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Genesis III: Forging the Bonds


Part One

April 1998

Marsh picked up the phone on the first ring. "Dr. Black," she said.

"You're not supposed to be at work," the familiar voice said sharply.

Marsh smiled, leaning back in her chair and cradling the receiver between her shoulder and ear. She closed her eyes, imagining the dynamic redhead at the other end of the line. She could almost feel the heat from that kilowatt smile. "And when exactly can I expect you back? I miss you like crazy."

"Nice try, but you're avoiding the issue," Dana Scully persisted, watching the traffic with half a mind as she pictured Marsh in her navy blue scrubs--long, lean, and sensuous. That was the way she had first seen her, and just the thought of her was enough to make Scully's pulse race. "Why aren't you home?"

"It was either come in here and catch up on paperwork, or die of boredom," Marsh said with disgust.

Marsh wouldn't be able to scrub for surgery until the abrasions and lacerations were healed. Scully knew it had been a difficult two weeks for her intense lover, and it hadn't helped that they had been separated. Marsh had only been home from the hospital a few days before Scully and Mulder were called out of town on a case. To be apart was hard on both of them after what they'd just been through. The ordinary demands of Scully's job seemed doubled when she had to leave Marsh. "How are your arms?" Scully asked gently.

Marsh examined the road map of red marks encircling her wrists. There would be scars. "They're fine. Another couple of days and I should be able to operate safely."

Scully knew that fine was not exactly accurate, but she accepted that Marsh was not ready to discuss it. She understood the need to appear strong, even to those who would offer comfort if allowed. "How would you like to take me to dinner?" she asked lightly.

"Nothing would please me more," Marsh said seriously. Pause. "On second thought, there is one thing --"

Scully's body responded to the innuendo in Marsh's voice with a quick surge of excitement. She tightened her thighs against the sudden pressure. They hadn't slept in the same bed or made love since Marsh's injury. Her voice was husky when she replied, "Maybe we should order takeout."

Marshall laughed, her spirits lifting for the first time in days. "Oh no, Agent Scully. I've been waiting a week to see you--you'll have to hold that thought a few hours longer."

"It had better be worth it," Scully said teasingly, wondering how she was going to control her rampaging libido for that long. Memories of Marsh and her own self-administrations had kept her sane during the past week, but it had hardly begun to satisfy her need for Marsh to touch her, or to have her hands on Marsh's skin.

"Oh, it will be," Marsh promised.


6:58 pm

Scully handed her coat to the hostess with a perfunctory thanks. She was already scanning the seating area, searching for Marsh. She couldn't contain her grin, or her excitement, when she found her. How pale her memory had been compared to the reality of Marsh's presence! How fine Marsh looked in a tailored silk suit, that endearing shock of black hair falling unheeded over her forehead. *She is so damn beautiful!* Her heart was pounding as she threaded her way between the tables. *I can't believe it's only been a week! I've missed her so much!*

Marsh started to rise as Scully approached. With an uncharacteristically shy smile, she held out a single white rose. "Happy anniversary, Dr. Scully," she said softly. *How I wish I had words to say what you mean to me*

Scully stopped a foot from the table, gently taking the hand that offered the rose. She smiled into Marsh's eyes, then leaned forward and kissed her softly on the lips. "Thank you, Dr. Black," she said, her voice husky. *I am definitely not going to make it through dinner*

"Careful, people will stare," Marsh said lightly, not caring in the least. She let her fingers linger for just an instant on Scully's forearm before she sat back down.

Scully was grateful to finally sit; her legs were shaking. She lay the rose reverently beside her plate. When she met Marsh's gaze, her eyes were moist. "Has it really only been a month? I can't recall how I managed before you."

"All I did was manage," Marsh said quietly, remembering years of soul numbing loneliness. "I owe you my life, and everything that makes it worth living."

Scully looked at Marsh's hands were they rested lightly on the white linen tablecloth. They were supple and strong, precise surgeon's hands, capable of inflaming her with the slightest touch. Below the edge of Marsh's white cuffs she could make out the last of the healing lacerations. Very gently she placed her fingertips against the scars. "Without you my life would be so empty." She raised her eyes to Marsh's, the pain of nearly losing her still fresh. "I need you so much."

Marsh threaded her fingers through Scully's. "This dinner was a bad idea. I want you so much I can't think."

Scully tightened her fingers around Marsh's. Her throat was dry. "Leave a generous tip."

They were gone before the waiter had a chance to drop off the menus.


11:21 pm

"I'm starving."

"There's cold pizza somewhere," Marsh commented lazily.

"Hmm, where did that end up?" Scully mused. There was very likely a trail of discarded garments leading directly to it. When the delivery boy knocked at the door, they were on the other side of it, half-undressed, hands inside each other's clothing, ravenous only for each other. All she could remember was a hasty rebuttoning of blouses and fumbling with zippers. Moments later, the pizza had been forgotten in their rush to get one another naked again.

"If you let me up, I might be able to find sustenance for you," Marsh said with a laugh. Dana was curled up next to her, one leg thrown over hers, and an arm possessively encircling her waist.

"You're my sustenance--food is only metabolic fuel," Scully murmured contentedly, pulling Marsh closer. *God, I can't believe I almost lost you. What would I do without you now?*

Marsh kissed her, lingering to run her tongue over the ripe fullness of Dana's lower lip. Dana tasted like warm honey and exotic fruits, and Marsh knew it was a mixture of their own nectar. "Mmm, you taste good," she said, kissing her more deeply, beginning to lose herself in the lush softness of Dana's mouth. She moaned when Dana took a nipple between her fingers, twisting it just enough to send showers of excitement up and down Marsh's body. Soon her clitoris was throbbing in time to the thrusting of their tongues. She slid one leg around Scully's, trying to ease the building tension by pressing against Dana's thigh.

Scully felt Marsh's arousal, hot and wet against her skin, and was amazed that she could affect the other woman so. It was a new experience, one she enjoyed, and one she had no intention of ignoring.

Marsh groaned as Scully slid a finger deeper between her legs, dipping into the moisture there, finding her full and hard. Scully purposely avoided her clitoris, tormenting her with light caresses along either side of it. When Marsh nearly sobbed, pushing desperately against Scully's hand, Scully smiled, satisfied that she had her lover's attention. She tangled her fingers in the light wavy hair at the base of Marsh's belly, tugging softly. "Hey, you were going hunting and gathering, remember Doc? Time to go."

"You're killing me," Marsh moaned, lifting her hips, wordlessly urging Scully to increase the pressure of her strokes. Her mind was cloudy with need. *God, just touch me for a second. I'm so close!*

Scully wanted nothing more than to satisfy her, but she had no desire to rush. *Face it, Dana, you love to tease her. It's such an incredible turn on when she begs* It was all she could do not to slide her other hand to her own throbbing clitoris. She moved her hand away from Marsh's intoxicating heat. "I'm too weak from hunger to go on."

Marsh growled and rolled over onto her, pinning Scully's hands above her head at the same time. She straddled Scully's midsection as she leaned down to bite the tender flesh just above Scully's collar bone. She rocked her hips in short thrusts, rubbing her clitoris over the soft skin of Scully's stomach. The friction was making her come. She moaned, short staccato cries, her face pressed to Scully's neck as her clitoris twitched with preorgasmic spasms. *Oh, yesss--so good!*

"Oh, no you don't!" Scully warned as she realized what was happening. With surprising speed and strength she freed her hands from Marsh's grip, pushing Marsh back, breaking their contact.

"Oh, lord, Dana--" Marsh pleaded, her face taut with need. "I want to come!" She could barely focus, her eyes dark pools of yearning. "Please! Just make me come!"

Faint smile. "Move up here, then." Husky demand.

