DISTRIBUTION: OK for Archive/X and the Socks Shoppe. Elsewhere by permission. Email forwarding is OK.

SPOILERS: None, really.

RATING: PG13 for various reasons.

SUMMARY: Krycek/Pendrell. A short tale of domestic bliss.

DISCLAIMER: Chris Carter, 1013, and Fox own the X-Files, not me.

MORE FIC: http://members.tripod.com/~prillalar/fic/fic.html

March 1999

Hail Eris, muse o' mine. This one is all down to you.


I NEVER PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN
by Halrloprillalar <prillalar@geocities.com>

We live together, have for over a year now, in a little house Brian picked out and I paid for. I cook, he cleans, we take turns shopping. We split the bills. We have a cat. He's a scientist. I'm an assassin. We're in love.

Sure, we have our difficulties, but we work them out. We talk, really talk, and we make time for each other and try new things to keep the sex interesting. The last Cosmo quiz I took was really favourable. And we have one rule: we don't talk about our work when we're together.

We keep busy. Brian volunteers at a local animal shelter and when there's a lull in assignments, I work on finishing the basement. We have a web site about the Montreal Canadiens that we update on weekends. But my main hobby is reading. SF, mostly. Classic, new, short stories, novels -- everything from Asimov to Zelazny.

I remember last summer we took a week off together, just to stay home. I lay out in the back yard in a hammock with a stack of Hugo winners anthologies and a pitcher of lemonade. The weather was perfect, warm and a little breezy, and I felt especially lazy whenever I glanced at Brian pursuing *his* hobby, his rose garden.

I have to admit, it was stunning that year. I keep meaning to spend some time learning more about it, just to be able to share that with him. During the winter, he reads books and leafs through catalogues, showing me pictures of varieties with the unlikely names of Rainbow's End, Whistle Stop, Hoffman von Fallersleben, Sno Cone, and Mister Lincoln. I think he's on three different rose listservs and sometimes he writes a column for a magazine. I'm really proud of him.

He won't use any chemicals on his beauties, so he's always spraying them with garlic tea and ordering special beetles to chase away the ordinary beetles and chastising me when I forget to put my food scraps in the compost. It's really cute. And, like I said, the roses were beautiful. Watching him trim and dig and snip and spray, swinging in the comfort of my hammock, I wondered if there was a rose with just the same red-orange tint as his hair. Carrot Top.

The week went by far too fast. We barbecued and ate on the patio. I made a different kind of salad every night. Brian cut the blooms he deemed worthy and the bouquets suffused the whole house with their delicate fragrance. For as long as I live, the scent of roses will bring back those days of sweet idleness.

It's October now and Brian's gone to Boston. My work requires me to travel a lot, but Brian rarely. This is the first time since we moved here that I've been alone. It's hard to be the one who stays home. Next time I'll remember to call more often.

After three days of hard work, I finished the gyprock in the basement. That night I got drunk, by accident. I'd been bingeing on Niven and I had half convinced myself that after "one more shot" my latent TK would surface and I'd be just like Gil Hamilton. But what surfaced was far more mundane and much less pleasant.

The hangover just made my loneliness worse. I went out for a coffee to try to slough it off before my assignment the next day. Just a local job, not much to take my mind off things. It was chilly, but I sat outside in the fresh air; my stomach preferred it that way. I'd brought "Lucifer's Hammer" but I couldn't really concentrate, so I just sat and watched the people walking by, missing Brian more with each minute. Still the best part of three days before he'd be home.

A woman passed with a bunch of roses, deep red ones wrapped tidily in florist's paper. For a moment, I thought I was going to become maudlin, trapped in a miserable reverie of happy memories on a dreary day. But then I had an idea, something I could do for Brian, a surprise. It made me smile. I bought a long-stem from a vendor and smelled it all the way home.

The next day I puttered around the house, doing some tidying and grooming the cat. I watched Oprah and All My Children. Brian laughs at me but all the same, he won't miss an episode of ER. I had to tape it for him this week. At six, I went out for my job. It went well and I was home again just after eight. I ordered a pizza, watched some TV, then went to bed early with the cat draped over my stomach. In the morning, I'd start in on my plan.

I began the day with a hearty breakfast. In the back yard, the fall sun fell sadly on the bare shrubs of the dormant roses. I found a perfect spot, right in the middle where I wouldn't have to move any of the bushes. Brian would kill me if I did that. Then I set to. It was hard work and I was glad I had a pair of gloves to keep the blisters at bay. Just after one, I hauled the gunny-sacked bundle out of the garage, pausing to wipe the sweat off my brow before I rolled the body into the hole. All organic. Filling the pit took much less time and it was only three when I stood, shovel in hand, to survey a job well done. You couldn't even tell.

After lunch and a shower, I went out to buy prime rib and a good red wine. Now I'm home, ironing the linen tablecloth and trying to remember where I put the candles. Brian's plane gets in at five. We'll eat at seven. I can't wait to see him.

And next year, the roses will be more beautiful than ever.

F I N I S

Organic gardening tips and other comments to prillalar@geocities.com