Vortex

Title: Vortex

Author: Truthwebothknow

Summary: “Scully looked at his face carefully,

noting that the familiar Mulder excitement glittered

in his eyes like fireflies. Relieved beyond belief

to see something in him she hadn’t seen in a while,

certainly not since his enforced medical leave after

the terrible accident 3 months ago.”

Written for IMTP VS10 Halloween special event

challenge

Category: MSR, A, X, MT

Rating: PG for adult themes, etc. Spooky activity

Disclaimer: CC owns them all along with Fox,

Devonshire belongs to the UK. I just pack them off

to haunted places. Borasic housewife so no point in

suing. No profit except maybe occasional nice

feedback.

Archive: anywhere after VS10 two week exclusivity.

Please let me know.

Feedback: dragonrider1@ntlworld.com

Vortex

By Truthwebothknow

“Impressive!” Fox Mulder watched Dana Scully’s lips

moved exquisitely around her exclamation, making

Mulder’s heart turn over in his chest like a gymnast

flipping over a parallel bar. He felt giddy. He

reached for her fingers to steady him. She squeezed

back.

“Spooky,” he corrected, huskily in her ear, clearly

delighted. His mouth was slightly agape both at the

sight of her and at the foreboding Gothic monstrosity

glaring down at them from over the swaying oaks like

several ugly decaying teeth.

Scully looked at his face carefully, noting that the

familiar Mulder excitement glittered in his eyes like

fireflies. Relieved beyond belief to see something in

him she hadn’t seen in a while, certainly not since

his enforced medical leave after the terrible

accident 3 months ago.

“Shall we?” Her arm slipped around his. His grin was

almost feral in intensity.

“Can’t wait.”

Scully gripped his arm firmly as he started to move

forward across the grass courtyard, cane in his other

hand to assist his awkward, unsteady gait. His body

still ravaged by the unnatural, brutal collision of

bone against unforgiving metal, glass and granite

that had heralded the end of his FBI career and the X

files. Nothing was written in stone but Scully knew

the medical hearing was just an unhappy formality

that still hung over them. The X files, dark,

ominous, full of mystery and wonder, a precipitous

piece of their history together, like the monument

they were about to enter. Defunct now, just like

this.

Scully studied him closely, a warmth fluttering

briefly across the inherent chill she felt inside,

seeing the exuberant 12 year old inhabit his all too

thin adult body. The grin on his face, classic Mulder

in paranormal radar mode, leaning into her shoulder

as they slowly made their way through the ancient

portcullis into what the tourist brochures had

proudly claimed as, one of the most haunted castles

in England.

Her laughter sounded good to both their ears as it

echoed off the old gray walls as Mulder began

whistling the “Ghostbusters” theme.

“Who ya gonna call, Scully?” His partner pulled

him into a tight embrace and she kissed him, feeling

the fresh caress of a late English fall breeze.

The day before. October 30th

Everything was so green and pretty, so different than

anywhere else she had ever been, a complete contrast

from the sleepless metropolis that was the every day

circus of professional downtown D.C. The pace of life

seems so tranquil here. You could breathe.

The fall was just beginning in the leaves that

undulated and whispered in a kaleidoscope of orange,

green and cinnamon against the side of the train as

they passed through a tunnel of trees. She couldn’t

believe the countryside could be so many vivid

shades. It was like she had been seeing the world

under a veil and someone had suddenly removed it,

seeing it fully for the first time. Where the sun

kissed the rain earlier, there was now a rainbow to

complete the effect.

Scully’s eyes were glued to the endless tapestry of

colors punctuated by fields, valleys, forests,

streams and the odd waterfall outside the window of

the Waterloo to Exeter Intercity, as it nudged its

way through Somerset and into the lush Devon scenery.

An unbidden smile curled her lips at the image of a

young, impressionable Mulder spending several

formative years in this wonderful place steeped in

mystery. What could have been a Crop circle caught

her eye as they passed a golden wheat field. She

grinned, shaking her head. The true culprit appearing

in the form of a yellow combine gathering in the

summer’s crop in a haphazard line down the field.

