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Phantom Pain by Kristen K2
Summary: "They aren't star-crossed lovers kept apart by a cruel twist of fate; even from the hazy distance of memory, dating Kim was awkward and rushed and full of embarrassing gaffes." William missing scene. Written for the Harem Jeffrey Spender challenge.

TITLE: Phantom Pain
AUTHOR: Kristen K2
EMAIL: kristenk2@deslea.com
KEYWORDS: Jeff Spender, Kim, Skinner
SUMMARY: "They aren't star-crossed lovers kept apart by a
cruel twist of fate; even from the hazy distance of memory,
dating Kim was awkward and rushed and full of embarrassing
SPOILERS: One Son, William. Set immediately after the scene
in William where Scully confronts Jeff in the interrogation
DISCLAIMER: The characters herein belong to 1013 and Fox.
ARCHIVES: Anywhere, just ask first.
FEEDBACK: Love the stuff.
THANKS: To Maidenjedi for the Jeff-fic challenge, Ursula for
the beta, and to the Harem for indulging my Kimfic cravings.
I cheated and went way over 500 words. Think of this as 3
fics in one.


His ear itches.

He doesn't scratch it, instead letting his mind savor the
pinprick of pain where his ear used to be. Phantom pain,
Alex called it. Alex enjoyed the sensation, but Jeff never
understood the appeal. Now he almost gets it.

It reminds him that he's still alive. That underneath all
the scar tissue and synthetic and skin grafts, his heart
still pumps red blood. Now that all the anger that's fueled
him for so long has dissipated in the wake of his
confession, he's oddly glad to have something replace it.

Pain instead of rage; that's a hell of a trade-off. Still,
he considers as the door to the interrogation room finally
opens, it's better than being dead. Isn't it?

Maybe he should ask his newest visitor. If anyone knows
about cheating death, it's Skinner.

His former boss seems ill at ease; once inside, he lingers
by the doorway.

"I'm not contagious," Jeff offers, but the joke
disintegrates somewhere between his mouth and Skinner's ear.
The other man steps forward, and Jeff watches from across
the table as two large hands grasp the back of the chair.

"I know that. Jeffrey, I'm sorry for what happened. If I had
known what..." Fingers squeeze the chair slat so tight Jeff
wonders if the wood will moan in protest. "I would have done
everything I could to stop it."

For the first time, Jeff looks at Skinner's face. He expects
pity, but what he sees is regret. He likes that expression
even less. He's not one of Skinner's agents anymore, and he
doesn't want to remember when he was. Thinking about what he
used to be, when he was whole and stupid and unknowing, is a
more futile gesture than scratching his missing ear.

"Am I free to go?"

Skinner nods. "Do you have somewhere to stay? I can

"No. I don't want that." The thought of being under the
government's 'protection' again is chilling. He's all too
aware of the horrors that lurk beneath.

"Jeffrey." Skinner stops his hasty departure with a hand to
his elbow. "Go see her before you leave."

It doesn't surprise him that Skinner knows. She always used
to talk about her boss in admiring tones, and he knows from
seeing Alex's surveillance tapes of Skinner's condo they
have become a hell of a lot closer since then. What does
surprise him is that Skinner would want to rub that in.

"She's moved on," he says flatly. "Give her my regards,

"Go see her," Skinner repeats. "She's going to want to see

"Not like this, she won't."

The words taste bitter against his tongue. He's willed
himself not to care about how people react to him. He knows
he's now an object of pity, repulsion, or scientific
interest in other people's eyes. Those aren't expressions he
could stand to see in hers, even now. If she has any fond
feelings for him left, he'd prefer to keep them intact.

