Sent: Friday, October 13, 2000
Title: Detente (1 of 4 )
Disclaimer: The X-files belong to Chris Carter and
1013 Productions, not me. I'm only borrowing the
characters for now. I'll put them back when I'm done.
Keywords: MSR, Muldertorture, mytharc
Spoilers: Thru 7th season ending at Je Souhaite
Archive: Sure! Spooky's yes! And the VS8 Archive of
course. All others, ask me first.
Feedback: Love it! Love it! Send it! Yum!
E-Mail address: email@example.com
Summary: Mulder's thirty-ninth birthday arrives on an
unhappy note when he finds himself forced to listen to
what CSM has been waiting to tell him and to depend on
the man for survival.
Author's Note: This piece was written specifically for
inclusion in the Virtual Season 8. Chris Carter, watch
out! If you don't treat Moose and Squirrel right,
we'll just do it ourselves!!
And a thousand thanks to my wonderful betas: Tracy G
who advised me on rescue protocol and to Wylfcynne for
demanding "More torture! More torture!"
October 13, 2000
Darkness and dust and pain...
It hurt to breathe. It hurt to move. No, he couldn't
move. Mulder tried to shift his torso and found that
he was pinned from the waist down. He coughed, lightly
and then more deeply, sucking in dust with every
breath. He was lying on his right arm and the left one
hurt..hurt..hurt. Broken, probably. Damn. Couldn't
catch his breath. His leg hurt too. Then he thought he
heard a scuffling sound in the darkness. It was moving
toward him. Rats? What?
It was so dark. Was he blind? Panicking, Mulder began
to pant for air and tried frantically to pull himself
out of the pile of rubble that buried him. He stopped
when he heard a 'click' and saw a flame shoot out of a
C.G.B. Spender's worn face appeared in the dim light,
creased with dust. "Here now, don't do that, son.
You'll only make your injuries worse." Mulder looked
up in even more panic and found that his body from
the waist down was indeed buried in rubble, with that
bastard's tobacco-smelling coat draped over his torso.
Spender hovered solicitously over him, gently moving
the coat aside. "You've been out a long time. From
the swelling, I'm fairly sure that you've broken your
arm." He palpated the left arm while Mulder stiffened
in agony. "I can't speculate about other injuries.
You'll have to tell me whether you have feeling in
your legs." Spender sat back on his haunches and
watched Mulder's face.
Mulder blinked, then slowly began to remember the
evening and how it had all gone to Hell. "Damn it! Put
that damn thing out! There could be gas leaks, you'll
kill us for sure this time you idiot."
Mulder felt a dim stab of satisfaction at the chagrin
on the man's face as the light went out. The darkness
pressed close again. He drew a painful breath and
rasped out, "Why didn't you die in the explosion, you
Mulder could almost see the man smile. "Oh, I can
survive a lot. And so, apparently, can you. We'll
just have to wait here until they dig us out." There
was silence, broken only by the sound of Mulder's
Spender's voice floated through the murk. "By the way,
I never wished you a happy birthday."
October 2, 2000
"Just like I tol' ya, the men were tall an' scaly.
Yep, tall an' scaly and GREEN," Jessica Griffen took a
delicate sip from her teacup, swishing the amber
liquid around in her mouth before swallowing it down.
Scully pegged her at a well-worn sixty five years old,
with hair died midnight black only partly covering the
Dana Scully shifted position on the rickety kitchen
chair and wondered at Mulder's intent concentration on
the woman. She'd bet ten dollars that what Jessica was
drinking wasn't tea.
"And you say that they experimented on you? How?"
Mulder asked pleasantly, his entire demeanor
communicating 'I believe you'.
"Well...they did things of a..." she leaned forward
and Scully caught a whiff of her boozy breath. "a
sexual nature, if you catch my drift. And man, were
Scully choked back a snort while Mulder scooted his
chair back a bit. He'd caught her breath as well.
"Yeah. They said I was jus' the right kinna woman fer
breeding stock and they had to have their way with me,
y'know?" Griffen's eyes gleamed and Scully just knew
what was coming next.
Jessica leaned forward, her glassy eyes fixed on
Mulder. "An' one of 'em looked a lot like you...if ya
take the alien guy's scales into account.
Annnyway...firs' they stripped off my clothes an'
October 2, 2000
2:24 p.m. PDT
"Well, I know that she's not the most credible witness
we've ever interviewed, but..."
"Mulder, I honestly don't know where you find these
cases," Scully tapped her heel impatiently but the
noise was buried in the brown shag carpet. Shit-brown,
that's what the color was. Earth tones, like the
avocado wallpaper peeling from the wall in here. "And
it's bad enough that we spend the afternoon listening
to the sexual fantasies of a lush, but this after a
night spent in a dust-ridden flea trap like this."
Mulder looked up from where he sat on the bed and
winced when he saw Scully's expression. She wasn't
happy. Oh no. "What's wrong with it? We're within
budget." He slid across the brown gabardine bedspread
and stood up, stretching his muscles. "Okay, so the
mattress isn't the best in the world but it's okay for
a few nights."
Her expression grew even stormier. "But it isn't a few
nights, is it? Mulder, we spend half our lives on the
road, sleeping in dumps like this, chasing shadows.
Hasn't it ever occurred to you that our lives ought to
be about something better? And as if the cases weren't
bad enough, couldn't we, just once, stay someplace
better? A hotel, not a motel?"
Mulder grinned indulgently. "What's wrong with these
accommodations, Scully? Besides, if all you're going
to do is sleep what do you need with anything more
than a bed? After the lights are out you can't see the
bad paintings on the walls or the shag carpet."
Her eyes narrowed. "Mulder, the shag carpet is older
than I am. And I think the bedspread in my room dates
to the Truman administration. You really can't tell
the difference between a cheesy motel and a real
hotel, can you? It's been that long since you stayed
at a nice place, had a real vacation, maybe a decent
meal that didn't involve hamburger meat?" She sighed.
"What are our lives, Mulder? Why are we doing this?
We're stuck on the road three weeks out of four and
for what? So we can find another colony of Bigfoot? Or
maybe another faked alien abduction, like we did here.
No, don't say it..." she raised her hand as he tried
to interrupt. "Mrs. Griffen is a nice lady but there
is absolutely no proof that she was ever abducted by
aliens, no implants, no physical changes, and her
accounts vary significantly from the norm. Her aliens
originate from that bottle of bourbon I saw in her
kitchen, not from outer space." Her eyebrows lifted.
"Unless you buy her story of massive orgies with scaly
green men who look just like you?"
Mulder sat back down on the edge of the bed and winced
as the springs squawked painfully. "Scully, why are we
always like this?"
She pulled the chair over and sat down as well. "Like
"I find a case and you debunk it. I choose lodgings
and you hate them. Nothing I do every really meets
your specifications, does it?" He gave her a longing
look while she fidgeted.
"Am I that bad?" she asked. "I've always stood up for
you. You know I'm on your side, Mulder."
"Scully, you've defended me a hundred times when I was
attacked both physically and politically. But why do I
get the feeling that, as a man, I never quite measure
up to your expectations? What is it that you really
want from me?" Mulder's lips twisted. "I mean, you're
my partner and you're all I have left..."
Scully stared and fumbled for words. What did she
expect from Mulder, really? Maybe the same things
she'd wanted from all the other men in her life.
"I...I suppose I expect a level of...of stability, of
maturity and professionalism commensurate with your
age and position."
Mulder grimaced. "Oh, I see. And not go haring off
after crop circles at a moment's notice, huh? But why
not, when I can offer you all this?" He stretched his
arms out and gestured to the motel room. "You want a
hotel with an 'h' in it, huh Scully? Not a string of
cheesy 'm'otels like I've been throwing at you. You'd
probably like to see me promoted out of the basement
She found herself focused on her hands, sitting
quietly in her lap. She had never intended to allow
Mulder to find out her private reservations about him.
"Mulder, I'm as committed to the work as you are..."
she said earnestly.
"Then why do you fight it so often? Why do you fight
*me*?" Mulder's voice was softer. "Is it because I'm
not the stable, settled, powerful man you think I
should be? Have I lost your respect because of that?"
He paused and added sadly, "Or did I ever really have
"Mulder, I've always respected your abilities as an
investigator and FBI agent," Scully said carefully.
"But not otherwise? Does my life not meet with your
expectations?" Mulder cocked an eyebrow and folded his
"Mulder...we aren't kids any more. It's time to grow
up, take on responsibilities..." She couldn't meet his
"Acquire a mortgage, huh? Get a big SUV I can't
afford? Find me a wife and get me some kids?" She
jerked at that but he went on. "Scully, my life has
never fit the mold and neither have I. It's time to
stop expecting that it ever will."