Marsh slid forward, bracing herself with her hands against the headboard. Her legs trembled so much she thought she might fall.

Scully grasped Marsh's firm buttocks, supporting her as Marsh lowered herself toward Scully's mouth. Scully looked up, exulting in the moment. Above her, Marsh's tight belly and pink-tipped breasts stretched like a living sculpture, her coiled muscles quivering with tension. Their eyes met as Marsh looked down at her, and they connected in that place where lovers go when all they know is the wonder of each other. Slowly, Scully raised her head, full lips parting. A small sob escaped as Marsh braced for the contact. Scully took her deeply into her mouth, drinking of her, savoring her rich essence. At the same time, Scully reached between her own parted thighs. Her moans vibrated around Marsh's clitoris. When Scully ran her tongue the length of her, deliberately pressing hard against Marsh's extended clitoris, Marsh came instantly, a wrenching cry accompanying her jerking hips. That, and the pressure of her own circling fingers, was enough to set Scully off. She clamped her thighs tightly around her hand as the contractions began, holding Marsh to her lips with the other. Scully nearly forgot to breath as she immersed herself in the sounds and sensations of her lover's orgasm. She didn't stop her adorations until Marsh literally collapsed beside her.

"Oh, god, I love you," Marsh cried, wrapping her arms around her smaller lover.

Scully pulled Marsh close, kissing first her mouth, then her still fluttering eyelids. When she could bear to break the contact, she whispered, "I love you, too. So much."

Scully's words electrified Marsh as the satisfaction of her orgasm gave way to lust. She rolled over onto Scully, her hand searching for Dana's center, urgent with the need to possess her. Scully arched to meet her, pulling her inside, demanding to be taken.

The pizza could wait a little longer.


6:45 a.m.

Scully found Marsh leaning against the counter in the kitchen munching a piece of cold pizza, clad only in a half-buttoned, oversized shirt. Her hair was wild, her lips slightly bruised, her eyes liquid with satiation. She was adorably irresistible.

"Is that my breakfast you're devouring?" Scully asked with a smile.  On her way to search the refrigerator for something to drink, she ran her fingers lightly up Marsh's naked thigh.

"Mmmm," Marsh acknowledged, grinning sheepishly.

Scully shook her head in mock disgust. "You're as bad as Mulder. I guess I'm destined to eat take out for the rest of my life."

"Oh now, be fair. I can cook. Let's see," Marsh said, opening the cabinets behind her. "We could have...well, there's tuna fish, cereal, and canned mushrooms." She grinned, that slightly crooked grin that caused Scully's heart to melt. "Okay. I can cook, I just don't shop."

"Like I said, take out," Scully laughed. She poured orange juice, coming to stand beside Marsh, threading an arm around her waist and leaning against her comfortably. They hadn't had much time to enjoy the simple moments of day to day life, and Scully found she liked it. Waking up with Marsh beside her was as satisfying in its own way as the passionate love they made well into the night. She even liked listening to her sing in the shower. She had never shared such intimate moments with anyone, and there were times, like now, when she wished she had never heard of medicine, or the FBI, or the x-files. All she wanted was to fix breakfast, read the newspaper over a leisurely cup of coffee, and coax her lover back to bed. She sighed. "If Mulder and I didn't have to finish the paperwork on the Wilmington case, I'd be tempted to call in sick--if I could get you to stay home, too."

Marsh draped an arm around Scully's shoulders, drawing her closer. "I wish I could. I'm not ready to leave you either." She kissed her, letting the soft connection grow until they were both a little breathless. She pulled away reluctantly. "So how is Mulder?"

"Mulder is Mulder," Scully said. "He stayed in Wilmington to tie up some loose ends after I left. The case was closed, and all I wanted to do was get back here to you."

"Is he okay with us?" Marsh asked carefully.

Scully tilted her head to study Marsh's face. "Yes, I think so. Why? What happened?"

Marsh shrugged. "Nothing happened. It's just that when he questioned me in the hospital, I got the sense he didn't entirely trust me. I was still a little under the weather. I probably was imagining things."

Scully kept her voice carefully neutral. "I didn't realize he questioned you. When was this?"

"That first afternoon, when you went home to get some sleep."

*When I wasn't around, you mean* Scully worked to keep her temper under control. It was exactly like Mulder to pursue his own agenda without telling her. Generally, at some point in an investigation, he would let her in on the information he had gathered. This time, however, he had been interrogating her lover. This time, she was furious. "What did he want to know?"

Marsh set about getting coffee ready. "What you might expect. How much did I remember; did I recognize anyone; what did they want to know; what did I tell them. I'm afraid I disappointed him. I was drugged almost the entire time, and I don't remember specifics."

Scully was torn. Mulder was her partner, and she had a deep and unshakeable faith in his integrity. But Marsh was her lover, and something fiercely protective surfaced as Marsh spoke. Mulder should have known from the statement Marsh had given Skinner that she had no memory for the events of her disappearance. The fact that he questioned her later meant he didn't believe her. *I know he suspects everyone of a conspiracy, but he could have told me he was going to talk to her!*

"Didn't he tell you?" Marsh asked in surprise.

"We were pretty wrapped up in this case. Between me driving back and forth with the forensics, and the two of us trying to coordinate an investigation with the Wilmington police, I don't think Mulder and I said two words to each other that wasn't about work."

Marsh poured them both mugs of coffee. "I know he's important to you, Dana--he's more than just your partner, which is important enough. If there's a problem--"

"If there's a problem," Scully interrupted firmly, "I'll take care of it. Mulder is damn important to me, but you, Dr. Black, are my life."

Marsh paused, the coffee cup halfway to her lips. "You're really serious, aren't you?" she asked in wonder.

Scully was constantly surprised to rediscover that her capable, competent, accomplished lover hid a heart full of disappointment and uncertainty behind her confident exterior. "Yes," she said very gently. "I am totally serious. I love you."

"In that case," Marsh asked quietly, "I was wondering if you would like to go to a birthday party with me Saturday night."

"Birthday party?" Scully echoed. *Why do I get the feeling this is a loaded question* She set her coffee cup carefully on the table before taking both of Marsh's hands in hers. "Come clean, Black. Let's have the details."

"My grandfather will be 75 on Saturday. I don't know how many more birthday's he'll have. I'd like him to meet you."

"Meet me as what, Marsh?" Scully probed. *She's as difficult to get information out of as Mulder!*

Marsh met her gaze squarely. "As my lover. I want him to know I have someone. I think he'll be happy for me."

Scully contemplated the significance of Marsh's request. Until this point, Mulder was the only person who knew about her relationship with Marsh. If she met Marsh's family, she was making a statement about her place in Marsh's life. She was making a statement about their future. A few weeks ago she had faced losing her, and that event had crystallized her feelings into diamond hard certainty. She loved her. What Marsh was asking, without demanding an answer, was what she intended to do with that love. Scully hadn't been raised to run from the truth. Her gaze never faltered as she squeezed Marsh's hands lightly.

"I'd love to go."


Part Two

2:20 p.m. Friday
FBI headquarters, Washington D.C.

"Hey, Scully," a tired, disheveled Mulder said as he flopped gratefully into his chair. "Anything happening?"

Scully looked up from the computer terminal, noting the day old stubble and rumpled clothes. "You look like hell, Mulder."

He grinned, propping his feet up on the corner of his desk. "Thank you. I missed you, too."

"Did you talk to her?"

He frowned. "Yeah. But I didn't get anywhere. She's convinced that she's free now, and she's ready to spend the rest of her life in prison if she has to."

"She did kill a man, Mulder," Scully reminded him gently. The circumstances were bizarre to be sure. She still couldn't quite reconcile exactly how a blind woman could lay in wait for someone, and then shoot them.

