We All Die Virgins
Chapter 18

* Sorry for the delay in posting.  Hopefully, you won't have to wait as long for the next chapter. ;-)


11400 Commonwealth Dr,
Georgetown, Maryland,
7:21 pm

Mulder had been pacing for about a year and a half.  Or else time simply applied the brakes after Scully passed out, and nobody alerted him to the change.  Or else time was going in reverse, and every second he paced was actually a retraction, like a needle playing a backwards on a record groove -  

He was making himself seasick.

On second thought, time in reverse wouldn't be such a bad idea. Twenty-four hours, that was all he needed.

A noise like a stifled snore pierced him, and Mulder turned towards the living room.  

Scully was passed out on her couch, doped to the gills on Klonopin.  She hadn't moved from where Mulder left her, crashed like a drunk on prom night, but she breathed - which was a plus.  Scully not dead was always a very big plus.

Whether or not she could still do the Stupendous Yappi thing, however, remained to be seen; And despite missing her thoughts, her voice floating inside of him, the idea of Scully's brain in his brain made Mulder sweat in places he'd later have to scrub.  He could only pray that his subconscious still remained locked from her like a tight-lipped secret; he had no desire to explain away why, in a section of his frontal lobe marked 'not for public consumption,' at least three versions of Dana Scully dressed like a catwoman at a hedonist bar existed.

In other current events, Walter Skinner, pissed off, armed, and still their boss, was two minutes from the apartment. Whether to kick the shit out of Mulder for his lack of grace at the board meeting, or to help him save Scully, Mulder couldn't be sure.  And since Mulder had already lied once to the man about drugging Scully - in front of a panel of highly ranked federal agents, no less - he had no idea how to explain this latest romp into the forest of ludicrousness. Again, Mulder had placed Scully in a precarious situation, and again, he would have to claw his way out for both of them.  Or else he'd have to dope himself up on one of the drugs Scully kept in her sleeping pill smorgasboard, and hope to God that one of them woke up sane.

Mulder was terrified thay any explanation he'd have to offer would be a lie, or a truth that revealed a former lie, and both of the above would either get himself fired, or get Scully fired, or get both of them fired, or possibly be the untethering that lost him the one woman he'd not yet scared away or gotten murdered yet. And after eight years, that was like some sort of federal record.  

Mulder glanced outside; the last flakes of 2001 were starting to fall.

Before the Harbor case, Scully had mentioned something to him about wanting New Years Eve for herself this year. No zombies, no ghosts, no vampires, no witches - she wanted champagne and Dick Clark and "fucking normality" like the rest of the world, and if Mulder so desired to join her, he was more than welcome, but he would have to check his crazy-stick at the door.  December 31st was only a few short days away, now.  If Scully were to die on him before then, she'd surely come back from the dead and drill him a new asshole for ruining her holiday season. Scully had always been very specific about her personal space, and she was deadly accurate with a thirty-five.  Mulder couldn't imagine she'd be any different in death, if indeed there was an afterlife.  

Bottom line: Mulder had to solve this case.  He had to fix Scully, and he had to fix her now.

Which brought him back to the glorious beginning.  

Lily Ann Harbor was AWOL.  As was her sister, who had been missing for over twenty-four hours.  No matter what Scully said to the contrary, Lily had somehow pulled a David Copperfield.  She'd exhibited some sort of telepathic energy, which had, in turn, emitted a static-electricity like residue.  These ideas were signifigant somehow, although Mulder was drawing a blank as to how.  Perhaps the connection actually lay within the realm of REM sleep: Mulder himself had, mere hours following the incident with the furniture, become static-electrically charged in his sleep, which couldn't have been a coincidence.  

But Scully had been on the phone, and not asleep, when she wigged out.  What could that mean?  Had she taken a nap that afternoon?  Had something in her chemical makeup made her vulnerable to certain energies?  Certainly, the most vulnerable position for a human being, both physically and mentally, was in sleep.  

He was still missing something, damn it.  

And then the photos, and Scully's fainting spell, and Mulder's memory lapse, and Lily's disapearance, and here he was again.  Painted into a corner with radioactive acrylic paint.  There was no place to step, and somehow, he'd have to connect the dots.

