Title: How Was I To Know?
Author: XScout
Rating: PG
Classification: VA
Keywords: None
Spoilers: Redux II, Detour, Fight The Future
Summary: We don't always realize the power we hold over others.

Disclaimer: Skinner and Mulder arenít mine, neither is the narrator who, although not named, is obviously Scully. The trio is CC's and 10-13's. The song is 'Power Of Goodbye' by Madonna. No infringement intended to anyone.

Author's Note: I want to know if you liked it. I *need* to know. I can't go another day without knowing! You wouldn't want to be responsible for my breakdown, would you? Contribute to keeping me out of an institution, e-mail me at xscout@hotmail.com This is left open ended on purpose, the ending is up to you.

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How Was I To Know?

*******************

Your heart is not open so I must go,
The spell has been broken...I loved you so,
Freedom comes when you learn to let go
Creation comes when you learn to say no
Walk away

****************

I should have known then, when I saw you. But my mind was occupied by other things. Like dying.

Your visits brought me both joy and pain. My spirit was buoyed by your mere presence, and yet my heart cried out as I thought that each time we met might be the last.

I did not notice the way your clothes hung upon your body, the dark circles under your eyes, the trembling in your fingers when you touched me. You had given up both eating and sleeping in lieu of your search to find a cure for me.

How was I to know?

My mind cycled in an endless circle of fear, pain, and hopelessness. I didn't want to die, didn't want to leave my family behind. Even with so much emptiness inside me, there was no still room left for me to worry about you.

After the cancer went into remission I stayed with my mother, recuperating. You visited, always cheerful, always smiling. The fact that you were on the verge of collapse was hidden from me.

So how was I to know?

Not until I sat with you cradled in my arms under a starlit sky in the middle of a forest did I notice. I could feel your ribs protruding from beneath your bulky jacket, the dark shadows exaggerating your hollow cheeks. That was when I realized what you had done.

But I assumed that since I was better, you would be also. So I never mentioned anything, passed it off as undue stress from the hearings and my failing health.

How was I to know?

************

You were my lesson, I had to learn
I was your fortress you had to burn
Pain is a warning that something's wrong
I pray to God that it won't be long

************

You told me yourself that I made you a complete person, that you couldn't go on without me. I still didn't understand. As your lips neared mine, all I could think of was that I wanted you. That I needed you. I understood the depth of my emotion. Not yours.

I told you that my work was with you, that I wasn't going anywhere. I said it for my own selfishness. I wanted to find out what happened to me, I had to explain what I saw and experienced. I also wanted to be near you.

I don't know why I left. No, that's not true. I know. You were angry, you felt betrayed by my insistence that what we went through was unverifiable. I tried to make you understand, but you were so hurt. I was the only one you trusted and I betrayed that trust. I might as well have shot you then and there, it would have been less painful.

But how was I to know?

You had Diana. Or I thought you did. I believed that since you had her, you didn't need me. She accepted your theories, didn't constantly question you, was obviously interested in rekindling your relationship with her. She was everything I was not. And so I left.

I told you that I was going back to teach at Quantico. That, since we were no longer assigned to the X-Files, there was no point in me staying in the field. There was an opening in the Pathology Department and they had offered me the job. They were thrilled to get me.

You only looked shocked for a moment or two. You didn't say much, just gave me a sad smile. Told me that you were glad that I was getting on with my life. Now I would be safer, could settle down without any hesitation. Your voice was flat, almost uncaring, your eyes filled with relief. Thanked me for my years of partnership and walked out the door.

I mistook the sorrow in your voice as uncaring, the fear in your eyes as relief.

How was I to know?

My time at Quantico was fulfilling intellectually, if not emotionally. My students were attentive, my peers treated me with respect, men saw me as an attractive woman. It was the life I thought I wanted.

And yet, I was unhappy. My mind would wander over the past five years and I would think of all the things I had seen, had done by your side. I wanted to go to you, to ask your forgiveness, to be your partner. I almost did. But then I would remember the look of betrayal in your hazel depths, the lines of anger etched in your face. I thought you would never accept my apology.