She stood up and gave him a narrow look. "Mulder, you
spend your Saturday nights playing Dungeons and
Dragons with the Lone Gunmen when you aren't reading
case files. You are responsible to no one, have no
long-term commitments and have no intention of ever
changing your lifestyle. The man you are is the same
as he was at thirty. What's wrong with this picture?"
"You're saying I won't grow up?" He pursed his lips.
"Mulder, I'm saying that you won't mature. You refuse
to change, to bend." She sighed. "I don't want to do
this any more. I can't argue with you about this,
you'll never change. Not in your professional life.
Not in your...your personal life." She eyed him up and
down. "I'm going to pack. It's time to go to the
October 2, 2000
Dana Scully sullenly occupied her seat and watched Fox
Mulder doze. She had always envied his ability to
sleep on the plane. She wasn't as nervous a flyer as
she'd been in the beginning but she still couldn't
quite relax on a plane. She pondered Mulder's sleeping
form, sprawled out across three seats on the opposite
aisle. He was...beautiful, easily the handsomest man
she'd ever known.
She snorted. He was also the most frustrating. He'd
been reaching out to her for years, making sexy
innuendoes, romantic gestures. She'd die for him but
sometimes she wanted to save the mutants the trouble
and kill him herself.
She sighed and shifted in her aisle seat. That was the
trouble, really. She loved him and was terribly
frustrated by him. He wasn't what she'd ever really
planned for herself. She'd wanted, oh, a man with
authority, power, a man who was a doer. Of course,
Mulder was every bit as energetic a man as she could
wish for, but at what? Aliens. Monsters. Crop circles.
She rolled her eyes and then narrowed them. And the
enemies he'd made. If ever there were a man capable of
pissing off the truly powerful it was her partner. And
the devastation spread to those surrounding him; not
that he intended that. Oh no, he'd die to protect a
friend. She knew he'd never forgiven himself for her
own abduction and its results.
I'm caught, she considered. I can't leave him but I
can't accept what he is, either. What is he, then?
Passionate, courageous and so damned unconventional
that most of the world wanted to lock him up in a nice
padded cell. This isn't what I planned. I'm supposed
to be happily married and a mother by now, picking up
groceries after a long day at work. What do I do
instead? I investigate alleged alien abductions that
turn out to be dipsomaniac little old ladies. I'm in
my thirties and what's it all for, anyway?
Mulder lay quiet and pretended to sleep. He needed to
think after Scully's comments. She respected him as an
investigator but not as a man, wasn't that it? She
thought he had some variant of the Peter Pan Syndrome.
He heard her shift in her seat and listened to her
breathing. He'd often listened to her sleep, watched
the rise and fall of her chest and cherished the quiet
trust she had in him. He was beginning to realize
that her trust was his most valued possession. What
was it that she wanted from him, really? He wasn't
sure. He'd always guessed at what normal families,
normal people did. He supposed that Rob and Laura
Petrie weren't particularly accurate role models.
What did he have to show for himself anyway? A pile of
dusty citations from his early years at the Bureau.
Even those wouldn't save him from termination if he
pissed off the bosses again. He'd helped some people,
uncovered some truths, found a few monsters that the
government wanted hidden.
He'd made Scully sterile.
Okay, he hadn't made her sterile, her friendship with
him had caused that. Or, more precisely, she'd been
standing in the blast radius when Cancerman needed
Mulder taken down a peg.
How much in his life he owed to that smoking bastard.
Scully's sister murdered. Dad dead, courtesy of Alex
Krycek; Mom a suicide, maybe. And Sam was gone. The
ache over her had eased a lot but that didn't change
the sins he could lay at old C.G.B.'s door. All the
pain in his life originated with that corrupt old man.
And had his mother really slept with him? The thought
was too horrifying to consider. He wouldn't consider
Scully. God how he loved her. No, it was more than
that. He required her. She was like air or sunlight.
If he lost her he'd wither away and die. He found
himself phoning her on weekends just to hear her
voice. And now he was finding out that he didn't
measure up somehow. What did he feel about that?
Angry, he knew, and worried that he'd lose her.
Thirty nine on October 13, and then on to forty. And
he had nothing to show for it but a dusty basement
filled with files that nobody cared about except him.
October 13, 2000
"Mulder, I just can't see it! I'm sorry, but I don't
see any reason for us to investigate this case!"
Scully handed the manila folder back to an obviously
"Scully, the money in the bill-changers at this arcade
has been replaced with dried leaves for weeks. For
weeks, Scully! I'm telling you that this is prime
evidence for the existence of elves in Fresno!
Remember the ancient legends of fairy gold!" He waved
the folder in a sweeping gesture, then caught the
slight quirk of her lips.
"What?" he demanded.
"You're telling me that there are fairies in Fresno,
Central Valley of California. Raisin and garlic
capitol of the world." Scully asked, too calmly.
"Mulder, some arcade employee is playing tricks. This
isn't even some fog-bound castle in Ireland you're
"Gilroy's the garlic capitol..." he muttered. "Scully,
c'mon. Work with me on this one, huh? There's
something going on and since it involves embezzlement
of money on an Indian reservation it's a Federal
matter." He stopped, when he saw the look on her face.
"What is it?"
Scully took a deep breath. The previous weeks had been
quiet, with neither she nor Mulder mentioning the
argument they'd started in Turlock. "Mulder, don't you
ever ask yourself whether this is all there is? I
mean, is this all we'll ever do? Look for proof of
Mexican goat-suckers and mothmen in the remote
wilderness," she looked away from him "and never find
"Are you saying that my life has been wasted?" he
asked quietly, setting the file down and leaning
against the desk.
"Mulder, I really don't want..." she moved away but he
caught her arm.
"No, I really want to know what you think. Today of
"Today? Oh." She flushed. "Oh, Mulder I never meant to
"Today I hit the big 3-9, Scully. One more year and
I'm middle-aged. As you've been pointing out to me,
I'm not a kid anymore; I'm supposed to have a house,
family with 2.3 children, picket fence and sheepdog
aren't I? Or at least I should have the respect of my
peers by now, huh? What do I have to show for my
He glanced bleakly around the basement, which managed
to look even dustier and more decayed than usual. "I
don't even get gag gifts for my birthday, like normal
people." He picked up Scully's birthday present to
him, a miniature maglite to replace the one destroyed
by the last mutant and flicked it on and off. So
useful in his line of work. Better than, say, golf
clubs. He absently slipped it into his suit pocket.
"You haven't wasted your life, Mulder, you
just...You're just different..." her voice trailed off
when she caught his expression. She took a deep
breath. "Mulder, I won't lie to you. I disagree with
many of the things you feel called upon to investigate
and yes, I think that you've missed out on a 'normal'
life." She moved away from him and he could barely
hear her words. "We both have."
"Do you blame me for that, Scully? That you haven't
had a normal life? Don't you think I haven't wanted
that for you? I've told you to get out, but you stay.
You stay. But you don't want to stay really, do you?
I've trapped you here." He sighed and bowed his head.
"Scully, I've managed to hold you back from every goal
you ever had. If I could make it up to you somehow,
you know that I would. You know...what our
partnership means to me... I've tried to tell
you...how I feel about you..."
She broke in hastily, "Mulder, stop. I made my choices
in life and I don't regret them. But let's not get
too...deep...here. Okay?" Her eyes turned away from
He sighed in frustration. "And that's it, huh?
Scully, I'm not the only one who's fooling himself
about the chances he's missed. I may be hitting middle
age, but at least I tried to make a difference and
I've tried for a normal life, whatever that is. It's
just...never worked out that way." He stalked over to
the coat rack and snagged his trench coat. "I'm done
here today. If you want me, I'll be at Casey's."
"We have reservations at Tonio's, don't you want me to
take you to dinner?" Her voice was low and apologetic.
He shook his head, "No. I need to think about things.
Alone. But thanks for the birthday gift." He gave her
a sad smile and shrugged on his coat.
"Mulder, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to imply..."
Scully found herself talking to empty air, then
Mulder rode the elevator alone, ignoring the curious
looks from the other occupants. He was used to being a
freak, nothing new about that. They moved aside,
letting him out of the elevator first. Afraid to get
too close to Spooky Mulder, he pondered, pariahdom
might be catching.
He wandered down the street and found his favorite
bar. Casey's. Funny, he only went here now when he
wanted to get really really drunk. Scully wouldn't go
here anymore after Pendrell....no, don't think about
that. Don't want to add more depression to an already
It was quiet tonight. No loud parties yet, but the
after work crowd would be in here soon. The cocktail
waitress smiled as she delivered his drink. "Why
aren't you at the bar, Spooky?"