"She won't care, Jeffrey." The corner of Skinner's mouth
tilts upward. "And she'll kick my ass -- and yours -- if you
walk out of here without letting her know you're still

Point taken. He pictures her, hands on her hips and her face
flushed in annoyance. It used to fill him with a perverse
pleasure whenever he managed to piss her off; he liked
knowing she could be as stubborn and ungraceful as he often

He has no illusions about the kind of relationship he had
with her. They aren't star-crossed lovers kept apart by a
cruel twist of fate; even from the hazy distance of memory,
dating Kim was awkward and rushed and full of embarrassing
gaffes. He remembers the first time he kissed her, in the
storage room next to the basement office. He'd gone in there
to investigate the source of the loud crash and found her
sprawled on the floor surrounded by fallen files. When he
helped her back to her feet, the top of her head had smashed
into his chin and sent him tripping backward into the
shelving unit. And somewhere between stuttered apologies and
muffled giggles, his mouth had found hers.

Romeo and Juliet they weren't, but it had worked for a
while. Right up until the day his father shot him
point-blank in the face.

He gestures with his head toward the door, and Skinner
releases his elbow. "Still on the fourth floor?"

The other man seems relieved. "Yes. I'll ride up with you."

When the elevator stops to pick up passengers on the second
floor, he notices that Skinner shifts his weight in front of
him, blocking the incoming stares. Jeff wants to tap him on
the shoulder and tell him not to bother, but the truth is
he's grateful for the concern. Since Alex's disappearance
last year, he hasn't had anyone who gave a damn about him.
Not that Alex was Florence Nightingale, but he'd taught Jeff
how to cope with his mutilated body, and somehow they'd
forged the closest thing to a friendship that he suspected
either of them had had in years. He wonders if Skinner knows
what happened to Alex, but he knows better than to ask. His
days of naivete are long over.

He follows Skinner down the hallway, nearly stepping on his
heels when the other man stops short of the door. He glances
over Skinner's shoulder to see her empty desk.

"She's in my office," Skinner says quietly. "Go on in. I'll
make sure you're not disturbed."

Memories he's long suppressed rise to the surface as his
Converses squeak across the linoleum. He used to love
sneaking up on her in the kitchen as she waited for the
coffee to finish brewing. After her initial shiver of
surprise, she would melt back against him, her body still
warm and lax from sleep. He doubts sneaking up on her now
will evoke the same reaction.

She's standing behind Skinner's desk, hunched over the
blotter as she scribbles a note. Her hair is flopped forward
and shielding her face, and it strikes him that maybe
cameras do lie. She looks much thinner and faded than she
did on the grainy black-and-white tape.

He raps his knuckles on the door to get her attention, and
she jerks upright.

"I'm sorry, I didn't hear you come in," she says as she
closes the open folder on the desk and starts to walk toward
him. The weariness he just glimpsed is quickly covered over
by her professional sheen. He likes her better the other
way. "Are you here to see A.D. Skinner?"

"No, I..." He hesitates, not sure what to say. Should he
introduce himself? He wishes he'd asked Skinner for some
time to prepare. He's never been any good at impromptu

Her walk stops mid-step as their gazes catch, and the polite
smile freezes on her face.

"Oh my God," she whispers. "Jeff?"

Oh God. She *recognizes* him. He didn't expect that. Even
Scully had been fooled into thinking he might be Mulder.

"Hi, Kim," he says lamely, wishing he could look away as her
eyes fill with tears. He did a lot of crappy things to her,
but he never made her cry.

Then her arms are tight around his neck, her fingers digging
into his shoulders, and he doesn't have the heart to tell
her it hurts to be held like this. His hands reach around
her waist and she presses herself harder against him...and
then it isn't phantom pain. It's real, and he welcomes it.

She shifts, and her mouth is soft and wet against his. He
knows this is wrong. He's in Skinner's office, kissing
Skinner's assistant. Skinner's lover.

But once upon a time, she was his. Once upon a time, he was
a man who could have loved her. He's not that man anymore,
and he can't love her any more now than he could then, but
it doesn't matter.

What matters is she reminds him that he's alive. She always
has. And when they break apart and go their separate ways --
as he knows they will -- this is the sensation that will
penetrate his scar tissue. The feel of her hands on him, the
kindness of her lips parting against his, the ripple of her
breath on his scars. The soft acceptance of Kim that
burrowed under his defenses right from that first awkward
clutch in the storage room.

She will be his phantom pain.


Feedback to: kristenk2@deslea.com or k2_fanfic@yahoo.com