Sent: Saturday, March 10, 2001 9:21 AM

TITLE: Haven
AUTHOR: Michelle Kiefer
DISTRIBUTION: Archive if you like, just tell me where.
DISCLAIMER: Mulder and Scully belong to 1013,
Chris Carter, and to the X-Files.
SPOILER WARNING: Vague spoilers for season 8
CONTENT: MSR, Angst, and lots of it.
CLASSIFICATION: Story. This is the conclusion to the "Fringe,"
series. You need to read "Fringe and "Hearth" to understand this story.
SUMMARY: I wonder if the damage is too great, if Mulder and
I are just too broken by the past to ever find a haven in each other.
COMMENTS: Unlimited gratitude to Dlynn for wonderful beta.
This story would not have been possible without her. Thanks to
Karen and January for friendship and support.

Please visit my other stories at:
Maintained by the wonderful Jennifer.

Haven by Michelle Kiefer

Daisy Daisy, give me your answer do!
I'm half crazy, all for the love of you!
It won't be a stylish marriage,
I can't afford a carriage,
But you'll look sweet on the seat
Of a bicycle built for two!

I hear Mulder's enthusiastic baritone drifting from Kate's bedroom,
and smiling, I shake my head. He's never going to get the child to
sleep if he sings that loudly. Mulder is feeling his way around
fatherhood, discovering Kate's likes and dislikes. Though my first
instinct is to jump in and be the translator, I force myself to step back
and give him the room to learn to speak "kid."

I wipe the kitchen table, scooping the remains of Kate's dinner into
the palm of my hand. Crouching, I pick up pieces of chicken and
potato from the floor. How does one tiny girl make a mess this big?

Mulder's voice is lower now, soothing. That's more like it. I can
hear him murmur to her, perhaps telling her a story. He dreams up
wonderful stories, of fairies and ghosts and genies. Years ago, Mulder
wove tales during boring stakeouts, and I would do my best not show my
enchantment. I was a fool back then.

I swab the counter, my final act of kitchen cleanup, and hang the dish
cloth up to dry. Switching off the kitchen light, I leave the apartment
bathed in the soft glow of the living room lamp. I close my eyes, and
enjoy the sound of Mulder's voice. The words are inaudible, but his
tone is hypnotic. I try to ignore the tiny ache in my heart, the longing
for something just out of reach.

Mulder has eaten dinner with us nearly every night for weeks. Usually,
I cook while he plays with Kate. Sometimes we call for take out,
reminding me of nights spent working while we ate pizza or Chinese
food. Now we dine with a two-year-old between us instead of a stack
of files.

Last week Mulder and I took Kate to the restaurant across the street.
I knew Mulder was nervous, remembering the nights he ate the
sandwiches he found carefully placed on the restaurant dumpster. The
owner had tears in his eyes at the sight of the three of us, and wouldn't
let us pay for our dinner.

Mulder crosses the living room. He stretches his arms above his head and
his sweater rises, revealing a strip of golden skin above the waistband of his
jeans. My hands long to slip under that sweater and touch his warm skin.
Though we spend time together now, neither of us has had the courage to
reach across that divide yet.

"It took three songs and two stories, but she's finally asleep." Mulder
drops onto the sofa and stretches his long legs under the coffee table.

"She fights sleep to spend more time with you," I say and worry that
I sound critical. "You fascinate her."

"She fascinates me. Everything is magic to her. It's as if the world is
a shiny new toy. Were we like that when we were little?"

I curl up on the sofa next to Mulder, close but not touching.

"I think children look at the world and see all its possibilities, but most
of us lose that when we grow up. A few rare people retain that ability."
I turn and catch Mulder's gaze. He was always one of those precious few
who looked at life through completely open eyes. Has the horror of the last
few years cost him that too? Surely that would be the highest price of all.

I would become so annoyed with his absolute conviction that each case
was the real thing, the answer to all the questions of the universe. He
would present Big Blue or Brown Mountain lights like a magician
performing a feat of prestidigitation. I, of course, considered it my
responsibility to rein in that wild enthusiasm. Now I miss the wonder
in his eyes, the gleam of his smile, as he charmed me into following
him to the ends of the earth. Life is just too damned ironic.

