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11.

He sits with her on the floor until her heart stops pounding and her breathing evens out. He tries to meet her gaze and she tucks her head beneath his chin, curling into him, pressing her face into his chest, inhaling deeply. She’s shaking, and he wraps his arms around her.

His thumb rubs the bony point of her shoulder through her jacket. They’re both covered in her blood.

“I think—” He hesitates. “I think Padgett’s dead. I think he had to die to stop it.”

She doesn’t respond.

“I’m going to have to call the police, Scully,” he says into her hair, his voice soft and low.

“I know.” She sounds blank, whispering into his sweater. “Can you, um.”

She sits up a bit, slanting across his lap with her lower half on one side and her arm holding herself up on the other. She lifts her head and meets his eyes briefly before looking down.

“Can you just give me a minute? Before you call. Maybe you could go check on,” he hears her stop herself from saying Padgett’s name, “on the basement.” She’s still staring at his lap.

“Are you sure, Scully?” He crooks a finger under her chin, drawing her gaze up.

“Yes.”

He doesn’t quite believe her, but he knows it’s what she wants as he settles her in his bedroom. As he closes the door on his way out, he turns to look at her. She looks disgusted with herself.

He heads back to the basement, shifting from foot to foot in the elevator, a ball of energy. Now that he’s away from Scully and her immediate needs, his anger is returning.

He pounds down the first couple of steps in the incinerator room, slowing as he sees Padgett on the floor, his heart in his hand. He gapes. That could have been Scully, he thinks, lying on his floor with her heart torn out. Whirling around, he charges back up to the fourth floor, taking the stairs the whole way.

At apartment number 44, he tries the handle, grits his teeth, steps inside the nearly bare space. He wants to pound the shit out of something.

Instead, he heads for the bedroom. They haven’t uncovered all of Padgett’s secrets; he’s sure of that.

When he looks in the drawer of the nightstand, he is disgusted to find that he’s right.

He holds the stack of black and white photos in his hand. Padgett was watching her for weeks, he realizes. Maybe months. He feels sick and furious and flips through the pile.

Scully, shot from the window of the apartment next to his, approaching the building.

Scully getting out of her car in the morning, pushing her hair behind her ear and smoothing her skirt.

Scully running through a park, focused on the path in front of her.

Scully heading up the stairs of her apartment building with Mulder beside her, his hand on her back. They’re looking at each other. She’s raised an eyebrow at him and he’s in the middle of a sentence.

Scully eating lunch in a deli. He remembers that day—he was there with her, and they split a dessert. He let her have most of it while she pretended she was full. Padgett must have been on the street somewhere. How did they not notice?

And finally, at the back, there’s a series of photos shot through her living room window. The son of a bitch must have felt really lucky that day, Mulder thinks, to catch her with the light just right and the blinds still open. These would be Padgett’s favourites, he knows. The other photos are smudged with fingerprints around the edges, but these are pristine. They’re special occasion photos, to reward or inspire him.

In the first, Scully is taking off her blazer in her living room, looking down at something on her desk. Her arms are caught behind her, tangled in her sleeves, pushing her chest out.

It’s such an invasion of her privacy that Mulder hesitates. He doesn’t want to see her like this. He wants to go back down to the basement to shoot Padgett in the head, in the face, in his fucking face that drew Scully in with its intense gaze as its lips spilled pretty words and flattering ideas.

He has to know, he thinks. He has to know how much Padgett saw. The next photos show her adjusting her sweater, taking off her shoes, pulling down the side zipper of her skirt. The last photo in the stack shows her retreating into her bedroom, pulling her shirt up with her back turned to the window.

He exhales heavily, tossing the photos on the bed. It's not as bad as he feared, but he's shaking with anger. He runs his hands over his face, trying to think clearly.

He doesn’t want the police to see the photos, to have her exposed more than she already is. Padgett’s dead and the killer never existed; once the body is removed, the case is all but over. There’s no need for anyone else to see them, he thinks. He can get away with it.

He slips back into his apartment. Scully’s still in his bedroom. He stands by the door, listening for sobs, and hears nothing.

