowly.

"Come here."

Lena took two shaky steps toward her in the heels. Dana's hands came up to her ass. She ran her fingers along the line of the underwear and pulled them down slowly and Lena stepped out of them. She stood in just her garters, hose, bra and heels. She felt decadent and incredibly turned on.

Dana's hands came back to her ass and her head dipped between her legs. She captured Lena's clit in her lips and began to suck roughly on it. Lena threw her head back and grabbed the back of Dana's head simultaneously. She pushed herself into Dana's mouth.

"Oh my god Dana..." Lena thought she might pass out. "All day... I've wanted this all day..."

Dana sucked on her relentlessly, her fingers inside her now, two maybe three, Lena couldn't tell for sure, she just felt ...filled. Dana slid them into her again and again until Lena's moan became a continual sound. She her clit swell and her abdomen tense until her orgasm tore through her violently. Her internal muscles seized on Dana's fingers. She could hear Dana's voice, it seemed far away, "Oh honey... I love you... love you... more... can you give me more?"

And the fingers were driving into her again, she cried out, nearly sobbed, her hands reaching out, grabbing Dana's cheek and pulling her mouth to her again. Dana willingly obliged, taking her in, sucking with that beautiful mouth, the exquisite lips...

Lena felt the first interrupted orgasm return three fold and threaten to explode, she held off for one second, two... then it was ripping through her again. She drove her clit against Dana's lips and felt herself come almost violently. Then Dana's sweet voice, her arm hugging her ass, "... adore you... god what you do to me..."

With surprising strength Dana nearly lifted Lena onto the bed, Lena's knees having threatened to give out beneath her. Dana draped herself over the still trembling woman, murmuring in her ear, "I can't believe you... garters... you're going to kill me, you know?"

"Oh we can't have that."

Dana smiled and Lena quickly kissed her, "I love the taste of your smile Dana."

The words were so simple, so sweet. Dana felt tears well in her eyes. Emotion >from somewhere deep inside swept her up in a wave and seized her, intense and surprising in its strength, "I don't know how it happened so fast, it's not like me... at all..." she smiled a little, "but I love you."

"Oh honey, I love you too."

"Don't even think about disappearing, okay?"

"I wouldn't dream of it."

"Perfect." Dana whispered, kissing the side of Lena's mouth.

A shrill ring sounded in the bedroom and Dana moaned.

"My, but that's loud." Lena had damn near jumped out of her skin. "Hoo... shaved a couple months off my life expectancy."

"Sorry, I keep it loud so it wakes me."

"And say, oh I don't know, maybe a neighbor if you don't hear it?"

Dana smirked at her and leaned over her body to pick up the call.

"Scully." She listened for a second, looking at Lean and mouthing the word 'Mulder'. "Yes, I actually did have some plans for the evening Mulder, but it sounds like you need help."

Then, a second later:

"Yep, I can get a hold of her." Dana looked at Lena and smiled; she received a wink in return. Lena took advantage of her position and ran her hand over Dana's ass. She looked up at the woman on the phone and stopped, Scully had turned into an FBI agent before her eyes; rolling off of Lena into a sitting position beside her.

"What have you got?" Her brow furrowed and her lips came together in a purse as she spoke into the phone.

"And they haven't found the girl?" Scully looked downright concerned.

"Yeah." She scribbled a couple lines on a pad of paper at her bedside. "We'll meet you there in about 20 minutes."

She leaned back over Lena and hung the phone up.

"We've got to get dressed."

"What's up?"

"A family near Georgetown was assaulted this afternoon. A little girl was kidnapped, but not before the assailant killed the father and a little boy. The mother is still alive, but she's been non-responsive to questioning."

"Oh god, any idea who or why?"

Dana looked at her intently as she retrieved some clothes from her closet. "No, but the circumstances are unusual."

"What?"

"The assailant made the mother pick who was going to be killed and who was going with him."

Lena grimaced, "Oh god."

Dana grabbed her gun and badge from her dressing table. She held the gun in front of her and checked the clip. "Did you bring your issue?"

"My what?" Lena was concentrating on getting dressed.

"Your issue? Your weapon?"

"Weapon as in gun? Christ no!" Lena looked anxious. She had fished through her bag for clothes and was pulling on black jeans. She smiled weakly at Scully, giving her a somewhat apologetic look. "But I brought a really cute little 'Liz' sweater..."

Scully shook her head. "You don't have a gun?" She tried not to appear incredulous, although in truth she was.

"No, god, they're so dangerous." Lena laughed uncomfortably. "I mean really, can you see me with a gun?" She pulled the short sleeved black sweater over her head and grabbed the camel jacket she had worn that day, quickly checking the inside pocket for her money clip and credentials.

Scully shook her head, "We..." she sighed, "we have to get you a gun if you're going to be in the field Conhouse."

Lena shivered slightly, "You think?" She followed Scully to the front door, rattled. She had her hands out in front of her, shaking them as if they were wet. "With bullets and everything?"

Scully murmured as she held the door open for Lena, "Yes, bullets and everything, maybe even a holster."

"Well," Lena sighed, "if I have to get one I'd like it in some other color than that icky gunmetal."

Dana stopped in front of her car to look directly at Lena. "You can't be serious..."

Lena smiled at her and winked. "Come on girlfriend, Mulder's waiting."

Scully shook her head as she got into the car, "...dork."

Lena chuckled.

End - Chapter 12


Chapter Thirteen

Scully pulled in behind several police cruisers that were parked on a tree-lined street near Georgetown. The neighborhood was dotted with upper middle class homes, and people were out on their lawns in the dusk looking to the home that was surrounded by police tape and flashing lights. Children rode their bikes past the police cruisers, trying to get a glimpse at the activity occurring around the front door of the large ranch home.

Lena and Scully both placed their ID's inside out and stepped out the car, in search of Mulder.

"He's probably inside." Scully stated simply, flashing her ID at several of the officers that surrounded the front porch.

Lena had started to concentrate the minute Scully turned the ignition off. Her mind searched the landscape of the front yard, opening to the possibility of any random thought from victim or perpetrator. Scully tapped Lena's arm and handed a pair of disposable rubber gloves to her. She took them, slipping them on out of habit more than conscious action.

As the women made their way through the front door Lena stopped. She rested her hand on the handle of the screen door, standing in place, not realizing that she was blocking the entrance for two policemen who nearly ran into her. Her stomach flipped as she saw a gloved hand turn the knob. She got nothing more from the killer himself, feeling only certain that it was a man.

Scully was staring at her intently when she came back to the present. She shook her head slightly and turned to see the two men in uniform behind her. She mumbled an apology and walked into the room behind Scully.

"You okay?" Scully had hold of Lena's elbow.

"Yeah." Lena visualized a gate in her mind opening again. She was flooded with images of the two children. They looked startled, but not frightened. The boy even seemed to be smiling.

"I think it was someone the family knew." Lena made the statement to no one in particular, ignoring the fact that next to Scully stood two uniformed officers. Lena sensed that the perp and the children had moved away from the front room into the kitchen, and her feet seemed to move of their own accord. She picked up random thoughts from the boy, and unknowingly followed his exact path into the kitchen, and ultimately to his death.

She stopped in the kitchen door, again to the surprise of Scully and the officers that trailed closely behind her. She was vaguely aware of Scully asking the uniforms some questions. Who called in the original 911? Where was the mother when the officers first arrived? Had anything been touched or moved?

Mulder was on the other side of the large kitchen. He was looking down at a body of which Lena could only see the feet, the rest hidden behind a chopping board island that sat in the middle of the room. He looked at Scully and nodded; she walked to him carefully, not wanting to step in the pools of blood that were drying on the linoleum floor.

"Mulder, where is the boy?" Scully asked.

"He's in the dining room. The mother moved him, apparently. We're not sure yet why."

"The blood spatters would indicate extreme violence. The patterns here on the refrigerator are wide."

"It looks like the father was stabbed repeatedly. The perp rolled him over. His wounds are probably in his chest and abdomen. I asked the officers to wait until you got here to flip him over."

"Let's take a look. Step back a little Mulder, it's probably going to be messy." She put on a pair of rubber gloves and handed a pair to him.

He put the gloves on and stepped around the body, pulling the shoulder back as Scully pushed the man's hips over. The body thumped onto its back. What had been the abdomen of the victim was a mass of gore and blood. The amount of stab wounds impossible to determine through the minced flesh.

Mulder covered his mouth and nose, "Jesus."

Scully leaned over the body, lifting the eyelids of the victim, then looking closely at the wound mass at his middle. "This man must have been stabbed at least 30 times. It's going to take a while to determine exactly how many, if I can at all. And the trajectory will be hard to figure out too, there's no skin left intact here around the opening."

While the partners were examining the father Lena ran her gloved hands over several items in the kitchen.

She saw the father with the girl in his arms, tickling her lightly. He kissed her forehead and sat her down on the center island, her little feet kicking back and forth in the air. He was talking to someone then, smiling. The mother stood behind him. She had a sack of potatoes in her hand.

Dinner, they were making dinner for the killer.

"He was here for dinner." Lena said it louder than she meant to, the words reverberated back at her.

She looked up to see Mulder and Scully staring at her; she ignored it, walking to the refrigerator and resting her hands on its door handle.

Scully could tell that she was nearly unaware of her present surroundings. She walked over to Lena and again grasped her elbow. "The blood Lena, don't walk through the blood."

Lena looked at her with vacant eyes. She registered her comment after several seconds and looked down at her feet, seeing that she had just missed a large puddle of blood. Her jacket was dangerously close to brushing against the blood spattered on the front of the refrigerator. She let Scully lead her away from the spot slowly. Her feet felt like they were not her own. "Scully, take me to the son."

"Lena, I think you should..."

"Please. While his body is still in the house. It's important that I see him while he's still here. I'll get a better read."

The tone of Lena's voice chilled Scully to the bone. She nodded and looked to Mulder to lead them. Gently they both led Lena to the dining room where the boy's body was lying.

His body was in much the same state as his father's. He was on his back, his small face void of life or expression. Lena stared hollowly at his small hand. She knelt down and reached for it, holding it where it sat against the wood floor.

Her head snapped back and her eyes closed. She was unaware, but Mulder had fallen to his knees behind her, in an effort to hold her upright. Her head had smacked his chin when the flash came stronger still.

Betrayal, terror... the little boy was crying. No no no no ... this didn't happen to his family... it happened to other people's... TV people...

Scully watched as Lena's face contorted in anguish. She panicked and grabbed her upper arms, shaking her. "Lena, stop! Come back. Lena!" The woman didn't seem phased by Scully's strong admonitions. Her head slumped onto Mulder's shoulder. Scully tried to pry her hand from that of the dead boy's, but it was like a vise.

... his father hung onto the refrigerator door and it was like a movie... at first Danny thought it was a trick... Cook had done a trick and it was... a little too real and too scary... but then he saw his Dad fall forward... and he thought wildly that they must be in on it together... Cook and his dad had somehow gotten together and come up with this trick... but then he saw his Dad's face... and he knew it wasn't a trick... and then Cook took that knife and stabbed his Dad until Danny could see guts... his Dad's guts...

Lena was sweating and twitching in Mulder's arms. Dana continued to yell at her; she was too far in to hear.

And then Lena saw his mother... crying and pleading... 'No! No! You fucker... I can't god don't make me I can't... why are you doing this?!... she looked at her daughter... crying and screaming and spit flew out of her mouth and Danny thought that she looked wild, like an animal... and the knife was at his throat... then at his sister's... and he could feel the strong arms around them both... and his sister was smashed against him... then his mother's hand came up and the boy saw her finger point to him and the knife flashed... up to it's hilt in his belly... he felt it burn... but it didn't hurt... he was surprised that it didn't hurt... and he was going to tell his Mom that it was okay because... 'momma it doesn't hurt... it's warm but it doesn't hurt...' and he looked at her and tried to be brave... he wanted to smile but he couldn't feel his face... and everything was fuzzy... and then his sister screamed...

Lena stood suddenly and Mulder was knocked backward. "Get these people OUT OF HERE!" Lean snarled, she pointed at the policemen who lined the doorways to the dining room. "NOW!"

Scully turned to them, "You heard her, OUT!"

She watched them scramble and reached out to Mulder to help his stand up, "Lena, what is it?" Scully was now actively frightened.

"He's still here." She looked at both of them with ferocity. Both agents reached instinctively for their guns. Lena shook her head at them, "Not the killer."

"Wh..." Mulder was confused, adrenaline racing through his system.

"Danny." Angry tears streamed down Lena's face. She was sickened by the horror of the crime, enraged at the violence inflicted on the 7-year-old boy. "I need some time. Please. Stand by the doors. Don't let anyone in."

Lena pulled a chair from the table and sat it down with a hard thud. She pushed the dining table away with such force that it smashed into the wall on the other side of the room, leaving a deep dent. She then moved the chair to the center of the room and sat in it, eyes closed tightly.

Scully stood between the kitchen and the dining room, her back to Lena. Her jaw clenched and unclenched. This was not protocol for a homicide investigation. She worried that the officers who now congregated in the front room would take issue with their sudden dismissal. She glanced over her shoulder at Mulder. He stood watching Lena from his doorway; his back to what she imagined was a family room. She noticed suddenly that his features were changing, lightening. She craned her neck further and saw Lena in the chair, her face lightened too, with a warm golden light that emanated from the far ceiling corner of the small dining room.

Dana surprise manifested in an unspoken 'oh' left on her lips... then fading. Her eyes filled with tears.

Lena could see him now. Frightened, he stayed in an upper corner of the room. Horror played across his face as he sobbed silently. She concentrated on him until she knew she was visible to him. He stared at her; terrified that she was another part of the nightmare he had witnessed hours before.

She looked at him, smiling gently, "Come here Danny. I won't hurt you."

The boy stayed where he was. His small mind unable to comprehend what had happened to him, to his family.

"Please Danny. It's over now. I promise."

His need for comfort overwhelmed him and he finally took her at her word, slowly moving into her arms.

Dana watched as Lena spoke. Her eyes were closed tightly, arms held out in front of her. It took several minutes, but the soft light seemed to float toward her, and she gently wrapped it in her arms.

Mulder watched from his post soundlessly. He was vaguely aware that some of the officers had crept back into the family room behind him, but he refused to move his eyes from Lena. He would rather risk her being angry with him than risk missing what was the closest to the paranormal he had ever seen.

As the agents watched Lena began to gently rock her body in the chair. She held Danny close and he relaxed in her arms. She knew that feel of his small warm body was just a phantom feeling to her senses. He cried softly against her, she saw the tears but could not feel them, they were small beads of light traveling down his face.

"Danny, you need to go to your Dad. He's waiting for you."

"My mom though... she needs me I think... and Ruthie... "

"I'll take care of that. I'll find Ruthie." Lena nodded toward Mulder and Scully, "See honey, I have lots of people to help me." Lena tipped back to look in his eyes. He was fading slowly, the light was now showing through him in small bright pinpoints. His resolve was fading as well. "Your Dad needs you. And he's waiting."

Scully could see him then. A small translucent shape in Lena's arms, his hands clasped behind her neck. She sucked in her breath as he looked directly at her and then over to Mulder, her eyes wide. Her quick glance at Mulder revealed that he too was stunned. He looked back at the boy in wonder. Tears streamed down both of their faces. Several of the officers were now standing directly behind Mulder. Scully heard one of them whisper to himself, 'sweet jesus', his hat clenched in his hands.

The boy looked directly into Lena's eyes, his form shimmered slightly, more light coming through him now, "It was Cook..." he said, then he disappeared completely.

End - Chapter 13


Chapter Fourteen

Monday evening - 8:47 p.m.

Lena sat in the chair, still holding her arms around what was now simply air. She let them fall to her lap. Her chin dropped to her chest, her eyes closed. Scully watched her carefully for a few seconds, not knowing what she needed. She wondered if trying to comfort her would be futile considering what had just happened. She walked slowly to the chair, leaning over when she got near Lena to try and read her features. There was nothing there to read. Lena looked as if she were sleeping. There were no more tears, no evidence of the rage that had gripped her prior to sitting. She was quiet.

Mulder had come to his senses and was pushing back a small throng of Georgetown policemen. The uniforms let themselves be shushed back outside, they being as confused by what they had seen as the agents were. Mulder noted that everyone who witnessed Danny had the same look of wonder and disbelief on their faces, everyone but Lena, that is.

He walked back into the dining room and found Scully crouched on the floor next to Lena's chair.

"She ok Scully?"

"I can't tell. She hasn't moved. I think we need to get her out of here Mulder." Scully brow was considerably furrowed; worry clearly lined the features of her face.

Lena lifted her head slightly. Scully turned back to her. She brushed a strand of long dark hair from her face, "Lena?"

Lena seemed to be waking from sleep. She stretched her neck back, opening her eyes to look at the ceiling, then noticed Scully crouching next to her she sat up straighter, "Did you hear that? Cook. Danny said it was Cook."

Scully breathed a loud sigh of relief. "We heard him." Scully grasped her hand and squeezed lightly, then let go. "Are you alright? You seemed to be out cold." She was checking her forehead as if for a fever.

"I'm fine, I think. A little woozy." Lena pressed her fingers to her forehead and seemed to be pushing on it, "...little headache...". She scooted forward in the chair, signaling to Scully that she wanted to try and stand up. Mulder leaned over and grabbed her elbow and soon she was upright on wobbly legs. They didn't hold long, however, and she fell against Mulder. He held her up, putting his arm around her waist.

"Maybe this isn't such a good idea Conhouse."

She regained her strength quickly and took a few tentative steps toward the front door, "Get me outta here, please." She shot Scully a pleading look. That was all it took, and the red head was at her side along with Mulder, guiding her toward the door.

A policeman near the front door saw them coming out and quickly opened the door for them. He looked at Lena as if he had never seen a woman before and she knew immediately that he had seen her interaction with Danny.

"They saw it happen?" She whispered into Scully's ear.

Scully looked at her for a second; afraid of how she'd react, "Yes."

"Shit." Lena whispered, sighing heavily.

"I'll talk to them." Scully offered it up in apology.

"No, don't. I think it's better to let them wonder. Don't confirm or deny Dana, please."

Scully nodded mutely. Mulder helped Lena sit down sideways in the driver's seat of Scully's car. "I think one of the uniforms has a thermos, you want some coffee?"

"That would be great Mulder, thanks."

Scully stood staring at her, her mind a tangled mess of love and terror, wonderment and denial...

"It's still just me." Lena was staring back at her now. "Just me Scully, not anything else. Just me."

"Has that happened before?"

Lena stared at her, not speaking.

"So it has." Dana shoved her hands in the pockets of her jacket, looking back toward the house, then back down at Lena.

Mulder was back, hands filled with cups, three to be exact. He handed one to Scully and another to Lena.

"I gave the name Cook to the GPD, they're canvassing the neighborhood. We're going on the assumption here that Cook is the perp's last name." He looked at Lena for confirmation and she shrugged.

"I'm not sure. Other than Danny's account of what happened, I got very little in there. I never saw the guy, only gloved hands, and a large kitchen knife, like a butcher knife or something. I really need to see the mother. Is she still despondent?"

Scully became agitated. "I think you need a break Conhouse."

Lena's head snapped up to look at her. "I appreciate that, I do... but Ruth is still alive Scully. I know it. I can't afford a break, none of us can."

Mulder looked from one woman to the other. "Conhouse, I agree with Scully."

Lena squinted her eyes at him.

"Let us talk to the mother. You can go back to Scully's and regroup."

"I'm not ungrouped Mulder." Lena's voice raised slightly.

