TITLE: Genesis XII: Where Truth Begins 


Summary and author's note: This story was begun in response to a "write a story with this first line" challenge on the ScullySlash list, and became quite a bit more. The time frame puts it just after 
the end of season seven. Scully has been hospitalized after collapsing and could not return with Mulder to Bellefleur, Oregon, where he is ultimately abducted. This event strains the fabric of Scully's relationship with Marsh.

Part One

Day One
7:54 AM

"I forgot to tell you that I love you."

Marshall Black leaned a hip against the corner of the scrub sink and peered through the glass observation window into the operating room. The anesthesiologists had just moved her patient onto the operating table and were placing plastic intravenous catheters into the large veins on the backs of her arms. Five, ten minutes minimum before they were ready for her.

"I don't think so," she said into the phone, trying to hide her surprise. It had been a long time since she had gotten one of these calls.

A faint laugh, one of the rare few she had heard lately, snaked through the line, hitting her in the pit of the stomach the way only Dana's laughter could. Marsh caught her breath and held the receiver a little tighter. "You said it this morning."

"_That_ doesn't count," Scully said, her voice teasing.

It was Marsh's turn to laugh, low and secretive. "I think it does."

In fact, it counted for a great deal, especially after the last hectic week. First Dana had been hospitalized with exhaustion, both physical and emotional, and then she had insisted on returning to 
work immediately, despite Marsh's concerns. Dana was running on will and anger alone, and Marsh knew it. Her lover was losing weight at a time when she needed to be in the best physical shape of her life; 
she slept poorly, often awakening with nightmares; and her entire focus had become finding Mulder. It consumed her. It wasn't just that Mulder had disappeared -- he had done that more than once over 
the course of his investigations into realms that friend and foe alike cautioned him to leave alone. It was _how_ he had disappeared. Marsh could only imagine what demons his abduction had awakened in 
Dana.

There had been precious few moments for them to be close at a time when they should have been celebrating the miracle they were soon to share. Marsh tried hard not to resent the FBI and Dana's dedication to her job. She struggled not to blame Mulder, who was after all the victim, but it demanded all of her patience to remain supportive. She would have been content just to hold Dana in her arms, 
pretending that she was safe and that they were just an ordinary couple planning a family. When she had been awakened that morning by a familiar weight pressing down upon her, she had protested sleepily, "Hey, you're supposed to be resting."

What she had meant was _recovering_ . Healing from the harrowing events in Bellefleur, Oregon and the catastrophic loss of the man who was an important part of both their lives.

"It's not rest I need," Scully had whispered into her ear as her hand smoothed the warm length of Marsh's belly to the softer places below. "What I need is you."

Marsh would have objected further, but the truth was that she needed Dana every bit as much as her lover needed her. Even before the recent unbelievable occurrences, Marsh had spent countless nights 
worrying about Dana's pregnancy and whether they would actually be able to realize their dream of having a child together. When that dream became a reality, she had to face her fears about Dana's work 
and the risks involved. She knew that Dana had her own uncertainties and misgivings, and everything conspired to keep them both on edge. It had been too long, and too hard, and all she really wanted to do 
in the very early hours of that day had been to let Dana bring her peace.

"Be careful," Marsh had whispered even as she welcomed Scully's body between her legs, their limbs entwining effortlessly in the habit of long familiarity.

"Not likely," Scully hissed, lowering her head and tugging Marsh's nipple none too gently between her teeth. She worked on it until Marsh gasped and arched her hips against Scully's belly. Only when 
Marsh whimpered faintly in surrender did Scully add, "And stop worrying. I'm pregnant, not infirm."

"Uh huh," Marsh agreed, grasping Scully's hips in both hands and squeezing her firm butt. "Not ... worrying." And she wasn't, at least not at that particular moment. She shifted to capture Scully's 
leg between her own, twisting onto her side and pulling her lover up into kissing range as they faced one another. "Just hungry. Very, very hungry."

Scully laughed as Marsh captured her mouth, their kisses hot and searching. Then Marsh was forcing her lips apart with her tongue --demanding entry -- strong and certain. It was so good to be free of everything, to feel nothing except Marsh's lean form and knowing hands and talented mouth. To experience utter belonging with the one person capable of claiming all her attention, and easing all her pain. No matter how fleeting the surcease, it returned undiminished each time they touched. This was where she sought solace when it seemed she could not go on.

Scully tangled her fingers in Marsh's thick hair, pulling her head back, staring into her eyes with vision dimmed with need. She settled onto her back, pushing with the other hand against Marsh's 
shoulder, urging her down. "Then feast," Scully offered throatily, suddenly wanting that more than she had known.

Scully closed her eyes as soft lips engulfed her, floating for an instant on a current stoked by exquisite sensation and nearly unbearable intensity, only to find in the next moment that she craved the taste and heat of her lover's body more than her own release. She took Marsh by surprise, rolling away and just as 
quickly claiming her with her mouth.

"Oh, Jesus," Marsh muttered, collapsing under the weight of the unexpected pleasure. Her muscles contracted with the swift escalation of raw nerve endings tingling under the sweet assault and 
the expanding pressure in her belly. "Slow down," she gasped, ready much too soon. She fought to deny her lover's demands, wanting desperately to ride the crest just a little longer.

In the end, neither had been able to wait. With their hands fervently seeking the sensitive spots that inflamed, with their tongues teasing and stroking, they exchanged their promises and accepted their devotions, one to the other. They finally slept wrapped around one another through the last hours of the night before the alarm and the demands of the day came between them again.

"Marsh?"

Marsh jumped, flushing involuntarily with the last vestiges of memory and the inopportune threat of rekindled desire. She glanced into the OR. They were about to intubate her patient. "Uh, I have to 
work here."

Another knowing laugh. "Oh yeah? Am I interrupting?"

"Not exactly, but it's probably best that I have some blood flowing into my brain before I start this surgery."

Another exaggerated sigh. "Alright then, Dr. Black. I'll see you later."

"Dr. Scully?" Marsh asked.

"Yes?"

"I think I forgot to tell you that I love you."

