Title: Lost Highway
Author: XScout
Rating: PG
Classification: VA
Keywords: Profiler, 1st Person POV
Spoilers: Grotesque, Christmas Carol/Emily
Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, and Skinner belong to CC and 1013, though they should be taken away until handled properly. No infringement intended.
Summary: There is only one way out of this nightmare... together.

Author's Notes: *sigh* How will I ever make it through this season? What season? I haven't even seen anything after the third episode. The only thing I have to keep me going are my tapes of old episodes and feedback. So please, give me hope! Xscout@hotmail.com


Lost Highway


The highway stretches out before me in the darkness, the small yellow streaks slashing across my vision as we travel through the silent night. The glow from the headlights illuminates only a small patch of asphalt in front and it seems as though we are the only life on earth. The world is a dark and foreboding place, our continual search for the truth and our quest to rid the evils of this world are the only means we have for lighting our path.

I glance away from the road to your face, cast a sickly green by the dashboard readings. Thin and too pale, your hollow eyes are like two black pits in a sea of white. Thick locks of hair dangle upon your forehead, a vivid contrast to your skin, mussed by too many fingers run through it. I turn my attention back to the road, frightened by what I see. I cannot explain to anyone what this fear is, for it is a dread that can only be understood by someone who has seen what the darkness can do.

We were called to Jackson, Mississippi by Skinner two and a half weeks ago. Beautiful country, with friendly people and wonderful food.

I can't wait until we leave.

Eighteen days in Hell is enough penance for any wrongs we may have committed. What is Hell? Hell is where a killer hunts down innocent children and slaughters them without a moment's remorse. It is where a man spends his days and nights inside that killer's head, trying to make some sense of the madness while getting drawn into it at the same time. Hell is an office full of men and women who are supposed to be your allies and instead they taunt you, dismiss your emotions and use your intellect without realizing that the two are intertwined. It is nights spent listening to the nightmares of a tortured man as the demons of the day invade his dreams. Hell is watching you waste away before my eyes and me not being able to do anything about it.

Profiling is something I have done maybe twice since the mandatory classes at Quantico and it is certainly an experience which I have no wish to repeat. Those few instances were hard to get through; trying to think like an individual so completely different is not easy. And they weren't even serial killers, so I can only imagine the horror you go through each time. I first got a glimpse of it in the Mostow case and assumed that it was the worst example of the special insight that awarded you the title of the only profiler with a solve rate above ninety percent. Over the years I only had a few more instances to see you in action with the ISU and each time I realized that the Mostow case was nothing compared to these.

Last time it got so bad that I personally went to Skinner and asked that he not allow you to be 'lent' out to the ISU anymore. He told me that it was one of his bargaining chips keeping the X-files open - you be a consultant profiler so that your talents aren't completely wasted. I slammed my hand on the huge desk, surprising both Skinner and myself with my vehemence. I asked him if he had seen what the last case had done to you. Had he seen how thin you were? Did he notice how pale your skin was? Did he have to watch you be dragged deeper into insanity and force himself to stand back because he knew it was the only way to catch a killer? Did he have to pick up the pieces of what was left when it was over?

Skinner took my tirade in silence, a stony expression on his face. When I finished, I stood there, my cheeks red and my fists clenched, expecting a rebuke. None came. Instead I was shocked to see the AD slowly nodding his head. He told me that he had in fact witnessed all those things, though on a previous case. It took a moment for me to realize that he was talking about before the X-files, when you were assigned to the ISU. Skinner had been a Deputy Director then. Surprising me yet again, he walked around his desk and took my left hand in his two, squeezing gently. He told me that he would do the best he could to shield you from any requests but if something came across his desk that could not be solved without your help, he would have to send it down to us.

I thanked him and left, still too shocked to fully appreciate the sacrifices he would have to make to keep his promise. And keep it he did, until two and a half weeks ago. Everyone knew about the case, had heard about it on the news for weeks - The Mississippi Mangler case. I hate the press; they love a morbid headline. Bodies of children were being found all over the Jackson area, their tiny forms badly malformed due to broken bones and knife wounds. I hate cases involving children. For me I keep seeing Emily's face again and again. For you it is Samantha. So I watched the news broadcasts with the rest of the country and prayed that the killer would be caught before you were called in. My prayers weren't enough.

The day after the fourth body was found, we were called up to Skinner's office. We both suspected what it was for and our suspicions were confirmed when we saw the look on his face. He gave me an apologetic stare before he told us that we had to fly down to Jackson as soon as possible to assist the team there. You would be the profiler on site and I would offer what medical assistance I could. I remember letting out a deep breath of relief in knowing that I would be able to go with you. Sometimes they split us up, reasoning that my skills wouldn't be of any use on such cases and instead I am assigned to teach at Quantico while you are away. I hate those times and have to content myself with daily phone calls to check on you.

We arrived in Jackson, Mississippi four hours later and were received at the local Bureau with less than open arms. Considering the fact that *they* were the ones who requested you, I'm vaguely amused by the hostility they hold towards you. Oh, I understand that they don't like the idea of being shown up by Spooky Mulder and feel like you are invading on their territory, but a child's life is at stake here. Of course not all the agents are among the majority, instead listening to your suggestions and helping us get familiarized with the case. Well, the locals needn't have worried that you'd show up and snap your fingers and *poof* the case was solved. More than two weeks later we are still without a suspect in custody.

We are close though. Over a dozen days of nightmares, vomiting, blood, sweat, and tears, and a profile that narrows our search parameters to less than five percent of the populace is created. But not in time. Another child was found this morning, her lifeless body barely identifiable. We spent the day at the crime scene, going over every tiny detail and hopefully gaining the last bit of information we would need to bring the list of suspects down to one name. Back to the Bureau for a team meeting and, though disheartened, we keep working. I tried to convince you to eat and once again was waved off with a promise to grab something later. It took almost all of my persuasion just to keep you from becoming dehydrated.

Exhaustion finally set in around one o'clock this morning and we packed up to go back to the hotel. On the way to the hotel I saw a sign that advertised a scenic drive outside of the city and decided to take it. Yes, it's too dark to see anything and I am tired, but I also know that you sleep better in a car than you do in a bed. Any amount of sleep you can get should be savored carefully. I'm afraid you won't be able to take much more of this.

I glance over at you again, lifting a hand from the steering wheel to run a finger lightly down your smooth cheek then moving it down to rest on your thigh. Sometimes, in one of my darkest moments, I wonder if it is worth it. Is all my worrying, all my effort and time being wasted on a hopeless quest to keep a lost soul from becoming lost forever? I am not a nursemaid, it is not my job to make sure that you eat or get enough sleep. It is not up to me to care for you after a bout of dry heaves, nor is it my duty to protect you from the jealous barbs of the other agents. But I do it anyway. Why?

Love is the simple answer. Unspoken but nonetheless true, my love for you gives me the strength to get you through this. Your love for me, though just as silent, binds us together in a partnership that transcends the working relationship and brings us to a point where we will protect each other from anything, whether it be a perp with a gun or demons of the mind.

Staring out into the night, I realize that you and I are like this road. You are the car, traveling dangerously into the darkness; at any moment you could veer off and be lost in the black depths. I am the road, keeping you on your course, following and leading as we head down the same path. Without me you would be lost and without you I would have no purpose.

Movement beside me brings my attention back to you. You have shifted slightly in the seat, your head turned toward me and your hand lying atop my own. A slight smile graces your lips and a surge of warmth runs through me at the sight. We can make it through this.

Though we may not know where we're headed, we can get there through whatever obstacles we encounter. Because we are together and that is stronger than anything else.