Scully looked at him, "What do you mean by 'back to Scully's'?"

Mulder tilted his head and gave her a 'give me a break' look and she dropped it. He looked at Lena again and she sighed.

"You're right, I know you are. I don't know who I'm kidding, I can hardly walk." Lena closed her eyes and let her chin drop to her chest. "I don't know why that wipes me out so much, but it does."

Mulder put his hand on Scully's shoulder, "Take her home and I'll see you at the Georgetown PD in about 20." He walked off briskly in the direction of his car.

"Scoot over." Dana tapped her leg and Lena scooted across the middle console into the passenger seat. Dana hopped in and started the car. She pulled out and they made their way out of the neighborhood. "Are you feeling any better?" She stole a quick glance at her passenger.

"Some, the coffee helps."

They sat in silence for a moment.

"There are some nerds in the glove box," she paused, "if you need them."

Lena smiled over at her, "You stashed nerds in your car for me?"

Dana kept her eyes on the road, saying seriously; "It's my angel bait."

Lena laughed out loud, "Now what did I tell you about that? Just me, remember?"

"I'm not buying that line anymore Conhouse. I know an angel when I see one."

Lena was laughing again, but stopped when she realized that Dana wasn't. "You can't be serious?" She stared at the redhead.

"I think the lady doth protest too much." Dana looked over at her, a brow raised.

Lena stared back at her for a moment, then out through the windshield. Neither of the women talked for the rest of the short trip to Dana's apartment.

She pulled in to her parking space and handed her apartment key to Lena. "I'll have to get one of these made for you." She held onto Lena's hand when Lena reached for the key, rubbing it softly for a moment, trying to work up her courage.

"I know you don't want to talk about this right now Lena." Dana looked down at their clasped hands, "And I know that you've already explained to me what you think it is that gives you your abilities." She looked into the exhausted woman's eyes and sighed. "But I think that it's a little more than mere brain function, and I think you know it."

Dana watched the other woman's expression carefully. She knew there was something else there, not just a lame medical explanation that had no basis in the Celestial. People just didn't lead the recently deceased to heaven; they =just didn't=.

All of the stories of angels' interventions had come alive when Danny had looked at Scully. He had looked =right at her=, and it was at that moment that she realized. It was at that moment that she knew Lena was more than just a medical anomaly, a mere human product of increased brain activity. She had watched Danny glow and soften in Lena's arms. Lena had been the conduit through which he had broken out of his immobilizing terror to move onto his father.

Lena's jaw clenched and she looked down a their entwined fingers. " 'Angel'... is such a loaded word," She said in a strained whisper, "there should be another term for it."

Dana's hairs prickled slightly, she felt chills rise up her back and over her scalp. She tried not to show Lena that she was stunned, in shock. She swallowed hard, keeping her eyes cast down. She had no idea what to say to Lena, none. She was trembling uncontrollably.

"Don't shut down on me now Scully." Lena's voice was soothing, but it raised Dana's hairs even more. "It's still just me..."

Dana looked cautiously up at her. She wasn't glowing. Wings hadn't mysteriously sprouted on her back.

It was just her. Just her Lena.

"I was right." Dana whispered, her eyes filling with tears.

Lena bowed her head slightly, "In a way, yes, you were right."

"Oh my god..." the words faded on her lips as they came out.

"There are all kinds of angels Dana, I happen to be the earth bound, human-ish kind."

"I can't believe this." Dana's mouth trembled and tears streamed down her pale cheeks.

"But the brain function thing, well... that was true. That's the medical part of the angel bit. I'm sorry that I lied to you Dana, I shouldn't have." Lena's hands clenched hers tighter; "It's just that I fell in love with you. I didn't want to scare you away."

Dana couldn't speak.

"I know it's a lot to take in." Lena sighed, tilting her head and trying to get Dana to look at her. "Look at it this way, it sure makes the lesbian thing pale in comparison, eh?"

Scully let out an involuntary 'HA' at the comment. This was all so incredible...

"You know, things aren't any different that they were a few hours ago. I'm the same person Dana, and I assure you that I am, for the most part, just a person. I can explain it to you a more later, but suffice it to say that I love you, regardless of my many labels."

Dana nodded a little. She was thinking, 'I have questions...'.

"Well, I get left in the dark a lot darlin... I'm not sure how many I'll be able to answer." Lena shook her hands a little. "You should go to Mulder. He's probably wondering where you are."

Dana nodded numbly at her.

"You okay to drive?"

"Wh... yeah... I think." She stared at her.

"Hurry back, ok?" Lena got out of the car and walked slowly to the front door of the apartment building on unsteady legs. Soon she was through the door and out of sight.

Dana sat staring after her from the car. She finally pulled herself together enough to pull out of the lot. Her mind spun as she drove...


11:30 p.m., Georgetown Police Department

"Scully, what took you so long?" Mulder looked irritated. "And why didn't you answer your phone?" He started toward her down the hall, pulling her with him as he made his way out of the building.

"I... uh..." She just stared at him, unable to complete her thought. She patted her pockets and realized that her phone was missing. 'Must have left it in the office' she thought, more than a little angry with herself at being so scatter brained.

"They moved the mother, she's at Bethesda. She was in shock and the EMT's missed it. I have no idea why they think she wouldn't be in shock, after what happened. One of the officers here told me that she was mumbling at the scene. She told them that the killer made her pick which of her kids would die... and then she just... she shut down. They brought her here hoping she would be able to tell them more, but she never came back around." He looked pissed. "We need to get to the hospital. Follow me over there."


They walked into the hospital side by side. Mulder approached the desk flashing his badge and a nurse showed them to a room at the end of the hallway.

They peered through the window of the room's door. The woman on the bed was gazing lifelessly at the ceiling. Her eyes were vacant and she wasn't blinking at all. The agents opened the door slowly and approached her bedside. Scully picked up the woman's hand and squeezed it, getting no response.

"Mulder she's catatonic."

"Shit, maybe we should have let Lena come Scully. This woman isn't going to be able to tell us anything." He turned and walked out of the room.

They stood together in the hallway.

"Has the GPD come up with anything on 'Cook'?"

"No. No one in the neighborhood saw anyone enter or leave that wasn't a part of the family, and no one seemed to know who 'Cook' was either. They're trying to get a hold of the victim's extended family now. Hopefully one of them will know who this guy is. The trail on Ruth is cold, no idea where he may have taken her."

Mulder's phone rang and he quickly answered it, "Mulder."

"And she's the sister of the father?"

"Ok, what's the address?"

"Thanks, we're on our way."

He hung up and started walking; Scully had to trot after him to catch up. "They've located the father's sister in Georgetown, let's go."


Marsha Tinstel's residence - Georgetown

"Mrs. Tinstel, I realize this must be awful for you, but we need to ask you some questions." Scully stood in the entryway of the small home, looking sympathetically at the woman who had just been told by two uniformed police officers that her brother's family had been devastated.

"Sit down, please." The woman was wiping tears from her face.

"We need to know if you ever met a Mr. Cook at your brother's house, or possibly someone who goes by the name of Cook?"

"No," she shook her head, searching her memory. "No, I never heard any of them talk about a Mr. Cook. Is that who did this to them?"

"We think so Mrs. Tinstel."

"I can't believe this." The woman sobbed. "Things were going so well for them. Bob had just gotten a huge raise, they moved into that house... he worked so hard all of his life to get to where he was, and finally he could relax a little and enjoy life, the kids..." she paused, "He always wanted to be well off, you know, have the better things in life? But he was willing to work for it, and he did, that man worked like a dog."

Scully looked down at the floor, waiting for the woman to recover some. Mulder looked over at her, shaking his head.

"Did your brother have any enemies that you're aware of?"

"NO! God no. We had a birthday party for him about a month ago and finally had to shut the doors of the banquet hall because it was full! People loved him... he had no enemies."

Mulder took a business card from his wallet and handed it to Mrs. Tinstel. "We'll leave you alone now, we're very sorry for the intrusion. Please call me immediately if you think of anything else."

"I will. Find Ruth, please."

"We're doing everything we can." He said. And they left.


"What now?" Scully asked as they walked to their cars.

"We need Lena."

Scully nodded at him. "Let's go."


Lena heard the door open and looked toward it from her spot on the Dana's couch.

"Anything?" Her face was hopeful.

Mulder looked at her, defeated. "No."

Lena punched a fist into the palm of her hand. "I should go see the mother."

Mulder smiled at her, "I was hoping you'd say that. I'll drive." He wagged his eyebrows at Scully as she reached for Lena's jacket, handing it to her.

Lena winked at Scully behind Mulder's back, "Thanks."

Scully smiled in spite of herself as she closed the door behind them.

End - Chapter 14


Chapter Fifteen

Lena walked out of the mother's hospital room several minutes later shaking her head. "She's gone. Her body is there but her soul seems to have just disappeared. I couldn't get anything."

"Dammit!" Mulder turned in place, his back to them. He was chewing on his knuckles. He turned back around, "that was my last idea."

The three of them stared at each other for a moment. Finally, Scully broke the silence. "I think we need to find a place to sit down, eat something, regroup."

"Good idea. Come on." Mulder led them out of the hospital.

They sat at Scully's dining room table together. Mulder flipped through the pages of her phone book, looking for the number to a Chinese restaurant they usually ordered from nearby.

"Scully, what is that place called? I can't find it." Frustrated he handed the phone book to her. He looked at Lena and said, "It's going to be another half hour after we order before we'll get anything. We should have just gone to a restaurant." His stomach growled as if on cue and he patted it. "You know, I'd pay good money to someone if they'd come here and make dinner."

She nodded, "Me too, I'm starved."

Mulder stopped cold where he stood, his arms came up to Lena's face and he cupped her cheeks with his hands.

"Jesus!" He yelled.

Lena was startled. "No Mulder, I'm Lena, Jesus had facial hair..."

He ignored her. "What if 'Cook' wasn't the guy's name?!" He yelled louder, his arms were now extended out in front of him. The women just stared at him.

"What if =cook= is the guy's =JOB=?"

Realization crept across Scully's face. "That would explain why they let him in, the knives..." She grabbed her phone, shoving it toward Mulder "Call Mrs. Tinstel, ask her if her brother ever had a cooking service."

Mulder walked into the kitchen and made the call. The woman looked at each other with more hope than either had allowed themselves to feel since they had walked into Danny's house.

Mulder sprung out of the kitchen, "Mrs. Tinstel said that Bob had gotten a gift certificate from someone at his birthday party last month. It was for a cooking service, he liked it so much after the first time that he decided to have them come every Monday night, to give his wife a break from cooking. It was one of the 'finer things in life' deals he wanted to give to his family."

Lena put her arms up, "Score!"

Scully looked at Mulder, "Does she remember the name of the service?"

"No, but she remembered who got the gift for Bob. I have the number of that guy right here."

"Call it Mulder."

He disappeared into the kitchen again for several minutes, making two more phone calls, and reappeared with a small sheet of paper. He waved it in the air, "The address for 'Personal Chefs Cooking Service'. Let's go get Ruthie."

End - Chapter Fifteen


Chapter Sixteen

Mulder drove his car and Scully followed with Lena in hers. The women sat in silence while she drove. Lena spoke finally.

"You're like Sabrina."

Scully looked at her, trademark brow raised. "Beg pardon?"

"You know, the smart one."

Scully smiled slightly, "From Charlie's Angels?"

"Right. You keep Mulder and I from skittering off like two bimbos in heels."

Scully didn't look at her as she responded, "Someone has to, it scares me when I think about how alike you two are." She paused for a second, "Except, of course, Mulder is from =around here=."

Lena winced.

Silence again. Scully turned to Lena, opened her mouth to say something, then thought better of it and turned her attention back to the road.

Her mouth opened again, "You lied to me."

Lena closed her eyes. "No one is free from sin Ms. Scully, not even those put here to guard against it's worst forms."

"I don't give a shit that you sinned," she stared at her intently, "I'm pissed because you lied =to me=." Dana pointed at her chest.

"I'm sorry Dana. I'm ashamed and I'm sorry. I really believed that I couldn't tell you. You would have thought I was crazy. I tried to tell you the truth in small doses."

"So were you ever going to dose out the last part?" Scully jaw tensed.

"I guess I was playing by ear. I really did think you'd think I was crazy."

Scully considered that for a second. Lena was right, she would have thought she was crazy. "You're right. I would have, I'll give you that much."

Dana drove in silence. Lena held out her hand and after a second, Dana grasped it. The redhead eyed her, "Is there anything else I should know?"

"You mean about me?"

"Yes. About you."

"Well..."

Dana looked at her cautiously, "Well what?"

"I have every piece of music ever recorded by Anne Murray." Lena shrugged.

Dana regarded her seriously. "Snowbird?"

"Yep, 'You Needed Me', 'A Little Good News', 'Walk Right Back'... I've got all of them." Lena leaned over and placed her head on Dana's shoulder.

Dana smiled slightly, using just the corners of her mouth. She brought Lena's hand up to her lips and softly kissed it. "You're a piece of work."

Lena let out a long held relieved sigh. "Thank you."

Dana rubbed her cheek on Lena's forehead, "Are we gonna find Ruthie?"

"Not sure... yet."

Scully realized the Mulder's car had slowed. They had turned into what she would consider a 'fringe' neighborhood. Some of the small houses looked well kept, some, condemned.

"I think we're here." Dana sat up in the driver's seat and took Mulder's lead, turning off her lights. They rolled slowly to a stop behind Mulder and she turned off the ignition.

Scully met Mulder between the two cars, Lena on her heels.

"Which one is it?" She looked around.

"That one, there. No lights on." Mulder pointed to one of the less well kept houses, a small cape cod.

"How do you want to do this?" Scully felt adrenaline rush through her for the upteenth time that night.

"I think we should have Lena go to the front door and knock. You go to the west side of the house and start looking through windows, I'll take the east side."

She was confused, "Why knock?"

"We need to get the guy isolated Scully, we need to know where he is, and above all, we need to get him =away= from Ruthie, assuming she's in there with him."

"She is." Lena said, raising the hair on both the agents necks.

"Is he with her?" Mulder leaned down, looking at Lena intently.

"Yes, basement I think, we've got to move now."

"Scully, here, call for backup." He handed his phone to her and she dialed 911 quickly, giving the information to the DC PD and telling them to contact the Georgetown police as well.

"They're sending over all available units in the area, lights off, no sirens."

"Good. Lena, position yourself at the front door. Let Scully and I get out of view and then knock, make it loud."

"And what if he comes to the door?" Lena looked frightened.

"Your car broke down, you need to use his phone."

"Ok."

Scully stared at her, she leaned toward her, whispering, "Are you sure you want to do this?"

"No options." Lena shrugged slightly. "Is now a good time to mention that bullets do the same thing to me as they would to anyone else?"

Scully looked at Mulder, "Maybe we should wait for backup."

"No time." The whispered response came from Lena as she was making her way across the street toward the house. Mulder and Scully trotted after her.

Lena stood at the front door, in the dark, working up her courage. She could sense Ruthie inside, the girl was cold, cement... there seemed to be cement. She was crying, although intense dehydration in the 4 year old made them dry tears. Lena tipped her head back and made a silent statement, 'courage, bravery... now would be a good time for a transfusion my friend'.

And then it was there, the feeling of floating, being filled. She mouthed the words 'thank you' and balled up her fist, using the back of it to pound almost violently on the door.

Both Mulder and Scully heard the banging. Scully saw a flash through the dimness inside the house. He was coming to the door. Her heart hammered in her chest.

Mulder had made his way to the back of the house, to the back door. It was locked. He pulled his b&e lock tool out of the large inside pocket of his coat and started in at it. The door handle lock clicked opened easily, but the dead bolt was going to take him some time...

Scully made her way along the outside wall at the west of the house so she could listen to the exchange between Lena and the perp. She heard Lena's voice first.

"Hi, I know it's late and I'm so sorry to bother you, but my car just pissed out on me and I'm wondering if I can borrow your phone?"

Nothing. Scully's heart started a slow sink.

"Sir? Your phone?"

There was a loud scuffling and Scully heard the front door slam violently. She ran around the corner... 'let her be there... please... let her be there...

Lena was gone.

"Fuck!" Scully ran to the door, quietly making her way up the steps and checked the handle. Locked. Shit.

She made her way, crouching under the windows, back to the door Mulder was working on.

"He took her."

"Shit! Scully, help me with this." He had the lock tool in one hand and a small screwdriver in the other.

"Shoot it off Mulder!" Scully whispered intensely.

"We can't do that, we don't want him to know we're out here! If he hears us shoot the lock he may kill both of them."

Lena was thrown to the floor of the basement beside Ruthie. She looked at the small girl for a second, taking a mental inventory of her cuts and bruises, and determined that she was at least physically all right.

"You are one stupid bitch." Cook said, jeering at her. "I mean for christ's sake, I probably have the only house on this block without one fuckin' light on, and you come here for help? Dumb ass."

"Well, now that you put it that way..." Lena shrugged. She wasn't frightened anymore, now just mildly irritated.

Cook was surprised by her response. He walked to her and punched her in the face without ceremony.

Lena's head snapped sideways and she let out a yelp, shocked and in pain, stars burst behind her eyes.

Cook stood, rubbing his hand. He was a squatty little troll, balding, chubby. Kind of a Captain Kangaroo lookin' guy, Lena thought crazily as she rubbed her cheek where he had bashed her.

"Who are you with? Am I fuckin' surrounded or what?" Cook yelled at her. He looked like he was coming in for another punch.

Lena put her hands up, "Not the face Captain, for god's sake, I've got a small fortune in dental work here."

He was incensed. A large foot crashed into Lena's stomach and she was suddenly grateful that she hadn't eaten since noon. The pain was excruciating, but she knew that if she kept him distracted long enough Mulder and Scully could get in unnoticed and take him down.

"I'll ask you again."

Lena tried in vain to get a breath, "I'm alone, all right? I'm alone. I was working on a hunch..."

He reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out her badge. "FBI," he threw it back at her, "whoopty shit."

She rolled to a sitting position, holding her stomach where he had kicked her. She looked up at him, then over to Ruthie who was now pasted against the wall, trying to appear smaller than her tiny frame.

"Well, looks like you should have called for backup." He smiled at her. "What? You surprised that I believe you? Well I do. I think I'd have a gun up my ass by now if you'd been smart enough to call for help. Dumb ass."

"Don't call me that." She had to keep his focus on her and not Ruthie. "Dick weed."

He laughed, crossing the room again, and grabbed her by the hair, pulling her head back. "Well, you just keep showin' me it's true now don't you?" His hot breath smelled of dead things. "Where would you like you're next bruise?"

She could feel her scalp ripping free of her cranium. She said flatly, "Surprise me", enjoying the look of sheer confusion on his face.

He head butted her instantly and she fell to the floor lifelessly, nearly knocked out. The ripped skin across her forehead sent ringlets of blood onto the floor.

"Surprise." He mumbled, walking away toward Ruthie. Lena could see him grab the girl by her upper arms and pull her into a standing position. She was shaking violently in his grasp but her small face seemed not to register anything. She was beyond emotion, apparently, and the fact scared Lena to death.

Lena bent her arms, trying to gain purchase on the concrete floor and lift herself up. She felt Scully, suddenly, talking to her. She looked toward the door at the top of the steps but didn't see her there, and she realized that Scully's voice was coming from inside her, 'we're in, hang on baby, we're in."

"Thank god." Lena whispered, and let herself slump back to the floor. Her eyes slid shut and she lost consciousness.

Mulder put his palm on the basement door handle, testing it, he turned to Scully and mouthed the word, 'unlocked'.