"It was self-defense," he insisted.

"But it appears pre-meditated! She knocked out a cop and took his gun, for pete's sake! That blows the self-defense argument right there," she pointed out.

"But it is self-defense if she were seeing the killer's crimes, psychically, and he realized that. She was protecting herself the only way she could!" Mulder protested.

"You try selling that to a jury, or better yet--Skinner," Scully snorted.

"I thought you could do that," he said, grinning.

Scully shook her head emphatically. "My field report is almost finished, and it does not say anything about psychic visions originating from intrauterine trauma!"

"Ooo, Scully--that is so exciting when you say it like that." Big leer.

"Knock it off, Mulder." Hiding smile.

"You left town awfully quickly yesterday," Mulder commented off-handedly. *Oh oh, she's blushing again* He waited.

"The case was finished," Scully noted flatly.

"Uh huh."

She fixed him with the look, one eyebrow raised in exasperation. "And I hadn't seen Marsh in a week."

"Uh huh!" he grinned.

"Why didn't you tell me you were going to question her, Mulder?" she asked, her earlier anger abated, but not altogether assuaged. He should have told her.

His grin disappeared and he sat up straight in his chair. "It was just a follow-up interview," he said. It was lame, and he knew it. Hell, she  knew it. He took a breath, beginning again before she had a chance to jump all over him. "I thought if I talked to her I might get her to remember something--anything."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Scully repeated. She was used to Mulder pursuing things his own way, but she couldn't help but think there was something he wasn't telling her.

"I didn't want you along."

*Now we're getting to it* Her voice was cold, controlled, but her temperature was rising. "Why not?"

"Because I wasn't sure what she might say, and I didn't want you to interfere if I had to push her," he admitted.

Scully blew. "What do you suspect her of, for God's sake? She had burns on her neck from the taser gun they used to knock her out. There were needle marks on both arms from the drugs they gave her to keep her sedated. And let's not forget the lacerations from the electrical cord they tied her hands with. The cord she was hanging from when you found her, remember?" It was painful still for her to think about what Marsh had been through, and how very close she had been to dying. Her voice trembled. "They left her for dead, Mulder! How could you possibly think she had anything to do with it?"

He felt miserable. He hated it when she was angry at him, and this time he had no defense. "I just had to be sure," he muttered almost to himself.

"Why?" she persisted.

"Because of you!" he blurted.

"Come again?" Scully asked in bewilderment. Something wasn't tracking here.

"I've known you for five years, and I can count your dates on one hand. All men I might add. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Marshall Black appears and you're head over heels for her! Come on, Scully! It's practically an x-file!"

"What are you saying?" There was a dangerous edge to her tone.

He braced himself. "Maybe she's a plant."

Scully stared at him, momentarily speechless. His expression was half defiance, half chagrin. *Just keep reminding yourself he's your partner, and your friend, Dana. Don't kill him* She waited until her pulse rate stabilized. "Mulder," she began carefully, "it couldn't have been planned--who could have known what it would take to get close to me?"

"What do you think profilers do, Scully?" he pointed out. It hurt, realizing that even he would have been hard pressed to have predicted it.

"You're a profiler, Mulder. Would you have chosen Marshall Black to put next to me?"

*Never in a million years* He grinned, signs of his old self showing. "I wish."

Her anger never held in the face of his charms. She tried to hide a smile. "Don't even think it."

He regarded her seriously. "Maybe if I understood how she did it, I'd feel better."

Scully reminded herself that this was not Bill, or Charlie. This was Mulder. He wasn't trying to judge her. How to describe falling in love? "Marsh just--happened. One day my life was as it had always been--a study in black and white. I worked, I tried to make some kind of a difference, I spent my nights alone. The next day Marsh was there --she brought light, and warmth, and color into my life. _I'm_ the same, but the world has changed because of her. I love her for that, Mulder, and for the way she loves me. She doesn't keep secrets; she lets me see her fears. She comforts me without resenting my strength. She trusts me with her heart." She lifted her hands in frustration, helpless to explain. *I don't have words. I need her in some deep way that defies description*

"So--what is it?" he asked, amazed that this was his rational, skeptical partner talking. "You just accept this--thing--between you on faith?!"

"No, Mulder! Faith is believing without proof. I have proof. I have the way she behaves, I have--" There were some things too sacred to tell even Mulder. She finished silently, *--the way she lets me touch her, the way she makes love to me*

He blushed and fumbled on his desk for a pencil, something to occupy his hands. Her face revealed what her words hadn't. She looked downright ripe with satisfaction. So much for imagining that the sex wasn't a big part of it. He cleared his throat. "So you think it's reasonable for me to accept her on faith?"

Scully returned her full piercing attention to him. "No, Mulder, I expect you to trust my judgment on a lot more than faith." Her tone implied the discussion was over, and that she would thank him not to reopen it.

He studied the impressions on the side of his number two pencil for a long moment before raising his eyes to hers. She was waiting. "Agreed. No more questions."

The phone rang, startling them both. She smiled her thanks as she reached for it. She listened a moment, then replied, "Yes sir, right away."

Mulder grimaced. "Skinner?"

Scully nodded, gathering her papers. "He wants our reports."

 Mulder followed reluctantly. *Hoo boy, this should be fun*


Skinner sat ramrod straight behind the desk, perusing their reports while Scully and Mulder sat waiting in the two chairs facing him. Mulder fidgeted, while Scully stared off into the middle distance. She hadn't seen Mulder's report, but she was sure it didn't resemble hers. As usual, they had two very different explanations as to what exactly had occurred. This case wasn't even an x-file, and at the moment she was a lot more intrigued by the message from Marsh the dispatcher handed her a few minutes ago.

Skinner laid the papers on the blotter in front of him, carefully aligning the edges. "So," he summarized, looking at neither of them, "Marty Glenn killed Charles Gotts, but you believe that Gotts killed the others?"

"Yes, sir," Scully responded, hoping this would be quick.

"And the Wilmington police are satisfied with that?"

"Yes, sir," she echoed.

Skinner nodded, seemingly satisfied. Then he looked at Mulder. "Why did you visit the prisoner this morning, Agent Mulder?"

"I just wanted to clear up a few details, sir," Mulder admitted. *What's the big deal?*

"Something you neglected to put in your report?" Skinner queried.

Mulder glanced at Scully, wondering how she had presented the case. As if it had ever mattered before if they agreed or not. He took a breath. *To hell with this* "I wanted to know why she wasn't making a self-defense plea."

Skinner feigned surprise. "The facts certainly don't support that--unless of course you know something Agent Scully doesn't."

"There is reason to believe that the subject experienced visual documentation of the earlier crimes being committed, and as a witness, was in danger herself," Mulder stated emphatically.

Skinner looked at Scully. "Do you believe Marty Glenn _saw_ those crimes being committed?"

"No, sir, I do not."

*Thanks partner* Mulder drew his head in a little closer to his shoulders. *Why does she always have to be so damn precise?*

Scully continued unperturbed. "Both Agent Mulder and myself witnessed the evoked brainstem visual response tests that were administered to Marty Glenn. She is blind."

Skinner looked pained. He cast a weary glance at Mulder.

"But," Scully stated, deflecting Skinner's wrath for the moment, "it does appear that Ms. Glenn had some perception of the crimes. However, the exact mechanism by which that was accomplished remains unclear. Perhaps with further testing--"

Mulder shook his head. "She refused."

"Then we'll never know," Scully said with finality.

Skinner pinned Mulder to the chair with his eyes. "Your job, Agent Mulder, is to investigate the crimes, not try them."

"I thought my job was to discover the truth," Mulder bristled.

