torch, July 1999

Disclaimer: Despite the startling physical resemblance, I'm not actually CC's evil twin Skippy. Do not archive this story without permission.


Files lay in untidy heaps all over the floor, some of them spilling their contents freely onto the beige motel carpet. Shouldering his way back in through the flimsy door with a bucket of ice under one arm and two cans of Sprite and a bag of M&M's in the other hand, Mulder skidded on a detailed description of the second victim's stomach contents and by the time he'd recovered his balance, what little organization there had been was gone. He drew breath to say something before Scully could comment, and got as far as, "Maybe chaos theory is the best approach—"

But by then he'd turned his head far enough to see her. She was asleep on the bed, his bed, curled up protectively around a sheaf of papers, resting her left hand on them as if, sleeping, she could read with her fingertips. A strand of hair curved forward over her cheek. Her mouth was slightly open. She was still wearing her glasses.

Mulder put down the soft drinks and candy on the desk, on top of a pile of witness statements, and walked over to the bed. He toyed with the idea of slipping a piece of ice under the collar of her blouse, but... she looked so vulnerable. It was the glasses that did it. Instead he sat down and put the bucket on the floor at his feet He ought to wake her up so she could go to bed, her own bed. It was, he checked his watch, two in the morning, and the victims had been dead for thirty-five years and could wait a few more hours for justice.

Bending forward, he saw that she'd been reading the description of the first crime scene. Mulder tugged it out carefully from under her hand, swung his legs up on the bed and leaned back against the headboard. He began to scan the pages. Maybe Scully was right, maybe there was something there, something they were missing. She shifted a little, her sleeping weight warm against his leg. Her body seemed to radiate sleep; he yawned uncontrollably, so hard his jaw ached.

Thirty-five years. Thirty-five years and one night. Mulder rubbed at his eyes. He would be able to read more comfortably if he put his glasses back on. He would be a lot more comfortable not reading. Scully had, Mulder yawned again, Scully had the right idea. There was something in those pages that they were missing, and they would figure out what it was. Tomorrow.

He let the papers fall out of his hand and drift to the floor, join the others. Then he wriggled down to lie next to Scully. She made a small sound that wasn't really a snore. Mulder turned on his side, curling around her, breathing deeply against the back of her neck; she smelled of hairspray and sweat, and warm living skin. He put his arm around her. A lot more comfortable.

"I'm awake," she said, her voice like something out of a zombie movie.

"I know." He closed his eyes. He could be awake later.

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