Slowly... slowly... he turned the knob in his hand and pulled the door back, peeking down the stairwell. He could see Lena sprawled on the floor, blood seeping from her forehead. He watched her for a long moment, and closed his eyes in relief after seeing her chest rise and fall in rhythm.

He turned to Scully, "She's alive. On my count." And he tipped his head toward the basement. She nodded, holding her breath.

On three he burst down the steps, taking all of them in nearly one leap, and trained his gun on Cook, "STEP AWAY FROM THE GIRL!"

Cooked turned from Ruthie, a look of defeat and disgust on his face. Mulder approached him carefully, turning him to face the wall and cuffing him. He turned and called up the steps, "WE GOT HIM." Three uniforms that Scully recognized as Georgetown cops came down the steps to take Cook. One of them read him his rights as they pulled him up the steps.

Mulder had Ruthie in his arms as he crouched beside Scully and Lena. Scully had Lena's head in her lap, trying to rouse her. "Lena... Lena."

Lena's eye opened, the other tried, but was swelled shut from the punch. She didn't say anything. She raised her hand toward Ruthie and the girl just looked at it unresponsively. Lena let her good eye go to Mulder, "lay her on me." The words were slurred some, her mouth was bruised. Mulder looked at Scully briefly, and seeing no objections in her eyes he carefully placed the 4 year old on top of Lena. The little girl stiffened at being let go, her eyes sparked with alarm and she hung onto Mulder's shirt, pulling him to her as he tried to pull away.

Ruthie then seemed to have heard something familiar and her face suddenly turned to Lena's. She stared at the bruises and touched her fingers to the cut on Lena's bloody forehead. Quietly, she relaxed, laying down across Lena, her small head resting under Lena's chin. She appeared to have fallen asleep.

Lena's looked again at Mulder, "You can take her now." He reached for the sleeping girl, picked her up and handed her to a policeman who stood nearby, waiting. The girl was taken upstairs to a waiting ambulance.

Scully whispered to Lena, "We need to move you, get you some medical attention." She was sick with worry. The injuries that were apparent were severe and the ones that weren't apparent scared Scully to death.

"No hospital." Lena said, trying to sit up. Mulder instinctively grabbed for her arm, helping her. Scully grabbed at the other. They had her standing.

"You have to, you could have broken bones Lena."

The injured woman shook her head, "No breaks, just bruises." She seemed to be standing more on her own. "No hospital Scully. My work-ups would draw attention."

Scully looked at her in realization. "Oh." She looked at Mulder and he narrowed his eyes. She knew an explanation would have to be given to him sooner or later. She picked later. "Come on Mulder, let's get her back to my apartment."

He opened his mouth to demand and explanation and got an icy look from Scully. Scolded, he just said, "ok".

End - Chapter 16


Chapter Seventeen

The three made their way back to Scully's; Mulder in his car, the women in the other. Lena lay across the back seat, every bump making the pain in her head and stomach flair. Scully leaned to look back at her when traffic allowed, taking in her injuries and making mental notes of what to check Lena for when she got her home.

Scully pulled in beside Mulder in her parking lot and they both carefully carried Lena inside. Scully unlocked her door as Mulder held Lena up, then went quickly inside to drawl a bath for the beaten woman.

Fifteen minutes later Lena sat on the toilet slumped over as Scully tried to pull her pants off.

"Lena, I've got to get these off if I'm going to get you in the tub. I know it hurts but I need to see your injuries and get you cleaned up." She got no response. Lena's face was terribly swollen, her left eye all but closed. The ripped skin at her forehead was now blackened with bruises and dried blood. She was bent over, holding her stomach. Scully gave up on the pants for a second to dig through her medicine cabinet.

"Lena, here, take these." Scully handed her two pain killers. "I keep them around for Mulder. Guess it never occurred to me that I'd have to use them for anyone else." Scully smiled at her slightly. "How do you feel?"

"I feel... like I pissed off a cook and he beat the crap out of me." Lena's head came up slightly and she tried to look at Scully, but she couldn't quite make it. Scully went back to work on Lena's pants and underwear, finally working them down her legs and off.

"Well, the cook will be charged with a double homicide and attempted murder. Granted, you look worse, but I'd say overall that he lost the fight." Dana carefully pulled Lena's jacket from her arms, then went to work on her sweater. "What's the penalty for roughing up an angel? It's must be pretty serious." She tried to look in her eyes, carefully lifting her chin.

"Mimes, an eternity of mimes and bagpipers." Lena winced as Scully pulled the sweater over her head. "God is gonna be pissed..."

"Bagpipers?" Scully thought that maybe Lena did have a concussion after all.

"Yeah. Know why they walk around while they play?"

"No, why?" Dana carefully took off her bra.

"To get away from that noise."

Scully laughed and kissed Lena's hand. "Come on, can you climb in here?" She tried to pull her into a standing position and couldn't seem to get her to stand. "Lena I'm going to call Mulder in, is that ok? I don't want to hurt you any more than I have to, and I think he could help me lift you into the tub."

Lena nodded.

"Mulder!" Scully yelled over her shoulder and she heard him walk to the bathroom.

"Yeah?" he called through the door.

"I need your help, can you come in here?"

He cautiously cracked the door open and saw Lena naked on the toilet. His first instinct was to shut the door.

"Mulder? It's okay. I need you to help me lift her into the tub." Scully appreciated his sense of honor, but she didn't have time for it.

He carefully opened the door again and stepped into the bathroom. Together they lifted Lena into the tub. Scully gave him a grateful look, "Thanks." She smiled slightly and Mulder left the bathroom.

Lena lay back in the tub, letting the warm water soak away some of the pain as Scully gently washed her.

"This would be so erotic if I had all my piece parts working." Lena said as she let her good eye close.

"Well, when you heal up you're fair game." Dana kissed her gently then washed the blood from her forehead.

"It's good to be me." Lena tried to smile.

"Lena, can I ask what did you do to Ruth back in the basement?"

"Made her forget."

"All of it?"

"Most of it, the worst of it. What she does remember will be like a movie. Like she's watching it happen to someone else."

"So you took the pain away?"

"Yeah."

"Why can't you do that for yourself?" It came out more harshly that Scully had intended it to.

Lena's head rolled toward Scully and she opened her eyes. "I can't take away bruises and blood."

"I'm sorry, that came out wrong. It's just hard to see you so battered."

"I understand." Lena held out her hand and Scully took it. "I seem to have a better record with emotional scars and not so much the physical ones."

Scully nodded. "Let's get you dry."

Lena was feeling better, the drugs having set in, but she was suddenly aware of how tired she was. Scully dried her off and put her in an old pair of her flannel pajamas, then walked her into the bedroom and tucked her into bed.

"I love you."

Lena closed her eyes and smiled, "I love you too."

"Get some rest."

She turned off the lamp by the bed and went into the kitchen.

"Thanks for your help Mulder."

"Is she all right?"

"She's fine. Bruised and cut up, but fine."

"Surprising, really, considering what she went through." Mulder paused. "Scully... what is she?"

Scully took a sudden interest in her feet, considering his question. "I think..." She raised her eyes to look at him, "you should let her tell you that when she can."

"It's more than we thought isn't it?"

"Yes."

"Has she told you?"

"Yes."

"But you can't tell me?" Mulder was hurt, and it registered in his eyes although he tried to hide it.

"It's not my place Mulder. It's... not like anything we've dealt with before. Please, don't be angry, just know that I would tell you if I thought I could make sense of it, but... I can't. I just don't know. I'm... I just don't know."

Mulder knew what it was. He wasn't sure he could ever fully comprehend it, but he knew. "It's okay Scully. It's all right. I think I understand."

She let out a relieved sigh, grateful to be off the burner. "You want the pillow?"

Mulder smiled at her. Regardless of the situation he could always count on her to take care of him. "Yep, and my blanket?"

"Top shelf of the coat closet. I'm going to take a shower. Do me another favor and check on Lena while I'm in there? I not convinced she doesn't have a concussion and I'd like to keep an eye on her tonight."

"Sure."

"Thanks." Scully let her hand rest on his arm for a second and then walked quietly into the bathroom. A minute later he heard the water start.

Mulder stood in the bedroom doorway and watched Lena sleep. He walked to the bed and sat down on it's edge. Lena stirred slightly, looking up at him.

"Hi, you feel any better?"

"Define better."

"Less dead?"

Lena smiled, "Yes. Dr. Scully cleaned me up."

"She's done it for me more times than I can remember."

"Lay down with me?" Lena said.

Mulder hesitated for a split second, then lay down next to her on the bed.

She rolled toward him, laying her bruised head on his arm. "Much better."

Mulder smiled. "You scared us today."

"Don't you mean I scared =you=?"

"Okay, me. I thought we'd lost you when I saw you on the floor of that basement."

"That guy was a bully."

Mulder laughed, "The king of the bullies."

"Thanks for saving my scrawny ass Mulder."

"Any time Conhouse, any time." He thought for a second, and decided to push the envelope. "Thanks for showing me how people get to heaven."

Lena let his comment soak in, then said, "So you caught that huh?"

"Yeah, I caught that. It was hard to miss."

"Intense isn't it?" Lena cuddled up closer to Mulder and he let her form her body around his. He felt warm. It had been years since he'd reveled in the feel of another warm body. The brief times that Scully had allowed him to hold her were few and far between. He let his lips close gently on Lena's bruised forehead. He felt for a moment like he had Samantha back; that he had her small warm body to keep safe. The feeling made his heart lurch in his chest. The thought of Samantha made him... so sad, but strangely enough also... incredibly happy.

That's absurd, he thought. I don't know what =happy= is.

"Oh but you do. At least, you're starting to figure it out." Lena whispered to him.

Mulder wondered if he had said it aloud, then remembered...

"Is that why you're here?" He whispered back, pushing a little farther.

Lena smiled against his chest. "I'm here to make a family. That's how it works Mulder. If you don't have a family to keep you safe, protect you from those that would do you harm, then you make one ...out of the people you love."

A tear made it's way down Mulder's cheek.

"Mulder, my sweet man," Lena whispered, "you have too many tears stored up inside of you. I've been counting since we've met and I've only seen you part with 4 of them. You've got a lot left. If I were you, I'd let some of them go. You'll never be safer than you are right now."

Her words had a deep impact and a sudden sob wracked his chest. Lena held him tightly, ignoring the pain in her stomach, and wrapped her arms around him like he was a child, letting him pour out the infection that had wormed its way around his heart. She whispered to him as he cried, telling him that he was loved, that he had sacrificed too much in his lifetime, and finally that they would find her...

'they would find her...'

And when it registered to him... when the words repeated themselves in his head and he realized what they meant, his crying stopped, and he pulled back to look into her eyes.

Lena nodded at him.

And he smiled.

"You of all people are due for a little joy, don't you think?" Lena whispered, squeezing him tightly.

Mulder put his head back down and Lena lay hers on top of his arm. He pulled her closer to him and felt sleep caress the edges of his mind.


Scully stood in the doorway of her bedroom where Mulder had stood a half hour before. She looked at the two of them huddled in her bed and smiled. 'Like puppies in a litter' she thought. Her two favorite people in this life, clinging together in her bed... it was amazing.

She walked quietly to the side of the bed that appeared to have some room left and pulled the covers back, carefully lying down next to Lena's warm body. She cuddled up against the sleeping woman's back and felt a hand rub her leg gently.

"You smell good." Lean whispered, leaving her hand on Scully's leg.

"I showered."

"Did you see what I found wandering around the bed a little while ago?"

"I noticed that. Does he snore?"

"Not sure. He hasn't yet."

"That's a blessing."

"I heard that." Mulder whispered from his spot on the bed.

Scully reached across Lena to squeeze his arm, "Night Mulder."

"Night Scully."

Lena wiggled in further to the warm spot between them and smiled to herself. She thought of the words spoken to her some months ago, before she came here, before she knew anything about these two, other than their names.

'Finally...' she thought to herself, 'We're getting somewhere.'

And she drifted off to sleep.

End - Chapter Seventeen


Chapter Eighteen

When Lena awoke it took her several minutes to figure out where she was, and why she felt so bad. Her ribs ached and her head pounded. After a short time pieces of the former day's events started to come back to her...

Ruthie.

Cook. That dick.

He was why she felt like a train wreck.

Scully.

Pain pills.

A bath.

Curling up with Mulder.

And oh, hey, they finally knew now didn't they?

About her.

About her... thing.

And where were they now?

She lay quietly, listening for the now familiar voices of the two agents. Not hearing anything she wondered if they'd gone to work. Turning her head slowly she looked to the nightstand for a note. No note. The time read 7:43 am. If they were going in to work they would be gone by now, most certainly.

The bedroom door opened slowly and Mulder's head peeked through it to look toward her.

He looked surprised to see her awake. Slowly pushing the door open he walked to the bed with a glass of water in one hand and what Lena guessed were pain pills in the other.

He stared at her strangely for a few seconds, and she worried that she had sprouted new bruises during the night. He actually was looking quite alarmed. Finally, possibly because he sensed her growing concern over his facial expression, he flashed a small smile and asked, "How are you feeling?"

"Train", Lena coughed, swallowed and finished her thought, "wreck".

Mulder snorted a small laugh and tried to hand her the pills. Lena opened her mouth instead and he gently placed the meds on her tongue. Reaching behind her head he lifted her slowly and helped her sip some water.

When she had gotten the pills down he lowered her head back down to the pillow. He continued to stare at her, as he had when he walked in.

Scully appeared over his shoulder suddenly, smiling; the smile faded and was replaced by a gasp.

Lena was scared. "What?"

Scully leaned closer, looking into her eyes. She did not speak.

"What?!" Lena was now actively frightened.

"Your eyes..." Scully said.

Lena finally realized what they were seeing and she let out a relieved sigh. "Oh. The black."

The agents nodded.

"They'll change." Lena stated, shutting them. "When I heal they'll change."

"Into what?" Mulder asked.

Lena opened her eyes, "blue, green, maybe even white. The good news is that only you two will probably be able to see it. Of course, others like me are also privy to it."

Mulder was fascinated. "The smell, is that you too?"

Lena nodded slightly. The pain in her body was finally easing. 'Thank you, my friend, for pain pills she thought silently, raising her eyes to the ceiling. "Angel funk."

'It smells like oranges,' Mulder thought; 'cloves, spring;' he couldn't describe it entirely...

"Is the smell just something only we can experience too?" Mulder was now completely caught up in Lena, Scully, however, looked disturbed.

"Yes." Lena smiled, "occasionally a child will look at me oddly and I know that they can see my eyes or smell me." The comment made Lena laugh out loud and she winced. "Sorry, my dad has this joke about angel funk."

The other two looked confused.

"You had to be there." Lena said, smiling once more. "Animals always know, always."

"I've heard of this." Mulder turned to look at Scully. "It's called 'Olfactory Reckoning.' It's been recorded throughout history by people who have experienced some kind of divine intervention in their lives, like, a miracle recovery from a fatal illness. These people have stated that right before their recovery they smelled something indescribable, so much so that they thought they were dying. I have a full X-file on this phenomenon." He turned back to look at Lena, his eyes questioning.

"Yep - probably the angel funk." Lena said as she tried to sit up some. Mulder reached behind her back to help her.

There was an uncomfortable silence between the three of them. Lena worried for what seemed like the hundreth time that this was all too much for Scully to take in. she looked at the red head, trying to read any signs that might be lurking in her expression. Scully smiled at her. 'I love you. You frighten me sometimes, but I love you.' Scully's voice rolled softly in Lena's mind and she closed her eyes, smiling widely.

A knock at the door startled her out of the warmth of Scully's words...

"It's my Dad, would you let him in?" Lena looked at Scully.

"Your Dad?" Surprise was evident on Scully's face.

"Yes, he's at the door."

Scully turned and walked from the bedroom to the front door. She was ill at ease and down right spooked as she looked through the peephole and directly into the impossibly white eyes of Steve Conhouse. A small gasp escaped her and she briefly considered latching the deadbolt. It was unnerving to see just the black dot of a pupil where color should be. It made her think of Eugene Tooms and some of the other monsters she had seen over the past 5 years. She shook her head in an effort to clear it, and reminded herself that this man was not a monster. She opened the door.

Wanda skittered from the hallway and shot into the apartment, running full steam for the bedroom.

Large warm arms enclosed Scully and the smell of sandalwood and peaches and other indescribable things wafted into the room. When she drew back from Mr. Conhouse his eyes were light blue, just barely colored against the whites. They were beautiful.

"You seen a little dark-haired girl around here anywhere?" He asked playfully, smiling a broad white toothed grin at Scully.

She smiled back at him, somewhat overwhelmed by his presence. "This way." She swept her arm toward the bedroom.

They walked into the bedroom where Wanda was now curled up on the bed beside Lena. Mulder stood and reached his hand out to Lena's father.

"Mr. Conhouse?"

"Mr. Mulder." Steve shook Mulder's hand with both of his and bowed his head. "It is wonderful to meet you my friend. You're one of my favorites."

Mulder's head tilted slightly with confusion, "favorites?"

Steve had already let go of Mulder's hand and seemed to not notice his confusion. He sat gingerly down on the bedside. "Hi sweetie."

"Hi dad." Lena smiled at him as he kissed her gently on the forehead.

Steve surveyed her cuts and bruises, touching each lightly. "You get into a fight at the Macys sale rack again?"

Lena laughed, then winced when her abdomen protested.

"Ruthie made it?" Steve asked.

Lena nodded, still wincing.

"Can I help?" Steve wiped some stray hairs off of Lena's forehead.

"Yes please." She smiled self-consciously.

"Close your eyes and breathe deeply honey." He held his hands a half inch from her forehead, slowly running them over her body, working his way down to her feet. The process took less than a minute. When Lena opened her eyes they were a rich dark brown.

"Better?"

"Much, thank you." Lena squeezed his hand in appreciation.

Steve turned to the others; "She'll need to rest for today. There should be a marked improvement over the next few hours."

He stood and without warning ran his fingers over Scully's cheek. The strangeness, coupled with the intimacy of the gesture startled Scully and she had to fight the urge to pull away. He looked into her eyes for a second, seeming to consider something, then let out a 'hmm' and dropped his fingers >from her cheek.

Abruptly he said, "I have to go. Thank you for being so good to my daughter. She's lucky to have you two."

He hugged Scully and then Mulder, who was more less board-like, his hands remaining at his sides. "Work on that son, you're a little stiff." Mr. Conhouse winked at him and walked out of the bedroom toward the front door, Mulder and Scully on his heels.

Wanda remained happily on the bed with Lena.

He left the apartment and turned in the hallway, addressing them one last time; "Have a safe trip." He bowed his head slightly at them and turned, walking down the hall and out of the building.

Mulder and Scully stood in the doorway, staring at each other like a couple of mouth breathers.

"Trip?" Scully said.

"Where?" Mulder answered.

At the same time, both said, "Lena." They walked back to the bedroom together.

End - Chapter Eighteen


Chapter Nineteen

Mulder and Scully stood over the bed. Lena was out cold, breathing deeply with a slight smile on her face.

"Should we wake her?" Mulder turned to Scully.

"Probably not. Mr. Conhouse said she'd needs to rest and I would have to concur with him."

"What now?"

"Wait, I guess." She continued to stare at Lena. "You know Mulder, Steve was cryptic about the trip. Maybe he meant it metaphorically."

"Do you really believe that Scully?" Mulder asked as he made his way out of the bedroom and toward the front door. Scully followed.

"No."

"I didn't think so. Seems to me that he knows something we don't."

"If a trip is in our immediate future Skinner will have to be notified."

"True." Mulder smiled at her. "Best of luck."