Scully thought about the last few days. She thought about awakening in the hospital and seeing the panic in Marsh's face as Marsh stood beside her bed, holding desperately to her hand. She thought about 
the tight line of Marsh's jaw when she had informed Marsh that she needed to get back to work - that Skinner would need help looking for Mulder - that there was no one else. No one else who knew what 
the two of them knew. At least, no one they could trust. She thought about the nights that Marsh had tossed and turned next to her in silence, trying hard not to wake her, keeping her fears to herself 
in the dark.

"No, you didn't," Scully said softly across the distance. "You never forget that."

*****

"You shouldn't be here, Agent Scully."

Her eyes flashed, but she kept her voice even. "On the contrary, 
sir. This is exactly where I belong."

He looked at her strained features and tried not to think about how 
small and fragile she had seemed just days before when he had to 
face her across a hospital room and confess that he had lost Mulder. 
He wanted to accord her the respect she deserved as one of his best 
agents, but it was hard to forget what he knew. His own gaze 
narrowed, and he answered tightly, "You should be taking care of 
yourself. You shouldn't let anything interfere with this pregnancy."

She never would have tolerated the personal intrusion from anyone 
else, but she and Skinner had shared too much over the years. And 
now they shared something even more binding. They shared the 
knowledge of what truly had happened to Mulder. Her back 
straightened with anger, but still she held her temper in check. 
"You need me on this, sir. Mulder needs me."

"Agent Scully," he began, his voice almost pleading. He reached for 
her shoulders, a rare gesture of intimacy for him, and leaned down 
to look into her face. His expression was wounded.

Before he could speak, Scully continued, her voice suddenly 
breaking, her eyes luminous with tears she refused to shed, "I can't 
not look for him. I can't."

Skinner's eyes dropped unbidden to her abdomen, still flat and taut. 
"Mulder?" he whispered without thinking. Why hadn't he thought of 
that before? Probably because he had known Marshall Black a lot 
longer than he had known Mulder or Scully, and he couldn't see Marsh 
sharing the woman she loved. He shook his head, confused, and 
shaken. He had seen too much in too short a time. He didn't know 
anything any more.

Scully did not reply. She stepped away from his grasp, in control of 
herself again. "We have to go, sir. They're waiting in Interview for 
our statements." She hesitated for just a second. "If you tell them 
what you saw out there, sir, they'll never believe you."

He stared at her, trying to read the rest of her message in her deep 
blue eyes. If they suspected him of agreeing with Mulder's 
assertions of alien beings and abductions, it was likely the people 
in charge of the search for Mulder would cut him out of the loop. 
And by extension, Scully. He knew what she was asking, and they both 
knew how much they risked in withholding the truth.

His eyes cleared, the expression in them hard and angry. "Let's go 
find Mulder, Agent Scully."

Part Two

Day One
4:14PM

"Are you free?"

Marsh glanced at the clock, cradling the phone between her shoulder 
and ear while she signed charts in the trauma intensive care unit. 
A call from Dana in the middle of the day usually meant trouble, 
but their lives had been so tumultuous lately, she wasn't quite 
sure what to expect any longer. "I will be in about 20 minutes. Then 
I have a management conference a little bit later on. Is something 
wrong?"

Scully hesitated, struggling with the old habit of editing the 
truth for the sake of avoiding conflict. Marsh deserved more than 
that. "I'm not sure. Skinner and I spent most of the morning and 
part of the afternoon being interrogated by members of a task force 
that Kersh has set up to look for Mulder. There's a new agent in 
charge."

She didn't add that she had disliked John Doggett on sight or how 
much being without Mulder had unsettled her. Anything she might say 
would sound irrational, because that was exactly how she felt. 
Since the moment she had learned of Mulder's disappearance, she had 
been plagued with an overwhelming sense of dread. She couldn't 
shake it and she couldn't control it. She vacillated between panic 
and a cold empty foreboding that left her nearly numb. The only 
time she felt anywhere near sane had been those few brief moments 
in Marsh's arms, and even that was just a fragile memory now. 

Marsh could hear the uneasiness in her voice. "What's going on, 
Dana? Why isn't Skinner in charge of the task force? Or you?"

Scully glanced around the basement office, everything in view 
reminding her of Mulder. The posters, the battered file cabinets, 
his nameplate on the desk - even the absence of a desk of her own. 
Everything underscored her partnership with Mulder, right down to 
the fact that he had usually been the lead in all of their cases. 
She knew without a doubt that she had been a valuable resource, 
providing the balance and objectivity that he had lacked. 
Nevertheless, it had been his initiative and his fervor that had 
carried them so far for so long. Without him she felt adrift, and 
she struggled with an almost insurmountable need to find him. No 
matter the cost, no matter the consequences. He was an anchor for 
her nearly as important as Marsh. She didn't know how to tell Marsh 
that, not without hurting her. "I don't know. I have a feeling that 
no one wants to know the truth. It's easier for everyone to believe 
that Mulder has gone rogue, or gone crazy, or simply conveniently 
vanished. There's no one who wants to believe what really happened. 
Skinner and I are in this alone."

Marsh's heart ached at the words. "Not alone," she whispered 
softly, too softly for Scully to hear. She cleared her throat, 
closing her eyes against the pain, and asked quietly, "What are you 
going to do?"

Scully tried not to hear the tremor in Marsh's voice. It was almost 
too much. This had been what she had avoided for hours. She knew 
how Marsh would respond, but she couldn't see any other way. She 
couldn't do anything else. "Let me come and talk to you. I'll 
explain."

"All right," Marsh said, her tone defeated. They had had this 
conversation, or one very much like it, many times before. She knew 
the arguments, she even understood them. Understanding did not 
necessarily bring acceptance. Now more than ever, she wanted to 
object. She wanted to make demands and issue ultimatums and give 
full cry to her fears. Instead she said, "I'll be waiting."

