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I won’t say it, because it isn’t true.

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They weren’t to know it was a middle. It felt like an end. The end.

It was brief, and fucking awful. But how else could it have gone?

“Just say it.”

Standing across the room from her, a world away from her, he was leaning against the kitchen sink, arms folded.

“I know what you’re asking, and I won’t,” she told him, by the door. Voice steady, gaze unyielding.

Her trunk was full, collected accoutrements of a second life—on the run, plus a few gathered roots that had hardly a chance to penetrate the soil.

“I won’t say it, Mulder, because it isn’t true. Because I do still love you.” Her voice caught then, in the back of her throat.

He blinked at her.

Though she was the one deciding on an action, the one that would not be left alone amongst the debris of their shared existence, she was the one falling to pieces. It had been a slow, painful unpicking of sutures from a wound inflicted years ago, that had never had a chance to heal.

“If it was what you suggested, that I didn’t love you, then I would just stay. You need help and I’m fucking that up.”

At that point, she cried. In great waves. A last uninhibited display of emotion, because why fucking not? She’d been their impassioned epicentre for months—high on cortisol, wading through it, just it to claw her way to the end each day.

Sobbing and shaking she explained, in vain, “—it would be so easy to stay and see you every day if I didn't love you. See you and not feel you.” Her voice strangled around the words. “It wouldn't break my fucking heart, Mulder.”

Across the room, he watched her. Unmoving. His features a backdrop, devoid of the once familiar highlights and shadows.

“I wish I knew what else to do, but I can’t breathe,” she stopped then, struggling to inhale; panic rising and clutching at her. 

Just say it, he had said; an accusation. She knew him and had lived with him, that way, for long enough to understand that the lack of volume or feeling in those words said more than the words themselves. It said—I’m tired. And I have nothing left. And you expect me to fight for you. But I don’t even know how to fight for myself. So, I’ll say something provocative. Remind you that you are walking out on me … even though I haven’t been here for years.

Roughly swiping at her eyes, she crossed the room and tippy-toed up to kiss him, lips to his cool cheek.

”Please call that number I left,” she hushed, one final effort to help. For absolution. Both. 

He was still.

Retreating to the door, she grabbed the old door handle, pushed and twisted it the temperamental way you had to, for it to behave.

She spun her body back to him once more, her head, but not her gaze.

“Sorry,” she muttered, though he did not hear. And then she turned and walked out the door.