"Meaning that I will have to handle it?"

"Dad always did like you best Scully."

She sighed, looking at him sternly. "Why is it that I am always the one to deliver bad news to him Mulder?"

"It's not such bad news. Think about it. He's been after us to take time off for the last 5 years."

"Which is precisely why he'll be wondering what we're up to. We never take time off, and we never take anyone with us. Remember that Lena also reports to him. What will he think when the three of us take time off all at once? And -as if that weren't enough, Lena is fairly new in the DC bureau. She may not even have vacation time available. She's looking at a leave of absence. This is not good Mulder. Not good."

"Not true Scully. When he gets the final report on the Cook case he'll think that Lena was nearly killed trying to save Ruthie. That's worth at least a month of recovery time for her, don't you think?"

She just stared at him.

"You're doing a whole lot of worrying before knowing all the facts."

"One of us has too."

"You want me to talk to him?" Mulder made the offer fully knowing that it would be declined.

"Absolutely not."

"Ok, it's your call. In the meantime, what's the plan?"

"You go to work and file the Cook case report with Skinner. Tell him I'm keeping an eye on Lena's recovery process. If he asks where she was admitted... I don't know what tell you. Stall, I guess... change the subject, you're good at that." Scully smirked at him. "I'll stay here with Conhouse. If she tells me anything about the alleged trip I'll call you. For now I'd like to make sure she gets some rest and doesn't wake up to an empty apartment."

"Okay. Talk to you later."

Scully looked at him as he opened the door to leave. Suddenly she got panicky. "Mulder, come here after work, ok?"

He stopped in his tracks, concerned with the tone of her voice. "You're not worried, are you Scully?"

"Not worried, exactly, just... out of my element."

Mulder smiled at her sympathetically. "Talk to her Scully. She's still the person you, well," he looked down to the floor and back up to her, "Talk to her."

She looked at him for a long moment, mildly embarrassed by her display of concern. "You know that? I mean, with certainty?"

He could tell that she was looking for confirmation. She wanted him to have =felt= that everything was really okay. She wanted him to make the unreasonable =reasonable=. She wanted him to =know= it, the way he knew that all his other obscure beliefs were true.

He narrowed his eyes and gave her his best square-jaw eye-to-eye look, "I know Scully. I know."

She sighed deeply. "Thank you," and smiled quickly before turning back to the bedroom.

***************************************

Mulder sat at his desk typing the final case report on the murder/kidnapping. He had padded the brutality that Cook had wreaked on Lena, although he was certain that the brutality would have been more than enough to keep a normal human out of commission for well over a month.

His mind kept wandering to Mr. Conhouse's comment about him being one of his 'favorites'. His favorite what?

It was making him crazy and he had to fight the urge to break a land-speed record getting back to Scully's to talk to Lena.

He considered inanely that he should be happy being an angel's favorite =something=. The thought made him shake his head. These were strange days indeed.

His phone rang.

"Mulder."

"It's me. Are you done with the report yet?"

"I'm hunt and peck, remember?"

"I'm calling to ask a favor."

"And what would that be?"

Scully was whispering. "I'd like you to email me the names of all the X-Files that concern angels."

Mulder pursed his lips. "Just the names of the files?"

"Yeah. I can pull them up from here, I just need to know the case file names."

"Why?"

"I need to be 'in my element' Mulder. I'd like to educate myself."

"Didn't you learn all there is to know about angels in Catholic school?"

"Not this kind of angel."

"I'll do it now."

"From memory?"

"Is there any other way?" Mulder was smiling into the receiver.

"Thank you." And she hung up.

**************************************************

Scully spent the morning in a chair next to the bed with Wanda asleep on the floor beside her. Her laptop was perched on her lap. She looked up angels on the internet with her various search engines. Most of the sites were what Scully would consider fluff, full of pictures of round faced cherubs and women in flowing robes with wings. She finally found one site in particular that seemed to be the most comprehensive.


1.Angels were created by God:

 Thou, Lord alone has made heaven, the heaven of heavens,
 with all their host,(angels) the earth, and all things
 that are therein, the seas and all that is therein, and
 thou preservest them all! And the host of heaven worships
 thee.(Nehem:9-6)
 For by him were all things created that are in heaven, and
 that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be
 thrones, dominions, principalities, or powers, all things
 were created by Him, and for Him.(Coloss:1:l6)

2. Method of origin
Angels were created by a special act of God, they did not evolve.

Praise ye him all his angels, praise ye him all his hosts(angels) Let them
praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.
(Psalml48:2,5).

Their number was fixed at creation. They neither reproduce or die.

Jesus talking about the resurrection said: For in the resurrection they
neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in
heaven. (Mathew22:30)
Neither can they die anymore: for they are equal unto the angels.

3. Time of origin.
Before the earth was, the angels were already created.

Where were thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare if thou has
understanding. When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God
shouted for joy? (Job 38:1,4,7)

4. Purpose of existence
They were created to glorify Christ.
And again when he brought in the first begotten (Jesus)
into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
(Hebrews:1:6)
Thou art worthy, O Lord to receive glory and honour, and power: for thou hast
created all things, and for thy pleasure thy are and were created.
(Revel4:11).


Well - that told her the sum total of 'not much'. She knew this information to be true as far as Catholicism was concerned, but how true was it in relation to Lena?

The woman can die, she'd told Scully as much. She knew she was telling her the truth.

Scully considered that mixed races occurred constantly. So why not an angel/human mix? 'So what I have here', Scully thought to herself, staring at a still sleeping Lena, 'is a hybrid?' Does that mean that some time in the past an angel seduced a human and they bore a child? Wouldn't that, in it's own definition, be a sin against god?

Her e-mail chimed and she read a list of 3 file names that Mulder had sent her. Scully pulled each file alphabetically, taking in the details of the three X-files that dealt with supposed 'angels'. Unfortunately, they told her what she was already aware of...

The case of the boy with stigmata, and the smell of roses on the body of his physically deformed, bald guardian. She remembered that he seemed to not be suffering from decomposition or rigger. And the odd smile on his face...

The other two files were equally odd and not forthcoming with any information useful to her. They were very old cases of angelic intervention in the life of two different families.

In one, a miraculous medical recovery of a young girl. In the other, a family was saved from starvation on their desolated ranch in January by a stranger who never resurfaced. Nothing much to go on there. Maybe Mulder knew more. She'd have to quiz him later.

She glanced at Lena. Bruises that seemed permanent additions on her face the night before now faded nearly away. It had been 4 hours since her father had been there, and she seemed from all outward appearances to be nearly healed.

Amazing.

The color and classic lines of her cheekbones and chin were back, making her look stunning against the white bed sheets.

Scully set her laptop on the nightstand and crawled into bed next to the sleeping woman. After a moment's hesitation, she wrapped her arms around her, pulling her to her chest.

"Lena?"

"Yes?"

"You're awake? How do you feel?"

"New." Lena murmured against her chest. "Another hour, I need another hour. Stay with me?"

Scully squeezed her in answer and drifted off to sleep beside her.

End - Chapter Nineteen


Chapter Twenty

Lena woke up and opened her eyes. She was looking directly into Scully's.

"I looked up your family tree on the internet."

It took Lena several seconds to register Scully's comment. "What did you find out?"

"Angels were made by a special act of God. There are a finite number of them and they can't die or procreate." She paused. "Is that true?"

"Not in my case Scully." Lena rolled to her side to face her. "Not in my case, or in the cases of others like me. I'm half human. My father is an angel, my mother is not. Females like me are born barren. We can't have children; therefore, our mothers are always human. It's God's way of making sure there is a proper balance of our kind around."

Scully felt a sudden empathy for Lena, "We have a lot in common don't we?"

Lena just nodded.

"Were there always angels like you?"

"No. We were created to fill a need when humankind went through a period of failed compassion. We've been in existence for nearly 500 years, but in the overall scheme of things, our kind is still fairly new."

"Have you been alive for 500 years?"

"No, I'm 34. My life expectancy is probably a little longer than average, but most of us die long before old age can take us."

"Because of the situations you have to put yourself into?"

Lena smiled slightly. "Yes."

Scully did not smile. "So you're here to be sacrificed?"

"No." Lena whispered. "I'm here to make sure no one else is."

Scully stared into her eyes for long seconds; she was no longer unsettled by this woman who now gave her answers without vague references. Lena was being truthful with her; it was a rare occurrence in Scully's life. She was so incredibly sick of the lies that had been fed to her as a steady diet over the last few years. To just have someone tell her the truth without ceremony or spoon-feeding in small doses was a blessing. She leaned in and pressed her lips against Lena's gently.

"Where are we going?"

"What?"

"The trip. Where are you taking us?"

"Oh, the trip. We're going on vacation."

"You're not serious." Scully looked at her plainly.

"Oh but I am." Lena ran her hand over Scully's cheek.

"So it's completely recreational?" An eyebrow raised.

"Not completely. I have some people I'd like you and Mulder to meet along the way." Lena's fingertips ran down Scully's neck to the hollow between her clavicles. She kissed the spot gently.

Scully's legs spread slightly; she sighed. "Friends of yours?"

Lena unbuttoned the front of Scully's shirt. "Yes." The redhead ran her fingers through Lena's hair, looking down at her. Seeing the top of the other woman's head as she worked at her buttons made Scully's stomach flutter. When Lena loosened the last button she looked up into Scully's eyes.

"Where are we going?"

Lena lifted her body to rest next to Scully's. She licked her ear lobe while her hand pushed the shirt aside. Scully tipped her head and rubbed her ear against Lena's lips, sighing again.

"We're going north to see the leaves change." Her tongue worked around Scully's ear as her hand squeezed a nipple firmly. Scully's hips came off of the bed in a slow arch. She needed that hand lower...

She placed her hand over Lena's, squeezed her breast with it then moved it down.

Lena's voice went ragged, "I love it when you do that... when you show me what you need." Scully's response was to place Lena's hand between her legs, closing them tightly around both Lena's hand and her own. She exhaled heavily and rocked against the pressure. Her other hand went to Lena's cheek and she pulled her lips toward her wanting to feel her mouth.

She adjusted Lena's hand, moving it a little lower, so that the heel of it was in direct contact with her clit. Again she started rocking, this time slower, the full contact slowly making the rest of her body seem numb. All she could feel was the place where Lena's hand pressed hard against her.

Lena took advantage of Scully's hips being in the air and slid her free hand underneath them. She let the other woman's hips rock back into her hand several times until her fingertips were wet, then parted Scully's cheeks gently and placed a finger at her anus. Scully seized up for a second at the unfamiliar feeling, then settled back against it, letting Lena pick her rhythm back up with the heel of her hand. As Scully got closer to the edge Lena slowly let the finger Scully was laying on slide into her, just barely, giving her a chance to get used to the feeling before sliding it in any further.

Once again Scully was out of her element. She relaxed against the finger at her anus slowly. But when Lena let it slide into her she stopped rocking altogether. The first instinct she had was to bear down and push it out, but after a second she realized that she wasn't all that unpleasant. In fact, it felt incredible to her - indescribable.

Very gently she started to move against Lena's hands once more. Lena replaced the heel of her hand with two fingers slid deep inside of Scully, the one in the back still barely inside. Dana moved against them. She rolled her hips forward and was completely filled, rolled them back and felt gentle pressure in her anus; it was insane. Her hips worked slowly at first, reveling in the feeling from both front and back, then worked to a more fervent pitch, inadvertently forcing Lena's finger deeper into her anus with each push backward.

She was slowly loosing it...

And she was coming too quickly...

...she didn't want it to be over yet but god...

...there it is...

...right there...

...she whispered to Lena though shallow breaths... "I can't wait Lena... I want to but... god... it's... happening... now..."

Her head lifted from the pillow and she came - her hands holding Lena's in place against her. Shamelessly she held them there wringing out each last spasm by pushing herself against those hands over and over.

Aftershocks...

...one of the many benefits of coming so hard.

Lena took her arm out from under Scully as she finally relaxed back onto the bed. She couldn't move, and frankly couldn't think of any good reason to try. They lay next to each other quietly. Lena stroked the inside of Scully's arm.

"When do we leave?"

"Tomorrow."

"What about Skinner?"

"He's already given the go ahead."

"Has he now?"

"Yes."

"How convenient."

"I'm all about convenience." Lena smiled at Scully as she rolled her eyes.

"How did you manage getting him to sign off on it?"

"I didn't, Mulder did."

"Mulder?"

"Yeah."

"Hmmm. That just makes my blood run cold. I can't think of anything Mulder could say to Skinner to explain this without sending up the man's pulse into the cardiac arrest range."

"Well, I'm getting a very clear image of Mulder packing. He must have said something that made the surly one give you two time off."

Scully buried her head in the pillow. "Crap."

Lena started giggling and Scully shot her a confused look. "That was funny."

"What?"

"...'Crap'. Out of your mouth it's quite funny."

"Why?" Scully asked her eyes wrinkled in a smile even as her mouth framed a pout.

"Because you just don't seem like the kind of woman who'd say 'crap' I guess." Lena laughed harder.

Scully glared at her, squared her jaw and said through clenched teeth and a slight smile, "Crap."

Lena was sent into another stream of giggles. She shook her head and kissed Scully's clenched jaw muscle. "You're not quite right, ya know?"

"Don't tell anybody."

"No one would believe me."

"Good." Scully said, sitting up and shaking out her hair. She perched on her knees looking down at Lena, then added, "What am I going to pack?"

"Sweaters, jeans, you know, standard warm crap." Lena looked at her, preparing for an eye roll.

Scully didn't disappoint her, adding, "Dork."

Lena giggled to herself as she made her way into the bathroom for a shower.

-end-


Chapter Twenty One (sheesh)

"He just signed off on our requests and handed them back to me. It was creepy Scully."

She stared at Mulder across Lena's couch, sipping her wine. They had all decided to meet back at Lena's and spend the night there, wanting to get an early start on the 'vacation' the following morning. Lena had borrowed her parent's RV for the trip and was stocking it with food as the other two had arrived. They offered to help but Lena waved them off, promising a pontoon ride when she finished packing.

"You know Mulder," Scully regarded him seriously, "he's got to wonder why we're going on vacation together."

"Together?"

"You did tell him that didn't you?"

"Not in so many words." Mulder lowered his long lashes, waiting for his scolding.

"Mulder! You lied to him?" Scully was irritated.

"I had to Scully. It would damage your career more than mine if he thought something was going on between us." Mulder tried to appear apologetic.

Scully shook her head. "So how did you tell him he could get a hold of us?"

"Cell phones." Mulder replied, wincing slightly.

"And where does he think I'm going?" She gave him an icy stare.

Mulder looked out to the lake.

"Mulder?" Scully pushed him.

"One of those women-only pampering club med kinda things."

"Jesus Mulder." She squeezed her eyes shut. "And you? Where are you headed?"

"Pilgrimage."

"Let me guess... Graceland?"

"Bingo."

Lena walked in, saving Mulder from further brow beating. "Hello playmates. Ready to float?"

Mulder sprung from the couch relieved. "You bet."

Scully stood up, sighing. She smiled slightly at Lena as she walked between the two of them and headed toward the steps. "Yeah. I'm going to change."

Lena stopped her descent down the stairs by saying seriously, "Scully?"

Scully turned on the steps to look from Mulder to Lena. "Yes?"

"Don't go changin'" Lena said.

And Mulder finished it up, "To try and please us..."

Scully rolled her eyes, dropped her head and finished her trip down the steps, listening to the two of them laugh uncontrollably until she was out of ear shot.

************************************************************

They lay on the pontoon sipping wine and talking.

"Hey Scully."

"Yes Mulder?"

"What's your most embarrassing moment?"

"You mean in my life time?"

"Yeah."

"I'm not sure."

"You have to have one. One earth-shattering moment in time?"

"Well, I might. But I can't think of it. Why don't you start?"

"I don't want to start. Lena, do you have one?"

"Oh yeah."

"Fess up girlfriend."

"I can't. It's too awful."

"Now you have to tell us."

"It will change your entire opinion of me."

"This is gonna be good." Mulder said, sitting up to face her.

"You sure you want to hear this?"

"Absolutely." Mulder said, rubbing his hands together.

Scully sat quietly, considering that she'd agreed to go on vacation with the adult equivalent to Beavis and Butthead. The thought made her smile.

"Okay, but don't say I didn't warn you." Lena pointed at him and he actually giggled.

Lena started her story: "I was twelve. My friend Sandy and I used to go to the Rolladium every Saturday night because it was the only place our Dad's would let us stay out late."

"Rolladium?" Scully said, and eyebrow lifted. She was sitting up now.

"Yep. Roller skating for young adults." Lena said, smiling at her. "We used to roll around in a circle and she'd scope out the boys. I mainly just tried to stay upright."

Scully laughed lightly.

"So anyway, the Rolladium only had one girl's bathroom. It was small and all the 'burn-out' girls hung out in there. You know, the girls who never took their coats off because they hid their cigarettes in them? They were a mean crowd of about 20. They'd sit in there and smoke, in their street shoes no less. It wasn't cool to roller skate for those girls. They were rough trade even at 12 and 13 years old."

Mulder was already laughing and Lena stared at him for a minute. He said, "I remember those girls. We had them too."

"Oh. So Sandy and I would do everything we could to avoid the bathroom. Not only was it smoky and gross, but those girls would torment you if you were actually there to roller skate, or god forbid you were considered a 'good kid', which believe it or not, I was."

"I would cut out liquids for hours before going to the Rolladium. I was really scared of the mean betties and I wanted to avoid the shitter as much as possible. This particular night however, I really had to go. Sandy and I were skating around, I think to the song "le freak"."

"You remember the song?" Mulder said.

Lena looked at him gravely; "I'll never forget it. And I told her I had to go to the bathroom. She said, 'good luck'. Loyalty went into the crapper with her and I if it involved a bathroom trip. I was on my own."

"I skated in there and the pack of evilenes said nasty stuff at me. You know, like, 'loser', 'bitch', that kinda thing. Not too scary now, but when you're twelve it's frightening. I rolled into a stall and shut the door. They would pretend that they were trying to get in, shaking the door handle and stuff, just mean. I kept one hand against the door the whole time. Anyway, I managed to pee and stand up. I still had one hand against the door because they were shoving on it."

Lena stopped her story, pressing her lips tightly together.

"Oh god." Scully said.

"Yeah." Lena replied. She stood up to illustrate what happened next. "So I'm standing there and my pants and skivvies make the trip down my scrawny legs and I'm suddenly bound at the ankles."

"Oh god." Scully said again, starting to laugh. She covered her mouth in an effort to stop it.

"Yeah. And then my skate slipped." Lena stood in the middle of the pontoon, ankles together and moved one foot forward. "Then my other skate slipped."

Scully was now laughing aloud.

"Then... both skates went out from under me. My feet shot out from underneath the stall, my bare ass slapped on the linoleum and I tried to catch my fall with my hands, but they slipped too... and both of my arms shot into the toilet."

Mulder was on his hands and knees on the pontoon. He was silent for a second then took in a breath and his laughter started to make noise. He was guffawing loudly.

She finished the story: "AND, I hadn't flushed yet. AND, I was wearing a sweater."

Both of the others were rendered useless with laughter. Lena continued:

"So there I was, my arms lodged in the toilet, all my business hanging out... there was a silence in the bathroom for a couple of seconds, then, deafening laughter. To make matters worse I couldn't get up. I'd pull my legs in but they'd just roll out from under me when I'd try to stand. Meanwhile, urine was soaking up my arms and across my chest.... It was awful."

