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_____________________
Nurse: You have drunk your death.
Tristan: By my death, do you mean this pain of love?
-Tristan and Isolde
_____________________


Chapter 2

It used to be so easy to fall in love. Boy meets girl, girl likes
boy, boy buys girl a number of expensive, relatively useless gifts,
and bing, bang, boom, they're all set to ride off into the sunset
together towards a happy ending and inevitable future divorce. No one
had ever told Scully that she'd fall in love with a man who had so much
trouble loving himself that his relationship with her bordered nearly
on obsession. She supposed it was time that had done it; if she'd left
him earlier, or been taken from him, he would never have learned
to need her the way he did. In this way, it had also become her fault
that their relationship was as gorgeously tethered and wonderfully
flawed as it was. They were a chemical equation- a slow reaction that
had yielded explosively dangerous energy. True, Scully had been known
to like to play with fire, but she'd never been prepared for the
Towering Inferno himself known to the FBI Academy as Spooky Mulder.
The Ice Queen would either cool the flame or let it melt her..
apparently, Mulder hadn't decided which yet. When they'd first started
working together, she had sensed the inevitable hurtling towards her
in crystal clear slow motion, and she had retaliated with the well
placed, nearly derogatory "I'm fine" and cold demeanor. She had
failed to notice her addiction to his touch, his presence, until it
was too late, and she realized that she had lost the rein on her
once carefully held self control.
At first she had let only the sweetness of the moment, the abandon
of each kiss, the uncontrolled heat of each embrace overwhelm her
before she regained control of her logical mind, if only temporarily,
and she had begun to see in bits and pieces the maybes and could bes,
not all good ones. Their relationship was as flawed as their
characters were, although she wasn't quite sure what her problem with
that was- she was in love with one of the most deeply flawed men on
the planet, which made him only all the more perfect to her; her
beautiful fallen angel. She wondered if she was afraid of loving
him, though it was undeniable.
She could see herself in his eyes every time he looked at her,
as if she was the first and only creature to love him, and sadly
wondered if it was true. From what she had seen of his parents, his
relationships, and his own self loathing, she knew that he believed
it to be true- she was his Scully, perfect and protecting and bathed
in light. She wanted to be the angel he thought she was. The ironic
poetry stung at their eyes but never at their feet,
wrapping them whole and embracing as it strangled. Yet it had an odd
beauty, resonated with the dark that swirled ever so constant in the
greenish hazel murk of his eyes, the ones herpale blue understood all
too well as she had taken a journey too far with him, and intended to
finish it, heart intact or not.
A wispy cloud of a memory stirred, dangling lazily. They'd built
a sandcastle together, sometime after they'd acknowledged the fact
that they were lovers in every sense of the word, on some sort of
mundane assignment that had brought her back to the sea. An almost
silly task, childish and loving, but they'd built it too close to the
surface of the waves, and thus had watched as what they'd built
disentegrated, washing back into the sea. Mulder had tried saving
it in some sort of strange chivalry all his own, and she had laughed
and laughed as he had jumped among the waves searching for the grains
of enraptured sand, knowing, as he didn't, (though she tried telling
him between her gulps of laughter), that the sea took what it did
and couldn't give it back, no matter how he tried to hold on..
He took her elbow, the touch jerking her away from her unfinished
thoughts with nearly a jump.
"Earth to Scully, Earth to Scully, come in Agent Scully. Welcome
back- where'd ya go?"
She blinked twice, and pulled the trenchcoat tighter around her.
She considered giving him a small smile then decided she couldn't.
He smiled instead, though there was something of a confused plea
behind it.. Damn Mulder and his psychologist's eye. It was worse than
being peeled apart by a stranger paid to reach into the deepest hollows
of your mind- the stranger sugar coats and even hides what he or she
finds. Someone who loves you will have to show you what's within you,
whether they like it or not. As Mulder opened the car door and motioned for
her to get in, Scully took one last look at the building behind her,
its snow white integrity cheerfully masking the horror she had seen
within. It reminded her of everything.

   

The blood whispered to her from corner to corner, sang her a tale,
though she couldn't quite place the words, as half-sung notes tended
to lack coherency. Someone had died here, and someone had been reborn-
who, she did not know. The musical notes crumpled together, stuck
fast, and when she pried at them, they would not come loose.
Frustrated, she flung the pile at the wall, and watched it burst into
a million pentacles of light. She screamed then, her violet eyes
flashing violently in fear and dread and awe and love, and something
else, a coruscation that sang from within her.

