Title: The Ride Home
Author: Europa
Rating: G
Feedback address: monacol@lycosmail.com
Spoilers: Sleepless
Disclaimer: These characters don't belong to me, they belong to Chris Carter, 1013 and Fox. Please don't sue me, I'm not worth it.
Summary: vignette of the ride from New York to Washington

"He had a gun. He was gonna shoot you."
"You did the right thing."

It is gone 10 p.m. before the various emergency services personnel begin to depart. The area is secure, crime scene tape stretched between the columns supporting the cavernous roof. Someone's even brought in some arc lighting to supplement the inadequate glow emanating from the yard's own bulbs set high above us. Several hastily abandoned Police cars continue to flash their lights, doors ajar and windows down, radios chattering to themselves like neurotic androids. The ambulances and paramedics that were on the scene so fast have gone long since, on to the next scene of ephemeral mayhem and carnage. I lean against a pillar surveying the scene, the blood drumming in my ears. The yard seems eerily quiet after the frenetic activity that followed my shooting of Augustus Cole. The body has been removed. Only a small pool of blood remains on the platform where he fell. Some poor bastard dressed in a dark coverall is pouring sand over it. Mulder is talking to a group of uniformed officers a few yards away just far enough off to ensure I can't hear what he's saying. My weapon has been taken off me for forensic examination and I'm feeling naked without it. I close my eyes against the sick headache that's starting behind them. I see Cole standing there aiming that gun at Mulder. He did have a gun. I know it. But it wasn't there. No weapon was found. God, I hope I didn't screw up. Mulder's words echo through my skull: You did the right thing. What worries me is what he's going to put in the report. I need his support if I'm to avoid an investigation as to why I killed an unarmed man. Fuck, this is no time for him to be extolling the marvels of projected telepathic images.

With a sigh I open my eyes. Mulder is gone. The officers he was talking to are all making their way back to their vehicles. Shit. I push myself off the pillar and head for the car. If he's left without me again...

He's sitting in the car when I reach it. In the driver's seat, naturally. It's this control thing he has. Always has to drive. I open the passenger door. "Weren't thinking of leaving without me, I hope?"

He looks really pissed. "Get the fuck in."

His aggression shocks me a little and I flinch, despite myself. I get in and buckle the belt over me. He rams the car into gear and pulls out almost before I've shut the door. I glance over at him. His face is set in an expression of extreme displeasure, lines of tiredness showing around his mouth. I'd like to know where we're going. Are we driving back to Washington tonight or does he intend staying overnight in New York and driving back in the morning? A moment's reflection and I decide my best course of action is to keep quiet. I don't have the strength for a fight. Not now.

We travel in silence through the busy streets, the anger radiating from him like heat off a flatiron.

"Will you stop doing that." He snaps, not looking at me.

I turn to him, surprised. "What?"


I look down and find my fingers fiddling with the seat belt. I let go of it and place my hands awkwardly in my lap, unsure of what to do with them. I'm aware that my muscles are tensed, trying not to fidget, not to enrage him further. I have cramps in my stomach. I hope fervently that we're going to a hotel and that we'll be there soon. He pulls out onto the freeway. Nope, we're heading for Washington. I close my eyes, trying to ignore the discomfort in my belly.

Cole is the first man I've killed. I think about my own report expected tomorrow. This is my first and it must be good. He will want to know about Mulder's relationship with Scully, about his sources. Christ it's going to take me forever to write this and all I want to do is sleep. I can feel the patterns of the streetlights playing on my eyelids as they pass. A sharp stab of pain in my stomach makes me draw breath quickly, my hand going automatically to where the pain is in an effort not to double up.

"You okay?" his hand is on my arm. His voice gentle now, the anger dissipated.


"You need to make a pitstop?"

I nod.

"Okay, I'll stop at the next all night services."

Thank God.

He pulls the car into the parking lot and cuts the engine. Then he reaches past me into the backseat for his jacket and a newspaper. His inadvertent touch gives me perverse comfort. We walk slowly towards the entrance.

"I'll be in the diner." he calls after me as I head for the Men's Room.