It took Scully less than 30 minutes to drive across town in the late 
afternoon traffic. She found Marsh in the surgeon's lounge, in her 
customary position, stretched out on the battered leather couch with 
her eyes closed. Scully stopped abruptly just inside the door and 
looked at her. Marsh didn't look much different than she had two 
years previously when Scully had first opened her eyes and found 
Marsh bending over her in the field hospital tent, looking strong 
and reassuring and so surprisingly comforting. Marsh was still 
slender, her coal black hair a little more obviously shot with 
silver, her gray eyes still smoky and deep, her smile breathtaking. 
Scully thought for the thousandth time that Marshall Black had to be the most compelling woman she had ever seen. "Hey."

Marsh opened her eyes and sat up. She caught Scully's glance across 
the room, and when their eyes met, she forgot her anger and her 
uncertainty and her fear. Piercing blue eyes welcomed her with a 
heat that never failed to penetrate to the darkest reaches of her 
soul. Under Dana's tender gaze she discovered a sense of rightness 
that vanquished all doubts. She took a deep breath, centering 
herself in those eyes. "Hey."

Scully crossed the room and sat beside her, gently taking Marsh's 
left hand in her own. With their fingers entwined, she began to 
speak. "Skinner and I spent the afternoon with the Lone Gunmen. 
They've been able to use special satellite tracings to follow what 
appear to be anomalous energy trails that may mark the path of an 
extraterrestrial vessel. It looks like it's headed for the 
Southwest. I think I know where it's going."

Marsh swallowed painfully around the lump in her throat. She stared 
at the space between them where their hands lay joined. "And you 
think Mulder is with them - on that vessel?"

"It's the most likely possibility," Scully admitted. The silence in 
the room was oppressive. She knew Marsh was waiting for the rest. 
For a moment, she considered changing her mind. It was so hard to 
hurt her, and she knew she was about to. She steeled herself, 
because she also knew that she had no other choice. "I think I know 
where they're going, and I think I know why. There's a boy out 
there, a very special boy. I think that he is the target, and that 
whoever has abducted Mulder wants him, too. Skinner and I are going 
to intercept them."

"Tonight? Alone?" Marsh asked unbelievingly, her body tensing with 
dread. 

"There isn't much time. We may not be the only ones looking for 
him."

Abruptly, Marsh stood, pacing a few feet away, her back to Scully. 
When she spoke, the strain in body was evident in her voice. "And 
what do you expect to do then? Do you really think the two of you or 
even a _hundred_ of you, can rescue Mulder?" She turned quickly, her 
face tormented. "For God's sake, Dana. You've already been through 
so much. Now you're pregnant. We've finally got a chance to have a 
family. How can you do this?"

Scully didn't know what to say. She didn't know how to explain that 
she couldn't give up. She didn't have the words to describe the 
chasm that had opened inside her when she had learned that Mulder 
was gone. It was worse than death, because death at least was 
natural and fitting. In the dim, distorted fragments of her own 
memory, she knew that what Mulder was experiencing was anything but 
natural and worse than any nightmare. She couldn't take the chance 
that something she might do could alter his fate. She couldn't 
continue with her own life if he were lost somewhere and needing 
her. She had to trust that eventually Marsh would understand.

"I love you, Marsh. I love you more than I ever imagined possible. 
I want this baby. I want this life we have. But I must do this. I 
have to."

Less than a week before, Marsh had tried to prevent her lover from 
placing herself in danger. She had not been able to stop Dana then, 
and she knew that she could not stop her now. Her anger dissipated 
as quickly as it had come, leaving her feeling helpless and 
strangely hollow. She realized that for the first time in longer 
than she could remember, she felt alone. "I love you," she 
whispered, her voice breaking.

Before Scully could reply, Marsh was gone.

*****

Day One
7:30PM

Scully glanced at the clock on the end table. She had to hurry if 
she was going to meet Skinner for their flight to Arizona. With any 
luck, they would be the first to find the school where Gibson Praise 
had been sequestered since the last attempt to abduct him had 
failed. In her bedroom, she closed her suitcase, switched off the 
light, and walked toward the front door. The apartment was eerily 
quiet, the way a deserted house feels when no one has inhabited it 
for a long time. She rarely came here except to pick up clothes or 
to water her plants or to spend a few hours catching up on reports. 
Most evenings she spent with Marsh. Those evenings were fewer than 
she would have liked because of her own work-related travel and 
Marsh's on-call schedule. Tonight her heart felt as empty as her 
abandoned apartment. On the rare occasions when she felt this way, 
she would call Marsh, or sometimes even Mulder. Mulder was always 
good for a movie or a quick bite at one of the local hangouts. But 
Mulder was missing and Marsh seemed even further away. She could not 
call Marsh and ask for comfort when her loneliness was of her own 
doing. Without conscious thought, she reached for the phone and 
dialed a number from memory.

"Mom? It's Dana, can you pick up?" She realized with horror that 
her voice was trembling. She continued with a shaky laugh that 
verged on tears. "I don't even know if you're in town, or when 
you'll get this message. I need to talk to you. There's something I 
need to tell you. Mom? Are you there?"

When the silence echoed back to her like a recrimination, she 
gently replaced the receiver and switched off the last light. She 
made her way in darkness to the door.

*****

Day One
Evening

Marsh tossed her scrub suit into the hamper that stood at the end 
of the short row of lockers and pulled up her black jeans. She 
tucked in the white T-shirt, slipped her wallet, contoured to her 
form from many years of use, into her back pocket, and slipped into 
her leather jacket. It was just after 10 PM and she knew that Dana 
must be in the air by now, heading to Arizona and whatever fate 
held in store for her. She always missed her when Dana was out of 
town, but tonight the loneliness was so acute Marsh felt it as a 
pain in her chest. She could not go home, knowing that this time 
the phone might not ring with the familiar message that Dana had 
arrived and was safe. This time, Dana might not call. Perhaps this 
was the time Dana didn't come back.

She slammed her locker vehemently, trying to shut out the images 
and voices in her mind that only served to terrify her. She set her 
shoulders resolutely and strode purposely down the hallway to the 
double exit doors and out into the parking lot. In less than a 
minute she was gunning her Porsche out of the doctors' lot and into 
the night.