He grimaced back. "How'd you know my name? Oh." The
bartender smiled and gave him a little wave; the same
lady who'd cut him off before he was properly drunk a
couple years ago when Scully was leaving him. He waved
back and handed the waitress a twenty. "Just keep 'em
"You celebrating something?" she asked.
"Yeah. Yeah, my birthday and the fact that it's
Friday the 13th. I was born on a Friday the 13th and
it's been downhill ever since... Somehow they seem to
go together, y'know?" He bent over his drink and heard
her go silently away. Way to go, Spooky. Scared
another one off. I scare 'em all off in the end, even
Scully. He pulled out the maglite again and examined
it. Seven years of partnership and this was as
personal as her gift-giving got. He tucked it back
into his pocket.
"Hello. Mind if I join you?" A tall, rumpled figure
slid into the booth. "You seem to like dark corners,
don't you? Basement office, booths in the darkest,
farthest corner of the bar. Hardly a suitable place to
celebrate your birthday." Rheumy eyes stared at him
from across the table.
Mulder sipped his drink. "What the Hell do you want
with me? Run out of women and children to victimize?"
The man laughed and leaned back in his seat. "Aren't
you curious about how it is that I know it's your
birthday? Or why I care?"
"You know everything about me," Mulder shrugged. "The
bugs in my apartment have bugs. I figured that out a
while ago. As to why you care?" Mulder fixed him with
burning eyes. "That's irrelevant."
"Don't you want to know why I've stopped by?" The man
lit a cigarette and inhaled luxuriantly.
"Nothing could interest me less. I'll be going now,"
Mulder stood, to find himself blocked by the man.
"Not yet. You have certain talents and abilities that
I need just now."
"I'm not your flunky. Call Krycek."
The man shook his head slowly, his eyes gone cold.
"Krycek's loyalties may be divided. I can't trust him
with this." The man looked vaguely uncomfortable and
shifted for another cigarette. "Please. Sit down and
allow me to explain. Please." He motioned toward the
Puzzled, Mulder sat while the man lit his second
cigarette. "There have been some...differences...among
the consortium hierarchy. The power vacuum since our
leading members died has resulted in some maneuvering
Mulder shot him a glance. "Somebody wants you dead."
The man looked up abruptly, then smiled. "Yes. I need
someone to find out who it is and deal with it for
Mulder's eyes widened. "And you trust *me*?" he
hooted. "I'd gladly watch you die in a pool of your
own blood, you murderous bastard!"
"You wouldn't regret my death but I know you, Fox
Mulder. You couldn't betray me."
"Try me!" Mulder leaned across the table. "You killed
my father, you goddamned murderer! My sister died
because of you. And my mother's death...has never been
explained to my satisfaction..." he ended softly.
The man held himself stiffly upright and brought the
cigarette to his lips. "Your mother was ill. She chose
her own end and I grieve for her every day of my life.
I've lost more than you can ever comprehend for your
sake. Yours and the rest of this planet..." The man
stopped. "What the...?"
His voice was drowned out by the loud rumbling roar
that blasted through the building. A flash of light
blotted out the world and the last thing that Mulder
knew was the loud booming sound, before the wall
collapsed on him.
October 13, 2000
Scully felt the building shake, heard the roar and
knew it for what it was. Dallas was still too fresh in
her mind. She ran for the stairs and soon stood on the
front steps, watching a plume of smoke rising from
what appeared to be a building several blocks away and
listened to the sirens of the emergency building.
Several minutes later, Skinner made his way through
the crowd of Hoover employees and joined her, looking
"What happened?" she demanded, watching the plume of
smoke rise in the distance.
"According to police communications, there was an
explosion at Casey's Bar. The building itself is
devastated and there's considerable damage to the
surrounding area. They aren't sure about the cause
yet. We haven't been called in... Agent Scully? What
is it? What's wrong?" Scully had started to move
toward the smoke and Skinner had to run to keep up.
"Sir, Mulder went there. He told me he was going to
Casey's tonight. Oh my God...." Her voice broke off on
"Scully! Agent Scully! Shit!" Skinner picked up speed,
trying to keep up with her. He found Scully standing
in front of the wrecked and burning building,
helplessly watching the police and fire units arrive.
The area was being cordoned off for a block around,
standard procedure. And all she could do was watch
helplessly while the building burned and burned.
"How do you know that Mulder is here?" Skinner
demanded breathlessly, taking in the scene.
She shook her head and folded her arms tight against
her chest. "He...wanted to spend a quiet evening
alone. He told me he'd be at Casey's if anybody wanted
him. Hey!" She strode over to the EMTs who had just
arrived. "I'm a medical doctor. I'd like to offer you
any assistance I can. Have they found any survivors
"Hello, Dr. Scully," the woman read Scully's i.d. "I'm
Jane Farnon. No, we haven't had any casualties yet and
they aren't going to be searching for survivors for at
least twelve hours yet. They have to get the fires out
and make sure the building is safe to enter. But
we're glad to have you, we're bound to get injuries
from fire and police personnel till then."
"Is there any chance I might be able to assist in the
rescues? When they do have the building secured?"
Scully watched the firemen wistfully. Farnon shook her
"No, I've been to scenes like this before. They always
rely only on the trained teams from the fire
department or the Red Cross. They never take
volunteers." Farnon took a close look at Scully. "You
have someone in the building?" At Scully's nod, Farnon
continued. "I'm sorry about that. You can certainly
help us and when they find your friend, you'll be
first on the scene. That's the best I can offer you,
"I know, I'll stand by. I can see where they have you
set up." Scully nodded to Farnon and, sighing with
frustration, wandered back to Skinner. He motioned her
"Agent Scully, this is Lt. Walker, from the D.C.
Police. They're working on developing a theory behind
the explosion. Local agencies have been alerted but
not called in, since this bar is an unlikely target
for domestic terrorism."
"Agent," Walker shook Scully's hand.
"Have you considered that this explosion might not
have been an accident? That it could have been
targeted at someone?" she demanded, eyeing the dust
still rising from Casey's.
"We're considering all possibilities. Why? Do you know
something?" Walker followed Scully's glance.
"Mulder was in that building when it went up," she
began when Skinner grabbed her arm and pulled her
"Are you suggesting that someone burned an entire
block just to get at one man?" he hissed, looking
around to see if they'd been followed. Walker stood at
a distance, a look of puzzlement on his face.
"I consider it a possibility, sir, especially given
the trouble that Mulder has caused them."
Skinner shook his head. "This is overkill, even for
"Sir, they blew up a Federal Building in Dallas. They
would have killed hundreds of people, just to hide a
few bodies." Scully gave Skinner a doubtful look.
"I'm hoping, just like you, that this was only a gas
leak. But I don't think it was."
"In any case, this isn't a Bureau matter Agent Scully.
We have to wait until our assistance is requested,"
Skinner commented grimly.
"Yes sir," she muttered, still eyeing the building.
October 13, 2000
"It's dark in here, isn't it?" the old man's voice
came conversationally through the dusty air. "Not much
to do but talk."
"I have nothing to say to you," Mulder's voice faded
out. He felt sweaty and sick to his stomach. Going
into shock, he thought. And he felt parched but
wouldn't admit as much to the old bastard. It was dark
in here. And stuffy. He tried to shift position but
his arm stabbed at him. He gasped and panted,
determined not to let the man hear him in pain. He
wasn't sure but he thought that his right leg might be
broken. It hurt. Shift and twist it a bit and YEAH, oh
yeah. It was busted all right. Damn. Damn. Damn. He
thought that he'd busted at least one rib as well. It
hurt, but not as much as when he'd broken a rib
"On the contrary, you had better keep talking to me.
You've probably got a concussion and shock and I need
to monitor your condition."
"Go to Hell," Mulder gritted. Just his luck. He gets
stuck in a hole in the ground with a talkative
Cancerman. A talkative Cancerman in a jovial good
"Been there. Did that. A long time ago." Mulder heard
the rustling sound again and smelled old cigarettes as
the man laid a hand on his forehead. "You're sweating.
Do you feel chilled? Nauseated? Do you have any pain
anywhere? Your abdomen? Your legs?"
Mulder shrank away. "Goddddddamnit! Don't touch me.
Don't ever touch me. I feel fine. Just fine. Now get
the Hell away from me." He heard the rustling sound
again and the tobacco odor faded. He relaxed clenched
muscles a bit. He'd be damned if he let the old sinner
see any sign of weakness. Weak was dead with this old
man. Weapons. Did he still have his service weapon?
"I did try my cell phone, but it was broken. Yours,
too. Yes, I searched your pockets while I was checking
you for injuries."
Mulder started and tried to grope carefully under his
left arm. "Gaaaaahhh..." he panted and found his cell
phone gone. But his weapon was still there in its
holster. The bastard had left him armed. He slowly
slid the weapon from the holster and held it in his
"Are you all right? It sounds like you're in pain,"
the old man's dry voice carried through the pounding
in his arm.
