wendelah1: (all the leaves are brown and the sky is)
[personal profile] wendelah1 posting in [community profile] xf_book_club
I love time travel stories and "Ever After" is one of my all-time favorites. This fic has everything: Mulder/Scully UST, strong original characters, a suspenseful plot, and a memorable X-File. But why take my word for it when you can read an excerpt...

The scrape of a pebble beneath a shoe. The rustle of clothing. The faintest whisper of an indrawn breath. The softest of sounds on the edge of perception would be enough to guide her aim.

He was still there -- she could smell him. That filthy, animal scent had assailed her even before she'd felt the first blow.

He was close.

Poised for another attack.


Waiting, she knew, for her to flee in panic. Ready to strike at her vulnerability. Yet even surrounded by pitch darkness, she wasn't helpless. She pressed her body against the stone and adjusted her grip on the gun.

If he could wait, so could she.

Scully chanced a glance to her left, but her flashlight was nowhere to be seen. It had been knocked from her hand when her assailant first struck her, and was most likely wedged deep into one of crevices that cut across the floor of the cave.

She wasn't sure how he'd managed to take her by surprise. Had she been so lost in the artistry of the ancient paintings that she'd missed the sound of his approach? It didn't seem possible, yet the fact remained she'd been caught completely off guard. By the time she felt his presence behind her and smelled the stench, he was already swinging the weapon that had slammed into her arm and sent her flashlight flying.

Darkness and heat conspired with the silence to smother her. Sweat burned her eyes and slithered across her skin. Her bruised arm trembled under the strain of keeping the gun steady. But she didn't waver. If anything, the discomfort steeled her nerves and sharpened her senses.

This time when she heard the whistle of the air as his weapon bore down on her, she was able to react. She quickly dropped to the ground and rolled to the left, snapping her gun up, ready to fire. "Federal Agent! I'm armed. Drop your weapon and identify yourself!" Her voice rang out in the cave and spiraled away in an angry chorus of echoes.

Despite the authority in her tone, despite the fact that she had a loaded weapon ready to fire, the man did not speak, nor did he drop the stick he was wielding.

Her patience with the waiting game had come to an end. She fired a shot toward where she had last heard him.

The concussive blast was deafening; for long seconds she could hear nothing but the ringing in her ears. She studied the image the bright gunpowder flash had burned into her eyes. The figure she'd seen looming before her, trapped in the center of her deadly aim, looked like a man. In a maze of stalagmites and shadows, it was impossible to know for certain.

Taking nothing for granted, she cautiously rose to her feet, keeping her gun trained in front of her. She took small, slow steps, gingerly feeling ahead with her toe before putting her foot down. When she reached the place where she expected to find his body, he wasn't there.

She took another step, and another, using her foot to investigate the area around her, finding nothing. Her journey brought her to the opposite wall of the cave. She pivoted around, beginning anew the meticulous appraisal of her surroundings, cursing the absence of light. She knew the sound of gunfire would bring Mulder running, armed with a weapon and a flashlight, but she was uneasy. There was still a pungent odor permeating the air. Either her attacker was lying injured or dead within a few feet of her, or he was lurking nearby, planning his next assault.

She weighed her options and decided to stay put. When Mulder arrived, he could chide her for foolishly pasting herself against a wall and pointing a gun at a dead man. Until then, she would operate on the assumption that the threat was still present.

It was no more than a minute before Mulder's voice called out to her through the darkness.

"I'm here, Mulder."

Any second, she thought, the beam from his flashlight would slice through the thick murk of the cave. She watched for the light and mentally willed Mulder to hurry, to put an end to this dark nightmare. She was relieved beyond reason when she saw the first dim flicker of light.

Relief curdled into dread when she heard the scramble of footsteps only a few feet away, accompanied by the whoosh of air that forewarned a strike by her adversary. She brought her weapon around to fire, and braced herself for another blow from the stick.

The pain, when it struck, was so much worse than she had anticipated. So much worse than she could bear.

Her knees gave way and she slid to the ground. She tried to stay conscious, tried to find strength to raise her gun, but nothing mattered so much as escaping the white-hot agony that gripped her in the instant the jagged point of a spear tore its way into her body.

Title: "Ever After"
Author: Jill Selby
Classification: XA
Relationship: UST
Rating: PG
Spoilers: None
Warnings: None

Summary: Past and present collide, unleashing a deadly threat only Scully can see.

Read "Ever After". Please let us know what you thought of the fic. The nomination post is always open for your suggestions.
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