"I should probably let you get to bed," he says as he begins to rise.
Mulder never stays long after Kate goes to bed. He still suffers from
panic attacks, and on nights when he hasn't had one, I think he hopes
to get away without embarrassing himself. Then there are the evenings
when something sets him off, leaving him unable to breathe and
shaking uncontrollably. Those are the times when he won't meet my
gaze. Maybe he can't bear to know I've witnessed his weakness.

I sense that Mulder is holding himself tight, afraid that if I saw all of
his pain, I would be horrified and turn away. He thinks I'm strong,
that I can't accept the man he's become. It is another of life's little
ironies that my pride may keep me from the person I need most. I've
tried to cover the tracks of my own pain and terror. I've only hidden
the evidence, though. I, too, am afraid to reveal my wounds.

"It's early, Mulder. Why don't we see if something's on TV?" I touch
his arm gently, and he sits down. He looks a bit reluctant, but settles back
against the cushions. I pick up the remote control and switch on the TV,
flipping between channels until I find an old movie.

I flick off the lamp, leaving the room dark except for the glory of "Mr.
Smith Goes to Washington." We slouch down, thighs barely touching
and watch the movie. I'm struck by how much young James Stewart
reminds me of Mulder when I first met him: excited and coltish and
almost too beautiful to bear.

I sneak glances at Mulder, wondering if he recognizes the familiarity of
Jefferson Smith's battle against corruption and evil in Washington.
Mulder's face provides no clues, but he seems to relax and lean into me
a little. I turn my attention back to the screen, smiling as I realize that
Smith calls his love interest by her last name.

My eyes cloud with tears by the time Jefferson Smith collapses on the Senate
floor, convinced he is disgraced and alone. I turn to see Mulder's reaction,
only to find that he has fallen asleep, his head nestled against the sofa
cushion, his mouth slightly open.

He hasn't slept in my presence in such a long time. I realize this is the
time I've seen him truly relax since he came back into my life. His face
looks younger, the tiny lines around his eyes eased by sleep, and the pain,
seems to dog him, temporarily given the slip. Tracing the line of his jaw
my finger, I give thanks that I was allowed to see this.

In the years gone by, Mulder spent many nights here, some of them on the
sofa and some in my bed. I'm afraid that if I try to wake him and bring him
to bed, he'll panic and run back to his rented room. Retrieving a couple of
blankets from the armoire, I decide to let him sleep on the sofa. Mulder
sinks down onto the cushions as I cover him, and I take that as a sign that
this was the right thing to do.

After checking on Kate, I get ready for bed. I think about the man who
sleeps a few feet away and wonder if this almost family life is all we'll
have. For two years I watched him from a distance, too broken and
traumatized to let me come close. I should be satisfied with what we have
now, but I'm greedy. I feel like a woman who finally regained the use of
her legs. But I'm not content to shuffle along in small steps--I want to run.

Before I fall asleep, I pray that someday we will be able to make a life
together. When I allow myself to hope, I picture a house in the country
where Mulder could make beautiful furniture and I would treat the locals
for sore throats and broken arms and things that can be healed. I dream
of a place where Kate could grow up strong and healthy.

I wake to the sound of screams followed by a crash. At first I'm unable
to move; my heart pounds in my chest. I switch on the bedside lamp
with sleep-numbed fingers. Stumbling into the living room, I'm amazed
that the noise didn't wake Kate.

Just enough light spills from the bedroom and allows me to make out the
scene. Mulder sits on the floor---eyes glassy, chest heaving, his face
drenched with sweat. I hear his horrible rattling gasps, each inhalation
sounding like it hurts.

I really should have expected this. Mulder had nightmares on the best days
of his life. With all the trauma he's experienced over the last few years, I
should have seen this coming. But the freight-train-barreling-down-on-you
terror in Mulder's eyes shocks me.

I drop to my knees a few feet away from Mulder. Hands in my lap, palms up,
I try to be as non-threatening as I can. He struggles to catch his breath,
pulling at the neck of his sweater as if it chokes him. His eyes dart
around the room, but there seems to be no recognition in them. He reminds
me of a terrified animal, caught in a trap.

"Mulder, you're safe. You're in my apartment. You had a nightmare." I
slide a little closer on my knees, but I don't reach out and touch him. I just
sit and count his breaths-in-out, in-out-until he gradually comes back to
himself. His hands still at his throat, he begins to take in the scene
around him.