Mulder stirred from his relaxed slumber against her

shoulder, joining her eyes at the window, blinking in

the autumn sunshine that bathed the carriage.

Feeling his breath on her neck, she let out a sigh of

contentment, closing her eyes against the bright sun,

letting the train’s gentle rocking bathe her with

deep relaxation.

“…Hi Scully, you okay?” She knew how proud he was

of this country that had adopted him while he studied

at Oxford. Apart from the unfortunate specter of one

Phoebe Green, for the most he loved this country like

a native. He’d gushed like a Jewish mother over all

the other places they’d seen. London, York, Oxford.

Oxford! His heart truly beat again for the first time

since the accident had silenced its passion and

spirit, leaving it lost in his chest. Only she could

hear it and she had to really listen.

He was so excited at the thought of revisiting his

old haunts and he hadn’t really come down since. He

called it his Oxford beat. Scully had nearly fallen

out of the boat, laughing as he said it. They nearly

both ended up in the river. Good memories, he was

going to need them, they both were. A sudden slither

of melancholy caught her in the ribs. His hand

tugging gently at hers brought her out of her

reverie.

She opened her eyes and met his, basking in the love

she found there. He was here, alive. Right now it’s

all that mattered.

…”Mmmmmnnnn. England is wonderful, Mulder. So

different. Think I’ll pull up stakes and move over

here, buy one of these trains and just travel around

like this. Better than a massage. Can’t believe I

left it so long to visit.”

“Should have seen the state of the old bone shakers

they had back in the late 70’s when I was last here,

Scully.” Mulder pulled her close, kissing her, his

arm snaking further round her waist. “They were often

dirty, invariably late, served coffee that would burn

a hole like the bounty hunter’s blood and were

staffed by sadistic nazi-ite ticket vendors that made

cancer man look like a pussy in comparison.”

“So from that I take it you got caught without a

ticket occasionally?” The famous Scully eyebrow

crumbled the denial perched on his tongue. His shy

smirk confirmed her suspicion. …

“Um, busted.” Scully laughed, noting that his eyes

matched the color of the leaves outside as they

twinkled with amusement. “Hey, I was a poor student

living on baked bean lasagna; and something calorific

and hideous called Scouse that my Liverpudlian

roommate always made me. I got from London to

Edinburgh once with only £3 pounds in my pocket. Got

the rag week prize for audacity and deviousness.” He

suddenly had an unbidden flashback of his own naked

ass, some funny herbs and a horribly stained British

railways blanket on the sleeper to Arbroath. God, he

hadn’t known there nuns were aboard, or that the

blanket had slipped when the door to his sleeper

swung open, revealing to the nuns a part of his

anatomy his mother hadn’t laid eyes on since he was 9

years old. The nuns were probably still in therapy.

He giggled at the thought. God that felt good. He

squeezed Scully’s hand. Wondering what she would

think about that particular escapade.

“I always knew deep down under that FBI hotshot

persona there was a criminal element, Mulder.

Thankfully you swapped it for innuendo as you

matured, well got older. I don’t know about matured.”

“I’m wounded, Scully!” he clutched his heart, trying

his best to look mortally insulted. “No backrub for

you tonight…”

She shot him a kilowatt smile, planting her lips

firmly on his, effectively silencing his next

thought. Mulder relished this new openly affectionate

Scully that had been taking shape over the last year

and since the trauma of the last few months.

“Look over there ” Mulder used the bogus distraction

to wipe the tear that slipped down his face.

Mulder hated how his emotions betrayed him now. He

didn’t quite buy the skull fracture theory they gave

him for the often embarrassing and unbidden tears

that plagued him sometimes.

“What was it?”

“What?”

“What did you see?” His eyes settled on a moving

brown figure he’d previously missed. Something caught

his vision, exciting his paranormal chip, then he

relaxed, it wasn’t what he thought he saw, or was

hoping for.

“There.” Scully watched his eyes as they tracked a

fox making its way across a hilly field. Mulder felt

a knot of sadness at the pronounced limp he saw as it

disappeared into a deep pine grove. “Lame Fox!” The

second that Scully squeezed his fingers he realized

he’d said it aloud. “Just like me.” A sad smile

answered her worried expression. Fighting a lump in

her throat, she pulled his head against her shoulder.

