Detente

Cover

By Xenith

Disclaimer: The X-files belong to Chris Carter and 1013

Productions, not me. I’m only borrowing the characters for

now. I’ll put them back when I’m done.

Rating: PG

Category: SA

Keywords: MSR, Muldertorture, mytharc

Spoilers: Thru 7th season ending at Je Souhaite

Archive: Sure! Spooky’s yes! And the VS8 Archive of

course. All others, ask me first.

Feedback: Love it! Love it! Send it! Yum!

Summary: Mulder’s thirty-ninth birthday arrives on an

unhappy note when he finds himself forced to listen to what

CSM has been waiting to tell him and to depend on the man

for survival.

Author’s Note: This piece was written specifically for

inclusion in the Virtual Season 8. Chris Carter, watch out!

If you don’t treat Moose and Squirrel right, we’ll just do

it ourselves!!

And a thousand thanks to my wonderful betas: Tracy G who

advised me on rescue protocol and to Wylfcynne for

demanding “More torture! More torture!”

***********************************

October 13, 2000

9:30 p.m.

Darkness and dust and pain…

Pain.

It hurt to breathe. It hurt to move. No, he couldn’t move.

Mulder tried to shift his torso and found that he was

pinned from the waist down. He coughed, lightly and then

more deeply, sucking in dust with every breath. He was

lying on his right arm and the left one hurt..hurt..hurt.

Broken, probably. Damn. Couldn’t catch his breath. His leg

hurt too. Then he thought he heard a scuffling sound in the

darkness. It was moving toward him. Rats? What?

It was so dark. Was he blind? Panicking, Mulder began to

pant for air and tried frantically to pull himself out of

the pile of rubble that buried him. He stopped when he

heard a ‘click’ and saw a flame shoot out of a lighter.

C.G.B. Spender’s worn face appeared in the dim light,

creased with dust. “Here now, don’t do that, son. You’ll

only make your injuries worse.” Mulder looked up in even

more panic and found that his body from the waist down was

indeed buried in rubble, with that bastard’s tobacco-

smelling coat draped over his torso.

Spender hovered solicitously over him, gently moving the

coat aside. “You’ve been out a long time. From the

swelling, I’m fairly sure that you’ve broken your arm.” He

palpated the left arm while Mulder stiffened in agony. “I

can’t speculate about other injuries. You’ll have to tell

me whether you have feeling in your legs.” Spender sat back

on his haunches and watched Mulder’s face.

Mulder blinked, then slowly began to remember the evening

and how it had all gone to Hell. “Damn it! Put that damn

thing out! There could be gas leaks, you’ll kill us for

sure this time you idiot.”

Mulder felt a dim stab of satisfaction at the chagrin on

the man’s face as the light went out. The darkness pressed

close again. He drew a painful breath and rasped out, “Why

didn’t you die in the explosion, you bastard?”

Mulder could almost see the man smile. “Oh, I can survive

a lot. And so, apparently, can you. We’ll just have to

wait here until they dig us out.” There was silence, broken

only by the sound of Mulder’s harsh breathing.

Spender’s voice floated through the murk. “By the way, I

never wished you a happy birthday.”

October 2, 2000

Turlock California

10:13 a.m.

“Just like I tol’ ya, the men were tall an’ scaly. Yep,

tall an’ scaly and GREEN,” Jessica Griffen took a delicate

sip from her teacup, swishing the amber liquid around in

her mouth before swallowing it down. Scully pegged her at a

well-worn sixty five years old, with hair died midnight

black only partly covering the gray.

Dana Scully shifted position on the rickety kitchen chair

and wondered at Mulder’s intent concentration on the woman.

She’d bet ten dollars that what Jessica was drinking wasn’t

tea.

“And you say that they experimented on you? How?” Mulder

asked pleasantly, his entire demeanor communicating ‘I

believe you’.

“Well…they did things of a…” she leaned forward and

Scully caught a whiff of her boozy breath. “a sexual

nature, if you catch my drift. And man, were they hung!”

Scully choked back a snort while Mulder scooted his chair

back a bit. He’d caught her breath as well.

“I…uh…see…”

“Yeah. They said I was jus’ the right kinda woman fer

breeding stock and they had to have their way with me,

y’know?” Griffen’s eyes gleamed and Scully just knew what

was coming next.

Jessica leaned forward, her glassy eyes fixed on Mulder.

“An’ one of ’em looked a lot like you…if ya take the

alien guy’s scales into account. Annnyway…firs’ they

stripped off my clothes an’ then…”

October 2, 2000 Turlock, California

2:24 p.m. PDT

“Well, I know that she’s not the most credible witness

we’ve ever interviewed, but…”

“Mulder, I honestly don’t know where you find these

cases,” Scully tapped her heel impatiently but the noise

was buried in the brown shag carpet. Shit-brown, that’s

what the color was. Earth tones, like the avocado wallpaper

peeling from the wall in here. “And it’s bad enough that we

spend the afternoon listening to the sexual fantasies of a

lush, but this after a night spent in a dust-ridden flea

trap like this.”

Mulder looked up from where he sat on the bed and winced

when he saw Scully’s expression. She wasn’t happy. Oh no.

“What’s wrong with it? We’re within budget.” He slid across

the brown gabardine bedspread and stood up, stretching his

muscles. “Okay, so the mattress isn’t the best in the world

but it’s okay for a few nights.”

Her expression grew even stormier. “But it isn’t a few

nights, is it? Mulder, we spend half our lives on the road,

sleeping in dumps like this, chasing shadows. Hasn’t it

ever occurred to you that our lives ought to be about

something better? And as if the cases weren’t bad enough,

couldn’t we, just once, stay someplace better? A hotel, not

a motel?”

Mulder grinned indulgently. “What’s wrong with these

accommodations, Scully? Besides, if all you’re going to do

is sleep what do you need with anything more than a bed?

After the lights are out you can’t see the bad paintings on

the walls or the shag carpet.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Mulder, the shag carpet is older than

I am. And I think the bedspread in my room dates to the

Truman administration. You really can’t tell the difference

between a cheesy motel and a real hotel, can you? It’s been

that long since you stayed at a nice place, had a real

vacation, maybe a decent meal that didn’t involve hamburger

meat?” She sighed. “What are our lives, Mulder? Why are we

doing this? We’re stuck on the road three weeks out of four

and for what? So we can find another colony of Bigfoot? Or

maybe another faked alien abduction, like we did here. No,

don’t say it…” she raised her hand as he tried to

interrupt. “Mrs. Griffen is a nice lady but there is

absolutely no proof that she was ever abducted by aliens,

no implants, no physical changes, and her accounts vary

significantly from the norm. Her aliens originate from that

bottle of bourbon I saw in her kitchen, not from outer

space.” Her eyebrows lifted. “Unless you buy her story of

massive orgies with scaly green men who look just like you?”

Mulder sat back down on the edge of the bed and winced as

the springs squawked painfully. “Scully, why are we always

like this?”

She pulled the chair over and sat down as well. “Like what?”

“I find a case and you debunk it. I choose lodgings and

you hate them. Nothing I do every really meets your

specifications, does it?” He gave her a longing look while

she fidgeted.

“Am I that bad?” she asked. “I’ve always stood up for you.

You know I’m on your side, Mulder.”

“Scully, you’ve defended me a hundred times when I was

attacked both physically and politically. But why do I get

the feeling that, as a man, I never quite measure up to

your expectations? What is it that you really want from

me?” Mulder’s lips twisted. “I mean, you’re my partner and

you’re all I have left…”

Scully stared and fumbled for words. What did she expect

from Mulder, really? Maybe the same things she’d wanted

from all the other men in her life. “I…I suppose I expect

a level of…of stability, of maturity and professionalism

commensurate with your age and position.”

Mulder grimaced. “Oh, I see. And not go haring off after

crop circles at a moment’s notice, huh? But why not, when I

can offer you all this?” He stretched his arms out and

gestured to the motel room. “You want a hotel with an ‘h’

in it, huh Scully? Not a string of cheesy ‘m’otels like

I’ve been throwing at you. You’d probably like to see me

promoted out of the basement too…”

She found herself focused on her hands, sitting quietly in

her lap. She had never intended to allow Mulder to find out

her private reservations about him. “Mulder, I’m as

committed to the work as you are…” she said earnestly.

“Then why do you fight it so often? Why do you fight

*me*?” Mulder’s voice was softer. “Is it because I’m not

the stable, settled, powerful man you think I should be?

Have I lost your respect because of that?” He paused and

added sadly, “Or did I ever really have it?”

“Mulder, I’ve always respected your abilities as an

investigator and FBI agent,” Scully said carefully.

“But not otherwise? Does my life not meet with your

expectations?” Mulder cocked an eyebrow and folded his arms.

“Mulder…we aren’t kids any more. It’s time to grow up,

take on responsibilities…” She couldn’t meet his eyes.

“Acquire a mortgage, huh? Get a big SUV I can’t afford?

Find me a wife and get me some kids?” She jerked at that

but he went on. “Scully, my life has never fit the mold and

neither have I. It’s time to stop expecting that it ever

will.”

She stood up and gave him a narrow look. “Mulder, you

spend your Saturday nights playing Dungeons and Dragons

with the Lone Gunmen when you aren’t reading case files.

You are responsible to no one, have no long-term

commitments and have no intention of ever changing your

lifestyle. The man you are is the same as he was at 30.

What’s wrong with this picture?”

“You’re saying I won’t grow up?” He pursed his lips.

“Mulder, I’m saying that you won’t mature. You refuse to

change, to bend.” She sighed. “I don’t want to do this any

more. I can’t argue with you about this, you’ll never

change. Not in your professional life. Not in your…your

personal life.” She eyed him up and down. “I’m going to

pack. It’s time to go to the airport.”