A short time later she parked on a narrow street across from be an 
establishment she hadn't been in since her academy days. If she 
thought about it, which she had no intention of doing, the last 
time she'd been there had probably been with Karen. That was more 
than another lifetime ago. Nothing had changed. The air was still 
tinged with the odor of smoke and stale beer, the lighting was 
still bad, and the voices still too loud. It was a hangout for FBI 
trainees and agents alike. She moved through the crowded front bar 
area to a room in the back where several pool tables stood empty. 
She ordered a beer from a waitress and chose a cue from the rack on 
the wall. Methodically, she racked and broke the balls and began 
working her way around the table. She enjoyed the precision of the 
game and it kept her mind occupied. Tonight she did not want to 
think about anything.

A woman sat at the end of the bar watching Marsh play for the 
better part of an hour. Finally she picked up her beer and walked 
over to her. "You could use a refill on that beer," she began as 
she stepped up to Marsh's side. 

Marsh leaned her cue stick against the rail and turned to face the 
newcomer. She was almost Marsh's height with honey blond hair and 
green eyes shining with intelligence and something that might have 
been laughter. In her tailored chinos and white Oxford shirt, she 
could have looked like every other agent, but she didn't. She had 
an air of confidence that kept her from being just another cookie-
cutter copy of all the other bright young government agents.

"No thanks. I'm fine," Marsh replied. She glanced at her watch. 
Midnight. She wondered where Dana was, and the ache that 
accompanied the thought must have shown on her face, because the 
woman beside her touched her arm lightly.

"You sure?" 

Marsh stepped away, breaking their contact. "I was just about to 
call it a night."

The blond smiled, a smile that said _I don't think so_. She leaned 
against the side of the table, studying Marsh unabashedly. There 
was something about the way that Marsh met her gaze that made her 
drop all pretense. "I can't think of anything to say that doesn't 
sound like a cliché," she finally said. "Or a come on. You look 
like you could use some company. I don't see a ring, but I'm 
guessing it's a romance gone bad. Am I close?"

"Not even a little," Marsh replied softly. "I am definitely not 
looking for company, and I am very much not single."

"Ah, well," the blond acquiesced with a small shrug. "How about a 
game then. Just pool, no strings. Promise. My name's Lara, by the 
way."

Marsh met to say no, but there was something in the other woman's 
voice that made her believe her. She was too stressed to sleep, and 
the night promised to be very long. She reached for her cue. 
"Agent?"

Lara began to rack the balls. "Behavioral science. Psychologist. 
You?"

Marsh paused, absorbing the words. A profiler, like Mulder. Before 
his quest. Before the X Files, and Dana. She shook her head. She 
didn't want to think about any of that tonight. "No. Not an agent. 
Trauma surgeon."

"Really," the other woman remarked in surprise. "I felt sure you 
were FBI." She didn't add that her perceptions were almost always 
right, which was one reason she did the work she did. She _sensed_ 
things. That was her skill.

"No," Marsh said firmly. Not anymore. 

As Marsh leaned over the table, the blond watched her with a 
speculative look on her face. Three thousand miles away, Scully's 
plane touched down in the Arizona desert. Somewhere in that broad 
expanse of darkness, the air shimmered with an invisible presence. 
Somewhere in this night, all their lives would change.


Part Three

Somewhere in the Night

Warm breath on the back of her neck roused her. Soft lips, brushing 
lightly, moved over her skin. A low sultry voice murmured against 
her ear, "I've missed you."

She stirred in her sleep, a faint smile curving the edges of her 
generous mouth. When she tried to turn onto her back, reaching to 
capture the familiar form in her arms, a hand at the base of her 
spine stopped her. "No," came the whispered command. "Don't move."

Slowly the covers were drawn down from her body to expose her 
nakedness, only to have the faint weight of the covers replaced by a 
firmer, heavier presence as a body stretched out along her own. She 
was flushed from the heat of sleep, and goose bumps rose where their 
skin did not touch. Automatically she raised her hips against the 
belly pressing down, parting her legs to admit a soft thigh. 
Stretching her arms out to either side, her fingers curled, she 
sought to grasp the hands that lightly stroked her forearms. Eyes 
still closed, she answered, "I've missed you, too. God, I've missed 
you so much."

She didn't question how or why or even try to speak. Instead, she 
gave herself to the slowly escalating rhythm of their two bodies 
surging and joining in perfect point and counterpoint. As she rocked 
upward harder with each thrust, hungry for more contact, she 
welcomed the answering pressure between her legs and the knowing 
fingers that slipped around her body, down her belly, to settle 
instinctively between her legs, grasping her with a gentle firmness 
that made her groan. Each time she pressed against the hips riding 
on her own, those fingers tugged the length of her, causing a steady 
rush of blood into her already engorged and pulsating tissues. It 
was a motion that never failed to break her control much sooner than 
she desired.

"Don't fight it, let it come," she heard dimly through the roar of 
blood in her ears. Eyes tightly closed, hands fisted, she clenched 
her jaw and struggled to prolong the exquisite torture.

Mercilessly, the hand between her legs dipped lower, capturing the 
liquid heat pooling there, slipping tantalizingly inside for a brief 
instant then withdrawing to circle maddeningly over and around her 
quivering clit. She pressed her face to the pillow, her body arching 
from the bed.

She was helpless to stop the gathering explosion as nerve endings 
tingled and flared, her limbs growing taut and trembling with the 
effort to sustain the massive contraction. Then her stomach muscles 
twitched and her breathe burst out with a sharp cry as the blood in 
her pelvis boiled.

As the orgasm pounded through her, consuming sanity and reason, 
Marsh opened her eyes with a gasp, choking out a name into the 
darkness. 

*****

Somewhere in the Arizona desert 

Scully jerked awake, momentarily confused by the darkness and the 
unnatural heat that lay heavy around them even with dawn still hours 
away. Skinner looked over at her, concerned. "Are you okay, Agent 
Scully?"

