Pretty Words

by Foxsong

(3-23-00. Happy birthday, Prince! <g>)

Vignette, rated G. CSM POV during 'En Ami.'

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Thanks to my beta-goddess Char Chaffin, and to the faboo MaybeAmanda, who put me up to it in the first place.

Disclaimer: The X-Files and all things X-ian are the property of Ten Thirteen and Fox, who have not given me leave to play with their toys. No copyright infringement is intended. Please don't spank me!


Summary: No motive is unmixed.


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I began losing the heart to go through with the thing when I carried her into the house.

Of course I had drugged her. If the plan should fail, if she should escape, I did not wish her to retrace these last few hours' drive to the house. And of course I denied it in the morning. By that time all our words had become compromised; the truths and the lies had intertwined and grown twisted, like old vines around a tree. By that time, neither she nor I could be sure of the differences anymore.

Each of us had known the rules of this game before entering into it. We knew the language. Each of us considered the words the other spoke, and privately weighed the heavier meanings that hung like smoke in the air behind them. We were two old adversaries, but we understood each other better than many lovers do.

The holiest of grails, I called it; the cure for all disease. And she a doctor, and a woman of compassion. All this was beyond dispute. I couched it in these gentle words, offering it to her; I wrapped what she really wanted -- what I knew she really needed -- in a soft and comforting and acceptable fabric of half-truths. To be sure, what piqued her curiosity was the idea of a boon to help mankind, but that was not why she came. The thing that made her swallow her mistrust, the thing that made her willing to consider taking what I offered, was something far deeper, and something I am familiar with, myself.

She came not only for the cure, but for the power she would wield as the one who possessed it. Unlike me, she would share her bounty freely with the world, but this would not lessen its impact or diminish her in any way. She would become a benevolent goddess with such power in her hands.

She came, at last, because she knew it was the way to step out of Mulder's long shadow. She came because it would be the ultimate proof of her worthiness: that she, she, had brought this about alone, unaided. It may have been Mulder's compass that had pointed her toward the true north, but she would be the one to mount the summit and conquer the peak. This was the hunger she tried to hide, even from herself. This was the hedge of thorns around her heart that even Mulder himself had never found a way through.

Perhaps she thought it was unbecoming in one so lovely as herself. I am sure there are men who would have seen it so. I was never one of them. As I gathered her into my arms and carried her toward the house, I imagined I could feel the heat of that fire within her. It would surely scorch me if I held her too long. A thing of beauty is all the more beautiful for its danger; it is the thing we worship that will kill us in the end.

I had to shift her weight in my arms as I brought her through the door. She turned her head against my shoulder and murmured something under her breath, and all at once, just for a moment, it was thirty years ago, and it was little Jeffrey I was carrying up to his bed, and I wondered where it was that we had all begun to go so wrong.

She hardly stirred when I laid her down on the bed, and I turned and went back toward the car to bring in her bag.

She was indeed a worthy adversary, I reflected, looking over at her sleeping form upon the bed as I opened up the bag to find her nightwear. I had expected her to be a hindrance to Mulder, to keep him far enough away that the plan might go forward as smoothly as possible. Mulder was a great danger, but I had underestimated this woman, and had paid a heavy price. Had I realized sooner what she was, I could have employed her in a much more valuable capacity; she would certainly have succeeded where Diana had failed me. But it had been Mulder, and not me, who had fanned that spark into flame, and her loyalty was boundless. I was too late.

I laid her pajamas out on the bed, and began to undress her. She was as limp and pliable as a doll. I did not linger over the task; I have seen and known too much, after all these years, to be distracted at the sight of a woman's body. It was her lioness' heart that first drew me to her, that I will admire and covet until the end. I have read, after all, that a man's reach should exceed his grasp.

I smiled a little when I saw the wire tucked away under the elastic of her bra, but I did not touch it. I had expected that she would wear one; her attempt to mail the tapes to her partner had proved me right. I knew as well that she understood that I would not be surprised to find it. There was no need to accentuate the point by removing the device. I would not mention it, and neither would she. There were rules to this game; I would be gentlemanly enough to keep to them. I finished buttoning her pajama top, and drew the covers up over her, and left the room.

I stood outside an hour later, staring out beyond the long sloping meadow toward the lake, thinking about those rules. I thought about the masks we hold up to one another, and how they fail to conceal us. We say one thing, meaning another; I thought of how remarkable it is that so often the words we merely parrot at first later become the ones we really mean. I had told her that a man finally looks at the sum of his life to see what he'll leave behind. They were only pretty words, meant to catch her ear; I had hardly hoped to make her believe them. But now the night echoed them back to me, and I was close to believing them myself.

I lifted my cigarette to my lips and understood that I could not carry this to the conclusion I had planned. My own life would be over soon enough if the plan failed; I would not snuff hers out as well in the attempt to save my own. There were other ways, and when it was done I could vanish just as I had a hundred times before. She would not find me. Let her go back to her Mulder; let them keep trying to save the world their own way. Perhaps, in the end, they will have more to look back on than I do.

I dropped the cigarette to the stone floor of the terrace and crushed it under the sole of my shoe, and I turned away from the accusing night, and went back into the house.