"God, Scully, I broke your lamp," he says when his breathing evens out
enough that he might form words.

His flailing arms must have knocked over the lamp on the end table. It
lies in sand-colored ceramic shards on the hardwood floor, the shade
upended. Mulder tries to pick up the broken pieces, his hands clumsy
with shock.

"Pottery Barn open stock. I can replace it in half an hour." There are only
two things in this apartment that are irreplaceable. I still Mulder's hands
before he cuts himself on the sharp pieces, holding his icy cold fingers
between my palms. His face is clammy with sweat; I cup his cheek and
feel the tremors rock him.

"Come on, let's get you up on the couch. You're freezing." I pull Mulder
up, and he shakily drops onto the sofa. Wrapping us both in the blankets,
I hold Mulder close. His arms circle me in a grip that leaves me a little
breathless, as if I were the only secure thing in the world.

"I hope I didn't wake Kate," he says. His voice trembles as he continues to

"No, she's still asleep. You have a lot of these, don't you, Mulder? This is
why you leave so early."

"I don't have them as often as I used to. They were really bad in the
beginning--attracted too much attention in the shelters, so I slept outside
as much as I could. The drunks will sleep through anything." He tries to
smile, but I'm not fooled. "It's better now; the store is empty at night
except for me. I don't disturb anyone there."

"You're concerned with waking the neighbors?" I pull back a little from
his embrace to look into his eyes. "Mulder, you need help. This is tearing
you up inside---the panic attacks, the nightmares. You know this won't
get any better without therapy."

My voice has taken on a more strident tone than I intend. I can't tell if
angrier with Mulder for not caring enough about his health and well being,
or at me for being harsh with him. His face is impassive, barely under

"What do you think a therapist is going to do for me? Providing he doesn't
commit me at the first mention of alien abduction--exactly how long do you
think it will be before I'm medicated into a stupor."

His voice is low, the anger quiet and frightening. But he doesn't let go of
me, and I hope that signifies more that the need for body heat. I lay my head
upon his chest and listen to his heart pumping. My prayers slip out like
tears. Dear God, please heal this broken man. Please restore his spirit.
give me the strength to help him.

"What do you dream of?" I ask, into the soft weave of Mulder's sweater.

"I don't want to talk about it."

"My mom always said that talking about bad dreams took away their power.
If it works for run of the mill bad dreams, maybe it'll work for your
strength ones." My ear against his chest, I hear Mulder sigh. I'm in way
my head here, playing amateur psychologist with the real thing. But if I
get him to talk to someone professionally, maybe I can get him to talk to me.

"Scully....okay. You want to hear about what I dream? I dream of being cold,
as if I'm naked in a block of ice. I can't move. I can't stop them from
me. And they DO hurt me, tearing my flesh, breaking my bones. I scream and
scream but it doesn't stop." His voice is a whisper, the pain so sharp it
draw blood. "You know, I really don't remember what happened to me--I mean,
when I'm awake. I see flashes, images, but I don't know if they're real or
my mind furnished them to fill the void. Somehow, that makes the nightmares
worse. I'm afraid the dreams are the truth."

My mouth goes dry, my body tenses in Mulder's arms as the recognition comes
up and thumps me hard. I push away, struggling to untangle myself from the
blankets. This is too much, too close. I stare at Mulder with eyes that
blink, trying to swallow back the nausea that grips me. I know this truth,
almost remembered but not quite, flash of something so awful you pray that it
isn't real. Please let this be just the product of an overactive imagination
too much TV. Dear God, I don't want this to be real.

Mulder sighs deeply, and I swear he can read my mind. I don't know if that
or reassures me. He pulls me back into his embrace, and I cling to him, too
to resist. "You know, don't you?"

I nod, my hair making a swishing noise against his sweater. We hold each
like children who are afraid of the dark. Talk about the blind leading the
Lulled by the beating of Mulder's heart and the soft sound of his breathing,
I fall

I wake, alone, to the sound of cartoons. I'm wrapped so thoroughly in both
I have to work hard to free myself. The broken lamp has been cleaned up. I
picture Mulder carefully lifting each shard, trying not to make noise. I
imagine him silently
closing the door as he leaves. Squeezing my eyes shut, Mulder's face swims
me. I worry that I pushed him a little too far.