A trembling hand stroked his cheek. Lips brushed his

neck.

“Another hour and we’ll be there, Mulder,you okay?”

“Tired,where are we staying?” He sighed, pressing the

heel of his hands in both eyes, rubbing.

“Latchmere Inn, 2 minutes from Darkmere castle. We

can get a cab from Totnes station according to the

tourist brochure. ” Mulder allowed himself a small

smile at her change of subject, focusing on the

reason for their trek to the West Country. He

couldn’t wait to see her reaction to this bygone

haven of ghostly excellence straight out a Lovecraft

play. Just the two of them, in their own time, on

their dime, like old times. Somehow he didn’t feel

the usual pang of sadness in his heart. She may not

be his partner for much longer but they were partners

in an entirely more profound way. The best way, his

heart told him.

Their eyes closed for the rest of the journey,

fingers entwined tightly, the world passing the

endless quilted greens of Devon, Scully’s eyes only

flickering open at the two toned horn, signaling an

approaching tiny station and to reassure herself that

Mulder was still breathing. She marveled at the candy

box perfect thatched cottages dotting their journey

westward, indulging a fantasy that she and Mulder

could leave behind the chaos and tragedy they’d

suffered, coming here to heal and live in one them.

Open fire to make love in front of, hot soup when the

wind blew across the Dartmoor peaks. Toasting

marshmallows, listening to Mulder’s rich voice read

Hound of the Baskervilles aloud. How perfect would

that be? Mulder could thrive in this little slice of

English heaven, far from consortiums, case files,

distain, ridicule from his colleagues and the smell

of fear that tainted his every breath,every day.

They could start again, make this their bolt hole, be

free to love and actually live beyond the horror of

their old lives, the paranormal aspect here could

keep him amused indefinitely.

If he sold his Armani’s, not that he would need them

much longer, and their apartments, they could maybe

snag one of those thatched dreams. She watched the

rise and fall of his chest, dwarfed in a blue Oxford,

smiling at the dream right beside her, one she could

hold and touch right now. It didn’t matter where they

were or what was in the future, as long as they were

together.

He was still so frail, little things reminded her of

that every day. When she got to the village where

they would be staying she would scope out the local

church and light a candle for him, like she had done

in Oxford, Canterbury, the chapels in the tower of

London and St Paul’s, all unbeknownst to the sleeping

miracle next to her. She felt a sudden urge to feel

his heart, caressing the fabric until the strong beat

filled her hand like a captive bird. She let out the

breath she’d been holding. He looked so much like a

little boy. It took her breath away.

5pm Latchmere Inn Devon. England.

The Latchmere Inn turned out to be a 12-century

coaching Inn built by the first squire of Darkmere.

Charles Seymour. Much of the old charm had stayed,the

old timberwork intact. Old prints of the castle and

village artifacts on the mantle over the fire and on

the shelving around the Inn spoke of its true age

like something trapped in another time.

Scully was glad to see a real open fire in the bar

downstairs. It was warm and welcoming, everything

they needed. Mulder was rather taken with the real

ale selection to be had and managed to get Scully to

relent on the no alcohol rule his own doctor had

imposed. The beaten puppy look melted her resolve

again.

“Just one”, she told him pointedly as he pulled his

wallet. He was still on painkillers after all. He

breathed in the atmosphere, noting the two old timers

jovially discussing farm business and the odd joke

over their own pints.

Scully gave him a playful scowl as he informed her

his pint of choice was something called “Pigs

breath”, something he’d come across in his Oxford

days. Mulder swigged his pint and nodded

thoughtfully, the long absence of any kind of alcohol

zooming strait to his brain with a mule like kick. He

was definitely in a buoyant holiday mood now. He

waved at the two old guys in the corner as they

turned and gave him the newcomers the once over. The

natives seemed friendly even if they stared a bit.

They had a great lunch, salad for Scully while Mulder

enjoyed the house steak, much to Scully’s delight he

was actually eating well, the months in the hospital

making his skin hang on his bones.

