"So sweet was ne'er so fatal. I must weep,/ but they are cruel tears: this
sorrow's heavenly; It strikes where it doth love."
-Shakespeare, "Othello", Desdemona's death scene
Medici hated hiking. She'd never been able to understand how anyone could glean
entertainment from crawling up a pile of dirt, sweating like a hog, and reach the top,
only to come down and repeat the cycle again next week, only with more
(i.e. a 'healthy' dose of arrogance) and plenty of pats on the back along the way. Of
there was also her teeny tiny fear of heights and her tendency to make up stories and
about anything that she was afraid of or didn't understand, but that was of no
Suddenly, her foot slipped, and she cursed as it connected with something behind her,
as everything moved too quickly. At first it was strangely lovely, almost like being in
womb again, as she fell, almost flying through the air. Then there was a wet crack, and
firebrand of white-hot pain shrieked up her leg. Her head connected with a 'crik' against
a rock, and through the blood leaking into her eyes from the cut on her forehead that
she could see the jut of the broken bone in her leg. A broken plaster pipe bleeding
layers of cloudy peach gauze, swathed in raw meat. At first she could only stare at it,
oddly fascinated, feeling as if it were not her own leg she was staring at, but a bizarre,
twisted piece of modern art. Then she became
aware of Mulder's yell from up the mountain through the cloud of pain and the buzz of her
panicked team of investigators and police officials around her.
"Are you OK?" Mulder yelled.
She remained conscious long enough to scream back,
"You try scaling a mountain in three and a half inch heels and tell me how YOU'RE
Live by stoicism, die by sarcasm. It should have been her motto, she thought in a
brief delusional haze before the gleaming white stars became swallowed with black.
Then her team began to cautiously bring her limp body down the mountain, as Mulder
continued to ascend, alone, forgotten, and terrified.
"Ha!" Clifford said, "I bet I really scared you then! You should have seen
look on your face! Want your soul indeed... such a medieval fad."
He made a face at her, and she shrank back, still looking for a route of escape,
the fire in her eyes growing brighter as the enforced fear of the ascent became a distant
"Ah-ah-ah," he said lightly, pointing the gun. She didn't stop moving.
"Go ahead," she bit out at him, "Shoot me. It can't be any worse then
whatever else you
have planned for me. What did you do to those guards at the penitentiary?"
Sweet Jesus, his smile was resplendent, and so so deadly.
He wasn't affected by the valor and hatred in her voice.
"You shouldn't worry about that, baby. A one time thing. Can't happen again! I hoped
you'd maybe be a little more creative than that. Telepathic serial killers... so
"And sharing a delusion with your murdered fiancee that you're the personal demon of
my partner *isn't*?"
He didn't say anything to her, instead let his grin grow wider, daring her to challenge
"You won't leave," he said.
Then he threw the gun down the slope of the mountain, laughing at her as she jumped
for it then hissed back as she saw how far up they'd gone, vertigo dizzily waltzing her
It was the waltz of death. Somehow, she knew it wasn't a physical death.
"How do you know that?" she bit back again.
"Because you want to know. You want to know who I am, you want to know about
Mulder. And I'm pretty sure that maybe, maybe, you might want to know about a girl
by the name of Serena."
She stopped moving. He'd caught her there.
Curiosity killed the cat.
No, it was more than curiosity. She didn't want to know.
She needed to know.
"Tell me who you really are," she demanded, finally.
He grinned again, that off-setting, enticing grin.
"I'm nobody, baby!"
Then he began to sing, in the most beautiful voice she'd ever heard, the most
ridiculous words to be suited to it.
"I am just a Nowhere man, sitting in a Nowhere land.."
His voice brought sunlight and laughter and a dangerously involuntary smile to her face.
She suddenly wanted to kiss him dry through the intense network of
tortured blistering veins. She could see another pair of eyes in his, hazel green and
watching her as she slept, in rapt adoration and ambivalence.
Then he stopped, and it was gone, trapped and crushed and vaporized, or else just gone.