Skinner leaned back an inch in his chair, his only sign of concession. "If the Wilmington police are happy, then the case is officially closed. In the future, Agent Mulder, take a page from your partner's book and stick to the facts in your reports. Just because the x-files is still in existence doesn't mean people aren't watching your work, and looking for some reason to shut you down."

"What people, sir?" Mulder asked sarcastically. *Do even you know their names?*

Skinner ignored him, carefully initially the bottoms of each page of their reports.

Mulder and Scully rose together, eager to end the post-mortem.

"Sit down, Agent Scully," Skinner requested, trying not to make it sound like an order.

Mulder cast a questioning glance at his partner, but her neutral expression told him nothing. He hated it when Skinner split them up, but there was nothing he could do about it. He left with as much nonchalance as he could muster.

Skinner waited until the door was firmly closed. He dropped his pen, steepling his hands before his chest, elbows planted on the arms of his chair. He surveyed her critically. Perfectly attired, perfectly composed, as usual. "How is Dr. Black?"

Scully never blinked. "She's fine, sir."

"Working yet?"

"Not for a few more days."

He removed his glasses, rubbed his eyes. "I take it you see her regularly?"

Scully faced him squarely, her expression unchanged. "Are you asking me, AD Skinner, about the nature of my relationship with Marshall Black?" There was a hint of challenge in her voice.

"No, Agent Scully," Skinner bit back, his eyes flashing. "I'm not asking, and you are not required to explain."

She waited.

He fixed her with that flat stare he used when he was trying to intimidate her or Mulder into seeing reason. "Someone may ask. What then?"

She didn't hesitate. "If asked--which I might point out is against regulations--I will not lie." Her eyes were as hard as his. *I won't deny her. I won't deny us*

He sighed almost imperceptibly. "And I don't suppose Marsh would either."

The corner of Scully's mouth lifted in the faintest smile. Her tone softened just thinking about her headstrong lover. "I would think that very unlikely, sir."

He couldn't read her thoughts, but her body language was plain. It was serious, all right. "In that case, considering the recent attack on Dr. Black's life, it might not be a bad idea if you kept her under unofficial surveillance. For the time being. I'll put a note to that effect in your orders."

Scully couldn't hide her surprise. "Why--"

He interrupted before she could ask the question he couldn't answer himself. "You both have valuable jobs to do. I don't want your work impeded over false issues. See that that doesn't happen, Agent Scully."

She stood, her eyes relaying her appreciation of his honesty. "Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."

Skinner watched her as she walked toward the door, but it wasn't Scully he saw.


 It was July 4th, 1981.

"You know I hate these things," he growled.

"It's a requirement, honey," Sharon Skinner said. "You have to socialize if you want to get ahead. And somehow, I can't see you as a training instructor for the rest of your life."

"It suits me just fine," he said, only slightly annoyed. They had been married long enough that he knew Sharon would accept whatever decision he made about the promotion. He couldn't see himself sitting behind a desk, but the idea of being Section Chief was appealing. Sharon patted his rear affectionately and left him morosely flipping hamburgers while she went to greet their guests.

"Hey, Walt," a familiar female voice said in his ear. "Who's the new fish you brought to the party?"

He glanced sideways at the tall lanky blonde next to him. She was grinning, a confident, somewhat suggestive grin, one hand in the back pocket of her jeans, the other cradling a beer. He'd seen that look before, in the early hours of the morning, in hotel lounges or dark smoky bars, when they were out of town on a case, and Karen didn't want to sleep alone.

"My new trainee. Sharon bugged me to invite her."

"Good for Sharon. I'll have to thank her."

"Come on, Karen," Skinner growled. "She's just a kid."

"She must be legal, if she's in the program. Besides, an FBI agent has to learn to take care of herself."

Skinner couldn't explain exactly why he felt so protective. Maybe it was just because Marsh was younger than most of the recruits, even though she was a medical school graduate. She was one of those precocious kids who condensed high school, college, and medical school into one intense foreshortened marathon. It wasn't that she seemed immature, anything but. She was focused and intense, exactly what you would expect. But there was something in her eyes, like something he recalled in the eyes of the boys around him in the jungles of Vietnam. Something lost, and lonely. "She doesn't need the kind of training you're offering, Summers," he snarled.

Karen laughed, the epitome of feline seductiveness. "Relax, Walt, I'm not going to hurt her."

"Yeah right," he mumbled to himself as he watched her wend her way through the crowd in his backyard toward Marshall Black. He didn't need his wife's recounting of her old college roommate's multiple conquests to know that Karen Summers left a trail of broken hearts in her wake. He had seen enough over the last six years to know she was the 'love them and leave them' type. He wondered, on occasion, if there had ever been anything between his wife and his previous partner, back in their younger days. He pushed the thought from his mind. He didn't want to know. "Shit," he muttered when he saw Summers and his young trainee wander off together.

The next morning was the first time Marsh had ever been late for class. She tried to slide into her seat unnoticed, but Skinner fixed her with a steely glare.

"Nice of you to make it, Black," he snapped.

"Yes sir, sorry sir," Marsh said smartly. That was the last thing she remembered about the rest of Skinner's lecture. She kept replaying, over and over, the previous night.

"Come on over to my place for a nightcap," Karen had said. Marsh had agreed eagerly, happy to spend more time with the charismatic, older field agent. Somehow, before the night was over, Karen had kissed her. And Marsh had kissed her back. She was lost with the first kiss. Karen was passionate in bed, charming and funny with her colleagues, and fierce on the street. She was everything Marsh wanted, and wanted to be.

Everyone who noticed knew it wouldn't last.

Nearly a year later they were still together. No one was more surprised than Walter Skinner. He had known Karen Summers a lot of years, and he had never known her to be serious about anyone. But then what the hell did he know?

He wished he could have known it would be their last conversation. It was the story of his life, never saying what he wanted to say until long after it didn't matter anymore.

Karen had been suiting up with the rest of HRT team, closing the  velcro tabs on the vest that was supposed to be impenetrable. She looked over at him as she strapped on her weapons.

"Are you bringing the kid?" she asked casually.


"Make sure she stays in the van, will you?" Karen asked, her voice pitched low so that the others around her would not hear. "You know how fast these things can go bad."

Skinner looked at her in surprise. He had never seen her quite so solemn. "Are you okay?"

"Absolutely," she grinned, cocky as ever. "Nothing I like better than snipers. But she's still wet behind the ears. I don't want her getting under foot."

"If I didn't know better, I'd think you're actually serious about this one," Skinner grunted.

Karen shrugged sheepishly, a glow in her eyes even Skinner couldn't miss. "You might be right, but don't tell her that." She slugged him affectionately on the shoulder as she left to join the team.

Two hours later, Skinner was screaming for a medic, while everywhere around him, men cursed. The only thing he could hear was Marsh, pleading, as the blood welled up between her fingers.

"Oh Jesus, please, Karen--please don't die, baby. I'm here--oh god, I love you-- please hold on. Don't leave me, please --please--somebody --help me. Karen, oh god, Karen--"

They had to drag her away from the body.


Skinner pulled off his glasses and tossed them on his desk in disgust. He dug the heels of his hands into his eyes, forcing back the memories. Karen was dead. His wife had divorced him. The young recruit was gone, changed forever. Now there was Scully--and Dr. Marshall Black. This was one nightmare he was not going to relive.

He pulled out Scully's file, and reached for his pen.


Part Three

Mulder was slumped in one of the uncomfortable wooden chairs in the hall outside Skinner's office, waiting. "What did he say?" he inquired as he unfolded himself to join his partner.

Scully shook her head, perplexed. "I'm not sure. It wasn't about the case."

"Then what was it about?"

"It was about Marsh."

Mulder looked at her quickly in concern. "Was he giving you trouble?"

"No. I think he was telling me he didn't care about us."