While Scully was booking them in, Mulder spotted

another beer called “old spooky.” An evil leer crept

across his face at the irony and ordered a pint of

that and fruit juice for Scully. `What the hell I’m

on vacation. I’ll atone later,’ he though with a leer

at the sort of atonement he could expect if Scully

got wind of his indiscretion. He couldn’t resist. He

stood at the bar, eyes darting towards the reception

room next door where he could hear Scully talking to

the manager. He swallowed his pint in record time,

anxious to hide the evidence before Scully caught him

red-handed. The landlord, Doug, gave him a knowing

wink, he was a robust apple cheeked guy who put

Mulder in mind of an obese Frohike, and only this guy

had a Devon brogue and was a good deal taller. The

sort of guy who could pull pints with his teeth.

“American?” he grunted cheerfully whilst pulling the

pint, showing teeth as he watched Scully come back

into the bar. God, he even leers like Frohike, good

job Scully left her gun Stateside.

“Yeah, just here for some country air and a little

sightseeing. Going up to the castle tomorrow. ”

“It be haunted well, you yanks love that sort of

stuff, don’t ye.” Mulder nodded, enjoying the country

lilt in the man’s voice. ” Watch out for the blue

lady, she is the evil one. Don’t look at her eyes if

you see her. The white lady is sad one. Tomorrow’s

Halloween, it’s said she walks the tower and can be

seen jumping off. Don’t go following her though, she

attracts souls that are lost. Several people followed

her over the years and they were found dead in the

ravine by the east side of the castle. It’s a creepy

place to behold. I get an odd feeling up there.

Never from one night to another do you know what you

might see, you mind yourself, half crippled and all.”

Mulder nodded his thanks, eyes dropping to his ruined

legs and the cane that was the only thing between him

and a wheelchair. “Keep to the marked pathways in

the grounds and don’t stray too far in the woods.”

Mulder’s mind worked overtime at the thrill of the

description the landlord gave him. Wondering if he

really meant it or if it was a well-rehearsed spiel

for tourists like him and Scully. As luck would have

it, they might actually be here at the optimum time

to see something, and let Scully see it too. That

would turn him on.

“Thanks, I’m really hoping to see something. I’ve

heard all the local legends.” Doug nodded knowingly,

an odd spark in his eyes.

Mulder moved away from the bar to go back to the

table. Scully caught him when his legs threatened to

buckle. Scully glared first at Mulder and then at the

smiling landlord who seemed to be enjoying their

silent exchange. Mulder grinned stupidly at her. His

sudden attack of hiccups made her blue eyes narrow in

suspicion. Then her eyes fell on the incriminating

empty glass on the bar.

“Mulder!!! Your meds, I can’t believe you did that. I

don’t even have to tell you that English beer is far

stronger than the stuff we get at home.”

“Sculleee, it’s full of carbohydrates, you wanted me

to put weight on.”

“Of course I do but if you do actually see a real

ghost it will be put down to an alcoholic

hallucination. Besides, I don’t want you keeling over

in a foreign country, it’s quite bad enough when you

do that at home. I don’t think the English health

service is quite ready for you, Mulder.”

Mulder wasn’t listening suddenly. He peered past her

shoulder, noticing for the first time that the table

in the corner was empty, the glasses were gone and

the old guys that he’d seen there all afternoon had

vanished as if they were never there. ” …That and I

worry about you…….. Mulder, did you hear me?”

“Scully, did you se where those guys went?”

“What guys?” Mulder’s brow knitted in confusion. He

shook his head, must be the beer.

“There were two old guys sat talking when we came in,

did you see them go, Doug?” The landlord shrugged,

“But you served them?”

“First customers we have had in all day, you and the

lovely lady there” Mulder gaped first at Doug and

then at the vacant table.

“Scully, you must have noticed them when we came in.

They were there talking…drinking ” She rolled her

eyes at him. Skeptic as ever.

“You’re pulling my leg, Mulder. I didn’t see anyone.

Just Doug, here and us. Are you sure you only had two

pints of that stuff?”

“Your kidding me, I saw them. I waved at them, they

acknowledged me.” He was clearly confused now as Doug

and Scully grinned at him, sure he was pulling a fast

one. It was his style after all.