Mulder rubbed his forehead.  Truth be told, he felt like picking up one of Scully's heels and driving it into his eyeball. Perhaps the pain would give him clarity. Not all the plot-points were heading in a linear direction.  He was missing something obvious, something hidden in plain sight.

Unsure of what to do, Mulder yanked out his cell phone.  He had to figure out where Scully would be safe.  Mrs. Scully was speed-dial three, and surely she'd be able to take care of Scully until Mulder figured out what the hell was going on.  There was no way he'd let his partner investigate anything in her current state - regular vegetative, or telepathic vegetative - both conditions spelled bad news for both of them.  

With a deep breath, Mulder hit the 'send' button.  

And waited.  

And waited.  

On the fourth ring, the answering machine picked up: "Hello, this is Margaret Scully.  I'm not at home, or I'm unable to come to the phone.  Please - "

Cursing to himself, Mulder hung up before the machine could beep.  He tightened his fist around the phone and considered smashing it through a window.  

"Stupid," he muttered to himself.  "Fucking stupid."  

With shaky hands, he shoved the phone back into his pocket.  

Scully's mother.  What could he have been thinking, calling Margaret Scully like that?  The kitchen was a war-zone of wooden rubble and dinnerware corpses.  If Scully had another lapse of telekinesis, she could bring the house down with her. And then what would her mother do?  

Mulder resumed his pacing, checked his watch.  

Skinner would be here any minute, and Mulder still had no answers.  None at all.  

There were no records on either of the Harbor girls, nor was there a house left to investigate, nor was there a badge in Mulder's pocket to justify obtaining a warrant to do said investigating.  Originally, Mulder wanted to return to Long Island, stake out the airport, talk to that old man next door, and get a head start on trying to figure out who these suspcious "Men of God" were.  Chances were good that these men had also been behind the latest pummeling delivered to The X Files division; pictures didn't take themselves, after all.

But Scully's mysterious brain ailment had thrown the case a hundred degrees starboard, and Mulder's altered memory state from earlier that afternoon confused things even further.  It wasn't just Scully who seemed to be affected by some sort of radio-wavelength that operated on brain frequencies; Mulder had been affected as well.

Mulder paused in his tracks, and a sudden thought gripped him.  "Jesus," he said out loud.  "How would I even know if this is real?"  

He turned to Scully, who was still fast asleep.  She looked real enough.  The room looked real enough.  Mulder touched an index finger to his cheek and pressed once, twice, checking his texture and pliancy.  He brought his other hand in front of him, palm forward, and slammed it into his forehead.

 "Ow!  Motherfu - "  

Okay, so chances were good this was real.  

At least at the end of the rainbow, Walter Skinner was still in his right mind.  He just might punch Mulder in the skull for drugging Scully, but at least he'd be thinking clearly.  

Mulder dug into his pocket for his cell phone again.  Right now, all that mattered was helping his partner.  And to help Scully, Mulder would have to find the one person who seemed to be the dot connecting all the lines:  Lily Ann Harbor.  

Unable to stand still, Mulder hit speed-dial two and resumed his pacing.  Each snowflake that fluttered outside Scully's living room window was another second gone by, another moment missed.  Soon, if Mulder wasn't careful, all of his moments would be gone. And Scully would never again have another New Year's Eve.  

After a moment, a nasally voice picked up the line.

"Lone Gunmen."

"Langly," said Mulder, halting in his tracks.  "Turn off the tape."

There was a pause on the other end, and a rattling.  In the background, a gruff voice asked for confirmation of the caller.  Sounded like Byers.

"It's off," Langly said.  

"Damn it, Langly, don't fuck with me right now.  I swear to God - "

"It's off," Langly insisted.  Another pause, and a click on the line.  Mulder took a deep breath.  After an insane few seconds that crept by like millenia, Langly asked, "What do you need, dude?"  

"Records," said Mulder.  "I need you to see if you can hack past the state records system for New York and pull some birth and medical records on Lily Ann Harbor - last known residence, Lynbrook, Long Island."

