Shadows of Winter
by Jaime Lyn
* Rated PG again. Aw, Nuts.
The brain was a funny and yet hideous thing. Neurological synapses
flowed and connected one lobe to another. Human psychology was a direct
result of these synapses, of a complex biology of chemicals reacting with
one another. To this day, scientists couldn't pinpoint why the mind
flashed certain emotional responses to certain stimuli. Why some abused
children became axe murderers while others became lawyers. Why a man
fell in love with one woman, while research insisted he was more emotionally
and physically compatible with about a hundred others. Why a certain
series of images or memories were triggered by a series of events, and other
memories were discarded under the same set of circumstances. The mind
had many mental defenses and bizarre strategies meant to battle complete and
As Mulder held his wife in his blood-coated arms, rocking her back and forth,
he drifted back to a cold night seven years ago. A hard-backed plastic
chair, his shirtsleeves rolled up to his elbows. Melissa Scully sat
on one side, Margaret Scully on the other. Dana Scully was in a coma.
Her body was weak, on the verge. She was dying.
"She doesn't want to live like this," the doctor said, his clipboard raised
as a shield. "She stated her terms clearly in her living will."
Mulder had signed Scully's living will the year before. As her partner,
she had asked him because statistics proved that chances were high she could
die in the line of duty. It was Mulder's professional job to know her,
her habits and nuances, inside and out, so in the eventuality of danger, he
could pull her out. So he could save her or know when to gracefully let her
go. Mulder understood what they were up against; Scully insisted he
was as good a friend as anyone, and he'd know when she was ready to die.
A strange compliment, to say the least. But Mulder had signed, making
a joke about her willing him her Eagles Greatest Hits collection. The
pen skirted across paper, his signature appeared, and then he was done.
Onto another mutant, another vampire, another slideshow.
Mulder never imagined she might actually die. Immortality was easy
to believe when one consistently emerged from the clutches of danger.
Death was an impossibility, and signing her living will was merely a formality,
like signing the check at the end of a long, satisfying dinner. Scully
was invincible. She was Batman or Superman, swooping down to save him
from all the dark places. She was his superhero. She wasn't supposed
Margaret Scully and Melissa Scully were there, supported by two doctors
and a nurse. Dana Scully lay on the bed, face pale, red hair draped about
her shoulders in tattered strings. She had freckles - Mulder had never
noticed those before. The freckles matched her hair.
Mulder opted not to enter the room, a silent protest from an outsider, but
he watched for a moment by the doorway. He discovered that 'pulling the plug'
was more a figure of speech than a literal interpretation. Pulling the
plug meant flicking switches, turning monitors off, and releasing a patient
from a breathing tube. In reality, there was no wire, and no outlet
for such a wire to fit. Pulling the plug meant counting down the hours,
minutes, and seconds until death. Pulling the plug wasn't instantaneous;
if the patient still breathed, pulling the plug was like offering a glimmer
of hope in the form of a brutal slap.
Mulder had never before felt so drawn to another human being, and when the
doctors released Scully from her electronic binds, Mulder felt mortality as
if someone had kicked him in the ribs with it. Margaret Scully buried her
face in the shoulder of her eldest daughter and sobbed. And Mulder's life
shrank down to a harsh, black and white sketch of causation, of before and
after: Before Scully and After Scully. 'After Scully' wasn't ever supposed
to happen, not that suddenly. 'After Scully' was unthinkable.
When Mulder opened his eyes, cold air rushed him like a linebacker.
Billy Miles would kill him, now. Mulder was positive of it.
There was no longer a good reason for Mulder to live, and he was much too
numb to move or care. Funny how he could misjudge himself so completely,
when life came down to brutal, primate instinctive ness. He'd always
imagined revenge for injustice as a part of his psychological makeup. That
if someone murdered Scully, he would get right back up and fight for her.
Just as he'd fought for Samantha, for his father, for his mother. He
would drive a bullet through the bastard's skull, or else he would die trying.
But silent musings and the occasional nightmare did nothing to prepare a person
for the actual choking hold of grief. And Scully was not his sister,
or his father, or his mother; Scully was so much more. And now she
was gone. Phantom eventuality was not reality. The harsh
light of death was paralyzing, and Mulder was trapped within its grip.
He held her, pressed his face into her hair; she still smelled like Scully.
Coconut creme and baby powder. She was smooth and warm. Beautiful. Death
was supposed to be cold. But she was soft, and radiating heat, filling
him. She would always fill him.
"Scully," he whispered, his lips on her ear. "Remember what I said
to you? In the jail cell? When the guard told Skinner that everyone
had to leave and I pulled you back? Do you remember what I said?"