October 2, 2000 9:55 PDT

Dana Scully sullenly occupied her seat and watched Fox

Mulder doze. She had always envied his ability to sleep on

the plane. She wasn’t as nervous a flyer as she’d been in

the beginning but she still couldn’t quite relax on a

plane. She pondered Mulder’s sleeping form, sprawled out

across three seats on the opposite aisle. He

was…beautiful, easily the handsomest man she’d ever

known.

She snorted. He was also the most frustrating. He’d been

reaching out to her for years, making sexy innuendoes,

romantic gestures. She’d die for him but sometimes she

wanted to save the mutants the trouble and kill him

herself.

She sighed and shifted in her aisle seat. That was the

trouble, really. She loved him and was terribly frustrated

by him. He wasn’t what she’d ever really planned for

herself. She’d wanted, oh, a man with authority, power, a

man who was a doer. Of course, Mulder was every bit as

energetic a man as she could wish for, but at what? Aliens.

Monsters. Crop circles. Haunted houses.

She rolled her eyes and then narrowed them. And the

enemies he’d made. If ever there were a man capable of

pissing off the truly powerful it was her partner. And the

devastation spread to those surrounding him; not that he

intended that. Oh no, he’d die to protect a friend. She

knew he’d never forgiven himself for her own abduction and

its results.

I’m caught, she considered. I can’t leave him but I can’t

accept what he is, either. What is he, then? Passionate,

courageous and so damned unconventional that most of the

world wanted to lock him up in a nice padded cell. This

isn’t what I planned. I’m supposed to be happily married

and a mother by now, picking up groceries after a long day

at work. What do I do instead? I investigate alleged alien

abductions that turn out to be dipsomaniac little old

ladies. I’m in my thirties and what’s it all for, anyway?

Mulder lay quiet and pretended to sleep. He needed to

think after Scully’s comments. She respected him as an

investigator but not as a man, wasn’t that it? She thought

he had some variant of the Peter Pan Syndrome. He heard her

shift in her seat and listened to her breathing. He’d often

listened to her sleep, watched the rise and fall of her

chest and cherished the quiet trust she had in him. He was

beginning to realize that her trust was his most valued

possession. What was it that she wanted from him, really?

He wasn’t sure. He’d always guessed at what normal

families, normal people did. He supposed that Rob and Laura

Petrie weren’t particularly accurate role models.

What did he have to show for himself anyway? A pile of

dusty citations from his early years at the Bureau. Even

those wouldn’t save him from termination if he pissed off

the bosses again. He’d helped some people, uncovered some

truths, found a few monsters that the government wanted

hidden.

He’d made Scully sterile.

Okay, he hadn’t made her sterile, her friendship with him

had caused that. Or, more precisely, she’d been standing in

the blast radius when Cancerman needed Mulder taken down a

peg.

How much in his life he owed to that smoking bastard.

Scully’s sister murdered. Dad dead, courtesy of Alex

Krycek; Mom a suicide, maybe. And Sam was gone. The ache

over her had eased a lot but that didn’t change the sins he

could lay at old C.G.B.’s door. All the pain in his life

originated with that corrupt old man. And had his mother

really slept with him? The thought was too horrifying to

consider. He wouldn’t consider it.

Scully. God, how he loved her. No, it was more than that.

He required her. She was like air or sunlight. If he lost

her he’d wither away and die. He found himself phoning her

on weekends just to hear her voice. And now he was finding

out that he didn’t measure up somehow. What did he feel

about that? Angry, he knew, and worried that he’d lose her.

Thirty-nine on October 13, and then on to 40. And he had

nothing to show for it but a dusty basement filled with

files that nobody cared about except him.

October 13, 2000

4:30 p.m.

Hoover Building

“Mulder, I just can’t see it! I’m sorry, but I don’t see

any reason for us to investigate this case!” Scully handed

the manila folder back to an obviously impatient Mulder.

“Scully, the money in the bill-changers at this arcade has

been replaced with dried leaves for weeks. For weeks,

Scully! I’m telling you that this is prime evidence for the

existence of elves in Fresno! Remember the ancient legends

of fairy gold!” He waved the folder in a sweeping gesture,

then caught the slight quirk of her lips.

“What?” he demanded.

“You’re telling me that there are fairies in Fresno,

Central Valley of California. Raisin and garlic capital of

the world.” Scully asked, too calmly. “Mulder, some arcade

employee is playing tricks. This isn’t even some fog-bound

castle in Ireland you’re talking about.”

“Gilroy’s the garlic capital…” he muttered. “Scully,

c’mon. Work with me on this one, huh? There’s something

going on and since it involves embezzlement of money on an

Indian reservation it’s a federal matter.” He stopped, when

he saw the look on her face. “What is it?”

Scully took a deep breath. The previous weeks had been

quiet, with neither she nor Mulder mentioning the argument

they’d started in Turlock. “Mulder, don’t you ever ask

yourself whether this is all there is? I mean, is this all

we’ll ever do? Look for proof of Mexican goat-suckers and

mothmen in the remote wilderness,” she looked away from him

“and never find it?”

“Are you saying that my life has been wasted?” he asked

quietly, setting the file down and leaning against the desk.

“Mulder, I really don’t want…” she moved away but he

caught her arm.

“No, I really want to know what you think. Today of all

days.”

“Today? Oh.” She flushed. “Oh, Mulder I never meant to

imply…”

“Today I hit the big 3-9, Scully. One more year and I’m

middle-aged. As you’ve been pointing out to me, I’m not a

kid anymore; I’m supposed to have a house, family with 2.3

children, picket fence and sheepdog aren’t I? Or at least I

should have the respect of my peers by now, huh? What do I

have to show for my life?”

He glanced bleakly around the basement, which managed to

look even dustier and more decayed than usual. “I don’t

even get gag gifts for my birthday, like normal people.” He

picked up Scully’s birthday present to him, a miniature

maglite to replace the one destroyed by the last mutant and

flicked it on and off. So useful in his line of work.

Better than, say, golf clubs. He absently slipped it into

his suit pocket.

“You haven’t wasted your life, Mulder, you just…You’re

just different…” her voice trailed off when she caught

his expression. She took a deep breath. “Mulder, I won’t

lie to you. I disagree with many of the things you feel

called upon to investigate and yes, I think that you’ve

missed out on a ‘normal’ life.” She moved away from him and

he could barely hear her words. “We both have.”

“Do you blame me for that, Scully? That you haven’t had a

normal life? Don’t you think I haven’t wanted that for you?

I’ve told you to get out, but you stay. You stay. But you

don’t want to stay really, do you? I’ve trapped you here.”

He sighed and bowed his head. “Scully, I’ve managed to hold

you back from every goal you ever had. If I could make it

up to you somehow, you know that I would. You know…what

our partnership means to me… I’ve tried to tell you…how

I feel about you…”

She broke in hastily, “Mulder, stop. I made my choices in

life and I don’t regret them. But let’s not get

too…deep…here. Okay?” Her eyes turned away from his.

He sighed in frustration. “And that’s it, huh? Scully,

I’m not the only one who’s fooling himself about the

chances he’s missed. I may be hitting middle age, but at

least I tried to make a difference and I’ve tried for a

normal life, whatever that is. It’s just…never worked

out that way.” He stalked over to the coat rack and snagged

his trench coat. “I’m done here today. If you want me, I’ll

be at Casey’s.”

“We have reservations at Tonio’s, don’t you want me to

take you to dinner?” Her voice was low and apologetic.

He shook his head, “No. I need to think about things.

Alone. But thanks for the birthday gift.” He gave her a sad

smile and shrugged on his coat.

“Mulder, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to imply…” Scully

found herself talking to empty air, then sighed.

Mulder rode the elevator alone, ignoring the curious looks

from the other occupants. He was used to being a freak,

nothing new about that. They moved aside, letting him out

of the elevator first. Afraid to get too close to Spooky

Mulder, he pondered, pariahdom might be catching.

He wandered down the street and found his favorite bar.

Casey’s. Funny, he only went here now when he wanted to get

really really drunk. Scully wouldn’t go here anymore after

Pendrell….no, don’t think about that. Don’t want to add

more depression to an already stellar evening.

It was quiet tonight. No loud parties yet, but the after

work crowd would be in here soon. The cocktail waitress

smiled as she delivered his drink. “Why aren’t you at the

bar, Spooky?”

He grimaced back. “How’d you know my name? Oh.” The

bartender smiled and gave him a little wave; the same lady

who’d cut him off before he was properly drunk a couple

years ago when Scully was leaving him. He waved back and

handed the waitress a twenty. “Just keep ’em coming.”

“You celebrating something?” she asked.

“Yeah. Yeah, my birthday and the fact that it’s Friday

the 13th. I was born on a Friday the 13th and it’s been

downhill ever since… Somehow they seem to go together,

y’know?” He bent over his drink and heard her go silently

away. Way to go, Spooky. Scared another one off. I scare

’em all off in the end, even Scully. He pulled out the

maglite again and examined it. Seven years of partnership

and this was as personal as her gift-giving got. He tucked

it back into his pocket.

“Hello. Mind if I join you?” A tall, rumpled figure slid

into the booth. “You seem to like dark corners, don’t you?

Basement office, booths in the darkest, farthest corner of

the bar. Hardly a suitable place to celebrate your

birthday.” Rheumy eyes stared at him from across the table.

Mulder sipped his drink. “What the hell do you want with

me? Run out of women and children to victimize?”

The man laughed and leaned back in his seat. “Aren’t you

curious about how it is that I know it’s your birthday? Or

why I care?”

“You know everything about me,” Mulder shrugged. “The bugs

in my apartment have bugs. I figured that out a while ago.

As to why you care?” Mulder fixed him with burning eyes.

“That’s irrelevant.”

“Don’t you want to know why I’ve stopped by?” The man lit

a cigarette and inhaled luxuriantly.

“Nothing could interest me less. I’ll be going now,”

Mulder stood, to find himself blocked by the man.

“Not yet. You have certain talents and abilities that I

need just now.”

