Welcome To The Harem

Cuts by Lika
Summary: Summary: Scully finds out the truth about Steward Nims. Post-"Release" fic.

Disclaimer: They are the property of Chris Carter
Category/Rating: Post Release fic / G
Summary: Scully finds out the truth about Steward Nims
Feedback: cry_over_pottery@hotmail.com

Notes: I went to numerous X-Files sites to see the real spelling of
Nims' name, and was annoyed that most of them called him "Rudolph
Hayes" and didn't bothered telling me his real name. Those that did
all had different spelling, and the official site removed their
sypnosis, so I'm calling him Steward Nims until someone corrects me.

Once again, many thanks to the uber-cool Nicole, who understands that
the best way to skin a cat is to do it so the cat doesn't realized
it's been skinned :D You're the best beta-reader to work with, honey.

*
Cuts (1/1)

There's a scalpel in her hand and she doesn't know it.

The metal is cool and smooth against dry skin, the weight firm and
comforting in the hand that was anticipating the first clean cut
across. She's stroking the blade as she speaks, the padded tip
of
her thumb running along the sharp edge to test its sharpness.

"Agent Reyes looked at some background checks done on Nicolas
Regale
during the week Luke Doggett was abducted and murdered," she says
and
the icy competence in her voice shows no sign of the woman who gave
up her only child a scant two weeks ago. There is only the cold,
dead weight of the scalpel in her hand as she makes the first perfect
incision.

"Apparently he was visiting friends and family that week and only
stopped at Long Island to fill up his tank. Care to explain why you
led Agent Doggett to believe Regale was responsible for his son's
death when the background checks shows that it was an
improbability?"

She likes to think she's doing this because she cares for
Doggett.
And to be fair to her, there is a grain of truth in that. It had
been with real concern that she had asked him earlier that day how he
was holding up, referring to, of course, to the fact that they caught
the man who killed his son.

Or so they thought.

It was Reyes who saw the discrepancies in the case and showed up at
Scully's apartment to discuss them half an hour before the
allotted
time that she was supposed to clear out Scully's nursery for her.

Timing is not one of Monica Reyes' better virtues. Doggett was
supposed to join her, but with the recent resolution of his son's
death, Scully had doubted that clearing her son's room was
anywhere
on his mind. A miscalculation of his noted nobility on her part.

Scully had been pulling a sympathy card that Bill and Tara sent her
out of its cream-colored envelope when Reyes dropped by. The plan
had been to leave the keys to the apartment in the envelope and tape
it to the door with a note saying she had left for her mother's
place. With the baby gone, there wasn't anything in the
apartment
that mattered to her except for the files in her room, but no common
burglar would be interested in them, and a locked door wouldn't
keep
out those who were.

Of course the plan got shot to hell when Reyes showed up with no case
files in hand but that fixed, intense look in her eyes and said,
"I
want to talk to you about this case with Regale."

It was to Reyes' credit that she neither looked at the nursery
nor
asked Scully how she was doing. Scully had little patience with
anyone whose eyes turned into warm pools of puppy-like sympathy, as
Reyes' would have under those circumstances. Instead the taller
agent went into the case with a deftness and sensitivity that proved
her merit in the FBI. She explained that background checks done on
Regale during Luke's murder showed that he filled up his tank in
Long
Island and promptly drove out of the state. Then she went into Brad
Follmer, not once showing any bitterness or pain, and argued that he
would never have covered up for Regale had he known that he was
involved with murder.

"You're the one who suggested Brad Follmer when Doggett
brought up
the idea of bribery," Scully pointed out, sounding impatient but
actually grateful to have this conversation that she could cut,
probe, and tear into.

"Must have been my long-buried guilt," Reyes said dryly.
"Brad did
turn out to be connected to Regale, so I wasn't wrong there. I
just
doubt Regale is any way connected to Luke."

"So you're questioning Agent Doggett?" Scully asked,
reaching for the
scalpel without knowing it.

"I'm questioning Steward Nims," Reyes countered. "As
you know, he
was in the vicinity when Luke was taken. I also went digging for any
other aliases he might have used, and it's possible that a year
ago,
he was present at the murder scene of a young girl in Florida, as a
rookie in the precinct, under the name Frederick Ryes. He
disappeared shortly afterwards, after the father of the victim killed
the main suspect in the case. And his description fits for a witness
to a murder of a young boy in Connecticut that disappeared after a
similar situation led to the death of the suspect there, too."

The implications were ugly, and they jolted Scully the same way they
did Reyes when she first stumbled upon them, two hours too late.
But with the horrified jolt came a shift perspective that pushed out
all the muddled emotions that rose and fell at various depths in her
mind. She was already beginning to feel a balance, one straight line
across that she could trace with the point of her scalpel.

It was at that auspicious moment that they heard a knock on the door.