There was, of course, no answer. Streaks of snow and blasts of wind
knocked out all sound, and Mulder couldn't even hear himself breathe - a tear
landed on Scully's nose, but he couldn't remember if he'd actually begun to
sob. No, this wasn't right. This wasn't how it was supposed to happen.
Scully didn't die - she couldn't die. Death was a common, mortal concept,
meant for ordinary people. Scully was so much more than ordinary.
She was... was...
Human. Scully was only human, and her living will stated that she didn't
want to live like this.
Where was he? Was this the hospital?
Scully had been abducted, ripped from him. He'd searched for her and
now she'd been found. Her eyes were closed - she had freckles.
Since when did Scully have freckles? She was so lovely, just in a coma,
not dead yet. The doctors had brought her in and Margaret Scully was offering
coffee, Melissa, she was saying how you could feel Scully's spirit in the
place between life and death and drifting. They took her off life support
but Scully was going to live. She had to live.
There were tears but no sound. Sound had disappeared. And Mulder
registered that he was shivering.
Where was he?
The hallway was a tundra, a meteorological condition. Somewhere, in
the back of his mind, it occurred to Mulder that he hadn't been killed yet.
Or perhaps he had. Scully was right; there was a hell, and Mulder's
hell was to exist in this moment, with Scully's blood painting his hands,
in a circular loop of science fiction splendor. This was the tunnel
at the end of the light, a well that stretched until night bottomed out and
nothing was left.
In the corner of perception, Mulder heard wails, loud, unending shrieks.
At first he thought it was his imagination, but the wails got louder, more
pronounced. Vaguely, he remembered a child. Seven years of backtracking
and second guessing and investigating, and then a warm night on his couch
when Scully came back in search of her wallet. Drills, metal tables,
terrible pain - his return, like falling into a hot-water bottle. Scully's
swollen stomach. "What are you going to call him?" he'd asked, gazing
into a tiny, pale face. "William," she'd answered. "After your
Mulder's head shot up. The baby. Determination flooded into
him, Scully's strength and her fortitude. Oh God, the baby was in danger.
Billy Miles was going to -
Billy Miles was shaking. But not just shaking - seizing. His
black eyes bugged wide, baffled - he gazed at his hands, at the blood that
soaked him down to his forearms. Scully's blood. Bubbling.
Oozing. Scully's blood was burning his skin right down to the bone.
Mulder gasped, pulled Scully's body tighter to him. "What the hell
Faster and faster Billy's body shook, so fast Mulder thought the man would
explode. Tugging Scully with him, as if she could still see or feel,
Mulder pulled them back towards the wall, back until there was nowhere else
to go. The snow was loud and thick; it was hard to make anything out
clearly. Mulder shielded his hands over his eyes. Billy Miles'
face went gray, and then black, and beyond the laughter of winter wind, Mulder
could hear crackling, bones imploding in on one another, fracturing, degenerating.
Billy Miles was biodegrading.
First his arms shrunk, twisted in gnarled facsimiles of hands, and then
further down, into black knobs. Then his shoulders sunk into his chest,
and his head went the color of night. His eyes were gone, mouth gone.
Down he went, melting - actually melting, and Mulder had a bizarre flashback
to the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy had thrown water at the witch.
Scully - Scully was Dorothy. And Verona's frigid November snowstorm
was over the rainbow.
Jesus, Mulder was cracking up. Losing it. This wasn't happening.
No way this was happening.
Mulder pressed his face to Scully's pale cheek, his shoulders and neck soaked
in her blood. The twang of salt and iron danced in his nose, made his head
swim with promises left broken. The baby still cried, called out for his Mama.
How could Mulder tell his son that Mama wasn't coming to pick him up?
Not ever. How could he tell himself?
"Tell me this isn't happening," he whispered into her ear. "Wake up,
Criminal. Tell me this isn't happening."
A hand touched his shoulder, and Mulder nearly leapt out of his own skin.
He turned his head and clutched Scully closer, held her like a blanket, his
teeth gritted, head cloudy with instinct. Someone had come to take his wife
from him. Someone wanted his child. Christ, she was already dead. They'd
already hurt her once. No. Never again.
"Get away from us," Mulder growled. He rubbed his thumb over Scully's
cheek until the blood disappeared from her skin. He would do that; he
would wipe the blood away, and then she would be alive. She would wake
up and tell him -
"Let me help her, Agent Mulder."
Mulder froze - a male voice, and an unfamiliar one. Not his.
Someone else was there, standing behind him. It wasn't Spender. Someone
else was in the house.