Mulder considered it. Skinner had always been fair with them, although sometimes he was so 'by the book' that he seemed adversarial. On the other hand, Mulder couldn't recall a single instance when Skinner had interfered in their personal lives. "Maybe he doesn't. Nice of him to say."

"Yes," Scully commented, still surprised. It was hard to believe that anyone actually cared who she slept with. *I guess I'm supposed to feel grateful* She didn't. What she felt was outrage at the fact that her personal life was anyone's business but her own. And she'd be damned if she would explain or defend it to anyone. "Actually I don't care what he thinks."

"Are you going to start wearing one of those little pink triangle pins soon?"

"No, I thought I'd get a button that said 'How dare you presume I'm straight'."

"Oh, that's much better, Scully. Subtler," Mulder observed wryly.

Scully smiled. "Don't worry about it, Mulder. I'll be fine. Besides, I've got more important things to worry about."

"Like what?"

"Like flying to Boston tonight to meet Marsh's family."

"Yep. That's definitely on my list of potentially life-threatening experiences," Mulder proclaimed, shuddering. "Better you than me."

Scully pictured Marsh as she had last seen her that morning, anxiously awaiting Scully's response to her invitation. She had been both beautiful and vulnerable. Scully smiled, her eyes radiant. "For once, Mulder, you are absolutely right."


Friday 6:50 pm Georgetown

"Okay," Scully remarked as she slid into the front seat of Marsh's Porsche. "What's with the cryptic message?"

"Cryptic?" Marsh queried as she pulled out into the early evening traffic.

Scully rested one hand lightly on Marsh's denim clad thigh. "Mmmm, you know, meet me by the forked tree at midnight, come alone, bring the money."

Marsh laughed, covering Scully's hand with her own. "I believe what I said was 'I'll pick you up at seven. Pack light'."

"So why won't you tell me any details?"

"It's a surprise," Marsh said softly.

Scully studied Marsh's profile as she drove. The angles of her face--the strong jaw, the prominent cheek bones, the deep set eyes--were softened by the barely perceptible smile that pushed upwards at the corner of her finely drawn lips. She was exquisite. "I love you."

Marsh's fingers tightened around Dana's. "Lord, I love you too." She glanced at her lover, and for an instant dark eyes melded to blue, and the air grew heavy with promises unspoken.

"Marsh," Scully said, her voice husky.

"Hmm?" Marsh responded, mesmerized by the way the lights from passing vehicles shimmered over Dana's delicately etched features. She was as  hauntingly lovely today as she had been the first time she had seen her four years ago. She never tired of looking at her.

"You just passed the airport," Scully murmured, struggling unsuccessfully to quiet the storm brewing in her body.

Marsh nodded, pulling over to the exit for the adjoining commuter terminal. She stopped the Porsche in front of the small control tower, leaving the engine running as she got out. "I'll be back in a second."

Scully watched her as she sprinted up the sidewalk. She wore a dark brown leather flight jacket over a v-necked sweater, her jeans, and well-worn brown boots. Scully felt herself grow damp. *god, she's sexy. And I am in so much trouble. How am I supposed to keep my hands off her for an entire weekend?*

She tried to take her mind off her physical state by watching the activity around her. She didn't notice Marsh approach until Marsh leaned down through the open window and kissed her. The heat of Marsh's mouth did nothing to quell her arousal.

"We're all set," Marsh said after releasing her from the kiss.

"I hope you got us seats in the back," Scully muttered, shifting on the seat in a vain attempt to lessen the uncomfortable pressure between her legs. Forget the weekend, she wasn't going to be able to make it through the night if she didn't get Marsh alone soon. Never in her life had anyone affected her this way. If she thought about it too long, she would surely panic. Need was not something she was comfortable with.

Marsh grinned as she maneuvered the Porsche between the rows of small planes. "Not exactly."

They came to a stop beside an open hanger adjacent to the runway. Marsh reached behind the seat for their bags. Scully looked over at the small plane two men were wheeling out. One of them waved hello.

Scully climbed hastily out of the car, fixing Marsh with a piercing glance. "Tell me you're flying that plane."

"I'm flying that plane," Marsh responded, smiling broadly.

Scully stepped close enough that their shoulders touched. She wanted to put her arms around her, but she settled for a quick squeeze of her hand. "It's a wonderful surprise--just like you."

Marsh turned slightly so her back was to her plane and the mechanics, bending her head to kiss Dana swiftly on the lips. "Lucky for me you think so."


Boston 10:45 p.m.

"You were supposed to be nervous in the plane, not now," Marsh remarked, gently teasing. Dana had been strangely quiet ever since leaving the airport in Boston. She took one hand from the wheel, slipping it into the thick, rich hair at the base of Dana's neck. She massaged the tight muscles, silently waiting.

Scully leaned back into Marsh's hand, letting Marsh's strong fingers drive the tension from her body. "This is the first time I've ever met anyone's family," she confessed. "I'm not nervous. Just a little performance anxiety."

Marshall laughed. "Believe me, darling, there is nothing wrong with your performance."

Scully squeezed Marsh's thigh affectionately. "I hardly think your family will be judging me on my lovemaking capabilities."

She didn't miss the serious tone beneath Dana's jest. "They won't be judging you at all. I would never subject you to that. You won't have to wonder what they're thinking, either. My mother and grandfather are known for speaking their minds. Please don't worry."

Scully smiled, not wanting to concern her. "I managed to survive medical school interviews and the FBI screening tests. This should be a snap."

Marsh pulled through the wrought iron gates that fronted on a long winding driveway. Up ahead, lights blazed in a three-story Victorian estate. "I love you, Dana. You're all that matters to me."

"You can believe I'll remember that every second," Scully assured her. She glanced at the formidable edifice looming large in the dark. She realized Marsh had said very little about her family. A sudden thought froze the blood in her veins. "They _do_ know about you, don't they? They're not expecting you to bring home a man?"

Marsh laughed, pulling the rented BMW around the circular drive, stopping in front of a wide front staircase. "My mother always said she knew from the time I was two."

"Thank God I won't be the first woman they're meeting," Scully breathed in relief.

Marsh looked past Scully toward the house, but her gaze was reflective. "Actually, you are the first." Her voice held the barest hint of sadness. She had never brought Karen; there had never been time.

Scully ran her hand through the soft wavy hair that brushed against Marsh's collar, gently cupping her jaw. She turned Marsh's face to her until their eyes met and held. She might have been jealous of that first love, if she hadn't seen the softening of Marsh's expression when Marsh looked at her, and the obvious love in her eyes. She watched Marsh return from the past to her. "I also intend to be the last," Scully stated firmly.

Marsh's spirits lifted, and she pulled Dana against her. "God, how I love you."

Dana Scully smiled. Never had anything sounded quite so good. "Let's go in before I'm tempted to make a spectacle of myself in your driveway."

"Hold on to that thought," Marsh murmured, kissing her swiftly before pushing the door open and swinging her long legs out. *Like I could resist her if she wanted to fuck on the front porch*

As Scully stepped from the car she saw a shadow moving swiftly around the corner of the house, directly for Marsh. Everything happened at once. "Marsh, get down!" Even as she spoke, Marsh was blind-sided and sent sprawling. Scully reached for her gun, only to remember it was locked in her luggage. She was about to tackle the large form pinning her lover to the ground when she heard Marsh laugh.

"Pilot, you fool! Get off of me!" Marsh sputtered.

Scully sagged against the fender of the sports coupe, staring at a huge brindle Great Dane, thinking how close she might have come to shooting the dog had she had her weapon.

Marsh managed to get to her feet, avoiding the dog's exuberant kisses. One look at Dana brought her instantly to her side. "Hey, what is it? You're shaking!"