Mulder swallowed, and an image appeared to him:  Lily's blue eyes, dark and pleading.  Lily's eyes that reminded him of Samantha's eyes.  Blue, blue like the pieces of a board game.  When was the last time Mulder had seen his sister?  Long ago, almost three decades.  Statego, when he was twelve and she was eight.  He'd taken three of her little red men, and she'd looked so confused, so horrified, because he never let her win.  Ever.  And he'd grinned in triumph, holding up one of his little blue men, wagging the plastic wedge in her face.  Once again, he had pulled the wool over her eyes and lead her in the wrong direction, simply because he could.  

Mulder's brain shifted. More images: highlighted witness statements, unbidden, random: the girl at the register said she'd only seen Lily, and not Kelsey.  The cab driver couldn't be sure whether there had been one girl or two.  The man at the ticket counter had checked a second ticket through security, but there was no record of a second girl on the security tapes.  Motel furniture stacked end on end. Scully's clothes lying about the floor, her bras, underwear - very personal items.  The mind was a strange, foreign land.  An empty shore waiting to be filled -

"Is that it?" asked Langly.  

"No," said Mulder.  

Empty shore, trick gambits, stratego, Scully's clothes, missing sister.  

Missing sister, missing sister, missing sister.  

He'd punched Scully in the head because he thought she was Samantha.

But no - he hadn't been trying to punch Samantha at all.  That memory was wrong, twisted.  

There was no exit on the second floor of the Hoover Building.    

He was fogged, clouded.  Everything was something else.  

That was it.  Mulder's eyes grew wide.  That was it.  

"I need you to pull up anything you can find on Kelsey Elizabeth Harbor.  Birth - " Mulder frowned.  "Or death.  Specifically, early death.  I'm thinking young.  Very young.  Look for records of stillbirth - parents named Alice and Frank Harbor."  

"Case you're working on?" asked Langly.  

"Something like that," said Mulder. "Look - this... it's kind of important.  I need this stuff right away.  I need this stuff yesterday.  There's more I want you to look at, but I'm going to have to print it out, explain it to you in person. I'm bringing Skinner - "  Mulder paused, grimaced, and glanced at the couch.  Scully's arm thrown over her eyes, her chest rising and falling slowly, deeply.  "And Scully," he added.  "I'll be by in about half an hour.  Do you think you can come up with something by then?"

"I'll do my best."  A rustling, what sounded like a hand covering the reciever.  Langly's muffled voice called out, "Get that shit off the zip drive, Frohike.  It smells like a goddamned fish-market in here."  More muffled crackles, and static, and Langly returned to the phone.  "Half an hour," he said.  "Got it, Mulder."  


Smell comes first: violets, roses, hyacynths, not fresh but plucked, dried, brown.  The texture of carpet, thick and pliant, fuzzy between her toes.  She's barefoot.  A fresh swath of heat from the radiator shimmying up her arms; her skin is naked, open. Her hands flutter to her chest and press against terrycloth.  Fresh soap.  Wet hair.  Shampoo suds dripping a warm line down her back.  Not in the shower, not anymore.  She's somewhere else. She's bathed already.  Or has she?  Was she interrupted?  

At first, the darkness isn't at all strange.  She imagines that she's always been blind, and has no problem with this logic.  The truth is a matter of perception, and every other sense is enhanced, sharpened like a pencil.  She stutters for purchase.  Her couch is around here, somewhere.  Potpourri - the living room. That makes the most sense.  

"Mulder?" she calls.  Mulder's an object in this apartment, sort of like her couch.  He's usually around here somewhere, poking, prodding, eating her food.  He's ravenous because he keeps no food of his own in his refrigerator.  Mulder once told her that he weighs supermarket shopping on the same scale as ancient medieval torture, and he likes to keep both activites to a minimum.  

No answer.  Where the hell did he go?

Her hands grope the darkness - the couch is close by, she's sure of it.  She should know her own living room. Beads of moisture drip from her arms, collect on her toes.  She's goosebumped but not cold, which is almost funny, because she's soaked. Heater's on high, feels almost like a sauna.  She can't seem to remember why in the hell she ran out of the shower so quickly.  If Mulder's not here, he must have called her.  He has a case, or a joke, or a splinter in his palm.  He's always calling her for some reason or another.  