The mysterious, floating voice crouched next to Mulder, and Mulder fought
the animalistic urge to turn and sink his teeth into whoever had come to threaten
his family. Nobody would touch Scully again but him. He just
needed a minute. He needed to wipe the blood away. This wasn't real.
All the blood was a dream, a construct of his overactive imagination.
If Scully could speak, she'd tell him that this entire evening was the result
of hallucinogenic drugs. Perhaps everything since the onset of her first
pregnancy was the result of hallucinogenic drugs. He wasn't in his
right mind and she would tell him that. Any minute now.
"I can help her," the voice said again. "I've helped her before.
Let me do what needs to be done."
And speech escaped him.
There, in Lizzy Gill's tattered brown coat and dark blue slacks, was Jeremiah
Smith, his gray hair awash in swirls of drunken snowflakes. He nodded
at Mulder for approval, and Mulder had forgotten what it was he was supposed
to say. Fluid clogged his ears. He felt drunk. Scully was
either dead or Scully wasn't dead. William was in the next room. Something
bizarre had happened here. He just didn't know what. He couldn't
Mulder's grip loosened on Scully's torso, and he fell back, confused, hypnotized.
He wanted to wake up. He seriously wanted to wake up. It was cold in
here, and dark, and strange, and he missed watching the tendrils of flames
kiss the edges of his wife's fireplace. He should be downstairs, arguing
with Scully about the Bog serpent, reading a book to William, listening to
Scully's stomach. She was supposed to have a baby.
"We could have co-existed," said Jeremiah Smith, and he lowered his hands
to Scully's neck, pressing. "But now is not the time. Perhaps
in another few thousand years, things will be different. I don't believe
in the sixth extinction, Agent Mulder. I told your wife as much when
we prayed together. I don't think she remembers. She thought I
was someone else."
Mulder's head spun. "Thought you were someone else?"
"The truth is whatever we believe it to be, Agent Mulder."
Mulder gazed in fascination as the blood ebbed from Scully's skin, the gash
that had severed cords in her neck closed, pinched, collapsed in on itself,
and soon it was gone altogether. Scully's chest bobbed with new breath,
and Mulder jumped as if scorched. Scully was alive. She was alive? Oh
sweet Jesus, Scully was alive. But, but -
Mulder turned to Jeremiah Smith, wishing to impart gratitude, but unable
to find the words. Gratitude was a small concept - trite and human,
and better left in the silence between life and death. Gratitude was insufficient,
just as love seemed to be. Gratitude didn't encompass the roiling
emotions crisscrossing Mulder's veins, the years of sights and smells, textures,
and the sound of her voice, memories, but not the last memories of her he'd
file away. She was still Mulder's superhero. She would forever be.
Jeremiah's hands began to shake, and his face took on a gray pallor. His
cheeks trembled, rippling as if to music. Mulder pulled back, taking
Scully with him, dragging her.
Jeremiah was dying - just as Billy Miles had died. Somehow, Scully's blood
was killing him. Whatever was in that vial, it had been lethal - but
not to humans. Which meant Scully was quite literally kryptonite. She was
poison for all the inhuman supermen of the world. Marita had been wrong.
Even Scully had been wrong. It wasn't about Mulder at all, and perhaps
it was never meant to be. He couldn't do it alone; he wasn't the savior
of the world. It was Scully and the child both of them had created together
who would prevent extinction.
"Congrat - grat- u- lations... on your... your new - new - child," said
Jeremiah Smith, his hands gray, and then black, convulsing. "I pre
- pre- pre - dict great things. Many more..."
And then he was gone, liquefied. A black puddle left on the carpet
in his place, coating the shards of glass and ovals of blood that soaked up
into knots of Berber.
Mulder blinked, tried to inject normality into himself. The baby was
still crying. The last living alien life forms had just died before
him. Scully had also died, but now she was alive again. There
was a storm raging outside that had knocked out the heat, and, somehow, had
shattered the pane of his office window. And now with all the blood
and glass and black oil all over the place, they'd never get their security
Scully shifted in Mulder's embrace. She pressed a palm to her forehead and
stretched, kitten-like. Her lashes fluttered open and shut, and a moan trickled
from her lips. "Mulder?" she said.
The sound of her voice was like oxygen in a vacuum, and Mulder gravitated
towards his wife, drawn, pulled, as he had always been, to her side.
He pressed his lips to her temple, closed his eyes. She was soft, and warm,
and alive, and his.
"Mulder?" she repeated.
Her lashes fluttered, and aquamarine eyes darted about the hallway as if
she'd never before seen it. "It's snowing in the hallway," she stated.