She sat up quickly, running her hands through her hair, trying to 
dispel the effects of the dream. Mulder had been there, somewhere 
just beyond her reach, in a room with bright lights and shadowy 
figures, helpless and calling to her. Fragments of the images still 
floated behind her eyes, making it difficult to focus on the road or 
the man beside her. But it hadn't been the vision of Mulder that had 
pulled her from sleep. The sound of Marsh calling her name still 
echoed in her mind. Just recalling the timbre of Marsh's voice, raw 
and urgent, sent a shiver of longing through her bones. 

It always felt like a piece of her was missing when they were apart, 
but this time she felt it much more acutely. She hadn't had a chance 
to say goodbye, or to tell her that she loved her. And she knew that 
she had hurt her. She glanced at her watch. She glanced at her 
phone, then dismissed the idea of calling. What could she say that 
she hadn't already said? If she was going to get through this, if 
she was going to be able to function at all, she needed to have only 
one thing on her mind. Finding Gibson Praise and confronting whoever 
or whatever had taken Mulder. She glanced at Skinner, sensing his 
uneasiness in the way he watched her. She took a long steadying 
breath and answered calmly, "I'm fine. Just tired."

She reached up and snapped on the overhead light as she picked up 
the map that lay between them on the seat. Spreading it out over her 
knees she leaned forward to peer at the unfamiliar route numbers and 
town names. "Nothing seems like a possibility," she remarked, her 
voice strained. Time, there was so little time.

Skinner grimaced, his eyes fixed on the center line as night gave 
way to a gray sky, slashes of pink outlining the distant mountains 
in an eerie halo of fire. "There has to be something out here 
somewhere. Something to indicate where the school is. We'll find 
it."

She didn't answer. She watched the heat shimmer over the desert 
sands and imagined once again that she heard Mulder call. 

*****

Day Two
Memorial Hospital
Washington, DC
8:58pm

"Can you try them again, please?" Marsh demanded. 

The answering service operator used her best conciliatory voice but 
she still sounded harried. "I'm sorry, Dr. Black. Neither AD Skinner 
nor Agent Scully is responding to cellular or digital pages. I'll be 
sure to relay your message if either of them checks in."

"Thanks," Marsh muttered curtly as she set the receiver down. She 
stared at the phone, her uneasiness growing with every passing 
moment. More than twenty-four hours. Why hadn't Dana called? 
Rationally she knew there were a dozen reasons that Dana might not 
have called, not the least of which was that she was out in the 
field and very possibly out of cellular range. Knowing that didn't 
assuage her escalating anxiety at all. The last place Dana needed to 
be was working a case in the middle of the desert. Jesus, god, 
didn't being pregnant mean anything at all to her?

Marsh cursed under her breath and ran a hand over her face, rubbing 
the headache at her temple. _Of course_ it mattered to her. They'd 
talked and worried and planned for months to make this pregnancy 
happen. Of course it mattered. She leaned her forehead against the 
cool glass of the window and stared down into the street, watching 
the city pulse with life all around her. She thought of the fragile 
cells forming and shaping within Dana's body, knowing how easily 
that process could come to an end. "Please," she whispered, willing 
someone to hear, "please let them be safe."

"The nurses told me I'd find you here," a quiet voice said from 
across the room.

Marsh turned slowly, her eyes dull with pain. "What are you doing 
here?" Her tone wasn't accusatory, merely surprised. 

Lara smiled. "I thought I'd take you to dinner."

"I wouldn't be very good company." She straightened up with effort 
and moved slowly across the room. She was bone-tired and felt 
vaguely disconnected, as if watching herself from a distance.

"You said something like that last night, and it definitely wasn't 
true," Lara reminded her. "I have to be in the city another couple 
of days, and you need to eat. We could both use a friendly 
conversation. It's not that complicated."

Marsh smiled ruefully at that. "Why doesn't it seem that way to me?'
"Because you're hopelessly stubborn?" Lara said with a laugh. She 
carried a light blazer over her arm and wore a green silk blouse 
that reflected the highlights in her eyes. "I seem to be cursed with 
running into people named Black who analyze things to death. I 
worked with a guy who questioned everything and never really trusted 
anyone." Her expression grew somber for a moment thinking of Frank, 
then she shrugged off the memory and concentrated on Marsh. "Is there somewhere else you need to be? Something you need to do?"

Marsh was silent and Lara watched her carefully. Lara had been drawn 
to Marsh from the first moment she had seen her walk into the bar. 
Watching the tall dark form move through the crowd as if the room 
were empty, she was captivated by the aura of intensity and deep 
emotion that surrounded her. She couldn't help but study Marsh as 
she had leaned over the pool table, graceful and proficient. There 
was a single-minded focus in her eyes that made Lara wonder how it 
would feel to be the object of that unwavering attention. And 
there had been something else, a shadow of some deep pain indelibly 
etched into her elegant features. It was a wound nearly palpable, 
and Lara had found that she could not look away.

Lara didn't ask 'Is there someone waiting for you?' She didn't need 
to. She knew that there wasn't. She wasn't sure she had ever seen 
anyone so critically lonely, and she had no idea why it seemed to 
matter so much. But it did, and she had come. She didn't wait for an 
answer, merely took a step closer and looked into Marsh's 
eyes. "Dinner. That's all."

Marsh stared into the clear eyes that surprisingly held no guile and 
discovered only an oddly gentle compassion. Lara's expression warmed 
her in a place that she hadn't realized was painfully cold until 
that moment. "Dinner sounds good," she relented wearily, "and you're right - I don't have anywhere to be."

*****

MacLaren Regional Medical Center, Arizona
12 hours later

"This is a restricted area. No one is allowed back here."

Marsh's immediate impulse was to punch him in the face. Instead, she 
reached into the inside pocket of her leather jacket and removed her 
identification. Gritting her teeth impatiently and trying to see 
around him to the room at the end of the hall, she handed him the 
slim folder.

The officious, rugged-looking guy in the rumpled white shirt and 
dark trousers stared at the ID card wordlessly for a few seconds. 
Then he raised curious eyes to her, and said sharply, "What the hell 
is a medical liaison? I didn't request you."

Before Marsh could reply, a gravelly voice heavy with fatigue sounded from behind them. "I called her," Skinner said.