Did she already speak to him?  

She can't recall.

Did she just not get to the phone in time?

She can't recall that, either.  

A fluttering of bells, soft, melodic.  Her ears perk, hands stilled in mid air, and the reaction is involuntary, like a shudder.  More tingling - wind chimes.  Or not.  She doesn't own a set of wind chimes.  

"Mulder?"  She's not sure why she's so positive the sound would be coming from him.  He's just always there.  He's usually the only one there, permeating the walls and leaking through the ceiling.  Her home is a well of sights and sounds of Mulder. Where he's sat, eaten, spoken with her.  Where he stood the day she asked him -

More tingling.  Higher, like butterfly wings made of ivory keys.  Or no - laughter - giggling.  A child.  


Suddenly, the darkness is swirling, oppressive, and she has the sudden urge to stop, drop and roll.  The nightscape of her vision is a thicket of fog, clinging to her, hovering over the carpet.  She's not in her apartment.  She's somewhere else.  But that smell - the flowers, wrapped in plastic and tied with a bow.  She remembers the moment the smell was birthed; her mother gave her a package of dried buds as a housewarming gift.  The odor is the odor of home.  

"Is - is anyone here?"  

She gropes for her gun and recalls the towel, the sweet tufts of terrycloth bunched beneath her arms.  Without her gun, she truly is naked.  

The giggling grows, like a shaft of light beneath a doorway, begging for inspection.  She follows the sound, and her hair tracks water behind her like a trail of breadcrumbs.


Kelsey grabbed Lily shoulder, shoved.  "What are you doing?"

Groggy, Lily opened her eyes, peered at her sister from beneath narrowed slats.  "What does it look like I'm doing?"

Kelsey sighed and let go, made her way to the window.  She touched the glass that seperated both of them from all of Georgetown, two stories below.  The echoes of car horns permeated glass.  Construction was going on in the building across the way, clanging, pounding - someone was using a drill.  For a moment, Lily was positive Kelsey would break the window.  All afternoon, she'd been restless, uneasy.  Like she was waiting for something to happen.  Lily was unsure whether Kesley believed that the Scully woman would just drop dead by herself, or if she realized that these kinds of operations took work.  Time.  Concentration didn't come easy, and the hard part had only just begun.  

"I need to get out of this godawful little room," Kelsey said, shivering.  

Lily took a breath; the room did feel slightly claustrophobic.  Locked.  Cut off.  Why had she not noticed that?

Ah, yes, because she'd not been in her body for some time now.  Lily's ears hummed, still, and she knew she'd not lost the connection.  To her chest, Lily clutched the teddy bear, rubbing its nose until she rubbed it raw.   Teddies, babies - it wasn't fair.  Dana Scully had everything she could ever want.  Lily had never in her life owned a teddy bear.  

"I need to get out," Kelsey repeated, fists clenched.  

"You're just going to have to wait," Lily said, closing her eyes.  "When Fox Mulder leaves, you can go get something to eat.  But right now I have work to do."

Kelsey laughed.  "If you're even making any headway."

Lily felt like screaming.  She clutched the teddy bear, cradled it, thought of ripping out all the stuffing.  That would show the Scully woman who was boss.  

"I'm making headway," she muttered.  


"Agent Mulder, you have thirty seconds to explain to me what the hell is going on."

Mulder backed against the wall as Skinner made his way into the apartment and slammed the front door shut behind him. Over Mulder's shoulder was the decimated kitchen, dishes in shards of porcelain everywhere, broken wood, bent silverware, and a line of forks in the wall that Mulder couldn't explain.  There had been nobody in the apartment prior to this evening but he and Scully, and no evidence of a break-in, and with Mulder's confession to the OPR board earlier today, this didn't look good at all.  As a matter of fact, it looked downright like assault and battery.  