Lena stopped the story, watching tears roll down Scully's face with intense laughter. "This would have been so hard for me if you two weren't so sympathetic." Lena's comment made the others laugh harder. "Really. There's so much love here. I'm... well... I'm touched."

Mulder recovered enough to ask Lena how she got out.

"Well, I finally used my toe stops and managed to get my arms out of the toilet. Not one of those bitches helped me. I sat on that toilet for 10 minutes, mortified. I had cigarette ashes and all matter of crap stuck to my ass. I was just... a wreck. Finally I decided that I was just gonna get out of there and face whatever it was they were going to do. I opened the stall door and walked to the sink. They just stared at me, slack-jawed. I rinsed my sleeves off in the sink and wrung them out, then rolled out of the bathroom and went to the phones. I called my dad and told him I was ready to go home. I found Sandy and we waited outside for my dad to show. I never told her what happened and she fortunately knew better than to ask."

Lena sat quietly, watching them. She sipped her wine and smiled to herself.

"Oh my God Lena." Mulder said finally. "I can't top that. That's horrible."

"You asked Mulder. I told you it was bad. You were warned."

"Geez..." Mulder shook his head, still prone to bouts of laughter.

"Yeah, well, I need to go in now. I've purged my deepest embarrassment and I feel the need to rest." Lena stood and turned on the motor. "We have an early start tomorrow family."

She smiled at them as she made her way to the dock. Their laughter was such a sweet sound.

-end-


Chapter Twenty Two

It took Scully the better part of an hour to feel comfortable behind the wheel of the insanely large RV. She drove slowly at first, carefully taking corners. She ended up launching the occupants in the back of the big rig four or five times when she clipped the corners too tightly. Fortunately for Mulder and Lena they were quick learners and hung on tightly when Scully activated the blinker. Soon enough, however, they were on the highway.

Lena and Mulder poured over topographical maps at the small kitchen table at the middle of the rig.

"Right here is our landing spot for today." Lena said, pointing at a greenish colored spot just inside of the Michigan state line.

"New Buffalo?" Mulder looked at her.

"Yep. There's a campground there on Lake Michigan." Lena wagged her eyebrows.

"So you're taking us camping?" Mulder looked unimpressed.

"Why yes Mulder, hence the RV." Lena tilted her head at him. "I guess I thought that part was obvious."

He sat back on the small bench. "It was, but I was hoping for something more."

"Such as?" Lena sat back as well.

"I don't know. I guess I thought we were on a quest of some kind."

"Oh. Well, yeah, there's that too."

Mulder brightened. "Really? And what's our quest?"

"Would you believe that I'm not sure?" Lena looked apologetic, wincing slightly at her admission.

Mulder stared at her.

"All I can say is that we're on our way to finding something. A couple something's, actually. I can 'feel' the route; feel the stopping points. We'll just have to follow the pull and see where it leads us. My suggestion to you is to just enjoy the ride."

"That's gonna be a little tough, don't you think?"

"Do your best. We've got about 6 hours until we hit stop number one. Wanna take a nap?" She looked at him hopefully.

"No, thanks." Mulder shot her a tight smile. "Let's play twenty questions."

Lena was solemn, "yippee."

Mulder laughed slightly. "Why did your Dad say I was one of his favorites?"

She put her elbows on the table and rested her head in her hands. Grabbing her baseball hat to cover her eyes she sighed and answered his question. "Because we know your history. We're responsible for your well-being, within reason of course."

"Beg pardon?" Mulder was taken aback.

"It's true." Lena continued to squeeze the bill of her hat and cover her eyes. "My family and your family are connected. They always have been, and they always will be. The Scully family is part of our 'charge' as well. We're all connected and we have been for many, many generations. My father looked after Ahab and your father Mulder. My Grandfather was responsible for your grandparents and so on. All the way back to the beginning."

Anger flared in Mulder's eyes, "My father was shot to death in his own bathroom with me not 20 feet away."

The chill in his voice made Lena lift her eyes to look directly at him. "I'm aware of that."

Mulder watched as Lena's eye color changed from bright blue to deep green. He tried not to let it phase him but it was damn unnerving. "Why would you let that happen?"

"Your father made choices in his life that blackened his soul Mulder. Both he and your mother were trapped in a dark place due to choices he made very early in life. His death wasn't something anyone could stop."

Mulder dropped his head.

"And it wasn't your fault." Lena added pointedly.

Scully could hear their conversation clearly from her spot in the driver's seat. She was stunned at the revelation that all of their families were connected and had a myriad of her own questions to ask. Right now though, it seemed that Mulder needed the answers more than she did.

Mulder plunged on, "And you couldn't make him come back around? You couldn't help him be a better man?"

"I can't make anyone do anything." Lena said flatly. "Your father was weak Mulder. I'm sorry to state it so plainly to you, but it's the truth. And, his weakness affected everyone around him."

Mulder knew this already. Pity had replaced any other feeling he had ever felt about his father, pity and resentment. He knew too that he couldn't hold Lena or her family responsible for his father's cowardice. "I'm sorry."

"S'okay."

Mulder regarded her for a moment, then, "Is there reincarnation?"

Lena's brows went up at his quick change of subject. "No." She paused, "But there is collective memory. As with all animals there is an instinctual memory of all those that came before them. That memory is part of a person's makeup. It's just a rare occurrence for it to ever be accessed. When it is, it's mistaken as a memory from a past life, when in reality it is someone else's memory entirely."

Scully remembered readings from her early medical training about animal instinct and memory. It's why birds and butterflies returned to exact geographical locations every year. So it really was memory, not instinct, that led birds back to an exact perching spot in southern Florida. Amazing.

Mulder too was amazed. "So I have the collective memory of all my ancestors stored up in my brain?"

"Yes."

"Where?"

Lena leaned toward him and placed her index finger behind his left ear, "Right here." She said it with a straight face and he stared blankly at her. Smiling at him she said, "I'm kidding, it's in the 85% of your brain you don't use Mulder." Lena smiled at him widely and he smiled back.

"This is cool Conhouse."

"I aim to please."

"Ok, so my family, can you tell me about my family?"

"What do you want to know?"

"Hmmm." He chewed on a knuckle.

"She's alive Mulder." Lena stated. She knew it's where he was headed but he was too frightened to ask. "She's alive and she's on this planet."

"Is that the quest?" It was a whisper.

"I think so." Lena held his hand in hers. "I think so."

Tears pooled in Scully's eyes and a chill shook her. 'Thank god' she though, making Lena smile.

Mulder sat up straight. "Think I'll take that nap now." he said, standing. Lena let go of his hand and he walked to the back bedroom, opened the door and turned to shut it behind him, smiling slightly at Lena before shutting it all the way.

"Hello." Lena kissed Scully's cheek as she sat next to her in the passenger seat.

"Hi. How are you holding up?" Scully asked, glancing at Lena.

"I'm great, how are you?" She reached for her hand and squeezed it tightly.

"Good."

"Not fine?"

"No, not fine, actually good. Really good." Scully gave her a full-tooth smile and Lena nearly melted.

"I just adore you." Lena said, whispering. "Just out and out full fledged adoration. The kind that sweeps my feet right out from under me."

Scully smiled at the road.

"Stops my heart." Lena whispered in her ear.

Scully peeked at her.

"Makes my knees weak."

Scully leaned her ear into Lena lips.

"Makes my wings flap."

She laughed and shut her eyes briefly. "You're a piece of work."

Lena laughed out loud.

"Is this thing fun to drive?"

"Kind of, once you get the corners down."

Lena sat quietly for a second. "I'll fall asleep if I sit here for too long."

"You can honey. I let you know if I need you to take over." Scully looked at her, brow furrowed slightly. She suspected that Lena was still recovering, angel or not, from her run in with Cook.

Lena rolled her head toward Scully. "I like it when you call me honey."

"I know. That's why I do it." Scully watched the road.

"Mmmm." It was the last thing Lena said before falling asleep in the passenger seat.

After a couple hours Scully pulled off the highway to get gas and go to the bathroom. She convinced Lena to climb up into the bed over the driver's cab with Wanda, telling her she was likely to get a stiff neck sleeping where she was. Lena agreed.

Scully liked to drive. She liked the thinking time it afforded her. As she drove through Pennsylvania she let her mind soak up all that had happened in her life through the last two weeks. It was strange to her, thinking about how incredibly lonely she had been two weeks ago. Finding Lena had changed her entire life. But then, she supposed it was actually Lena who had found her.

The biggest difference now was the feeling she had. She would be doing something, writing a report, cooking, reading, and would get the sudden unexplainable feeling that she was forgetting something. And then she would remember. She was in love. It was like being wrapped in a warm blanket; like discovering a pocket full of money in an old coat or finding a piece of jewelry she loved but had forgotten or lost...

This feeling had replaced what was formally loss. When Scully remembered something prior to Lena it was that her sister was gone, her daughter was gone, her father...

She would have the nagging feeling of forgetfulness and then the realization that Mulder was missing or hurt, or that she lost three months of her life, or that she had cancer and it was killing her.

Now she had hope, love, and joy. All the things that she thought were lost to her were now back, in the form of another woman. How odd. She smiled to herself. How very Scully.

And how perfect that Lena had pulled Mulder in. What a gift it was to have him along for the quest that would make the two of them whole again. Scully smiled to herself once more, mostly at her deep thoughts on the matter, she always made things more cerebral than they needed to be.

She continued her train of thought. It rolled from Lena's upbringing, to her parents, to what she would get Lena for Christmas. She let her thoughts run along by themselves, enjoying the fact that they were all positive, through no intervention of her own. Things were lookin up...

As she crossed the state line into Ohio she thought she heard a scrambling noise and Wanda was suddenly standing next to her between the two front seats.

"What is it Wanda? Gotta go potty?" Scully heard a door open and saw Mulder coming out of the back room in her rearview mirror.

"I don't know if she does but I gotta go potty Scully." Mulder looked at her through sleepy eyes. "I'd use the bathroom in here but I think it needs to be hooked up or something first."

"There's a rest area coming up."

A few moments later Scully pulled off the highway and parked in the RV area. She unhooked her seatbelt and stood next to Mulder to look at Lena.

"Lena?" she whispered, rocking her gently. "Gotta go potty?"

They were back on the road quickly with Mulder in the driver's seat. Scully had taken up residence in the passenger seat and Lena was at the table reading with Wanda curled up at her feet. They drove on for quite a while before anyone spoke, each lost in their own thoughts.

"Hey!" She said suddenly.

"What?" Mulder said, looking at her in the mirror.

"I never heard your most embarrassing moment stories. Fess up kids."

Scully and Mulder looked at one another. He said, "You start Scully."

"I don't have one." Scully stated simply.

"You've never done anything that embarrassed you?" Mulder wasn't buying it.

"No."

"Ever, at all, not even once?" Lena asked.

"Fraid not. Next?"

"C'mon Scully, spill it." Lena coaxed. "It's gotta be good if you're so hell bent on not telling us."

Scully sighed deeply. "This goes no further."

Like little kids Mulder and Lena smiled at each other. Lena clapped her hands with unadulterated glee, "yippee!"

Scully retorted with a 'jesus' under her breath and began, "I was in high school. A friend and I went to this expensive women's boutique to get bathing suits." Scully noted that Lena was already laughing and scowled at her. "We both picked out a couple and went into the same dressing room to try them on. This friend of mine, Natalie was her name, was very funny. She was also quite overweight. She had pulled this little bikini off of the rack when a sales woman was stalking us just to get a reaction. Apparently the woman thought we were a shoplifting risk and Nat just wanted to get a rise out of her."

Scully took another breath and continued, "Anyway, we got in the dressing room and while I was busy pulling on a sensible one piece she was actually putting the bikini on. I turned and looked at her and was shocked into silence, not knowing if she was seriously considering buying it or not. Then, she just started laughing. Then I started laughing, and then we just hysterical, I mean, we couldn't breath."

Lena was laughing at that point from the mental picture alone; Mulder, however, wanted to get to the 'embarrassing' part. "And..." he said.

"And," Scully paused, "I peed."

Mulder smiled, "In the bathing suit?"

"Yeah, in the bathing suit, on the floor, on my socks, on Nat's socks..."

Lena howled with laughter. "My god Scully, what did you do?"

"What could I do? I was mortified. It was a $23 bathing suit, which, at that time was really expensive. I couldn't afford to begin with... so I left it there. Nat and I got dressed and we made a run for it."

Scully turned to the chuckling Mulder and said, "Your turn."

Mulder shrugged, "I have so many it's hard to pick just one."

"Well pick and tell." Scully said, "I'm not going down alone."

"Let's see, there was the time I got into the wrong car at the rest area. Then there's the time I walked into the ladies room at the Fed building..."

"Either of those will do." Lena said, smiling.

"Let me think on it a while, I want to do both your stories justice."

"Ok, but don't think you're getting out of it." Lena wagged a finger at him.

Mulder nodded at her and pointed out the window, "Say yes to Michigan." He said, reading the words directly off of the mitten shaped welcome sign.

-end-


Chapter Twenty Three

It took another 5 hours for the crew to get from the Michigan welcome sign to their landing spot in New Buffalo. It should have been quicker, would have, if Mulder hadn't insisted on making 6 laps around the campground searching for just the right site.

"You two don't mind do you? I'd just like to get a site far enough away from the bathrooms and the other people; but still close to the lake."

"I don't mind." Lena stated, "But Wanda thinks you're a lunatic. She's back here with a snout-full of squirrel and nothing to chase. It's like dog hell."

"Hang on Wanda, I think I found the perfect spot."

Mulder swung the RV into a spot with an overly large fire pit and turned off the engine. Lena immediately released Wanda and she treed the first squirrel that gave her any lip.

The three stood outside the RV stretching and looking around.

"Good thing we've got Wanda." Mulder said. "To protect us from the sharp-toothed, dangerous and often unpredictable squirrel."

"Damn straight," Lena answered, stern look on her face, "course, she ever actually caught one and she'd have a stroke..."

"I'm hungry." Scully blurted.

Mulder looked at her, narrowed his eyes and added a mock 'knowing' nod, "It's all this talk about squirrels isn't it?"

Not even favoring him with an eye roll Scully turned slowly and climbed the steps of the RV, a small smile on her face.

Lena looked at him squarely, "You're one sick twist mister."

He shrugged, "I do what I can."

Lena managed, with Mulder's help, to hook up the water and electric for the RV. All three decided as a group to avoid using the bathroom for actual bathroom needs and to do their showering and toileting using the campground facilities. It seemed easier than having to clean out the aftermath of using the john in the RV.

"So, what's our plan?" Mulder addressed Lena as the three sat at the small table eating slices of apple and cheese.

"Barring." Lena smiled at them, her eyes sparkling.

"Barring? As in 'in a bar' barring?" Scully wasn't smiling.

"Yep. You two are going to take me dancing." Lena's smile grew wider still.

Mulder smiled back, "But what will I wear?"

At that Lena giggled, "What you have on will be just fine, especially for the place I'm taking you. In fact, you're probably overdressed."

"Where are we going?" Scully was starting to look down right worried.

"Don't worry, it's just down the road. We can walk down there actually. I saw it on the way in. Think it was called the 'Elbow Room'. Catchy huh?"

"Very." Scully was starting to smile in spite of herself. "When are we heading out?"

"Couple hours."

"I'm going to take a walk with the lovely Ms. Wanda. You two want to come with us?"

"Love to." Lena said, getting up from her seat.

Mulder got up to, "I think I'm going to hit the camp store. We need some wood for later tonight. Camping always turns me into a pyromaniac."

"Okay, see you later."

The women headed off down a nearby trail with Wanda on their heels.

-end-


Chapter Twenty Four

Scully was quiet as they walked, too quiet.

Lena couldn't read anything from her; not a good sign. Something was obviously wrong. She was learning that the things Scully feared most were generally the things she blocked. Whether she did it to protect herself or Lena; Lena wasn't sure. So they walked, and Lena waited; hoping that Scully would talk to her.

It seemed that Scully had a gift for keeping things well hidden; cooking every scenario, doing all of the worst/best case analysis; all in her own head. Then she would talk about it, after she'd nearly covered every angle, prepared herself for every answer she may get.

The silence made Lena nervous.

"Are you going to die?"

It was a whisper so low that Lena thought maybe she hadn't heard it. She stopped and looked into Dana's eyes.

"What?"

"Are you here to do something in my life? Change it; or lead me to some revelation or some act of faith..."

"Dana..." Lena whispered, reaching out to touch her cheek.

"And then die?"

"Dana..."

"On me?"

"No."

"No?"

Lena shook her head. "I'm not here for that."

Scully blinked, twice, then walked on, rubbing a hand across her forehead. "Explain it to me. I'm sick of the spoon-feeding Lena. It happens to me all the time, little bits of information doled out like this..." She sighed ran a hand through her hair. "I'm tired of it. Can you tell me why we're here? Do you know?"

Lena could feel Scully's weariness roll off of her in waves. She was right; too little given to her not often enough; muddy mysteries that never really cleared with the next small bit of information. Often information given to shed light on her life only served to kick up the mud from the bottom, making the things she thought she already knew to be true even murkier.

"I feel safe Lena. Which seems like a good thing, and it is, I suppose. But I feel like I may be a fool. What if we're in danger? What if someone tries to kill you? Or Mulder? What if I'm here with you... feeling safe... and feeling... alive... and in reality my guard is down when it should be up." Her voice grew louder. "What if I'm wrong to take a break? What if while I'm relaxing and happy they... " She looked down to her feet, then over to Wanda where she sat waiting patiently for them.

They were stopped in the path, facing each other. Lena gently grasped Dana's shoulders, urging her gaze upward.

"I'm here to keep you and Mulder alive."

"I need more." Scully said flatly.

Lena looked up to the sky for a second, choosing her words, the returned Scully's gaze again. "Some day in the distant future you two will change the course of history. In order to do that, you need to be alive." Lena stated it as fact, because it was.

Scully stared at her intensely. "...more." Her heart was racing in her chest.

"The course you were following prior to my arrival was going to end in death for both of you. Spiritual in your case, literal in Mulder's. I was sent to you two in order to change that course."

Scully continued to stare, Lena went on.

"You lost your faith Scully. In everything. Mulder lost his ambition to find the truth. And his 'truth' is Samantha. We knew from the beginning that if he ever lost that drive, well, all would be lost. We couldn't let that happen. As dramatic as it sounds it would be the end of life on the planet. All life. There was intense fear on the part of my family that Mulder's depression would cause him to end his life."

Scully watched in amazement as Lena's eye color changed. As she spoke they went from brown to green to blue in succession. The change was no longer frightening to Scully. It seemed to follow Lena's train of thought. The brilliant colors matching the sincerity and honesty of her words.

"Our motives are noble. We want him to be happy because we love him, that he will save the planet with your help is frankly an afterthought."

"There is so much evil in the world. The majority of which Mulder has had to deal with. He deals with it every day, and so do you Scully. We decided that it was unconscionable to make you deal with that evil alone. The days of martyrdom are gone. You deserve to be happy in this life, as does Mulder."

Scully cocked a brow. "Am I to believe then that you're here to cheer us up?"

Lena laughed, "No. Yes. In a way I guess." She shrugged. "I was actually picked for you two because there was no chance Mulder would fall in love with me, which is precisely what my father was worried about. The fact that I fell in love with you... well, I think my family believed that if that happened it would be unrequited."

Scully smiled slightly, "Whoops."

Lena's deep laugh rang out through the woods. She looked into Dana's eyes and smiled broadly. "Yeah, whoops."

"We broke the rules then?"

"No, no rules. I think maybe we just surprised them a little."

"Your family?"