He nodded. "Yes, it is."
"Because... it's raining in the living room?"
"Oh." Scully yawned, seeming to accept this. She turned and snuggled
closer, clutching him. If she had any memory of dying on him, she didn't
share. "Mm...It's cold in here. You're going to freeze."
"Mm hmm." He breathed her in once more, reveling.
"Go build a snowman with the baby, Mulder. I'm going to take a nap
for just...mm... just a minute. Next time it snows in the house, wear
a coat, okay?"
Mulder chuckled against her forehead, breathing in the fresh, familiar scent
of her. And for the first time in ages, he felt that everything would
finally be alright - or, at the very least, the kind of bizarre that actually
passed for normal in his and Scully's zipcode.
If the upstairs hallway was a twisted mess of glass and melted snow and
pungent, black and maroon stains, Mulder's office rivaled the hallway on
a sliding scale of disaster wreckage.
The door to the office he'd been forced to close - the entire second story
would need to be snow-plowed if he didn't - and he bordered up the doorway
with the computer box and what was left of the computer. The monitor
had somehow escaped dentless and intact, although the actual screen had not
been so lucky, and the keyboard was plucked of its keys in a way that would
have done a dentist proud. Two thousand dollars out the window - literally.
Brown, leafless fingers had groped through what was left of the window,
shattered the glass panes and wood dividers, and had beaten the crap out
of anything within reach. The crates and shelf that had once been pieces
of Mulder's desk were tossed about the room like sheets of paper. His
metal folding chair dangled like an earring off one of the gnarled branches.
Dirt, slush, and street gravel coated the floor, embedded in parts of the
Scully's favored Maple had been the cause of their indoor winter wonderland,
a fact both ironic and poetic in a divine right of circumstance. The theme
of the week seemed to be 'wouldn't it be wild if...' and now a tree had taken
a roll at the dice. Already bent towards the house at a forty degree angle,
roots pulled up from the earth, the trunk had finally succumbed to old age
and disease and twenty-five-mile-an hour winds. If not for the maple's weathered
bark and sickened branches, the right moment during the right storm, with
winds blowing in the right direction, Mulder would likely have been shot to
death. Scully would never have injected herself with the compound that killed
Billy Miles, and William would be dead.
Of course, on the other hand, had not the tree's complex root structure
remained intact, none of the above would have mattered. Their tiny
cottage would have been pushed right off its foundation, cracked down the
middle by a hundred-year-old tree trunk, and destroyed; they'd all be buried
in cigar boxes.
If God indeed played the crapshoot, he certainly enjoyed rolling odd combinations.
After tying an old shirt around his knees to quell the bleeding, Mulder
went in to quiet his screaming son. William could never have known
the difference, nor would he have cared, but his confinement had actually
saved his life. Not that being alive made fear any less fearful for the sleepy
toddler, but at the very least, he was still screaming, which meant he was
still breathing, and when all was said and done, Mulder couldn't have asked
His lips at the baby's temple, his arms secure around his back and bottom,
Mulder kept repeating the same phrase, over and over, delirious with relief:
"Daddy's here," he whispered, rocking the child back and forth, as much
for William's sake as for his own. "Daddy's here."
To survey the damage, Mulder stood back with his hands on his hips like
a man keeping watch over the side of a mountain.
Jeffrey Spender's pulse had been snuffed out. The man was certifiably
dead. Mulder's only brother, and the last in a long line of men and
women who had sought to destroy him, and other men and women who had sought
similar truths. Mulder's father, his mother and sister, Chief Blevins,
the cigarette smoking man, Alex Krycek, Marita Covarrubias, Melissa Scully,
the lone gunmen - it seemed as though everyone he'd ever known had drowned
at the threshold of his quest. Everyone, that is, except for he and
Scully, their unborn child and their son.
And Assistant Director Walter Skinner of the FBI.
Deciding that maintaining his cover had all at once become a non-issue,
Mulder finally contacted his former superior by cell-phone. In a second
bit of irony, Mulder discovered that his former colleague was already stranded
in a Lake Ontario airport just outside of Kingston. One of Paul Selden's 'help
wanted' fliers had apparently found its way to Skinner's desk by first-class
delivery, and the words, Verona, Lake Ontario, had been scratched on the envelope.
On the back of the flier was another message: "And baby makes three."
Skinner didn't specify whether there had been a return address, and Mulder
wouldn't have needed one to pinpoint the sender anyhow.
