Title: Fools' Memories
Author: Vesper (Regina)
Warnings: adult themes
Category: Story/Vignette/Romance/Angst
Keywords: Cancerman/other romance
Spoilers: Pusher
Summary: Inspired by Jewel's "Foolish Games", however nary a word of the song can be found. A glimpse of the man behind the smoke.
Disclaimer: Property of Chris Carter. Borrowed without permission. I make no profit from this.
Archival: If you wish to archive, please link to my website. Please keep all my headers intact.

Part One: Sarah

Holly reached into the box of letters, letters her mother had written, a long time ago, before she was gone.

Sarah Morris loved to come to the park and sit. She'd watch the little dramas that played. The nurse in her starched uniform, hands full with the rambunctiousness of her young charge. The young girl, perhaps sixteen, who came precisely at 6:30 every evening and fed the ducks from the bridge, a little ways down. These, the regulars, and others, she'd watch and cast them in stories of her own making.

Recently she'd noticed a young man, approximately her own age, thirty, coming. He'd only stay for a few minutes each time, standing at the bridge, leaning, staring out over the water, the ducks, and into the distance. His gaze was forlorn, encompassing all and seeing nothing. She couldn't think of a story for him. He seemed to have no past and no future. Darkness exuded from him.

He was a mystery, alone.

Alone, like she was.

Lost in her thoughts, she hadn't even noticed the approaching footsteps, until the man from the bridge stood before her, asking, "Is this seat taken?"

She looked up, startled, and blurted, "Why would you want to sit here?" Immediately, she blushed, her fair skin showing the blood under her skin as a bright flare.

He smiled and said, "Am I supposed to be somewhere else?"

Not trusting her mouth, she simply shrugged.

He sat close to her, but not close enough to make her cringe.

"I've seen you before. Do you always come here?"

She almost missed the question. She had been examining his face, a boyish one. His voice was soft, almost hypnotic, but there was a sharp edge in it that made her flinch quietly.

"Yes, I come here often. It's my place to relax, to believe nothing bad ever happened to m...the world."

"I know what you mean. I've only come here for a few days now and I can feel it."

"But you never really look around you, do you?" Shocked at her own rudeness, she stared at him, open-mouthed.

He looked away from her.


"Why?" In that simple question, she lost all hope of return.

He answered, more softly than before, "Life."

She couldn't help herself. "Your life or someone else's?"

He turned to her suddenly and she flinched back. Words tumbled, bitter and angry, from his mouth.

"You have no right to ask me questions! I've asked myself too many questions and I don't want to hear anymore, least of all from a stranger!"

He stood and rapidly strode away.

The next day it took all her courage, but she approached him.

"What do you want?"

"To say I'm sorry. I never should have asked such questions."

He looked at her, eyes unreadable, and asked, "What's your name?"

Confused, she said, "Sarah Morris."

"Charles S. Manderly. Would you like some coffee?"

She nodded, speechless.

"Then follow me."


Charles was shivering, moaning. Sarah tried to wake him again. She shook him slightly, but he kept muttering half-phrases, unintelligible.

"Charles, please wake up." It frightened her when he did this. He'd come over to watch television with her and he'd fallen asleep. For a while she had watched him, amazed how the lines around his eyes had faded. She'd gone to change for bed and come back to find him dreaming.

Suddenly, his eyes snapped open. Sarah jumped. The look in his eyes was so startling, so raw.

"Charles, are you alright?"

He passed his hand over his face, wiping away the sweat.

"Yes, yes, I think so."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes! I'm sure. Just leave me alone."

She backed away. "I'm sorry."

"So am I. Where are my cigarettes?"

Sarah reached over to the coffee table and grabbed the small rectangular box.


He took them from her, his hand shaking as he lit one. He sighed as the smoke curled up into the air.

"Sarah, I'm sorry I snapped at you."

"I understand. What was it this time?"

"Someone wanted me to kill someone."

"Charles, it's okay. I understand."

"Sure you understand."

"I dream. I dream about my parents and their faces as they go over the cliff."

He stared at her.

"No, no. I have to go. The door just slammed."

"Honey, I have groceries. Could you help me?"

A crash followed this call.

"Sarah! Are you all right?"

She looked up and through him, a blank stare on her face, the scattered mess all around her.


"Are you all right?"

"Yes." She shook her head and kneeled down to pick up some of the less destroyed items.

He knelt beside her and helped. "You just...seemed distracted."

"Well, there's a reason for that. Charles, I'm pregnant."

He stopped mid-reach. "What?"

"We're going to have a baby."


She stopped gathering things, and looked at him, concerned. "Yes, are you glad?"

In response, he kissed her.

For a moment, Holly, I thought he didn't love me, that he didn't want you. I knew in some inexplicable way, when he walked in on me, dismayed at the mess a broken paper bag had caused, that he was no longer trustworthy. The man I'd fallen in love with was no longer there. I almost didn't tell him I was going to have you. But I also knew that he wouldn't hurt you, not then and not now. He loves you and will protect you. He has the power to do that.

Please don't look for him, though. He no longer exists. He's a shadow in this world, and should remain so. Even the name he gave me is not real. You deserved to know what kind of man your father was. He was a good man, but he chose a life most of us cannot live.

Sarah Morris.

Holly folded the letter carefully, tears in her eyes.

Outside, a grey-haired man in a carefully tailored suit took one last drag on his cigarette before dropping it and walking away.


Part Two: Charles

He looked out the window, expensive bulletproof glass, (he had his enemies as well as anyone.) The raindrops, like tears trickling down the pane, took him back to a time when he was happier.

Last night, he'd attended a party, keeping an eye on the young upstart, who, if he weren't cautious, would usurp him. As his eyes followed the elegant slouch of Fox Mulder, beside his red- haired partner, someone they should never have paired him with, he thought, 'I wish', but his wish remained unresolved.

Now, as he stood by the window, smoking his cigarette, he resolved the unspoken wish into a clear thought that escaped his lips, unbidden. "I wish I had you back again."

Sarah's smile had seared itself into his memory. Her death had caused him to question what he was doing.

("No, Charles, I swear, if you come any closer, I'll shoot her."

"Sarah, let Holly go...")

Holly, born on Christmas day, had shown him a new side of life. He'd never put his faith in miracles, not when he destroyed them every day. Holly was a miracle...one he hoped he would never destroy. He was thankful she did not know what her father was.

Sarah and he had been happy for two years, but when he had refused to give them his daughter, her mother disappeared. When she was returned, she became very ill, finally being diagnosed with cancer.

He was not ignorant of the cause. He was forced to give them another man's daughter in exchange for the life of his own daughter's mother.

He blessed the powers that be that Sarah had not shot Holly. Her temporary madness passed, but it put a rift between them that could never be healed.

Holly was now among the very few he protected. A year ago she had been mugged. The mugger had escaped, until he was found floating in a swimming pool, an unexplained murder that was quickly forgotten.

He never could understand what Sarah had seen in him. It was an unexpected joy to find her. Yet, like all things he touched, the black fire of the dark secrets he kept had burned her.

He'd ruined his life by the choices he had made. He'd never wanted to be an assassin, he'd never wanted to be in league with a consortium of men he could not trust, but his choices and his beliefs would not let him go now.

He turned from the window, unable to forget the past.