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Residue.

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Tears flowed without thought, the scalding water rendering them impossible to discern. A shaving mirror providing her a witness, as she soaped her hair, bleary-eyed and pathetic, looking out—melting down the looking glass, like a clock in a Dali desert.  Scrubbing roughly at her pinkening skin in the damp cave of his shower, she let go, unravelled.

She was curled on the tiles, water thrumming over her when he found her; shivering all over.

An offer from the Illinois Department of Corrections, of a hotel room, a suite, but she accepted Mulder’s proposition instead.

A million words danced on her tongue in the car ride from her apartment to his, not making their way beyond wretched thought. Slowly winding up, a tight coil of despair in need of a confessional, she loosely wondered if the dark cab of his sedan could be a substitute; Mulder temporality ordained by her sheer desperation, to absolve her from what she had done.

Compelled to give over the pyjamas she was wearing, as evidence, she had changed, though not showered, her bathroom a crime scene: bathroom, bedroom, living room—a seeming epicentre for dark crimes.

There was no surprised when he came to find her, gently cooing her name.

“I can’t get the blood off,” she whimpered.

“Here,” he said tenderly, concern lacing his voice, as he climbed into the shower with her, fully clothed, “give me that.” Crouching down in front of her, he took the washcloth from her fist and she fell into the cradle of his thighs, sobbing, propelling him against the tiles, as she clutched the now damp cotton of his shirt. He sunk down, held her as she cried. Stroking her hair. He ladled hot water from his cupped palms and rinsed out the suds, anointing her, as her trembling dissipating with the soap.

Tilting her chin, he found her gaze through the steamy haze—momentarily lost in the sea of endless blue. She was raw, exposed and undone, trusting and yielding. “Let me see,” and said, eyes raking over her colourless face. There were no traces of his blood, but he gently swiped at her features nonetheless. “There,” he resolved, managing a careful smile. He felt her sigh into him, her breathing grow steady.

Shutting off the water, he reached around the curtain, and grabbed a towel off the rail, covered her as best he could before gently scooping her up. He sat her on the toilet lid and hastily stripped, watching her a she looked on. Discarding his soaking clothes to the bottom of the shower, he wrapped a towel around his waist. Collecting her benevolently by the elbow, she was shaky as she stood, so he gathered her in his arms and carried her to his bed.

Turning to fetch her bag, she seized him by the wrist, swallowed hard and shook her head, began to back her way up his bed, hanging on. He followed as she found her way, towel still haphazardly about her, burrowing under his covers, imploring him, with her eyes, her hands, her very being, to follow. He settled in beside her and enveloped her. Held her as she gripped on, slipping inside of his embrace.

Nestled together, close, their wet bodies drying against his sheet. Her hair fanned out, soggy strands of dark crimson, leaving patches of damp across pillowcase.

“Scully,” he said finally, soft as a pray, “if you hadn’t, I would have,” —exonerating her with his words.

And she let go again, Scout, this time within his absolution, his bed, his arms, his world. Their world. And she slept.