"None of your damned business," Mulder snarled and
held the weapon more tightly, then considered his
position. Great. He had a weapon now that he didn't
dare use. The spark of a bullet could set off a gas
leak or trigger the building's further collapse if he
took out the wrong timber. Probably why he still had
There was silence for a moment and then the man's dry
voice carried a hint of a chuckle in it. "Does it
surprise you that I care whether you live or die?"
"Truthfully, yes. I'm the only member of my family not
dead at your hands, so yes, I am surprised." Mulder
tried to pull free from the debris again and gave up
with a sigh. He wasn't going anywhere.
"You know my reasons for wanting to preserve your
life," the relentless voice said.
"No. That was a hallucination. I was dying and I
dreamed that...You're nothing to me. Nothing."
"Then I'll put it to you in plain English, Fox. I'm
your father. That's why you're alive and I plan to
keep you that way if I can."
"You...lying...torturous BASTARD! You've already
destroyed everything I ever loved. You tried to kill
Scully with your damned experiments and then your
assassins. And now that I'm trapped here you can't
resist playing your goddamned mind games on me..."
Mulder broke off, coughing with the dust. His lungs
hurt with every explosion. He smelled old tobacco
again and found his head being supported as he coughed
some more. His arm and leg started in as well. He
fought against the evil man's touch without much
success. "Get...the...HELL...away from me!" Mulder
could hear himself choking on tears and was ashamed
that he would beg for anything from this man. There
was silence and then Mulder heard the man move away
"Fox...what I've done was for a greater purpose. The
damage to your family was...unavoidable and very
painful for me. Your parents were my friends for a
long long time. Your mother and I...we had something
"My mother...and you..." He couldn't help the fit of
coughing that broke out, propelled by sheer rage. "How
could you do that? To my father, your FRIEND?"
The man sighed. "I was young and so was your mother.
It just happened and you were the result. We thought
we could keep it quiet, she and I, but later that
proved untenable. Bill had to know." The man sounded
almost sad. No, that couldn't be. He couldn't possibly
be feeling regret at the damage he'd caused.
Then Mulder realized when his father must have been
told. Oh my God, all those silent years when his
father seemed to hate the sight of him. "He knew when
Samantha was taken, didn't he?"
"Yes. After the aliens had made their demands and I
had already sent my loved ones away, I forced Bill to
choose Samantha rather than you. I'd already given
Jeffrey, sent the one child I was forced to risk. I
wouldn't send two."
Mulder lay back, spent, and closed his eyes against
the darkness. He could see it, the whole scene, played
out against his eyelids. His voice was soft and hoarse
as he addressed this terrible man.
"You came to the summer house that night. You told my
father about the affair. You told him that only
Samantha was his child, that I was your own...because
of your affair with my mother. Oh my God, that was
what broke up my parents marriage," Mulder could feel
his voice rising as the truth of it hit him. "What I
saw, what I heard was real. It was a real memory, not
some ketamine-induced fantasy. Samantha was chosen and
not me...because I'm your son?" Oh God, no. "After Sam
was taken, Dad didn't want to see me. Nothing I did
was ever good enough for him. I thought...I thought it
was because I let them take Sam. But it was because
Dad *knew* who I really was. I wasn't his son. And I
really was the reason that he lost Sam." This was too
much. This couldn't be happening. The rustling sound
"I wouldn't sacrifice two sons to them," the old man
said softly. "I wouldn't give you to them. I still
"What do you mean, you still won't?" Mulder felt
"You have certain gifts that would make you very
interesting to the colonists as well as the rebels.
What happened to the others we sent to them was simple
experimentation. But you..."
The man fell silent and the air filled with it.
Finally Mulder could take no more.
"What? What happens if they take me?"
"When they find out what you are, they'll dissect
October 14, 2000
Scully was silent, watching the latest wrapped body
leave on the gurney.
"Any sign of Mulder?" Skinner moved in next to her.
"No. This is the fifth body they've taken out of the
bar. No survivors yet, but the dogs are still
looking." She tucked her cold fingers under the
armpits of her FBI windbreaker. She'd gone back to the
office for it after the third cop had looked askance
at her FBI badge and gently tried to remove her from
the scene. Then she'd stood and waited until the fires
were out, until the building was certified as safe to
enter, until the rescue teams had arrived...Helpless.
So damned helpless. She'd helped with the usual
injuries to the fire personnel, smoke inhalation
mostly. But even that had tapered off and the medical
personnel were competently handling what little
traffic there was. The only people taken from the
building so far were dead. No. Don't think of that.
Don't EVER think of that.
"Agent, why don't you go back to the office and wait
there. It's only going to get colder tonight, and they
expect rain." Skinner blew on his own hands.
Scully smiled at him grimly. "I will if you will,
sir." Skinner just smiled back and they continued
watching the rescue efforts.
"Wait a minute, is that...?" Scully darted forward to
the next body on a gurney. A long-fingered hand had
fallen outside the body bag and she could see the
remains of a white cuff at the wrist. "Who is he?" she
demanded of the EMT.
"I'm sorry ma'am, but there's no ID on the body and
we'll have to use dental records to identify him. He
was a male, age between thirty and fifty, dark hair.
But the body suffered some severe crush injuries. He's
unrecognizable." The EMT prevented Scully from pulling
aside the rest of the body bag. "I'm sorry, but if he
was a friend of yours you don't want to remember him
Scully stiffened, her jaw tight. "I'm a pathologist
and I've seen worse." She grabbed the zipper to the
bag and gave it a tug, then slumped as she heard
Skinner come up behind her.
"Agent...?" he said.
"No. It's not him. There's a wedding ring on the left
hand. It isn't him." She gently folded the covering
back over the body and watched as the EMT rolled it
A fine rain began to fall, making the spotlights on
the emergency vehicles glow. She shivered, then
noticed a pile of debris near the entryway of the
building. The remains of a coat rack, she thought.
She rummaged through the pile of torn fabric and found
a charcoal gray trench coat.
"Scully, what are you doing?" Skinner asked.
"Sir, he's here. This is...was...his coat. See?" She
pulled a handful of sunflower seeds from the shredded
pocket. She gathered the coat against her chest as the
rain got heavier. "He's in there somewhere."
October 14, 2000
"What's that noise?"
"Huh...what noise..?" Mulder struggled to get the
words out. He felt groggy and cold. The nausea had
died back but he still felt ill.
"It sounds like water dripping. I wonder if there's a
water main broken somewhere? If we're going to be here
for a while, we'll have to find water and food if we
can." Noises. "And thank you for the loan of your
flashlight. You're right, using my lighter could
endanger us both."
"Light...? That's my birthday present from Scully!
Give it back, y'bastard!" Goddamn it, he'd hit his
leg. Shitshitshitshitshit...he wasn't going to let the
old man know how hurt he was. Don't project
Mulder heard a 'click' and saw the man's face. He
looked even dustier and tireder than he had before.
"You shouldn't move around like that, son. You may
have internal injuries and you'll only make them
worse." The man gave Mulder a look strangely like
compassion. "We can't afford to fight right now. We're
in a life-threatening situation which neither of us
may survive without the other. We must put away old
resentments, at least for the time being."
"I'm not going to die here. You will *not* be the last
thing I see in this life," Mulder said slowly. "And I
am not your son."
The man shook his head. "Don't you understand, son? We
have to cooperate or neither of us will survive this.
I, for one don't intend to die here. Consider it a
sort of detente, a truce between equals." The man
flashed the light around the tiny space. "At least for
the time being."
In the light reflected from the maglite, Mulder could
see that the space they were in was narrow but long.
Heavy wooden beams that had formerly held the brick
building together had fallen against each other,
propping up a portion of the wall and ceiling.
Die here. They could die here. Mulder pondered the
ramifications of that. He knew that Scully was outside
somewhere, searching for him. She had to have heard
the explosion and she knew where he'd gone. He could
picture her out there, all five feet nothing of her,
giving peremptory orders to men three times her size.
Skinner was certainly involved, running the
investigation. And if the two of them did die here? He
shivered. Scully finding him here, in this man's
presence. What would she think? Would she imagine that
he'd betrayed her after all? Think that he had been
fooling her all these years? Or would she wonder if
the smoking man had some kind of hold over him? In any
case, Scully would find no rest or peace. And what
kind of death would this be, anyway? Nothing heroic.
Just a slow suffocation, alone with an evil old man.
The smoking man had gone to the far end of the space
and was searching for the sound.
"Here," he said, then looked up. "Here's what's left
of the water pipe, there's a bit of water coming
through." The man looked around the floor and found a
cracked plastic water glass. "I think this will work,"
he said and propped it under the trickle.