“Sorry Mulder, I didn’t see them. I did wonder why

you were waving at thin air but we had a long trip

from London. I thought you were swatting at a fly or

something. Let’s get you up to the room, G-man,” She

decided, seeing he was more confused than ever.

He must have been swaying slightly. Before he could

protest, her arm encircled his waist steering him

towards the brass sign that pointed their way to

their room. On the way up he spotted some imposing

prints of the castle. Wild, he thought, anticipation

and alcohol fighting for dominance in his brain

cells, still trying to make sense of what happened in

the bar.

Mulder lamented over each step, how when he was at

Oxford he’d spent many a happy Saturday night downing

copious amounts of the local laughing water, and how

`warm fuzzy vacation Scully’ had turned into

`spoilsport Scully’. His legs were starting to

protest now at the relentless climb. He almost missed

her squeezing his ass on the way up.

Scully was delighted at the renaissance décor in the

room. Mulder commented that the wallpaper looked like

one of his mom’s old beach dresses. He loved the look

of the huge king sized bed, the antique pine

furniture. The open fire from downstairs continued up

into their room. The bed felt like lying on a big

fluffy cloud. Much to Scully’s chagrin, Mulder threw

himself down and bounced on it a bit, delighted that

the springs were sturdy and didn’t creak like some of

the other places they stayed in. He leered at her

bemused expression until she laughed. No mistaking

what he was thinking. They’d christened each

guesthouse, pub and hotel on their travels. Mulder

pondered on writing a tour guide in a moment of post

coital glee.

Mulder soon dozed off. He still tired quickly and

sometimes it was easy to forget that. He needed time

to build up his stamina again. She’d take the

opportunity to have a long soak while he slept.

Scully undressed him, tucking him under the covers,

pausing to watch as he turned in his sleep,

uncovering his bare chest that spoke volumes of the

hell it had been through. A runway map of pain that

had only just begun to fade. He still looked

beautiful despite all the new scars from the

intensive care and surgeries. They didn’t look angry

any more, just sad.

Scully relaxed in a haven of scented steam and

candlelight, sighing in contentment in the big claw

foot bath. This holiday had been a huge success and

for Mulder, just what the doctor ordered.

Was it only 12 short weeks ago he lay in a coma in

Colorado, unable to breath on his own? Hooked up to

more machines than she’d ever as a doctor, seen

anyone’s body play host to?

His body broken like an egg after a drunk driver hit

his car on a lonely road, catapulting him through the

windshield and leaving him bleeding out in a part of

the Grand Canyon that no tourist usually saw. She

remembered his horrified face as he came round to

find metal where there had been bone. Fixators that

protruded through his already abused skin like

frightening Meccano creations that held together his

legs and hips because they were now in two dozen

crazy pieces instead of how nature intended.

He hyperventilated during the few times that

amputation was brought up. Fortunately that hadn’t

happened, Mulder’s amazing recuperative powers, and

the prayers of those who loved him saving the day. He

got to keep his legs but he would never walk again

with out a limp, or some kind of walking aid, not to

mention constant pain, possible blackouts.

The real blow that scared Dana Scully for him more

than anything was the inevitable loss of field

status. Since taking his first unaided breath, she’d

harbored the fear that they could discharge him

altogether. He wasn’t going to fully recover, neither

would he be chasing anymore Reticulans anytime soon,

but it was quite something else to hear it confirmed

that they were suspending the X files indefinitely,

pending the medical review and Mulder’s recovery.

She’d feared for Mulder’s spirit; his driving passion

and beautiful mind would break all over again like

his bones, something that could never heal. She

wasn’t fooled by the dispassionate stare he gave

Skinner as he delivered the final nail to her lover’s

heart, and hers by proxy.

As soon as the bureau knew of his condition, the

metal work he was now sporting inside his shattered

body, they were ready to shove him all the way out

the door. Here’s your pension, so sorry Spooky, have

a nice life.

The pain in Skinner eyes told of his own sorrow at

the decision, but also spoke volumes of how he felt

about the higher echelons viewing this as a

convenient excuse to rid themselves of their Maverick

agent once and for all. The medical hearing was a

flimsy hoodwink for due process, but Mulder and

Scully had mentally packed up the office and moved

out in the part of their minds that had already begun

to reluctantly accept defeat.

Only the Gunmen, her mother, and Scully’s own

unfailing love had stopped him from finding a more

permanent career resolution as Mulder spiraled into

clinical depression. God bless Frohike’s idea.

She almost drowned herself when the muffled shriek

from the bedroom hit her.

Scully flew through the door dripping, towel clutched

to her body to find the bed empty. Her panicked eyes

soon fell on the naked back of the man she loved and

she sucked in a deep breath. He was leaning white

knuckled against the windowsill. The window was wide-

open, full moon casting him with an ethereal glow.

Mulder seemed to be in a trance. She put a wet hand

out to touch him, calling his name softly so not to

scare him.

“Mulder? What was it, a nightmare?” His heart raced

against her hand on his back. He kept staring at the

courtyard outside.

“There was a girl, Scully, Did you see her?”

“Not one you smuggled in while I was in the bath I

hope,” She chuckled, fingers tickling him. It was

then he trembled. He was bone cold. He wasn’t

laughing, his eyes held a far away quality.

“A little girl. She… She was in here…”

” What? Look Mulder, you’ve had a long day. You’re

freezing, come back to bed. It was a nightmare that’s

all. The atmosphere, our location…no wonder you

dreamed.” She was rubbing his hands now trying to get

warmth into them. He turned, pupils dilating wildly

like he’d just had a shock or seen a gh..?” No. She

shrugged that notion aside trying gently to pull him

from the window. He wouldn’t budge.

” She wasn’t a dream, she was real. It wasn’t some

psychosomatic trace memory either, she was here.

Believe me, Scully. She was in here. …I …I woke

up and she was sitting on my chest.” Fingers rubbed

at his sternum, as if he were trying to erase the

sensation, frowning when he found the staples the

thoracic surgeon had put in.

“…Mulder, there’s no one here, just me. Come back

to bed. You’ll catch pneumonia.” He was beginning to

scare her now. Her hands soothed against his skin to

calm him. “Mulder? Please? C’mon sweetheart. Ghost

hunt’s tomorrow, partner.”

“I’m not imagining things. I can see her outside. She

was here. She spoke to me.” Why couldn’t Scully see

her?

“What did she say?” Scully squinted past his shoulder

trying to see what he was still staring at below. A

cow mooed in the distance and a flock of geese flew

across the full moon. Braying in noisy unison. No

girl. He was silent for a few moments, still staring

out into the night air. Goosebumps covered his bare

skin, trying to hold back the shiver that passed

through him.

“She said she knew I was coming. She called me,..

Fox. ” Mulder sought out Scully’s eyes and she saw

at once how alert he was, how much be believed what

he’d seen. Oh God!

“.. Samantha?”

“No, not Samantha, Scully. She was a blond, about 6

years old. She wants me to go with her. She wants to

help. I have to see…”

“If you think you’re ditching me to go chasing around

rural England in the night, half naked, we need to

change your meds. Come on, come back to bed. And

don’t give me that look. You’re not long back from

circling the drain. You’re frozen and I am too. ” She

reached over him to close the window, and pointed him

towards the bed. He sighed as she gave him her famous

look. Reluctantly he followed her, watching as she

turned the bed down and got, still damp, into it.

What the? His attention went to the object that he

just stubbed his toe on. His eyes widened as he bent

slowly to pull out whatever it was. Mulder let out a

humorless laugh, whistling “Twilight zone” as he

produced a… ouija board.

“Scully, did you ever see that film with Patrick

Swayze and Whoopee Goldberg?”

“Oh we are so not going to go there, Mulder.” She

gave her patent Scully glare that quickly tuned into

a coy smile. Her arm reached for him. “Mulder make me

warm.”

Mulder crawled awkwardly into his side of the bed and

drew her to his body. Kissing all the cold spots he

could find. Neither of them saw the ethereal

lightshow or the blue luminous figure that bent over

them after they drifted off to sleep. The frozen

smile that didn’t reach the obsidian eyes.

