DISCLAIMER: X Files belongs to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions, or Fox Entertainment and a whole bunch of other people. Not me.
CHALLENGE: Written as part of the 1001 Nights Challenge - feline.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Nine Lives
By Celievamp


These days she went by her middle name: Katherine. Though most who knew her now called her Kate and one in particular, Kat. But only one. She had filled out a little and thought the extra curves looked good on her. She had also been blonde for a while now and had grown her hair out. It fell past her shoulders in heavy waves. Most of the time she tied it back but sometimes, like today when there was just her and the long strand of beach, she left it loose liking the feel of it against her skin.

Loose. Without ties. Somewhere her son was celebrating his sixth birthday. Dana hoped with all her heart that he was happy and that he was safe and that he was loved. She tried not to wish that she could have been the one to bring him all those things. What was done was done.

Picking up a piece of wood from the shoreline she scratched his name in the wet sand at the tide's edge and then watched the seventh wave rise high enough up the beach to obliterate it again, carrying her good wishes for her son away on the tide.

Ultimately that was what had caused the final split with Mulder. She had come to blame him for having to give William up. If he had stayed with her they could have protected him together. If he hadn't been so pig-headed, so caught up in this quest of his, they could have been a family. That bitterness blighted her spirit made her someone she hated to be. Simmering resentment soured everything else that might have been between them.

She knew well enough that if he had stayed the result would have been the same, perhaps even worse. She had resented his single minded focus enough when their relationship had been a purely professional one. Everything he experienced was filtered through the loss of his sister, the betrayal of his family. If it didn't fit with that, well…

So this time she had left him. They had been settled here, in Steveston on the British Columbia coast for just over three months and Dana had felt instantly at home. The house they had rented was small and beat up but was a stones throw from the shore. She had rediscovered her love of walking along the beach at low tide seeing what gifts the Pacific had brought her that day. Their small rickety porch was decorated with the sea glass, pieces of twisted saltbleached driftwood and sea-smoothed stones that she had collected. Mulder got a casual job driving a truck and Dana had taken a job in a doctor's office, just a clerk. At first it had irked her how much of her hard-won knowledge and skills, her self, she had had to hide or give up completely but as Dana found peace with herself she realised that all that was past. The person she was now, Katherine did not have a degree in medicine, had never joined the FBI. And she was okay with that. Where she worked, it was a small but busy family practice, the other staff were friendly to the newcomer and to her surprise she felt more at ease with herself here than she had anywhere else for a long time.

But she knew it could not last. That was one of the certainties of her life with Fox Mulder. Since they had started running they had never stayed anywhere for as long as this and she knew Mulder was anxious to move on. She did not know any more whether their pursuers were real or just in Mulder's head.

So when the day came when he had told her he thought it was time to move on she told him she was finished. It was time to make a stand and this was as good a place as any, better than most. She had made friends, made a life. Playing on her new name she told him straight. She didn't know how many of her nine lives she had left. And this one she wanted to last a good long time.

"Is there someone else?" he asked. "I wouldn't blame you if there was…"

"Yes," she said softly. It wasn't quite the truth and it wasn't quite a lie either. There might be someone else but Dana didn't feel right pursuing it until Mulder was out of her life.

Dana had noticed one of the doctors noticing her, she had heard the rumours about the young woman, it was a small town after all and old habits and morals died hard even in the face of new freedoms. Following through with this relationship, it was a chance to make amends in a way, to pursue something she had lost, someone she had left with barely a backward glance when Mulder beckoned. She was tall and dark like Monica, had that shy, easy smile and that deceptive innocence. But she was not Monica. This was not some ghost of the past. This was a hope for the future.

The End

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