How was I to know?

*********************

There's nothing left to try
There's no place left to hide
There's no greater power than the power of goodbye

**************

I occasionally heard about you through interoffice gossip. You had become the agent that the Bureau had always hoped you would be. You were solving cases as fast as they could send them to you, amazing everyone with that brilliant mind I knew you possessed.

I heard that you were 'up for hire' so to speak, that anyone needing assistance could request you. So I assumed that Diana would be steadily using that privilege. I thought this was confirmed when I overheard some students talking about how you had been arrested for trespassing on a secret military installation.

It wasn't until later that I discovered that you had nearly been beaten to death at that installation. But no one had called me, asking if I was your next of kin. So I figured that you must have changed that, since I was no longer a part of your life.

I wanted to go to you, to hold you in my arms and comfort your hurt, caress away the pain. But I thought you didn't want me there, wouldn't appreciate my intrusion.

How was I to know?

So I went about my business, mourning the loss of something I couldn't put a name to. I had only myself to blame.

*********

Your heart is not open, so I must go
The spell has been broken... I loved you so
You were my lesson I had to learn
I was your fortress

***********

Profiling was always something you did astonishingly well. Beyond that even. When word came that you had been working with the VCS and ISU, I was content in the fact that they accepted you as the best.

And you were. You solved their cases for them, writing monographs that were more accurately in-depth then the infamous Monty Propps one. Once, I thought of the Mostow case, of how involved you became. But I shrugged off my worry. You had been a profiler for years without any problems, why should there be any now?

How was I to know?

You were the Bureau's shining star, they flew you all over the country, congratulating themselves for finally getting you to see it their way. You were the talk of the Academy, most young agents aspired to be you. You caught several of the suspects single-handedly so they said, had earned even more honors to add to your file.

That was when it came to me in a flash that I had been right that evening, so long ago in your apartment. I had been holding you back.

How was I to know?

Occasionally it was rumored that you were hospitalized for an injury sustained while capturing one of the many UNSUBs you put away. I am ashamed to admit it, but I checked up on you whenever I heard that. I had access to hospital computers, so I would look up your record to see what your condition was. It always said 'released'. So I didn't worry.

How was I to know?

There were chuckles and knowing nods from those I ate lunch with as they told me that the X-Files Section had a solve rate below sixty percent, that it would be closed soon. A flare of anger passed through me as I thought of what Agents Jeffrey Spender and Diana Fowley were doing to our work. That was when it hit me.

*Our* work.

I had to go home early that day, passed it off as a headache. More like heartache. I lay on my sofa and cried tears of regret. I knew that you probably had heard of the X-Files' decline, but you obviously didn't care.

How was I to know?

*************

There's nothing left to try
There's no place left to hide
There's no greater power than the power of goodbye

************

Assistant Director Skinner was no longer my superior, so it was natural that I be surprised by his request that I come to his office. With no small amount of trepidation, I made my way down the halls that were once so familiar to enter an office that I had so frequently visited.

Kimberly gave me an unfathomable look and ushered me into Skinner's office. I took my customary seat and the empty chair beside me made my throat tighten. Skinner stared at me with that stone expression he is so good at. Then he asked me a question that I'll never forget.

Have you heard about Agent Mulder?

I almost laughed. Had I heard?? Of course, he was all they were talking about. Well, maybe not all, but he was all I listened for.

Concerning what? I had asked.

He didn't answer. Instead, he asked another question. Had I seen Agent Mulder recently?

I shook my head no and for some reason felt as though I had let Skinner down in some way. I could not be positive, but I'm sure I saw a moment of fear flicker across his face. It might have been a trick of the light.

Then he told me. Everything. And I realized how wrong I had been.

You had been solving cases at an unparalleled rate, yes, but that was because you did nothing but work on them. No food, no sleep, nothing but you communing with the mind of a killer. It was exactly the same as the Mostow case, only magnified and multiplied. You were practically working yourself to death.