"My family." Lena started to walk again and Scully took the cue, falling in beside her.

"Thank you."

"You're welcome. Thank you, for asking."

-end-


Chapter Twenty Five

Mulder walked through the woods picking up small branches and sticks. As always his thoughts were quick flashes of disjointed subjects. For anyone except him, that would be a problem.

He, however, thrived on it:

He'd have to ask Lena if there is a way to safely access the other 85% of his brain.

Did he pack socks?

What about hell? He had meant to ask Lena but had forgotten. His father had once posed a question to him when he was old enough to understand. Something along the lines of, "What if this IS hell Fox? What if the life you and I are living now is actually our punishment? This could be hell; look at all the pain our family has endured." He'd have to ask Lena...

He bent down to pick up a branch; Oh - perfect length and diameter. God he loved fire... fire... good...

Boy scout tent fire construction or the lincoln log style of fire building? The lincoln burned longer, but what if they didn't stay up late? It'd be harder to put out.

What's that shiny thing? Just a rock...

His reverie and the wood stacked in his arms made him blind to the fact that he had wandered onto someone else's campsite.

The woman didn't see him at first. She was much too busy screaming obscenities and throwing hot dog buns into the door of an RV to be concerned about him.

"You touch me again and I will kill you Kevin! I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU! I didn't get married to be a punching bag you fucking prick!"

"Hoo wa." Mulder whispered, in true Lena-like fashion, then added a " 'no' means 'no' Kevin..." as he looked around for the offender. Her back was to him so he carefully walked the perimeter of the sight to get a look into the RV. After several long seconds he determined that she was most likely talking to herself.

She turned to the picnic table to grab an open package of hot dogs, "GOD! You are such a DICK!" she screamed, hurling them at the open door. She then threw her hands up and planted herself on the table's bench, breathing heavily.

"Miss?"

She spun on him like a pit bull, angry and surprised. "Ahh!"

"Ahh!" Mulder yelled back. 'I just screamed like a 3rd grader...'

"Who the fuck are you?"

'Dirty blonde', that was his next cognitive thought, her hair is what the cattier of her species would call dirty blonde. "I apologize for scaring you. Are you alright?"

"Who are you?" She was pissed, apparently.

"I heard you yelling when I was..." He gestured toward the woods, speaking slowly, wanting her to get the general 'helpful' feelings he was trying to exude. "I thought you might need help."

"And you were gonna what? Beat him with kindling?"

Not really going well. "Well..." He took several steps toward her and angry bruises around both her eyes came into focus. "Do you need medical attention? Those bruises look pretty bad. I'm camping right over..."

"Fuck off. Please. Just fuck off." She'd turned her back to him again.

Mulder bristled. "The 'please' is a nice touch. Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?"

"That's original."

"Well, I try to always..." He was moving closer still and she turned on him.

"If you take one step closer I'll bitchslap you so hard your whole family falls down."

He laughed, loudly, in spite of himself.

She did not smile.

He put his hands in his jeans pockets and regarded her seriously. "You've been beaten. You're bleeding. You could have a concussion. Let me help you. Or at least let me get you outta here before Kevin comes back."

"You know Kevin?" Her eyes narrowed as much as they could, causing her to wince.

"I heard you yell his name before you started the olympic hot dog toss." Mulder flashed her a crooked smile.

"I don't want your help. I don't need your help. And no amount of your dumb ass smiling is going to change my mind. Now get the hell OUT_OF_HERE."

"Ok, well I'll just gather my sticks and go."

"Thank god." He heard her mumble as he walked back toward the woods. "Dick."

-end-


Chapter Twenty Six

"You've been busy." Lena watched Mulder make his way through the woods toward their RV.

"Yes. Fire. Good." He smiled, dropping a load of kindling by the fire pit. He walked over to where the women sat.

"Scully, we have to start growing our hair out. Mulder's going to need to drag us around by it." Lena looked at Scully across the picnic table.

"Mulder," Scully looked at him in surprise. "Why the sudden interest in campfire building? I thought you hated fire."

"I hate big fire Scully. I'm a master at the little stuff." Mulder put a hand on Lena's shoulder. "Hey. I met one of our neighbors."

"Really?"

"Yeah, but I didn't catch her name."

"Was she nice?"

"Not really, no. But I think she was having a bad day."

"That's too bad."

Mulder shrugged. "When are we going out?"

"As soon as you're ready." Lena said.

He gestured to Scully; "You're wearing that?"

She looked down at her jeans and tee shirt. "Yes. I'm wearing this."

"That came out wrong." He said quickly. "What I really meant was, 'can I wear this?'" He stood back so they could survey him. His jeans were covered with small twig debris.

"Oh yeah, that'll be just fine." Lena smiled at him. "Just wipe yourself off a little, you've got some woods on you."

He wiped some leaves off his pant legs. "Let's go." Mulder gestured in front of himself and Lena and Scully hopped up. The three walked the half-mile to the bar.

The Elbow Room was much bigger inside than it appeared outside. But it was a little hard to tell because the lighting seemed to be excessively dark.

Mulder held his hand in front of his face, "I can't see my hand."

"Better yet, we can't see the floor. And I for one don't want to." Scully added.

The three decided to start out in a booth in front to eat.

"This isn't too bad." Scully craned her neck to look into the back bar area. "You think they dance back there in the dark?"

"That'd be my guess." Lena sipped her drink slowly.

"What exactly is in that thing?" Mulder gestured to her glass.

"A manhattan?" Lena held the glass up to him.

"Is that what you call it?" He leaned over toward her glass and sniffed. "It smells... bad."

"Well let's see. It's got whiskey, vermouth, and some other stuff. Oh, and a cherry."

"Do you hear that?" Mulder tilted his head.

"What?"

"It's the cherry. It's screaming for help."

Lena smiled at him over the rim of her glass. Mulder had ordered a scotch and water and Scully was nursing a glass of white wine that no doubt came from a bottle with a twist off cap.

"How's your wine?" Lena asked.

"It would be great if I were already drunk. I may have to switch to something a little less vague."

"Tequila?" Mulder piped up.

"Perhaps." She raised a brow at him.

Laughter; loud and annoying startled them. It came from the barstool area where a man and woman sat huddled close together.

Mulder narrowed his eyes slightly trying to get a look at the couple. "I think that's our neighbor."

"Seems she's in a better mood now." Scully said, trying to get a look at them through the semi-darkness.

"She seems drunk." Lena added.

"The big guy must be Kevin."

"You know him?" Scully was surprised.

"No." Mulder turned his attention back to his table. "She was yelling at him when we met."

"Was he yelling back?" Scully's expression went from casual interest to concern.

"No, he wasn't there. She was cursing like a sailor."

The women stared at him, both aware that there was more to the story.

"I think he beat her."

Concern accelerated to active concern.

"She was screaming about not being a punching bag anymore. I think it may be classic battered woman syndrome. They appear to be in the 'Honeymoon' phase now." He gestured towards the bar at the kissing couple.

"Maybe that's not Kevin." Scully said.

They heard the woman give a quick admonition, presumably at being tickled, "Kevin, quit it! I'm serious. I'll pee!"

"What did she say to you when you approached her?" Lena said.

"She told me to fuck off."

Lena nodded slightly, "I see."

The waitress delivered their food and the talking stopped for a while. Every now and then the noise from the bar became louder, but never angry. It was just laughter, for the most part.

Scully ordered a gin and tonic to replace the wine. Mulder and Lena both had another too. By the time the meal was over those drinks were gone as well, and they were on a third round.

"Watch me ladies, if I turn blue or start to look woozy it's the beef." Mulder whispered. "Take me to the nearest hospital and call my next of kin."

"We are your next of kin." Scully said, smiling at him.

Mulder favored her with a broad smile of his own.

A small man came out from behind the bar carrying a large box with much difficulty.

"Where those records?" Lena asked as he passed their table.

Scully looked at her smiling; "I think so."

"So we'll be dancing to 'Saturday Night Fever'?" Lena couldn't keep the laughter out of her voice.

"Oh my god." Scully said simply. "Welcome to New Buffalo."

People started to trickle into the ElbowRoom. They were an eclectic crowd. Some obviously from New Buffalo; others looked like they were in from Chicago for the weekend. Soon enough the place started to get packed and the three moved from their front table to a small round table in the back of the bar. They were just a few feet from the dance floor. The view was perfect.

Mulder excused himself to go to the bathroom.

Lena leaned toward Scully, her mouth a hair's width from her ear. The contact made Scully's eyes shut of their own volition and she felt butterflies float gently through her stomach. "Think they have the french sex song?"

"God I hope so." Her voice came out in a whisper. How long had it been since Lena had touched her? A full day? She knew she should have jumped her in the woods...

"Yes, you should have."

Scully thought, 'would you have let me?'

"Ohhh." Lena's tongue grazed her earlobe. "Absolutely."

Lena sat back on her stool and Scully opened her eyes. They stared at each other.

'How am I going to keep my hands off you tonight?' Scully didn't speak aloud, she didn't need to.

"Who says you have to?" Lena whispered.

'But Mulder...'

"Afraid we'll have trouble keeping quiet?" Lena looked over her shoulder toward Mulder as he made his way around people toward them.

'Yes'.

"That was an event." Mulder smiled as he sat down. "This place is packed."

The music had been playing for a while when a six headed light fixture on the ceiling of the room suddenly spun into action. The bodies on the dance floor were illuminated in multi-colored brilliance.

"Very classy." Lena said.

"Hey, there's my good friend Kevin. He's quite a dancer." Mulder gestured to the middle of the dance floor where a large man danced in a style akin to a seizure.

"I don't know whether to clap and scream, 'CLEAR!' and set to him with the paddles." Lena was talking to Mulder but she could hear Scully's thoughts clearly as resonated in her mind.

'Touch your neck for me.' Scully's voice, low and full of promise in her mind was undoing her.

Lena looked over at her, questioning.

'The hollow of your neck. Run your fingers over it. Please.'

Lena glanced at Mulder and saw he was engrossed elsewhere. She reached up to her neck and let two of her fingers trail from her chin to her throat slowly, staring into Scully's eyes all the while.

'Mmmm, I love that spot.'

Warmth spread across her cheeks and her eyes slid shut as she touched the hollow of her throat, imaging Scully's finger...

"You ok?" Mulder touched her elbow.

Her eyes snapped opened and she looked at Scully, who was looking now to the dance floor, smiling slightly.

"Yeah, I'm fine, just a little tipped I guess."

"Tipped? As in tipsy?" Lena nodded at him. "Good, dance with me." Mulder grabbed her hand and pulled her out on the floor.

It was a slow song and Mulder wrapped his arms around her, holding her close. "I'm having fun Lena."

"I'm glad." She smiled up at him.

"Me too."

They swayed close to their RV neighbors and Mulder nodded slightly at the woman.

She recognized him through an alcoholic haze and whispered into Kevin's ear, and as with most excessively drunk people, her whisper was actually a yell. "It's him," she said in a loud hiss.

"Who?" Kevin turned toward them. He was startlingly ugly. Stop-a-clock ugly.

Lena and Mulder recoiled slightly in surprise. Lena whispered an inadvertent 'damn'.

The woman continued, "The guy! You know, the guy in our campsite?"

"The one who talked to you? When I wasn't there?" The words were thick and hard to understand, but Mulder made them out none the less and started to bristle at Kevin's connotation.

He whispered to Lena, "Let's go sit down."

She nodded and they were making their way back to the table when Kevin grabbed onto the back of Mulder's tee shirt.

Mulder stopped and looked at Lena, wincing and shaking his head slightly but not turning around. "Is it him?"

Lena nodded. "Fraid so."

"Does he look mad?" Mulder continued.

"And really drunk." Lena said.

Mulder turned in place slowly. Kevin still had hold of his shirt and he got twisted up in the process. "Let go of my shirt Kevin."

Kevin was startled by Mulder's use of his name and let go of the shirt.

Mulder stared at the man with open disgust. "You're big but you're drunk. I could beat the hell out of you." He looked past Kevin to the woman. "Seems to me there's been too many punches thrown today already."

Recognition spread slowly on the woman's face. She waited a beat and then took Kevin by the upper arm. "Come on baby. He's not worth it."

Safely back at the table the group took a vote and decided that dancing would be best left on their 'to do' list for a different town. They gathered up their coats and made their way back to the campsite.

Mulder had a fire going quickly and they sat in a small circle around it, each seemingly lost in their own thoughts.

Lena spoke up first, "How does a brandy sound?"

"Really good." Scully answered. Mulder nodded in agreement and Lena went inside the RV to retrieve the brandy and some plastic cups.

"You okay Mulder?" Scully asked across the fire pit.

"Yeah. I was just thinking about our neighbors."

Scully shrugged slightly, "It's sad."

He nodded. "I understand the syndrome. To a point. I mean, I understand the dynamics that result in a woman being in that particular cycle of abuse. What I don't understand is why she treated me so badly."

"She was mean to you?"

"Mean isn't the half of it Scully. She told me more than once to fuck off."

Scully shrugged. "Maybe she was afraid that she'd be in more danger if she did engage you. Maybe Kevin is the jealous type."

"That could be."

Lena came out of the RV with bottle and cups in hand. "Here you go kids. Something to help you sleep."

"Where do you two want me, speaking of sleeping?" Mulder looked at Lena.

"Ummm." She stammered and looked to Scully for help.

"You're already set up in the back room aren't you?" She was on the verge of stammering as well.

"My bag is in there but I can move it." Mulder may have known this was uncomfortable for them, but if he did, he hid it well.

"No." Lena followed up, "That's okay, we can sleep in the overhead bed."

"You sure?" Mulder looked at Scully.

She nodded, "Yeah, that'll work out fine." She looked toward Lena nervously and changed the subject. "Mulder and I were talking about our neighbors."

"Really? Did you come up with a plan?"

Scully was confused. "Plan? For what purpose?"

"To get her out of there." Lena said emphatically, as if they had missed the obvious.

-end-


Chapter Twenty Seven

"Why don't we sleep on it?" Lena asked them. "Kevin's too drunk tonight to hurt anybody. He's sleeping now, I believe. We can come up with a plan in the morning."

"Why is this any of our business?" Mulder looked at her stifling a yawn.

"Because he'll kill her if we don't do something." Lena said gravely.

"Oh." Mulder's brows went up. "How we gonna get her out of there if," another yawn overwhelmed him and he let it rip, "she hates us?"

"I do not know grasshopper." Lena slid down further in her seat.

"Well then, Mr. Fu, I'm off to bed. Let me know tomorrow would ya?"

"You got it." Lena smiled at him as he got up on tired legs and headed toward the RV.

"Good night."

"Night." Scully called to him.

They sat in silence for a second or two after Mulder had disappeared into the RV.

"That was a dirty trick you played on me Ms. Scully."

"What trick was that?" Scully smiled demurely at her.

"The 'make Lena touch herself' trick."

Scully looked at her, narrowed her eyes, and then turned her gaze back to the fire. "Protest all you want, I think you liked it."

Lena said nothing for a second. She took a deep breath and stood up, holding out her hand to Scully. "I need to take you to bed now."

Scully laughed lightly and reached out for Lena's hand. Her tone of voice was teasing whisper as they walked to the door, "See, I knew you liked it."

"I was embarrassed." Lena said with mock sincerity.

"Sure you were."

"Humiliated."

"Uh huh."

"I felt violated."

"Then why is your hand on my ass?"

Lena laughed.

Scully stood in front of the RV door facing Lena and ran a finger briefly over the dark haired woman's lower lip. "Dork." She whispered.

Both women noted, with much relief, that Mulder's door was shut. They changed into pajamas and climbed into the bed over the driver's seat.

Scully's fingers immediately went to the hollow spot on Lena's neck. "How quiet can you be?"

"No promises." Lena whispered.

Scully's hand snaked up the front of Lena's pajama top. "Could you be quiet if I did this?" She whispered, running a palm over an already stiffened nipple and receiving a deep sigh in return. She lingered there for several minutes, switching from one nipple to the other, making Lena all but writhe on the thin mattress.

"How bout if I did this?" Her hand slid down to the outside of Lena's pajama bottoms and she ran it over the fabric between her legs. The lift of Lena's hips into her palm made her heart jump.

"I think I'd have a little trouble with that last one."

Scully stopped moving her hand. "Should I stop?"

"No no no no no." Lena's fingers melded to the back of Scully's and she returned her hand to its most recent position, pressing it firmly against her.

Scully smiled into her kiss.

In the back bedroom Mulder strained to hear, and =not hear= the muffled voices. He lay in bed on his back, feeling more than a little dirty. 'I can't take this.' He thought. He'd reconciled what he could of his feelings for Scully. Every minute he spent with Lena made him more sure that things were the best this way. But he was human for Christ's sake. They wouldn't really make love with him not 15 feet away. Would they?

His mind cooked up pictures of Scully and Lena in the other room faster than he was able to chastise himself for thinking them. And he was jealous, to be sure, but worse than that he was having what his mother would call 'impure' thoughts. And he couldn't get them out of his head.

He trapped his hands behind him in the small of his back. If he touched himself now he wouldn't be able to look either one of them in the eye the next morning.

Baseball, baseball, baseball...

"Let me help you with that." Lena whispered, pulling at the waistband of her pajamas, lowering them just to her knees. A moan started deep in her throat as Scully began stroking her. Lena's hand went to Scully's pajama bottoms and started to work them down. "I want to touch you Dana."

Mulder grabbed the extra pillow on the bed and wrapped it securely around his ears. 'That was Lena, I'm sure that was Lena...'

Grandma Mulder, dryer lint, small engine repair...

"Oh my god..." It came out much louder than Scully had intended, but the force of the fingers entering her were overwhelming. "That's perfect..."

Mulder's face was molded into a grimace, 'Scully...' he wadded up the comforter and rolled his head into it. He was having trouble breathing...

Lena came too quickly, whispering 'Dana' as she shuddered and rocked against Scully's hand. Scully followed soon after, Lena's words having a strong effect...

Mulder, in an attempt to roll himself up in the mattress, rolled a little too far and fell out of bed.

"Did you hear that?" Lena looked at Scully with alarm.

"Yeah, what was it?"

"Not sure."

"You don't think it was Mulder do you?"

Lena shook her head, "No, he was too tired."

"Hmmmm. Well, it seems to have stopped."

"Yeah."

They straightened their pajamas and snuggled into one another's arms.

Mulder, in the mean time, had very quietly crawled back into bed. He fell asleep rubbing the large bruise on his forehead that could have been much worse had he not been wrapped completely in bedding.

Scully ran her fingers through Lena's hair. "How are we gonna get that woman away from Kevin?"

"I have no idea but we have to think of something. She won't live through the week at this rate."

Scully laid staring at the much too close ceiling. "She doesn't seem to like Mulder too much. She won't listen to him, we can be sure of that."

Lena sighed, "That's true."

"He doesn't seem to like her much either. After the way she treated him I guess I can see why."

"Yeah." Lena paused, "But I think he'll change his mind."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because she's Samantha."

-end-


Chapter Twenty Eight

Lena stood next to the fire pit in the early morning light and dialed her father's number on her cell phone. It was busy. She hung up and paced for a while.

She and Scully had decided not to tell Mulder that the woman was his sister until they had her safely with them. It seemed the best thing would be to tell them at the same time, putting them in the same boat, so to speak. Lena speculated that Samantha had been continually drunk for a lot of months. A sober Samantha would be much easier to get along with, easier to reason with, and frankly, easier to like.

She trembled slightly, the fall air was damp and chilly. She dialed her father's number again. "Hi Dad."

"Hey! You called just in time."