“Sleep, broken Fox” She dissolved into a speck of pin

light that moved slowly over the wall, and she

vanished under the door.

***********

Mulder looked over the castle wall from the kitchens.

Some of the cooking stacks were the original ones and

stood majestically from the flagstone floor. He felt

tiny looking up at them. A pinprick of light moved

across the stonewalls and followed him as he wandered

slowly around, leaning heavily on his cane. Scully

was doing her own perusal of the 15th century

architecture at the other end of the castle.

The investigator in him had been drawn to the east

side where the sheer drop had claimed several lives

according to Doug at the Inn. The wind had picked up

now; all the trees down below in the ravine were

swaying in some slow motion dance. The clouds looked

ominous too coming from the coast a few miles away. A

child’s laughter reached his ears suddenly and he

swung round.

FOXFOXFOXFOX…

His head snapped round and he tripped, the cane went

flying and before he could stop himself, he felt a

rush of air at his back and landed awkwardly against

the stone bantry, fingers groping tightly for

purchase. A rush of air left his lungs in a painful

blast, his ribs connected with the hard surface.

Heart pounding, he pushed himself backwards then felt

the sickening sound of the rock cracking beneath his

fingers like a demonic screech. Oh God, Scully. It

was then he realized he couldn’t see her. He just

looked up in time to see a huge black cloud

descending on him like a twister. There seemed to be

a pair of black eyes at the heart of it that seem to

lift him up and made him weightless. The fusion of

wind, rain and leaves pounded against his body and

his eyes noticed the stick flailing in the air

against his legs.

“Scully… ” He got her name out once before

something squeezed his lungs and found himself

falling up and over the edge of the wall then sucked

him into nothingness.

Scully rounded the corner in time to see Mulder’s

abandoned stick hit the flagstones with a violent

clatter. He was nowhere in sight as she spun around

frantic. “No!!!!!”

“Oh my God, Mulder,!!!! Mulderrrr. She could hardly

bear to look over the wall where it had fallen away

in a huge chunk. Trying to hold onto her strength as

her legs threaten to buckle with weight of her grief.

He had to be dead from that height. Please God no.

Not her Mulder.

Several other people and the castle warden ran over

to her hearing her horrified cries, several grabbed

her gasping body to stop her falling over the edge

with the masonry that littered the valley below the

wall. There was no body. The clouds that had glowered

so ominously before had vanished along with Mulder.

Somewhere on the peripheral of his consciousness, he

became aware that something was licking his hand. His

eyes opened onto two sharp brown ones that studied

him with great interest. It took him several seconds

to register it as a fox. It shied away, limping as

Mulder sat up testing his limbs to see if they still

functioned, head swimming in cotton. It couldn’t be

the same one he saw earlier, could it? Surely it

wouldn’t have made it this far. The Fox took one look

back at him and vanished into the woods that bordered

the meadow. Mulder looked around. He was under a

blackened tree by a lake with a mill at the other

side of the reeds. The seasons seemed to have

changed. It looked like late May. The sun was all

wrong.

“Hello” Mulder startled at the little girl’s voice.

“You…you came to me last night. Where am I? Where’s

Scully.”

“Is she your love?” The child’s English accent

sounded like birdsong. Mulder nodded. Watching as the

Fox came back into view and tentatively came to the

girl. ” She will be fine.” Mulder stifled a laugh at

that. “You came here looking for answers. I knew you

would come. You are Fox, just like my friend here. He

told me.”

“What…where. How did I get here?” He vaguely

remembered a wall giving way and falling. He was dead

that was it. He pressed a hand to his chest. No. His

heart still beat furiously against his fingertips.

What the hell…

“I’m Bethany., ” she muttered as she stroked the

fox’s head, deep blue eyes like Scully’s never

leaving Mulder’s. “I’m the keeper of the wishing

tree. You had a wish.”

“Wishing tree?” he glanced back at the huge black

skeleton behind him. “I don’t have a wish, I need to

find Scully. Bethany, where is this place, I was in

Darkmere, the castle. How…how did I get here? Do

you live around near here?” His head was growing

fuzzier by the second. He let his eyes wander over

the lake, the solitary swan that swam there and the

hot still air that made the water look like glass.

