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a note from wen-

no background for this yet. all the ones i have right now would make your eyes hurt even more than the previous ones.

yes, I know I'm twisted.

In exchange for sparing your eyes on this final leg of the journey, I ask you that let me know how I did- this was my first story.

<insert shameless begging here>

~wen~


___________________
"This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but with a whimper."
    -TS Eliot, "The Hollow Men"
___________________



Chapter 8

As far as she could tell, the Earth slept beneath a great bed of watercolor stain.
Above and beyond was a great wash of blue, pure as water. Its downward strokes countered
gently with a wide swipe of pink sunrise that was enough to remind her of her boundaries,
and yet blended both the land and the sky with delicate, unknowing precision. Beneath that
lay a creamy sea of clouds, dreams perhaps at best, unsung hopes perhaps at least, in which
angels danced unmoving and casted timidly beautiful shadows as gently as a fallen newborn
sapling might have. If there was a heaven, Dana was pretty sure this was it, because she couldn't
imagine anything more radiantly diaphanous and free.
It was almost sacred enough to blot out the last horrific shrieking image she could remember-
Cliff diving towards her- that divine madness in his eyes, his terrifyingly serrated smile- and
in an instant snatching viciously both the gun and the knife from her hands, and then aiming
the knife for her throat. She'd feinted upwards with her arm, knocking his aim off balance, but
the blade sliced through her arm and somewhere above her stomach anyway, deeply, and then there
was nothing but numbness, as all pain had already been beaten out of her, and she'd heard a
single gunshot, and thought (oh god, mulder!) but instinctively knew he was all right
before the darkness had washed over her, and
transported her here, where she stood, or maybe just existed, on this beautiful place
above the clouds.
She didn't know her head could spin and murmur like this until now.
I'mdreamingandilikemydreamsmaybemaybebecausesometimessometimesthey'reso
beauti-
beauti-
beautiful
It was wonderfully warm, and there were no required breezes, as the air laughed of
apples and cotton candy. She could almost smile, before she felt a slight stir beside her and
turned around to see a rare familiar figure.
Serena?
She was no longer the tattered angel-child that had limped her way to her doorstep,
but an odd black-violet reflection of Scully in a glowing mirror, though they
looked nothing alike except for the shared aura around themselves, taking on the guise of
a strong woman, her unpainted lips curving softly into a sad, crying, smile that poked out
conspicously from the rest of her unearthly appearance, swathed in light.
(Dana,) she said softly, one word. She had no voice at all- her sad lips did not move,
and there was only a tinkle of windchimes and delicate fourth of july sparklers,
though Dana could hear what she was saying clearly.
(Am I dead?) she heard herself ask, though her own lips did not move, and she could
hear her words.
(No,) Serena said, (but you could have been if you'd let it all end, which you didn't,
and you wouldn't have.)
There was a silence between them, like the icy warm clouds loving them, comfortably awkward.
(I'm sorry, Dana,) Serena whispered softly.
(Why?)
(I couldn't stop Clifford when I could have.)
A silence again.
(Did you love him?) Dana asked, though she thought that maybe she already knew the
answer to that question, as well.
There was a gently glimmering pause.
For a moment, just a moment, there was almost bliss in the angel smile.
Then it disappeared again as the rising sun behind them blotted away every last drop of
the lingering darkness.
(Just because he was a cliff, didn't mean I had to jump.)
The clouds whispered in agreement, tiny icy hisses and cries of sunny dread.
(Why am I here?) Dana took in the paramor around herself, looked to the crescent of
sun beginning to rise, slowly, slowly, bringing the dawn of a new day or the end of another.
(Rebirth, Dana) Serena said, looking past the clouds. (That's what it's all about.)
(I see,) she said quietly, looking off into the distance, wondering if
she could scoop a bit of celestial cloud up between her hands and breathe it in, and if it'd
taste like light and ice and diamonds.
(This doesn't make it all better) Dana whispered. She expected, wanted the light to
heal her and make her into a whole that she'd never been.
(It can't,) Serena whispered back. If a smile could have shredded, hers did. (You have to
do that yourself.)
(But I can't)
Why couldn't Serena understand? Why couldn't Dana?
(Maybe,) Serena said. The smile fluttered, sad and lacerated, then blew away with a
sudden breeze. (But that's for you to decide.)
Silence descended. There was only the ache.
(Serena?) she finally asked, (Why did this happen?)
(You can tell me that,) the angel replied.
And she could, but she didn't. Just beyond the silhouetted clouds she could see a tiny
sandcastle being swept away with the tide.
(But I love him) she whispered. Despair returned as her companion, silent and clutching
to her, clawing and raking deep gashes that bled and bled and bled.
(Sometimes, love isn't enough) the angel said.
Dana looked up at her, crashing blue waves meeting sparkling violet eyes. The sun rose
calmly behind them. Neither woman or angel could say anything.
(Please Dana,) Serena whispered, (make the right decision. I know you will.)
And then there was nothing again, though it was not darkness that claimed her this time,
but a numinous burst of incandescent light.




