Sent: Tuesday, August 01, 2000

Title: Tourniquet
Author: Tara Avery
Rating: PG-13
Keywords: V, A, MSR, other unmentionables.
Spoilers: Blink and you'll miss it for "The Amazing Maleeni"
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: "He takes the twine out of his pocket and winds it
around his finger tightly, drowning one pain in another."
Acknowledgements: Sabine, JHJ Armstrong, M. Sebasky and Livia
Balaban for excellent beta. And special thanks to EpurSeMouve
for the wonderful TITLE! For Virginia, whose taste for angst may
or may not be a good thing.

Wen, you know which line is for you.

* * *
Tara Avery
* * *

A shout. A scream. A mistake.

He wakes in a cold sweat, betrayed because his body keeps on

* * *

He wraps the piece of twine around his pinkie finger to remind
him she's no longer here. As he tightens the string, one end
clenched between his teeth, he sees a picture in his head of an
elephant with red string tied around its huge foot and the
caption "an elephant never forgets." He thinks it's from a
kindergarten classroom. Maybe his own.

The skin on the tip of his finger, engorged with blood, reminds
him that he can't turn around and say, "You know, Scully,
according to the myths of the Mohawk Indian nation..." or,
"Scully, do you know where the saying 'an elephant never forgets'
comes from?"

He can't say "Thank you for the bagels this morning, Scully,"
because she didn't bring any. He's not used to that. He didn't
eat breakfast. He kept waiting for bagels. He ties the twine
around his finger at noon, when he remembers she isn't coming
back. Occasionally, when he thinks of it, he loosens the twine
and lets the blood flow painfully back into the tip of his
finger. If anything, this reminder is even stronger.

If he turned to face her empty side of the office, the reminder
would be crueler than the throbbing flesh of his fingertip. He
closes his eyes. There's work to be done.

* * *

His fingers graze her cheekbone. He's absolutely fascinated.
He's never seen anything so delicate. The tip of her nose is
flushed. The skin of her décolleté is rose, alive. The tiny
ridges of his fingerprints flutter over her body, never staying
in one place for long, memorizing the feel of her, memorizing the
pattern of her skin. Soft, soft, soft. There is a tiny freckle
on her hip. It's oddly out of place, but he likes the freckle
best of all.

He kisses the inside of her wrist, feeling the pulse skip beneath
his lips. She catches her breath. The skin is fragile there,
white and translucent. He can see her veins, bluish-green,
delicate like spider legs underneath her skin.

The world looks different seen through a haze of Scully.

* * *

Her apartment still feels lived in. This upsets him.

There is a bag of oranges on the kitchen table, perfectly ripe,
waiting to be eaten. Robbie Robertson in the CD deck, waiting to
be listened to. He stands on the threshold and holds himself
together until the shaking stops. Just a ghost passing through,
he thinks, as the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. Just
her ghost passing through.

* * *

In the morning they smile at each other and she offers to make
them coffee. He says he'd rather drink up the sight of her. She
raises her eyebrow and he chuckles.

"You're beautiful, you know," he whispers.

"So are you," she whispers back.

"Do you want to go to work today?"

She stretches languidly, cream skin against white sheets. "Not
if you can think of something better to do."

They call in sick. Skinner doesn't ask.

* * *

A life permanently paused. This is what her apartment makes him
think. She'll be coming back soon, she'll be coming back
tomorrow. She'll pay the overdue phone bill, the cable, the
water and electricity. She'll shake her head at the unnecessary
expense of overdue fines and promise never to go away again. A
life on pause, that's all. It's happened before. She'll be home

He folds all the bills neatly, slips them into a file folder.
He'll deal with this later. Soon. Phone and cable companies
just want their money -- they don't care who pays it out, as long
as it's paid. Paid and cancelled, after this.

Maybe that's what her apartment reminds him of: Not a life on
pause, but a life cancelled.

* * *

He kisses each one of her toes in turn. "This little piggy went
to market," he says, muffled around the flesh of her big toe.
"This little piggy stayed home."

"Lucky piggy," she says. It's almost a moan.

"Do you know what happened to the next little piggy?"

"I sure hope she got laid."


Her smile is luminous. "Afraid of a little dirty talk, Mulder?"

"You know I'm not."


"Piggies, not chickens."

"I love you, Mulder."

He wants to joke, at first, but can't find anything witty to say
that won't hurt them both. He only smiles and kisses the tip of
her big toe.

* * *

Under her bed he finds a shoebox filled with memories. At first
he doesn't want to look at them -- he feels as guilty looking
through old photographs and letters as he would reading the most
private words of her diary. On top of the stack is a strip of
four little pictures, taken in one of those old photo booths when
they were on the magician case in California. It seems like such
a very, very long time ago, now.

"C'mon, Scully," he'd prodded, as they stood on the Santa Monica
Pier, watching the sunset. "Ride the Ferris wheel with me."

"No, Mulder."

"Cotton candy?"

"It's just spun sugar, Mulder."

"That's what's good about it."

She'd shaken her head stubbornly. He remembered being surprised
when he suggested the photo booth and she agreed. They had
crammed their two adult bodies in the tiny booth and made faces
at the camera, laughing like fools. When they left the booth the
kids waiting in line looked stunned. Probably never heard
grown-ups laugh like that before.