Scully shook her head, grasping Marsh's hand. "For a second, I thought you were being attacked. God! If I'd had my gun I could have killed him."

Scully pressed her forehead to Marsh's chest, willing her nervous system to equilibrate. She tightened her arms around Marsh's slender form unconsciously, assuring herself Marsh was safe.

Marsh felt the lingering tremors. "What's going on, Dana?" she questioned gently, rubbing her cheek lightly against Scully's hair. She gathered her closer in her embrace, wanting nothing more in the world than to comfort her. This was not the cool, unflappable FBI agent Scully appeared to the world; this was the woman who had awakened in her arms that morning, and she was hurting.

Scully sighed in frustration. *Get a grip here, Dana. So you overreacted. You don't need to make her paranoid, too* She tilted her head up, forcing a smile. "I'm a little on edge since you went missing on me." Marsh had almost no memory of those nightmarish twenty hours, but for Dana every minute had been an eternity in hell. *On edge?? Terrified, actually, that someone will decide to finish the job*

Marsh studied Scully's face for what she wasn't saying, and caught just a flicker of fear, quickly extinguished, in her amazingly expressive eyes. She knew the cause. "Oh, love," she murmured, "don't. I promise you, I have no intention of leaving you, in this life or any other."

*But you can't promise that, can you?* Death was no stranger. Scully pushed away the last remnants of her disquiet. She would see that nothing threatened Marsh again, no matter what it took. She wouldn't hesitate to do whatever was necessary. She _ would not _ lose Marsh. "We should get inside. The neighbors will talk."

Marsh laughed. There wasn't another house for half a mile. She took Scully's hand and grabbed the luggage with the other. "Come, Pilot," she called to her dog.

As Scully reached for the rest of the bags, she surveyed her lover's elegant countenance in the moonlight, the large regal dane at her side, and the mansion looming in the background. She was suddenly struck by the gothic image of it all. "Besides, I'm anxious to meet Mrs. Fairfax, my dear Mr. Rochester."

Marsh grinned, delighted at the sudden change in Dana's mood. Between the demands of Dana's job, and the recent agony of Marsh's disappearance, Dana's brilliant smile had been far too infrequent lately. "She might be out on a date with Mrs. Danvers. But welcome to Manderly, my darling."

"And I suppose you fancy yourself Maxim de Winter?" Scully teased as they climbed the stairs to the porch.

"Only you can answer that," Marsh whispered as the heavy front doors swung open. She grinned when she spied the small, gray-haired woman standing on the other side. "Mrs. Dovocek!! This is Dana!"

"And about time, too," the elderly woman chided in a still heavy Slavic accent. She extended her arms fondly to Marsh. "I thought you were going to keep the girl standing outside all night." She hugged Marsh, then turned to Scully. "Welcome to Blackwood, my dear. Come in out of the cold! I've got something warm for you in the kitchen!"

Scully, thoroughly charmed, followed Marsh and Mrs. Dovocek down the hallway to a large modern kitchen in the rear of the house. The something warm turned out to be tea and freshly baked cinnamon bread. It smelled heavenly, and Scully realized she was starving.

"Your mother has been held up at the governor's fundraiser, young Marshall," Mrs. Dovocek explained as she cut still steaming slices from the loaf. "She says you shouldn't wait up--she'll see you for breakfast."

Scully smiled as Marsh blushed. Young Marshall? Scully mouthed mischievously when Mrs. Dovocek turned away. Marsh looked endearingly discomfited, and Scully was nearly overcome with another wave of desire. *My god, I'm not fit for polite company!*

As if reading her mind, Marsh pushed her cup aside. "Mrs. D, this is wonderful, but would you mind if we took it upstairs with us? It's been a long day."

"Of course not. I'll fix a tray while you take your things to the master suite. Your mother said to put you in there."

Marsh studied the family housekeeper quizzically for a moment, trying to place something in her mind. A phrase kept repeating itself in her memory, but she couldn't quite make it out. There was something about Mrs. Dovocek's voice. She sighed in frustration, unable to capture it. She noticed Dana watching her with that penetrating gaze she got when she sensed something wasn't right. "Something I want to remember--but it keeps alluding me," she explained, clearly troubled.

Scully nodded, instantly vigilant. Marsh had shown no signs of any traumatic aftermath of her kidnapping, probably because the drugs she had been given were powerful amnestics that had literally expunged the events from her consciousness. Still, Scully was worried. "It's okay. Don't force it; it will come."

"You're right. I'm okay, really," Marsh said, reaching for the tray. Whatever it was, it would surface in it's own time.  "I'll take this, Mrs. D. We'll see you in the morning."


"Put the tray down, Marsh," Scully commanded as she shut the bedroom door and turned the lock. She dumped their bags unceremoniously in the middle of the floor. She walked toward Marsh, unbuttoning her blouse, stepping out of her shoes. "You have exactly two seconds to get out of your clothes before I start doing damage to them."

Marsh had her sweater off and her jeans unbuttoned by the time Dana reached her. Her swift intake of breath turned to a groan as Scully's hands found her breasts and a firm thigh pushed between her legs. She lost her balance and barely landed on the bed before Dana was on top of her, bare skin to bare skin, her demanding tongue probing inside Marsh's mouth. Dimly she was aware of her jeans being not so gently pushed off her hips, and hot breath against her ear. She groaned again as teeth pulled at the sensitive skin below her jaw. The pleasure verged on pain as Dana squeezed first one nipple, then the other, sending pulses of excitement directly to her clit. She grabbed Dana's ass, pulling her closer, gasping as the soft hot skin of Dana's leg rubbed against her tensely swollen flesh. A quivering began in her belly. "Be careful, baby," she said urgently, "you'll make me come. You know I can't hold it."

Scully heard, but the words didn't penetrate her awareness. All she knew was the heady thrill of exciting her lover, of taking her into a realm where they belonged only to each other. Marsh yielded to her, trusting her, surrendering to her, and Scully wanted to possess her with all the tender power in her soul. She twisted one hand in Marsh's hair, pulling her head back, exposing her throat. As she pressed her lips to the pounding vessels, feeling the life force surge and ebb, she pushed inside with the other hand, groaning as the silken muscles closed around her fingers. Slowly, she stroked, sliding her thumb along the length of Marsh's clitoris with each pass. Each time she caressed the swollen shaft, Marsh whimpered, her legs trembling, the muscles in her taut abdomen twitching.

"Don't come, Marsh," Scully gasped hoarsely, "not yet." She tore her mouth away from the sweat slick skin of Marsh's neck, moving rapidly down to take Marsh's clitoris between her lips. She bit lightly at the base and Marsh jerked. Her own clit twitched in response. *Oh Jesus, I think I'm going to come*

Marsh's hips arched off the bed as she cried, "Oh! Here it comes--oh, Dana--I'm coming--"

Scully pressed her fingers deeper, keeping her mouth around the wildly contracting flesh, moaning as an answering climax erupted between her legs, a thousand neurons discharging simultaneously, burning a path through her bones to her brain. She screamed as the fireball exploded, carrying her beyond conscious awareness.

She might have slipped from that out of body state into sleep if she hadn't heard Marsh sobbing. She hurriedly moved up beside her, gathering Marsh into her arms. She cradled Marsh's face against her breast, holding her fiercely. "What is it, sweetheart? Have I hurt you?"

Marsh struggled to contain her tears. "God no, you didn't hurt me. You just make me feel so damn much. You're in every part of me." She looked at Scully, her face a study in naked helplessness. "My soul would never survive without you now."

Her words pierced Scully to the core. She never dreamed love could be such sweet pain. She never imagined wanting anyone so much. "Oh god," she whispered, wanting nothing more than to touch every part of Marsh at once, able only to press close to her until not even the air separated them. "We belong to each other now. Nothing will ever change that."