Kate sits, mesmerized as an animated cat chases a much smarter animated
The mouse dives into the traditional mouse archway in the baseboard, leaving
cat to smash into the wall. I'm afraid that one day, Kate will discover that
real life, the mice seldom escape, and the cats usually win.

End Haven (part 1 of 2)

Haven (Part 2 of 2)

The alarm clock bleats ineffectually from the bedroom, not quite
loud enough to make its wakeup call known a room away. How
long had it been sounding while I slept unaware? One glance
at the clock and I know I'll have to rush to get to work on time.

Kate senses my befuddlement and shrewdly uses this knowledge
to her advantage. I let her eat breakfast in front of the television,
since every attempt to pull her away or turn it off eats up time like
the minutes are candy. As I try to drag her attention away from
the animated mayhem long enough to dress her, it occurs to me
that I have lost this round. If I can't control her at two, what the
hell am I going to do when she's fourteen?

I tell myself that I can indulge her once in a while as I dash
around the apartment getting ready for work. After all, most of
the time I'm in charge.

I'm seriously running late by the time I drop Kate off at the babysitter.
Of course, no bad morning would be complete without sheets of rain.
The gray dampness slips beneath my coat and makes my bones ache.

I work on a purely consultant basis now, performing autopsies
at Quantico and reviewing data for investigations. A long time ago
I had hoped to distinguish myself in the FBI. By all accounts, my
new career should fill that bill--honorable, meaningful work. There
are very few middle of the night calls and no mad dashes for the
airport. I really should love this new life, but it seems colorless
after the bright brush strokes of working with Mulder.

I usually spend one day a week at the Hoover building. Today's
that day and my thoughts are bittersweet as I race through the halls
I remember so many trips down these halls, trying to keep up with
an excited Mulder. Sometimes I feel as though his ghost haunts this
building, a specter of the man who used to be.

I'm an embarrassing half hour late to my first appointment,
meeting with several agents that need my help with some forensic
data. Though I fight to keep my attention on the agents, Mulder
drifts to the front of my mind. I miss the way he would slide his
wingtip against my calf, the smooth leather caressing my skin.
I would shoot him a stern look, but I loved each illicit touch.
The memory of that sweet distraction carries me through to
the meeting's conclusion.

Skinner and I have a standing lunch date on my Hoover days.
We meet at an upscale deli where they have great sandwiches
and probably the best potato salad in the city. Not that I usually
get the potato salad.

We hang dripping coats from pegs on the deli wall; puddles
form on the speckled tan linoleum. Picking at my salad, I watch
Skinner put away an amazing amount of food. He grins
apologetically around a mouthful of pastrami.

For a long time I think our lunches were a sort of penance for
Skinner. He'd dutifully ask after Kate, though he's only seen
her a few times. Then he would ask me if "anything was new,"
his code for "had I seen Mulder."

I would describe seeing Mulder in front of the restaurant or in
the park, and Skinner's face would cloud over with such sadness.
The guilt seemed to press down on him, the bulk of his body barely
able to stand the weight.

I'd gone to see Skinner the morning after Mulder came to my
apartment that first time. He couldn't speak for a moment when
I told him that Mulder was coming to dinner that night. Tears
glinted behind his glasses, and he turned away as if he suddenly
found the view from his window fascinating.

Now Skinner senses my tension and asks what troubles me. I
must weigh my need for advice against Mulder's need for privacy.
The gentleness in Skinner's tone is my undoing, and I spill forth with
the nightmares, the panic attacks, and the whole post traumatic stress
cornucopia of pain.

Skinner, bless his heart, finds none of this unexpected. I remind myself
that the man had been through an entire lifetime of misery before I ever
met him. His words soothe me, his advice is solid, and I keep that feeling
of peace through the rest of the day.

When Kate sleeps, after a dinner spent listening in vain for
Mulder's knock, the loneliness drapes over me like an old worn
blanket. I wonder if the damage is too great, if Mulder and I are
just too broken by the past to ever find a haven in each other.

On the surface I would appear to be the functional one. My
life is orderly and sane: I work, raise my child, pay my bills. But
all of this is a carefully crafted illusion, not so much to fool the world,
but to fool myself. I try to convince myself that the numbness I feel is
nothing more than the result of a busy life, but I know in my heart
that blunted emotions are not normal.