"Ah - " Mulder backed away, further and further, until he hit the sharp edge between two walls, and there wasn't anywhere else for him to go.  "Sir, I can explain - "

"Please do," said Skinner, shoving past Mulder and into the kitchen.   "Because you have ten seconds before I - "

A pause.  And then a low growling sound, almost like a very manly grunt. And finally, Skinner's voice again, echoing out of the dim kitchen.  "What in the hell happened here?"  

Mulder winced.  "Okay," he said.  "Maybe I can't explain all of it - "

Skinner turned back towards the living room, his fists bunched, stride steady, until he was practically nose to nose with Mulder.  Close enough, at least, for Mulder to guess what the other man had eaten for lunch. Mulder swallowed, shoving down obscene visions of his boss breaking private parts better left intact.  

"Unless you want me to put you under arrest for destruction of public property, Agent Mulder, and - and - " Skinner paused, stepped back and folded his arms over his chest.  "Why in the hell is Agent Scully passed out on the couch?"  

Mulder bit back the contents of his stomach.  This scene had played out so much better in his head.  

"Scully?  She, um - "  He forced a smile, wringing his hands.  He felt time ticking from him, a slow ebbing of sand through his fingers.  He had to get to his apartment and get to his files, and then he had to get to the Lone Gunmen's office, but he had to get there in one piece.  And, preferably, not under house arrest.  "She, ah - "  He cleared his throat.  "Scully needs our help, sir."   

Skinner's eyes narrowed.  "Help?  What are you talking about?  What kind of help?"  

Mulder took a breath.  It was now or never, and he still had no idea how to word this.  How in the hell could he delicately articulate that Scully could somehow read minds, and mentally smash dishes, and now Mulder needed to go catch a seventeen year old girl who might or might not be able to undo whatever evils had been done.  

"Sir, I really, I can't elaborate without - "

Skinner raised a palm for Mulder to stop right there. Bald, angry and big, Skinner looked like the bull who lowered his head in front of the red  flag. "You had better elaborate," the man ordered.  "And you had better do it fast, or else I will be forced to take you into custody on the grounds that you assaulted a federal agent.  Do you understand me? I won't have a choice in the matter.  So I am telling you right now that you need to quit the bullshit.  I don't care how ludicrous you think your explanation is, or what you do or don't remember from this afternoon, Mulder.  I want the truth from you."  

There was a pause, dark and silent.  The only sound was Scully: her long, evened breathing.  

"Sir, it's not that black and white.  There are things that I don't - "

Skinner folded his arms.  "Eight seconds."

Mulder closed his eyes.  Skinner wasn't susceptible to bizarre cases, that much was certain, and he rarely got behind Mulder when Mulder insisted that more explanations existed than could be explained by science.  What Mulder really needed at this point was Scully's expertise, her confirmation that all of this could be possible in scientific theory. He needed her wit, and her resolve, and her big, fancy, medical terminology.  But Scully's expertise was the one thing Mulder didn't have, and suddenly Mulder felt like a skydiver without a parachute.

"Seven seconds," said Skinner, working his jaw.  Then: "Six - "  

"Scully's sick," Mulder blurted, hoping that undetailed honesty would get him somewhere.  Anywhere.  "The kitchen  happened before I got here.  I don't know if Scully did it herself or if it was some bizarre form of brainwashing that caused her to react violently, or - or what the hell happened.  I think it happened during the case we were working on - it's something that's affected... affected her psychologically, somehow, and I don't know exactly what's wrong with her but I think I know someone who might, and - "  He glanced at Scully, who shifted on the couch, groaned, and turned onto her side.  "I, ah, I really think that maybe we should take this into her bedroom so we don't wake her."  

Skinner's eyebrow rose a notch.  

"It was pretty messy last time she was awake, Sir," Mulder explained.  "Plus, she, um, she was in a lot of pain, and asked not to be awakened.  Please."  

When Skinner said nothing, Mulder lead an arm towards the bedroom.  


Darkness like swirling black tea, like thick soup.  Dana has to pick her way through the nothing, shoo the blackness away like strands of cobweb.   She's wet, still, dripping all over, and the cold is starting to sink in.  She feels chilly down below her skin, in a place where her bones meet muscle.  Heat is gone, and steam is gone, and light is gone, and she's having problems remembering whether these things had ever been there in the first place.  The color of daylight is a memory, and the edges are fading.  