"Great. All the comforts of home," said Mulder
sardonically, then began coughing again.
"How are you feeling?" the man asked while he
monitored the water level in the glass.
"How should I feel? I'm trapped in Hell with my worst
enemy." Mulder was silent, then "Did you love her? Did
she love you?"
"Your mother? Oh yes." Spender removed the glass from
the trickle and carried it to Mulder. "Here, you
should have a sip, but not too much in case you have
internal injuries. Just moisten your mouth and spit it
Unwillingly, Mulder allowed the man to prop his head
up and pour a few tablespoons of water into him. He
grudgingly admitted to himself that it helped.
"You know a lot of first aid. How?"
The man sat back on his haunches, the flashlight
pointed toward the ceiling like a lantern. "I was in
the military and learned field medical skills. The
military was where I met your father...and his wife."
He patted his pockets, absently pulling out a
cigarette then, with a chagrined look, replaced the
pack in his pocket.
"So how did you end up cheating on your best friend?"
Mulder asked and was surprised to see a look of
vulnerability on the other man's face.
The man paused, gathering his words, and remembered.
"She was so beautiful and bright. She had a lively
spirit that could light up a room. Bill took her for
granted even then. She and I became friends; she
confided to me that she and Bill had been having
marital troubles for some time. They wanted children
but hadn't been able to have them...there were many
stresses on their relationship." He took a deep
breath. "She was my life."
"It wasn't what you think," the man said defensively.
"I loved Teena and still do." His fingers pulled the
cigarettes out again and Mulder saw him falter before
setting them down on the ground. "I gave up my dreams
for her and for you." He gave Mulder a look. "I could
have had a normal life. With her. But the work took
precedence and I knew that she couldn't be with me."
The man reached out a hand toward Mulder, who flinched
"You loved her so much you destroyed her life," Mulder
"Everything I did was to save her. And you! Do you
think I wanted the colonists to destroy you both along
with the rest of the planet? We had no defense against
them, we needed time! We bought that time by seeming
to agree to their colonization plan while secretly
working on a vaccine for the black oil. Everything,
everything I did was for you and for her."
"You gave them your wife and your son."
The man sighed. "I had to. Some sacrifices had to be
made to preserve the rest. Do you think that decision
was anything less than heartbreaking? If you had been
in my shoes, what decision would you have made?"
Spender fixed him with a steady glare.
"I'd have gone myself before I sacrificed anyone I
loved," Mulder spat out.
"They didn't want me," the man said tiredly. "They
wanted hostages to ensure our compliance. We had no
choice, only the resistance your father suggested.
But I chose the right son to send and the right son to
protect. Jeffrey betrayed me in the end."
Mulder could feel himself getting tired and both his
leg and arm throbbed. He'd feel better if he could
just get away from this terrible old man and his
truths. They didn't feel like lies, somehow. He could
always tell when people were lying. But this man...no,
they had to be lies.
"Murderer," Mulder said wearily. "I oppose you even
more than Jeff Spender did. When will I be killed like
"I did justice. You have never turned against your own
beliefs, even though I don't agree with them. Jeffrey
was unstable and couldn't be relied on. I had hoped to
train him by assigning him to the X Files and harden
you at the same time. It didn't work." The man pulled
a cigarette from the pack and held it under his nose,
inhaling luxuriantly. "But your relationships are
hardly perfect, are they. You and the desirable Agent
Scully have been partners for seven years now and your
relationship has barely progressed."
"You leave Scully alone, or I'll see you dead," Mulder
grated. He flashed on Scully's experiences with this
man and his flunkies. "You kidnapped her, tortured
her, made her sterile. I just can't understand why you
didn't effing kill her the last time she was in your
"Temper. She does love you, you know. Oh, you hadn't
guessed? It's perfectly obvious to anyone who sees you
together. Of course, that does give enemies a lever to
use against you. Not that I'd ever do that."
Mulder gasped, panting with frustration. "You. Leave.
"You haven't figured it out yet, have you son? I sent
you Scully. I knew that she was the woman for you the
moment I read her dossier. It was unfortunate that the
larger group decided you two had to be separated. I
disagreed but carried out my instructions and placed
her in the program. I gave her back to you, you know,
and gave you the cure for her. But you have been slow
on the uptake, haven't you?"
"Why are you doing this?" Mulder lay back against the
rubble. "What is it you want from me?"
"I suppose that I feel a need to finally explain
myself. And I still would like your assistance on that
other matter we were discussing before the latest
attempt on my life." The man gave Mulder a wistful
look. "And I'd like to see my son inherit my legacy,
continue with my work."
"You want me to investigate your little assassination
problem. Understand this, old man, my answer is no. I
will never, ever work for you in any capacity. I am
not and will not be your investigator, your flunky or
"What about being my son? My work must continue and
you have the necessary gifts."
Mulder blinked. "You want to hand down your legacy of
treachery to me."
"I want you to save the planet. I believe that you can
and you will."
Mulder was silent a while. "I remember El Rico Air
Force Base. Your plans are in a shambles. Your own
best men died in flames."
"We had a back up plan. You."
Mulder squinted against the maglite. "That time I
spent in the hospital, when I almost died..."
"When you could read minds, yes, that's part of it.
You are what you sought. You have active alien DNA in
you, and the black oil can't hurt you. You are immune.
You have the gifts necessary to fight back."
The smug look of fatuous pride on the man's face
almost forced Mulder to lunge for him again. Instead,
he asked the question that had been haunting him since
Scully'd rescued him. "Why did I develop telepathy?
What was done to me?"
"In the hospital? Oh, your special abilities."
Oh my God, the realization hit. Scully wasn't the only
one who'd been experimented on. How young had he been
when they began experimenting on him? An infant? A
child? He flogged his memory and tried to recall
anything that might have been abduction but found
nothing. Mulder shuddered and huddled himself into a
smaller space. "I have an eidetic memory. Why? It was
you, wasn't it? You did something to me or to my
genes? Was I one of your first test subjects?"
"You look cold." The man leaned forward and tugged the
coat more snugly against Mulder's body while Mulder
cringed away. "Yes. And no. Each of us has the
necessary DNA. We had discovered a way to activate it,
we thought. When you were very young you received
certain treatments, but then all we could do was watch
you grow. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that
you developed a genius-level intellect. But then, you
started with good genes."
"Was the color-blindness a side-effect?"
"It almost kept you out of the FBI, you know. I had to
call in a few favors to get you in. That sort of
disability is usually weeded out at the application
"You got me into the FBI?" Mulder's voice was flat.
He'd been recruited in college, allegedly because of
his extraordinary abilities at profiling. He'd known
that this was an unusual background, but this...
"If not for me you'd be an English professor
somewhere. Normally profilers are drawn from
experienced agents or law enforcement. But you wanted
it so much, and I wanted you here, under my eye and
influence. And you've added your own outlook to the
work. When you seemed to be burning out in the ISU, I
arranged, with Agent Fowley's help, for you to be
steered into the X files. They've been an excellent
training ground for you; you've had an opportunity to
learn to look behind the facades. And it's helped you
learn to survive. Those will be valuable skills in the
times to come."
Mulder just blinked, trying to process it all. Then he
took a deep, painful breath. "You're saying that you
"Figuratively and literally."
"You..." Mulder just looked at the man, unable to say
anything more. Each word was sweetly logical, yet the
structure was horribly wrong. "If...if what you say is
true, what does that make me?"
The man gave Mulder a proud smile. "Everything you
are, Fox, I created in you. You are my son and my
October 14, 2000
"Anything?" Skinner handed Scully a cup of coffee. She
shook her head and sipped it gingerly, while Skinner
held an umbrella overhead. The promised rain had
turned into a downpour.
"The rain is a problem. The rainwater is being
funneled into the already unstable foundations.
They're afraid that the water is undermining the
building. They haven't heard any noises or sounds of
life." She drew a deep breath. "But they're not giving
up yet. You?"
Skinner sighed. "They don't know. It might have been a
gas leak or it might have been a bomb. Nobody's called
to take responsibility for the blast yet. No apparent
motive if it was a bomb."
Scully just frowned and held Mulder's coat more
Skinner eyed her calmly. "You still think the target
"Why not? They've tried to discredit him before. Why
not just kill him and get him out of the way? He's
only been a thorn in their side for the past 7 years."
Scully shook her head, absently stroking the grey
"Just because of Mulder's history, don't automatically
assume that he was the target. This thing could have
been accidental, just a gas leak," Skinner argued.
Scully shook her head. "Since when does random ever
hit Fox Mulder?" She bit her lip and stared out into
the mist. "He's only there because of me..." she
muttered. She pulled the tatters of Mulder's coat
around her shoulders and held it tightly against her,
trying to catch his scent in the cloth.
"What? What did you say?"