Detective Medici hobbled uneasily on her crutches, stopped, tried to tuck a strand of
hair that was bothering her behind one ear, and straighten her papers at the same time.
The files went flying all over the floor, and she cursed under her breath, then smiled
sweetly to the orderly that picked them up for her, gave a quick thanks, and continued down
the hall. In a lucky turn of events, Agent Scully had not died from the rather severe
inflicted upon her by the serial killer,
and she had just gotten word that the FBI agent had awoken. She was
eager to show both agents the information that she hadn't had a chance to earlier.
The Blood Killer had finally died by his own hand. It gave her an odd sort of tingle of
dissatisfaction inside, despite the fact that he was gone and couldn't hurt anyone ever again.
She'd wanted to put him to justice. 19 lives, taken by a hand that had no right to take them.
The families of his victims had
wanted to put him to justice too. But perhaps this, in and of itself, was a form of justice
that even she couldn't administer.
She pushed the door open to hear Agent Mulder exclaiming, "You mean you can't remember?
You can't remember what Cliff was? You ca-" he stopped in mid-rant as he caught sight of
Medici. Agent Scully was awake, propped up against the head board of the hospital bed, still
a bit paler than usual, probably due to her substantial blood loss. She was a very lucky woman
to have survived such an ordeal, Medici reflected, that odd sense of envy returning
Her bruises were beginning to fade, though she'd have to remain at
the hospital until the deep knife gashes in her arm and stomach had healed without risk of
infection. She was watching her partner in a mixture of confusion and expectation, and when
she turned to Medici, her face was tranquil again.
"I'm sorry," Medici said, though she really wasn't, "Is this a bad time?"
"Not at all, Detective Medici," Agent Scully said, ignoring the look of daggers her
partner shot her when she said so. She motioned for her to sit, and gave Mulder a look
to remain quiet, then looked at Medici to prompt her to start.
"Before Ramsey abducted you, we found some pretty important information that might be
of some interest. 4 years ago, one Dr. Evan Few began to inject his patient, Serena Dove, and
her fiancee, Clifford Ramsey, with some sort of experimental drug that he'd concocted himself.
He may have told them what it was, and for what purpose, but since none of the three involved
are available any longer, we'll just have to assume that they were unknowing or being paid.
We only have the documents stating that he began to inject them with the drugs, and the kind
of effects it was having. They both were given varied amounts- Serena was given the drugs on
a less regular basis than Clifford was, and a few of the side effects included delusion,
hallucinations, and unconsciousness. We now know, upon a post mortem examination of the bodies,
that Serena Dove had trace amounts of the drug caladine, and Clifford had large amounts of
them. That would probably explain Clifford's sudden rise in homicidal
tendencies, and Serena's coma soon afterwards. We also found that Dr. Few himself was suffering
from a form of paranoid schizophrenia. His death was ruled as an accident."
She looked up at the two agents- Agent Scully looked somewhat satisfied, and Agent Mulder
giving her a look that told her he very much wanted her to leave. She cleared her throat
slightly.
"I'll leave these files here," she finished, "And if you have any questions, you know
how to reach me.
Agent Scully, I'm glad to see that you're recovering. Agent Mulder-" she nodded to him,
and then wobbled out the door on her crutches, still trying to get used to walking without
the use of both legs.
   


