A Faint Lost Ribbon Of Rainbow
by Twinkledru J.

They had more former agents than many might have guessed. It was a sign of just how unstable this new regime is, that uncertainty, and Scully, who had seen her share of regimes (some more secret than others) fall, knew that it was only a matter of time before this one did, too. The Clerics were the ones who went back the most quickly, though, who changed their minds the most often.

When one went missing, they didn't take chances, they moved, changed headquarters, perhaps changed names, left a few things behind -- old toys or clothes, junk whose loss could be afforded. Made it look like they had fled chaotically. But she'd come to guess which ones will change back in her time. Call it experience.

She was sent to talk to him at first. Scully thought that he knew that from the beginning. But nonetheless, he talked, he went along. He was maybe ten years younger than herself, or twelve, and that, she decided, was good. It was all the more likely that he had given this thought. She had not laid him bare, but she had learned enough.

"Well," she had told them, "I was never as good a profiler as some people I've known" -- here she felt the familiar old pain. It had faded with time, but it was a pain, nonetheless, beneath a breast and some ribs and a fair bit of blood -- "but I think we can trust him."

"Don't you have a first name?" he asked her with his soft, shy smile when she met him again one day. Rather, when he met her, or when he found her. "Or will I just have to call you Miss Scully forever?"

She was sitting on a hill in what had been a park, once. Scully smiled. "No one I took seriously ever called me by my first name. Except my parents," she allowed. "I hear 'Dana', and I either think I'm in trouble, or that I'm going to have to give you a fake phone number to keep you from calling me without hurting your feelings."

"So it's Dana, then."

Scully laughed then. Just a little. Quietly, like she did everything in these days, here in the Nethers, even here in the open air, in the space that had been taken back by the trees and the grass and the plants. "Someone very special to me always called me Scully," she said. "Even when we were closer to each other than to anyone else in the world, it felt strange when he called me anything but Scully."

His brow furrowed a little, and she could see a gentle curiosity in his green eyes. "Were you a Cleric?"

"Never," Scully answered. Quickly, sharply, and as quietly as everything else she said and did. Then, taking pity, "Something like it. Once. Before Father made things safe. You're right, though. He was my partner."

She pulled her jacket off then as she sat down, and she saw a spot of light sparkle across his face. His gaze shifted from her eyes, and she realized that the sun had caught the gold of her cross.

"How many laws does it violate, Partridge?" she asked.

He started, and then looked up at her with something that was almost like shame in his eyes, and shock. "I -- " he began, and stared at her for a moment. Then, "May I sit down?" he asked, very quietly.

Scully smiled. "Yes," she said.

Life was all around here, in this place, and yet they both were very still and quiet. She picked up her book again, but first offered him her thermos. "Coffee?" she said.

He blinked, looking at the thermos. "Thank you," he said, taking it from her. She wondered if he had ever drunk it before, and she watched from the corner of her eye as he drank, and as his eyes widened just the slightest bit. So no, he hadn't. She looked up again and smiled, taking the thermos from him again with a gentle smile.

"It's an acquired taste," she said drily. Then, "Was there something that you wanted?"

"I'm sorry," he said quickly. She smiled again -- they often said such things, "thank you" and "I'm sorry" more often than was necessary in the first few weeks, as they were learning to pick up on the emotions of others.

"You're not upsetting me," she explained. "I just want to know if I can help you with anything."

"No," he answered, then added, "Thank you," and she smiled again, and let her gaze slide along the curve of the horizon again, until it came to the glimmering distant neon that was the city in the morning light. Their breath rose from their lips like little ghosts, though she didn't need her jacket over her blue t-shirt, and Scully closed her eyes for a moment.

"What would you like me to call you?" came his soft voice again, and she opened her eyes, looked at him. She saw her own look of calm expectation then, because she could see it reflected in the way he blinked suddenly and looked away, staring off at the city for a moment. He looked back quickly, though, and he asked again, "What would you like me to call you, if not Dana?"

She stretched her legs out a little, and picked up the book she had brought along with her. It sat in her lap, and she traced the rough cloth of its spine without looking at it, staring instead at the city, the half-dead city which somehow still sparkled as the light grew whiter with the passing morning.

"Scully," she said after a second or two, and this time, she caught his eyes as she smiled, and waited for his own to join before she looked away. "You can just call me Scully, Partridge."

"Scully," he repeated softly. The quality of his voice had changed, and she guessed from it that he was still smiling.

Scully decided that she liked the way it sounded with the gentle accent of his, and she put the book aside again.

A bird swooped overhead then, trilling something loud and rough and irritating. They both laughed, and she decided too that she liked the way, when he really smiled or really laughed, with no caution to it, his entire face changed.

The light grew whiter as day came on, and she offered him the thermos again. He shook his head, and reached out and carefully touched a lock of her hair.


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