She looked up and gave Skinner a bitter smile. "We had
an argument before he stomped off to drown his sorrows
at Casey's. If I hadn't picked at him, we'd be eating
dinner at Tonio's. Today was his 39th birthday."
"*Is* his 39th birthday, and don't forget that,
Agent," Skinner said firmly. "You two have bickered
since the day you met, but I've never seen a better
partnership. Nothing that has happened here is your
"I wish I could believe that."
October 14, 2000
"Mulder. I hate that name and you know it!" Mulder
tried to shift position. Damn, he hurt. Can't let the
old man see, though. He didn't know what nauseated him
more, the smoking man he was used to or this new,
solicitous smoking man. Don't let him see weakness;
he'll play you. Oh how he'll play you...
"Mulder, then. Do you hate me so much? Hard as it may
be for you to believe, I've always watched over your
progress. I've been proud of your accomplishments.
And you're more like me than you'll admit."
"I'm nothing like you!"
"Oh? Consider. You're nearing forty, you're unmarried
and spend your life following a secretive quest that
only a few believe in. You are committed to your
search for the truth, whatever that is. Don't you ever
feel that you're on the outside, looking in on others
lives?" The man's voice lowered.
"Is that the way you feel?" Mulder asked skeptically.
He was surprised by the honest tone in the other man's
"I gave up the things that other men have. Love,
family, children to leave a heritage to. That was a
heavy price. You're following in my footsteps."
Mulder responded angrily. "How can you say...my
personal life is none of your damned business!" He
jerked and was surprised that he seemed able to move a
bit. He wriggled again experimentally. "These
bricks...I...think I can move them a bit, maybe dig
myself out a little..." He felt like his leg was about
to explode but it was worth anything to get away, get
free...be able to move away from this horrible man he
was trapped with.
"Let me take a look." The flashlight went on and
Mulder could see the man carefully removing bricks.
"It doesn't look all that stable. Are you sure you
want to try digging out? You could bring the wall
"I don't want to die here, covered with bricks. Either
help me or get the Hell away...."
The man sighed and began to help after Mulder gasped
and began to struggle at heaving the bricks away with
his good hand. "This isn't a good idea, but I'll help
you if it will keep you from injuring yourself more."
Mulder just glared at him and kept working at the
The man finally sat back on his haunches and studied
Mulder and the rubble. "I don't think it's safe to
take away any more debris, or the rest of the wall
could come down. The debris is all that's supporting
"So you say," Mulder said blandly.
The man took a deep breath and surveyed Mulder and the
rubble again. "I know that I've asked you to trust me
"And betrayed me," Mulder broke in.
"And betrayed that trust. But in this place and at
this time, what possible motive would I have for lying
to you? I don't think it's safe to remove any more
rubble and I don't want to see you die, son."
Mulder stopped and eyed this terrible old man. What
was it that Scully had said after her botched attempt
to get that CD with a universal cure on it? She'd
believed him, thought that somewhere deep inside there
was a real human being, longing for something he could
never have. Mulder eyed the old man and shivered. He
couldn't think. The nausea was back and he was
sweating like a pig...felt so ill and he hurt. He
hurt. He had a deep suspicion that they were both
going to die here.
The man moved forward, tucking the coat around Mulder
more securely. Too tired to resist, the agent let him.
"You don't look very well. I'll get you some more
water," the man moved toward the back of the space
where the cup still sat collecting water drips.
"You should drink some," Mulder said weakly. "I don't
know how long we've been here, but it's been a while."
"I don't need it as much as you do. Go ahead," the man
cocked his head to one side and gave him a crooked
smile. "Or do you deny me my right to be heroic?"
Mulder said nothing but took the water. His right arm
had been freed up when they removed the rubble and he
could almost sit. Still his leg hurt; couldn't move it
and the less said about his arm the better.
"I have a question, though," the man said, taking a
seat in front of Mulder. "I'm going to turn the light
off, save the battery." He snapped it off and Mulder
heard the rustle in the darkness as the man sat down.
"What's your question?" Mulder asked.
"With all you've seen, why don't you support my
solution? Doesn't it make more logical sense to fight
the aliens through subtlety? What can you hope to gain
by crying out in the wilderness?"
The man seemed reasonable, like the father in Father
Knows Best. But there lay the danger, he reminded
himself. Everything this man said seemed reasonable
and sweet and admirable. Mulder remembered that
strange dream he'd had in the hospital, the life he'd
lived and almost died. He remembered Scully's face,
when he'd woken up at last. He'd seen her crying, the
tears dripping off her face. That was true and real
and reasonable, not what this man was saying to him.
Mulder answered slowly, "My soul. I gain my soul."
"Isn't that a selfish attitude? There are over 5
billion people out there that you have the ability to
save. Surely that's worth a little flexibility on your
part. And I'm not the evil monster you've painted me."
The man shook his head. "You make yourself a target,
boy. The Japanese have a saying for it, the nail that
sticks out gets hammered down. What do you think life
has been doing to you all this time? Not all of it was
"A lot of it was."
Mulder heard the frustration in the man's voice. "Yes,
yes it was. If you couldn't defend yourself, what
earthly hope would you have of staying alive in the
new order of things? You must become adept at survival
in all milieus, physical and political, because you'll
be their first target once they land." Mulder heard
the rustle as the man fished for a cigarette, then
barely stopped himself from lighting up.
"You hate it, don't you? Not being able to smoke those
damned things?" Mulder chuckled. "I got smart and
"You like a sign of weakness, then. The poor old man,
master of everything except nicotine." The old man
took in a deep breath. "Life...masters us all in the
end. We survive as we can, with the crutches we find
necessary." The man rustled a bit.
"I don't need a crutch." Mulder shifted again, his leg
was flaring. He suddenly knew that the old man heard
the pain in his voice. The old bastard knew it all.
"Oh, but you do. What do you do when Agent Scully is
away? When she was taken? When she was dying?"
"You keep coming back to her. She isn't your business.
Your business or whatever it is, is with me." Mulder
struggled to sit up and face this man but felt first a
jolt from his leg, then his ribs and arm kicked in.
Damn it. He felt so helpless, forced to do nothing but
listen to what this man had clearly been aching to say
for a long time. Scully, where are you? Get me out of
here! Scully! Damn the pain. He tried to move away
from the man's poisonous voice.
"Always the white knight, defending her. Of course,
she'd do the same for you. Yes, yes, leave her alone.
Very well, I'll stop discussing her before you hurt
yourself. Stop moving, you're shifting the...
October 14, 2000
"Hey! It's shifting! Watch out!!"
Skinner and Scully abruptly moved away from the
building. A corner of the building, still mostly
intact, had begun to collapse inward. Two rescue
workers leapt off the rubble and landed hard on the
ground. The would-be rescuers watched helplessly as
the brickwork caved in, raising a pile of dust in the
damp morning air.
Scully stilled and watched the building settle on
itself, then her eyes followed the men. The older man
stopped and yelled at the younger one.
"Well, that tears it. Damn it, Jameson, I told you not
to move that beam! What agency did you say sent you?"
A blonde man in his twenties shrugged. "I'm from the
County. Hey, I'm sorry Joe, it just gave way
underneath me. I think the rainwater had undermined
"Well, let's go back and see what damage was caused."
The two men went back to the building, leaving Skinner
and Scully shivering behind. Scully eyed the young
"Sir, you don't think he collapsed that section on
"Agent Scully, you're starting at shadows. The
building is unstable and part of it collapsed. End of
story. And besides, even if this was a planned hit on
Mulder, why would a professional assassin hang around
the scene of his crime?"
"To make sure he was successful," she said evenly,
watching the two men climb back into the wreckage.
"This just doesn't feel right somehow." She began to
move towards the younger man.
"Excuse me, I'm Agent Dana Scully," she said, flashing
her badge. "Can you tell me how it's going?"
"Hello, ma'am," said the older man. "Well, it's been
better. The building is slowly collapsing. The rain is
infiltrating what's left of the masonry and causing it
"I see," Scully eyed the building again. "Do you see
any chance for survivors?"
"We haven't found any yet, but most of the bodies so
far were at the front of the building near the blast.
There's always a chance that somebody at the back of
the building made it."
"But we haven't heard any noises or movement either,"
the younger man broke it. "We haven't found any
evidence of survivors."
"You plan to keep searching, though?" Scully asked.
"Oh yes, we aren't going to stop any time soon."
Scully watched closely as the two men resumed their
search. They split up and the blonde returned to the
newly collapsed area. He seemed to be listening very
hard for sound. As she watched, he slipped into an
opening in the rubble.
She quietly prayed that this time the bodies they
removed would be alive.
October 14, 2000
Mulder heard the man coughing and retching.