It feels like the entire liquid contents of my body are draining out of me. I sit with my head in my hands wondering how I'm going to face him. He's going to think I got sick because I had to kill someone. He'll see that as a sign of weakness, and another excuse to ditch me. He'll probably demand that Skinner assigns me to someone else first thing in the morning. And then what will I do? What will he say when he went to so much trouble and personal inconvenience to make sure I got assigned to Mulder in the first place? Jesus, he's going to kill me. And if Mulder connects me with the loss of his precious file, he'll kill me. The thud in my head increases with my heart rate. But at least the pain in my belly has lessened.

I splash cold water over my face and take a long look in the mirror. My eyes are bloodshot, my face can best be described as ashen. Stubble is beginning to make an unwelcome appearance. What the fuck. Gotta come outta here sometime.

Mulder is reading the newspaper wearing those cute glasses of his. He looks tired. His shirtsleeves are rolled up above the elbow. His jacket and tie lie on the seat beside him and his normally spikey hair is flat, making him look younger, kinda vulnerable. I sit down opposite him.

He looks up and gives me a concerned smile. Even this late, after a day like we've had, he looks gorgeous. "Better?"

"Yeah, thanks."

A waitress approaches the table and places a cup of tea in front of him and a glass in front of me. She lays place settings for us.

"I ordered for you." He says. "A burger."

"I'm not hungry."

"Alex, your blood sugar level's low. You have to eat something."

"I'm not-"

"-Alex." He looks intently at me, a twinkle in his eye. "Who's boss?"

I manage a smile of my own. "Technically speaking I am. It's my case."

"The case is over. Anyway, age before beauty."

I look down at the glass in front of me. "So what's this?"

"Try it."

I look at it doubtfully but decide not to argue again. I take a sip. Sweet and sour combine pleasantly on my tongue mixed with the warmth of alcohol.

"What do you think?"

"It's good. What is it?"

"Southern Comfort, lime and soda."

"Are you not having one?"

"Nah. I'm driving. But you look as though you need it."

I can't say I'm delighted by this statement and I put the glass down. "Look, Mulder, I need to know what you're going to write in your report."

He looks at me innocently. "Why?"

"Why do you fucking think?" My hands are beginning to shake again.

"Alright. Calm down. You didn't do anything wrong."

"I know that. I still need to know what you're going to say." I take a gulp of the drink and then another. The warmth trickles down into my chest and spreads out. "If you say he didn't have a gun..." I wince inwardly as I hear my voice pitch an octave higher, what must sound to Mulder like a whine of desperation.

"Relax. We'll write the report together. Say something like...his aggressive stance, the angle he was holding the bible together with the oblique light source combined to give the impression he was holding a gun. That way you can claim you believed you saw a gun."

I sigh with relief. Why didn't he just say that in the first place? I wonder if he's this irritating with Scully or whether he's doing it specially for me. The waitress comes over carrying our orders. I suddenly realise how hungry I am. Mulder reaches over and steals one of my fries.


"I thought you weren't hungry."

The journey back is long and uneventful. I feign sleep, rehearsing my report, whilst Mulder drives. I feel sorry for the guy. Really. He had the evidence in his hands. Proof of government culpability, experiments on ordinary American servicemen. For him, if not the Holy Grail then something damn near it. And now he has nothing. Like always. What would he have done with that file, anyway? Gone to Skinner? Gone to his 'high level government contact'? What he doesn't understand is that the Senators and Congressman of this country don't want to know about this or anything like it. In fact they want desperately not to know about this. Because if they know then the President will have to be told and if the President is told then there'll have to be an investigation and if there's an investigation God knows what other closet doors will be ill-advisedly yanked opened in the public interest and what other governmental skeletons will tumble out to embarrass the Administration. No, the people's representatives very definitely do not want to know about this. Some secrets are better kept. His father understands that.

"Wake up, you're home". A gentle hand squeezes my shoulder.

I open my eyes and haul myself up from the semi slouch I'd slid into. It's almost light and we're parked outside my apartment.

"You looked so peaceful it seemed a shame to wake you."

I turn to him, stretching and rubbing my eyes. "Ah. That'll be the sleep of the righteous." I grin.

"Good night, Alex."

I open the door and drag myself out into the cool morning air. I lean back in. "See you in the office?"

"Yeah. This afternoon'll do. See you later."

"See ya, Mulder."


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