She was nothing more than a memory now, alive as long as someone remembered
But more amazing than any mysterious delivery or alien entity was life's
ability to bounce back after a kick to the head. That same afternoon, Agents
Doggett and Reyes of the X-Files division relayed staggering news to Walter
Skinner that had come to their office via telephone: the charges against Fox
Mulder and Dana Scully were officially being dropped. The men who had
originally perpetuated such charges had disappeared off the face of the Earth,
and in the space between yesterday and this afternoon, all searches for the
missing agents and operatives had been called off. No reason was given.
The military tribunal Mulder had faced became little more than an un-event
in the relative passage of time. The federal government, of course,
had no record of any such tribunal taking place within the justice department.
Knowle Rhorer, the man Mulder had been accused of murdering, was not dead,
because he did not exist. Nor would such a record of his existence
Just as quickly as one regime fell, another regime rose from the ashes.
Alvin Kersh, former Deputy Director of the Violent Crimes division, had been
promoted to director of the bureau's main branch office in Washington, D.C.
No warning, no preamble. In an interoffice memo to Assistant Director Walter
Skinner, he had ordered that the X Files division be mainstreamed as a quiet
offshoot of the Violent Crimes division. He'd requested Mulder personally,
although Skinner insinuated that the man's exact words were, "If the jackass
is still alive, find him."
Mulder's cell-phone died just as William called out to him from the bedroom.
The baby's exact words were, "Dadda," and "shit."
At the end of the day, there was no way Mulder could win them all.
After deciding to leave the mess upstairs for Skinner to handle, Mulder
dragged his wife down to the living room amidst groans and protests.
To say she was disoriented was to vastly underscore the situation; she'd
twice begged Mulder to please turn off the slide-projector so she could finish
her expense reports for the Jersey Devil case. Near death was not a
pretty color on her, and the after-effects were similar to detoxification.
Had the circumstances been any different, Mulder probably would have been
amused by Scully's unending mumblings about a pigeon that kept laughing at
her from a bench by the Hoover Building's reflecting pond.
The problem was that Mulder had been sliced in a dozen places, and his ankle
had been twisted. Hauling William down the stairs was a necessary act; one
years olds weighed very little, and they simply didn't climb stairs by themselves.
Hauling his barely conscious wife, however, while she shooed away invisible
birds, was another aggravation entirely.
Caught in the liquid confusion between consciousness and sleep, Scully slowly
clawed her way back to herself while Mulder entertained the Tater-Tot.
She muttered about a headache and asked for something to drink. It
seemed that being murdered and brought back from the dead had left her with
a scratchy, dry throat. Mulder offered her the mildest asprin
he could find and a mug of hot tea. Blinking awake, Scully accepted the pills
and the tea, and dumped half the sugar bowl into her cup. Mulder had never
known Scully to be big on the sugar, at least - not in her tea, but she'd
shoveled in piles of the stuff until Mulder was positive his own teeth would
crack just from watching her.
"Hard-head junior has a sweet tooth," she muttered, and drank wide-eyed,
like a teenager unused to the taste of whiskey.
Half a mug later, and Mulder sat back against the base of the couch, legs
spread, lips buried in the crook between Scully's neck and shoulder.
Scully sat in the gap between his legs, leaning into his chest, quiet, solemn.
William curled against her, plucking fur off of blue-blunny, gurgling a fascinating
story in his native, one-and-a-half year old tongue. Scully's fingers
played in the baby's fuzzy hair and down his back, and she massaged him until
his eyelids fluttered in protest of sleep.
The fire glowed bright in the fireplace, rocking, dancing, smiling at them
and hooking up into the black soot of the chimney. If the power never
returned, thought Mulder, this would be enough for him. He didn't need
light or heat or sound. He needed this moment, with his wife, his son,
and his unborn child.
"I think I'll take Tater-Tot out to see the Kelpie," Mulder said, thoughtful.
"But first I want to get one of those cameras with the zoom lens - "
Scully groaned, as she always did, at the mention of Cameron Bog's infamous
sea monster. "Again with this bog monster fantasy? You really
will believe anything, won't you?"
Mulder grinned. "Only the good stuff," he said, brushing his palm
over the crown of his son's head, the sides of his arms resting against Scully's.
Silence, and the fire crackled its approval into wisps of smoke. Scully's
fingers brushed over his, and their hands merged against William's flushed
Eyes half closed, Mulder managed a drowsy, "Hm?"
"What happens now?"
Scully's red hair curled around Mulder's cheeks, untamed and wild from melted
snow. She still smelled like coconut creme and warm, feminine skin.
"Well." Mulder blinked his way back. "We're going to have to
explain the mess to Wright Realty, and to State Farm, and I don't think 'eliminated
threat of alien colonization' is going to fly on an insurance claim, so we'll
have to come up with something more plausible. Good thing I keep you
around, Criminal. You see what happens when you try and save the world?