In the last of the four pictures she looks strangely serious. He
hadn't noticed at the time, but here it is, captured on film. In
the last of the pictures he's sticking his tongue out at her and
Scully looks ready to cry.

Mulder wonders why, but knows he'll never know the answer.

Under the recent snapshots (Tara and Matthew, a birthday picture
of a girl who looks like Emily, Scully and her mom) are letters
from Bill, from Charlie, some old ones from Melissa. Little
scraps of Scully's life are trapped in this box -- receipts from
dinners, movie stubs, dried flower petals, a single letter from a
man named Jonathan Doyle. The envelope looks as though it was
crumpled and then smoothed out again. The edges of the paper are
yellow with age. Mulder doesn't open it, even though he's
curious. Let sleeping dogs lie, he thinks, rest in peace.

At the very bottom of the box is a black and white photograph, a
little blurry, of a much younger Scully sitting on a sofa between
two big football types. Young Scully has a bottle of beer in one
hand, a joint in the other, and a huge bowl of chips on her lap.

Mulder smiles weakly, thinking it's a good thing the FBI never
saw this picture, and he wonders why he never got to see his
Scully smile like that.

* * *

She turns suddenly serious, as sometimes happens when two people
stay in bed for twenty-four hours straight.

"Do you ever feel alone, Mulder? I mean, really, really alone?"

"I used to. Before you."

"What happens if I --"

"You don't."

"You'd just give up, wouldn't you? I wouldn't want you to give
up, Mulder."

"Scully, if you left ... if something happened to you, I wouldn't
... I'd have to follow you."

"Doesn't that scare you?"

"I find it sort of reassuring."

She shakes her head. "I don't. I wouldn't want you to die
because of me, Mulder. I've spent the last seven years keeping
you from dying -- I'd hate to think it was all in vain."

"It doesn't matter, Scully. You're not dying any time soon.
I'll make sure of that."

Later, while she sleeps, he looks down at her. She looks dead.
He berates himself for even thinking such a thing. He doesn't

* * *

Her bathroom is full of alien things he doesn't understand. How
can one little person use so much stuff? For a woman who
believed so staunchly in science, he'd like to know how she
justified the various oils and unguents contained in her own
bathroom. Was she planning on opening her own apothecary?

"Lotion can't really stop you from wrinkling, Scully," he says to
the various products scattered across the countertop.

In the drawer he finds her makeup. Neutral eyeshadows, brushes,
rosy blush. He pulls out a little black tube of lipstick and
smears some on a square of toilet tissue. There it is -- the
same color as her lips, captured in a stick of pigment and cream.

There it is, but it's not really her, he thinks, and starts to
cry for the first time since it happened.

He sits with his back against the bathroom cabinets, hands
pressed to his ears, blotting out the scream of a dying woman, of
a ghost. He wonders for the millionth time why he ever thought
they were above the regular hazards of a job in law enforcement.
Cocky, he thinks, knowing she was never cocky. He was, though.
He knows that, too.

"Come out!" he had shouted. "Come out, you son of a bitch!"

"Mulder," she hissed. "For Christ's sake, Mulder, get down!"

Neither of them wore Kevlar. Neither of them thought the man was
armed. He was a crackpot who claimed aliens were telling him to
joyride in cars that didn't belong to him. Just a bastard who
liked to steal cars and who had foolishly progressed to stealing

He was a bastard carrying a gun.

The color of the lipstick on the square of white tissue brings to
mind other things, things best forgotten. He takes the twine out
of his pocket and winds it around his finger tightly, drowning
one pain in another.

* * *

Blood everywhere.

He's never seen so much blood in his life.

He presses his hands over the wound, blood-slick hands inadequate
to stop the flow. Her eyelids flutter. She makes little mewling
pain noises, like a dying kitten, but can't force out complete
words. He tells her to rest, to be quiet, don't worry, don't
worry, I'm here, Scully, don't worry, I'm here, you're okay,
you're okay, you're okay.

Inside he chants, notfairnotfairnotfair until the paramedics

* * *

He closes the door to her life and leans backward. He has
brought the file of bills to pay. In his pocket he carries her
lipstick and the line of overexposed photographs taken in Santa

Everything else he leaves to the ministrations of her mother.

He keeps on breathing because he knows it's what she'd want.

The tip of his pinkie finger throbs.

* * *

Yes, this too was a wenprov. Yes, I know I didn't put character
death in the headers. I like a surprise now and again. I'm
tempted not to put the elements, but I will: From August: a bag
of oranges, a love letter from an ex-boyfriend Scully never
reads, an overdue phone bill. From Cofax: Robbie Robertson, the
Mohawk Indian nation. From Lysandra: twine, Mulder uses Scully's
cosmetics and from Perelandra: a bag of weed & Scully with the
munchies. I know I fudged a bit on the last two--but hey, I was
only REQUIRED to incorporate THREE. *grin* The story was begun
Friday, July 29 at 6:50 p.m. and finished at 8:17 p.m. with a
total running time of 1 hour 27 mins. Thanks for reading, and
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