Title: You Learn
Author: XScout
Rating: PG-13 (bad language)
Classification: VA
Keywords: None
Spoilers: The End/The Beginning, Two Fathers/One Son, Biogenesis/Sixth Extinction/Amor Fati
Summary: No matter what happens, the most important lesson is that you learn what it is to be loved.

Disclaimer: One name is mentioned and she belongs to CC and 1013. Personally, I donít want her.

Authorís Notes: This is based on Alanis Morissetteís song, ĎYou Learní. Feedback is like air Ė I need it to live. Xscout@hotmail.com

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You Learn

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I look at the woman standing before me in shock. She has just told me that the woman I once loved is dead.

Love is a powerful emotion. It has the power to create and the power to destroy. It can be blinding or it can be revolutionary. Sometimes it can be all of these.

Love made me the man I am today and, though it had been hellacious at times, I donít regret a moment of it. I have changed a lot for the better because of it and I learned a lot from my experience. Colleagues who see me for the first time since I was in the VCS are astounded at the differences.

I didnít used to be very pleasant to be around. I worked eighteen-hour days, barely slept at night, smoked, drank, and could rival any sailor in usage of profanity. I spent my life inside the minds of killers, rapists, kidnappers, and all the other scum of humanity that the rest of the world would rather forget. It is not an excuse; it is a reason. I was edgy, bad tempered, and downright mean because I was so immersed in the filth of the criminally insane. It is almost impossible to unwind after spending three-quarters of your day thinking like a psycho who enjoys cutting up women and freezing their pieces for midnight snacks. That kind of thing follows you into your dreams and you wake up screaming or sobbing, either way you donít get much rest. Day after day of profiling, not enough rest, bad nutrition, and no outlet for stress can cause a person to be a little less than congenial with others.

I drank in order to find relief from the nightmare of my life, ignoring the guilt that I was becoming my father Ė a man who drowns his sorrows in order to forget them, dismissing everything else. One night I was in the bar that a lot of agents frequent and that was when I saw her. She was sitting at a booth, all alone, and I walked over and introduced myself. I donít know what compelled me to do that, since I was mostly a recluse, avoiding personal relationships because they were ephemeral and dangerous. But there was something about her, her dark hair pulled back into a ponytail and her dark eyes focused on the papers in front of her, that drew me to her. Perhaps I felt that she was a kindred spirit; someone who understood that my work was my passion, that everything else came second.

She looked up from her files and smiled, answering that she knew who I was and asked me to sit down. I offered her a drink and we began to talk. We started with simple things such as office gossip, the weather, and a few jokes or silly anecdotes that could be considered entertaining. Then we moved into darker territory. She began to ask me questions about the case she was working on, giving suggestions, denying others, and taking some notes as we spoke. Before either of us knew it, the bartender was asking us to leave, the bar was closing. We both looked at each other with shocked expressions on our faces and then we both burst out laughing. We had been so absorbed in our work that we had not noticed the passage of time. As we gathered up our belongings I realized that it had been the first time I had laughed in months and that was when I started to fall in love with her.

A few weeks later and we were meeting each other for lunch practically every day; I managed to pull myself away from my desk for an hour just to go meet her. Often we discussed our respective cases and consulted the otherís knowledge, but sometimes we would simply sit and enjoy each otherís presence.  A few weeks more and we were officially seeing each other. It was then that she began to bring up some destructive habits of mine that needed changing. I stopped smoking and drinking and I even began to eat more than one meal a day. I wasnít better completely and certainly not immediately. I was still profiling and nightmares were common, my stress level was high. After we had been together for three months we moved to the next level and she was able to experience my night terrors first hand. I could tell it worried her but she accepted it, comforting me after I woke and not mentioning it in the safety of the light of day.

But then one night it went too far. I became the killer in my dream and my victim was struggling beneath my hands, fighting for life, when a sharp pain stung my cheek and I opened my eyes to find that I was strangling her in the middle of our bed. I threw myself backwards and stumbled into the bathroom, losing everything in my stomach, including my digestive fluid. Stuff burns like a son of a bitch coming up. Thank God I hadnít done any damage, she had managed to wake me up in time. She was lucky that time. I didnít want to wake up one morning and find out that she hadnít succeeded a second time. So we decided I needed to find another section of the Bureau that could use my talents as well as give me enough of a challenge that I wouldnít lose my interest. Thatís how we found the X-Files.

Things were great at first. We went through all the old files, categorizing and prioritizing. I brought myself up to speed on anything and everything paranormal, researching every subject pertaining to ghosts, UFOs, monsters, psychics, and more. I got approval from my AD and I was transferred. Bill Patterson was pissed but I had Reggie Purdue backing me up in front of the committee reviewing my request. I dove into the X-Files with a fervor I had never known. The more investigations I pursued the more obsessed I became. Soon I was spending less time with her and when we did see each other she acted strangely. She often seemed nervous and hesitant around me, asking for details about my latest case and never volunteering any information about her own. Then one day, about nine months after we met, she came to me and told me that she had been offered a position overseas, the opportunity of a lifetime. We were both dedicated to our jobs, so I understood that she had only one choice to make. She left the next day.

We tried to make a long distance relationship work but it wasnít the same and we eventually lost touch. I wasnít terribly heartbroken; I had my work and that was what mattered to me the most. Relationships were never my strong point and I had pretty much given up the hope of ever finding someone to fill the empty space in my heart. Emotionally distant parents and manipulative girlfriends had seen to that.

Years went by and suddenly she returned unannounced, plowing her way into my life without an invitation. Even though I was wary about her intentions I let her in anyway. She was a completely different woman but I had loved and trusted her once. She betrayed that trust by taking over my work and destroying it. Years ago that simple act would have destroyed me as well but my work wasnít the only thing I had to live for anymore. She did everything she could to circumvent my efforts to regain the X-Files, offering false platitudes and falsely reassuring me that she was continuing the search for the Truth. Any love she may have once felt for me had vanished and was replaced by cold calculation that would lead to her into a position of power. Such as it was I could have left her to die when I thought the world was coming to an end, but I didnít. A long dead feeling compelled me to bring her to safety and what thanks did I receive? None. She disappeared into thin air and didnít reappear until I was completely incapacitated.

Yes, it hurts that she would join my enemies in their fight to hide the Truth and even deliver me into their clutches as they demanded, but what hurts worse is that at the end she suddenly found her conscience and sacrificed herself to save my life. Maybe some minuscule remnant of the love she once felt for me compelled her to find some way to redeem herself. However, I will never be able to ask her. And that is what hurts the most. I loved her once and I was never able to thank her for all that she did for me.

I have learned many things from love, but what Diana taught me was this: Cherish the moments you have love, because, whether it is destined to fail or whether it will last forever, love is too important to take for granted. It doesnít matter if distance, time, or other circumstances change how you feel, the most meaningful result is that you learned what it is to be loved.

I look down at the woman standing in front of me, her compassionate blue eyes staring up into my own hazel ones, and decide that I must not let another moment slip by that I take love for granted.

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End