Doggett looked at him in surprise. "You're supposed to be at bed 
rest, getting checked out for any serious injuries," he snapped. He 
was beginning to think that he had totally lost control of the 
situation. He had been the task force commander for less than three 
days and the first mission had gone straight to hell. There were 
injured agents piling up like firewood, and no one seemed to pay the 
slightest bit of attention to his orders. If he didn't know better, 
he would think that Skinner and Scully had gone rogue. But that just 
couldn't be, could it?

At the sound of Skinner's voice, Marsh turned abruptly. He looked 
like hell, but at that particular moment, she didn't care. She 
probably didn't look much better. They had finally found her by 
paging her through the hospital. She was still in the jeans and 
white shirt she had worn when she left the hospital with Lara the 
previous evening. She had gone straight to the airport. The trip had 
been an interminable agony of worry and fear. She didn't trust 
herself to speak for a moment. She had had too many meetings like 
this, standing in hospital hallways outside closed rooms, wondering 
how badly Dana had been hurt this time. Only previously it had been 
Mulder who had met her, and, despite her terror, each time she had 
seen him some part of her had been calmed. She had truly believed 
that he would not let any harm come to Dana. She wasn't sure Skinner 
could keep the same promise. Finally she found her voice, and asked 
in a harsh tone through a throat tight with emotion, "How is she?"

Skinner tried to keep the concern from his face, but he was scared. 
This had been worse than almost anything that he could remember. He 
looked at Doggett and said in a tone that allowed for no 
discussion, "I'm taking Dr. Black back to see Agent Scully."

Doggett turned to look after them, beginning to think that nothing 
was ever going to surprise him again. As they walked, Skinner 
said, "The preliminary report I have is that she's okay."

Marsh couldn't bring herself to ask, and he didn't mention the baby. 
Whatever the news about the pregnancy, she wanted to hear that from 
Dana.

Skinner stopped her just outside the closed door. He put his hand on 
her arm in a rare gesture of intimacy and looked steadily into her 
face. He had known her a long time, and he had seen her through the 
worst moments of her life. The anguish that she couldn't erase from 
her drawn and weary features told him how near she was to the 
edge. "I can make a few calls, get her assigned to a desk. At least 
for the next few months. Just say the word."

God, how she wanted to say yes. It would make everything so much 
simpler. Scully would be protected from her own determination to 
find Mulder, despite the dangers. The fetus forming in her body 
would be safeguarded. Marsh would be relieved of the terrifying 
uncertainty of wondering whether Dana would survive this, and of 
fearing that all their hopes and dreams would never be realized. And 
perhaps she would be delivered from the terrible emptiness that 
seemed to have devoured her soul these last horrible days.

Marsh swallowed painfully and ran a trembling hand through her 
disheveled hair. "No. Not unless she requests it. If you do it, it 
could ruin her career."

He looked like he wanted to protest, but he saw the determination in 
her face. It wasn't his call. "It's up to you."

"No," Marsh said quietly. "It's up to her."

Part Four

Three Days Later
Washington, DC
8:17 am

"You should go back to work." 

Marsh turned from the stove, tossing a dishtowel over one shoulder 
and resting the fork on the side of the frying pan. Scully stood in 
the doorway to the kitchen, wearing only an oversized, button-up 
men's flannel pajama top and a wan smile. Her face was an unnatural 
pale, not the usual clear luminescent perfection Marsh was used to 
seeing. The abrasion that extended from her right cheekbone to just 
under her jaw was healing, but the greenish-purple discoloration was 
still apparent. The knuckles on her right hand still held traces of 
scabs from where she had scraped them breaking her fall. Marsh knew 
every contusion and bruise on her lover's body, having examined her 
several times a day and applied ointments to the injured areas. 
Probably the only things that had saved Dana from miscarrying had 
been her superb physical conditioning and the fact that she had 
taken most of the force of the trauma on her neck and upper back. 
Nevertheless, being thrown across the room by an alien bounty hunter 
with superhuman strength was probably not the best experience for 
anyone. Marsh forced a grin.

"I'm taking advantage of an excuse to stay home. They can get along 
without me."

Scully knew very well that the phone had already rung twice that 
morning with people calling from the hospital with questions for 
Marsh. It wasn't just that Marsh's skills were needed in the trauma 
unit and the operating room, but as chief of trauma she had constant 
administrative issues to deal with. Nevertheless, Marsh had not left 
her side since she had been released from the hospital in Arizona.

"I'm perfectly okay. Why don't you just go in for a few hours and 
take care of the paperwork." Scully tried to sound casual and 
unconcerned. She actually felt like hell, but it was mostly 
stiffness and the lingering remnants of fear. When she had 
discovered that her adversary was dead and she was still alive, her 
first terrifying thought had been that something might have happened 
to her pregnancy. She lay on the cold, blood-spattered tiles, 
stunned and in pain, and prayed. When she stopped praying, she 
wished for Marsh, wanting her more in that moment than she had ever 
wanted anyone. But it had been Doggett who had held her. She 
couldn't stop the tears and had turned her face to his shoulder so 
that the others wouldn't see.

When Marsh had walked into her hospital room six hours later, Scully 
had tried once again not to cry, but she had failed. "I'm sorry," 
she managed, meaning so many things. She was sorry that Marsh had 
been forced once again to stand by her hospital bed; she was sorry 
that she had hurt Marsh with her need to search for Mulder; she was 
sorry that she couldn't seem to gather her strength and go on 
without him. 

Marsh had simply crossed the room, leaned down, and kissed her on 
the forehead, one of the only parts of her face unbloodied. "I love 
you."

Then Marsh had carefully climbed onto the bed, gathered Scully 
gently into her arms, and held her. As soon as the ultrasound had 
shown no damage to the fetus, they had flown home and Marsh had put 
Scully to bed. Scully had spent the better part of the first two 
days sleeping while her body healed. Marsh helped her shower, 
tended to her many cuts and bruises, and coaxed her to eat. When 
Scully awoke in the night, shaking with the memory of nightmarish 
dreams, Marsh had been there to stroke her hair and whisper that 
everything was all right, rocking her and assuring her that she was 
safe.