Her smile disappeared, and she forgot it was ever there. There was only a madman sitting
with her on a mountain, the remnants of a ridiculous song fading away like a forgotten
"But that's the truth of it, baby. I'm nobody. Nowhere. Nothing. You can run a
million tests on me, and you'll find nothing at all! That's me- nobody. Just like your
Fear and anger boiled up within her. If Dana Scully had been a lesser person, she would
have lunged for him and bit and ripped and shredded until there was indeed, nothing left.
Instead, the fire glowed brighter in her eyes, and she kept her arms clenched tightly at
her sides, her teeth clamped together so hard she thought they might crack.
"But that's not the point," he continued, seeing the beautiful storm in her
eyes, "I think
that the point here is Mulder."
She gave a dry, hollow laugh, cynical and drained.
She wanted to cry.
She wanted to cry and cry and cry and never stop and never be afraid or ashamed of
the drenched antithesis dripping in warm cold drops down her face into the hollow
hollow of her white neck.
But she didn't.
Must be strong all the time.
She whispered through her painfully clenched teeth,
"Even in my nightmares, the world revolves around Mulder, doesn't it?"
It wasn't a nightmare at all, but a twisted and tattered dreamscape. He ignored her
question, because she knew the answer, even as she didn't want to.
"Dana, Dana, Dana," Cliff clucked, softly under his tongue, "Why do you
need to hear
the words when you already know what's going on?"
She clenched her hands so tightly they were fit to draw blood. They did. The warm,
drip of it, the pain that she was no longer aware of, called to him. He struggled to
the call. For now. She spoke, thoughts she could have believed weren't real, through
teeth, her eyes fluttering closed.
"Because if I don't hear the words, I can pretend it isn't true."
"Suit yourself," he said, "But I did warn you.
Serena.." something in his eyes faded softly, then was replaced by the malevolent
again, "Serena told you the brunt of it, before I... disposed of her. You are a
And Mulder sent me to dispose of the threat, as loath as you are to admit it."
"Who says I haven't?" said she.
"You've got it all backwards, baby. Mulder isn't doing this involuntarily.
He sent me because he was too much of a coward to do it himself."
"I refuse to believe that. Why should I believe you?" she demanded.
"Why shouldn't you?" the three words were so low and calm, for a moment she
sense the malevolence dancing eagerly beneath it.
"I love him," she said defiantly, childlike, "He loves me."
"Love isn't enough," Cliff said, and for a moment, he almost looked saddened.
"Then what is?"
He didn't reply, and instead looked to the moon, the sky, and the sleeping stars, the
only light that had forgotten they were there.
Leaning forward, he kissed her gently, so gently, a trembling uncertain kiss.
She felt her eyes fluttering shut, and his as well.
When he looked back at her, that sorrow she had glimpsed within him just for an instant
gone, replaced once more with the insane tirade. Then he smiled, and pulled out the knife.
It was a cave, frail and magnificent and despondent, and Mulder thought that
maybe he could sense the suggestion of wood and ancient family albums, but it was only a
passing fancy that he pushed away. This was what had been waiting for him at the top of
mountain, and he knew that they were here, as he stood, panting, at the mouth of the cave.
He heard a whimper, and ran towards it, to find Scully near the mouth of the cave, pain
in her voice and crashing into his.
"Mulder," she said, once, and there was more torment in that voice than he had
heard. He heard betrayal, the absence of hope, and hatred beneath it, and he didn't know
was directed towards him.
Then he found the source of her pain. She was covered in bruises, dark and ugly in
the absence of light. Blood came freely from then knife gashes and stabs. Her arm had
been broken. He could smell her blood, thick and pulsating
and copper pennies. Wincing as he could see the suggestion
of bone at the break, his heart twisted so violently that for a moment it was almost his
Then came anger, hot and twisted and engulfing him, as he knew who had inflicted
those wounds upon her, knowing full well that she could have defended herself, and knowing
why she didn't. (Did she see me when he beat her? Why do battered wives often
not fight back? It's because of fear and love, isn't it?)