“I’m not your flunky. Call Krycek.”

The man shook his head slowly, his eyes gone cold.

“Krycek’s loyalties may be divided. I can’t trust him with

this.” The man looked vaguely uncomfortable and shifted for

another cigarette. “Please. Sit down and allow me to

explain. Please.” He motioned toward the booth.

Puzzled, Mulder sat while the man lit his second

cigarette. “There have been some…differences…among the

consortium hierarchy. The power vacuum since our leading

members died has resulted in some maneuvering for position.”

Mulder shot him a glance. “Somebody wants you dead.”

The man looked up abruptly, then smiled. “Yes. I need

someone to find out who it is and deal with it for me.”

Mulder’s eyes widened. “And you trust *me*?” he hooted.

“I’d gladly watch you die in a pool of your own blood, you

murderous bastard!”

“You wouldn’t regret my death but I know you, Fox Mulder.

You couldn’t betray me.”

“Try me!” Mulder leaned across the table. “You killed my

father, you goddamned murderer! My sister died because of

you. And my mother’s death…has never been explained to my

satisfaction…” he ended softly.

The man held himself stiffly upright and brought the

cigarette to his lips. “Your mother was ill. She chose her

own end and I grieve for her every day of my life. I’ve

lost more than you can ever comprehend — for your sake.

Yours and the rest of this planet…” The man stopped.

“What the…?”

His voice was drowned out by the loud rumbling roar that

blasted through the building. A flash of light blotted out

the world and the last thing that Mulder knew was the loud

booming sound, before the wall collapsed on him.

October 13, 2000

6:30 p.m.

Scully felt the building shake, heard the roar and knew it

for what it was. Dallas was still too fresh in her mind.

She ran for the stairs and soon stood on the front steps,

watching a plume of smoke rising from what appeared to be a

building several blocks away and listened to the sirens of

the emergency workers. Several minutes later, Skinner made

his way through the crowd of Hoover employees and joined

her, looking worried.

“What happened?” she demanded, watching the plume of smoke

rise in the distance.

“According to police communications, there was an

explosion at Casey’s Bar. The building itself is devastated

and there’s considerable damage to the surrounding area.

They aren’t sure about the cause yet. We haven’t been

called in… Agent Scully? What is it? What’s wrong?”

Scully had started to move toward the smoke and Skinner had

to run to keep up.

“Sir, Mulder went there. He told me he was going to

Casey’s tonight. Oh, my God….” Her voice broke off on a

sob.

“Scully! Agent Scully! Shit!” Skinner picked up speed,

trying to keep up with her. He found Scully standing in

front of the wrecked and burning building, helplessly

watching the police and fire units arrive. The area was

being cordoned off for a block around, standard procedure.

And all she could do was watch helplessly while the

building burned and burned.

“How do you know that Mulder is here?” Skinner demanded

breathlessly, taking in the scene.

She shook her head and folded her arms tight against her

chest. “He…wanted to spend a quiet evening alone. He

told me he’d be at Casey’s if anybody wanted him. Hey!” She

strode over to the EMTs who had just arrived. “I’m a

medical doctor. I’d like to offer you any assistance I can.

Have they found any survivors or…or bodies?”

“Hello, Dr. Scully,” the woman read Scully’s I.D. “I’m

Jane Farnon. No, we haven’t had any casualties yet and they

aren’t going to be searching for survivors for at least

twelve hours yet. They have to get the fires out and make

sure the building is safe to enter. But we’re glad to have

you, we’re bound to get injuries from fire and police

personnel till then.”

“Is there any chance I might be able to assist in the

rescues? When they do have the building secured?” Scully

watched the firemen wistfully. Farnon shook her head.

“No, I’ve been to scenes like this before. They always

rely only on the trained teams from the fire department or

the Red Cross. They never take volunteers.” Farnon took a

close look at Scully. “You have someone in the building?”

At Scully’s nod, Farnon continued. “I’m sorry about that.

You can certainly help us and when they find your friend,

you’ll be first on the scene. That’s the best I can offer

you, I’m afraid.”

“I know, I’ll stand by. I can see where they have you set

up.” Scully nodded to Farnon and, sighing with frustration,

wandered back to Skinner. He motioned her over.

“Agent Scully, this is Lt. Walker, from the D.C. police.

They’re working on developing a theory behind the

explosion. Local agencies have been alerted but not called

in, since this bar is an unlikely target for domestic

terrorism.”

“Agent,” Walker shook Scully’s hand.

“Have you considered that this explosion might not have

been an accident? That it could have been targeted at

someone?” she demanded, eyeing the dust still rising from

Casey’s.

“We’re considering all possibilities. Why? Do you know

something?” Walker followed Scully’s glance.

“Mulder was in that building when it went up,” she began

when Skinner grabbed her arm and pulled her away.

“Are you suggesting that someone burned an entire block

just to get at one man?” he hissed, looking around to see

if they’d been followed. Walker stood at a distance, a look

of puzzlement on his face.

“I consider it a possibility, sir, especially given the

trouble that Mulder has caused them.”

Skinner shook his head. “This is overkill, even for them.”

“Sir, they blew up a federal building in Dallas. They

would have killed hundreds of people, just to hide a few

bodies.” Scully gave Skinner a doubtful look. “I’m hoping,

just like you, that this was only a gas leak. But I don’t

think it was.”

“In any case, this isn’t a Bureau matter Agent Scully. We

have to wait until our assistance is requested,” Skinner

commented grimly.

“Yes sir,” she muttered, still eyeing the building.

October 13, 2000

10 p.m.

INSIDE

“It’s dark in here, isn’t it?” the old man’s voice came

conversationally through the dusty air. “Not much to do but

talk.”

“I have nothing to say to you,” Mulder’s voice faded out.

He felt sweaty and sick to his stomach. Going into shock,

he thought. And he felt parched but wouldn’t admit as much

to the old bastard. It was dark in here. And stuffy. He

tried to shift position but his arm stabbed at him. He

gasped and panted, determined not to let the man hear him

in pain. He wasn’t sure but he thought that his right leg

might be broken. It hurt. Shift and twist it a bit and

YEAH, oh yeah. It was busted all right. Damn. Damn. Damn.

He thought that he’d busted at least one rib as well. It

hurt, but not as much as when he’d broken a rib before.

“On the contrary, you had better keep talking to me.

You’ve probably got a concussion and shock and I need to

monitor your condition.”

“Go to Hell,” Mulder gritted. Just his luck. He gets stuck

in a hole in the ground with a talkative Cancerman. A

talkative Cancerman in a jovial good mood.

Shit.

“Been there. Did that. A long time ago.” Mulder heard the

rustling sound again and smelled old cigarettes as the man

laid a hand on his forehead. “You’re sweating. Do you feel

chilled? Nauseated? Do you have any pain anywhere? Your

abdomen? Your legs?”

Mulder shrank away. “Goddddddamnit! Don’t touch me. Don’t

ever touch me. I feel fine. Just fine. Now get the hell

away from me.” He heard the rustling sound again and the

tobacco odor faded. He relaxed clenched muscles a bit. He’d

be damned if he let the old sinner see any sign of

weakness. Weak was dead with this old man. Weapons. Did he

still have his service weapon? Couldn’t tell…

“I did try my cell phone, but it was broken. Yours, too.

Yes, I searched your pockets while I was checking you for

injuries.”

Mulder started and tried to grope carefully under his left

arm. “Gaaaaahhh…” he panted and found his cell phone

gone. But his weapon was still there in its holster. The

bastard had left him armed. He slowly slid the weapon from

the holster and held it in his right hand.

“Are you all right? It sounds like you’re in pain,” the

old man’s dry voice carried through the pounding in his arm.

“None of your damned business,” Mulder snarled and held

the weapon more tightly, then considered his position.

Great. He had a weapon now that he didn’t dare use. The

spark of a bullet could ignite a gas leak or trigger the

building’s further collapse if he took out the wrong

timber. Probably why he still had the gun.

There was silence for a moment and then the man’s dry

voice carried a hint of a chuckle in it. “Does it surprise

you that I care whether you live or die?”

clip_image002

“Truthfully, yes. I’m the only member of my family not

dead at your hands, so yes, I am surprised.” Mulder tried

to pull free from the debris again and gave up with a sigh.

He wasn’t going anywhere.

“You know my reasons for wanting to preserve your life,”

the relentless voice said.

“No. That was a hallucination. I was dying and I dreamed

that…You’re nothing to me. Nothing.”

“Then I’ll put it to you in plain English, Fox. I’m your

father. That’s why you’re alive and I plan to keep you that

way if I can.”

“You…lying…torturous BASTARD! You’ve already destroyed

everything I ever loved. You tried to kill Scully with your

damned experiments and then your assassins. And now that

I’m trapped here you can’t resist playing your goddamned

mind games on me…” Mulder broke off, coughing with the

dust. His lungs hurt with every explosion. He smelled old

tobacco again and found his head being supported as he

coughed some more. His arm and leg started in as well. He

fought against the evil man’s touch without much success.

“Get…the…HELL…away from me!” Mulder could hear

himself choking on tears and was ashamed that he would beg

for anything from this man. There was silence and then

Mulder heard the man move away from him.

“Fox…what I’ve done was for a greater purpose. The

damage to your family was…unavoidable and very painful

for me. Your parents were my friends for a long long time.

Your mother and I…we had something special.”

“My mother…and you…” He couldn’t help the fit of

coughing that broke out, propelled by sheer rage. “How

could you do that? To my father, your FRIEND?”

The man sighed. “I was young and so was your mother. It

just happened and you were the result. We thought we could

keep it quiet, she and I, but later that proved untenable.

Bill had to know.” The man sounded almost sad. No, that

couldn’t be. He couldn’t possibly be feeling regret at the

damage he’d caused.

Then Mulder realized when his father must have been told.