It had been so good to allow herself be taken care of, to let go of 
the terrible urgency to _do_ something that had been driving her 
since Mulder disappeared. She had needed it, this time to heal. She 
looked gratefully at Marsh and noticed for the first time that Marsh 
looked like hell, too. She was wearing the matching bottoms of the 
pajamas with a thin sleeveless tee shirt that hugged her wiry frame. 
Her dark eyes were cloudy with fatigue, and the fine lines at the 
corners were etched a little deeper than they ever had been before. 
She looked worried, and weary, and slightly haunted. 

Scully suddenly realized that Marsh hadn't answered her question. 
She also realized that Marsh hadn't uttered one word about the 
Arizona affair and its near disastrous consequences since the moment 
she walked into the hospital. Marsh had been tender and caring and 
terribly gentle with her, but the silence stretched like a chasm 
between them. Scully crossed her arms over her chest, suddenly cold. 
"Are you angry with me?'

Marsh stared at her, trying not to see the lingering effects of the 
beating. It was impossible, just as it was impossible not to imagine 
what might have happened if Dana had been a little slower with her 
gun or if he had hit her a little harder. Her stomach churned at the 
image. "No," she said roughly, turning to set plates on the counter. 

"Why don't I believe you?" Scully asked softly.

With her back still turned, Marsh replied, "Go get in bed. I'll 
bring you some breakfast."

"I don't need you to do that, Marsh," she said in frustration. She 
needed Marsh to look at her, to talk to her.

"_I_ need to do it!" Marsh snapped, her hands gripping the edge of 
the counter to steady herself. "I need to do something!"

Scully looked at her stiff back, heard the raw edge in her voice. 
God, didn't she know how essential she was? "You do..."

Marsh laughed harshly, spinning to finally face her. Her fists were 
clenched tightly at her sides. She wanted to hurl things. "Do I? And 
what exactly would that be? I show up to assess the damage, but I 
can't do anything to stop it. I just watch you go and wait and hope 
to god that the next time someone doesn't kill you!" 

Scully saw the torment in her face and heard the frustration in her 
voice. She knew how hard it must be for a woman like Marsh, who was 
used to taking control in life and death situations, to feel 
helpless. *I'll change* is what she wanted to say, but she couldn't 
lie to her. "I'm sorry," she began. 

"Goddamn it, Dana!" Marsh exploded, "don't be sorry! I don't _want_ 
you to be sorry. I want you to ..." Her voice trailed off as she ran 
a hand roughly through her hair. What? Resign? She wished she could 
ask her to do that, and thought that if she did, Dana might even do 
it. But it wouldn't be fair, and it wouldn't be right. "Oh, fuck," 
she muttered, slumping slightly against the counter edge. "I don't 
know what I want."

There was something in Marsh's voice that chilled Scully to the 
core. She had never heard Marsh sound so desolate, nor look so 
defeated. She had never felt such distance between them. She had to 
work to keep her tone even, because she was suddenly frightened, and 
it took all her strength to ask, "Are you unsure about us, too?" 

Marsh looked momentarily confused, as if the words had been spoken 
in a foreign language. When she understood what Scully was asking, 
she crossed the room in two quick strides. She caught Scully in her 
arms, holding her close, as she said urgently, "God, no. Never." She 
kissed her swiftly, mindful of the bruises but still reassuringly 
possessive. "I couldn't survive without you."

Scully leaned into her, her arms reaching around Marsh's waist to 
press against the firm muscles of her back. She closed her eyes, her 
cheek pressed to Marsh's chest, and breathed a sigh of relief. "I 
know how hard it is on you, Marsh. I _know_. Really I do. I'll..."

"Don't make promises you can't keep, Dana," Marsh implored, her lips 
against Scully's hair.

Scully tilted her head back to look up into Marsh's face. It struck 
her, not for the first time, how beautiful she was, and how 
desirable. It was unbelievable that they had found each other. It 
amazed her how much she counted on Marsh, how vital to every aspect 
of her life Marsh had become. She also realized that love required 
nurturing, as much as any other living thing. "I'm not going to lose 
you over this, am I, Marsh?"

A smile tugged at the corner of Marsh's lips, and her gaze deepened. 
Her voice was husky as she said, "You couldn't get rid of me if you 
tried."

"There are plenty of other women who would probably kill to have 
you. And I'm sure that they wouldn't be as much trouble," Scully 
said, only half teasing.

"Don't," Marsh replied seriously, raising one finger to Scully's 
mouth to silence her. 

There was something about the way that Marsh said it that made 
Scully's heart lurch. "Marsh?" she asked, totally serious now. "Has something happened?"

Marsh answered immediately, unhesitantly. "No, Dana. You have my heart. You _are_ my heart."

Scully believed her. She felt it in her soul. She didn't know how 
that was so, or why she trusted it, but she did. And just as she 
sensed that Marsh was telling her the truth, she sensed that there 
was something more. "But there _is_ someone, isn't there?"

"No, not that way," Marsh repeated, her gaze unwavering. "I met a 
woman while you were gone. We talked. I had dinner with 
her."

Scully's first instinct was to pull away. She was suddenly 
more frightened than when she had learned that Mulder was gone. 
_Really_ gone. The thought of losing Marsh was even more terrifying 
than that. She forced herself to swallow her fear and kept her eyes 
on Marsh's. She _knew_ this woman. She had held her and been held by 
her. She had made promises to her, and had accepted promises from 
her. There was life beginning inside her, a life they had made 
together. If she could not believe in her, then in whom? If this was 
not truth, then what was? 

Scully drew a steadying breath and asked, "Am I going to have to 
kill her?"

Marsh laughed, and a light that had been missing for too long danced 
in her eyes. "Not necessary. It wouldn't even be a worthy contest."

*****

Two Days Later 
Memorial Hospital 
8:17 PM

"Make sure you call plastics for those facial lacerations after you 
get the head CT," Marsh called to the resident who was pushing a 
stretcher bearing a seventeen year old patient out of the trauma 
bay. Her pager sounded as she reached for the chart. She checked the 
readout on her beeper, punched in the numbers, and said 
distractedly, "Black."