Both ladies looked at each other guiltily. They both knew it was
Doggett, either there to get a head start or because he had figured
out his partner was early and was afraid she was trying to get Scully
to open up about her feelings. Doggett knew how much Scully hated to
be probed, exposed, and above all, pitied.

"It's all right," Scully said after he stammered his
apologies for
arriving early. "Agent Reyes just got here." She gestured
towards
her couch where Reyes was watching the two of them carefully.
"And
I'm on my way to my mother's right now anyway, so..."

"She was about to leave the key on the door for me when I showed
up,"
Reyes said to Doggett from the couch.

Doggett flicked his gaze over to Reyes, and Scully took this
opportunity to leave the apartment. "I'll see you both
later," she
said quickly, grabbing her purse off the hook by the door.
"Thank
you for doing this," she called, and made a beeline for the door.

She had gotten past Doggett into the hall when he put a hand on her
shoulder. The firmness of his grip made her whirl around, and she
found herself looking into the intense blueness of his eyes, softened
by the worry in his brow. "Are you okay, Agent Scully?" he
asked in
a low voice.

Scully was inclined to be irritated with his concern, but his eyes
were almost hard in their insistence to know that she was all right.
The intensity of his eyes made his concern seem less like pity and
more like the sharp concern between two people who cared about each
other. Scully's eyes softened, and she said softly, "I'm
fine, John."

Something in her tone, or perhaps her face, carried weight. He
dropped his hand but kept his gaze fixated on her. "Good,"
he said,
his voice telling her that he might not quite believe her, but he
figured she'd get through it somehow.

It was the kind of concern that Scully didn't mind, and she gave
him
a small, single nod. It was then that she noticed the tired lines
around his mouth and eyes. He didn't look like a man who had
just
found peace, but then she remembered how ultimately hollow and
unfulfilled she felt when they buried Louis Cardinal. That old
memory and the lines on Doggett's face tugged at her heart. She
asked him how he was holding up.

"Pretty well," he said, smiling a little. Small as the smile
was, it
was encouraging. Scully wanted to return the smile, but couldn't,
knowing the potential heartache that could very well follow
Reyes'
findings. But her moist eyes shone with good will and care,
expressing how much he meant to her.

He means a lot to her. She really does care about him.

But it still isn't the reason she is sitting at a table in the
visitor's lounge at the local psychiatric ward, talking to her
former
student.

"I never mentioned anything about Regale," Nims says flatly,
in
regard to her accusations. His head is bent down, chin towards
throat, eyelids down so low that it looked like he was gazing up at
Scully even though he was taller. "I only told him that the case
with the two women was related to the death of his son."

"Were they?" Scully asks coldly, and the blade slices neatly
down,
deep enough to cut through to the vein but not so deep that blood
would gush out and smear the perfect line she drew.

That was the real reason she was here -- the need to sharpen that
dazed state of confusion and pain into a taut line of clarity and
purpose.

Nims does not bat an eyelash. "They were," he tells her.

Scully keeps her gaze fixed on him. "But Regale wasn't
responsible
for any of the deaths," she says.

Nims raises his head a little, and the harsh fluorescent light
bounces off the dark pupils of his eyes. "Would it be so bad if
Regale had nothing to do with it?" he demands.

There is no surprise or mental grappling to piece thoughts together
into something coherent. There are just a second or two of silence
where Scully tests the sharpness of the blade, trying to figure out
the right depth that she should sink it into. "If he was
innocent,
yes, it would be," she
replies, just nicking the surface for now.

"You really would call Regale an innocent man?" Nims
counters. "He
was involved in drugs and prostitution. His death would have been no
concern to anyone except perhaps those who worked in crime with
him."

"Not to mention he was in the wrong place at the right time,"
Scully
adds, cutting a line so fine it could hardly be seen until the red
liquid bubbled to the surface and spilled over. "Regale was a
perfect scapegoat."

"Are you saying that I'm responsible for the murders?"

Scully leans over the table towards him and begins making a series of
incisions that are so delicate they're merciless in their
delicacy. "Even if you weren't responsible for the murder,
you're
still responsible for deliberately misleading grieving families. You
made them believe that someone who was not responsible for the death
of their child was, sometimes driving them to kill the wrong
person."

There's a part of her that wants to sink down to her knees in
horror
at the idea that Doggett nearly killed a man who had nothing to do
with his son, but mostly she's feeling the cold, clear
exhilaration
that comes with cutting and peeling things into small pieces, and
then further cutting and peeling those pieces into smaller fragments.

Nims looks straight into Scully's eyes. "I gave them
closure," he
says calmly.

She will not let him surprise her. The grip around the scalpel
tightens. "Is that what you think closure is -- Revenge?"