God throws a tree through your window."
Scully hummed. "Do you really think it was God, Mulder?"
"What, the tree?"
"Yes." She paused. "Well, no. Yes and no. Not just
the tree. Everything."
"I don't know what to think," Mulder answered honestly. "I just know
that, for the first time in a long time, it's quiet. Do you feel it,
Scully? The quiet?"
The room flickered in shadow, wind swirling, protective, blanketing.
Only their breathing cut the darkness, pressing in with the evened sounds
of survival. They made it this far; they'd broken free. Any adventure
from this point forward would be something new, unfamiliar, a journey down
an untrodden path.
"Do you really think they're gone, Mulder?"
Mulder took a breath, his hands running her biceps. "I don't know.
I really don't. Skinner told me that a lot of CIA officials, defense
department personnel, and FBI agents just disappeared last week- some right
from their offices - and that the searches for them were called off yesterday.
Nobody knows why. Before he died, Billy Miles insinuated that he was
the last of his kind. Maybe he is or maybe he isn't. Or maybe
I'm just sick of running, or maybe I'd rather turn into the wind and fight,
but I really want to believe that it's true."
She sighed. "But is that naive of us? Wanting to believe that
this is the end?"
Mulder paused a moment, thoughtful. "We both know it's not," he said.
"There are still uncertainties and risks. And now comes the work antacid
pills are made of. Lab runs, tests, analysis, research. All that fascinating
Scully shifted. Her legs stretched the outline of his calf. "Breaking
down the science of the unknown," she murmured. "That'll take some time."
"And our cover's essentially blown."
"Essentially," Mulder agreed. He craned his neck until the back of
his head hit the couch. The ceiling flashed above him in flickers of
gray and white popcorn paint.
"But does it ever end?" She asked. "Is that even possible?"
The room smelled of pine, real wood and the stuff that came in a can.
Over the course of four months, he'd grown accustomed to the odor.
"Logically, dear Watson, I'd have to say no." He elbowed her, and
she elbowed him back. He couldn't tell whether or not she smiled.
He imagined she did.
His mouth found her earlobe, and he tasted her. "There's always going
to be something out there, Scully. And I don't want to stop searching.
It's not in me to give up and it's not in you, either. We've just beaten
the tough round, you know? Like when you beat the oompas and the turtle-ducks
and the fire-breathing-flower-pots, and then you get the bonus mushroom that
gives you an extra life, and you go on and kill Bowser?"
At Scully's silence, Mulder gave in, "After I got fired, I played a lot
"Ah, I see." Scully exhaled loudly. "Are you sure you didn't
hit your head, Mulder?"
Mulder chuckled, rubbed his hands down her goose-bumped arms. "I think
I'm just grateful. All supersoldiers and trees through the house aside
- " He kissed the corner of her neck, "That my son is here, and this new baby
- it sounds so bizarre to say that it finally feels like my life, because
it is my life, it's always been my life, but I don't know, Scully. I
keep thinking back to this dream I had a few years ago... I was living a
different life. I was given another choice, another fate. I was
given all the comforts any man could ever want and in the end, it wasn't...
wasn't what it should have been. It wasn't the right time and you -
you weren't there. And when you finally came, you kicked me in the ass.
You told me that it wasn't supposed to end this way. I had to fight, get
"I remember," Scully said. "You were telling me that everything was
upside down. That I was the only one who told you the truth."
"You saved me," he emphasized.
Scully curled closer. "You keep saying that," she murmured.
"Well, you keep doing it," he answered. He paused, and pressed his
mouth over her ear, turned his head so that his nose poked through her thick
red hair. "You said I belonged to my quest, to my truth. And maybe
to an extent, you're right. But you're wrong if you think you're not
a part of that. You're - " He paused, cleared his throat.
"You're my wife. I belong to you, Criminal."
Her head turned, and her lips pressed against his chin. "I know,"
"So what do you want to do next?" he asked. "Skinner's stuck in an
airport in Kingston because of the storm. I spoke to him... He knows
about William, Scully. I'm guessing Marita tipped him off."
"Why?" Scully's tone was neutral, soft. "A last ditch effort at trying
to protect you?"
"Maybe," Mulder agreed, shivering at the thought of Marita, of her sacrifice.
"At any rate, Skinner should be here tomorrow, whenever the roads clear. We'll
have some explaining to do, but that’s the norm. It was insinuated that
Kersh wants us back in D.C. Can you believe that?"