Oh, my God, all those silent years when his father seemed

to hate the sight of him. “He knew when Samantha was taken,

didn’t he?”

“Yes. After the aliens had made their demands and I had

already sent my loved ones away, I forced Bill to choose

Samantha rather than you. I’d already given Jeffrey, sent

the one child I was forced to risk. I wouldn’t send two.”

Mulder lay back, spent, and closed his eyes against the

darkness. He could see it, the whole scene, played out

against his eyelids. His voice was soft and hoarse as he

addressed this terrible man.

“You came to the summer house that night. You told my

father about the affair. You told him that only Samantha

was his child, that I was your own…because of your affair

with my mother. Oh my God, that was what broke up my

parents marriage,” Mulder could feel his voice rising as

the truth of it hit him. “What I saw, what I heard was

real. It was a real memory, not some ketamine-induced

fantasy. Samantha was chosen and not me…because I’m your

son?” Oh, God, no. “After Sam was taken, Dad didn’t want to

see me. Nothing I did was ever good enough for him. I

thought…I thought it was because I let them take Sam. But

it was because Dad *knew* who I really was. I wasn’t his

son. And I really was the reason that he lost Sam.” This

was too much. This couldn’t be happening. The rustling

sound approached again.

“I wouldn’t sacrifice two sons to them,” the old man said

softly. “I wouldn’t give you to them. I still won’t.”

“What do you mean, you still won’t?” Mulder felt suddenly

cold.

“You have certain gifts that would make you very

interesting to the colonists as well as the rebels. What

happened to the others we sent to them was simple

experimentation. But you…”

The man fell silent and the air filled with it. Finally,

Mulder could take no more.

“What? What happens if they take me?”

“When they find out what you are, they’ll dissect you.”

October 14, 2000

2 a.m.

OUTSIDE

Scully was silent, watching the latest wrapped body leave

on the gurney.

“Any sign of Mulder?” Skinner moved in next to her.

“No. This is the fifth body they’ve taken out of the bar.

No survivors yet, but the dogs are still looking.” She

tucked her cold fingers under the armpits of her FBI

windbreaker. She’d gone back to the office for it after the

third cop had looked askance at her FBI badge and gently

tried to remove her from the scene. Then she’d stood and

waited until the fires were out, until the building was

certified as safe to enter, until the rescue teams had

arrived…Helpless. So damned helpless. She’d helped with

the usual injuries to the fire personnel, smoke inhalation

mostly. But even that had tapered off and the medical

personnel were competently handling what little traffic

there was. The only people taken from the building so far

were dead. No. Don’t think of that. Don’t EVER think of

that.

“Agent, why don’t you go back to the office and wait

there. It’s only going to get colder tonight, and they

expect rain.” Skinner blew on his own hands.

Scully smiled at him grimly. “I will if you will, sir.”

Skinner just smiled back and they continued watching the

rescue efforts.

“Wait a minute, is that…?” Scully darted forward to the

next body on a gurney. A long-fingered hand had fallen

outside the body bag and she could see the remains of a

white cuff at the wrist. “Who is he?” she demanded of the

EMT.

“I’m sorry ma’am, but there’s no ID on the body and we’ll

have to use dental records to identify him. He was a male,

age between thirty and fifty, dark hair. But the body

suffered some severe crush injuries. He’s unrecognizable.”

The EMT prevented Scully from pulling aside the rest of the

body bag. “I’m sorry, but if he was a friend of yours you

don’t want to remember him this way.”

Scully stiffened, her jaw tight. “I’m a pathologist and

I’ve seen worse.” She grabbed the zipper to the bag and

gave it a tug, then slumped as she heard Skinner come up

behind her.

“Agent…?” he said.

“No. It’s not him. There’s a wedding ring on the left

hand. It isn’t him.” She gently folded the covering back

over the body and watched as the EMT rolled it away.

A fine rain began to fall, making the spotlights on the

emergency vehicles glow. She shivered, then noticed a pile

of debris near the entryway of the building. The remains

of a coat rack, she thought. She rummaged through the pile

of torn fabric and found a charcoal gray trench coat.

“Scully, what are you doing?” Skinner asked.

“Sir, he’s here. This is…was…his coat. See?” She

pulled a handful of sunflower seeds from the shredded

pocket. She gathered the coat against her chest as the rain

got heavier. “He’s in there somewhere.”

October 14, 2000

2 a.m.

INSIDE

“What’s that noise?”

“Huh…what noise..?” Mulder struggled to get the words

out. He felt groggy and cold. The nausea had died down but

he still felt ill.

“It sounds like water dripping. I wonder if there’s a

water main broken somewhere? If we’re going to be here for

a while, we’ll have to find water and food if we can.”

Noises. “And thank you for the loan of your flashlight.

You’re right, using my lighter could endanger us both.”

“Light…? That’s my birthday present from Scully! Give it

back, y’bastard!” Goddamn it, he’d hit his leg.

Shitshitshitshitshit…he wasn’t going to let the old man

know how hurt he was. Don’t project weakness…

Mulder heard a ‘click’ and saw the man’s face. He looked

even dustier and more tired than he had before. “You

shouldn’t

move around like that, son. You may have internal injuries

and you’ll only make them worse.” The man gave Mulder a

look strangely like compassion. “We can’t afford to fight

right now. We’re in a life-threatening situation which

neither of us may survive without the other. We must put

away old resentments, at least for the time being.”

“I’m not going to die here. You will *not* be the last

thing I see in this life,” Mulder said slowly. “And I am

not your son.”

The man shook his head. “Don’t you understand, son? We

have to cooperate or neither of us will survive this. I,

for one don’t intend to die here. Consider it a sort of

detente, a truce between equals.” The man flashed the light

around the tiny space. “At least for the time being.”

In the light reflected from the maglite, Mulder could see

that the space they were in was narrow but long. Heavy

wooden beams that had formerly held the brick building

together had fallen against each other, propping up a

portion of the wall and ceiling.

Die here. They could die here. Mulder pondered the

ramifications of that. He knew that Scully was outside

somewhere, searching for him. She had to have heard the

explosion and she knew where he’d gone. He could picture

her out there, all 5 foot three of her, giving peremptory

orders to men three times her size. Skinner was certainly

involved, running the investigation. And if the two of them

did die here? He shivered. Scully finding him here, in this

man’s presence. What would she think? Would she imagine

that he’d betrayed her after all? Think that he had been

fooling her all these years? Or would she wonder if the

smoking man had some kind of hold over him? In any case,

Scully would find no rest or peace. And what kind of death

would this be, anyway? Nothing heroic. Just a slow

suffocation, alone with an evil old man.

The smoking man had gone to the far end of the space and

was searching for the sound.

“Here,” he said, then looked up. “Here’s what’s left of

the water pipe, there’s a bit of water coming through.” The

man looked around the floor and found a cracked plastic

water glass. “I think this will work,” he said and propped

it under the trickle.

“Great. All the comforts of home,” said Mulder

sardonically, then began coughing again.

“How are you feeling?” the man asked while he monitored

the water level in the glass.

“How should I feel? I’m trapped in Hell with my worst

enemy.” Mulder was silent, then “Did you love her? Did she

love you?”

“Your mother? Oh yes.” Spender removed the glass from the

trickle and carried it to Mulder. “Here, you should have a

sip, but not too much in case you have internal injuries.

Just moisten your mouth and spit it out.”

Unwillingly, Mulder allowed the man to prop his head up

and pour a few tablespoons of water into him. He grudgingly

admitted to himself that it helped. “You know a lot of

first aid. How?”

The man sat back on his haunches, the flashlight pointed

toward the ceiling like a lantern. “I was in the military

and learned field medical skills. The military was where I

met your father…and his wife.” He patted his pockets,

absently pulling out a cigarette then, with a chagrined

look, replaced the pack in his pocket.

“So how did you end up cheating on your best friend?”

Mulder asked and was surprised to see a look of

vulnerability on the other man’s face.

The man paused, gathering his words, and remembered. “She

was so beautiful and bright. She had a lively spirit that

could light up a room. Bill took her for granted even then.

She and I became friends; she confided to me that she and

Bill had been having marital troubles for some time. They

wanted children but hadn’t been able to have them…there

were many stresses on their relationship.” He took a deep

breath. “She was my life.”

“I’ll bet.”

“It wasn’t what you think,” the man said defensively. “I

loved Teena and still do.” His fingers pulled the

cigarettes out again and Mulder saw him falter before

setting them down on the ground. “I gave up my dreams for

her and for you.” He gave Mulder a look. “I could have had

a normal life. With her. But the work took precedence and I

knew that she couldn’t be with me.” The man reached out a

hand toward Mulder, who flinched away.

“You loved her so much you destroyed her life,” Mulder

said inexorably.

“Everything I did was to save her. And you! Do you think I

wanted the colonists to destroy you both along with the

rest of the planet? We had no defense against them, we

needed time! We bought that time by seeming to agree to

their colonization plan while secretly working on a vaccine

for the black oil. Everything, everything I did was for you

and for her.”

“You gave them your wife and your son.”

The man sighed. “I had to. Some sacrifices had to be made

to preserve the rest. Do you think that decision was

anything less than heartbreaking? If you had been in my

shoes, what decision would you have made?” Spender fixed

him with a steady glare.

“I’d have gone myself before I sacrificed anyone I loved,”

Mulder spat out.

“They didn’t want me,” the man said tiredly. “They wanted

hostages to ensure our compliance. We had no choice, only

the resistance your father suggested. But I chose the

right son to send and the right son to protect. Jeffrey

betrayed me in the end.”

Mulder could feel himself getting tired and both his leg

and arm throbbed. He’d feel better if he could just get

away from this terrible old man and his truths. They didn’t

feel like lies, somehow. He could always tell when people

were lying. But this man…no, they had to be lies.

“Murderer,” Mulder said wearily. “I oppose you even more

than Jeff Spender did. When will I be killed like he was?”