As Marsh quieted in her embrace, finally drifting off, Scully lay awake, reluctant to allow even sleep to separate them.


Part Four

Saturday 8 am

"What do you think?"

"I think we should lock the door."

Scully blushed, amazed that Marsh's desire still surprised her. "The door is locked. And don't come near me. Just tell me if I look okay."

Marsh threw her legs over the side of the large leather easy chair she was occupying, and leaned back, surveying Scully with a smile. "You look fantastic. That shade of green is perfect, the linen is just the right touch of casual elegance, and--the pants show off your tight little butt very nicely." She laughed, ducking as a pillow sailed past her head. She caught the next one in her hand as she crossed the room, grabbing Dana around the waist, kissing her swiftly. "Why don't you just wear a pair of jeans and a sweater? You'll be gorgeous in anything."

Scully let herself enjoy the firm planes of Marsh's body pressed to her own for a moment before gently extricating herself. "You may be able to make a pair of 501s look like a fashion statement, but I can't." In fact faded jeans, along with a loose, off-white cashmere v-necked sweater was exactly what her tall, willowy lover was wearing. Scully knew Marsh didn't have anything else on under either one. "Lord, but you're sexy," Scully groaned. "Can't you find something a little less stimulating?"

Marsh grinned that crooked grin. "I'd rather distract you from your nervousness with a bit of erotic foreplay. Besides, I fell asleep last night before I had a chance to undress you. You owe me."

"I owe you!!" Scully exclaimed, trying desperately to contain a smile. "You are obnoxiously sure of yourself, Dr. Black!"

Marsh regarded the trim red head in the perfectly tailored outfit, the very definition of class and grace, and wondered in amazement how Dana could possibly not know how magnificent she was. "You, Dr. Scully, are the most enticing woman I have ever seen. My mother is going to adore you, and my grandfather is going to want to run away with you."

Scully warmed under Marsh's approving glance, but the obvious omission didn't escape her. "Marsh, what about your father?"

Marsh shrugged. "I was getting to that, but I've never known the best time. There is no Mr. Black. Never was. My mother is my grandfather's daughter, not his daughter-in-law. My sire, as it were, was a teacher, and married apparently. My mother was very young, but stubborn. She never let anyone suggest I was anything other than a Black, which is probably why she named me after my grandfather."

"It must not have been easy," Scully said softly. "She sounds quite remarkable. I can see where you get your confidence."

Marsh laughed. "Wait until you meet my grandfather."

Scully squared her shoulders unconsciously. "Yes, I think I'll like that."


The woman who awaited them in the breakfast room looked impossibly young to be Marsh's mother. Marsh was more muscular than her mother, and had that slight hint of androgeny that Scully found so appealing, but other than that, Marsh's mother appeared to be a slightly older version of her daughter--tall, slender, with the same dark hair and deep gray eyes. She set down her cup and watched her daughter cross the room with a very attractive woman by her side. She could tell by the glow in Marshall's eyes that she was fairly bursting with pride.

"Mother, this is Dana Scully," Marsh said as she leaned down to kiss her mother's cheek.

"Claire Black, Dr. Scully," she said as she extended her hand.

"Please," Scully said with a smile. "It's Dana."

"I'm very happy to meet you, Dana," Claire amended.

The hour that followed was filled with easy conversation, and some charming stories about Marsh's childhood that made Marsh groan and Scully laugh with pleasure. As they lingered over their last cups of coffee, Claire turned to Marsh. "You should call your grandfather, darling. He's going to be anxious to see you."

"I thought we'd stop there this afternoon. I'll be right back," Marsh told Scully, brushing her fingers over Scully's hand as she stepped away.

Scully watched her go, then returned her attention to Claire. Claire was watching her. "What is it you wanted to ask me?" Scully said softly.

Claire smiled ruefully. "Am I that obvious?"

Scully shook her head. "Your face is as expressive as Marsh's."

"Marshall told me about you some time ago. She said on the phone then that she loves you. I can see from the way she looks at you that she does," she began. Her dark eyes met Scully's. "The only thing that concerns me is her happiness. She has been alone a very long time, and she's not the kind of person who is meant to live without love. She has suffered for the lack of it."

Scully thought of Marsh's tears falling on her breast just a few hours before. She thought of the loneliness of her own existence before awakening from a nightmare to find Marsh at her side. "I'm not sure any of us are truly meant to live without it; we just tell ourselves we can." *And I believed it, until I met her* 

She took a deep breath, meeting Claire's steady gaze. "She won't be alone again, I can promise you that." Scully hoped with all her heart she could keep that pledge.

Claire could only nod as she heard Marsh approaching, but she squeezed Scully's hand in silent thanks.

"Has my mother been warning you about my bad habits?" Marsh asked as she joined them. She rested her hand lightly over Dana's where it lay on the table.

Scully smiled, giving her lover's hand a little shake. "Not all of them. Not yet!"

"Come on. I'm taking you for a stroll along the Charles before we go visiting. That way, my mother won't be able to tell you any more stories," Marsh announced.

"I'd love a walk, but don't think that's going to save you. I intend to hear all your childhood escapades before we leave!"

Marsh tugged her to her feet. "This place is dangerous to my reputation!"


2:35 pm Saturday

The maid led them through the first floor of the old brownstone to the rear patio. Scully could see the resemblance to Marsh in the man who was stooped over a window box of young plants, carefully removing stray weeds. He turned at their approach, pulling off worn work gloves to extend a hand to Scully.

"How do you do, my dear," he said in a rich, full baritone.

"I'm fine, sir," Scully replied. He looked ten years younger than she knew he was, and he projected an air of sophisticated gentry. She followed Marsh to a stone bench off to one side of the flagstone patio, while Marsh's grandfather sat in a wicker rocker facing them. They helped themselves to iced tea from a serving cart near at hand.

"I've been waiting a long time for my granddaughter to bring someone home," he remarked unexpectedly.

Scully blushed. *Marsh did say he was direct!* In her own family they had rarely discussed their feelings, sometimes until it had been too late.

He continued with an understanding smile. "You'll discover when you get to be my age, Dana, that small talk can be a waste of precious time. I'm afraid I have no patience for it any longer."

Scully nodded, liking his candor.

"I was rather hoping you might turn out to be an ally, Dana," he said after a moment.

"Sir?" Scully asked in surprise. She thought she heard a faint sigh from Marsh.

"Marshall probably hasn't told you that she's been a bit of a disappointment to us," he continued.

Scully stiffened slightly. She didn't care if he was Marsh's grandfather, she wasn't going to listen to criticism about Marsh, no matter how bad an impression she made. "I find that impossible to believe." Her tone was hard, and she made no effort to soften it.

She thought she detected a glint of approval in his eyes.

"It's this stubborn infatuation with medicine she seems to have."

Scully glanced at Marsh in confusion. Marsh gave her a sympathetic smile.

"Granddad, do you think you could at least wait until after dinner to badger Dana about this?" Marsh requested, her tone suggesting this was a familiar conversation.

"Carpe diem, Marshall," he continued unperturbed, turning his attention to Scully once again. "She was raised to take over the business, you see, and thus far she has refused. I've given up trying to convince her that she is making a mistake. My only hope has been that when she found someone she loved, she'd listen to them."

Scully nearly laughed. Never in her wildest imagination could she have envisioned this conversation. She wasn't even entirely sure he was serious. "I can assure you, sir, I don't have that kind of influence over her, nor would I want it."

Marsh spoke up. "Besides the fact that I like being a doctor, I'm hardly suited for that kind of life."

"If you're talking about your relationship with Dana, I shouldn't worry," her grandfather pronounced. "Businessmen don't care about that sort of thing. That's for priests and politicians who need something to talk about. How you manage the money is the bottom line."

