Title: Familiarity
Author: XScout
Rating: PG (Yes folks, a PG from *me*)
Classification: VA
Keywords: None
Spoilers: None
Summary: Sometimes what seems so familiar may not be.

Author's Note: I've begged, I've threatened, cajoled and even offered sacrifices so I have nothing left to do but ask simply. So, will you please send me e-mail? xscout@hotmail.com




God she was beautiful. How could he possibly be so lucky?

Fate. That's all there was to it.

Mulder turned his attention away from the figure in the passenger seat, to focus his eyes on the road, but his thoughts remained constant.

She was the light of his life, he would do anything for her. Already had in fact. Risked everything to get her, had achieved the impossible.

The object of his thoughts turned her clear blue eyes on him. "Where are we going?"

Mulder smiled. "It's a surprise."

She arched an eyebrow and he almost choked on his laughter. That expression was so easy, so familiar, he often thought that she must have practiced in a mirror to get it just right.

"What kind of a surprise?" she asked, her voice tinged with excitement.

"Now, if I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise, now would it?" he admonished with a grin.

Her lower lip jutted out and her eyes became large and soulful. "If you love me, you'll tell me."

He risked a glance away from the road. "What?? That's not fair! You know I love you and besides, blackmail is illegal. So you're just going to have to wait and find out."

He turned the wheel and entered a parking lot. "We're here." Getting out of the car, he moved around and opened the passenger door, offering his hand. She took it and he pulled her out.

Together they walked, her hand dwarfed by his larger one, down through the trees and grass, across the pavement and into a large clearing. Her eyes grew round and her mouth formed a small 'O' of delight as she took in their surroundings.

There was a huge man-made pool flanked by benches, spread out before a huge white building with columns. Trees and grass dotted the area, birds and people chattering happily as they passed. It was the Reflecting Pool.

Mulder led her to a bench and sat down with her next to him. "Do you like it here?"

Her head bobbed up and down. "It's special to you, so it's special to me."

He closed his eyes and sighed. She knew him so well. He leaned down to place a tender kiss on her forehead when suddenly a loud noise echoed across the park. Mulder felt a sharp pain in his back, spreading forward to his chest and causing his vision to blur momentarily.

The blue eyes before him were wide with shock and it took him a moment to register the fact that she was covered in blood. As though in slow motion, he looked down at himself, finding that he too was covered in the warm scarlet liquid, seeping from a hole in his chest.

A gurgling noise drew him back to her face and fear coursed through his body. There was blood coming from her lips, dribbling down her pale chin and spattering onto her already stained shirt. Stained with *their* blood. The bullet had passed through him and into her.

"No!" he tried to shout, only succeeding in a hoarse cry. He pulled her into his arms, ignoring the nausea sweeping over him, the fire burning in his torso.

People were coming over now; he noted that someone was on a cellphone, calling 911. He couldn't speak, couldn't tell them who he was or what had happened. That this was a professional hit, an assassination attempt. He couldn't look away from her face, scared and shocked, and he knew instantly who did this.

He had. It was his fault. If he had stepped away from the case he had been working on when he was warned to, this never would have happened. Someone was tugging at him, telling him he needed to lie down.

He just pulled her closer and rocked her gently, whispering into her hair, "I love you." Over and over, as though his words were a tenuous lifeline which she could hold onto. Her lips moved, repeating his mantra, letting him know that she didn't blame him.

The paramedics were there suddenly, prying her from his arms. "Please, save her, you have to save her!" he sobbed. Her fingers slipped from his grasp and with them went his faint hold on consciousness.


He awoke to the sounds of which he was intimately familiar. Blips and whirs of machines, hushed voices, wheels squeaking on slick floors, hurried footsteps. A hospital.

He groaned loudly and a face appeared over him. "Mr. Mulder?"

He licked his lips and tried again. "My..." He swallowed, afraid to finish the sentence, afraid of the answer.

The nurse frowned. "Mr. Mulder, you just had a major operation, you need to rest."

That was *not* the right thing to say. Whenever a nurse avoided your questions that meant that the answer was a bad one. “Where is she?? Oh God, she isn't..."

The nurse's expression said it all. "Is there anyone you want me to call?"

He was shaking his head, the pain of his body being replaced by the pain of his soul. She was gone.

He squeezed his eyes shut, willing the tears not to come. "I have to call-" he couldn't even say the name, "-her mother."

"All right, I'll call her. What's the number?"

"No! I have to do it."

"Mr. Mulder, you are in no condition for anything even remotely traumatic." The woman crossed her arms as though her stance alone would dissuade him.

He was about to shout, demand, rage until he got his way, but he didn't have the strength. Nor the will. So when he spoke it was quiet, a desolate note in his tone. "Please. I need to do it myself."

The nurse could see the anguish so clearly etched on her patient's face and could not have possibly refused. "All right."

"Thank you." He almost cried with relief. "I have a cellphone, in my jacket."

The woman walked over to a table and rummaged around in a box. "These are your personal things, your clothes were bagged as evidence by the police." She found the items she was searching for and brought them over to the bed. Setting the phone in his lap, she handed him a scrap of pink paper folded neatly in half. "She had this in her coat." He reached for it and as he took it from her, she held on for a moment, squeezing his fingers. "I'm so sorry."

He nodded, his mind numb from the thought of the conversation ahead of him. He placed the paper on the sheets beside him, knowing that if he looked inside he wouldn't be able to hold any sort of conversation. The nurse left, saddened by the sense of loss radiating from the man.

He flipped open the phone and dialed the familiar number. It rang twice before a woman's voice answered. "Hello?"

He opened his mouth but nothing came out. He cleared his throat and managed a desperate croak. "Scully?"

"Oh my God! Mulder, where have you been?? I've been so worried!"

He picked up the paper next to him and opened it. A white cutout heart was pasted in the center, red marker decorating the edges. Bold letters in the middle of the heart read, 'I Love You Daddy'.

All he could do was sob uncontrollably into the phone.