As I change out of damp business clothes and into pajamas, I look
around my apartment and see the trappings of a successful life. I
am proof that given enough time, a person can build scar tissue and
hide the wounds. How ironic that beneath the surface, I am no
less damaged than Mulder. He's just more honest about it.

I click on the TV and watch a mindless sitcom where pretty
people live easy lives. The snappy dialogue depresses me, and
I switch off the TV, opting instead to listen to the rain beat against
the windows. Cars swish through puddles, the sibilance
underscoring the staccato tempo of the rain.

The knock at the door jars me. The weather tonight is far too
nasty for anyone but Mulder to be out. I stand for a moment
with my hand on the door knob, gathering my courage to see the
man who waits for me. Swallowing hard, I open the door.

"I know it's late," he says, shivering, his hair plastered against his
cheeks. "I needed to see you."

"Mulder, you're soaked." I point out the obvious. He must have
walked the mile from his room behind the second hand shop. I can't
decide whether to be touched or furious with him for risking
pneumonia. He shrugs out of his dripping coat, and I take it from his
icy fingers. "I'll get you a towel."

By the time I return from hanging Mulder's coat in the bathroom,
towel under my arm, he is pulling off his squelchy sneakers. I toss him
the towel and put the shoes in front of the kitchen heating duct to dry.

"You need to get out of those wet clothes." His shirt clings to him,
wet in patches where the rain got under his coat. He pats the towel
against his face and neck before drying his hair.

"Give me a minute here, my innuendo's rusty," he says, grinning
from under the towel.

"Must be like riding a bicycle, Mulder," I say as I lead him to the
bathroom. "It'll come back to you."

I have so much to say to Mulder. I want to tell him that he doesn't
need to hide things from me. I want to tell him that nothing he could
do or say would frighten me, that I need him as much as he needs me.
Mulder unbuttons his shirt, and the words drift from my mind like
mist off a lake. All I can do is stare at the skin revealed as he parts
the wet fabric.

My hands take on a life of their own, pushing the shirt off his shoulders
and down his arms. He seems to hold his breath as he watches me, an
expression in his eyes that I can't quite read. My fingers trace along his
clavicles and over his chest muscles. Small scars, like landmarks in the
desert of skin remind me of the past. I press my lips to each mark as if I
could take the hurt away. This one is from the time I shot him. That one
is from the beast woman. A few I remember from when he was returned
to us, bruised and wounded in every way.

My lips trace a path down Mulder's torso, suddenly fascinated with the
faint line of hair that disappears beneath clammy denim. As I reach the
lovely indent of Mulder's navel, he gasps. His trembling inhalation
leaves a gap in the waistband of his jeans.

With trembling hands, Mulder grasps my shoulders and pulls me up. My
face is downcast, and I wonder if I've gone too far. I feel Mulder's breath
on my skin as he gently kisses my forehead. Does he still see me as he did
when we were lovers?

I raise my eyes to meet his and I am breathless. They say that the eyes are
the window to the soul, and I feel as if I can see into the very core of
Mulder's heart. I am stunned by the bravery I see, the complete surrender
of defenses. He spreads his love before me as an offering.

Mulder's hands slip under the soft material of my pajama top. His fingers
are cold against my back's warm skin. I welcome the chill, feeling
more alive than I have in ages. My own hands are busy, grazing through
the sparse hair on Mulder's chest, sliding over the hills and valleys of his
angular topography.

And all the while, we kiss. Our lips tease and touch, now tender, now
Mulder's mouth strays from mine and explores the line of my jaw, the column
of my neck. He finally breaks away, breathing hard, and yanks the pajama top
over my head.

Mulder slowly sinks to his knees; his hands draw my pajama bottoms down with
him. He winces when he hits the cold tile, middle-aged bones protesting
the hard surface. Eyes glistening with tears in the bright light of the
he stares up at me. He's a man who has journeyed many miles and many years.
I believe he thought he would never see home again, and I'm so afraid that
not worthy of such a look.

I kick the flannel away, impatient to feel Mulder's hard flesh against me.
He leans forward, burying his face between my breasts, his arms circling
my waist. I comb through his hair with trembling fingers, my need for him
so strong it frightens me a little.