“I did justice. You have never turned against your own

beliefs, even though I don’t agree with them. Jeffrey was

unstable and couldn’t be relied on. I had hoped to train

him by assigning him to the X Files and harden you at the

same time. It didn’t work.” The man pulled a cigarette from

the pack and held it under his nose, inhaling luxuriantly.

“But your relationships are hardly perfect, are they. You

and the desirable Agent Scully have been partners for seven

years now and your relationship has barely progressed.”

“You leave Scully alone, or I’ll see you dead,” Mulder

grated. He flashed on Scully’s experiences with this man

and his flunkies. “You kidnapped her, tortured her, made

her sterile. I just can’t understand why you didn’t fucking

kill her the last time she was in your clutches.”

“Temper. She does love you, you know. Oh, you hadn’t

guessed? It’s perfectly obvious to anyone who sees you

together. Of course, that does give enemies a lever to use

against you. Not that I’d ever do that.”

Mulder gasped, panting with frustration. “You. Leave.

Scully. Alone.”

“You haven’t figured it out yet, have you son? I sent you

Scully. I knew that she was the woman for you the moment I

read her dossier. It was unfortunate that the larger group

decided you two had to be separated. I disagreed but

carried out my instructions and placed her in the program.

I gave her back to you, you know, and gave you the cure for

her. But you have been slow on the uptake, haven’t you?”

“Why are you doing this?” Mulder lay back against the

rubble. “What is it you want from me?”

“I suppose that I feel a need to finally explain myself.

And I still would like your assistance on that other matter

we were discussing before the latest attempt on my life.”

The man gave Mulder a wistful look. “And I’d like to see my

son inherit my legacy, continue with my work.”

“You want me to investigate your little assassination

problem. Understand this, old man, my answer is no. I will

never, ever work for you in any capacity. I am not and will

not be your investigator, your flunky or your bodyguard.”

“What about being my son? My work must continue and you

have the necessary gifts.”

Mulder blinked. “You want to hand down your legacy of

treachery to me.”

“I want you to save the planet. I believe that you can and

you will.”

Mulder was silent a while. “I remember El Rico Air Force

Base. Your plans are in a shambles. Your own best men died

in flames.”

“We had a back up plan. You.”

Mulder squinted against the maglite. “That time I spent in

the hospital, when I almost died…”

“When you could read minds, yes, that’s part of it. You

are what you sought. You have active alien DNA in you, and

the black oil can’t hurt you. You are immune. You have the

gifts necessary to fight back.”

The smug look of fatuous pride on the man’s face almost

forced Mulder to lunge for him again. Instead, he asked the

question that had been haunting him since Scully had rescued

him. “Why did I develop telepathy? What was done to me?”

“In the hospital? Oh, your special abilities.”

Oh my God, the realization hit. Scully wasn’t the only one

who’d been experimented on. How young had he been when they

began experimenting on him? An infant? A child? He flogged

his memory and tried to recall anything that might have

been abduction but found nothing. Mulder shuddered and

huddled himself into a smaller space. “I have an eidetic

memory. Why? It was you, wasn’t it? You did something to me

or to my genes? Was I one of your first test subjects?”

“You look cold.” The man leaned forward and tugged the

coat more snugly against Mulder’s body while Mulder cringed

away. “Yes. And no. Each of us has the necessary DNA. We

had discovered a way to activate it, we thought. When you

were very young you received certain treatments, but then

all we could do was watch you grow. Imagine my surprise

when I discovered that you developed a genius-level

intellect. But then, you started with good genes.”

“Was the color blindness a side effect?”

“It almost kept you out of the FBI, you know. I had to

call in a few favors to get you in. That sort of disability

is usually weeded out at the application stage.”

“You got me into the FBI?” Mulder’s voice was flat. He’d

been recruited in college, allegedly because of his

extraordinary abilities at profiling. He’d known that this

was an unusual background, but this…

“If not for me you’d be an English professor somewhere.

Normally, profile are drawn from experienced agents or

law enforcement. But you wanted it so much, and I wanted

you here, under my eye and influence. And you’ve added your

own outlook to the work. When you seemed to be burning out

in the IS, I arranged, with Agent Foley’s help, for you

to be steered into the X-files. They’ve been an excellent

training ground for you; you’ve had an opportunity to learn

to look behind the facades. And it’s helped you learn to

survive. Those will be valuable skills in the times to

come.”

Mulder just blinked, trying to process it all. Then he

took a deep, painful breath. “You’re saying that you

created me.”

“Figuratively and literally.”

“You…” Mulder just looked at the man, unable to say

anything more. Each word was sweetly logical, yet the

structure was horribly wrong. “If…if what you say is

true, what does that make me?”

The man gave Mulder a proud smile. “Everything you are,

Fox, I created in you. You are my son and my heir.”

October 14, 2000

3 a.m.

Outside

“Anything?” Skinner handed Scully a cup of coffee. She

shook her head and sipped it gingerly, while Skinner held

an umbrella overhead. The promised rain had turned into a

downpour.

“The rain is a problem. The rainwater is being funneled

into the already unstable foundations. They’re afraid that

the water is undermining the building. They haven’t heard

any noises or sounds of life.” She drew a deep breath. “But

they’re not giving up yet. You?”

Skinner sighed. “They don’t know. It might have been a gas

leak or it might have been a bomb. Nobody’s called to take

responsibility for the blast yet. No apparent motive if it

was a bomb.”

Scully just frowned and held Mulder’s coat more closely.

Skinner eyed her calmly. “You still think the target was

Mulder?”

“Why not? They’ve tried to discredit him before. Why not

just kill him and get him out of the way? He’s only been a

thorn in their side for the past seven years.” Scully shook

her head, absently stroking the grey fabric.

“Just because of Mulder’s history, don’t automatically

assume that he was the target. This thing could have been

accidental, just a gas leak,” Skinner argued.

Scully shook her head. “Since when does random ever hit

Fox Mulder?” She bit her lip and stared out into the mist.

“He’s only there because of me…” she muttered. She pulled

the tatters of Mulder’s coat around her shoulders and held

it tightly against her, trying to catch his scent in the

cloth.

“What? What did you say?”

She looked up and gave Skinner a bitter smile. “We had an

argument before he stomped off to drown his sorrows at

Casey’s. If I hadn’t picked at him, we’d be eating dinner

at Tonio’s. Today was his 39th birthday.”

“*Is* his 39th birthday, and don’t forget that, Agent,”

Skinner said firmly. “You two have bickered since the day

you met, but I’ve never seen a better partnership. Nothing

that has happened here is your fault.”

“I wish I could believe that.”

October 14, 2000

3 a.m.

INSIDE

“Fox…”

“Mulder. I hate that name and you know it!” Mulder tried

to shift position. Damn, he hurt. Can’t let the old man

see, though. He didn’t know what nauseated him more, the

smoking man he was used to or this new, solicitous smoking

man. Don’t let him see weakness; he’ll play you. Oh how

he’ll play you…

“Mulder, then. Do you hate me so much? Hard as it may be

for you to believe, I’ve always watched over your progress.

I’ve been proud of your accomplishments. And you’re more

like me than you’ll admit.”

“I’m nothing like you!”

“Oh? Consider. You’re nearing forty, you’re unmarried and

spend your life following a secretive quest that only a few

believe in. You are committed to your search for the truth,

whatever that is. Don’t you ever feel that you’re on the

outside, looking in on others lives?” The man’s voice

lowered.

“Is that the way you feel?” Mulder asked skeptically. He

was surprised by the honest tone in the other man’s voice.

“I gave up the things that other men have. Love, family,

children to leave a heritage to. That was a heavy price.

You’re following in my footsteps.”

Mulder responded angrily. “How can you say…my personal

life is none of your damned business!” He jerked and was

surprised that he seemed able to move a bit. He wriggled

again experimentally. “These bricks…I…I can move

them a bit, maybe dig myself out a little…” He felt like

his leg was about to explode but it was worth anything to

get away, get free…be able to move away from this

horrible man he was trapped with.

“Let me take a look.” The flashlight went on and Mulder

could see the man carefully removing bricks. “It doesn’t

look all that stable. Are you sure you want to try digging

out? You could bring the wall down.”

“I don’t want to die here, covered with bricks. Either

help me or get the hell away….”

The man sighed and began to help after Mulder gasped and

began to struggle at heaving the bricks away with his good

hand. “This isn’t a good idea, but I’ll help you if it will

keep you from injuring yourself more.” Mulder just glared

at him and kept working at the bricks.

The man finally sat back on his haunches and studied

Mulder and the rubble. “I don’t think it’s safe to take

away any more debris, or the rest of the wall could come

down. The debris is all that’s supporting it.”

“So you say,” Mulder said blandly.

The man took a deep breath and surveyed Mulder and the

rubble again. “I know that I’ve asked you to trust me

before…”

“And betrayed me,” Mulder broke in.

“And betrayed that trust. But in this place and at this

time, what possible motive would I have for lying to you? I

don’t think it’s safe to remove any more rubble and I don’t

want to see you die, son.”

Mulder stopped and eyed this terrible old man. What was it

that Scully had said after her botched attempt to get that

CD with a universal cure on it? She’d believed him, thought

that somewhere deep inside there was a real human being,

longing for something he could never have. Mulder eyed the

old man and shivered. He couldn’t think. The nausea was

back and he was sweating like a pig…felt so ill and he

hurt. He hurt. He had a deep suspicion that they were both

going to die here.

The man moved forward, tucking the coat around Mulder more

securely. Too tired to resist, the agent let him.

“You don’t look very well. I’ll get you some more water,”

the man moved toward the back of the space where the cup

still sat collecting water drips.

“You should drink some,” Mulder said weakly. “I don’t know

how long we’ve been here, but it’s been a while.”

“I don’t need it as much as you do. Go ahead,” the man

cocked his head to one side and gave him a crooked smile.

“Or do you deny me my right to be heroic?”