"No." She kissed his neck, and he shivered. Her lashes fluttered against
his skin, hot and wet with moisture.
"So what do you want to do?" he repeated, closing his eyes.
"I think I just want to call my mother." Scully swallowed, and a tear
pressed between them. "I really miss my mother."
When she said nothing further, Mulder nudged her with a poke to her hip.
"What are you really thinking?"
"I don't know. Nothing. Everything." She shook her head. "It's
funny, the things you come up with when it's so quiet. I'd put so much
of myself into this battle. All the fighting and running against the grain,
and standing still was strange. It is strange. I was so tired,
Mulder. I needed something solid, a sign that I'd finally made the right
decision, because it seemed as though there was this - this endless line
of wrong. And I stood there, looking back on it, wondering why."
He took a deep breath. "Sick of feeling helpless?"
"In a way," she whispered.
"Is that why you did it?" he asked.
"Is that why I did what?"
"Injected yourself with that vaccine."
Scully paused. She seemed to consider him, and her body tensed.
"Maybe," she admitted. "Or maybe it was something else. Something
speaking through me, making things right."
Mulder nodded. "Do you think it was God?" he asked.
She was heavy against him, hot. If life did indeed boil down to the
smaller moments - Scully pressing a dinosaur sticker over his mouth to shut
him up, William clapping at an old, rest-stop photo, the three of them gazing
into a warm fire - then all the larger moments were simply preludes, stepping
stones. The bigger truths were unreachable, and saving Earth from extinction
only held meaning when there was something precious to save; the smaller truths
were the things worth rescuing.
"I think it's plausible," she said, "That perhaps God works through science,
and science is what gave us this miracle."
Mulder laughed. "The baby, or the means to stop colonization?"
"Both, I guess." She shrugged.
Mulder frowned, somehow expecting more from her. He wasn't sure what
he was expecting, actually, but the truth had to be more than that.
The truth was the light they followed. It was the cloud hanging over
them, teasing them with its white tufts, cottony edges so close he could almost
touch them. But when he got too close, the creamy white billows evaporated
into mist, evading him.
Or maybe he'd just been shaking his fist at himself all these years, and
not at the sky. Jeremiah Smith had said the truth was whatever Mulder
believed it to be. Perhaps he'd been right. The truth wasn't the sun,
blinding him into misdirection. It was the flashlight that he'd kept
by his side for all the years he searched.
"Isn't that some sort of oxymoron cop-out?" Mulder finally asked.
Scully tilted her chin to meet his eyes, and when he brushed her cheek,
a dazzling smile stretched the corners of her lips. The truth
was beautiful when it smiled at him like that.
"Maybe," said Scully, her nose grazing the underside of his chin.
"But I've dealt with much stranger."
And we’ve reached the end. Whew. This was one of those stories
that took me a good long while to write, and research (especially since I
had to go back and re-watch the season 9 episodes I wasn’t a big fan of,)and
then rewrite, and rewrite, and rewrite. . . and beta (just ask poor Mish
and Sybs. They’re the best sports. They really are.) But you’ve made
it this far, and for that, I thank you.
* Extra, EXTRA thanks to Sybil for the best literary interpretations known
to fic: “The truth sure gets around. I have decided that the truth
is a whore.” And extra thanks to Mish for some yummy pics of David
Duchovny that inspired much smut.
I figured there would be some questions at the end(and I did get some of
these questions by email) and so I wanted to let you guys crawl into my head
for a bit (watch out for dust and things that bite.)
Anything you ever wanted (or didn’t want to know) about SOW:
1 – Why in the world would Mulder want to give his child back, when Scully
was the one who gave William up? Just what is the deal with Mulder
in this story?
I wanted to write a fic that remained true to the show (much as I may have
disliked – and even hated - some of the directions the show had taken) because
canon was what I was basing this story on. And in the show, Mulder
told Scully he felt she had made the right decision when she gave William
away. I thought it would be a cop-out (and much too easy) to write
a piece where Mulder and Scully went back on their principals and ran to
get their kid. I’m sure there are lots of other stories like that out
there, and as wonderful as they may be, this is not one of those stories.
I wanted William back, but I wanted to do it in a different way. Road
less traveled and all. I think it makes better drama, anyway. I could
2 – Marita Covarrubias had a thing for Mulder, eh? So who is Moira’s
That’s the stuff sequels (or prequels) are made of. You can take your
pick here of all the X-men, but rest assured that it’s not Mulder.
(The timeline within the show doesn’t fit, for one.) That doesn’t mean, of
course, that she hadn’t wanted it to be Mulder... Right. Prequel-land.