Giggling, more giggling, higher pitched, and frantic now - not like giggles, but wails.  Sobs.  Desolate, alone.  The air crackles with need.  

Dana's not sure where she's going, but she knows she has to follow the sound. She has to get to the child.  Each sob is like a needle, puncturing her. Her arms ache, her legs bleed - she's been jabbed one too many times.

The child is someone she knows, or has known.  Dana's almost positive of it .  

Into the darkness, she calls out, "Emily?"

Her voice is swallowed, and silence answers her.  

Perhaps this is death, and Dana has died, and Emily is in here with her, telling her not to be afraid. She'll take Emily's hand, and Emily will lead her off to another place, a place that looks like a thicket, or a forgotten circle of trees, or a clearing - yes, that's it.  A clearing.  With a heart-shaped lake, and a dock.  There's a boat floating by the dock, waiting for her, tethered to the wood by a fine line of rope -

If she could only find the sound.  

"Emily?"  She swallows, teeth chattering.  "Mulder?"  

She's afraid to breathe.  Something else is in here with her.  Something that shouldn't be here.  

"Mulder?" she asks again.  

If she had died, would Mulder know? Would he tell her?  

Mulder has lots of jokes for everything, but death - he wouldn't kid her about death.  He'd fold his arms, tilt his head to the side, and say, "Yep, Scully.  You're gone, all right.  Dead as a post."

Okay, so maybe he would joke a little.

Dana thinks of his voice, his lips, his laughter, the way his arms feel when he gathers her up and whispers into her hair.

Maybe the child is trying to tell her something, give her a message, a message from her partner.  

Mulder, thinks Dana.  Oh, how he would have made such a wonderful father.  Dana never told him that when she asked him to help her concieve a child.  One egg, one sperm, one little white cup, and then they'd be an artificial family.  He would be hers.  

That last thought is shadowed, buried: and then he would be hers.

She'd wanted a baby, but she'd also wanted Mulder, and she'd felt him slipping from her.  Mulder was restless. Uneasy.  Something was wrong, something he wouldn't say, and his discomfort had spread to her.  Mulder wanted more from life than she could give him, more than he could even give himself, and the thought of losing him to himself, or to his truth, made Dana nauseous, tense.  In the back of Dana's brain, in a dark, hidden-away place, she'd asked him to be the father of her child because she wanted to keep him.  The need was wild, feral, untamed. She wanted him any way she could get him.   Plastic, unreal - she didn't care.    

Dana gropes in the dark, shivers.  She is cold, so cold, wrapped in her own evil.  

That's it, she thinks.  She is evil.  What she'd done to Mulder was wrong.  The dark is what will punish her.  

Of course, she'd wanted so badly to tell him.  He bought her a teddy bear, and she thought she'd spill over with tears.  But she'd never told Mulder much of anything, fearful as she was, that talking about her greatest desires and paranoias would burst her thin balloon of wishful thinking - her hope that even the impossible was possible.  

She wants to cry, but can't.  Her throat is tight, constricted.  She aches all over.  

The cries are louder now, more forceful, and she feels she is close.  She's on the verge.  The cold gets stronger, tugs at her.  She's walking directly into winter.  She tugs at the towel, clutches the terrycloth, needs something to keep her safe, shield her. Too much ice everywhere, pressing in.  

She's finished, closed off.

There is nothing here but the ticklings of sobs - a child in need of her help.  Perhaps that is how she's supposed to make everything all right.  For herself, and for Mulder. She will help this child, she will save it, and that will make the darkness recede. Soon it will be just the four of them, she and Emily and her unborn child and Mulder, and they will take her into the clearing and set sail across the lake.  She'll be with them.  She'll be free.  

Her foot hits metal - hard and tough, like a grating.  She's so cold, almost frozen.  The wind is hugging her, pressing her forward. Beneath her fingers, a rail.  

Another voice now.  "We're down here, Scully."  

It's Mulder.  He's come to get her - he's here after all.  

"I'm coming," she says, gripping the railing.  "I'm coming, Mulder."