"Oh yeah, why's that?"

She listened to him as she heard the RV door open. It was Scully, looking downright adorable in her sweat pants and sweat shirt. Lena winked at her and she lifted an arm in a half wave. 'Sleepy Scully' was decidedly Lena's favorite. She thought back to the morning at the lake house when Scully had made her way up the steps, all groggy and bed-haired. It warmed her up.

Scully wandered over and sat heavily in a lawn chair. Lena tried to warn her that it was soggy but Scully soon found out on her own, bouncing up off the seat after the ass of her pants was fully saturated. She then went about trying to look at the damage. She pulled on the seat of her sweatpants and turned two full circles trying to get a look at them. Lena had covered the mouthpiece on the phone and laughed out loud.

"What? No dad, I'm not enjoying your pain, I know you're upset. It's just that Dana, well, she just gave herself a butt soaker and now she's in full spin trying to get a look at it."

She listened for a second or two as Scully gave in and sat back down.

"Well, put 'Free Willy' in, that one's got a happy ending."

"Why do you watch those movies when you know they'll end that way?"

"Ok. You do that. I gotta go. Talk to you soon ok?"

"Love you too dad, bye."

She rung off and folded her phone in half, stuffing it into her back pocket. Gesturing to it she said, "My dad, he can't tolerate an unhappy ending. He rents movies and watches them when he's exercising in the morning. If they end badly he has 'Free Willy' cued up to the ending so he can get on with his day on a brighter note." She shook her head.

"My butt is soaked." Scully pouted slightly. The statement set Lena giggling.

"I know honey I tried to warn you but you were too quick for me."

"I put warm clothes on for a reason." Her slight smile was giving her away.

Lena laughed harder. "I know. I'm sorry."

"And you're laughing."

"I can't help it Scully you just look so cute."

"And your butt is dry."

Lena never saw it coming. Scully sprung out of her lawn chair and using her momentum sat Lena down in the one across from her. She sat on Lena's lap, soaking her legs with her wet butt and spoke over her shoulder. "Soggy?"

Lena was in hysterics, "Soggy ain't the half of it!"

Scully got up and turned to face her. "Have we learned our lesson?"

"We've learned a couple. For starters, we've learned a new way to turn on a cell phone."

Scully's face turned from vindication to concern, "Did I hurt you?"

"Absolutely not. You startled the shit out of me, maybe shaved a little time off the life expectancy of the cell phone, but I am definitely not hurt."

"What's the scuffle out here?" Mulder walked down the steps of the RV, a stocking cap on his head which gave him a distinctive cone head shape.

Scully stared at him for several seconds, then spoke up. "It's not nearly that cold Mulder." Her brow shot up. "And that hat lowers your IQ exponentially."

Lena laughed loudly from her spot on the damp lawn chair. "It does have a certain sperm like quality..."

"You two are just hysterical." Mulder mumbled, making his way to a lawn chair. Neither of the women bothered to warn him of the dampness and he was soon planted in Scully's chair.

After a couple seconds with no protest from him Scully looked at Lena and shrugged. "Guess I soaked it all up."

"Can you talk about the hat or is it too personal?" Lena smiled at him and he scowled back.

He pulled at the hat from it's peak and it came off, exposing a purplish bruise. "I hit my head last night."

Lena knew immediately what had happened. She saw the scene in her head as he thought it out. "Ah!" With a hand over her mouth she bent at the waist, hiding her face in her knees.

Scully was confused, "What?" She started at Mulder for a second and saw shame on his face. "Oh no."

He winced and shook his head. "...oh yes..."

"Mulder that was you?"

He mimicked his version of a 12 year old boy who was trying to mimic a younger sister; his head wagged and his mouth contorted, "yes Mulder it was me..."

Scully started to laugh, she tilting her head toward the sky, "oh my god."

Lena lifted her head, "Mulder, I don't know what to say." She shook her head.

"The very LAST thing I want is for you to say a few words about it..."

Lena laughed heartily at that, getting up to put her hand on his shoulder. "It won't happen again Mulder. We're very sorry." She looked to Scully for support.

Scully piped in, "Mulder, I'm really sorry. It was inconsiderate of us to do that."

He opened his mouth to speak and was interrupted by the sound of someone walking through the woods. He turned his head to see the woman he didn't yet know was his sister make her way toward them.

She stopped 5 feet in front of them and addressed Mulder, "That offer for help still open?"

"Always." He said, taken off guard but not missing a beat.

Lena looked at Scully, "Guess we don't have to worry about a plan huh?"

Scully walked toward Samantha surveying her visible cuts and bruises that weren't hidden by clothing. She turned back to them, "Mulder, these are fresh."

"What? The bruises?"

"The bruises, the cuts... it looks like she may have a gash here on her stomach." Scully leaned to touch her and Samantha keeled over.

Mulder was next to her in a flash and they carried her into the RV. Lena set up the kitchen table bed and they laid her gently on it, Scully checking vitals and surveying injuries as they went.

"Ok, she's not in danger. There's a gash in her stomach that looks a little iffy but I think, all and all, we're dealing with some deep bruising. Probably from punches. I'm going to need a more dressings than I've currently got in my bag."

Mulder nodded, then added, "I think I should call the police and have them pick Kevin up."

Lena gestured to Samantha, "What if she decides not to testify."

Samantha spoke through bruised lips. "I will. If you can find him I will."

"What happened?" Mulder leaned toward her, surprised she was able to speak. "What set him off this time?"

"I told him I was leaving. I tried to, but he stopped me. If he hadn't passed out I wouldn't be alive."

Mulder's disgust registered plainly on his face, "This happened last night?"

She nodded, "I passed out after he beat me. When I woke up this morning he was gone, probably ran out of beer." She laughed ironically, "I came over here before he got back. He's probably back now, wondering where the hell I am."

Mulder stood up and made for the door. "I'm going over there to check it out Scully. I'll call the police on the way."

She nodded at him and he headed out. Lena looked up from Samantha. "Why don't you go get some dressing? They probably have general first aid supplies down at that little corner store. I think driving there would be too rough on her."

Scully looked down at Samantha, thinking it over, "Ok." She turned and dug through her medical bag and pulled out her gun.

Lena took a step back, "What's that for?"

"What if Kevin comes here looking for her?"

"I don't think he will."

"Well, take this anyway, leave it on the counter if you want to, I don't care. I'd just feel better if you had it."

"Scully, it's a short walk. You'll be gone 20 minutes at the most." Lena smiled at her, then touched her cheek lightly. "We'll be fine."

Scully smiled back, "We will, won't we?"

"Oh yeah, now's the time. The family is coming together." Lena's eyes shone light green, then blue.

Scully mouthed the words 'I love you', grabbed her wallet and headed out the door.

-end-


Chapter Twenty Nine

It took her forever to find what she needed at the store. Who puts first aid supplies next to beef jerky? She paid for her pile of bandages and headed out the door of the store. The sun had since come up and the blue sky against changing leaves was beautiful.

Scully moved to the side of the road as soon as she saw the ambulance. She watched with curiosity as it turned into the entrance to the campground and drove around the corner, two police cars in it's wake.

No siren. She knew from experience that when an ambulance driver put on the flashing lights but didn't run the siren that someone was already dead.

No siren, no rush.

"What the hell?" She mumbled aloud. She started jogging after them, her mind working. She jogged the half mile to their campsite and felt her heart stop when she saw the emergency crew make it's way into their RV.

Two police officers roughly escorted a handcuffed Kevin to a police car.

Stopping at the mouth of their campsite she looked around wildly for Lena or Mulder.

Relief washed over her as she spotted Mulder, her free hand going to her heart as she sighed with relief. He's ok. He's right there.

Samantha stood behind him. Her face was a mask of tears and mascara.

Scully took another deep breath.

Lena.

Where was Lena?

She felt the blood run out of her face and started to walk, the bag of first aid supplies falling forgotten to the ground.

Scully walked toward Mulder, focusing with her whole being on his expression. Looking for something in it...

She didn't look toward the police cars again.

She walked past the crowd of people from other campsites, not even registering them.

He saw her finally. She quickly appraised the look on his face.

And then she started to run.

All sound seemed to stop.

She couldn't hear her own footfalls anymore.

Her legs went numb.

She was on him before she'd realized she'd even been running. Her hands came to his face. She held it, watching his lips move.

What was he saying? What?

"Kevin was here while we were gone Scully." Mulder's voice trembled. Blue and red flashing lights played across his features.

She didn't understand. She put the trembling fingers of her hand on his lips.

"Lena's gone..." Mulder choked on the words.

Her knees gave out and he clung to her.

"He killed her Scully..." Mulder held her up under her arms. Thick tears streamed down his face, his wet lashes clung together, his mouth trembled. "She wouldn't shoot him, she wouldn't use the gun."

Scully was panting in his arms; her body shook violently. She was hyperventilating. He lowered her to the ground and squatted next to her. Her body was crumpled; all of her weight on one hip. With a hand to her cheek he turned her head to look into her eyes.

empty

"Oh god Scully." Mulder grimaced and felt a sob build deep in his chest. Another torrent of tears streamed down his face and he hugged her roughly to him. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry...."

-end-


Chapter Thirty

In the end it was Mulder who had packed some things for her and took her to her mother's house.

She had estimated that she'd spent 4 days in bed, getting up only to go the bathroom.

Her only memory of the trip was twisting her ankle on the steps of her mother's porch. She didn't feel it, but Mulder insisted on looking at it once he got her upstairs and lying down. She remembered vaguely his asking her mother for a bag of ice.

As she lay in her childhood bed she drifted off to sleep with the mumbled voices of Mulder and her Mom in the kitchen. The last thing she heard was Mulder mention Lena. Several hours later, the sun having already set, she was awoken by the sound of the front door opening and closing. She heard Mulder start his car and drive away.

Her mother appeared in the bedroom door. She walked to the bed and sat down, brushing a strand of hair from her daughter's forehead.

"Dana, honey. I'm so sorry."

Scully's voice cracked, "She was an angel mom." She didn't know if her mother took the words literally or not. She supposed it didn't really matter. She could see her mother's heart breaking for her and drifted back to sleep with that image in her mind.

Mulder sat on his couch staring at nothing. He'd gotten back from Mrs. Scully's after dropping Dana off and had been sitting there, staring, for nearly an hour.

All they'd been through... all of the times they were close to death... all of it had ended in a simple domestic assault casualty.

He squeezed his eyes shut. According to Samantha it had happened quickly.

Lena had tried to block Kevin from getting to Samantha and he cut a deep gash in her abdomen with a hunting knife. She'd lived long enough to try and hand the gun to Samantha. When Samantha saw the gun she yelled for Lena to shoot, not understanding why she didn't. Mulder was there seconds later, but not in time to keep Lena from bleeding to death. She had slipped away as he wrestled Kevin away from his sister.

He knew now, of course, who Samantha was. They had years of healing to do together, but right now he just couldn't work up the ability to care. Scully was just short of catatonic. That was his main concern now, how to get Scully back.

He lowered his chin to his chest. He glanced at his fish and remembered their first fishing trip with Lena; the look on her face when he'd flipped that fish at her. And instead of laughing Mulder started to cry.

She supposed they'd had a funeral for Lena, but if they did it wasn't mentioned to her. She was glad of that, being certain she wouldn't have been able to bear it.

Her mother came in with the occasional bowl of soup or hot tea. Scully would sit up and eat or drink. She'd talk as little as possible. She thought it was probably just enough to keep her from being hospitalized.

Some time later, she imagined a couple days but she wasn't sure, there was a knock at the door that woke her. She pictured Mulder or Skinner, but after not being able to determine who it was she shut her eyes. Sleep seemed to be the only relief from the grief and she welcomed it.

Mrs. Scully peeked out a side window but didn't recognize the older man at the door. She opened the door but left the chain in place.

"May I help you?" His eyes were so beautiful...

"Mrs. Scully, my name is Steve Conhouse."

"Conhouse? Oh! Lena's father?" She shut the door and unhooked the chain then quickly opened the door all the way. " Please," she stepped aside, "please come in." He walked through the door and she took his hand. "Fox told me about you. I'm so sorry for your loss."

To her surprise a tear rolled down his face. "Thank you."

Mrs. Scully took hold of his arm and led him toward the kitchen, thinking to herself, 'What am I smelling? Is it roses?' "Come and sit down. Would you like some coffee?"

"That would be wonderful." He sat at the kitchen table and watched her pour water into the coffee machine. "Mrs. Scully, I need to talk to you about something."

She turned to face him. "Yes?"

He took a deep breath and smiled at her. "Let me start by saying that I can't tolerate an unhappy ending."

-end-


Chapter Thirty One

Mr. Conhouse had excused himself during their four hour conversation only once. He asked Mrs. Scully if she would mind him bringing Wanda in from his car, explaining that she was the best behaved dog in the free world and the carpets would be safe.

She agreed readily and minutes later the big blonde dog sat next to Mrs. Scully's chair with her furry head on her lap. Mrs. Scully commented that Wanda looked much too thin. And she was, having refused her kibble and even table scraps over the last few days. No one realized during the killing that Wanda was on the floor with Lena. She had spent Lena's last seconds licking at the wound in her stomach. Her frantic attempts at stopping the flow of blood >from the wound were futile, and in the end she laid her head on Lena's chest, licking her chin and nuzzling her neck. A EMS worker had to call for help to get Wanda off of Lena so they could look at her. By that time Lena was already gone and Wanda was completely devastated.

Mrs. Scully ran her hand over Wanda's big soft ears and listened as Mr. Conhouse told her what, on any other day of the year, she would consider too incredible to believe.

Too incredible if she hadn't seen his eyes change color as his spoke, or if she hadn't smelled oranges and flowers all afternoon. Too incredible if he hadn't taken her hand so she could feel the pain that radiated through him, or if he hadn't answered her questions before she'd even put voice to them.

His story would have been too incredible had her daughter not been wasting away with grief in the bedroom over their heads.

The petting stopped at a turning point in the conversation and Wanda loped out of the kitchen. She could smell Scully somewhere here and knew too that the smell of grief was in the air.

She turned the corner to the steps and made her way up. At Scully's door she stopped and sniffed the air, making sure she'd found her and walked to the bed side. With her muzzle she gently nudged at Scully's limp hand.

Her eyes opened and she looked at Wanda, in seconds her eyes filled with tears.

"Ohhhh." The word came out on the light breath of a surprised sigh. "Wanda." Her voice was gravelly and soft from lack of use.

Wanda dropped her head and let Scully rub her neck. Scully scooted over on the mattress and patted the spot next to her. Wanda hopped up gently and fitted herself into the 'c' of Scully's body.

"Wanda", her voice filled with pain, tears flowing freely now, "you're so thin."

"She won't eat." Mr. Conhouse said softly from his spot in the bedroom doorway. He dropped his head and wiped his eyes with the heel of his hand, then brought them back up to look at her. "I can't get her to eat."

Scully stared at him through blurry eyes. She held her hand out from the bed, chin trembling, and Steve crossed the room to hold it.

He sat for a minute, his face crumbling in front of her as he started to cry.

Dana tried to speak, "I miss her so much..." she could hardly finish the sentence, her anguish gripping her firmly.

He breathed out harshly, his lips wet with tears, "I know..."

She sat up on the bed and embraced him.

-end-


Chapter Thirty Two

Dana had cried herself to sleep in his arms. Her pain and his had mingled in his mind, pushing him to the brink of insanity. He thought he might die from grief as he sat stroking her hair. Eventually he'd left her and walked downstairs to finish his conversation with Mrs. Scully.

He'd left them both with a promise, and drove many miles over the speed limit to get to the place he thought he'd be most likely to keep it.

Steve pulled into the driveway at the lake house and got out of his car. He opened the back door and Wanda hopped out.

They walked together into the house. In the kitchen he dumped the uneaten food out of Wanda's bowl and filled it with new. She sniffed at it for a second then loped away to the carpet behind the couch, sighing loudly as she lay down her head across her paws.

"Look at this!" Steve gestured to Wanda and yelled toward the ceiling. "This is bullshit!" He dropped his arms in disgust and walked over to the large window. He ran his hand over his mouth and chin, thinking. Turning back to the open room he shut his eyes. He had one shot at it and he was trembling at the thought.

Screwing up his courage he began to speak.

"This isn't right. And I'm not talking about just an unhappy ending here; I'm talking about the whole deal. Not only was she my daughter, she was the one sent to make Mulder and Scully believe. She was here to change the course of their lives."

He took a deep breath; worried for a second that he was being too belligerent; then went on anyway.

"And THAT is exactly what happened! By taking her away you've most certainly changed their lives! They're ...shattered. I'M SHATTERED, the damn DOG IS SHATTERED!"

He sat heavily on the couch and put his head in his hands. Quietly he spoke again, "I need her, they need her. Could it be that you've made a mistake here? I've lost a lot of people in my life, each death brought me sadness but it also brought me tremendous joy. There are times when I was even prone to jealousy when I thought of the rapture they were experiencing. There is no joy within me today. Something's wrong."

He stopped speaking. His brow furrowed.

"Is that it? Is it my fault? Are you punishing me because of my jealousies and pettiness?" He covered his mouth with his palm, holding back the sob that was working it's way out of him.

"If that is the case accept my forgiveness and my life in return. Bring her back..." he sobbed loudly.

"... please... bring her back. And if you can't bring her back... please... take me too. I don't want to be here without her. Give me that... please... at least take me too."

His eyes now swollen he turned to his side. He lay down on the couch curled up in the fetal position. As he fell asleep he murmured the word 'please' over and over again.

When he woke the sun was down. He rubbed his eyes and sat up.

"Daddy, don't do this."

He flinched violently, looking frantically around the room to see where Lena's voice was coming from. It came from the chair directly across from him. His daughter sat with her hands in her lap looking at him through concerned eyes.

"I have to."

She shook her head, "No. You don't. I won't allow it."

"I want to."

She started to cry. "What if I don't want to come back without you being there when I do?"

His lip trembled and he relief shown plainly on his face. He spoke softly. "I need to."

She stared at him for long seconds. Her hand went out to him. Pain was clear and palpable on her features, "Don't."

"It's my wish Lena, I'm ready to go."

"Daddy, please..." She pleaded with him as he stood up from the couch.

"You've got a lot more to do Lena. If you need me you know where to find me." A broad smile graced his face. His lovely eyes shown bright through blue and green. He knelt at her feet, taking her hand in his. "Take care of your step-mom. Explain it to her if you can. She's going to need your help Lena. And make sure to tell her that I loved her."

"Don't go..." She cried like a child.

"I have to honey, I made a promise. I want to..." He laid his head in her lap. His breathing slowed, his heartbeat was faint against her knees.

"...please..." she whispered.

"I love you..." his voice was faint.

She ran a hand through his hair. "I love you too daddy." She laid herself over him, hugging around his back.

-end-


Chapter Thirty Three

"Mrs. Scully?"

"Yes?" She held the phone to her ear and tried to recognize the voice. She'd hoped it was Mr. Conhouse. She hadn't heard from him in the two days since he'd been there.

"It's Fox Mulder. I have some bad news."

"What is it?"

"When I got home today there was a message on my machine from Mrs. Conhouse, Lena's stepmother. She said that she'd gone to check on Steve at the lake house and found him collapsed. Apparently he had a heart attack when he was there alone..."

Her hand came to her mouth in surprise, "Oh no."

Mulder steadied his voice, "He's gone. I don't have all the details or any information on the other arrangements. I haven't called Mrs. Conhouse back yet but I thought I'd call you first so you could tell Dana."

"Oh Fox, do you think I should?"

"I think she'd want to know."