"I thought you weren't on call tonight," Scully said. 

Marsh leaned back in the swivel chair, propped her feet up on the 
counter, and looked at her watch. She was surprised to see how late 
it had gotten. "I'm not. I was just giving Martin a hand."

"Uh huh," Scully remarked dryly. She knew very well that Marsh would 
end up staying the entire night if it was busy, even though she 
wasn't scheduled to. There was always someone who wanted her opinion 
or needed assistance. It wasn't good for Marsh, and at the moment, 
it wasn't good for them either. In another day she would be ready to 
go back to work, and then their hectic schedules would keep them 
apart more often than not. That was difficult under the best of 
circumstances, and with all they had been through recently, they 
needed time together. _ She _ needed time with Marsh. "Could be 
someone at home needs a hand, too."

Marsh felt an immediate stirring in the pit of her stomach. She sat 
up straight, pressed the phone a little closer to her mouth, and 
murmured, "I'll be there right away."

"Good."

Marsh was surprised to see the windows dark when she pulled into her 
parking slot. She had left the hospital as soon as she could, but 
Dana had probably gotten tired and gone to sleep. She sighed with 
disappointment even as she reminded herself that rest was what Dana 
really needed. Still, she had thought about Dana's implied 
invitation all the way home, and she was swollen and edgy with 
anticipation. "Shower," she muttered to herself as she fit her 
key into the lock. "Ice cold shower."

She climbed to the sleeping loft in the dark, consciously trying not 
to awaken her lover. She moved across the bedroom, aware of Dana 
asleep nearby, and turned on the bathroom light. She closed the door 
part way so that only a thin shaft of illumination shone into the 
room. She pulled off her scrub shirt and tossed it toward the 
clothes basket. She was reaching for the ties on her pants when 
Dana's voice halted her in mid-motion.

"Leave them on."

"I thought you were asleep," Marsh said, turning towards the bed.

"I'm not." Scully rolled onto her side, her head propped in the palm 
of her hand, and continued, "come stand next to me."

Scully watched as Marsh crossed to her, naked from the waist up, a 
study in lithe grace. When Marsh stopped just inches from her, 
Scully ran her fingers lightly over Marsh's belly. She was rewarded 
with a sharp intake of breath and a faint twitch of the muscles 
under her fingers. She pushed herself a little higher on the pillows 
so that she could cup the underside of Marsh's small firm breasts in 
her hands. She squeezed gently, then circled the pads of her thumbs 
over the taut nipples. Marsh arched her back and groaned softly. 
Scully smiled in satisfaction. She was aware of an answering 
pressure between her own legs, but it was merely a distant pleasure. 
Her focus was on Marsh. She wanted, no she _needed_, to know that 
Marsh was still hers. Only hers.

Scully pushed the covers back and swung her legs over the side of 
the bed so that she was sitting up. She replaced her fingers with 
her mouth, pulling Marsh's nipple between her lips, biting softly. 
Marsh's hips pressed forward against Scully's breasts, and Scully 
wrapped her arms around her, kneading the muscles in Marsh's butt 
rhythmically as she worked first one nipple, then the other.

Marsh groaned again and spread her fingers in Scully's hair. "God, 
you feel so good," she whispered. Her hips were beginning to pulse 
in time with Scully's movements. She was starting to feel a little 
lightheaded.

"So do you," Scully murmured, moving her mouth to Marsh's belly, 
tugging softly at the skin around Marsh's navel with her teeth. At 
the same time, she brought her hands to the inside of Marsh's legs, 
and began to run her fingers slowly up and down her thighs. Marsh 
sagged slightly against her, her breath coming in irregular gasps. 

"Touch me," Marsh pleaded.

Scully didn't answer her, but brought both thumbs into the cleft 
between Marsh's legs, pressing down on the firm swelling she could 
easily feel through the thin cotton of Marsh's scrubs. She trailed 
her tongue lightly over the skin just above the top of the pants as 
she massaged Marsh's clit in circular motions.

Marsh's body was rigid, her head thrown back, her eyes closed. Her 
fingers were motionless against Scully's head, her arms taut with 
the effort to absorb the teasing torment. A low, strangled whimper 
escaped her throat. Scully's own breathing escalated with the sounds 
and scent of Marsh's excitement. Her fingers trembled as she pulled 
at the narrow ties, loosening the last barrier between her mouth and 
Marsh. As she pushed the material down Marsh's thighs, Scully edged 
forward until her legs straddled one of Marsh's. She rocked her 
wetness against Marsh's skin to relieve the persistent throbbing as 
she pressed her cheek against the heat at the base of Marsh's belly.

Marsh shuddered, and her legs began to shake. "I'm not gonna last," 
she warned.

"Try." Scully turned her face and blew gently on the moist fragrant 
hair, then lightly flicked her tongue over the tip of Marsh's clit. 
Her own jumped in response and she rubbed herself a little harder 
against Marsh's leg. *Neither am I* she noted as if from a distance. 
She felt her orgasm building, but it was Marsh who filled her 
senses. Scully took her fully into her mouth and slid her fingers 
into her. 

"Oh! that's ... got ... it," Marsh choked, her hips jumping. Had she 
not been supported against Scully's face and hand, she would have 
fallen. As it was, she bent double as her belly contracted and her 
muscles convulsed around Scully's hand. Then she stiffened and cried 
out as fire flashed along her nerve endings. 

Scully laughed triumphantly, then gasped as an answering wave of 
sensation thundered through her. "Ohh," she cried against Marsh's 
still flickering flesh, pulling Marsh back with her onto the bed as 
their bodies pounded with the last echoes of their passion.

Marsh tried to lift her weight away from Scully's body, aware enough 
to worry about the recent injuries. Scully held her fast and pressed 
against her, nuzzling her face into the hollow of Marsh's throat, 
supremely content.

"God, I love you, Dana," Marsh sighed, kissing the warm, moist skin 
below Scully's ear.

Scully licked the faint sheen of sweat from Marsh's neck. "I love 
you, too, Marsh."

This was their truth.

End

*****
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.