Mulder said nothing but took the water. His right arm had

been freed when they removed the rubble and he could almost

sit. Still his leg hurt; couldn’t move it and the less said

about his left arm the better.

“I have a question, though,” the man said, taking a seat

in front of Mulder. “I’m going to turn the light off, save

the battery.” He snapped it off and Mulder heard the rustle

in the darkness as the man sat down.

“What’s your question?” Mulder asked.

“With all you’ve seen, why don’t you support my solution?

Doesn’t it make more logical sense to fight the aliens

through subtlety? What can you hope to gain by crying out

in the wilderness?”

The man seemed reasonable, like the father in Father Knows

Best. But there lay the danger, he reminded himself.

Everything this man said seemed reasonable and sweet and

admirable. Mulder remembered that strange dream he’d had in

the hospital, the life he’d lived and almost died. He

remembered Scully’s face, when he’d woken up at last. He’d

seen her crying, the tears dripping off her face. That was

true and real and reasonable, not what this man was saying

to him.

Mulder answered slowly, “My soul. I gain my soul.”

“Isn’t that a selfish attitude? There are over 5 billion

people out there that you have the ability to save. Surely

that’s worth a little flexibility on your part. And I’m not

the evil monster you’ve painted me.”

The man shook his head. “You make yourself a target, boy.

The Japanese have a saying for it, the nail that sticks out

gets hammered down. What do you think life has been doing

to you all this time? Not all of it was my influence.”

“A lot of it was.”

Mulder heard the frustration in the man’s voice. “Yes, yes

it was. If you couldn’t defend yourself, what earthly hope

would you have of staying alive in the new order of things?

You must become adept at survival in all milieus, physical

and political, because you’ll be their first target once

they land.” Mulder heard the rustle as the man fished for a

cigarette, then barely stopped himself from lighting up.

“You hate it, don’t you? Not being able to smoke those

damned things?” Mulder chuckled. “I got smart and quit.”

“You like a sign of weakness, then. The poor old man,

master of everything except nicotine.” The old man took in

a deep breath. “Life…masters us all in the end. We

survive as we can, with the crutches we find necessary.”

The man rustled a bit.

“I don’t need a crutch.” Mulder shifted again, his leg was

flaring. He suddenly knew that the old man heard the pain

in his voice. The old bastard knew it all.

“Oh, but you do. What do you do when Agent Scully is away?

When she was taken? When she was dying?”

“You keep coming back to her. She isn’t your business.

Your business or whatever it is, is with me.” Mulder

struggled to sit up and face this man but felt first a jolt

from his leg, then his ribs and arm kicked in. Damn it. He

felt so helpless, forced to do nothing but listen to what

this man had clearly been aching to say for a long time.

Scully, where are you? Get me out of here! Scully! Damn the

pain. He tried to move away from the man’s poisonous voice.

“Always the white knight, defending her. Of course, she’d

do the same for you. Yes, yes, leave her alone. Very well,

I’ll stop discussing her before you hurt yourself. Stop

moving, you’re shifting the…

October 14, 2000

6 a.m.

OUTSIDE

“Hey! It’s shifting! Watch out!!”

Skinner and Scully abruptly moved away from the building.

A corner of the building, still mostly intact, had begun to

collapse inward. Two rescue workers leapt off the rubble

and landed hard on the ground. The would-be rescuers

watched helplessly as the brickwork caved in, raising a

pile of dust in the damp morning air.

Scully stilled and watched the building settle on itself,

then her eyes followed the men. The older man stopped and

yelled at the younger one.

“Well, that tears it. Damn it, Jameson, I told you not to

move that beam! What agency did you say sent you?”

A blond man in his twenties shrugged. “I’m from the Red

Cross. Hey, I’m sorry Joe, it just gave way underneath me.

I think the rainwater had undermined it.”

“Well, let’s go back and see what damage was caused.” The

two men went back to the building, leaving Skinner and

Scully shivering behind. Scully eyed the young man.

“Sir, you don’t think he collapsed that section on

purpose…”

“Agent Scully, you’re starting at shadows. The building is

unstable and part of it collapsed. End of story. And

besides, even if this was a planned hit on Mulder, why

would a professional assassin hang around the scene of his

crime?”

“To make sure he was successful,” she said evenly,

watching the two men climb back into the wreckage. “This

just doesn’t feel right somehow.” She began to move towards

the younger man.

“Excuse me, I’m Agent Dana Scully,” she said, flashing her

badge. “Can you tell me how it’s going?”

“Hello, ma’am,” said the older man. “Well, it’s been

better. The building is slowly collapsing. The rain is

infiltrating what’s left of the masonry and causing it to

settle.”

“I see,” Scully eyed the building again. “Do you see any

chance for survivors?”

“We haven’t found any yet, but most of the bodies so far

were at the front of the building near the blast. There’s

always a chance that somebody at the back of the building

made it.”

“But we haven’t heard any noises or movement either,” the

younger man broke it. “We haven’t found any evidence of

survivors.”

“You plan to keep searching, though?” Scully asked.

“Oh yes, we aren’t going to stop any time soon.”

Scully watched closely as the two men resumed their

search. They split up and the blond returned to the newly

collapsed area. He seemed to be listening very hard for

sound. As she watched, he slipped into an opening in the

rubble.

She quietly prayed that this time the bodies they removed

would be alive.

October 14, 2000

8 a.m.

INSIDE

Mulder heard the man coughing and retching.

“Hey…CGB! You all right?” Mulder called into the

darkness. “Hey!”

“What…a caring voice?” Mulder heard the sound of

vomiting not far away, then the raspy voice was back. “I

got hit…in the gut. It hurts. A lot.”

“Where’s the flashlight?” Mulder kept his voice calm. “Do

you still have it?”

“It’s…near you…somewhere.”

Mulder ran his right hand over the gravelly surface for

several minutes before he found the light. He flicked it on

gratefully.

The space had collapsed by half, leaving only a pocket big

enough for the two of them. He sniffed. The air had seemed

fresh before, now it was stuffier. Spender was lying on

his side next to Mulder, a pile of bricks covering his

abdomen. Mulder tried to move and found that, with

difficulty, he could slide away from the debris. He

painfully pulled himself over to the other man, wincing as

his leg and arm jolted him.

“That last slide moved most of the bricks off me,” he

panted.

“And… on to me,” the man gave a dry chuckle. “Talk about

fate, or karma. I can’t argue with it.”

Mulder choked out a laugh and joined the man in a coughing

fit.

“We make quite a pair, don’t we?” Mulder wheezed.

“That we do,” the man responded and tried to clutch his

abdomen.

“Wait, let me help get the bricks off you,” Mulder said

and inched carefully forward. He lay on his stomach and

began removing the bricks one by one, until the man was

uncovered. It hurt but he could tell that his rib wasn’t

broken after all. Oh joy. One less broken bone for Scully

to autopsy.

“I don’t see any blood. Any injuries you have are internal

ones,” Mulder ran the flashlight over the man’s body.

“Here, you need this more than I do right now,” Mulder

dragged the coat across Spender’s torso. “Besides, I never

liked the smell of tobacco.”

Spender nodded. “So, now that you’ve thought about it, are

you going to help me with my little assassination problem?”

“You think that bomb was them?”

“Oh yes. Who else is so good at overkill?”

“Well, they tried. Maybe they believe it worked.”

The man shook his head. “No. They’ll have somebody posted

to make sure that the work was complete. If I can catch

sight of the assassin, I’ll know who sent him. That’s the

trick, you know, knowing who your enemy is. All else is

strategy.”

“I’ve known who my enemy is for years, for all the good

it’s done me,” Mulder muttered.

“Oh, have you?” Mulder could hear the smile in the man’s

voice. “Look again.”

Mulder was beginning to doze off when he heard a scraping

noise, like somebody digging.

“Hey! Here! We’re here! Help! Help!” he called and trained

the flashlight onto a corner of the wall. He saw the

rubble slip away into a blank hole.

“Hey! They found us, we’re saved!” he called in glee.

A blond head in a helmet poked itself though the opening,

then a young, slender man shinnied through the hole and

grinned.

“Am I glad to see you!” Mulder yelled. “Thank God you got

here…hey…wait a minute…” The young man ignored Mulder

and fixed his gaze on the old man and raised a pistol with

silencer.

Spender nodded solemnly. “I thought you might be the one

they sent. The explosion was a bit much, don’t you think?”

The blond man raised his gun and pointed it at Spender.

“No, I think it was appropriate, given your stature in the

consortium. A sort of a Viking burial.” He cocked the gun.

“When they autopsy the body, they’ll find the bullet,”

Mulder broke in calmly. “They’ll know he didn’t die in the

building collapse.”

The gunman shrugged. “They’ll know what we tell them. They

always do. And I was instructed to make it final, my choice

as to method. Right now, the gun works for me.”

The old man lay motionless and watched the gunman move in

closer, aiming the weapon between his eyes.

“See you in Hell,” the young man said, just before the

shot rang out and blood spattered throughout the space.

Mulder put the service weapon down and lay there

trembling. He usually wasn’t that accurate firing one-

handed but the man had been close. He suddenly felt very

very ill. Mulder studied his bloodied hand and tried to

wipe the blood spattered across his face with a shaking

hand. He drew a breath. “Old man, you still alive?”

The man slowly opened eyes in a blood-sodden face and

smiled, “I’m fine, son. They’ll be here soon and get us out

of here.”

“What about your assassins?”

“He was one of the best. He came from the direction I

expected; a difference of opinion between myself and Mr.

Strughold. Undoubtedly, he and I will need to discuss our

conflicting strategies for the future.

“I thought all you rats were united in your goals.”

The man smiled. “In our goals, yes. But not in our

methods. He has always supported a quieter, less active

organization where I am more proactive. He’s looking to

diminish my authority in the new consortium, I think. Well,

if the assassin had backup, you still have your weapon.”