What now, he thinks. Where can he put them that she won’t look? He knows she doesn’t snoop, but he trusts her with his life, with everything, and with that trust comes the knowledge that at some point, she’ll be rooting through his stuff in an effort to save his life or cover his ass. His desk is no good, and she knows he keeps his spare gun under the sink. He considers the colony of dust bunnies under the couch, but dismisses the idea because he doesn’t want to sit there knowing they’re right underneath him. In the end, he knows what he has to do.

Back down the hall, into the elevator, down the stairs, his heart pounds and his limbs feel shaky. He steps over Padgett’s body and steels himself to face the flames. He throws the photos in the fire and retreats upstairs to call the police.

Comments

( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
coast
Jul. 12th, 2008 11:18 pm (UTC)
Oooooh YOU SWITCHED THE ENDING, and I love it. Lovely, lovely piece. Slightly haunting, as the subject matter calls for, but I knew if you stayed with it, you'd find what you were looking for, and I think you did.

This is fantastic. Poor Scully. Why do I always, always want to hug her?
meatfight
Jul. 13th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It was hard, but I think I'm mostly satisfied with it.

Poor Scully. Why do I always, always want to hug her?

Because her life SUCKS and it's only going to get worse from here! (Well, briefly better. But then MUCH, MUCH WORSE.)
scapegracing
Jul. 13th, 2008 12:47 am (UTC)
Really, really love this (along with all the other stories here!) Great concept, great execution, and a really neat bunch of work!
meatfight
Jul. 13th, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you (on behalf of all of us!). We're enjoying it and I'm glad you are too!
scrubschick
Jul. 13th, 2008 12:58 am (UTC)
Oooo! Of course Padgett took pictures! It never occurred to me!

Hooray for Mulder burning the pictures! Well done!
meatfight
Jul. 13th, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks--I'm glad you liked it!
tendre_posion
Jul. 13th, 2008 02:51 am (UTC)
oh wow. Milagro is my absolute favourite episode. It's the one that I can watch over and over and over and still be completely stunned by everything about it. This is just so perfect. It had never occured to me that Padgett would be as stalkery as to take pictures, but now that it's there, I can see it.

It’s such an invasion of her privacy that Mulder hesitates. He doesn’t want to see her like this. He wants to go back down to the basement to shoot Padgett in the head, in the face, in his fucking face that drew Scully in with its intense gaze as its lips spilled pretty words and flattering ideas.

Oh Mulder.
meatfight
Jul. 13th, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks! I'm glad it worked for you, since you like the episode so much.

I wasn't sure at first whether he would take photos or not--since he's into words, not pictures, from what we saw of him--but I thought, with the amount of following her he apparently did, he probably did take photographs as well, because they could inspire his writing. So I'm glad you can see it too!
macaire
Jul. 13th, 2008 02:00 pm (UTC)
Oh Milagro - how you do things to me, and how beautifully you filled in the blanks for an ending that was begging for a little more MSR. le sigh....
meatfight
Jul. 13th, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it.
enigmaticblues
Jul. 13th, 2008 05:17 pm (UTC)
I liked what this line had to say about their partnership, and their relationship: He knows she doesn’t snoop, but he trusts her with his life, with everything, and with that trust comes the knowledge that at some point, she’ll be rooting through his stuff in an effort to save his life or cover his ass.

I also like how alone they both seem to be in this. Together, but lost in their own emotions.
meatfight
Jul. 13th, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
adinfinitum
Jul. 13th, 2008 07:19 pm (UTC)
Oh oh, Milagro post-ep! GOD, the tension in the scene where Mulder's flipping through the photos is so palpable! I was literally sitting here thinking, MULDER DON'T DO IT, DON'T LOOK, PLEASE DON'T LOOK. Because it's just so disturbing and troubling and it will just make everything so much worse and if it were really as bad as we all thought it would be, it would be such a violation of her and would just be so wrong. But he does look (and I can't blame him because it's only natural) and this: It’s such an invasion of her privacy that Mulder hesitates. He doesn’t want to see her like this. He wants to go back down to the basement to shoot Padgett in the head, in the face, in his fucking face that drew Scully in with its intense gaze as its lips spilled pretty words and flattering ideas. He exhales heavily, tossing the photos on the bed. It's not as bad as he feared, but he's shaking with anger. He runs his hands over his face, trying to think clearly. is so so great.