   

The scream shrieked down the hallway, tearing through the air like
knife through languid, still-breathing flesh, and the nurse bolted
from her doze in panic, ran towards the source of the sudden noise.
Her eyes widened in astonishment when she saw where the scream
had come from, as she opened the door, almost reverently, to see the
girl bolted upright in bed, her mouth frozen into the scream, an
immediate departure from the comatose, vegetable state she had been
in for nearly 3 years. The nurse clutched at the cross at her own neck,
whispered a prayer up towards her divinity, and then ran down the hall
again, yelling "Dr. Few! She's awake! Serena is awake!"

   
   

Scully watched as the trees flew by her; when she concentrated on
several at a time, she could see them in clear precision, but when
she focused on the sight as a whole, they blurred together and refused
to let her discern them. It was starting to make her dizzy,
so she turned back to face her partner.
"So, where are we going now?" she asked, watching him study the
road ahead of them, his long fingers gripping the steering wheel of
the car.
"Joan Glancy Hospital," he replied, taking a short glance from the
road to meet her eyes quickly before bringing them back, then swerved
lightly to avoid a nearly wildly careening car laden with the shock
of rap music, muttering something under his breath about damn teenagers
and their lack of driving skills and how they'd probably be in prison
before the age of 21, before continuing.
"We're visiting Ramsey's fiancee... they were going to be married,
but he went crackers before it was..er, possible."
Scully winced at the word "crackers" before asking:
"Why is she in the hospital?"
"She fell into a coma shortly after Ramsey murdered his family,
and she's been in that coma ever since."
"Why did she fall into a coma?"
"They don't know... after a while, they just decided it was
probably caused by stress."
"What's her name?" Scully asked, as Mulder swerved again to
avoid another car, and
wondered what it was with Atlantan drivers.
"Serena Dove."

   

   

Dr. Evan Few chewed nervously on his rather woody tasting number two pencil, staring at
the girl stretched out on the couch in front of him. Incredible- Serena Dove had been in a
coma for nearly 3 years, and had abruptly awakened an hour ago for reasons yet unknown.
He looked at the girl; it was odd to see her animate again, as she stared back at him,
twisting her lip apprehensively, her large violet eyes- her most striking feature-
flashing where they caught the light.
She was beautiful, in a worn, strangled way. Finally, she spoke.
"Doctor Few, what happened? Where am I?"
"You're in the hospital, Serena. You've been in coma for nearly 3 years now. Can you
remember what happened?"
"I'm in the hospital?" she said, her confusion so palpable he nearly pitied her, but
the confusion turned into panicked fear. Suddenly, in the back of her subconscious, she could
hear someone crying, and a strangely familiar vision of a young woman lying dormant in her own
blood, with glassy blue eyes that burned no more. She cried out,
"What happened? Is Dana alright?!"
It was his turn for confusion. He had been her psychiatrist for about 4 years
before the coma. She had never mentioned anyone named Dana.
"Who's Dana?" he asked.
The image melted away at the sound of his gentle voice.
Her brow furrowed into confusion again, her slim eyebrows dark against the milk
white skin.
"I... I can't remember... You said I was in a coma?"
"Yes, Serena... you can't remember anything? You remember me, don't you? Tell me
who I am."
"You're Doctor Evan Few," she said, "You've been my psychologist for about 3 years.
You work in Buckhead, but you come down to the hospital a lot. I can remember a lot of other
things... just not who Dana is... she's important though."
He nodded in solemn agreement.
"Do you remember Cliff?" he asked, gently as if to assuage the question.
Apparently, she did, when her expression sang out with unconsummated pain and her
hands tightly gripped the sides of the couch.
"Yes," she whispered.
"Do you remember what he did?"
If her face could have become more pale, it did. A translucent piece of paper became
a transparent piece of glass.
"Yes," she whispered again.
"You fell into a coma after he killed his family... can you remember when you did,
and why?"
She closed her eyes tightly, to block horrified screams and ghostly whispers from
escaping. She had been one of the people asked to identify the bodies of his kindly parents,
of his two tiny little sisters who had been so delighted that she was going to become their
new "sissy"...
"I can't remember..."
"Serena... if this is too straining on you right now..."
"Yes.." she whispered, nodding her head almost violently.
Doctor Few motioned gently, with one slight hand, to the nurse standing by the
doorway.
"Take Serena back to her room, and make sure that no one sees her until I say
so, Ok?"
The nurse nodded, taking the girl gently by the wrist, and leaving the room.