"Hey...CGB! You all right?" Mulder called into the
"What...a caring voice?" Mulder heard the sound of
vomiting not far away, then the raspy voice was back.
"I got hit...in the gut. It hurts. A lot."
"Where's the flashlight?" Mulder kept his voice calm.
"Do you still have it?"
Mulder ran his right hand over the gravelly surface
for several minutes before he found the light. He
flicked it on gratefully.
The space had collapsed by half, leaving only a pocket
big enough for the two of them. He sniffed. The air
had seemed fresh before, now it was stuffier. Spender
was lying on his side next to Mulder, a pile of bricks
covering his abdomen. Mulder tried to move and found
that, with difficulty, he could slide away from the
debris. He painfully pulled himself over to the other
man, wincing as his leg and arm jolted him.
"That last slide moved most of the bricks off me," he
"And... on to me," the man gave a dry chuckle. "Talk
about fate, or karma. I can't argue with it."
Mulder choked out a laugh and joined the man in a
"We make quite a pair, don't we?" Mulder wheezed.
"That we do," the man responded and tried to clutch
"Wait, let me help get the bricks off you," Mulder
said and inched carefully forward. He lay on his
stomach and began removing the bricks one by one,
until the man was uncovered. It hurt but he could tell
that his rib wasn't broken after all. Oh joy. One less
broken bone for Scully to autopsy.
"I don't see any blood. Any injuries you have are
internal ones," Mulder ran the flashlight over the
man's body. "Here, you need this more than I do right
now," Mulder dragged the coat across Spender's torso.
"Besides, I never liked the smell of tobacco."
Spender nodded. "So, now that you've thought about it,
are you going to help me with my little assassination
"You think that bomb was them?"
"Oh yes. Who else is so good at overkill?"
"Well, they tried. Maybe they believe it worked."
The man shook his head. "No. They'll have somebody
posted to make sure that the work was complete. If I
can catch sight of the assassin, I'll know who sent
him. That's the trick, you know, knowing who your
enemy is. All else is strategy."
"I've known who my enemy is for years, for all the
good it's done me," Mulder muttered.
"Oh, have you?" Mulder could hear the smile in the
man's voice. "Look again."
Mulder was beginning to doze off when he heard a
scraping noise, like somebody digging.
"Hey! Here! We're here! Help! Help!" he called and
trained the flashlight onto a corner of the wall. He
saw the rubble slip away into a blank hole.
"Hey! They found us, we're saved!" he called in glee.
A blonde head in a helmet poked itself though the
opening, then a young, slender man shinnied through
the hole and grinned.
"Am I glad to see you!" Mulder yelled. "Thank God you
got here...hey...wait a minute..." The young man
ignored Mulder and fixed his gaze on the old man and
raised a pistol with silencer.
Spender nodded solemnly. "I thought you might be the
one they sent. The explosion was a bit much, don't you
The blonde man raised his gun and pointed it at
Spender. "No, I think it was appropriate, given your
stature in the consortium. A sort of a Viking burial."
He cocked the gun.
"When they autopsy the body, they'll find the bullet,"
Mulder broke in calmly. "They'll know he didn't die in
the building collapse."
The gunman shrugged. "They'll know what we tell them.
They always do. And I was instructed to make it final,
my choice as to method. Right now, the gun works for
The old man lay motionless and watched the gunman move
in closer, aiming the weapon between his eyes.
"See you in Hell," the young man said, just before the
shot rang out and blood spattered throughout the
Mulder put the service weapon down and lay there
trembling. He usually wasn't that accurate firing
one-handed but the man had been close. He suddenly
felt very very ill. Mulder studied his bloodied hand
and tried to wipe the blood spattered across his face
with a shaking hand. He drew a breath. "Old man, you
The man slowly opened eyes in a blood-sodden face and
smiled, "I'm fine, son. They'll be here soon and get
us out of here."
"What about your assassins?"
"He was one of the best. He came from the direction I
expected; a difference of opinion between myself and
Mr. Strughold. Undoubtedly he and I will need to
discuss our conflicting strategies for the future.
"I thought all you rats were united in your goals."
The man smiled. "In our goals, yes. But not in our
methods. He has always supported a quieter, less
active organization where I am more proactive. He's
looking to diminish my authority in the new
consortium, I think. Well, if the assassin had backup,
you still have your weapon."
Mulder stared at him, wondering when he'd become the
man's bodyguard, when the first rescuer arrived. He
clutched his weapon in a sweaty hand until he heard
Scully's voice and saw that the EMT wasn't armed. Then
he sagged back in relief.
October 14, 2000
"What was that noise?" Scully shouted, then began
running toward the building. "I heard a gunshot!" The
noise had come from the section of building that
Jameson had gone into. Come to think of it, he'd been
in there over an hour now.
Scully and Skinner climbed to the tiny entrance the
man had used and heard voices.
"I hear voices," Scully said and began clawing at the
debris. "Hang on! Hold on and we'll get you out of
there!" She felt Skinner move in beside her as he,
too, began to move rubble away.
She heard more faint voices from inside but was soon
shouldered aside by other rescue workers with heavy
She waited in a frenzy of impatience outside the hole
until word came through. There were two live victims
and one dead. By gunshot.
The stretcher through the opening was a bloody and
very battered CGB Spender.
"You! You were caught in this?" she gasped as he was
carried past her.
He smiled at her benignly. "Oh yes. You might even say
it was my fault. I really think that you ought to
appreciate Mulder more; I certainly do."
"What do you mean..." Scully heard the next stretcher
being hauled out. Mulder, carefully cradling his left
arm in his right blinked up at the sky. She could see
his service weapon wedged between his knees on the
stretcher. "Hey, Mulder..." she moved over to him.
"How ya doin'?"
Mulder gave her a dusty grin. "Not so bad. I'm alive.
You should see the other guy." She grinned back and
took his good hand.
"Mulder, I'm sorry for all those things I said. You've
made a life to be proud of, you do good work and help
people. I'm sorry." She bit her lip. "I guess I have a
lot of funny ideas about commitment, but when push
comes to shove I'm committed to our friendship.
He squeezed back. "Scully, you've always been there
when I needed you. I know I can trust that. I always
will." He paused. "Scully...I..."
"Nothing. Nothing you need to know." Mulder watched
her as she walked next to his stretcher. He'd been
about to tell her what Spender had disclosed. Then he
thought better of it. What would she think about him
if she knew it all? If she knew, knew for sure that
Spender hadn't only contributed genes to him but had
engineered his entire life. What could she think? And
when would Cancerman tell her all this?
She followed him down to the ambulance, then glanced
back at the last stretcher. The body of the blonde
man, Jameson, was being removed. "Was that a gunshot,
Mulder? Did you shoot him?" she asked wonderingly.
Mulder looked deep in her eyes. "Yeah, why did I shoot
my rescuer?" He sighed. "He was about to murder the
smoking man. I couldn't let him do it... Why couldn't
I let him just do it?"
October 15, 2000
Fairfax Mercy Hospital
Scully sat by her partner and watched him.
Mulder lay in the hospital bed and didn't say much.
His right leg was in a cast, as was his left arm. He
hadn't complained much about pain, but then that was
Mulder. Broken leg and broken arm, shock and
concussion. He'd whine with a sliver but was silent
when seriously ill.
Finally Scully couldn't take the silence.
"You aren't sleeping. Do you need some pain pills?"
"Mulder, what's wrong? What did he say to you? The
Mulder gave her a long look. "You don't want to know."
He looked away toward the window. What would she think
of him if she knew what he was descended from? He
could barely stand it himself. How much of his own
life could he take credit for and how much was mere
puppetry by that smoking bastard?
She reached out and took his right hand in hers. "Try
Mulder took a deep breath and fixed his eyes back on
the ceiling. "Scully, can a good thing ever be
produced by terrible evil? I mean, if the devil had a
child, wouldn't that child inherit all his
"I don't understand," she faltered.
Mulder looked at her with a haunted expression, then
took a deep breath and spoke. "He told me that he
created me. He...he put me into the FBI. He sent me to
the X Files. He...he says...says..." Mulder's voice
went flat and he closed his eyes.
"Remember that weird hallucination I told you about?
The one I had in the hospital? Some of it might be
true. He says he's my father." Mulder turned his head
and stared deep into her blue eyes.
He saw her jerk and look down. She licked her lips,
clearly disturbed by the revelation. "You said you
thought it might be a possibility before, when you
were questioning your mother about her relationship to
him. Spender says a lot of things, only a few of them
He squeezed her hand hard. "Scully, if he really
is...if he put me where I am and made me his tool,
what am I then? Who am I? Am I like him, somehow? How
free were any of my choices, really?"