I have a hard time finding Milagro pieces that really delve into Mulder's thought process in a way I believe and think actually adds to that episode (which is so great as is, it's hard for me to really want to even read more about it? I don't know!) but this is excellent!
meatfight
Jul. 13th, 2008 07:37 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you! This was hard to write, because I have an easier time with Scully and with fluff, apparently, but I think I am pretty happy with how it turned out. And I always love your feedback! You're so detailed about it.

Because it's just so disturbing and troubling and it will just make everything so much worse and if it were really as bad as we all thought it would be, it would be such a violation of her and would just be so wrong.

I know, right? I was kind of disturbed as I was writing it, like, I thought about having it go further but I didn't WANT it to go that far because it would be too horrible (plus, I don't think Scully would just take her clothes off in front of an open window). But I think that's probably a good sign, that I was disturbed by it? Because then that leads to the tension you mentioned.

Thank you again!
under_theground
Jul. 14th, 2008 01:46 am (UTC)
Wow. I just read the collection one after another. Sorry I didn't comment on them individually, I was just so looking forward to the next one I couldn't stop. All of you have such an ease with them. Like they just hide in your pockets all day, telling you these stories, and then you tell us. It's fantastic.
meatfight
Jul. 14th, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks (from all of us)! I'm glad you like them.
mack_the_spoon
Jul. 14th, 2008 03:00 am (UTC)
Oh, this is gooood. Disturbing without being too 'wrong' to read - in a way that's true to the episode.

Poor, poor Scully.
meatfight
Jul. 14th, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
namarie24
Jul. 14th, 2008 03:04 am (UTC)
Oh, man.

SUCH intensity in this episode, and this ending scene works perfectly and fits both of them.
meatfight
Jul. 14th, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad it worked for you.
aidy
Jul. 14th, 2008 02:19 pm (UTC)
Nicely done. That is all.
meatfight
Jul. 14th, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
twinsparadox
Jul. 14th, 2008 08:13 pm (UTC)
Well, I got hooked on this series from a rec by some huge fans of yours over at Haven, and this is just one reason why!!! I *heart*(pun intended) Milagro, and this is a great post-ep with a photo twist!!! I can't wait for more!
meatfight
Jul. 14th, 2008 10:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. We have more planned!
erries
Jul. 15th, 2008 05:20 pm (UTC)
I just commented on coast's last entry here and echoed someone else's sentiment about being so drawn into the story that you forget to watch for pictures. And then it happened again! I was halfway through the descriptions of the photos before I realized OH YEAH, PHOTOS. (This is a testament to your great writing, fyi.) I love when Scully says, "Can you, um." I love that Mulder let Scully have most of the dessert they split even though she pretended to be full. And I love the understated franticness of trying to decide what to do with the pictures at the end.

Great job!
meatfight
Jul. 15th, 2008 08:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I was so excited when I thought of this idea because the photos fit so naturally into the story. I'm trying to come up with some more post-ep ideas, but it's tricky!

And thanks for pointing out specific things that you liked, too! I wondered if maybe the dessert thing was silly, so I'm glad you liked it. And I'm especially glad the mood at the end worked for you.
dictatorcari
Jul. 16th, 2008 08:51 pm (UTC)
MORE POSTS, PLEASE.
meatfight
Jul. 16th, 2008 09:05 pm (UTC)
We're working on them! We've been sidetracked by my frantic attempts to finish my rewatch before the movie comes out, but I know the three of us are all working on a few ideas.
(no subject) - dictatorcari - Jul. 16th, 2008 09:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
lady_goblin
Mar. 10th, 2009 01:14 am (UTC)
I always wanted to know what happened after the end of that episode!
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )