Layers

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TITLE: “Layers”

INFO: Written for I Made This Productions Virtual Season 9

AUTHOR: Ten

EMAIL: kristena@ocean.com.au or kristena@netconnect.com.au

RATING: PG-13 to a Light R (adult situations not gone into in

detail)

CLASSIFICATION: X, Angst, MT, MSR

SPOILERS: “Je Souhaite”, “Sein Und Zeit/Closure”, “Biogenesis”

trilogy, “Detours”, “Zero Sum”, “Anasazi” trilogy, “Unusual

Suspects”, “Dreamland”, “Demons”, “Grotesque” and “Young at

Heart”. Also there are spoilers for past Virtual Season 9

cases, especially “Hollow Earth” by Suzanne Bickerstaffe,

Unforgettable” by XScout and “Apogee” by Brandon Ray. A cameo

appearance is made by the red negligee from Kestabrook’s “A

Christmas Peril” <G> and there is a spoiler for my VS8 story

A Burden Shared“.

SUMMARY: With his personality and life experiences, Mulder is

an incredibly complex and multi-layered man. But then a

strange form of progressive amnesia starts removing those

layers…

NOTE: The dates for various episodes were taken from the

Timeline at the Deep Background website and if a date was

unavailable, I took an educated guess while trying to fit it

in with my plotline.

ARCHIVING: IMTP has a two week exclusivity to all Virtual

Season 9 stories from the day each first appears on the

website. After that, please drop me a note if you’d like to

archive “Layers”.

DISCLAIMER: The X-Files, the episodes referred to, Mulder and

Scully and all other characters from the show belong to Chris

Carter and his team of writers, Ten Thirteen Productions and

Fox Broadcasting, and are used without permission. No

copyright infringement is intended, no profit will be gained.

Characters not recognized from the show are either mine, or

from previous VS9 stories (thanks Suzanne!).

THANKS TO: Susan and Suzanne for having the patience of saints

and for all their help. Also to Mac and Gerry, and to the VS9

crew for keeping the flame burning.

FEEDBACK: Yes, please! I like to know who’s out there in the

ether.

“Layers”

by Ten

xXx

Tuesday 1 October 2002

Mulder’s apartment

Bedroom

Scully smiled up at her reflection in the mirrored ceiling and

watched it smile back. Last night had been wonderful. And

lying here, holding and being held by Mulder, was just as

good. Her partner was still asleep, but that didn’t matter at

all.

He was well again. Whole again. And in her arms.

In his last brush with serious harm, Mulder had been injected

without his knowledge with neuroelectrical impulses from his

sister’s DNA. He experienced flashbacks of Samantha’s

abduction and experimentation from her point of view. The

flashbacks stopped as the causative drug left his system and

to Scully’s relief Mulder was able to deal with the experience

because he now knew that Sam did not blame him – she knew he

had tried to save her.

The agents had decided to ask for a few days off for a long,

long weekend. Skinner had been happy to grant the leave days,

though unaware of their intentions. “Both of you deserve some

time off that isn’t for illness or recuperation.” It was a

luxury to be lying in this morning on a weekday, together.

After doing day-trips and sightseeing on the weekend and

Monday, today was going to be a lazy one.

They had such a great time on Monday night that Mulder had

teased her he didn’t want anything for his approaching

birthday. “Apart from more of that, of course!”

Scully was pulled back to the present. Her partner was waking

up. “Morning,” she said sultrily as Mulder’s eyes focused on

her. She knew he loved it when she used that tone.

At least, he usually did. But this time Mulder stared at her.

She saw amazement. Astonishment. Shock. The panic face. “S-s-

scully?” he stammered out in disbelief.

He looked around wildly, his eyes growing bigger with

everything they were taking in. Him and her. Naked. In his

bed.

He sat up. “What are we…? Did we…?”

“Mulder, are you all right? What’s wrong?”

“You’re…” He floundered, practically nailing his gaze to her

face to avoid his eyes straying downwards. “I-I don’t remember

us going to bed…”

Scully was trying to make some sense out of this. “Well, we

did start off on the couch, so I guess you were tired by the

time we got into the bedroom.”

“No, that’s not…” He ran a hand through his hair. “How many

beers did we have? I thought we only had one each. Not enough

to -”

“Beers? Mulder, we didn’t have any alcohol last night.” The

only thing they ‘had’ was each other.

“Yeah, we did have a beer each. But I don’t feel like I have a

hangover. I guess I must be in shock or something, that we

actually…finally…” He was rambling and edging away from

her.

“Mulder, we didn’t have anything to drink last night,” Scully

stressed. Occasionally they had some wine or beers, but that

was it.

“We did. I remember one beer each at least,” he insisted.

Scully was desperately trying to figure out what was going on.

She felt his forehead. No fever. She asked, “What else do you

remember?”

“We were watching ‘Caddyshack’ and you asked me what my third

wish was.”

Scully studied his face. Even though the room was dim, she

could see that he was serious. “Third wish?”

“I used it to set Jenn free.”

“Jenn – the female genie? The jinniyah?”

He nodded.

“Oh God…” she whispered.

“I don’t know what to say…” Mulder’s voice was soft and

upset. He looked at her helplessly. “I’m sorry that I can’t

remember last night…”

Scully sat there, fear welling up in her, trying to find the

words to break to him that his ‘last night’ actually took

place two years ago.

xXx

ACT ONE:

Georgetown Hospital

Same day

No sign of head trauma. Or trauma to any part of Mulder. No

sign of a virus. Scans yielded no clues. Bloodwork clean. No

needle marks – the injection points from his last crisis and

hospitalization had healed by now. His responses and reflexes

were fine.

They were still waiting on the results of some tests, but

Mulder seemed to be all right.

Apart from the matter of a two year chunk of his memory having

vanished.

Mulder was sitting up in his hospital bed. Scully knew he was

trying not to stare at her. Look, yes, but not stare. This was

not the dim bedroom anymore – she supposed he was now picking

up little differences about her that he had not been able to

before. Perhaps a few lines on her skin or a change in the

length of her hair. Markers of time that had passed.

Though ironically those wonderful sessions they had been

having since embarking upon an intimate relationship had made

her feel a lot younger. Scully knew she glowed in the mirror

after each one.

And Mulder’s mindset was back in 2000. Before they became

lovers. So the way in which he had woken up this morning must

be reeling around and around in his brain.

Before he opened his eyes this morning, she had been lying

there, blissfully unaware. She had thought that things could

not get any more perfect. True. But they could, and had,

gotten worse.

Scully ached to touch him, but didn’t dare. She did not know

how he would react.

“Scully?”

“Yes?”

“What you were talking to the doctor about – our last case.

Something about Sam’s DNA…”

She explained what had occurred. “It could be a reason for why

you’re experiencing this amnesia. Actually, Mulder,

considering everything you and your poor brain have been

through over the years, and especially in this last year,

we’re rather spoiled for choice with possible causes. It could

be a mixture of a lot of factors too.”

At his insistence, she filled him in on the possibilities that

he couldn’t remember, and reminded him about the ones that

could be coming back to haunt them. “Don’t worry, Mulder.

We’ll find out what happened.” She took his hand and squeezed

it.

“I could even wake up tomorrow with my memory back, right? Or

you might have to hit me on the head to restore things. Sure

you’ll enjoy that.”

Scully gave him a look but he kept a straight face. She

reluctantly let go of his hand and said, “I’m just going to

talk to your doctor and phone Skinner.” Their boss was in San

Diego for a week of conferences. “I’ll be back soon, okay?”

He nodded. She resisted the urge to kiss him on the cheek.

That would be dangerous in public even if Mulder was at full

memory.

But as she was turning to go, Mulder’s voice came hesitantly

from the bed, “So… We were… We are…”

There was no doubt what he was asking about. She nodded

mutely.

“Damn. That’s something I really wouldn’t want to forget.”

She was sure he wanted to ask ‘when’, but the walls could have

ears and he was still in absorption mode. Was it their first

time? Their hundredth? Or a result of the jinniyah giving him

a free wish for helping her?

Mulder looked miserable. “I’m sorry.”

“Why?” Scully asked. “This wasn’t your fault. You didn’t ditch

me and go running off. Whoever is responsible for this –

*they* will be sorry.”

A trace of a smile and a nod. Some things had changed, but not

everything.

xXx

Next morning

Mulder woke up still ‘two bananas short of a fruit basket’, as

he put it. But he was optimistic. “If I don’t get my memory

back, I can still reconstruct it. Two years isn’t so bad.”

Though the pain of his mother’s death and of knowing Sam’s

ultimate fate was still fresh in his eyes. Scully cursed

whoever or whatever had done this to Mulder, causing him to go

through that ‘double-whammy’ of grieving again. It was

something that would always be with him, but he had lost two

years of progression and acceptance.

And a year of complete closeness with Scully.

Half of her was angry when he announced that ‘two years wasn’t

so bad’, wondering how he could just accept the loss of their

relationship.

But the other half of her countered with some undeniable

facts. They still had each other. He was still alive. They

could rebuild. It would take time though. She didn’t want to

rush him into anything too soon, no matter how much either

wanted it. This Mulder would also be finding it hard to

believe they had actually taken that step – he might have

hoped or longed for it, but at that stage of their lives, a

number of factors had prevented them.

Since medical science was drawing blanks and Mulder was

otherwise fine, the hospital saw no point in keeping him any

longer. Scully felt he should remain in for observation but

was overruled.

She decided to take him home to his apartment, hoping that the

familiar surroundings would help.

In the car, Mulder said, “I’m sorry for how I reacted when I

woke up with you yesterday. I’ve wanted to wake up like *that*

with you for… Hard to believe it’s two years in the future.”

His future. Not hers.

“I understand. It’s okay,” Scully said, trying not to think

about how much she missed his touch. Not just the oh-so-

intimate touching, but the handholds and hugs and kisses. And

how when they were alone he would not have to hide or ‘water

down’ that look in his eyes that said how much she meant to

him and how happy he was.

Now she didn’t know how to act around him and he was unsure

how to act around her. How comfortable or intimate to be with

each other? Two people at different points in their lives,

trying to find middle ground.

“I’m staying with you,” Scully announced as they walked up the

hallway to Mulder’s apartment.

His face held a mixture of emotions. “You don’t have to.”

“I want to.” Scully wondered if he realized she wasn’t just

talking about the rest of the day, but tonight too.

In the apartment, Mulder put his overnight bag down, out of

the way, and stood there, looking around. Scully tried to see

the place as he was – what differences two years had brought.

Oblivious to her scrutiny, he said, “Well, it’s definitely not

as bad as that time I found the waterbed here…” He smiled.

“Do you want a drink? Then I’ll see what I’ve got in stock and

make us something for lunch.”

“I can do that. You should rest. ”

Mulder gave a wry grin. “I’ve rested long enough. I’m sure I

got more sleep than you. Consider it a thank you.”

“All right.” He probably wanted to reestablish some normality,

a familiar pattern.

First, Mulder went to the bathroom, then returned looking

slightly stunned.

“Decor changed?” Scully asked, mentally picturing that room.

Mulder had never been big on interior design. When his

apartment had mysteriously become neat and graced with the

waterbed and mirrored ceiling back in 1998, he had sworn that

the Gunmen must be behind it.

Now he looked even more shell-shocked. “There’s been some

redecorating, yeah. Nylon stockings hanging in the shower. And

a bra over the bathtub that’s um, torn…”

“All mine.” She could tell he wanted to ask about the

condition of the bra. He hesitated. “Ask about the bra,

Mulder. Before you explode.”

“Did I do that? Am I usually that…rough?”

“Actually, you had me so excited and eager that *I* did that.”

The look on his face was priceless. Finally he managed to say,

“When you said you’d be staying I wasn’t sure if you meant

overnight – I guess I still don’t. If yes, I was wondering if

I had a spare toothbrush you could use and thought that I

could lend you a t-shirt to sleep in. A t-shirt which I would

then treasure for the rest of my life.”

Scully couldn’t help laughing. “I have a supply of things

here. Bathroom and bedroom.”

“Oh. Good.”

“And I am staying tonight. But I won’t take advantage of you.”

“Fair enough. Do you need a t-shirt or something to sleep in

though?”

Scully mentally frowned. She had just told him she kept a

supply of things here, so why would he be… Then she

realized. After waking up with her as naked as the day they

were born, he was probably wondering if that was their

standard night attire now… “I’m covered,” she replied.

“Oh.” With that cryptic comment – disappointment, relief? –

Mulder set to work in the kitchen. While they ate, he asked

questions about the last two years and she filled him in as

best and as honestly as she could. Not just about their

relationship, but the X-Files and other experiences too.

After a while, Mulder wanted to go for a jog, probably both

for the exercise and to ponder everything that he had been

told, but he must have picked up on Scully’s hesitancy. “We

could both go,” he suggested.

It was on the tip of her tongue to say ‘It’s not my favorite

form of exercise anymore’. The last year had certainly had an

effect on her innuendo gland. Instead, she said, “I’m not sure

if running would be such a good idea at the moment. How about

a walk instead?” It could bring back memories of the places

they went together. He agreed.

Mulder had come home from the hospital wearing casual clothes

and sneakers, so he didn’t need to change. He watched the

sports news on TV while Scully slipped into the bedroom to get

changed.

The bed was how they had left it yesterday morning. Rumpled

and unmade. Scully stood there, gazing at it. Not for long

though, because tears threatened to fall.

Automatically she began straightening up the sheets and

blankets, then wondered if she should change the sheets

altogether. After all, Mulder might end up sleeping in here

tonight.

They went for a long walk, but nothing triggered off Mulder’s

memory. Scully had doubted it would work, but was still

disappointed. She hid her feelings. They still had other

options.

She suggested that they visit the Gunmen, who were doing their

best to get to the bottom of their friend’s plight. The visit

turned out to be entertaining, despite the trio not being able

to provide any leads yet.

Her partner laughed so hard at one of Frohike’s jokes that he

ended up spilling his drink on his pants leg. When Mulder and

Scully returned to his apartment, he went to his bedroom to

change.

Mulder’s bedroom door was closed, but now he opened it and

looked in for the first time. His gaze was caught by the

ceiling. “I still have those mirrors up? I always thought

about removing them, but it would have been so much effort…

And a messy ceiling as a result.”

“You ended up really liking them.” Both she and Mulder had

agreed soon into their relationship that the mirrors really

‘added’ to the experience.

A slight flush appeared on his face as he realized how she

probably knew this information.

Scully turned to go back into the living room to let Mulder

change in private. But then he opened a drawer and went,

“Wow…”

“What?”

“Either in the last two years I became a cross dresser, or

these are yours.”

Scully crossed the room to find Mulder was contemplating the

drawer, which was full of her underwear and lingerie, of types

both ordinary and bedazzling. Two years ago his undergarments

had graced this space.

“You think these might be yours? They’re a little small on

you,” Scully pointed out. “I told you before that I’m

covered.”

“I’m not so sure about that if you’re wearing that red one.”

Mulder pointed to a red lacy negligee.

“I bought that for Christmas. Um, you now keep your underwear

in this drawer here.”

Her partner quickly retreated to the designated drawer and

found that it too had a number of garments in it that had

clearly been bought with fun and games in mind. Mulder then

hurried off for a shower that he definitely needed, though

Scully doubted the hot water system would get much of a

workout.

xXx

Hours were also spent going over the medical test results and

Mulder’s medical history and any X-Files that could provide

leads to his condition. Finally, bedtime came.

“I’ll take the couch,” Mulder said.

“No way. I’ll take the couch.”

“You won’t find it comfortable,” he warned.

I usually do when I’m curled up with you, she thought.

“You have the bed,” Mulder insisted. Then a thought struck

him. “Just might have to check how clean the sheets are…”

“We changed them a few days ago. They’re okay.”

“Oh, okay. Well…” He hesitated. He looked like he wanted to

kiss her, but didn’t dare.

She felt the same. In a way it would be easy, oh so easy, to

take him into the bedroom and show him the joys of the last

year.

But not tonight. It would not be fair to either of them. Not

yet.

They were exchanging awkward ‘Good night’s when they met each

other’s gaze and then started laughing at the situation. The

tension eased and both headed to their respective beds.

Scully curled up in the sheets, inhaling Mulder’s scent, lost

in vivid memories. Her reflection was just visible in the

mirrored tiles. One body where there should have been two. She

could hear that Mulder had the TV on. In the last year, often

the only ‘white noise’ he had needed of a night was that of

her breathing and heartbeat.

Was it better to be the one left with the memories or the one

who had lost the memories?

I still have Mulder. What about that woman in the paper last

week – her husband went off to work and was killed in a car

accident. Never to come back. Our Christmas Day could have

easily ended up like that.

She shuddered at the memory, then reminded herself of the

happy ending and focused on trying to sleep instead.

Before going to their separate beds, Scully had asked Mulder,

“How are you feeling?”

“No memory of the last two years, but it could be worse.”

It could be, and next morning it proved to be.

Scully padded out of the bedroom into the living room as

Mulder was stirring. He opened his eyes and although they were

unfocused, she could see a great sadness in them.

Then he noticed her and sat up, startled. “Scully, what are

you doing here? Are you all right?” He saw the overnight bag

on the floor nearby – neither of them had gotten around to

putting it away last night. “Sorry … I didn’t hear you

knock. Did you want me to take you to the hospital after all?

I can be ready in ten.”

Scully stared at him. What was he talking about? He knew

perfectly well that it was *his* overnight bag. She had bought

it for him as a gift in 1998. “To take *me* to the hospital?”

she asked in confusion. “Me? Why?”

“For the tests.” The sadness in his eyes was different from

that of the last two days. But recognition of it came

nonetheless, as Mulder continued reluctantly, “The tests your

oncologist wanted to perform.”

“For my cancer?” Scully was amazed that her voice did not

shake.

“Yeah…” Mulder looked like he wanted nothing more than to

come over and hold her, but the only thing he was holding was

himself – in check – as if afraid she would rebuff the

gesture. And she saw the effort it was taking. An effort she

had often missed because during that dark period of their

lives when she was sick, she had often been afraid to keep his

gaze for very long. She had felt too vulnerable. “Scully, are

you all right?”

She could not help the tears from falling. Not again. It could

NOT be happening again. Wait – she could be wrong. With Mulder

thinking this was 2000, he could simply have gotten confused

about when her next check-up was, and not realized it was a

few more months away.

“Mulder, what day do you think it is?”

“Scully?”

“Humor me, please. What date do you think it is?”

Still half-asleep and rattled by her behavior, Mulder fumbled

for the answer. “April 1997. The twenty… Um… Something-

th…”

She said softly, “Yes, a trip to the hospital would be a good

idea.” But not for the reasons he thought.

xXx

ACT TWO:

“So, you don’t have cancer anymore? You’re in remission? Have

been for ages?” Mulder had asked that several times. It was as

if he wanted to believe her affirmative reply, but kept

worrying he had misheard.

“Yes. No more cancer. You saved me. I’ll tell you all about it

when we’re at the hospital.”

His own condition was more of an afterthought to him in his

relief and happiness. “I forgot two years of my life and now

I’ve lost another three? It’s actually 2002?”

While on the way down to Scully’s car, Mulder caught his

reflection in one of the polished elevator walls. The

carnival-mirror exaggeration effect probably didn’t give him

any startling clues to the years that had passed – and Mulder

had always looked young for his age – but it was clear he had

serious bed hair. Scully had insisted they head for the

hospital right away as she threw on some clothes and shoes, so

there had been no chance for grooming. So in the elevator

Mulder made an attempt at finger combing, frowning a little.

Scully tried to remember how he had his hair in 1997. Was he

thinking it was shorter or longer now?

He did his best and parted the hair that fell onto his

forehead in the middle, so that it now hung as bangs. Of

course.

But, apart from that, he was far more interested in looking at

her. She surmised that when he woke up and saw her there, he

had been too dazed to take in much about her actual

appearance, just her presence.

“I look a lot older, right?” Scully said.

“You look healthy.”

She thought that the last few days of worry had probably not

done her any favors, but her complexion had always been on the

pale side.

“You don’t look as thin and gaunt,” Mulder continued in

amazement. “Your hair’s…brighter. Perhaps you’re a clone. I

don’t think so. I hope not anyway.”

In the car she asked him to clarify what tests she had been

going to have at the hospital.

His voice was matter of fact, though she could sense the

undercurrents. “Your oncologist was worried that your tumor

was growing larger, so he wanted you in the hospital for

tests. I wanted to take you to the hospital, but you insisted

you’d get there by yourself.”

Scully had been about to turn the key in the ignition. She

stopped and faced him. “I really wanted to let you. I should

have. I was just so scared. And at that time, instead of

opening up to you, I held back. I wanted to be in control and

independent. It wasn’t until later that I could admit that

being so entrenched in that attitude wasn’t worth it. Not in a

situation like that.”

Mulder stared at her in shock. Here was a Scully that was not

only cured, but also far more open than he was used to.

xXx

Georgetown Hospital

Mulder seemed in good health, but Scully couldn’t help asking,

“How are you feeling?”

“It could be worse. At least I’m the one in the hospital bed

instead of you.”

“I’d change places with you in a second if it meant that you

would be okay.”

“I know.” He paused, then asked, “Did I have a stroke? Or do I

have a brain tumor?” His manner appeared calm, but Scully knew

otherwise.

“No. There’s no evidence of stroke or a tumor,” she replied.

“Is it Alzheimer’s disease?”

“No. The tests have come back negative for that. And you’re

not experiencing the sorts of degeneration that accompany it.

Physically you’re in good health. Everything appears fine

mentally.”

“Though it isn’t. There must be something, something that the

instruments and tests just can’t pick up or don’t recognize,”

Mulder said.

“We’ll keep looking. The only aspect about you that is going

backwards is your memory.”

“Onion amnesia. I keep losing layers,” he joked. “You once

told me that I kept unfolding like a flower.”

She had phoned Skinner. He said he would leave San Diego

immediately and return to Washington. Scully convinced him to

stay where he was. As much as she appreciated the gesture,

there was nothing he could do.

And when Skinner heard about the point Mulder had regressed

to, there had been silence. Scully was not surprised. Mulder

was back at a time when Skinner had been firmly in Cancerman’s

grip.

Scully was pulled back to the present by Mulder shifting

around in the hospital bed. There were EEG wires attached to

his head. The setting up of the equipment had just been

completed. Scully and the doctors wanted a reading when and if

Mulder experienced another memory loss. And to make sure his

brain was operating the way it should be in the meantime.

“Scully, do you have any idea what might be causing these

‘setbacks’?” Mulder asked.

She explained that there was a long list of suspects –

incidents as well as people. “I’m going over your test results

and medical records, and I’ve got the Gunmen digging too. Any

clues, and we’ll find them. There are some X-File cases that I

want to go back over. Also, and it may be too early yet to be

anything more than a coincidence, there is one thing,” Scully

said. “Both times that you have regressed, it is to a date

that is the 27th. The month and year varies, so far without a

pattern that I can pick up. The significance of the 27th,

however, could be…”

“That it was the day that Sam was abducted. November 1973.”

“Exactly. So it could tie in with some strange side effect of

a drug you were given last month. It was giving you flashbacks

of the night of your sister’s abduction, but through her

eyes.” She opened her mouth to tell him more about that case,

expecting more questions.

He didn’t jump on the ‘hows’ straight away though. “You think

it could be sending me back towards that night? Back to twelve

years old…”

Or even eight years old, Scully thought, since he had

experienced Sam’s memories after being injected. “Perhaps.”

Mulder sighed. “I was a cute kid, Scully, but I really don’t

want you to find out in this way. Perhaps this is someone’s

twisted idea of giving me back my lost childhood. The

Consortium might have watched that Tom Hanks movie – what was

it called? ‘Big’?” Then he started asking the questions she

was expecting. “How could I experience the abduction from

Sam’s point of view? How did I get injected with the drug?”

She opened her mouth to explain but found herself hesitating.

Mulder seemed so relieved about her health that before now he

hadn’t asked about his mother or sister or other questions

that could bring upsetting answers and so much pain. The fact

that his quest to find his sister had ended as it did… The

2000 Mulder had a hard enough time dealing with the knowledge.

How would the 1997 Mulder react at this point of his life?

The hospital’s tests had so far shown no link between the drug

that he had been given last month and his progressive amnesia.

But should she lie to Mulder about it or withhold the

information?

If she withheld it, someone else might slip up. Or she could

be holding back a piece of the puzzle that Mulder might need

to be able to put things together. He was still a brilliant

investigator – he could be the one to work out the reason for

his own affliction.

At the very least, he would sense if she were holding

something back. Although since he was entrenched in their

‘Cancer time’, he was probably expecting such behavior and

would be less likely to call her on it.

Scully took a deep breath and opened her mouth again, but then

a nurse appeared with some folders. “These are the medical

files you requested, Agent Scully.”

“Thanks, Bette.” Scully added them to her pile.

Mulder looked at the folders. “Are they all mine?”

“Yes.” She selected a file, worry about the ‘Sam talk’

momentarily forgotten. “This is the one I wanted to have a

read through first.”

“Which is it?”

“When you became an X-File, Mulder. Back in 1999.” She

explained about the UFO in Africa and what it had set off. The

memories were painful for her to recall. And Mulder with his

crown of EEG leads was also reminding her of that time, though

at least this Mulder was not comatose. “When you were exposed

to the rubbing from the artifact, your brain – your *whole*

brain – was engaged. It opened up entirely. This is the

reverse, in a sense. Now it’s closing down – the memory area,

that is.”

He started questioning her about the case. Instead of

answering, Scully first addressed the fear that he was doing

his best to hide.

“We got through the cancer, Mulder. Together, even though

sometimes it didn’t seem like it. We’ve gotten through a lot

of things. We’ll get through this.”

He nodded. He believed her.

Then they went back to their work, with the hospital room

standing in as their office (with occasional interruptions

from hospital staff), going over that case and its sequel in

the space station. Mulder was amazed. “I got into outer

space?”

“Yes.” Her partner had always been a space fan, absorbed with

the exploits of astronauts in childhood even before his

interest in the paranormal.

“I always thought that the odds of me going into outer space

were the same as us…” He stopped and went red.

As us getting together.

Scully realized that this Mulder had even less an idea that

they were an item than the 1997 Mulder did.

Again – to tell or not?

Mulder caught a look at the time on her watch as she sat

there. Immediately he forgot about the awkward blip in their

conversation. “Scully, you need to rest. You can’t go running

yourself into the ground like this! Not in your condition…”

Again Mulder halted. He gave a sheepish grin. She recalled all

the ways that Mulder had cared or tried to care for her during

her illness. Often subtle by sheer necessity. He shrugged and

said, “This is going to take some getting used to. But

seriously, cancer or no cancer, you should have a break.”

“I will. Soon. There is a lot for us to talk about though. A

lot has happened.”

“I can imagine.”

Her look told him there was even more than he would dare

imagine…

“Fill me in. Starting with these memories of Sam’s.”

xXx

The ‘filling in’ had been one of the hardest conversations

they had shared in their life.

Mulder took the news about his mother fairly stoically. Scully

decided that could be due to a mix of things. More of a

reaction could hit later. To him, it had also not been long

since she had suffered a stroke and he had been braced for her

death. And to him it was also not very long ago that he had

gotten holes drilled in his head and demanded answers from his

mother about her relationship with the Cigarette Smoking Man.

That had created a rift it took a while to heal.

Sam’s fate caused him to curl up in Scully’s arms, crying. She

and one of his doctors ended up giving him a sedative. Scully

wondered if the Paper Hearts case – again, a recent case to

Mulder’s mind – had affected his reaction. And also her own

condition.

Because just before he let the sedative take him under, Mulder

had whispered, “You’re okay…” and it had sounded more like a

mantra than a comment.

xXx

When Mulder woke up he was more composed but the sadness was

back in his eyes. He took a deep breath and Scully had an

image of him shutting a few doors in his mind, in a ‘too

painful, will deal with later’ gesture.

He looked at all the files and notebooks she had spread out.

He reached for her hand. “Back to work.”

xXx

More tests. More waiting. Mulder even talked Scully into

finding a hypnotherapist to come see him. “There’s hypno-

regression therapy, where you go back into your past. Let’s

see if a therapist can do that with my missing years, even

though to me, it feels like my future…”

It didn’t work. The Gunmen found another hypnotherapist, but

the same story. There seemed to be a ‘block’ in Mulder’s mind.

Scully went back over previous X-Files that could be connected

to Mulder’s plight. Often the scientists or people involved

were already dead or had disappeared. Research and equipment

gone or destroyed…or experiments unable to be replicated.

Mulder had pitched the idea that if he had been injected with

Sam’s memories in the last case, then his own memories should

be ‘gathered’ now, so that if he lost ground again he could be

re-injected and brought ‘back up to’ 1997.

Scully had to reject that idea. It only worked with certain

strong memories; it was not a total recall. And it would need

triggers to keep setting them off. While Mulder had the drug

in his system, bright lights had triggered the flashbacks to

Sam’s abduction and the experimentation on her – but the

memories and feelings were overwhelming, incapacitating even.

Scully still went over the case carefully and consulted with

the surviving researcher, but they ended up at a loss.

xXx

It was morning. Another 48 hours was up. Scully was sitting by

Mulder’s bedside, watching him sleep. They had tried

everything they could think of in the timeframe, to no avail.

Now all she could do was wait while continuing to think the

problem through and see what reality he woke up in. She had

kept the lights in the room dim, not wanting any significant

changes in her appearance to hit him in the moments he woke

up.

A few minutes ago the EEG had shown a change in the frequency

of Mulder’s brain activity, before going back to normal. Mu

rhythms only happened in sleep, but the chart had displayed a

lot more of them, as well as the usual delta sleep activity.

His breathing and heart rate did not alter – nothing to bring

the staff racing into the room.

When Mulder had been afflicted by the rubbing from the African

UFO, Scully researched extensively about the brain, trying to

find answers and a solution. And she had kept up with that

field since, just in case. While the appearance of a greater

than usual number of runs of mu activity was not the dramatic

breakthrough she was hoping for, it was

the only thing that was unusual. The trouble was, no one knew

for sure

what mu rhythms represented…

When Mulder did wake up, he was confused. “Why am I here?

What’s this for?”

Scully grabbed at his hand – he was about to yank one of the

EEG leads off. “Mulder, it’s okay! I’ll explain. You’re in the

hospital for observation.”

“For what? I’m fine. I’m not sick anymore – I’ve been running

around West Virginia!” Then his tone went from impatient to

concerned before she could get a word in. “And whatever’s

going on, your mom needs you more right now.”

“She does?”

Her tone took him by surprise. “Oh no, she’s not blaming you,

is she? If Melissa’s death is anyone’s fault, it’s mine.”

Scully had to remember to breathe. Mulder was peering at her

worriedly through the gloom, his forehead furrowed, trying to

judge her emotional state and also most likely puzzled about

the change in her hairstyle, but not game to ask such a

trivial question as ‘When did you get a haircut?’ at a time

like this.

She asked him what day he thought it was.

27 April 1995.

The day after Melissa’s death.

Gently Scully told him he was experiencing amnesia and what

the real date was.

He stared at her, clearly worried that grief had affected her

mind. “You’re kidding me.”

She boosted the lights. Mulder looked at her. Scully knew he

was trying to rationalize any changes he was seeing to be a

result of her grief.

She looked around, seeking a mirror, then realized there was a

quicker way. “Mulder, take a look at your shoulder. The

shoulder that I put a bullet through. Check out the scar.”

“It’s not a scar just yet, Scully. It only happened about

thirteen or so days ago. But actually, my shoulder isn’t

hurting…” Puzzled and curious, he lifted the collar of his

hospital gown to take a look and was suitably stunned. “It’s

healed. It’s still there, but it’s so faint. Like…”

“Like years have passed.”

His next question came swiftly. “Was I abducted?”

“No. Not you physically. Just your memory.”

And so the next hours brought more tests and questions – or

rather mostly the same tests and questions repeated, like:

“So, after all this study, is there any sort of pattern to my

brain deciding to go retro, apart from the fact it seems to

happen every 48 hours or so?”

The doctors and specialists studied Mulder’s EEG and confirmed

what Scully had thought. No one could tell what it might mean,

even experts from outside D.C. that she contacted.

Nor could they come up with a reason or factor as to why the

regression was happening at those intervals.

And once again there was the task of Mulder and Scully

adjusting to each other from their different ‘vantage points’

or time periods. This Mulder was dealing with Melissa’s death,

his father’s death, his own near death, the fact that his

water had been drugged, the fact that his father had been

involved in some way with Cancerman and his cronies…

Mulder’s discovery of Sam’s file in that gigantic storage

system and that it had his name on the label underneath Sam’s

name.

Her partner seemed poised for Scully to be grieving or for

blame to come his way about Melissa, despite being reassured

otherwise. When told that Maggie Scully was coming to visit

him and in fact that a bunch of flowers was from her, Mulder

was stunned.

xXx

At the end of the next 48 hour period, the EEG repeated the

characteristic rhythm, but Mulder kept sleeping. Whatever year

he had dropped to, he wasn’t sharing it so quickly this time.

Scully sat and waited. And waited.

All the readouts were normal – Mulder was just sleeping in,

unaware. She was tempted to wake him, but things were going to

be hard enough when he woke. She could handle few more hours

of blissful ignorance.

She could, but her bladder couldn’t. Skinner had come back

from San Diego by this stage and had dropped by to visit. He

took up position by his agent’s bed while Scully hurried to

the bathroom attached to the room.

She had finished and was splashing water on her tired face

when the chaos started.

“I can’t be lying in a hospital bed while Scully’s missing! I

have to be out looking for her!”

“Mulder, she’s here! She’s fine! Scully!”

She raced back into the room. Mulder was half out of bed and

half out of some attachments, grim-faced, fighting against

Skinner’s hold. His focus was on his boss. “Let me GO!” he

yelled with a fury and determination that rocked Scully.

“Mulder!”

Instantly Mulder stopped struggling and turned. “Oh God…

Scully?” His eyes darted to Skinner as if to confirm that this

was not a hallucination.

“It’s me, Mulder. I’m here.” Scully hurried over to the bed

before Mulder could try to make a leap over to her. Skinner

let go and stepped back.

Her partner was staring at her like she was an angel come to

earth.

And like most of those angels, she had a message to impart.

But not just yet.

xXx

Several hours later, events had been explained and

possibilities were being gone over, many for about the tenth

time. Reeling from the news, Mulder was doing his best to

cope.

“I don’t want to forget you, Scully. That would be death.”

This from Mulder – a Mulder who was from a time well before

they had admitted and acted on their feelings. Though he was

from a time where his emotions were close to the surface, even

if they were unnamed.

He did know now that they were lovers in his future.

“When you forget me, you won’t even know,” Scully found

herself saying.

“I’ll know that something is missing. Though I probably won’t

be able to believe that I’ve found my soulmate. That I could

love and be loved. But you… You’d be the one *to* know.

Though perhaps that’s for the best. Then you would be free of

me and I don’t want you staying out of obligation to -”

Dana Scully reached her boiling point. She nearly decked him.

She did yell at him. “After all these years I thought we got

the whole ‘You’d be better off without me’ spiel out of your

system! Especially after Christmas! And -” She stopped and

sighed. “Of course you don’t remember any of that.”

At Mulder’s stricken look, she moved towards him. “It’s okay.”

She embraced her partner. “I’m sorry, I forgot.”

“That should be my line…”

His expression was still somewhat shell-shocked, both because

of her outburst and because of this unexpected and rare – to

him – display of such affection from his partner.

She felt Mulder stiffen slightly as her arms went around him,

then his arms slipped around her. His hold was tentative, like

a man freed from a dungeon finally stepping into the light,

wanting it, but tensed that the contact might burn him alive.

She imagined that there was also probably a residue of worry

along the lines of: ‘She’s just back from her abduction – I’ll

hurt her’ in there.

xXx

She kept remembering two things in particular that he had said

during two separate, difficult, times of their lives.

“I believe that what we’re looking for is in the X-Files and

I’m more certain than ever that the truth is in there.”

and:

“I think that the truth will save you, Scully. I think it will

save us both.”

Something in the X-Files…

Looking for a cause or trigger was proving futile – too

inconclusive. But looking for a cure…

They could be two separate things.

The first idea that had sprung into her mind days ago was the

African UFO – the artifact with its pieces and the rubbings.

Even if that whole ordeal was not the cause of Mulder’s

current affliction, if a simple rubbing of a piece of it had

been enough to expand Mulder’s mind back then, what if they

could locate one of those pieces now?

A rubbing that had been in the case file produced no effect

when given to him at intervals over several days.

There was another possibility – one she had kept to herself

and on hold because of the logistics and distance to travel.

And in the hope that science and logic would have come through

for her and Mulder by now.

But they had not, and her mind turned to an alternative that

was definitely ‘out there’.

xXx

ACT THREE:

Mulder had regressed again. Scully had feared that this jump

might send him to a time before he knew her, however he ended

up in 1993. His mindset was that he was still on the case

where they had met Max Fenig.

She had lost some ground and time herself too – stress and

overwork had caused her to pass out and a doctor had sedated

her so she would get some rest. She was not a happy camper

when she awoke.

The irony was that she had passed out before she could do

anything about her ‘extreme possibility’. Now she was no

longer in a hospital bed herself, but would have to wait until

that night to get her plan rolling. At least the enforced stay

in bed before the staff would let her up had given her time to

plot and go over things.

She had to act now, before her partner regressed again, this

time probably to a point where he couldn’t remember her.

Mulder was awake, staring at the wall. He turned when she

said, “Hey.”

“Hey.” He smiled at her. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah.”

“What time is it?”

“After midnight.”

He blinked and said, “Midnight? What’s up? You should be -”

“I’ve come up with something – someone – who may be able to

help us. But we’ve got some traveling to do to get there.”

“Who? Where?”

“I’ll explain on the way. In another 30 or so hours, you’re

going to lose more of your memory, and chances are that…”

“I won’t be able to remember you,” Mulder finished bleakly.

“So I’d prefer that not to happen in mid-transit. It could

make life difficult. I’d prefer it not to happen at all. If we

go now there should be plenty of time to reach our destination

and find your friend.”

“My…?” Mulder curbed his questions, with an effort, she

could tell.

“You’re going to have to sign out against medical advice.”

He shrugged. “I’ll still have my primary physician with me.

Are we going to tell anyone where we’re going? The guys?”

Earlier he had been surprised that Scully knew the Gunmen.

After all, in his mind, he hadn’t actually introduced her to

them yet. She had made up a little photo album of pictures to

show him of various people, more proof of time passing for

when he ‘jumped’, and he was amazed at a picture of her with

the Gunmen, Frohike making sure his arm was around her. “What

about Skinner? Can we tell him?”

“We can’t, not specifically. I’ll leave Skinner an email at

his work addy from my hotmail account. Then he shouldn’t read

it until sometime in the morning. I’ll use a code we worked

out once for times like this, so he knows it’s genuine.”

“He’ll be thrilled…”

Scully imagined Skinner’s reaction. He would have to wonder

whether it really was her who checked Mulder out. At least the

hospital’s security cameras would not have their lenses spray-

painted over, not that it would be much reassurance.

But this had to be done. And now.

Mulder asked, “What about your parents? Or will this be a

short trip and they won’t have time to worry?”

“I’ll send my mother a hotmail message too, telling her I’ll

be away this week. Um…my father died soon after Christmas in

1993.”

“I’m sorry…” He already knew the fates of his own parents.

Once out in the car, Scully debated about turning her cell

phone off or not. She didn’t want their location to be traced,

but at the same time, if the Gunmen or Skinner or anyone came

up with information on Mulder’s condition… Finally, she

turned it off.

Mulder ran a hand through his hair, partly, she suspected, to

smother a yawn. But she could not tell for sure, only catching

a glimpse in her peripheral vision.

“So, care to fill me in?” he asked.

“We’ve got a red-eye flight to catch.”

“Where to?”

She hesitated.

“You think the car is bugged?”

“It could be, but then again we could just as easily be

followed or traced by many different means.” She thought of

the chip in her neck. And even though she was going to book

their tickets under false names and with cash, if someone was

looking for them, she and Mulder would probably be easily

noticed at the airport even if they tried to alter their

appearances. Airports would be one of the first places to

look. But Skinner would have no reason to realize anything was

up yet. And to get to California quickly, driving was

definitely out. “No one may be bothering. It’s impossible to

tell.” She would keep an eye out for a tail anyway. “I’d

prefer not to tell you our final destination. Not yet.”

He frowned, then laughed. “I’m getting a taste of my own

medicine. All those times I hauled you off to mysterious

locations and cases at a few minutes’ notice. So I guess I can

roll with this one. But is there anything you *can* tell me?”

“We’re going to see someone you met once.”

“In which of my pasts? The past that I actually can remember

or -”

“The past you can’t remember. ”

Mulder was less successful at disguising his next yawn – it

cut off the start of his next question.

“Get some sleep,” Scully told him. “A quick stop to get some

things we need, then on to the airport. We’ll be on the flight

soon enough.”

His head was back against the seat. “But I want to know… And

I doubt we’re going to discuss it on the plane…” A few

seconds later he was asleep, his body overriding even his

rampant curiosity.

The fear went through Scully that he would wake up and not

recognize her, even though another lapse was not ‘due’ yet.

She stopped briefly at her apartment to do things like sending

short emails and grabbing a store of cash she kept. She had

already gone to Mulder’s apartment before midnight to grab

suitable clothing for him. At the airport, when Mulder saw the

tickets she purchased with the cash, he said, “California,

huh? Don’t suppose you packed my Speedos?”

At San Francisco they changed flights for Redding. Scully knew

that Mulder wanted answers but he was so tired he spent most

of the travel time asleep or dozing. She took the opportunity

to catch up on sleep herself, knowing that she probably

wouldn’t get any the next night. The payoff she was hoping for

would more than make up for the exhaustion.

When they changed into a rental car at Redding and loaded in

the camping gear and supplies she had ordered, she knew it was

time for explanations.

Mulder thought so too. “Are we nearly there?”

“This is the final leg of the trip. It’s a little remote.

We’re going to the town of Manzanita Lake. Or rather the

Lassen Peak Volcanic National Park, which is near it.” She

waited to see if this sparked any flicker of memory in her

partner, but he shook his head. An irrational hope remained in

her that when they got there, everything would come flooding

back.

“Okay, I know the where. But NOW will you tell me *why* we’re

here?”

“We came here several months ago on a case.”

“So why didn’t you let me read the case file on the plane?

Were you worried someone would read it over my shoulder?”

“There isn’t a report on it. Well, not of what really

happened.” At his raised eyebrows, she continued. “Skinner

gave us a case regarding some less than upstanding residents

who had gone missing from a town in Kentucky. A town that

proclaimed itself the home of Bigfoot. There had been

sightings of a large man-like creature that glowed. Even the

sheriff claimed to have seen it.”

“So why aren’t we in Kentucky?”

“Because then unpopular people disappeared from Manzanita Lake

and it also coincided with similar sightings. We came here and

stayed at the police captain’s cabin, near one of the

sightings. That night, you saw a tall glowing man and raced

after him. All you got was a sprained ankle. Yes, in that way

you’re still a klutz after all these years.”

Mulder gave her the wounded puppy dog look, which also had not

changed over time.

“Then Skinner called and told us that one of the missing men

in Kentucky had been returned. Not only that, but with a

complete attitude adjustment. I went back to Kentucky to

interview him – Purdy. He swore he had seen the error of his

ways and would do his best to be an upstanding citizen.”

“Because?”

“Because a ten foot tall glowing man in a toga had taken him

and his friend to a world beneath the earth. An amazing and

advanced place where their host said they would remain until

they learned the error of their ways.”

“Hearing a theory like this coming from you, Scully, I gotta

admit…” He trailed off with a grin.

“That it’s a turn on?” she asked.

He shrugged, almost apologetically.

“Anyway, you remained at the cabin near Manzanita Lake. And

you got to have a close encounter. One of those giant men came

to you and healed your ankle by touch.”

“So you think he could do the same to my mind? My memory?”

“I don’t know for sure. I hope so. The mind is a much more

complex and complicated thing than an ankle, but Purdy

underwent such a radical personality transformation… Last I

heard, he really was making good on his new leaf, and his

missing friend had also reappeared and seemed determined to do

the same. Another man from there still has not been returned,

to my knowledge anyway, but Purdy said he was a much harder

case. And one of the men from Manzanita Lake was returned a

month or so ago. He also seemed ‘rewired’, for the better.”

“So I got to meet ‘Bigfoot’ and all I got was a lousy healed

ankle?”

Scully said, “Not quite. You told me the giant man – Lathos,

his name was – communicated by telepathy. He took you to his

world and explained that his people, the Agarthans, were

trying an experiment. They were seeing if it was possible to

change the destructive habits of humans. To enlighten the scum

of the earth, then work their way up. By doing so they could

help the planet, which in turn would mean their world would be

less threatened.”

“Did they come from outer space originally? Are they aliens?”

“I don’t know. But what happens to our world affects them.

Lathos was worried they would be discovered, since the

sightings were attracting a lot of attention. He could sense

that you were a believer, so sought you out to explain. You

came back with your ankle healed and also looking like you’d

spent weeks at a health farm, and we cooked up a report that

would keep Lathos and his secret, his world, safe.”

“So you didn’t get to see that world, or him? Geez, THAT

hasn’t changed.”

“I didn’t get to see ‘Hollow Earth’, like a lot of theories

have described it. I almost got to meet Lathos – I just got a

faint glimpse – but I was so exhausted and just waking up

under a tree, so I guess the two of you decided that your

reappearance, alive and well, would be enough for me to deal

with. Though I could have done with a zap of that healing

energy.”

“What were you doing asleep under a tree?”

“I was out in the forest, looking for you. Purdy had said that

these beings were telepathic, so I went and sat and hoped one

of them could ‘hear’ me and bring you back to me.”

“But, you don’t believe… Well, ‘my’ Scully doesn’t.

Didn’t’…”

“Things changed over the years. And I believe in it enough to

take you back there. It’s our best shot. You said at the time

that we should come back here one day, and that if we hung

around long enough in that area, Lathos should be able to

sense our presence and come for us. There’s no way we could

find the place by ourselves.”

“But what if I regress before he comes?”

“Then I had better do some very quick talking and hope you’re

in a receptive frame of mind. It’s an isolated spot, so you

can’t exactly go to a payphone and call the police on me.

There’s my cellphone, but it might not work in the woods

themselves. The cabin was in a clear spot. And the Agarthans

usually appear at night – so hopefully one of them will come

before dawn tomorrow.” But she remembered how Mulder had said

it could be a few days before their presence was felt. They

would just have to see. There were plenty of supplies anyway.

She had debated about whether to borrow the police captain’s

cabin or to camp in the forest itself. In the end she had made

sure a tent was included in the supplies and damn the cost.

The weather report was good, and she did not really want the

captain to wonder why they were back in the area. It wasn’t

like they could pretend they were on a holiday. Though Captain

Lopez had seen how she reacted when Mulder was missing, and

Lopez *had* asked her if they were more than partners.

Her partner made a ‘hmmmm’ noise. “Well, just in case I do

regress, I’d better write myself a note now. I believe in a

lot of things, so it will be interesting to see if I believe

myself…”

Scully pulled over to let Mulder rummage in the trunk for a

legal pad and pen. When they got underway again, he sat and

thought for a while. “It’s funny, trying to profile myself. To

work out what to say that will convince me.” Then he started

writing. A few minutes later he tore the page off, folded it

and put the sheet in a pocket of his coat.

“Among other things, like what the hell is going on, I told

myself that you are a very special woman and that I can trust

you. I should be able to sense that anyway…”

“You thought I was a spy at first.”

“Not for long,” he countered. “Though if I ever get to

encounter my future self – the one with you – I’d like to give

him a kick for waiting so damn long to…y’know. But I guess

it did happen eventually.”

xXx

The weather was fortunately good enough that the tent, good

sleeping bags and appropriate clothing would suffice without

the addition of a campfire or cabin. So Scully did not stop at

the combined police-and-fire station. Besides, she thought

that Lathos would be more likely to appear to them out in the

forest itself instead of the cabin.

Carrying the tent, their sleeping bags and enough supplies for

a day, the partners went to the spot where Mulder had first

met Lathos. It was not a clearing as such, however there was

more than enough room to pitch the tent.

“And now?” Mulder asked.

“We set up the tent, then settle down and wait. And

concentrate on Lathos, I guess. It might bring him to us more

quickly.” She spread out a ground sheet next to the tent,

under a tree to have a comfortable place to sit. It was the

same tree that she had spent a lonely night under before. “I

don’t think anyone will stumble across us out here. The

walking tracks and tourist areas are just far enough away.”

She hoped.

Once their camp was made, Mulder sat down beside Scully on the

ground sheet. Not close, but not a mile away either. He looked

into the tent, at their sleeping bags. “Someone told me once

that the best way to conserve warmth was to crawl naked into a

sleeping bag with someone who is already naked.”

She nodded. “You told me that.”

“When?”

“1997.”

“And did we?”

“We were stranded out in the woods on one of your monster

hunts. We were lost. We had no provisions, let alone sleeping

bags, it was night and cold and you were injured.”

His tone did not change, but his grin grew a little wider. “So

did we?”

“I just told you -”

“You said that I was injured, not that I was dead.”

He did have a point. “No, we didn’t. We weren’t lovers then.

Not in that sense. You did, however, sleep in my arms, fully

clothed.” She decided not to mention the singing. He might

expect an ‘encore’. And she did not want to risk scaring

Lathos away… “But when we were investigating the ‘Bigfoot’

sightings several months ago, you and I spent the night out in

the woods in Doob Creek, Kentucky, on a stakeout. THEN you got

lucky.”

“Hmmm, mixing business with pleasure. Hope we weren’t

caught by anyone.”

“Well, in the morning we found large footprints nearby, so one

of the Agarthans might have got an eyeful.”

Mulder looked at the two sleeping bags that were laid out in

the tent, side by side – though with a respectable gap in-

between – then at her. “I guess I’d better keep myself

‘chaste’ until my remembering night, right? Like any good

bride-to-be.”

“Yes.”

“I was afraid you’d say that.”

“As soon as you’re well again -”

“Well, there’s nothing actually physically wrong with me,” he

supplied helpfully with a grin. “But mentally… I guess if it

took us eight years to get together in that way and I’m back

at year one… Must be hard for you though. I mean, you can

remember us as lovers.”

“Difficult in ways, yes. But also glad to have those

memories.”

“I’d like to ask…about us… Feels weird though, like I’m

intruding or being nosey, yet it’s *about* you and me.”

“You can ask me about it. It’s okay. What do you want to

know?”

He hesitated, then he began asking questions. Not so much

about their physical intimacy but the other things they did

together and enjoyed together.

“I watched chick flicks with you? Geez, I must have been in

love.”

It hurt to hear him say that in the past tense, as though the

man next to her had fallen out of love with her and was

talking as though they were two exes who had met up again in

the mall one day. Mulder could not help that though. Losing

his memory was just as awful as being the one watching it

unravel, even if he could not remember the process.

Scully defended her choice of movies. “You watched them with

me. I didn’t say it wasn’t without a certain amount of

complaining and whining, though I think a lot of that was for

show because you actually did find yourself enjoying some of

them but wouldn’t dream of letting me know. Or instead of

complaining you’d do your best to distract me. And not just in

the way that you’re thinking of now. Though your arsenal of

diversionary tactics certainly increased once we did get

together. And I found some ways to get your attention when

sports were on TV.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. You didn’t mind. At least you knew that your team would

score.”

In-between their talks, they ate and spent time concentrating,

trying to summon Lathos or his friends. But eventually night

fell and steadily progressed, and there was no sign of any

sort of glow apart from the stars beyond the light of the

lamps Scully had turned on. She and Mulder were inside the

tent by this stage, sitting on their sleeping bags. The walls

of the tent had windows of clear plastic in them, so the

agents could still watch the forest as they waited.

At one point, Mulder chuckled. “It’s hard to believe that

we’re trying to summon someone that you yourself never

actually got to see, from a place you never got to go. From

what I remember, even when you saw things, you wouldn’t let

yourself believe in them. But I appreciate you doing this for

me. No one else would.”

“I would have done this for you during any of the years we’ve

been together.”

“That’s right – from what I remember of my rescue from Ellen’s

Air Base, you sure hauled me out of the fire. Not many people

were willing to take hostages for me… Though by the sounds

of all you’ve lost along the way…”

She spent some time reassuring him, then said, “Lie down and

get some sleep.”

“But when I wake up, I might not be able to remember you.”

“We tried keeping you awake but whatever happens still

happens. You’re exhausted. If you don’t remember me in the

morning, then you’ll be easier to reason with if you’ve had

some sleep.”

Mulder said, “I’m always easy to reason with! Though you

haven’t gotten any sleep either. How are you going to reason

with me when you’re… What am I saying? No matter what the

circumstances, you’ll be the voice of logic and reason.”

“Lathos should be here soon anyway.”

Mulder nodded. He went to speak, but either he could not find

anything to say, or the words he wanted would not come out. He

leaned across and kissed her on the lips. They clung that way

for a minute, then reluctantly he settled down in his sleeping

bag, on his side, facing her. Scully held his hand, and ran

her other one through his hair. And kept running it gently

through, even after he fell asleep.

Please, Lathos, hear me. You brought him back to me once

before. Please be able to do it again.

She concentrated until her head ached. Sometimes she stared

out at the forest as she did this, but most of the time she

spent looking at her partner’s face.

He had one nightmare, around three in the morning, calling out

Samantha’s name. Scully soothed him, and Mulder settled

without properly waking.

Mulder was back at a time of his life where Samantha was the

main subject of his nightmares. Before Scully’s own abduction,

the cancer, the mutants and monsters, the losses of so many

family members and friends, before Cancerman and the

Consortium were known to him or them…

But even before Mulder’s work on the X-Files, his nightmares

and burden had been horrific enough. Samantha’s loss, his

family’s disintegration, and the cases and human monsters he

had encountered while profiling.

He had never really had a particularly easy path through his

adult life, whatever the year.

Gradually light appeared, but it was that of the approaching

dawn, not of anything paranormal.

Scully felt like crying. She had dragged Mulder out here. And

it could well have been for nothing. How much longer should

they stay here?

She was broken out of her thoughts by Mulder opening his eyes

and staring blankly at the sleeping bag he was in.

“What the…?”

“Mulder?” she asked softly, hopefully.

He nearly jumped clear out of the bag. His hand slapped at his

waist, seeking his gun. It wasn’t there. “Who are you? What am

I doing here?”

“You don’t recognize me?”

“No.”

Her heart broke. But she forced herself to sweep it and her

tears into a corner. For now. “Mulder, I’m Special Agent Dana

Scully. I’m also a medical doctor. You’re suffering from a

form of amnesia and I’m trying to help you.”

He studied her proffered badge as he freed himself completely

from the bag. He remained in a half-squatting position out of

arms reach, as if ready to bolt. Mulder eyed her carefully.

“Where are we?”

“Lassen Peak Volcanic National Park in California.”

He took in his surroundings from his crouch, still very wary

of her. “Why? And what the hell do you mean ‘amnesia’? Okay, I

certainly don’t know you, but I know who I am.”

“Yes, but what year do you think it is?”

“1989.”

Mulder had regressed further this time than she had thought he

would. This was even before he had heard of the X-Files!

“What date is it?” Mulder asked. When she was slow to answer,

he demanded, “What date is it?”

She told him.

“No!” He leapt up. “I don’t know what mental hospital you

escaped from, but it is NOT 2002!”

“Look. Here’s a magazine I bought on our way here. Look at the

date.”

His expression was contemptuous. “That can be faked. And it’s

not October. It’s May. Oh, who cares about which month – even

if it *is* October, it is not and cannot be 2002!”

Silently she produced a mirror from her bag and offered it to

him. His reflection gave him a start. Mulder poked at his

face, as if hoping the changes were simply make up.

“I guess…” he said quietly.

“What?”

“I do feel… Um, fitter. More muscular than when I went to

bed. But that’s…”

“You told me that there were a few times when you were

profiling or on some bad Violent Crime cases where you were on

a constant treadmill of cases. With no time to use a gym

treadmill.”

Mulder was feeling the size of one of his biceps and absently

nodded at her words, too dazed to pick up and comment on the

fact she had said profiling in the past tense. “I squeeze in a

jog as regularly as possible, but never get to do weights as

much as I want to…” He shook his head to clear it and

started putting his boots on. Scully was still wearing hers.

Mulder asked, “When did this start? My amnesia?”

“Nearly two weeks ago.”

“Then what the hell am I doing out here?”

“We’re looking for a cure or treatment here.”

“Cures don’t grow on trees. Well, perhaps in the Brazilian

rainforest, but this doesn’t look like that. And if it is

Georgetown Hospital, then their Emergency wing has really

changed its decor!”

Scully tried to explain, however her partner was focused on

his boots and not listening. Then he exited the tent. Scully

was right behind him, but Mulder had only gone a few paces,

looking around.

Scully said, “We have to stay here for now. It’s a long story,

but you believe in extreme possibilities. I’m hoping that one

of them will come and help us.”

Mulder was not looking happy. “How do you fit into all this?”

The pieces of her heart were not lying quietly. They were

stabbing inside her with each breath. That and Mulder’s

complete non-recognition of her were causing tears to rise up

in her eyes, despite her best efforts at calm and control.

“I’m your partner.”

“Partner as in ‘work partner’ or as in…”

She knew that with him in this frame of mind it would be

easier to just say ‘work’, but she could not lie to him. Not

about this. Not after years of withholding her feelings.

“Both.”

“Oh.” He looked on the verge of making a Mulder-remark like

‘It looks like I still have good taste in my later years,’ but

then his sensitivity came to the forefront. He dug around in

his pockets and offered her his handkerchief. “I’m sorry, but

I don’t… I can’t remember you…”

“I know.” She nodded at the handkerchief. “Thank you.” She

couldn’t tell if he was buying her story or not though.

“So does the whole Bureau know about us, or what?” His tone

was not caustic or amused. It was simply curious.

“We’re discreet.”

“Ah.”

“And there’s a note in your coat. The right-hand pocket. Take

a look at it.”

Mulder kept some space between them and didn’t take his eyes

off her as he reached into his pocket. But then he took a few

paces back and read the note.

“Well?”

“That does look like my handwriting…” he conceded. “But…

This is too weird.”

Words she never thought she’d hear from her partner.

“How do I know you’re not some kidnapper or serial killer? Or

– and I don’t mean to sound arrogant or crass – someone from

the secretarial pool wanting some action? Besides, Reggie’s

going to be wondering where I am, and Bill Patterson borrowed

me to do a profile. I’ve got people counting on me, including

dead ones. If I screw this up, a killer goes free and keeps

killing, and I lose my chance at a spot in Behavioral Science.

Catching the killer is higher on my list of priorities

though.”

“Mulder, you don’t work for Violent Crimes or Behavioral

Sciences anymore.”

He looked at her in frustration. “What do you mean ‘anymore’?

I *haven’t* worked for BSU – this is just a ‘show us what you

can do and we’ll see’ job.”

“You did work for them. Like the note says, time has moved

on.”

“So did you convince Reggie – or Patterson, if I’m working for

him now – to let me come on this jaunt, or what?”

“Reggie died in 1994.”

Mulder stared at her. “And Patterson…?”

“He died in 2001.”

She braced herself for the questions that would lead to the

causes of death. What was Mulder going to think of Patterson

dying in prison, a serial killer? And that Mulder himself had

been the one to catch him?

Her partner’s jaw set. He was digging in his pockets again.

“I’ve heard enough. Where’s my phone?”

“We didn’t bring it. I’ve got mine, but there won’t be a

signal.” She had tried yesterday.

He stared at her phone. “That’s a cellular? It’s tiny…

You’re lying to me. This is just some kid’s toy or something

that operates as a calculator.”

She had forgotten that difference. The last few ‘jumps’,

Mulder had been cocooned inside the hospital, so technological

advancements like that had not been encountered or not noticed

due to everything else going on. Or perhaps the changes

weren’t as obvious as this one.

Mulder looked like he was at the point of bolting off into the

woods, away from this crazy woman. Scully said, “You told me

you think it’s May. The 27th?”

“Yes.”

She thought back over his history. “So, you wouldn’t have had

the regression hypnosis yet. With Doctor Werber.”

Mulder gaped at her. “How did you know about that? It’s

supposed to be confidential!”

“And your appointment is in a week, by your mental calendar,

right?”

Mulder scuffed the ground with the toe of his sneaker. “If I

don’t cancel first,” he muttered.

Scully knew he actually would cancel, then later change his

mind, and be booked in for June 16, which would be the day he

actually did end up going through with the regression. And a

quest would be born.

He had always looked for Samantha – first as a teenager,

looking at girls of the right age he came across. Then as an

FBI agent, examining the evidence he could find from the old

records of her disappearance. Then in Violent Crimes,

wondering if any of these killers or crazies had also been

responsible for his loss.

So perhaps the actual quest to find his sister had not been

born with that regression tape, but his slant on the

perpetrators had certainly been shifted.

Scully said, “I know the events that led up to you making the

appointment. Suzanne Modeski. You met the Lone Gunmen for the

first time.”

“The who?” he interrupted. Suzanne Modeski he did know, and

his surprise at Scully’s knowledge of her was clear.

Scully reached back into the tent and pulled out a knapsack,

glad it was not further away, in case Mulder decided to run

off. She produced the mini photo album. “These guys have

become great friends of ours. They help you with research and

hacking.”

When she produced the correct photo. Mulder nearly choked with

laughter. “Those guys from the Expo? The ones I wouldn’t trust

to change a light bulb – they’re a help? The world is

doomed… You’re not making a very strong case here, you

know.”

“When you found them at the warehouse you were sprayed with a

hallucinogen you think may have started to unlock memories

from your past. Memories about your sister’s disappearance.”

Scully braced herself for questions about Samantha. About

whether his twelve missing years had produced his sister or

the answer to what happened to her.

But Mulder, as amazed as he was at what she knew and his

reflection in the mirror, was still not quite buying her

insistence that time had actually passed. He considered Scully

gravely for what seemed an eternity, then came and sat down on

the groundsheet. Mulder was still a distance from her, but he

had decided to stay. For the moment. “Well, I guess there are

worse things than being stranded with an attractive woman in

the woods. So, while we’re ‘waiting’, tell me this story about

what’s going on and just what we’re waiting for.”

“Let’s have some breakfast while I do that.”

They sat under the tree. She told Mulder about how he and she

worked on the X-Files together, and that the cases were about

paranormal phenomena. He looked bemused. His working world was

full of serial killers, not UFOs. He was still a curious and

passionate man, but his thirst for the paranormal was only

just starting to make its presence felt in his subconscious.

So when she explained their Hollow Earth case, Mulder was

giving her the skeptical look that she so often wore.

“Some giant toga guy and his pet elephant?”

“Pet mammoth,” Scully corrected.

“You dragged me out here for that?”

“I couldn’t sit there and watch you disappear.”

“And what if these creatures can stop what’s happening to me,

but then can’t reverse it? Then I’m an almost twenty-eight

year old stuck in an almost forty-one year old body, and I

have no memory of you.”

“It would be worth that if it saves you,” she said frankly.

“You care about me that much?”

“Yes.”

“But…” Mulder was at a loss.

“I know you’re not used to anyone feeling that way towards

you, but I do.”

Mulder took a deep breath, then asked, “And if the cure won’t

‘stick’ unless I remain in Hollow Earth, then what?”

“From what you told me, there are worse places to live. It’s

like a paradise.”

“So you’d be happy to come visit me?”

“I’d stay with you. After coming up with a good cover story

for our vanishing act. And as long as I could visit my mother

occasionally.”

No reaction.

Then she realized that Mulder wasn’t listening to her. Or

looking at her. He was staring past her. She turned. There was

a glowing through the trees. This was not the sun as it

climbed into the sky. This light was nearby, amongst the

trees, and coming towards them. She heard Mulder curse and

knew that he had automatically gone for his gun again.

“I hope you’ve got your weapon,” he said, but his voice was

distracted. The weapon was just a precaution. Her Mulder, or

the Mulder of the X-Files, would see a light like that and

think he was close to aliens and the truth about his sister or

conspiracies, and head right for it.

But this Mulder was on the cusp. He had not undergone the

hypno-regression yet to fixate on alien abduction as the

answer to Sam’s disappearance and the focus of his quest.

However, it was a mystery, and this was still Fox Mulder.

Then they saw the source of the glow. A man. A nine foot tall

man was coming towards them, dressed in robes.

“Who…?” Mulder gasped out.

Scully said, “Well, he and I didn’t actually get introduced

last time, but I believe – and hope – that this is your friend

Lathos.”

clip_image001

xXx

ACT FOUR:

The glowing man stepped fully into sight. And the glow was not

from a lamp or any similar light source. His hands were raised

and they were empty. It was his skin that glowed. His face

looked human and was very serene.

Mulder stepped in front of Scully. Some things never change,

she thought wryly, and stepped around to stand beside him. She

pushed through her awe and amazement to get to the task at

hand. The Hollow Earth race was real. Thank God. And Mulder

was counting on her, though he didn’t really know or accept

that at the moment.

“Are you Lathos?” she asked. Then she wondered if she should

have thought her question instead, seeing as this giant was

supposed to be telepathic.

But the man smiled and nodded in response.

That’s right, Scully thought. Mulder had said that they could

talk, but they preferred to use telepathy. And if she thought

her question, then Mulder would not hear it.

As for Mulder, the surreal nature of the situation and

probably his own fear brought his inimitable wit to the

surface. “What, no mammoth?”

Then Scully heard Lathos speak, but his lips did not move. ‘I

am pleased to see you both again.’ She had heard it in her

mind. And from Mulder’s gasp, he had heard it too. ‘This time,

Miss Scully, we actually meet. Though you are almost as tired

as you were last time.’

Mulder swore, then said incredulously. “He’s real.”

‘You do not remember me, Mr.. Mulder? You should have retained

at least some memories. Especially since your brain is more

open and advanced than most.’

“Um, thanks, but I’m afraid it isn’t anymore. According to

Miss Scully here, I can’t actually remember the last thirteen

or so years.”

Hearing herself be called ‘Miss Scully’ was surreal.

Scully forged on. “Somehow Mulder has been afflicted with a

form of amnesia. This is the twelfth day, and he has

progressively forgotten more and more years of his life. He

doesn’t even remember who I am anymore. Our medical and

scientific communities are at a loss. They can’t say for sure

what caused it or how to help him. So, I hoped…”

‘That I might be able to.’

“Please.”

Lathos kept speaking in her mind. ‘You have kept knowledge of

our land secret. We are grateful for that. We know Mr. Mulder

has a good heart. I will see what I can do.’ Lathos moved

forwards. ‘Miss Scully, please keep watch. It is unlikely

anyone will come across us at this early time, but it is best

to be vigilant.’

Scully opened her mouth to ask why they did not go somewhere

like Hollow Earth or to a cave where they would be even less

likely to be seen, but remembered that from Mulder’s

description it had been quite a trip. Also, the ankle healing

had come before the trek – not to mention essential for Mulder

to be able to walk any distance at all – and the healing

process had been very swift. So Lathos was going to see if he

could heal Mulder as quickly now. Perhaps they would not need

the ‘expansive’ effect that Hollow Earth itself had on the

human brain.

Lathos came forward again. Mulder looked half fascinated and

half like he wanted to back away. ‘Spooky’ Mulder won out, and

he held his ground. It also seemed to unnerve him slightly

that here was someone who actually towered over him instead of

the other way around.

Mulder threw Scully a quick glance, nodding at her cross. “Now

would be a good time to start praying.”

“I’ve been doing that for twelve days.”

Lathos put his hands on either side of Mulder’s head. The

agent shut his eyes. Lathos concentrated. The glow around the

giant became even more pronounced, though not enough to make

Scully need to close or shield her own eyes. She could pray

just as well with them open.

Time passed. Scully tried not to get worried. Ankle healing

had only taken around a minute, supposedly, but this time the

brain was being dealt with.

Then she saw the frown on Lathos’ face and did get worried.

Lathos concentrated again and glowed even brighter, but then

resumed his ‘normal’ glow and removed his hands from Mulder’s

head.

Mulder opened his eyes and regarded the two of them. No words,

telepathic or otherwise, had to be exchanged for the trio to

know it had not worked.

Scully turned to Lathos. “There’s still a chance, isn’t there?

If we take Mulder to your world we can expose him to the

atmosphere there. That’s how you were able to cause such a

change in those men, right?”

‘They became enlightened. But I do not believe we have

encountered anyone with this particular condition, whether

Agarthan or human. I need to discuss this with the others and

they need to examine Mr. Mulder. We will journey to Agartha

and pursue a cure there. Come with me.’

Scully hesitated, looking at their supplies. “What should we

bring?”

‘Whatever food and water you wish for the journey. You will

not require your portable bedding; we will not travel for that

long. We should go now, before any of your kind encounter us.’

Scully hastily gathered items she considered necessary. She

and Mulder were in warm enough clothing for a hike.

Mulder, who looked like he still couldn’t work out if this was

really happening or not, spoke up. “Agent Scully said you and

your kind tended to stick to nocturnal wanderings. Though that

glow would ruin the low profile you want.”

Lathos simply gave him a look and started walking. It was an

overcast morning, so not as light as usual, even this early.

Lathos moved fast. Scully was thankful she was used to keeping

up with long legs. “I was worried that you wouldn’t come,” she

told him.

‘I was delayed. I knew you wanted to see me urgently, but

could not sense that it was a medical problem.’ Lathos did not

elaborate any further on his lateness or seem to think he

should keep up a conversation with his guests, so Mulder and

Scully stayed silent for a while and concentrated on not

lagging behind. Scully seemed to get a second wind, not as

tired as she thought she would or should be. She wondered if

it was to do with her proximity to Lathos and his glow…

Eventually they came to a rocky area and to what appeared to

be a solid rock wall, but Scully realized there was an

entrance with a very well blended-in opening. They went

through the opening, and then down a steep path through

beautiful caverns. Mulder and Scully marveled at the sights

they encountered, as they followed Lathos through the twists

and turns and more caverns.

Mulder turned to Scully.

“Still sure about this, Agent Scully?”

“Scully. You usually call me ‘Scully’.”

“Oh. Even after all those years? Anything to do with me not

liking my first name?”

“Yes. Although you let me call you that sometimes.”

“Okay… So, are you still sure about this, Scully?”

“When you told me about your first encounter with Lathos, you

mentioned how he was actually able to blank or suppress your

memory at certain stages of your trip to his land, so you

wouldn’t be able to retrace the route. To do that indicates a

sophisticated knowledge of the workings of the brain. You said

that he made a gesture at your head and then there was a gap

in your memory.”

That intrigued Mulder. “Sounds like he can blank my mind

easily enough then. Let’s hope he’s as good at retrieving.”

At this Lathos turned and actually spoke to them. “It is too

much for me to undertake alone. I am hopeful that the

atmosphere of Agartha will be beneficial, as well as a healing

circle with others of my kind. That is how we help enlighten

those we take. What one may not achieve alone -” He made a

wide, sweeping gesture with one hand.

“- a committee might,” Mulder finished. “Let’s hope you’re

right, and that it sticks. Actually, you said something before

about my mind, but I wasn’t sure if you were being serious or

not. But I can see you aren’t a flippant type of guy. You said

my brain was more open and advanced than most. Did you mean

‘open’ as in my supposed ability to accept the paranormal? Or

does my eidetic memory make me ‘advanced’ in your way of

thinking?”

Lathos reverted to telepathy. ‘Both of those characteristics

are a factor, yes. But there is also something else. We

Agarthans use a much greater proportion of our brains than

humans do. When we bring humans to our land, they are able to

function on a higher level while they are there. We realized

that at some point in your past, Mr. Mulder, before you even

came to Agartha, your brain had an intense period of operating

at full capacity, past even what we are capable of.’

“I have? I did?”

Scully nodded and said, “Yes, it was a few years ago. Mulder

can’t remember it now, thanks to this amnesia, but it was so

intense and overwhelming that he couldn’t function properly.”

Mulder was staring at her and nearly hit his head on a

stalactite in the process. She outlined the case. “You started

to hear people’s thoughts, Mulder. But when you were around a

lot of people it was too much for you to handle or filter out.

Your mind became more ‘unlocked’. You ended up catatonic in a

hospital bed. Your brain was running so hot it was inevitable

that your body would not be able to withstand the strain for

long. And apparently you were aware of people around you, but

you couldn’t respond. The medication they gave you to try to

slow your brain waves down may have caused that effect. Or you

were starting to master your ‘gift’, but the drugs were

hindering you.”

“And how was I cured?”

She explained about him being kidnapped and turning up in the

DOD.

“Geez. Too bad none of them came for me while I was in the

hospital this time.”

Scully continued, “What happened to you when you started

hearing the voices may be linked to a retrovirus you were

exposed to years beforehand. You believed it to be alien in

origin. All this, plus whatever was done to you at the

Department of Defense… Mulder, there are so many

possibilities for what could be happening to you now. It could

be a combination of things.”

“Or my brain getting fed up with the way I treat it.”

Scully told Mulder and Lathos about what Mulder and his poor

head had gone through, even in just this last year.

“I was implanted with Sam’s DNA?”

“Involuntarily. Her memory impulses.”

Lathos remarked that he had sensed some sort of change had

occurred when he had touched Mulder’s head in the forest

today. ‘Perhaps it is related to that. But I cannot be

certain.’

Not long after that:

“I let a quack doctor drill a hole in my HEAD?” Mulder nearly

yelled.

“Two holes, actually. Voluntarily.”

‘Perhaps you are not as intelligent as I thought…’ came from

Lathos.

“Obviously not,” Mulder agreed.

She told Mulder and Lathos her theory about the DNA injection

now making Mulder mentally drop back towards the age of

twelve.

“I’d prefer not to let it get that far…” Mulder said.

xXx

The discussion had kept Scully from dwelling too much on the

surreal nature of her current situation. Here she was, with a

partner who was shedding years mentally like a stripper

dropping items of clothing and also accompanied by giant man

from an advanced tribe down in the earth, traveling to a land

beyond her comprehension. Hard to believe. Hard to swallow.

Unbelievable. But life without Mulder was unthinkable, so she

kept going.

She wondered if Chimene, the guilt vampire she and Mulder had

once encountered, was originally from this race or somehow

shared a common ancestry with them. Chimene possessed unique

powers that enabled her to sense guilt and take it from a

person’s mind and had alluded that she had lived an extremely

long life.

Lathos halted. Scully could not see another opening in the

rock, but knew that didn’t mean there wasn’t one. She thought

that the giant was giving them another rest break, but then he

raised his hand and made a gesture. Her eyes closed.

And when she opened them, she was sitting in a strange room.

Her mind started to process what she was seeing but her heart

jumped over that and she looked frantically for Mulder.

She did not have to look far. He was sitting next to her, his

eyes open too. Their eyes locked, looking at each other

intently, making sure they were all right, then their FBI

training made them do a quick scan of the room even as their

mouths were opening to ask ‘Are you all right?’ and provide

reassurance.

But even as Scully was doing this, she was aware of other

things. When she first opened her eyes, she had only had the

briefest of impressions of her surroundings before seeking

Mulder out. Yet as she looked at him and also reassured

herself they were alone in the room, her brain was able to

recount to her the details of the wall she had been facing,

including the intricate designs painted on it.

I’m a trained investigator. I’m supposed to notice my

surroundings. It’s an unconscious reflex.

That’s what Scully told herself, but she knew there was more

to it than that.

She was recalling the wall and its murals while at the same

time scrutinizing her partner with great care, neither thought

sequence interfering with the other. And she was recalling

other details of the room at the same time, after a quick

scan.

A person can rub their stomach while patting their head… But

this is odd, like my brain can and is operating on more

levels. Or am I imagining it?

And what a room…

The colors were incredible. So bright and clear to her eyes.

Almost painful.

So this is Agarthan art… But then she realized almost

instantaneously that it wasn’t just the interior design. It

was her vision. The colors of Mulder’s hair and eyes were so

well known to her – things she had gazed upon countless times

over the years. Yet here as she beheld him, the colors seemed

to have a life of their own, as if she could fall into them.

Vibrant.

“Mulder, the colors…”

Now that he seemed reassured that she was okay, he turned his

head back to where they had been facing – the mural wall.

Mulder nodded. “It’s fantastic…”

Scully tugged at his hand. “All colors. Isn’t it wonderful?

Every strand of your hair…”

“My hair?”

“Doesn’t my hair look different to you? My eyes?” She realized

that she was asking this question of a man who could only

recall an acquaintance with her of a few hours, not years. But

still, surely he could see the difference? It was like being

used to string all your life, then being presented with gold

thread instead. Like having a veil lifted from her eyes. And

touching Mulder usually sent pleasant sensations through her

body, however in touching his hand now it was like all her

senses were magnified, not just her vision. It felt

incredible.

There was a noise and Lathos walked into the room. ‘I believe

that Mr. Mulder’s amnesia may be interfering with his

perception somewhat. But that may change the longer he is

here. Welcome to the city of Lesser Shamballa. It is a major

city in our land of Agartha.’

‘Thank you,’ Scully sent to him. Then she turned to Mulder.

“Mulder, I can feel that my brain has ‘opened up’. Can you

remember anything? Is anything different?”

“Yes, in a way. But I still can’t remember what you said I’ve

forgotten.”

Lathos drew their attention to a table which was full of food

and beverages. Some fruits Scully recognized, but they looked

like they were twice the size that she was used to. Dazed, she

got up and looked around the room again.

Draperies hung at intervals around the walls and Scully could

tell from the light that one at least was some sort of doorway

to outside. If one could actually be ‘outdoors’ when under the

earth…

‘I thought it best to introduce you to your surroundings

gradually,’ Lathos explained.

There was a tiny fountain in the wall. At first Scully thought

water was issuing from it, but then she realized it was light.

“What’s that humming noise?” Mulder asked.

“Our mode of transport.”

“I always wanted to see a flying car,” Scully said.

Both Scully and Mulder went to a window and peered out. They

saw the ‘flying cars’. And Scully found herself instantly

understanding them – how they worked, their method of

propulsion, even though there was nothing like them at home.

Lathos drew them out of their staring. ‘I have sent word for a

gathering of those I believe most able to help you, Mr.

Mulder. They will examine you and then we will see what they

concur on.’

“How long will it take them to gather?”

Scully knew that time was different here, but when Lathos

informed her that it would take two ‘reta’, she found herself

instantly knowing how long that would be, both in Agarthan

time and converted to her time. “About twenty minutes.”

‘You may wish to go out on the balcony or eat and rest. I will

return with the others. If you need me in the meantime, tap on

this chime.’ Lathos departed.

The room was so beautiful. If it were an exhibit in a museum

at home, Scully knew it would take her hours to go over every

little detail. Yet here that scrutiny was effortless. Though

colors were so bewitching now that she could spend five

minutes marveling at a shade of green.

The walls themselves generated an artificial light. The bed

against one wall had a cover it would take a village of people

ages to embroider. And the food tasted delicious.

Mulder turned to Scully. “Well, even if I don’t get cured,

thanks for the trip!”

They went out on the balcony, gazing at the sights in wonder.

At the appointed time, which came very quickly, Lathos lead a

group of Agarthans into the room. There were four males and

five females. All were tall and serene-looking too.

Lathos put Mulder’s chair in the middle of the room, in a

space that was completely clear. ‘Please sit, Mr. Mulder. We

wish to examine you.’

“Clothes on or off?”

‘We will examine you telepathically. There is no need to

remove your garments.’

The ten Agarthans formed a circle around Mulder’s chair. He

sat there, quiet and motionless, staring out at Scully, who

was standing. If an Agarthan happened to block their view of

each other, Scully would shift a step or two, back into his

line of sight.

The Agarthans closed their eyes. Their glow did not increase,

but Scully heard a sound in her head. It was a humming and

seemed to be coming from the circle.

All the ten giants spoke in harmony. ‘Your memories are not

lost. They merely need to be made accessible again. And kept

that way.’

Scully felt herself comprehend. The drugs that Mulder had been

injected with had somehow left a build up, untraceable to

conventional medicine. Something that was interfering with the

transfer of his memories into his conscious mind. It was not

doing any physical damage as such, but had properties that

were causing the regressions. It had to be removed. Vibrated

away to nothingness.

This time the glow of the giants did increase and blend, and

it and the humming became so intense that it blocked out

everything, even consciousness.

xXx

Scully woke up. She was lying on what felt like a bed. Her

head hurt, but she made herself sit up. Mulder was her focus.

He was lying next to her, apparently asleep. “Mulder?”

He murmured and shifted.

“Mulder?” She shook him gently. Had it worked? Her brain was

not ‘multi-layering’ to such a degree at the moment, perhaps

because of what had happened at the ceremony, but she knew

that they were alone in the room and they were still in

Agartha. “Mulder?”

It seemed a very long wait before he opened his eyes and

looked up at her. He blinked.

“Mulder?”

Then she saw a rush of feelings and knowledge go through his

eyes. And what remained there was the look she wanted to see.

“Scully. My Scully.” He hugged her. “I’m back.”

“You are?” she asked hopefully, gently pulling away a little

to regard him.

He proceeded to give her a list of things, including things

she had not had time to ‘update’ the 1989 Mulder about. Things

that only she and the 2002 Mulder knew.

She let out a cry of relief and gratitude and nearly choked

him with her hug.

Lathos entered the room and came up to the bed before they

were even aware of him. Scully went to get off the bed and

stand up, but he shook his head. ‘Remain there. Please. The

healing circle was successful.’

Mulder said, “Thank you. But will my mind remain ‘open’ once

we head back into the wide blue yonder, away from the

specialness of this place?”

‘We are very confident that it will. The congestion has been

cleared without harm.’

Scully could have hugged him. She thanked him instead. Lathos

gave them a brief healing treatment to banish their headaches.

It worked very quickly. Scully could feel colors ‘kicking in’

again.

Lathos then offered to take them on an extensive tour.

At that, she hesitated. “As much as we would love to, we had

better go back to our world very soon. There are people who

will be looking for us. I don’t want to worry them any more

than we already have.”

“Next time we come back, we’ll make sure that no one will miss

us for a while,” Mulder said. “Then we can have a nice long

holiday and sightsee. There are things here that I’d love to

show Scully.”

Lathos looked regally regretful. ‘That visit will probably not

be permissible for a long while.’

“Why? Have we done something wrong?”

‘Saving people in this manner is not our mission, even though

we are capable of it. It is important that humans learn their

few limitations and their innumerable capabilities. We were

willing to help this time, especially since you were dealing

with something unknown to you, but we cannot do it again. The

time has not come for us to reveal ourselves in such a

manner.’

Lathos produced a device that looked like an hourglass, only

it did not have the tapering section in the middle. The grains

simply hovered at the top of the container and gradually

drifted down like in a snow globe. ‘Rest until this finishes.

Then we will leave here and you will get to see some of the

city on the way out. Then you will be back on your world a

single-day cycle after you came with me.’

Scully could tell that this version of an hourglass would last

for two human hours. She checked her watch, which still seemed

to be functioning properly, and rapidly did some calculations.

“I think we’ll be back ‘on’ earth for your birthday, Mulder.”

“You’ve given me a great present already, Scully.” And she

knew he wasn’t just talking about his restored memory.

“Thank you, Lathos,” Scully said again. “How can we ever repay

you?”

He spoke. “Keep our secret.” He inclined his head and left the

room.

Mulder moved up close against Scully and put his arms around

her. They held silently for several minutes, reveling in the

closeness and sensations. He ran his fingers through her hair,

then lifted a lock and studied the strands, fascinated by how

vibrant the color was.

“Soooooo… Our brains are working at a higher capacity,” he

remarked. “They can take in a lot more. Not just knowledge,

but all the senses are enhanced.”

“Yes.”

“So, what sort of an affect do you think that would have on

something like…” He paused and ‘casually’ picked a word out

of the air. “…Sex?”

Her reply was deliberately just as casual. “I’m not sure,

Mulder. I have wondered that myself, though only briefly,

being somewhat more concerned and occupied with other matters.

But now that you’re all right and have raised a very

intriguing question, I guess the only way to find out is to

put it to the test.”

“Do you think that they’d think we were being rude if we put

out a ‘do not disturb’ sign for a while?”

“I think they’d understand.”

xXx

Scully blinked. Mulder was in her arms, also stirring.

Awareness came to her in pieces: forest. Day. Early. Not long

after dawn? The tent. They were lying on top of one sleeping

bag, with the other over them like a blanket. They were

clothed.

Scully blinked again. They were back in the national park. But

how? There were memories… Some she couldn’t quite grasp,

some stronger than others.

But the main thing…

“Mulder?”

He sat up enough to meet her eyes. He knew exactly what she

was asking in her one word question. “I’m here. All forty-one

years of me, both in body and mind. Though I feel like a

thirty-five year old!”

That was true. Just like after his first visit, Mulder looked

fit and tanned and glowing, and from the look in his eyes, so

did she. Scully certainly felt great. But that could be

explained by how relieved and happy she felt.

She hugged him fiercely.

One strong memory was the incredible-on-every-level-and-plane-

of-existence-and-then-some lovemaking they had shared in

Agartha.

Agartha!

She couldn’t remember it anywhere near as clearly as she knew

she should. Just like Mulder when he had returned the first

time. Either a quirk of not being in that beneficial

atmosphere anymore or Lathos had selectively tinkered with

their memories.

“I’m glad he left our ‘session’ intact.”

Scully knew her partner was not referring to the circle of

healing. “Mulder, I think our ‘session’ was such a vivid

experience that it was seared into our brains.”

She could recall aspects of the city, but knew there was a lot

more. It did not matter though. She had what she wanted.

Scully stretched. “I guess we’d better get up soon and get out

of here, hopefully away from the town before any earlybirds

get a good look at us. Then decide where and when to start

spreading the news that we’re back and okay… First on the

list is my mother.”

Mulder’s face fell. “I’m sorry. She’s one of the last people I

wanted to cause more worry for.”

“She’ll be happy that you’re okay.” Scully checked her watch

as they stood up. It was definitely after dawn. “It’s the

13th. Happy birthday!”

“Thank you. Perhaps we can tell her we went away for a private

celebration…”

“And this was the day that you were due to ‘drop back’ again.

But you haven’t.”

“Things are looking up. No cobwebs on the brain. Thanks to

you.” He picked her up by the waist and swung her around in

joy.

xXx

EPILOGUE:

In San Francisco the agents went to the FBI field office there

and found Paul Kells, an agent they and their A.D. knew. In

Kells’ office they called Skinner, then handed the phone to

the agent so he could corroborate to their boss that they were

alive and all right. They would face Skinner’s unique blend of

wrath and relief in D.C. when they reported to him next

morning. He was glad that Mulder was now okay – though wanted

to see for himself.

But they were able to spend that night in Scully’s apartment.

The jetlag they expected did not arise, and Mulder attributed

this to their ‘post Agartha glow’. Other things, however,

certainly got to arise…

“Happy birthday, Mulder.”

“It certainly is so far!”

They might not have been able to have the ‘all encompassing

Agartha experience’ again, but neither of them minded. They

had the memories. And what they had just shared was quite a

slice of heaven as is.

“And at least I’m fighting fit,” Mulder bragged with a grin,

“able to make up for all those days of abstinence.”

“True, but sometime in the next few weeks, you’re due for a

flu shot.”

“You’re kidding.”

“No, I think it would be a good idea.”

“I’m in perfect health! And you’re telling me that out of all

that time I spent in the hospital when I was losing layers

like an onion, that nobody bothered to update that shot then?

Out of all those zillions of jabs I did get?”

“We didn’t want to do anything that might adversely affect

you, especially when we didn’t know what was happening with

your mind.”

He let loose a put-upon sigh. “One thing,” he said after a few

minutes of drifting.

“Yes?”

“Where are we going to tell Skinner that we spent the last few

days?”

“At an amazing secret health spa that only caters for

exclusive clientele. Or something like that. We might have to

powder down our golden tans though.”

He chuckled.

“Scully.”

“Yes?”

“Thanks for the memories.”

“Even the bad ones?”

“You make them worth remembering.”

THE END.

One thought on “Layers”

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