"See, Mulder?" Scully said when Medici closed the door behind her, "There's a scientific
explanation for everything that happens, and that-" she pointed to the stack of files, "Tells me
a lot more than your extreme belief that Clifford Ramsey was your personal demon
trying to kill me."
She said it almost mockingly.
"Scully-"
She interrupted him, and continued, "From the time I spent with Ramsey during my
abduction by him, he had no doubt that he was your 'personal demon' of some kind. But you
heard it yourself. The man was insane, and also suffering from extreme hallucinations due to
a drug he was taking.. He could have randomly found information on you anywhere, and out
of this information formed a sort of obsession, in which he tried to murder me."
"Scully-"
"An event that no doubt was able to strike you with adequate shock to believe what
Ramsey was telling you. Whatever I said at the time was under my own state of delusion due to
being kidnapped by a serial killer and nearly killed by one for yet another time in my life,
coupled with scaling a steep mountain underneath the context of my fear of heights."
He finally gave up trying to interrupt her, mysteriously, as her words began to sink
in, hesitantly, and then put his head down in resignation. The motion made her tone soften.
"But that isn't the real issue, here, Mulder, is it?"
He looked up then, his eyes weary and haunted from the lack of sleep as he'd waited for
her to regain consciousness.
"Then what is?" his voice was little more than a hoarse whisper.
"This is about us, Mulder. It's not about personal demons and the games they play."
"Scully, I already told you that I was sorry abo-"
"No, it's not about that, Mulder," she murmured, suddenly tired, so tired.
There was a drooping silence between them, heavy, with words unspoken but there all the
same. The tides were shifting, fast along the waves, and she could almost smell the salt in the
air and taste the flight of the birds on her tongue, there with the dust of angels. The taste
was there, along with the memory of the taste of his skin. She wanted to steal one last memory
of that away with her. She knew she couldn't.
"You told me once that love is like a piece of glass, Mulder- delicate, beautiful,
strong, but just as easy to shatter."
He wouldn't meet her eyes. She didn't know it because she couldn't meet his either. The
diffused crystalline waves began to lap against the sandcastle that they had relentlessly built
and rebuilt, with desperate prayers that for once, just once, it would not be swept
away, even as it disappeared.
"The glass has been broken, hasn't it?" he asked. She nodded, slowly.
She could almost see the last turrets of the sandcastle disappear in sparkling
flicks of sand with the pulling wave. She knew that for now she was too tired to try
to chase the wave, to bring those flicks of sand back piece by piece, grain by grain,
knowing that Mulder couldn't do it without her.
"Can the shards be resurrected?" his voice begged and beguiled, and she tried not
to let it lure her in...
"I don't know," she replied, and closed her eyes, yearning desperately for a sleep that
would never come to her. Glass was made by melting sand, wasn't it?
He leaned forward, took her chin in his, the touch too soft for her to bear.
"Please," she whispered, her eyes still tightly closed, "Don't do this to me, Mulder."
All the same, he leaned forward, brushing her lips with a kiss that was so delicate
and soft and distant that neither knew it was a goodbye.
She brought a hand up, and pushed his touch away, too afraid to open her eyes to see