Mulder stared at him, wondering when he’d become the man’s

bodyguard, when the first rescuer arrived. He clutched his

weapon in a sweaty hand until he heard Scully’s voice and

saw that the EMT wasn’t armed. Then he sagged back in

relief.

October 14, 2000

8:45 a.m.

OUTSIDE

“What was that noise?” Scully shouted, then began running

toward the building. “I heard a gunshot!” The noise had

come from the section of building that Jameson had gone

into. Come to think of it, he’d been in there over an hour

now.

Scully and Skinner climbed to the tiny entrance the man

had used and heard voices.

“I hear voices,” Scully said and began clawing at the

debris. “Hang on! Hold on and we’ll get you out of there!”

She felt Skinner move in beside her as he, too, began to

move rubble away.

She heard more faint voices from inside but was soon

shouldered aside by other rescue workers with heavy shovels.

She waited in a frenzy of impatience outside the hole

until word came through. There were two live victims and

one dead. By gunshot.

The stretcher through the opening was a bloody and very

battered CGB Spender.

“You! You were caught in this?” she gasped as he was

carried past her.

He smiled at her benignly. “Oh yes. You might even say it

was my fault. I really think that you ought to appreciate

Mulder more. I certainly do.”

“What do you mean…” Scully heard the next stretcher

being hauled out. Mulder, carefully cradling his left arm

in his right blinked up at the sky. She could see his

service weapon wedged between his knees on the stretcher.

“Hey, Mulder…” she moved over to him. “How ya doin’?”

Mulder gave her a dusty grin. “Not so bad. I’m alive. You

should see the other guy.” She grinned back and took his

good hand.

“Mulder, I’m sorry for all those things I said. You’ve

made a life to be proud of, you do good work and help

people. I’m sorry.” She bit her lip. “I guess I have a lot

of funny ideas about commitment, but when push comes to

shove I’m committed to our friendship. Forgive me?”

He squeezed back. “Scully, you’ve always been there when I

needed you. I know I can trust that. I always will.” He

paused. “Scully…I…”

“What, Mulder?”

“Nothing. Nothing you need to know.” Mulder watched her as

she walked next to his stretcher. He’d been about to tell

her what Spender had disclosed. Then he thought better of

it. What would she think about him if she knew it all? If

she knew, knew for sure that Spender hadn’t only

contributed genes to him but had engineered his entire

life. What could she think? And when would Cancerman tell

her all this?

She followed him down to the ambulance, then glanced back

at the last stretcher. The body of the blond man, Jameson,

was being removed. “Was that a gunshot, Mulder? Did you

shoot him?” she asked wonderingly.

Mulder looked deep in her eyes. “Yeah, why did I shoot my

rescuer?” He sighed. “He was about to murder the smoking

man. I couldn’t let him do it… Why couldn’t I let him

just do it?”

October 15, 2000

Fairfax Mercy Hospital

3 p.m.

Scully sat by her partner and watched him.

Mulder lay in the hospital bed and didn’t say much. His

right leg was in a cast, as was his left arm. He hadn’t

complained much about pain, but then that was Mulder.

Broken leg and broken arm, shock and concussion. He’d whine

with a sliver but was silent when seriously ill.

Finally, Scully couldn’t take the silence.

“You aren’t sleeping. Do you need some pain pills?”

“No.”

“Mulder, what’s wrong? What did he say to you? The smoking

man?”

Mulder gave her a long look. “You don’t want to know.” He

looked away toward the window. What would she think of him

if she knew what he was descended from? He could barely

stand it himself. How much of his own life could he take

credit for and how much was mere puppetry by that smoking

bastard?

She reached out and took his right hand in hers. “Try me.”

Mulder took a deep breath and fixed his eyes back on the

ceiling. “Scully, can a good thing ever be produced by

terrible evil? I mean, if the devil had a child, wouldn’t

that child inherit all his tendencies?”

“I don’t understand,” she faltered.

Mulder looked at her with a haunted expression, then took

a deep breath and spoke. “He told me that he created me.

He…he put me into the FBI. He sent me to the X-files.

He…he says…says…” Mulder’s voice went flat and he

closed his eyes.

“Says what?”

“Remember that weird hallucination I told you about? The

one I had in the hospital? Some of it might be true. He

says he’s my father.” Mulder turned his head and stared

deep into her blue eyes.

He saw her jerk and look down. She licked her lips,

clearly disturbed by the revelation. “You said you thought

it might be a possibility before, when you were questioning

your mother about her relationship to him. Spender says a

lot of things, only a few of them true.”

He squeezed her hand hard. “Scully, if he really is…if

he put me where I am and made me his tool, what am I then?

Who am I? Am I like him, somehow? How free were any of my

choices, really?”

“You aren’t his tool, Mulder. You are the person you

always were. You’re Fox Mulder and you do a lot of good in

the world.” She watched his face and knew that he was

unconvinced. “Mulder, you know that the last time I saw him

I saw something human in him. He didn’t start out as a bad

man. He made bad choices and created himself.”

Mulder barked a laugh. “He was right about something…the

choices he made. On the surface, they were all the right

ones. He gave up family, a life of his own to save the

world from the alien colonists. By doing that he has

destroyed thousands of lives. He, Bill Mulder, lots of

good, intelligent men made these same decisions and created

evil.”

“Mulder…”

“How do I know that my decisions are any better, Scully? I

try to find the truth and I’m convinced that I’m doing the

right thing. And isn’t that the same thing he’s been doing

all these years? What gives me the right to pursue my

quests at the expense of others? What about those whose

lives are ruined when the secrets are brought to light?

Don’t I have the same potential for creating evil

as…as…him?” He couldn’t call that man his father, even

though he was beginning to become convinced that the man

hadn’t been lying.

“Your decisions have never been based on a desire for

power or personal gain, Mulder. They’ve been good ones,”

Scully said calmly, although Mulder thought he could detect

a slightly worried frown. “And while the truth might be

painful at first, it’s still the truth.”

He thought back to all the years as Bill Mulder’s son, his

pride when he graduated the FBI Academy, the citations he’d

earned as an agent and wondered how much of it had been

real. “Sometimes there’s too much truth,” he said softly.

“Mulder, your decisions have been sound and I trust your

judgment. And you,” Scully was kneeling next to the bed,

her hands clasped around his good one. “You aren’t Spender,

no matter whose genes you carry.”

“Really?” Her answer was suddenly the most important thing

in the world.

“Yes, Mulder. Trust me on this one,” she said firmly.

October 17, 2000

Fairfax Mercy Hospital

6 p.m.

Scully had gone home for the day, leaving Mulder to his

bland dinner. He wanted a cheeseburger. He got a broiled

chicken breast with watery mashed potatoes. Oh well,

hospital food was as bad as airline food and…hey, what

was this? Tucked under his napkin he found a small folded

piece of paper. He opened it and read.

“Mulder, your life is in danger. Guard yourself. CGBS”

He stared at it, not knowing what to make of it. Spender,

wanting to protect him? Why? What was going on? He picked

up the hospital phone and called Scully.

She arrived thirty minutes later, out of breath and

slightly damp. Mulder smiled ruefully. “I’m sorry I

interrupted the bubble bath, Scully. I just don’t know what

to make of this.” He handed her the note.

She took it, frowning in concentration. “It looks like his

writing,” she looked up at Mulder’s puzzled expression and

flushed. “He signed the hotel register at that resort he

took me to. Did he say anything while you were trapped to

indicate that your life might be endangered?”

Mulder shook his head. “No, in fact he was very anxious

for me to act as his bodyguard. His life was the one in

danger, not mine.”

Scully eyed him up and down, taking in the casts. “Well,

you can’t defend yourself as it stands. It’s just as well

you’re being released tomorrow anyway. You’ll come to my

place as planned and I’ll take care of you *and* watch your

back.”

“Wash my back? Is that a promise, Scully?” Mulder gave her

his patented leer.

She grinned back. “You haven’t seen a bed bath until

you’ve had one of mine.” She frowned again. “I just wish I

knew what all this was about.”

October 20, 2000

Dana Scully’s Apartment

10 a.m.

“Okay Mulder, here’s the television remote. I’m going to

take the trash out but I’ll be right back. Will you be

okay?” Scully nodded and hefted the garbage bag.

Mulder, propped in Scully’s barcalounger grinned. “I have

a television remote and my service weapon within easy

reach. I’ll be fine.” He watched her close and lock the

door behind her. The past several days had been very

peaceful. Mulder had to admit that he was enjoying the

attention, not to mention the unlimited television time. He

stretched in the chair. That note had probably been a hoax,

an attempt by the smoker to put him off balance. That’s all

it was, a fake. Well, he was glad that it had given him an

excuse to move in with Scully for the duration. They had

both been on edge the first day or so but it was becoming

clear that nothing was going to happen. Mulder yawned and

picked up the remote.

As Scully stepped outside the door she felt herself

grabbed and lifted off her feet, a broad hand clasped

across her mouth. She tried to free a hand, to grab for the

gun at her waist, he was stronger than she was. Although

she struggled, she soon found herself tied and gagged in

the bushes beside her townhouse.

She didn’t recognize the man, who had made no attempt at

disguise. He was nondescript, brown hair, brown eyes,

medium height. But he wasn’t anyone she recognized as one

of Cancerman’s goons.

To her surprise, the man didn’t go into the townhouse.

Instead he went back to his post beside the back door. He

seemed to be waiting for something. She began to struggle

with the plastic ties he’d bound her with.

She heard a car pull up to the door and saw two men get

out, a tall thin man who looked like he was

armed….and….she squinted…CGB Spender. Her eyes

narrowed. Spender moved slowly, almost but not quite

needing the other man for support.

Spender’s companion used a lock pick to open the front

door. So much for the expensive locks, she sighed to

herself. Her own attacker just watched the men enter the

townhouse. What did they want? Mulder…. She struggled

even harder against the bonds.