   
   

Luckily, they had arrived at the hospital without a scratch on the rental car, and
Mulder wasn't quite sure why. He took it that for once (and probably at one of the most
idiotically trivial times possible), Lady Luck had smiled upon him. He stared up at the
large building, his feet seeming to take root at the ground, not allowing him to move.
He hated hospitals. He hated the smell, he hated the too-precise logic, he hated the clean
white hustle bustle, and he hated the way that the personnel tended to know he was coming and
chose to ignore him. He was only in hospitals himself when injured usually out of
arrogant stupidity. And the only times he was in a hospital not for personal physical injury
or inane case research, it seemed to be when someone close to him had been hurt. After Scully's
cancer, he especially dreaded going into a hospital, any hospital.
Everywhere he looked, he could see her, tiny and drained, lying on a hospital bed, half
fighting for her life, but somehow not caring anymore. He glanced at her striding beside him,
her strength regrown, almost close enough to touch, and he took her hand, squeezed it,
looking for warmth and strength that he did not have. She looked up at him, her eyes lisping
slightly in surprise, for there was something off-ish and too unfamiliar in mediocre public
displays of what they felt for each other, but pulled herself closer when she sensed his
animosity.. He did not let go of that hand for fear of drowning, and ignored the imagined
stares of the people around them.
Let them stare, he thought, this is my Scully; I belong to her and she belongs to me.
He took a deep breath, then walked through the door.

   
   

Dr. Evan Few dropped his notes when the nurse knocked loudly at the door, startled
from his clambering train of thought.
"2 FBI agents here to see you, Doctor," she said, as he crawled ridiculously on
the floor, reclaiming every piece of coffee stained paper, mumbling something about tracking
down and personally torturing the inventors of the "please knock" sign. Finally, he peered
over his desk to the man and woman entering his office, quickly analyzing them. The man was
tall, his eyes haunted by the past, and encased in his own darkness. He held onto the hand
of the woman, who seemed to be his anchor to the world or maybe even his redeeming light.
The woman was small, though the clandestine spirit in those clear blue eyes made up for it,
the eyes of a survivor, her mouth set in a grim line. She held onto the man's hand with
equal passion, as if determined to save him. When they noticed that the doctor's gaze had
lingered on their clasped hands, they dropped them, and the man coughed into his hand
nervously as the doctor slowly clambered to his feet, dropping the forgotten notes onto
his desk.
"My apologies," Dr. Few said rather sheepishly, "My office is a mess, it's impossible
to find anything in here." The woman gave the man a gauged, measured look, some sort of
unintended inside joke.
"What can I do for you?" the doctor asked, extending his hand to the man.
The man started to extend the hand he had coughed into, remembered that he had coughed
into that hand, then shoved it into his pocket, extending the other hand instead. His
handshake was firm and professionally practiced. As Dr. Few shook the small hand of the woman,
her grip that of underlying strength, the man introduced himself, flipping open a badge.
"I'm Agent Mulder, and this is Agent Scully."
Scully nodded curtly. It was a name that suited her and didn't, the doctor decided.
"We're with the FBI. We'd like to speak with you about Serena Dove. I understand that
she awoke from her coma just a few hours ago?"
He nodded, "Yes, that's correct. Sit down, please."
He motioned to the couch, and the two agents sat down, side by side.
"What would you like to know?" he asked, taking out a notepad and a well chewed
number two pencil.
The two agents glanced at each other before Mulder spoke.
"Everything and anything you can tell us about her," he said.
"Well... I'm not really sure where to start..."
"Start with her childhood- what kind of person she is and was, and especially her
relationship with a man named Clifford Ramsey."
He started a little at that name, but decided to withhold his questions until perhaps later,
after he had answered theirs.
"Serena was orphaned at the age of 8. She was juggled from foster home to foster home,
nothing ever permanent. Despite the fact that she moved around all through her high school
career, she graduated with at the top of her class and was able to go to Emory University
on government funds. While at her junior year at Emory, she starting coming to see me over
stress in her life, and during that time, she met Clifford in one of her classes, I can't
remember which. I met him a few times- very nice man, gifted. He could sing, if I can
remember.. I think she told me that one of the reasons she had been drawn to him was because
of his voice. He was a nice man, a little extreme at times, but from what I could see, I
would never have thought him capable of the crimes he later committed."
"He was addicted to a rare drug known as 'caladine'," Scully cut in,
"It's been known to cause high psychosis in it's user."
"Yes," the doctor said, a little sadly, "After he killed his family, Serena was asked
to help identify the bodies... She had become very close to his family- being an orphan,
they had become her only real family. She adored all of them- and shortly after that,
she fell into a coma, probably due to a mixture of grief, shock and extreme stress.
She'd been in that coma until today, when she awakened unexpectedly."
Agent Mulder was leaning forward, interested, something gleaming almost obsessively in
his eye. This was a man, the doctor thought, that loved his job.
"What do you think triggered her recovery?" he asked, unable to hide his excitement.
"I'm not sure- but we should figure it out in time."
"Do you think it could be linked to Clifford's escape from the prison he was confined in,
late last night?"
"WHAT?" the doctor nearly yelped, "How could that be possible?"
"Clifford Ramsey escaped late last night- after he killed his family, his fiancee
lapsed into a coma. When he escaped, she awakened from that coma," he said to his partner,
who was unfazed by the hidden exclamation marks in his voice. No doubt she was used to this-
from what the doctor could tell, they had worked together for a very long time.
"When she awoke, you spoke to her, right?" Mulder asked, turning again towards the
doctor.
"Yes," he replied, trying to sort through all the crazy ideas that had been swimming
in his head since the FBI agent had mentioned Cliff.
"What did she say? Did she mention Cliff or his escape?"
"No... she couldn't even remember lapsing into a coma. She only remembered him and what
he did. She didn't say anything about escaping, much less ever seeing him again. Wait.."
he said, as something tugged at the end of his memory, "She did mention something...
when she awoke, she asked if someone named Dana was alright... she said she couldn't remember
who this Dana was, but that she was important."
"She asked for someone named Dana?" Scully asked, "My first name is Dana."
"Have you even met Serena before, Agent Scully?"
"No.. I didn't even know of her until today. It must just be some kind of coincidence.
Do you think that we could speak with her now?"
"I doubt it.. she's still recuperating. But if you come in tomorrow, you can see her."
The 2 agents exchanged glances again.
"Thank you for your time, Doctor Few," Mulder said, rising from the couch,
and handing him a small card, "If you can think of anything else, here's my card. We'll be
staying at the Sunrise Suites."
"Goodbye," the doctor replied, more pensive than a farewell. He walked the two
agents to the door, and closed it behind them, then sat down on the couch, ignoring the
notes that had fallen from his desk when he stood. He rose to his feet, rubbed the rash where
his watch had grated into his wrist, and called to the young man hidden behind the door of
the small office closet,
    "You can come out now, Cliff."