(Oh Scully,) he thought, (Why did you have to love me?)
"WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU!?," he screamed, cradling Scully with one arm and
with the other.
Then came a footfall behind him, and he turned to see the man, green eyes glowing
rampant in the darkness, glorious.
"Here," Clifford said, grinning widely, "Right here."
Scully heard him scream out, and she could feel him cradling her, though there was
only pain where Cliff had inflicted it, and she hadn't been able to fight back at either
Why? She was a trained FBI agent, and perfectly capable of defending herself,
despite the fact that he was larger than her. Was it because of who he was, or who she'd
thought he was? For an instant there she'd glimpsed the maybe future in his blow, Mulder
cruel and broken and tripped up on too much liquor to tell the difference between his
inability to find the truth, and only finding the person who loved him to take it out on.
She would have taken those blows without even putting up a fist to block them, as penance,
because she hadn't been able to save him from himself. Because she hadn't been strong
enough. How could she? She'd never known how to save herself.
Her mind had abandoned her and left only the heart to be cruelly
twisted and battered, as it always had in her time of need. Come back! she'd screamed
at its retreating front, teach me how to defend myself! How to fight!
It had disappeared without a second thought.
She thought with a twisting snare through all the white hot pain, (even my own mind
The blood was pooling around her, blurring into her now sticky hair, as she fought
to keep it away from her, in her buzzing weakness, as it leaked closer and closer to
Consciousness was lapsing and crowding in on her, as she ran a systematic check
on her mosaic glass convolution of injuries, though she knew it didn't matter anymore.
"Mulder, Mulder, Mulder," Cliff said, cool and calm as purring milk, if milk had
to purr, "What are you doing?"
Mulder drew his gun, and wasn't quite sure why it wasn't trembling with rage or fear,
as the rest of his body was.
"Go ahead," Clifford said, spreading his arms melodramatically, Macbeth sans the
skull, "Shoot me. Because if you do, you'll only turn that
gun on her-" he pointed to Scully's prone figure, "and then yourself."
"Why should I believe you?" all calm pretenses had left the prodigal son's
how he argued with himself in every aspect possible. He'd just never thought he'd be
arguing with an incarnation of his inner demons.
"Because I'm you," Clifford said, the cat smile returning with victory.
The gun slowly lowered.
"What are we doing here, Cliff? What do you want from us?"
"Why are you asking me that question, Mulder? You called me here yourself. She-"
he pointed again to Scully, "was going to pull you from your darkness, and you-"
he pointed to Mulder, "were too goddamn scared to let her, but couldn't let her go,
either. So there was only one way out."
In that moment, the ludicrous Cliff face disappeared and slid away, and something
flashed, cold and crunched with bloody ice.
One moment, frozen in tiny breaths of air and speckled heartbeats. It erupted.
Then the unwitting apostle disintegrated.
"Kill her," Mulder whispered, something inhuman sparking behind his hazel-green
The Cliff face returned, and his smile became wider, almost showing jagged teeth.
"Yes, kill her."
"Kill her," she faintly heard Mulder say. It was not his voice, or at least the
voice she had always heard, speaking. She didn't want to beg. She was incapable of
begging. Scully had never wanted to ask for anything in her life. She wanted to earn it.
Please, she thought, if there's anyone out there, please...
Medici snapped up from her hazy painkiller state. Something pleaded from the back of
her mind, and not in her own, clear, crisp familiar voice.
"What are you doing here?" she asked the policemen and women of her team,
as the ambulance started to pull away, "Get the hell up that mountain!"
She wasn't waking up. Pinching herself wouldn't help either,
because she'd already been bruised and battered to the max. Is this how it's going to end?
Scully thought, at the hands of the man who tells me he loves me? Is this how it ends,
while I'm bruised and battered and dead and hollow?
Maybe she was drowning in her blood after all. Blood wasn't a sign of life anyway, only
that of life leaking away...
Suddenly, she felt as if she wasn't so alone. A light came down, encircling her around
the waist, around her empty heart.
I will not go quietly into the night.