Not practically. Literally.

How was I to know?

You needlessly risked yourself dozens of times over, consciously throwing yourself into harm's way. Skinner described to me how he had visited you in the hospital each time you had been injured, how you had insisted that I not be contacted even though I was still listed as your next of kin. That you didn't want to interrupt my life. I thought that once or twice, an interruption would have been welcome.

But you weren't injured once or twice. Not all news filters down to the Academy. You had been hospitalized over ten times in the past few months. Stab wounds, broken ribs, attempted strangulation, gunshot wounds, internal injuries. The list was long and horrifying. Each and every time, you were released within days, upon your insistence. Against medical advice.

Skinner related to me how he had joined you on your latest case in the VCS. He admitted that he had been scared for you. He said that you had a death wish, that other agents had noticed your self-destructive behavior. But they didn't dare report you, they wouldn't take the chance of losing Spooky Mulder, profiling machine.

He said he confronted you himself about your mental and physical health. And you hadn't cared. Monotone voice and slumped posture indicated that much. Your words of denial meant nothing, just another way to keep others at a distance. So they couldn't hurt you.

He told me that he suspected you were on the verge of collapse. He didn't specifically say it, but I knew he thought you were going to put a gun to your head soon. He suggested that perhaps I might be able to talk you out of this depression.

I never had the chance.

How was I to know?

**************

There's nothing left to lose
There's no more heart to bruise
There's no greater power than the power of goodbye

*************

I came home from the Assistant Director's office, my mind swirling with thoughts and images I didn't want to consider. I checked my messages automatically.

Bethesda Naval Hospital. You hadn't been able to tell them not to contact me, you were unconscious when they brought you in.

You still are.

I sit here, your limp hand in mine, and I know what I should have all this time.

You loved me.

I meant so much to you that life wasn't worth living without me. When I left, you gave up on everything you had ever cared for. You didn't break into that military installation to find any truth, you did it in the hopes that this time they wouldn't let you out alive. You profiled killers, not caring what it did to you, hoping it would drive you into blissfully ignorant madness. You did it to save lives also, I know that you aren't shallow, you would care about the victim as always. If one of the killers caught you along the way, then all the better.

You knew the X-Files was floundering, that it would be closed soon. But you didn't care. You had told me that you didn't think you could do it without me, wouldn't want to. I didn't understand until now.

I look at your pale form lying in the bed and I cannot keep my eyes from running up and down your body, cataloging every bruise, every scratch. The doctor said that, while there was a slim chance of recovery from the bullet wounds, those chances were greatly diminished by your already weakened state. Dehydration, malnutrition, lack of sleep, half healed injuries. Hurt upon hurt that culminated into a man ready to give up on life.

And it is my fault. I am not the madman who let you trade yourself for a hostage, I did not shoot you three times, in the chest, stomach, and leg. Yet I could have pulled the trigger.

Because I left. I was afraid of you, of us. I loved you and that scared me. So I left. The power of goodbye is strong, and I wielded it like a knife.

You thought I didn't want to work with you, that I was angry with you. Maybe you thought I was sick of your theories, or perhaps you believed that I had taken my betrayal a step farther by dissolving our partnership. Or more likely, you thought I had finally taken your advice and gone to be a doctor. You probably blamed yourself.

The blame does not rest with you, but with me. I am the one who didn't tell you the truth. And that was a crime in itself. You spent your life looking for the truth and I joined everyone else in keeping it from you. But it was only because I loved you.

I never told you and now I may never have the chance. You're not expected to make it through the night. I lay my head at your side and I cry tears of loss, shame, and pain. I tell you that I am sorry, that I didn't mean any of what I had said. That my intention was never to hurt but to protect. That I loved you but never allowed you to see that.

So how were you to know?

**************

Learn to say goodbye
I yearn to say goodbye.

***************
END

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"Power of Goodbye"