the pain in his. She watched the ocean in her mind until there was nothing left but the
unmarred surface of the beach and the gentle cry of seagulls.
"But we've already been through too much," he whispered back, and she could hear the
desperation in his voice, and the almost carnal need within it steeled her heart, returned
her mind to her, which had before run away at the very slightest of his touch. By the sea, she
stopped, raising the last bit of sand she'd salvaged from the castle, hesitantly at first.
"I love you, Scully," she could hear him say, as though through a thick cloud, and she
achingly didn't know why the words couldn't touch her.
(I am the Ice Queen, aren't I?)
"I know," she said, finally opening her eyes and letting them meet his, "That's why
we can't have this, Mulder."
Why couldn't he see the truth in her bruises, her wounds? She couldn't save him,
at least not until he'd tried to save himself first. She didn't know if she could save herself.
She didn't want to. She was no creature of light, of heavenly wings. She belonged in the
darkness of the labyrinth.
She whispered, her eyes shut tightly,
"Don't you understand, Mulder? I wasn't strong enough to save you from yourself."
If she could have felt his eyes go wide, they did.
"Scully, I don't care about that," he whispered back, urgently, "You don't need to
always be the one saving the world."
"I know," she said, finally opening her eyes, "But I should have been at least
able to save you."
He opened his mouth to speak again, but she used her hand to block the words,
a sudden almost violent movement, devoid of any tenderness.
"I don't think I can love something I can't save, Mulder," she lied, hoping she
did it effectively. Then, looking up, she was suddenly surprised to see that he had
believed her- this man, who knew her better than she did, had failed to see through
the biggest lie she had ever told in her life. What was left of her heart ripped in
two.
Then she almost felt the sick, juvenile touch of revenge as she realized that she had
just torn his heart into jagged broken pieces the way he had done with her. Again.
And again and again and again.
"It's not for forever Mulder," she tried to tell him, tried to give him hope that she
wasn't sure that she had anymore.
"But it's still too long," he replied, his voice thick with the sand she'd poured down
his throat. It wasn't the right kind of sand, wasn't magical and beautiful like their love had
for a brief, shining moment, seemed.
"Mulder?" if she didn't say it now, she'd never be able to say it.. "Can you leave?
Please?"
The room became too large, suddenly, looming huge and hulking, and he had stood there
for nearly a whole minute, staring at her, and then walked quickly, quickly out the door, so
that she couldn't see how he felt, though he was sure that she already knew, as she always had.
All she was doing was ripping the holes wider.
Nothing
new
to him.
The door closed gently behind him, despite the rate at which he had moved, and she
watched it swing once or twice, then unwillingly stop.
The labyrinth and the sea. The builder of the labyrinth had lost his beloved son
Icarus and a pair of false wings, false hopes, into the sea.
She'd always been lost in the sea.
She looked at that last snatch of the invisible sand that she'd clutched in her hand
until he'd left, and flung it, sparkling, crying, and dying into the imaginary water.
Then she stood, breathless, alone.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, coarse and raw.
"I'm sorry I loved you too much."
The door to the labyrinth swung shut.
   