There was still a fight within her, and Scully had never truly given
up on herself.
Yes, she heard Cliff say, heard him place the knife in Mulder's hands, Kill her.
No. This is not the way it ends.
The light flung her forwards, and strength, culled from adrenaline, her heart, broken as
it was (for perhaps that was when it was the strongest), surged up. She grabbed the knife
from his hands, grabbed the gun with her other hand, moving as a flash for them, but in a
slowly confused haze for her. Then she was in front of them, fire versus ice, or fire
versus fire, as her eyes lit up in fury, betrayal, and effervescent light.
"This is not the way it ends," Scully called out, an angel cry, in fractured,
of syllables, and the murky fog from Mulder's mind cleared, as he realized that she was
standing over him, a knife in her hands, and his gun was gone. Oh god, as he realized
what he had nearly done, feeling the absence of the weight of the knife.
"Mulder," he heard her say, "You have to let him go."
He knew what she was talking about, and he didn't know if he could do it,
as he saw Cliff react to her words, a little nonplused, but a little afraid nevertheless.
What was it that Nietzsche had said?
(Be careful, lest in banishing your demons, you banish the best thing within you.)
"I'm sorry, Scully," he said, haunted and trapped as he had never been before.
There was the fear again, cold and merciless, running up and down the curved length
of her spine with razor sharp feet.
"What do you mean you can't?"
"I can't let him go," Mulder said, though there was no malevolence in his voice,
and no apology in his eyes, but a strain of refracted light, as he began to see the end of
the dark, relentless tunnel.
"Do you know why he's so strong, Scully? Do you know why he thinks he can kill you,
and thinks that I want to kill you? It's because I've always been pushing him away, trying
to let him go. Because I think it isn't right. Because I can't accept the demons within
"We all have our demons," she said very gently, as she began to see what he was
saying, "We just deal with them differently."
"I've always tried to push mine away, Scully. That's why they're so strong. That's
why they're here. Because they think that they can destroy what we have. It's true what
he says. You can pull me out of the darkness, or I can pull you into it. And I've been too
afraid of the outcome either way."
Deep within the hollow of her heart, something finally collapsed with his words,
the wrought confession she'd always known, as the final excruciating realization swam up
shrieking for air, a drowning diver. The darkness...
"Sometimes, love isn't enough," her voice, choked and restrained, echoing
haunted, bitter words to her. She wanted to lift the knife to her throat and slash through
that vein, the one that would spurt and scream until her life fled away on its usual
cowardly transparant wings.
"Yes," Mulder whispered, grasping her hand before she could, and she
"But ours is."
How had the tide turned so quickly? He had been so close to his goal.. not just
that of cutting The Ariadne Thread, but of something so trivial as eternal damnation.
This was an obstacle he had never before encountered. The men he had tormented from the
of humankind did not fall in love. Infatuation, obsession, always. One sided cruelty. He
had seen that in Mulder through Phoebe and Diana. He should have known it that first day
she walked into the office. But he hadn't. He had seen a petite, intelligent, beautiful
woman and he had never even believed that Mulder would be attracted to her.
Mulder was drawn to tall, gorgeous brunette heartbreakers. In time, he had expected
that perhaps something of the kind, akin to love, would happen to Mulder. What he had
never expected was for Dana Scully to fall in love with Mulder as well.
Clifford had never failed before, but what had made it different this time was that he had
underestimated Scully's strength. He wouldn't make that mistake twice.
"Are you still afraid of me, Mulder?" she asked. He had never felt her tremble
She had been just as scared as he was.
"No, Scully. Not anymore."
"Good," Cliff said, and that was the only warning they got before he sprang at
There was a crazed scuffle as everything moved in shades of black and white and red,
and then he could only see Cliff standing over Scully's body, a bloody knife in one hand,
the gun in the other. Clifford raised the gun to his own head, grinned his magnificent
grin for the last time. He saluted the frozen Mulder briefly, then pulled the trigger, and
the sound of a world exploding resonated through the cave, as the body of the soul that
never was dropped limply to the ground.
go to chapter 8