Nims doesn't take his eyes off Scully. "I have seen so many
innocent
people locked up for crimes they didn't committed based on the
flimsiest of evidence," he tells her. "Even when further
evidence
proves the person's innocence, the family cannot accept it. They
don't care if the person was responsible for the death of their
child. They only care that revenge is taken out. When this happens,
and only when this happens, can they move on with their lives. If
not, they'll never find closure."

"But not everyone's like that," Scully argues, not at all
bothered
that he has showed no signs of giving in. She got the truth. Now it
is simply a matter of cutting everything else into fine strips.
"A
lot of people want the truth. I know Agent Doggett does."

"No," Nims objects, and finally moves his head. He stares at
the
table underneath him. "He's the last person on this planet
who wants
the truth."

Scully's eyes widen in surprise, but it's an amused surprise,
not a
stunned one. The blade of the scalpel is still sharp and poised for
the next cut. "Excuse me?"

"Agent Reyes told him the truth a year ago," Nims explains.
"He
couldn't accept it."

Ah, yes, the ashes. Jeb Dukes and the Evil that jumped from one
person to the next. Scully had not been a part of that
investigation, but she remembers it. It was the first time Reyes
worked on a case with Mulder there. Mulder had been there. She was
in the apartment joking about the pizza man and Mulder had been
there. She was in the hospital due to some complication with her
pregnancy and Mulder had been there. For a few blissful months,
Mulder had been there. Had been. Perfect past tense. It was done
and over with.

For a tilting moment, the familiar cloak of helplessness and pain
threatens to make her drop her knife. The scare makes her grip it
harder, though she knows better than to begin cutting immediately.
She would have plunged too deeply, and she does not want to show any
clumsiness.

If Nims senses any change in former instructor, he doesn't show
it.
He continues after a couple of seconds of silence where Scully looks
at him with a raised eyebrow that says, "Go on."

He complies: "A lie was the only thing he could accept. The
only
thing he wanted to accept. It was the only thing that could give him
closure. So you see, Agent Scully, I really did do him a favor."

Scully, who has never lost her composure this whole time, has
regained the right grip on the scalpel. She moisten her lips and
says quietly, "You didn't do him any favors, Mr. Nims. My
older
sister was murdered six years ago. When the man who killed her was
finally brought to justice, I didn't feel any sense of the
closure
that you say you want these families to find. She was dead before
that, and she's remained dead afterward. So unless you could
raise
Luke Doggett from the dead, you can't do anything for him in that
regard."

The effects of her instrument are finally seen. Nims' face
twitches
as her words cut into him, each one slicing through the precise spot
she had aimed for.

It's now his turn to collect his wits as he sinks deeper into the
myriad of voices that tells him what his duty is, trying to get an
answer that would rebut her argument and give reason to what he does.

"So you believe he cannot recover from his grief?" Nims
finally says.

The knife remains firmly in her hands, but the expression on her face
thaws a little. She shakes her head, her lids lowered so that her
lashes stand out against her pale cheeks. "He isn't a
grieving man
who can't get on with his life," she tells Nims. "Not
the man I
worked with last year on the X-Files. Not the man who argued with me
about my beliefs and solved cases with an incredible intellect and
strength and saved my life and several others' many times over. He
may have been scarred, but he wasn't broken. Not the Agent
Doggett I
know."

It seems that she has gotten through to him, but she watches him for
another minute in case another cut needs to be made. After several
seconds in which he keeps his head down and says nothing, Scully
feels relatively satisfied and starts to get out of her chair.

"Are you going to tell Agent Doggett?" Nims asks, and Scully
notes
with a combination of satisfaction and pity that he has to put his
hands together to keep them from trembling.

She stands up and pushes the chair under the table neatly.
"It's up
to Agent Reyes," she decides matter-of-factly, and that adds to
the
pointed, crystal clarity. The meeting had been about a friend she
cares deeply about, but it is a pain that she's outside of. It
cannot wrap itself around her and blur the edges until everything is
completely muddled and fogged over.

She' drinking in that clarity as she makes her way to the door
when
Nims calls her.

"Agent Scully."

Her head swings to look at him.

"I heard about your baby." His eyes are warm pools of
sympathy. "I'm sorry."

Scully flinches, as if someone has drawn a blade across her in one
swift, sweeping motion, ripping through all the pretense and poses
she used to evade the sense of helplessness and hurt. For the
barest fraction of a second, her eyes betray her, and she's once
again a shocked, helpless, broken woman lost in a murky world where
everything has ceased to make sense. She lets go of the scalpel and
it falls to the floor, the tip of the blade hitting the concrete
first, then the handle, in a string of metallic clashes before it
lays flat on the ground.

She leaves it there, but her throat and eyes harden immediately in an
attempt to push aside any signs of weakness. She nods once at Nims,
her eyes bright and cold as steel, but lacking the focus and clarity
that was present during the interrogation. Mechanically, as if the
motions require no thought or too much thought, she turns around,
yanks at the door handle, and walks stiffly out of the room.

END