“I died in there” Bethany said matter of factly as

Mulder struggled for a breath; all air suddenly

leaving his lungs. “My mother came to you, she did

not want you to be well. It’s all right, Fox, you are

safe from her. You have too much love surrounding

you. She killed me but she can’t get to you. Not now.

The Vortex brought you to me first.”

“What, what are you talking about,” This child either

had a vivid imagination for a kid so small or he hit

his skull harder on the way down. Bethany suddenly

pulled at his sleeve to get him up.

“Come on Fox, I’ll show you. What you seek is here.

You came to Darkmere as a seeker. You have found what

you seek and will go on seeking. Nothing can stop you

now. You must walk around the wishing tree three

times but you must not tell anyone about it. The fox

knows. He is your spirit. He guided you to me. The

dark haired girl who watches over you too. Come.”

“Wait, Bethany, I’m crippled, without my cane I can’t

walk so good.” Amazingly he was able to get to his

feet without difficulty.

“Lean on the Fox and hold my hand, I’ll help you

walk. It won’t hurt, I promise. Close your eyes.

Remember to wish Fox, remember to wish… Tell no one

…Trust no one……………”

A loud beeping sound cut into his consciousness like

a sharp slap. Warm fingers felt for his, Voices that

sounded strange floated over him until he grasped the

one he wanted to find.

“Mulder? Hey, sweetheart, it’s okay now. I’m here.”

Tear laden blue eyes gazed hopefully into his when he

opened them.” There you are. God Mulder, what you put

me through.” She was trying very hard to summon up

the famous Scully control but failing miserably.

“Oh shit…. What…where?” Mulder swallowed over a

dry throat. No ventilator. That was always a good

sign. For a few seconds he thought he was back in

Denver but the privacy curtains were flowery, some

strange Laura Ashley print and they looked odd.

England, his brain supplied, you’re in England you

jerk. He must have groaned by the look of worry on

Scully’s face. Fingers weaved through his hair.

“Mulder. You’re in Derriford hospital in Exeter. No

one can explain what happened to you. We found you in

the castle tower. You were unconscious and no one

could wake you. RAF Culdrose airlifted you here.”

Scully’s face told him that she was hiding something.

Shit, the wall giving way, his fall over the side.

The storm. Oh God!!!

“Scully…am I …paralyzed? The girl….” His breath

stilled.

“No…No Mulder. That’s the oddest thing about this.

You went over the wall, I was so certain. When I

found your cane,” She stopped for a moment, her words

vanished, remembering the horrific shock of finding

him gone and it all pointing to… She gained control

quickly, looking back in his eyes, “I was sure…. so

certain you’d been killed. Mulder, when you were

brought in, they gave you a whole slew of X-rays.

Nothing showed up.”

“I guess I must be rubber man, huh…I…”

“No. You don’t understand. Mulder, that’s just it.

NOTHING showed up. The pins, the plates in your hip,

your legs, all of it are gone. Its like the bones

were never broken.”

“What?” he pushed himself to a sitting position.

“Mulder. You’re a little anemic and you need to put

on some weight but apart from that you’re perfectly

healthy. They’re keeping you in overnight for obs,

and that fox that led us to you… I am at a loss to

find a logical answer, so if you have a better

explanation?”

“It’s vague, I remember a girl, the fox, and I must

have banged my head or something. Sorry Scully, what

can I say, it’s a X file.” His fingers wiped her

tears away as she finally smiled at him. “So it’s

official. I’m no longer a Borg then. Going back

through Heathrow will be a breeze, eh? What?” She

gave him a wan smile.

“Mulder. I called Skinner. In light of this er…new

development in your health status, I faxed him your

X-ray results and consultation from the doctors here.

He called me back this morning…..”

“And?.”

“They are reopening the X files. They have no excuse

to keep them closed now. They are waiting for us when

we get back and the first case they want you to

investigate is this one, so we get to stay a bit

longer.” The flood gates finally opened and they both

wept with joy in his arms. Mulder smiled into her

hair, breathing words of love, silently thanking

whatever forces had brought this about.

“Scully, I think I’d like it if you start calling me

Fox.”

End

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