   


Medici angrily kicked at a pile of small rocks, then sat down on a bench, rubbing her
temple. She'd been at this damn nut house for nearly half the day, and she was tired, hungry,
and uncharacteristically frustrated.
She couldn't believe it was happening again. It had been 3 years since she'd helped
close the chapter of Atlanta's history on the notorious Blood Killer. If that FBI agent
had been right, and Cliff had a new way of killing people....
She didn't want to finish the thought. Her job was trying enough as it was.
When Detective Ava Medici had been a child, she had told her mother that she wanted to be
a detective because she wanted to solve mysteries and help people. It had been a sadly
optimistic view of the profession, tinted by the innocence of youth, and she was oddly glad
that no one had told her at the age of five that she would deal every day with heartless
murderers, and that sometimes there was no justification for what it was that they did.
She looked at the crime scene in front of her, the cell in which Clifford Ramsey had stayed
for 3 years, slapped and cracked with his own blood.
For the first time in her life, she wasn't 100 percent sure if she had what it took
to catch a killer.

   

Scully picked at the salad with her tiny plastic fork, looking for lost bacon bits
drowning somewhere in the sea of lite ranch dressing. She glanced up from her food, rolling her
eyes slightly as she watched Mulder devouring his own lunch of a sirloin steak, a
baked potato, and an untouched array of more nutritional vegetables at a breakneck speed.
How the man could eat like a horse and stay as.... *fit* as he was, was well beyond her
comprehension.
Even so, thinking of Mulder and certain activities used to *stay* fit weren't
enough to distract her from the inevitable.
Serena Dove...
Something about the name was so familiar, so.. right.
Briefly, she wondered it she should tell Mulder, then decided not to. At least not until
she figured out what it was that was bothering her about this girl she had never met,
never heard about until now.

   
   

Serena curled up in the bed, and remembered.
She remembered it all.
"Too much too fast can be hazardous to one's health," Cliff said, seated across from her.
He was unearthly, and so beautiful. His features were sharp and outlined from the sunlight
streaming in through the high window. It was too high for her to use to escape, and he knew it.
"How did you escape?" she asked, almost trembling.
"I'm hurt, darling. Shouldn't you be jumping with joy to see me?"
His long finger traced a path from her shoulder down to her thigh. She shivered,
and didn't answer his question.
"Are you going to kill her?" she asked, instead.
"Who?" he asked. He dropped a very soft kiss to her forehead. She shuddered when the kiss
landed there and exploded into a million glittering fragments.
"Dana. Dana Scully. I don't know who you are or what you've done with Cliff, but
I know that you're here to hurt her. To kill her. Cut her up and let her drown in her own
blood. I've seen it."
"For the last time," he breathed into her ear, hot and coarse, "I am Cliff.
I've always been. You've just been in denial about it, baby. And I'm not going to kill her,
not right off, anyway. I want to watch her squirm, first."
"What's the Ariadne Thread?" she asked, pulling the covers around her closer.
He didn't answer, and pulled her face roughly to his, kissing her in a crude imitation
of his formerly gentle, intimate embrace. Her mind screamed not to accept the kiss, but
in the end, her heart, always the foolish one, won out.

Go to Chapter 3