"It's not for me," Marsh said with finality.

He looked at Scully. "And you won't make her see reason."

Scully shook her head solemnly, holding in a smile. "I'm afraid it's beyond my powers, sir."

He shrugged his shoulders in acquiescence. "I was hoping to find just one person in the family who saw things my way. I suppose it has something to do with the differences between men and women. Women seem to have this inherent need to follow their hearts. Men are much more practical."

"We're not exactly conventional, Granddad," Marsh pointed out with a laugh.

He regarded his heir, the affection in his eyes evident. "It would still be nice to have some male company. Perhaps you and Dana could work on having a son while I'm still around."

Marsh exploded in fond protest. "We're hardly at the point to be discussing children!!"

If pressed, Scully wouldn't have been able to recount a single word of the conversation that followed. She must have participated, because neither of them seemed to be regarding her oddly, but her mind felt frozen. She hadn't thought, hadn't wanted to think, about what this might mean for her and Marsh. The short car ride back to Marsh's mother's was mercifully silent. She wasn't sure she could form coherent sentences.

Marsh waited until they were upstairs, alone. Dana was at the window, staring down into the gardens. Marsh went to her, gently easing her arms around her waist from behind. She rested her chin on Dana's shoulder, her cheek against Dana's. "What is it?" she softly asked.

"There's something you need to know," Scully said, her voice curiously flat. She looked at the beginnings of new life bursting from the spring soil, but she didn't see the tender young growth. Her vision was of her own internal landscape, stretching endlessly forward like the dry sands of the Sahara.

Marsh steeled herself. She had waited so long for love to come to her again, long after the hope of it ever happening had vanished. All her dreams resided in Dana's smile, in the touch of her hand and the warmth of her body in the night. She feared nothing, not even death, as much as she feared losing her. Her heart would never heal. "Tell me," Marsh whispered.

"Four years ago I was--kidnapped. I don't know by whom, I can't remember. Whoever took me put the chip in my neck."

"The chip that saved you," Marsh stated, remembering what Dana had told her about the cancer.

Scully laughed hollowly. "It may be the disease as well as the cure. I'll probably never know."

Marsh waited, knowing it was not over. *How much more has she had to bear?*

"Whoever gave me the chip apparently took something as well. They extracted the eggs from my ovaries. All of them. As far as I know, I'm sterile."

Marsh closed her eyes, willing herself not to shake. This was a nightmare the proportions of which she could not begin to imagine. This wasn't human; this went beyond monstrous. She swallowed painfully. She wanted to scream. Dana was as still and silent as a statue, and just as remote. *I need you, Dana. Don't let this separate us* 

She turned her head, brushed her lips across the pale smooth cheek. "I'll live on your love for the rest of my life," Marsh said softly. "It's all I need, and all I'll ever want."

"I didn't think--," Scully began, running her fingers lightly up and down Marsh's arms as they lay encircling her body. "I was so happy just to be with you. I didn't think about the future."

Marsh laughed ever so gently. "I don't think we have to plan all the details just yet."

"Would it have made a difference--if you'd known?" Scully couldn't help but ask. There was so much she couldn't be sure of--what had they really done to her? What else would she discover had been altered, manipulated-- destroyed-- during the time she had been unaware.

"Not for a second," Marsh said fiercely, holding her tightly. She took a breath, then took a chance. "I've never had a burning desire to be pregnant, but the idea of raising a child with you at some point is appealing. If we ever decide to do that, I have eggs. With in vitro fertilization, you could carry the child. If you wanted."

Scully was quiet a long time, thinking of that other child, who she had not born, but who had carried her genetic legacy. She thought of her as her daughter, despite the absence of physical connection. With her death, she had abandoned all hope of having another. She was almost afraid to consider what Marsh was offering. It was a gift nearly as precious as the love Marsh tendered so selflessly.

"I can just imagine what Skinner would have to say," Scully finally said shakily, her voice thick with unshed tears. *God, you make me feel loved*

"Let me take care of Walter," Marsh murmured, turning Scully to face her, lifting Scully's chin to claim her lips. Her kiss carried all the intensity of the words she hadn't said--*I love you; I'm so sorry for what you've suffered; I'd give my life to undo it*

Scully kissed her back--*You give me hope; you give me dreams; you give me the future*

"Marsh," Scully asked breathlessly, finally lifting her lips away, "how much time do we have?"

"Time enough," Marsh growled, sliding her hands up to cup Scully's breasts, her fingers searching for the nipples through the shear fabric of Scully's blouse. When Scully pulled her hands away, Marsh draw back uncertainly.

"What's wrong?" Marsh asked with concern.

"Take my clothes off; take me to bed; take your time," Scully commanded hoarsely. "I don't want to feel anything but you."

Marsh took Dana's hand, leading her gently across the room to the side of the bed. She knelt to slip Scully's shoes off, then reached up to ease the linen slacks down over her thighs. "Anything you desire," Marsh whispered, as she slowly and reverently expressed her devotion.


"Kindly remove your hands," Scully ordered in a voice she barely recognized. She cleared her throat and tried again. "Marsh--stop. We have to get up."

Scully lay face down, with Marsh lying along the length of her body, one hand between Dana's legs, inside her. The other was under her, barely brushing the soft, wet triangle from the front. Together Marsh's hands formed a circle, holding her, enclosing her, owning her.

Marsh's lips were a whisper away from Scully's ear. "I can't. Not while you're still so ready." Her words brought an answering contraction from deep inside her lover. She groaned and began to slowly massage the smooth inner vault with her fingers.

Scully closed her eyes, arching her hips, rocking in time to Marsh's gentle but firm hands. With each movement her clitoris rubbed along Marsh's palm, adding to the stimulation that seemed to be everywhere at once. She needed just a little more contact--just the barest attention to the tip and she would crest. "Oh yes, oh yes--" she gasped, feeling the distant spasms begin. She clenched her jaws to hold back the scream. Every muscle was tight, poised for the explosion. Marsh slid her fingers forward, stroking them over Scully's clit from the base to the tip. "Oh God!" Scully cried as the rolling waves of almost painful intensity began. "Oh, I'm coming!"

It went on forever, the last lingering tremors wrenching small cries from her lips. Sully turned so that her breasts met Marsh's, their legs entwining, their tongues clashing in a desperate exchange of mutual need. When Scully finally broke contact she could still barely focus, her body drained from the physical and emotional catharsis. She felt rather than saw the adoration in Marsh's gaze. "Thank you," Scully murmured.

Marsh smiled gently, luxuriating in the satisfaction of having pleased her lover. "I love you, Dana." She stretched, peering past Dana to her watch on the night table. "And in half an hour, the rest of my extended family will get a chance to love you, too."

Scully's eyes snapped open, instantly alert as only doctors and cops can be at a moment's notice. "Tell me you're lying!"

Marsh grinned, impudent and infuriatingly desirable. "I'd never--"

Scully was out of bed before Marsh could capture one last kiss. "Hey!" Marsh called to her swiftly disappearing lover, "is that any way to leave me?"

Scully turned from the door to the bathroom, goddess beautiful in her nakedness, and fixed Marsh with a look that could stop a man twice her size in his tracks. "You owe me big time, Black. I'm not done with you, so don't expect to be getting any sleep tonight."

Marsh crossed to join her, slipping an arm around her waist. "Promise?" she asked, her voice husky.

Scully regarded her seriously. "It will take more than one lifetime for me to be done with you."

"Then we've got plenty of time."


DISCLAIMERS: The characters of Scully, Mulder, Skinner and others/events introduced on the X-Files are the sole property of Chris Carter etc, and are used here without permission for entertainment, not for profit.



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