Mulder explores me, his hands rough and calloused against my skin. My
need emboldens me to offer my breasts to his kisses. I push away a little,
and he moans in disappointment. Looking into his eyes, I try to signal my
desire, my love, and how very much I need him to make love to me. He
smiles in understanding and allows me to lead him to the bedroom.

Mulder shucks off his still damp jeans, and we sink onto the bed. We
explore with lips and hands, discovering changes wrought by the years.
Mulder is thinner and harder than he was the last time we made love. His
body feels like it has been tempered by the fires of hell, reduced to its
purest form. I wonder how my body feels under his hands. Pregnancy
and childbirth have a way of altering a woman's body. Mulder caresses
my breasts, stroking my form almost reverently. If his touch is any
indication, Mulder isn't displeased with the changes.

I cry out when he enters me, laughing and crying at the pure joy of our
joining. His body becomes still as he looks at me, and he covers my mouth
with kisses. I shift my legs, trying to draw Mulder deeper into me, gripping
the roundness of his ass with impatient fingers. Mulder grins at my
passion, as if it answers some need deep inside him.

My body responds as if it wasn't out of practice at all. My mind reaches for
the memory. Oh yes, this is what love feels like. Ah, I remember now--this
pulse, this swell, this climax of emotion. The sensations peak, and joy
floods back into my heart, so long bottled up with the pain and sadness.
Mulder echoes my gasps of pleasure with his own shuddering orgasm.
His body relaxes over me, and he whispers that he loves me.

We doze, wrapped in each others arms, and listen to the rain drum against
the roof. I know that we haven't solved any problems here. Our troubles
wait outside this warm bed, but for a moment, I just want to listen to this
man breathe.

"I came here to tell you I've been thinking about what you said last night."
Mulder's voice rumbles under my head, which is pillowed on his chest.

I raise up on one elbow to look at Mulder and I steel myself for the
conversation we need to have. "I talked to Skinner today. He knows
a therapist who has worked with Vietnam vets. This guy has a lot of
experience with post traumatic stress syndrome. "

"You talked to Skinner about me?" I can tell that he isn't happy
about that.

"I was so worried, Mulder. I had to talk to someone. Skinner trusts
this man. He said this doctor helped him."

"Skinner saw a therapist?" Mulder rubs his eyes. "I don't know why I'm
surprised, considering what he told me about his war experience. I guess
I never pictured Skinner needing help."

"It's not a sign of weakness to need help. You know that better than

Mulder pushes himself up to sit against the headboard. He is silent for
several minutes, long enough that I wonder if he is angry.

"I will if you will."

"I will if you will what, Mulder?"

"I'll see a therapist if you will too," he says with quiet intensity. "We
have demons, and we owe it to ourselves and to Kate to deal with them."

I'm blindsided, stunned at Mulder's deft maneuvering. He's got me good,
and both of us know it. He smiles at me, self-satisfied bastard that he is.
push myself off the bed, needing to distance myself a little. Mulder's smile
fades as I pull my robe on.

I walk to the window and look down on the quiet street. The restaurant
across the way is closing up, the owner locking the door behind him. My
instincts tell me to lock up my heart, to protect myself and not admit to
my frailty. Somewhere deep inside, though, I know I must be as brave as
I ask Mulder to be.

"You think you're clever, do you?" I ask, turning from the window.
"All right, we'll call in the morning."

We'll call the therapist in the morning and we'll try to beat back the demons.
Who knows? Maybe we can find the peace that lets people sleep through the
night and not find themselves shaking when a car alarm goes off. I found,
tonight, that the emotions I've tamped down, buried in the attempt to cover
up the pain, aren't dead. They were only sleeping and I need to wake them.

I climb back under the covers, seeking Mulder's strong arms. He slips his
arms under the robe, stroking my bare skin. I don't know what the future
holds for us. Maybe we'll pack up and move to the country. I don't think
that people like Mulder and I live happily ever after. Maybe no one does.
But we love each other and that is all most people can hope for anyway.

End Haven (2 of 2)

Author's notes: I was very fortunate to have the best advice and guidance
on the subject of post traumatic stress syndrome. For more information
on the subject, "Healing the Child Within" by Charles L. Whitfield, MD
is highly recommended.