   
   
   

   
   
EPILOGUE

Shattered souls need more than time to heal. They need more than mystical aspirations
of heaven or angels or anything the world has to offer. Including anything that Mulder and I
have, or had.
We thought, after that last conversation at the hospital before I was released,
that maybe it was best for them to heal away from each other. Tattered hearts couldn't heal
together, not when they were hollow as ours were. It was for the best.
Actually, I thought that it was best. Mulder hadn't. He'd protested
and fumed and nearly begged... after he'd left my hospital room he'd returned, of course. He
always would. Mulder is extremely (and frustratingly) persistent- fortunately, so am I.
He kept it up for nearly 4 months until he finally realized what it was that we
both needed, or else thought that I would never want to see him again. The latter of these
was not true, despite the calm and rational part of my mind that whimpered to me. All the same,
if it was enough to keep him away, there was nothing more that I could do...
Strength. Maybe this was what it had all been about. Maybe not. I want to be a strong person.
I do want to save the world all of the time- at least Mulder's world. And I couldn't even
do that. I wasn't Theseus, rescuing Mulder from the darkness of oblivion. All I was...
was an incomplete piece of thread.
I am the Ariadne Thread. A funny thing, almost. A simple concept. Theseus used that
ball of thread to escape the labyrinth. He didn't need love- in fact, he abandoned it on
an island, whether by purpose or mistake, it was all the same. I tried to lead Mulder away
from the darkness within his soul, regardless of whether or not he saw his demons in the form
of a delusional, sick young man named Clifford Ramsey.
It's been so long since that night on the mountain that my recollection of the events
that happened is becoming foggier and foggier.
I'm a scientist. I refuse to believe that a 'demon' and an 'angel' descended merely to
try to set straight an unhealthy love between two people, as Mulder once tried to suggest
to me. Not as if I'd been able to argue about it with him. It'd been one of hundreds of messages
he'd left on my answering machine, sullen white doves that went painfully but
controllably unanswered.
In my recollection of the events, I saw merely a young man and an innocent woman,
who had placed their destiny in the hands of a doctor who believed he could control their
fate in his own predetermined madness, and was consumed by that clandestine madness.
Information on myself and Mulder could have been picked up from anywhere. After
all, Roche did once turn Mulder from information he'd found on the Internet.
All it was, to my recollection, was a cruel twist of fate and circumstance.
But it was enough to break me free and examine what it was that was happening between us.
Sometimes, a bone must be broken again for it to heal straight.
Ariadne- that's me, isn't it? I'm both Ariadne and her thread. I fell in love with
a man in a battle with himself, tried to lead him from the labyrinthal darkness of his
soul into the redeeming light, and tried to cut myself free when I couldn't.
That's why I told Mulder we needed time apart.
I was breaking away from him before he could abandon me again.
In the end you'll see that I was right. Theseus abandoned
Ariadne. Mulder abandons me on a regular basis, if not physically, then mentally.
I'm afraid of being alone. We all are. I know Mulder is. I can't sit up all those nights
wondering where he is or if he's even coming home. Because one day he won't.
I have to wait until he can truly abandon that animalistic need, give himself to me as I
have to him, to love me the way that I love him, because that's the only way.
Selfish, yes, but it's the only way that I can keep from falling apart. God, I used to
be strong. Hardest girl at St. Mary's catholic school, they used to run when
they saw me coming. Those days I was strong. Those days, I knew where I was going. Those
days, Ahab would have been proud of me, his little Starbuck, her footsteps ringing sharp
and in step down the hall, because she knew where she was going, and by all the demons of
heaven and hell, she was going to get there.
The day that I joined the X-Files was the day I started to disentegrate.
I didn't really notice at first. That was how casual and slow it had been. I had noticed,
suddenly, when I dying of my cancer. I had awaken one night in that cold hospital, and for
the first time in my life, cried out in need.
I guess Special Agent Dana Scully was a completely different woman than Starbuck.
I had tried blaming it on Mulder, but then wondered if I should have.
After all, it wasn't he that was eroding my beliefs. He had been the one that let me
defend them like hell.
I had been the one that started to believe.
I'd always wondered if he'd begun to notice the uncertainty behind
my science. I even wonder if he noticed the uncertainty behind my words that night
on the mountain, in the cave.
I'd told him, sometimes love isn't enough, and he'd thought that ours was.
He was wrong.
I'd heard him murmur something by my hospital bed one night while he thought that I
was asleep. He said, be careful, lest in banishing your demons, you banish the best thing
within you.
What had happened with Cliff in the cave was not a banishment, or an acceptance. It
was nothing at all, though I'd hoped it would be enough to heal what it was between us.

I was wrong too.
   
If I'm the Ariadne Thread, then why can't I lead myself back into the light?
   
Is it because I need Mulder to get there?
   
Theseus couldn't escape without the thread, but Ariadne couldn't escape from Crete
without Theseus, even though he abandoned her.

I'll go back to Mulder, one day, before or after he accepts his demons.
My heart is a foolish thing, and my mind can only hold on for so long...
Mulder was right when he told me love is like a piece of spun
glass, so strong, yet just as fragile and easy to break. We were once that glass, waiting for
the delicate sand in our growing sandcastle to melt together, to heal us without dismembering
us. It was a sandcastle shaped by a thread of salvation, a thread of hope.
   
I guess sandcastles shaped by thread are the easiest to destroy.

Then again, sometimes, they are also the strongest, even if I'm not.
   
Can the shards be resurrected?
   
Because if they can, I'll still be here in the darkness, with a ball of thread in
my hands and the dust of angels on my tongue, to lead us both back into the light.


to the acknowledgements