Inside the townhouse Mulder was starting to worry about

Scully. He’d put the television remote down and picked up

his gun. For the first time his various disabilities began

to seriously worry him.

“Scully!” he called. “Scully! Are you all right?” He heard

nothing, then a rattle in the front door. It swung open and

CGB Spender walked in, followed by another man with a drawn

gun. Spender didn’t look good. He was pale and moved

hesitantly, but Mulder had no doubt about the man’s

dangerousness.

That was okay though, Mulder considered, since he had his

own weapon trained on the two. “Where’s Scully? And what

the Hell are you doing here?” Spender walked carefully

toward Mulder’s chair.

“Stop right there and tell me where Scully is.” Mulder

said calmly, aiming at Spender’s chest. Spender carefully

put a hand against the back of Mulder’s chair and leaned

against it, propping himself up.

“We don’t have her. I have no idea where she is. Jeremy,

why don’t you take a look out back for her while I speak

with Agent Mulder?”

“No Jeremy, don’t do that or I’ll shoot your boss,” Mulder

said steadily. “Stay where I can keep my eye on you. Now

what is this all about you Goddamned bastard? I saved your

miserable life. Is this how you repay me…*Dad*?”

The old man carefully pulled a pack of cigarettes from his

pocket and lit one up. “I’m trying to show my gratitude. I

sent you the warning note. You should know that I left my

own hospital bed against doctor’s orders to warn you. Your

life is in danger, you can expect an assassin to try for

you. Soon.”

“Why? I won’t stop them from killing you,” Mulder said.

The man gave him a twisted smile as he puffed. “I’m aware

of that but there are other…reasons…that they want you

terminated. I was tipped off and decided to warn you.

Jeremy is going to stay and ensure your safety.”

“You mean to tell me that he isn’t your bodyguard? He’s

mine?” Mulder demanded incredulously.

“Yes, he is. Agent Scully is very talented but she has to

sleep some time. And I’d just as soon you knew about your

protection so you don’t try taking any pot shots at him.”

Spender motioned at Jeremy, who moved toward the back

door. Mulder, bemused, didn’t try to stop him. He kept his

attention focused on the truly dangerous man, Spender.

“I’ve asked you this before; what do you want from me?”

Mulder asked evenly.

Spender pulled up a chair and gingerly sat down. “I

suppose I could say that I want you to understand. I want

you to know what choices I made and why I made them.”

Spender shifted uncomfortably. “I want you to know that the

things I did were heroic acts, done for the good of all.”

Mulder snorted. “Suddenly my good opinion is important to

you?”

Spender shook his head. “No, but your understanding is.”

They both heard a loud noise from outside and jerked as

the back door crashed open. Two men were struggling:

Mulder’s ‘bodyguard’ and Scully’s abductor. Before they

could react, the brown-haired man angled his gun against

the other man’s body and pulled the trigger. While Jeremy’s

body slumped to the floor, Mulder raised his service weapon.

“Drop it. Drop it *now*!” he barked at the man. The

assassin smiled and aimed the gun at Mulder. The smoking

man slowly stood up.

“You drop yours. Besides, you know who I’m really here for.”

Mulder kept the weapon steady. Here it was, then. Mexican

standoff. But the target was CGB Spender, an evil man who

deserved execution a dozen times over for his crimes.

Mulder could simply lower the weapon, save his own life.

His glance flickered over to CGB who sat there calmly with

a set expression, smoking his cigarette.

Yes, the old man was ready to die. He’d lived according to

his principles, warped as they were, for years. He’d die by

them. Or for them. Mulder was suddenly struck with the

similarity of their characters. Oh, it hurt but it was also

the truth, this evil old man would die for his beliefs just

as Mulder would. Spender would compromise nothing to

achieve his personal vision; and how many people had Mulder

pissed off in a lifetime of demanding that the truth be

known? He sighed and watched Spender out of the corner of

his eye.

“No. Lower your weapon,” Mulder said.

The gunman looked steadily at Mulder, then moved and

quickly knocked the gun from his hand. He scooped it up and

tucked it into his waistband, shaking his head. “You should

have cooperated. You’d have died easier.” He raised his

weapon and aimed it at Mulder.

“Old man, I was told that you were to watch this before I

let you go. G0 stand against the wall.” Spender carefully

moved as directed.

Mulder tried to smile. “Hey man, this can’t be much of a

challenge for you, huh? Kinda like shooting fish in a

barrel. I mean, I got a cast on my arm and my leg so

where’s the fun in it? And why me, anyway?”

The gunman was solemn. “These were my instructions, to

kill you and make the old man watch. Then let him go.”

Mulder gulped as the man took aim again, then saw Spender

moving quietly, quietly toward the gunman. This

was…unreal. Spender was trying to save him? Mulder looked

down the nose of the weapon, watching the man’s finger

squeeze on the trigger waiting for the inevitable. Spender

rushed the gunman, knocking him over with the weight of his

body. Soon Spender was lying on top of the man, holding a

small pistol under the assassin’s chin.

“Where’d you get the weapon?” Mulder asked, leaning over

the side of the barcalounger to see.

“Ankle holster,” Spender said. “All right, you, stand up.”

He climbed to his feet, motioning the gunman upright.

The gunman stood, towering over Spender. Spender smiled,

aimed the pistol and shot him between the eyes.

Mulder tried to scramble out of the chair and prevent this

but found himself sprawled over the floor instead. While

Mulder reeled in pain, Spender stepped over the body and

carefully helped Mulder back into the chair.

“Well?” Mulder asked, gasping.

“Well what?” the old man replied.

“Aren’t you going to shoot me now? I’m a witness. You just

murdered a man.”

Spender smiled gently and pocketed his weapon. “No. I

prevented another murder. Yours.”

“This doesn’t buy me,” Mulder stated. “You set this up.”

“Oh no, the threat was real. He was going to kill you and

leave me alive.” Spender holstered his weapon.

“But why? Why kill me and make you witness it? They wanted

to assassinate you!” The light began to dawn and Mulder

went on. “I see. I represent your plans, your cherished

legacy, don’t I? Kill me and they kill your dream.”

Spender smiled gently. “Do you think that plans are all I

would lose? I think that Agent Scully is probably outside.

I’ll check on her.”

October 20, 2000

Dana Scully’s Apartment

11:30 a.m.

OUTSIDE

Dana Scully struggled frantically against the plastic

ties. Goddamn it, this guy was good. She couldn’t scream

and she could barely move. She’d just heard a second

gunshot from the house and knew it didn’t bode well.

Mulder. Damn. They hadn’t killed him before, now they were

going to make sure of it and she’d been caught in the first

ten minutes. She felt like a Christmas turkey, trussed up

and left.

“My, my, Agent Scully. You do get yourself into trouble,”

a familiar voice drawled from above and she smelled

cigarette smoke. Scully rolled over onto her back and

glared silently up at CGB Spender.

Unfortunately for him, the gag was what he removed first.

“Goddamn you! What did you do to him?” To her fury, the

man was now smiling at her fondly.

“Agent Scully, Agent Mulder is quite well and in the

house. Now if you will allow me to help you, I’m here to

untie you. Will you cooperate?”

Scully nodded and he began work on the plastic ties. “What

happened?” she asked.

“An attempt on Mulder’s life, as I expected. My man didn’t

survive. Mulder did. There…” The man moved away as Scully

quickly got up and ran for the house. After she disappeared

through the back door he quietly made his exit.

Scully’s eyes widened when she entered the living room.

Two dead bodies lay on a floor splattered with blood. A

frightened Mulder held his weapon on her until he saw who

it was.

He lowered the gun with a sigh and leaned back into the

chair, eyes closing. “Scully. Thank God you’re alive.”

Scully picked her way over to Mulder and laid a hand on

his forehead. “What happened? Did you shoot any of them?”

Mulder shook his head. “No chance to. The gunman who got

you,” he pointed. “killed the other man. Then Cancerman

killed the gunman. In cold blood.”

Scully nodded. “Because he was sent to assassinate

Cancerman?”

Mulder frowned. “No. CGB Spender shot him to save me. The

assassin said he was sent to kill me, with CGB Spender as a

witness. I…don’t understand. I don’t want to understand.”

He looked up at Scully with haunted eyes. “If I understood

and accepted what happened here today, I think I might go

mad.”

October 25, 2000

J. Edgar Hoover Bldg Basement

11 a.m.

“Mulder, the interoffice mail is here,” Scully remarked as

she put a pile of envelopes onto his desk. “This one’s

addressed to you. Looks like a card.”

Mulder looked up from the file he was reading. It had been

a difficult week for him. He’d gone so stir crazy that

Skinner had finally been persuaded to allow Mulder back

early for desk work.

Mulder picked up the red envelope and slit it open, then

read the card inside. He pursed his lips in a silent

whistle.

“What is it? What does it say?” Scully demanded, moving

closer.

Mulder handed it to her. It read:

“My dear Agent Mulder, please let me express my wishes for

your speedy recovery after our little accident and also

thank you for the service you performed in saving my life.

I understand that we may not always agree, yet I am still

gratified that when things were truly difficult I could

count on your help. Regarding the visitors to Agent

Scully’s apartment, do not be concerned about any future

visitations. I have reached my own detente with the parties

who wished my enforced retirement and they no longer seek

my death or yours. Needless to say, I have never sought

harm to you and, for the reasons I gave you before, will

continue to follow your progress with great interest.”

The card wasn’t signed.

THE END

Author’s final note: CGB Spender is one of my favorite

characters and I’ve tried to give my take on why he does

what he does. Source material is derived from such episodes

as “Demons,” “Musings of a CSM” and others. I think CSM is

really the flip side of Mulder. The two men have the same

strengths: persistence, intelligence, courage, vision. But

they also have the same weaknesses: obsession, arrogance

and isolation. They could very well be father and son. God

help them.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Advertisements

One thought on “Detente”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s