Oh, you creep up like the clouds.
And you set my soul to ease.
Then you let your love abound.
And you bring me to my knees.
~~~Fiona Apple, "Shadowboxer"
After almost an hour of waiting with heavy lidded eyes he
had succumbed to his fatigue, leaning back onto the mounded
cushions and drifting off into the realm of sleep.
His struggle to stay awake showed in his hands which were
doubled up into fists on either side of him, twisted tight in the
sheet rucked low across his hips.
He'd been thinking of her, and his thinking had turned into
He wept as he dreamt, tears leaking pale silver past his temples,
his face upturned to the faint light that streamed through the
Patterns, both pale and deep cast by the pas-de-deux of city
lights and dark night clustered around his long, palely gleaming
body. Many-layered shadows draped across the length of him,
drifting tighter and tighter around his sleeping form, which shone
palely where illuminated by reflected city lights.
(I know it's purple, but if you knew how I struggled to get that
exact shade! )
In his dream she walked towards him as she did so often in her
waking hours, long after the sun had set and her day's business
done, shadows flickering like ocean waves across her face and
body, and his dream-self smiled, for his day's business had
bruised his heart, and strength would come through her laughing
eyes and eloquent hands. Only, in his dream, she came ever
towards him, forever out of reach: and the darkness, rather than
bearing her safely to the island that was their bed, reared up
between them and swallowed them both. Sadness engulfed
him, and not long after he tumbled into the deepest part of
slumber the front door to his flat opened, and a tall women let
herself into the room.
She made her way to where he lay with sure and graceful
movements, thinking grave thoughts as she pondered how
best to approach him. She had no reason for lateness that he
would care to hear, and she did not believe in excuses.
Her long skirt swished quietly as she sank to her knees
The dried traces of his tears stood out like scars on his face.
He cried so easily.
He thought everything was his fault.
Even her failures.
So, so tenderhearted, you are, she thought of him to herself,
grinning a little as she brought up a cupped hand to brush off
a tangle of hair from his forehead. Her privilege and delight
came in wiping those tears away and replacing them with the
smiling knowledge of his importance to her (she slipped out
of her jacket and blouse) and in her.
She untied the waist of her wrap around skirt, and allowed the
nubby material to slide past her hips to the floor as she examined.
His eyes were puffy, she noticed with more than a little
satisfaction. He must have cried for a very long time before
His day might have been as bad as hers, and this realization
made her reconsider her impulse to dip her finger into his
heart and swirl.
It would take no effort to eradicate all traces of her latest
But he sighed and turned in his sleep, his grief worn face,
softening into child like contentedness. She knew he felt her
near, and she drew closer, entranced by the change in emotion
of his face and the play of light and dark against his features.
"I'll never leave you, Fox. Never." she said quietly.
Her warm hands stole out into the darkness and found the
sleep-cool contours and planes of him with easy familiarity.
They traced the foremost line of his shoulders and the limits
of his hips with languorous movements. She bent her head to
his throat and kissed him savoring the feel of his pulse beneath
She called him her foxhole in more whimsical moments, naming
his importance to her truer than she knew.
The hands that caressed him moved with some desperation and
the kisses she rained on his throat had a bitter aftertaste. Even if
her conscious mind failed to understand her need, her tired heart
and body did.
The scent of her hair stole through his nostrils and into his dreams
and he stirred under her touch.
In his dreams he saw his waker's ember dark hair, soft-lipped
mouth and glorious eyes. His dream-self hesitated before
embracing her because her gorgeous aroma bore a foreign tang.
Her mouthed touch his in reality and he moaned her name, as
she caught his dreaming self and brought him into the dim light
Heartened by her familiar touch his arms rose up beside her, his
eyes still shut.
Automatically, he shifted away from her and she flowed onto the
bed and over him.
"Phoebe," breathed the man, coming awake beneath her hands.
His eyes opened, soft and welcoming to her. The sheets parted
between them with a loud rasp.
To his sleepy eyes she seemed a glowing thing, the divine breaker
of a shadowy wave.
"Shh," she whispered, and quieted him, stroking his lips with the
curve of her cheek and reveling in the soft sensation of his mouth,
tender and sleep swollen against her face. Moving on him, above
him and around him she brought him into full wakefulness,
annihilating his sorrow with her flowing embrace.
Afterwards he caged her face with his hands and palmed past the
curtain of her hair bringing her face into view. "Where have you
been?" he asked. "I looked all over for you. I waited up. Where
"Out. And about," she replied gracing his mouth with hers.
"Phoebe," Mulder sighed in protest, "You should at least . . .
She ignored his words and with mouth and hands followed his
breath to its source.
He succumbed to her onslaught and banished his doubts into the
outer darkness surrounding their bed.
* * *
When she could breathe again, and his soft cries were a sweet
memory lighting her face, she laced her fingers through his sweat
damp hair, and stroked her fingertips down his cheeks as if to ask,
He shrugged, remembering the cause of his earlier sorrow. It
seemed a long time removed from their pleasant now.
"There was this old man, at the clinic today," he began, his chin
pressed into the crease where arm met breast, "Sweetest old man
I ever met. Kinda had this glow to him . . . "Really neat
old guy. Cops ---"
"How long have you been in England, Mulder?"
"Bobbies brought him in cause they'd dragged him out of a gas
fire. He was covered in soot. Smelled a little like you do now.
Wanted us to make sure he was all right upstairs before they
questioned him. Turns out his daughter had set the fire because
she'd found out he'd been raping her kids. It'd been going on for
"That's a terrible story."
Mulder sighed, "Yeah."
Phoebe kneaded his nearest shoulder.
Disappointed, he continued, "well, there are a million worse. I
don't even know why I give a damn. It's not like something like
it's not gonna happen again. Isn't happening right now."
"Mulder," she began then stopped, unsure of where to begin.
"They'll most likely recover. It's not a killing blow. Children
are very resilient."
"But will they ever be happy?"
"...American construct," Phoebe muttered in dismissal.
Mulder slid off her and placed his hand flat on her stomach,
pulling her close to his side. "I don't make you happy?"
"That's not the point."
"Why can't you just admit it?"
"That you give me great pleasure?"
"Especially," she said, reaching between them, "with this particular
He groaned differently, "Not again."
"And why not?"
"You had your chance when I was 18. It's your own damn fault
I'm too old now."
"See," he said poking her with a lazy finger, "I do make you
Hugging him, she laughed harder.
"And those poor kids, if they'll ever let another man near them ---"
"There's much to be said for old wives' tales. Suffering builds
character. And they're most likely too young for that old lecher
to have had a profound impact on their development."
"You really think so?" he asked, his voice troubled.
She rubbed his back, smoothing the unhappiness out of his
body. "I do. All cocaine addicts' psychological theories aside,
childhood doesn't determine everything. You of all people don't
need to be convinced of that."
"Suffering builds character, hunh?"
"Explains why you're a degenerate," he said around a yawn.
"Promise, Mulder. They'll more than cope."
To chapter three
To C & S index