Mulder hung up the phone. He decided to wait and call Mrs. Conhouse back later.

He pulled a beer from the fridge and sat on his couch. wondering how much more Scully could possibly take. Maybe he should do what she was doing.

He laid down on his couch and tried in vain to sleep.

****************************************************

Mrs. Scully made her way up the steps to Dana's room. She crossed to the bed and sat down, taking her daughter's hand.

"Dana, honey?"

Scully opened her eyes to look at her mother. The expression told her something was wrong. She roused herself and sat up, "What is it Mom?"

"Steve. He's had a heart attack." She paused, not wanting to finish. "He was at the lake house alone and... he died honey."

Scully shut her eyes tightly, "Oh no." She was caught in a fresh wave of grief. "I don't understand this..."

Mrs. Scully wrapped her arm around her daughter, but felt her go rigid suddenly. She looked into her eyes and saw Dana look more alert than she had since she'd gotten there.

Scully pushed herself away from her mother gently and threw back the covers. She went directly to her bag and started to rifle through it, throwing shoes and pants toward the bed.

"Dana?" Her mother was baffled, "What is it?"

She turned toward her mother wide eyed. "The last thing he said to me mom, he thought I was asleep."

"What?"

"He said he promised to bring her back."

Mrs. Scully was very concerned that her daughter had finally had too much, "Dana? He's gone." She watched as Dana ignored her and got dressed. She followed her downstairs and her daughter nearly knocked her down on her way out the door with the car keys.

Scully got into her mother's car and revved the engine. She pulled out of the driveway without another word to her mother. She'd take of the 'thank you's' and apologies later.

As she sped down the highway she replayed Steve's words back in her head over and over again. He had thought she was sleeping as he stroked her hair.

"Dana, I promise you I'll bring her back, even if it kills me."

-end-


Chapter Thirty Four

Scully pulled into Lena's driveway and turned off the car's engine. She sat for a couple seconds, willing her heart to slow down it's wild beating. She walked up to the front door and opened it slowly. Wanda padded up to her as she came in the entry way.

Scully smiled to herself and took in a deep breath, at the same time trying to calm her nerves.

Wanda didn't look nearly as thin as she had two days before.

Scully walked to the large window and looked out to the lake. Within seconds she was surrounded by the smell of oranges and cinnamon. She felt Lena's arm around her waist. The weight of Lena's chin rested on her shoulder. She looked down at the hand that gently caressed her stomach and covered it with both of her own.

"Do you miss him?" Scully whispered.

"I haven't had the chance." Lena's soft voice soothed Scully completely. "He's been floating through my mind since he left, telling me how incredible it is..."

"Is he happy?"

"He's enraptured... he's whole."

They stood in silence watching the sun set in tones of blue and red.

"Don't do that again." Scully whispered, closing her eyes.

"I won't."

The end.


END OF CONHOUSE I


Conhouse II - Chapter 1

Mulder drifted in and out of a restless sleep for nearly two hours. Towards the end of the second hour his head had begun to pound. He was up briefly to take some aspirin, then he resumed his position on the couch.

He considered calling Mrs. Scully to check on his partner's condition, but then thought better of it having realized that he'd called her only four or so hours ago. Nothing could have changed in the time. He stared blankly at his apartment wall and thought of Scully laying in her childhood bed. Her grief was evident on her face even as she slept.

Nausea rolled in his stomach as he remembered the RV park. "She's gone Scully. She wouldn't use the gun." He heard his own voice tell her... "He killed her." Scully had collapsed in his arms.

And then the message on his answering machine just this morning; "Mr. Mulder, this is Judy Conhouse..."

He felt for her. She had to tell an answering machine that her husband had died of a heart attack, alone, in his dead daughter's lake house.

And could he please call her back?

Absolutely not. No offense intended, Mrs. Conhouse, but if I hear one more word I will scream until I'm dead. OR, better yet, I'll drive to Mrs. Scully's, shoot Dana as she sleeps and then lay myself down right next to her and put a bullet into my own head. Because to be perfectly fucking honest that sounds much better than laying here doing nothing...

... or getting up and not having Scully and Lena with me ...

... losing what was turning out to be the most honest, unconditional and exquisite family I have ever hoped to have ...

... spending endless days with a sister I've looked for my entire life, who, as it turns out is WHITE TRASH and quite possibly even MORE fucked up than I am ...

Then he found himself speaking aloud, "Am I still one of your 'favorites' Mr. Conhouse?" He chuckled a little as he imagined Steve saying, "No Fox, you're just a little too fucked up for the likes of me now. Try and get a grip son."

"I don't think so sir - I'm a little beyond that now." He shut his eyes and drifted off to sleep.

-end-


Conhouse II - Chapter 2

Scully picked up Lena's phone and began to dial.

"Scully wait." Lena turned to look at her from her spot on the couch. "What are you going to say to him?"

Scully's brows went up and she shook her head at Lena's question. Somewhat startled she said; "How bout· 'Mulder, Lena's alive'?"

"No no no honey." Lena waved her hands in front of her and closed her eyes. "Let's think about this a second." She took a deep breath. "Why don't you just tell him to come over here."

Scully frowned. "Huh?"

Lena shook her head vigorously; "Yeah, yeah· he'll think you've lost it if you just blurt it out like that. We've got to do this slowly."

"Why would doing it slowly make a difference? Either way it's going to be a shock to his system."

Lena looked at her seriously, "Ya think?"

Scully laughed outright, "Ah =yeah=." She put her hand to her forehead and rubbed gently, then with a heavy sigh she hung up the phone and walked to the couch. She sat down next to Lena and tucked her head into Lena's neck. "Dork." She said, emphasizing the 'k'.

Lena laughed aloud.

"So." Scully tilted her head up slightly. "You want me to call Mulder and tell him to come over here so you can spring out of the kitchen and scare the crap out of him? Am I getting warm?"

Lena dropped her head and laughed. "No. I thought I could go down to the boat while you explained things to him. Then, after it appears to have sunken in, you can point at me down there fishing and say, 'SEE?'"

"Brilliant plan Conhouse." Scully said as she stood up abruptly. "Grab your overnight bag, we're going to Mulder's." She extended her hand and Lena took it.

"It's best isn't it?" Lena replied, standing up.

"Yeah. He's probably in bad shape." Scully's eyes softened.

Lena made her way to the steps; "Rustle up some kibble for the white dog would ya? She seems to have regained her appetite. I'll be back up in a second and we can go."

"Hurry." Scully said, shooing her down the steps.

-end-


Conhouse II - Chapter 3

Scully stood outside of Mulder's apartment door with key in hand. She ran the fingers of her other hand over the soft skin of Lena's cheek. "Ready?"

"Yeah." Lena whispered.

Slowly Scully unlocked the door and opened it. The entryway was dark but she could see Mulder lying prone across his couch. His back was to them.

"Is he asleep?"

"I think so." Scully whispered back as she made her way into the entry. When Lena was clear she shut the door behind them. "I should probably be the first one he sees." She said, whispering to Lena over her shoulder.

"Agreed." Was the quiet reply.

Scully crossed to the couch and laid a cautious hand on Mulder's shoulder, "Mulder?"

He roused slowly, turning. "Scully?" He didn't open his eyes.

"I'm here." She sat on the edge of the couch.

"Are you ok?" He said.

"Yeah. I'm okay. Can you open your eyes for me?" She tilted her head as concern furrowed her brow. Lena stood watching from the entryway, being careful to stay in the dark.

"Will you still be here when I do?" Mulder whispered as a tear streamed toward his ear.

Lena could see Scully's eyes shine with tears. "Of course I will." Lena cried along with them, silently. She looked up to the ceiling and squinted her eyes to clear the tears away.

Mulder's hands snaked around Scully's waist and he hugged her tightly to him. She hugged him back, resting her head atop his.

"I miss her Scully. I know you do too... but god I miss her."

Lena's heart lurched in her chest.

"I know you do..." Scully whispered to him. "I know..."

Mulder sat up slightly and rubbed his eye with the heel on his hand. "Christ." He said simply. He took a few seconds to pull himself together and then looked suddenly confused. "Wait... why are you here? I mean, what got you out of bed?"

"What?"

"From your mom's? The last time I saw you... well..." He stopped there. He was afraid to remind her, she supposed, for fear of seeing her back in that state.

She looked to the carpet for inspiration, running her tongue across the inside of her bottom teeth as she tried to think of a good way to explain. Finally she looked him in the eye and said, "Mulder, I need to tell you something."

He stared at her blankly for a moment, then his eyes squinted slightly and his head tilted toward her. He leaned in some and tried to read her expression. Seeing something there he then looked down and to the side as though he were considering some silent piece of information. At last he took a quick smell of the air around him.

A slow smile spread across his face and he addressed Scully with a sudden urgency. "Where is she Scully?" His eyes darted around the room. He grabbed her by the shoulders and looked at her intently, "Where?"

Lena stepped from the entryway, head down as she looked at him. "I'm right here darlin'."

Mulder stared wide eyed at her for a beat then threw his head back and let out a noise akin to a sob and a laugh all at once. Tears now streamed down his face one after the other. He stared at her where she stood just inside his living room and shook his head. He said something but it was so soft neither Scully nor Lena could make it out.

She took a tentative step closer to the couch, "What?"

He raised his hand toward her and she walked to him, taking his hand in hers. She sat down gently next to him and looked into Scully's eyes over his back. He stared at her hand and ran his fingers over the top of it as if to make sure he really felt it. "I said..." He raised his eyes to hers, "where have you been?"

She put her arm around him and held Scully's hand over his shoulder, holding his hand in her lap also. Smiling at him gently she said, "I died Mulder. I died and I was... gone. But my father can't stand an unhappy ending..."

Mulder lowered his eyes back to their joined hands. "Steve. He cut a deal didn't he, a trade?"

"Something like that, yes." Lena looked over at Scully and squeezed her hand. She turned her attention back to Mulder, freeing her hand from his and running it over his stubbled chin. "When's the last time you ate anything Mulder?"

"I honestly can't remember." He said, "I think it may have been during the camping trip." He then turned to face her fully and lifted his arms. Cautiously he began to study Lena with soft touches of his hands. He felt her hair, the skin of her ears, her cheekbones...

Scully was worried about his physical condition, "Mulder that was nearly a week ago." She felt around to his ribs. "You're wasting away."

"I didn't have anything here..." His voice trailed off as his fingers ran across Lena's eyebrows.

"Come on, we've got a few days of vacation left." Lena tilted his chin up toward her as he ran his fingers down her neck; "We're taking you back to my house Mulder. I have food, I have wine... "

"You have a pulse." Mulder said joyfully. His brows shot up and a silly grin spread on his face.

Lena laughed as she helped Scully haul him up into a standing position. They made their way out of his apartment and down to the car.

-end-


Conhouse II - Chapter 4

"Do you remember any of it?"

Mulder posed the question to Lena as the three of them sat in her living room in front of the fire, eating from a large serving tray full of nearly every cheese and fruit known to mankind.

"Mulder," Scully held his hand as he reached for a slice of apple, "I know you're starved but you need to slow down. You could damage your system if you pack yourself after fasting for so many days in a row."

He frowned slightly and reached for his wineglass.

She added, "I can't recommend you drink a whole lot of that either." When he started to protest she added tersely, "Dehydration."

He sighed, giving in and turned his attention back to Lena. She stared at the fire for a few moments and then, "I remember feelings. I remember not being alone."

"Do you know who was with you?"

Lena smiled at him. She knew the answer he was expecting. His thoughts were mingling with her own in her mind. She wished she could recount to him the images he was sharing with her.

Light, beauty, cherubs with wings...

Who knew Mulder believed in such things? He seemed to be such a religious skeptic, and sometimes almost anti-religious.

"There was light, in the beginning. I could feel it on my skin, although I don't think I ever saw it." She contemplated the fire again before continuing. "I was traveling, moving, with purpose. And then..."

"Your Dad?" Scully said.

Lena looked pained. "No."

A chill ran across Mulder's shoulders and he pulled the blanket off of the back of the couch, draping it around himself.

"I guess I felt," She tried to think of the right term. "Yanked."

"Yanked?" Mulder didn't like the way this conversation was going.

"Yeah, like I was being violently redirected."

"What do you think it was?" Scully asked, her hand drifting to Lena's knee. A move that didn't go unnoticed by Mulder.

"I think it wasn't good. Not hell, nothing like that. It was more like some kind of..." she shook her head, a sour look on her face, "I don't know." She said finally, dismissing the thought with a weak wave of her hand.

Scully squeezed Lena's knee, "Are you alright?"

Lena sighed, "I didn't want to say anything before." She looked gravely at Mulder then turned her eyes to Scully. "I didn't know for certain what happened. I felt like I was floating, up... to heaven I guess. Then I got yanked... by... something. I was being 'yanked' when I felt my father call me back."

The agents stared at her. Mulder asked, "What's wrong, something's wrong isn't it?"

Lena was silent for a moment. She stared at the coffee table and squinted her eyes. She shut them and continued, "When we got back here today I noticed that some things had been moved around. Nothing huge really, just small things. My address book, for one, was on the kitchen counter, open. I usually keep it on my desk." She opened her eyes and looked at Mulder.

Mulder didn't understand her worry over something so small, "Could you have moved it yourself? Or Scully maybe moved it?"

She smiled at him slightly, shaking her head. "No."

Scully started to feel frightened. "Lena, spill it."

Lena stared her in the eyes, "I don't think I came back alone."

Startled, Scully said quickly, "Could you be more specific?"

Lena, relieved from telling the agents what had happened was suddenly animated, "Well, okay, I never get much of anything from Wanda, ya know, she's a dog right? I sometimes get images of the lake from her, or feelings of love, an occasional squirrel..."

The agents nodded.

"Well tonight I'm rubbing her head and I get this very clear image of black, sheer black."

"Was there any shape to it?" Mulder asked.

"Body shaped, big body shaped. And she was really skittish. Her tail has been tucked against her tummy all night." All three stared at Wanda curled up on the floor and her ears perked up as if to say "What?"

Mulder turned his attention back to Lena. "So you think someone broke in while you were at my place?"

"I don't think they had to break anything. I think whoever it was isn't like the other kids. Know what I mean?"

Mulder looked spooked; "I don't like the sound of that at all."

"Maybe I'm wrong." Lena looked out to the lake. "No, I'm not wrong. Something is here, something followed me out."

-end-


Conhouse II - Chapter 5

LaVerne smiled at her, a wide smile, with all her own teeth. She was proud of this. 88-year-old women can't normally brag that they still have all their own teeth. LaVerne however did, and they were still white and perfect in her mouth.

Lena smiled back at her.

In dreams Lena could never hear anyone talk. It seemed that thoughts were the dream method of communication. LaVerne told her that she was glad she was back. Her face and her demeanor changed as she spoke silently of Steve. LaVerne missed him very much, but she understood why he was gone. She told Lena that Steve had been so good to her, spending hours at a time with her just listening to her stories. He'd gone on countless trips to the grocery store. He always brought her flowers.

Lena took an inventory of LaVerne's body. It seemed to be smaller than the last time she'd seen her, more frail. She crossed the span of LaVerne's small living room and crouching down she wrapped her arms around her.

In Lena's bed Scully was being gathered into Lena's arms. It roused her and she rearranged her body to accommodate Lena's sudden but very gentle embrace. She mumbled to her through a sleepy haze, 'Love you'. Lena said nothing but held her tighter.

The dream LaVerne asked for tea. She was having trouble sleeping and thought some chamomile tea would help. Lena went into the kitchen and put the kettle on the stove.

She turned from Scully then, unwrapping her arms from the redhead and turning in the bed. Scully let her hands run sleepily down Lena's back as she drifted back to sleep.

She got the serving tray off the top of the refrigerator and arranged the teacup and saucer on the center of it. Steam rose from the cup and Lena breathed it in deeply as she picked up the tray.

She rounded the corner from the kitchen to the living room and stopped abruptly. LaVerne's throat was slit. It looked like a grotesque smile spanning from one ear to the other. Blood was actively spurting from the wound.

The tray hit the floor and Lena could feel the tea burning her shins.

She looked around the room slowly. No one else was there.

This dream had taken a wicked turn. Lena considered waking herself up; she hadn't had a dream this foul since Scully had been sleeping with her. 'Why now?' She wondered. 'I need to wake up...'

Then the urge to make sure LaVerne wasn't alive overwhelmed her and she walked slowly toward her chair. Walking in a dream was like walking in waist deep water; her legs were insanely heavy and slow beneath her.

'LaVerne?' She put her hand on top of the old woman's head, pulling it up slightly. It flipped backward, and having no attached skin to stop it from falling it continued to fall. It fell until the top of her head hit the back of the chair level with her shoulders. Lena screamed out loud.

Scully sat up in bed, adrenaline pumping in her ears. Lena struggled with the bed sheets, pushing them away from her frantically with her feet.

"What Lena?! What is it?" Scully was being ignored so she grabbed Lena's head and turned her face toward her. "What?!"

Lena's face crumpled in Scully's hands and she started to cry.

"Honey..." Scully gathered Lena to her wrapping her arms tightly around her, "what happened? What is it?"

Mulder stood in the bedroom doorway zipping up his jeans. "Bad Cheese?" he said, crossing the room and sitting down on Lena's side of the bed.

Scully shrugged and gave him an 'I don't know' look.

"Bad dream." Lena said. Scully loosened her hold and Lena sat up fully. "Really bad dream."

Mulder held her hand, "About what?"

"LaVerne."

Mulder looked to Scully who quickly scanned her memory. "LaVerne is an older woman that Lena and Steve took care of, bought groceries for, that kind of thing."

Mulder nodded. "What happened to LaVerne?"

"I was at her house and she was fine. Then I went to the kitchen to make her some tea and when I came back into the living room her throat had been slit."

Scully grimaced. "Should we call her?"

"Not sure it'll help, she could sleep through a tornado."

"Maybe we should go over, is she far away?" Mulder asked.

"No. Not far. I just don't want to scare her to death. Knocking on her door at..." Lena glanced at the clock, "2:47 a.m. might do her in right there."

Mulder squeezed her hand, "You're sure it was just a dream right?"

Lena nodded, "Yeah." She lay back on the pillows and Mulder pulled the covers back up over her. "Sorry."

"S'okay." He said, kissing her forehead. "Get some rest."

Scully smiled at him and he turned to go, shutting off the light and closing their door behind him.

Lena was asleep as soon as her head went down. Scully wrapped herself around her and drifted off to sleep as well.

Three hours later Lena was awake again. This time it wasn't a bad dream that woke her, it was discomfort. Her legs itched. Her shins to be exact. She turned on the bedside lamp and pulled back the covers. Small blisters made a random pattern of red spots on the front of her shins.

"Oh shit." Lena sprung out of bed and into the bathroom.

Scully was bounced awake from the sudden movement of the mattress. She saw that Lena's lamp and the bathroom light were both on. Lena appeared from the bathroom in her underwear and started to pull clothes out of her dresser. She was slipping on a pair of jeans when she noticed that Scully was looking at her.

"What's wrong?" Scully asked, getting out of bed.

"I have small burns on the front of my legs. I dropped the tea at LaVerne's and burned myself."

Scully thought that she was possibly walking in her sleep. She walked toward Lena slowly. "Can I see the burns?"

Lena lowered the jeans and Scully knelt in front of her. She looked at her legs then up into Lena's eyes. "Oh my god."

"How fast can you get dressed?" Lena asked intently.

"Go wake Mulder, I'll be out in a minute."

Lena pulled on a tee shirt and made her way to Mulder's room.

-end-


END OF CONHOUSE II