3 – William is almost 2 years old, but he can’t walk or talk? Are you kidding
me? What is that all about?
William was given up for adoption when he was about 8 months old (pre-speech
and bipedal walking,) but was taken by Marita’s operatives the day after
the adoption. He was on the road ever since then, driving cross-country
with some admittedly questionable types. Nobody played with him.
Nobody talked to him. Nobody cared for him or loved him. He might
have even been abused – we have no way of knowing. All these things can affect
a child, psychologically. Remember, after he was discovered by Mulder
and Scully, William did start picking things up rather quickly: he could
stand up, and he could talk. My feelings on this were that William would
be emotionally stunted because of his experiences (it’s not unheard of, psychologically)
and I thought I would leave that door open in case I ever decided to write
4 – Scully’s senior thesis? Is there a website that actually contains the
transcript or did you pull that out of your ass?
The physics part concerning Einstein’s Twin Paradox is all factual, to the
best of my knowledge. I swear. (I went through some websites, and nearly
got seasick trying to figure out how to interpret all the scientific gobbledygook.
God bless all you scientists.) Scully’s metaphysical take on it, however,
I did pull out of my ass, because I have no idea what her “new interpretation”
actually was. Creative license and all – Scully tells me she’s actually
pleased with her uncharacteristic openness to the idea of parallel universes,
but that, in the next fic I write, she wants to be drunk.
(As far as I know, there is no known site where you can access her senior
5 – So all the stuff with the iron and William? And meteorites? Balderdash
All the stuff about DNA and the actual properties of iron, and how it assists
in the oxidation process are true. And the stuff about iron in meteorites?
Also true. How these items relate to the X-files mythology, of course,
are what I took a few liberties with to fit within the context of the story.
(Since there are no aliens in our Universe, I had to twist a few facts to
explain why iron might kill an alien. I mean, I probably could have
just as easily dropped an alien vaporizer into Mulder’s hand, but my masochistic
side said that would be way too easy. Plus, Scully had problems with
6 – Are Mulder and Scully heading home? They can’t really believe there
aren’t any more aliens out there, can they?
As far as Mulder and Scully know, the truth is still out there – aliens,
no aliens, pizza with extra cheese, mutant pineapples - There’s no way for
them to know for sure. As far as I’m concerned, the aliens are all dead because
that would make the supersoldier plot dead and buried (which was partly the
purpose of this story)and would much please this fanfic author. But
yes, I assume Mulder and Scully might want to head home. After all,
their cover has been blown. They left the U.S. because the government
was after them, and not because aliens were after them. Remember, these
aliens and unknown types have always been after Mulder and Scully, and that
never stopped them from going about their lives in Washington D.C. before.
I have always felt that, post finale, the reason Mulder and Scully were forced
to run was because Mulder had been sentenced to death, and not because aliens
wanted to kill them. But now the charges have been dropped. So Scully can
just click her heels together, if she so desires. (Or Mulder can –
depending on who you think wears the ruby slippers in that family.)
7 – What about those dropped charges? That was fast.
Yes, it was. I think the question should actually be, “who or what
did Marita know, and how did she get the vaccine?” Think of it this way:
it wouldn’t be The X-files if I told you everything, now would it?
(At this, Mulder groans in the background. He says he wants to be drunk
in the next fic, too.)
8 – Did Mulder ever tell Scully that her blood is what killed the aliens?
And what the hell was up with that, anyway?
Mulder might have told her, and he might not have. He seems to enjoy
keeping things from Scully whenever he feels the secret-keeping will benefit
her. Again, that’s the stuff sequels are made of. <g>
9 – Did Scully ever plan on telling Mulder she was pregnant?
Before William showed up, or before her water broke? Heh. Scully
says she of course meant to tell Mulder. Guess we’ll never know what
she meant to say before the car crashed into the tree out front. Darn
those crazy hormones.
10 – So that sequel you were talking about?
Maybe I’ll write a sequel, but not for a long, long time. Mulder and
Scully are already breaking out the tequila and the shot glasses. They’re
exhausted from the angst. Mulder wants to know why I can’t write a
fic where he sits around and watches the Redskins game. Scully says
not to worry about writing such a fic, because she thinks the Redskins suck.
If you’ll excuse me, I have to go break up a fight.
Special thanks to the following resources:
Usenet relativity FAQ - Micheal Weiss
The University of South Wales Physics homepage
Usenet Periodic Elements FAQ - (Iron)
The Biology Project Homepage,
The University of Arizona
And lots and lots of love to Mishy and Sybs, who are brilliant betas.
Both of you get lots of cyber chocolates.