"You aren't his tool, Mulder. You are the person you
always were. You're Fox Mulder and you do a lot of
good in the world." She watched his face and knew that
he was unconvinced. "Mulder, you know that the last
time I saw him I saw something human in him. He didn't
start out as a bad man. He made bad choices and
Mulder barked a laugh. "He was right about
something...the choices he made. On the surface, they
were all the right ones. He gave up family, a life of
his own to save the world from the alien colonists. By
doing that he has destroyed thousands of lives. He,
Bill Mulder, lots of good, intelligent men made these
same decisions and created evil."
"How do I know that my decisions are any better,
Scully? I try to find the truth and I'm convinced that
I'm doing the right thing. And isn't that the same
thing he's been doing all these years? What gives me
the right to pursue my quests at the expense of
others? What about those whose lives are ruined when
the secrets are brought to light? Don't I have the
same potential for creating evil as...as...him?" He
couldn't call that man his father, even though he was
beginning to become convinced that the man hadn't been
"Your decisions have never been based on a desire for
power or personal gain, Mulder. They've been good
ones," Scully said calmly, although Mulder thought he
could detect a slightly worried frown. "And while the
truth might be painful at first, it's still the
He thought back to all the years as Bill Mulder's son,
his pride when he graduated the FBI Academy, the
citations he'd earned as an agent and wondered how
much of it had been real. "Sometimes there's too much
truth," he said softly.
"Mulder, your decisions have been sound and I trust
your judgment. And you," Scully was kneeling next to
the bed, her hands clasped around his good one. "You
aren't Spender, no matter whose genes you carry."
"Really?" Her answer was suddenly the most important
thing in the world.
"Yes, Mulder. Trust me on this one," she said firmly.
October 17, 2000
Fairfax Mercy Hospital
Scully had gone home for the day, leaving Mulder to
his bland dinner. He wanted a cheeseburger. He got a
broiled chicken breast with watery mashed potatoes. Oh
well, hospital food was as bad as airline food
and...hey, what was this? Tucked under his napkin he
found a small folded piece of paper. He opened it and
"Mulder, your life is in danger. Guard yourself. CGBS"
He stared at it, not knowing what to make of it.
Spender, wanting to protect him? Why? What was going
on? He picked up the hospital phone and called Scully.
She arrived thirty minutes later, out of breath and
slightly damp. Mulder smiled ruefully. "I'm sorry I
interrupted the bubble bath, Scully. I just don't know
what to make of this." He handed her the note.
She took it, frowning in concentration. "It looks like
his writing," she looked up at Mulder's puzzled
expression and flushed. "He signed the hotel register
at that resort he took me to. Did he say anything
while you were trapped to indicate that your life
might be endangered?"
Mulder shook his head. "No, in fact he was very
anxious for me to act as his bodyguard. His life was
the one in danger, not mine."
Scully eyed him up and down, taking in the casts.
"Well, you can't defend yourself as it stands. It's
just as well you're being released tomorrow anyway.
You'll come to my place as planned and I'll take care
of you *and* watch your back."
"Wash my back? Is that a promise, Scully?" Mulder gave
her his patented leer.
She grinned back. "You haven't seen a bed bath until
you've had one of mine." She frowned again. "I just
wish I knew what all this was about."
October 20, 2000
Dana Scully's Apartment
"Okay Mulder, here's the television remote. I'm going
to take the trash out but I'll be right back. Will you
be okay?" Scully nodded and hefted the garbage bag.
Mulder, propped in Scully's barcalounger grinned. "I
have a television remote and my service weapon within
easy reach. I'll be fine." He watched her close and
lock the door behind her. The past several days had
been very peaceful. Mulder had to admit that he was
enjoying the attention, not to mention the unlimited
television time. He stretched in the chair. That note
had probably been a hoax, an attempt by the smoker to
put him off balance. That's all it was, a fake. Well,
he was glad that it had given him an excuse to move in
with Scully for the duration. They had both been on
edge the first day or so but it was becoming clear
that nothing was going to happen. Mulder yawned and
picked up the remote.
As Scully stepped outside the door she felt herself
grabbed and lifted off her feet, a broad hand clasped
across her mouth. She tried to free a hand, to grab
for the gun at her waist, he was stronger than she
was. Although she struggled, she soon found herself
tied and gagged in the bushes beside her townhouse.
She didn't recognize the man, who had made no attempt
at disguise. He was nondescript, brown hair, brown
eyes, medium height. But he wasn't anyone she
recognized as one of Cancerman's goons.
To her surprise, the man didn't go into the townhouse.
Instead he went back to his post beside the back door.
He seemed to be waiting for something. She began to
struggle with the plastic ties he'd bound her with.
She heard a car pull up to the door and saw two men
get out, a tall thin man who looked like he was
armed....and....she squinted...CGB Spender. Her eyes
narrowed. Spender moved slowly, almost but not quite
needing the other man for support.
Spender's companion used a lock pick to open the front
door. So much for the expensive locks, she sighed to
herself. Her own attacker just watched the men enter
the townhouse. What did they want? Mulder.... She
struggled even harder against the bonds.
Inside the townhouse Mulder was starting to worry
about Scully. He'd put the television remote down and
picked up his gun. For the first time his various
disabilities began to seriously worry him.
"Scully!" he called. "Scully! Are you all right?" He
heard nothing, then a rattle in the front door. It
swung open and CGB Spender walked in, followed by
another man with a drawn gun. Spender didn't look
good. He was pale and moved hesitantly, but Mulder had
no doubt about the man's dangerousness.
That was okay though, Mulder considered, since he had
his own weapon trained on the two. "Where's Scully?
And what the Hell are you doing here?" Spender walked
carefully toward Mulder's chair.
"Stop right there and tell me where Scully is." Mulder
said calmly, aiming at Spender's chest. Spender
carefully put a hand against the back of Mulder's
chair and leaned against it, propping himself up.
"We don't have her. I have no idea where she is.
Jeremy, why don't you take a look out back for her
while I speak with Agent Mulder?"
"No Jeremy, don't do that or I'll shoot your boss,"
Mulder said steadily. "Stay where I can keep my eye on
you. Now what is this all about you Goddamned bastard?
I saved your miserable life. Is this how you pay
The old man carefully pulled a pack of cigarettes from
his pocket and lit one up. "I'm trying to show my
gratitude. I sent you the warning note. You should
know that I left my own hospital bed against doctor's
orders to warn you. Your life is in danger, you can
expect an assassin to try for you. Soon."
"Why? I won't stop them from killing you," Mulder
The man gave him a twisted smile as he puffed. "I'm
aware of that but there are other...reasons...that
they want you terminated. I was tipped off and decided
to warn you. Jeremy is going to stay and ensure your
"You mean to tell me that he isn't your bodyguard?
He's mine?" Mulder demanded incredulously.
"Yes, he is. Agent Scully is very talented but she has
to sleep some time. And I'd just as soon you knew
about your protection so you don't try taking any pot
shots at him."
Spender motioned at Jeremy, who moved toward the back
door. Mulder, bemused, didn't try to stop him. He kept
his attention focused on the truly dangerous man,
"I've asked you this before; what do you want from
me?" Mulder asked evenly.
Spender pulled up a chair and gingerly sat down. "I
suppose I could say that I want you to understand. I
want you to know what choices I made and why I made
them." Spender shifted uncomfortably. "I want you to
know that the things I did were heroic acts, done for
the good of all."
Mulder snorted. "Suddenly my good opinion is important
Spender shook his head. "No, but your understanding
They both heard a loud noise from outside and jerked
as the back door crashed open. Two men were
struggling: Mulder's 'bodyguard' and Scully's
abductor. Before they could react, the brown-haired
man angled his gun against the other man's body and
pulled the trigger. While Jeremy's body slumped to the
floor, Mulder raised his service weapon.
"Drop it. Drop it *now*!" he barked at the man. The
assassin smiled and aimed the gun at Mulder. The
smoking man slowly stood up.
"You drop yours. Besides, you know who I'm really here
Mulder kept the weapon steady. Here it was, then.
Mexican standoff. But the target was CGB Spender, an
evil man who deserved execution a dozen times over for
his crimes. Mulder could simply lower the weapon, save
his own life. His glance flickered over to CGB who sat
there calmly with a set expression, smoking his
Yes, the old man was ready to die. He'd lived
according to his principles, warped as they were, for
years. He'd die by them. Or for them. Mulder was
suddenly struck with the similarity of their
characters. Oh it hurt but it was also the truth, this
evil old man would die for his beliefs just as Mulder
would. Spender would compromise nothing to achieve his
personal vision; and how many people had Mulder pissed
off in a lifetime of demanding that the truth be
known? He sighed and watched Spender out of the corner
of his eye.
"No. Lower your weapon," Mulder said.
The gunman looked steadily at Mulder, then moved and
quickly knocked the gun from his hand. He scooped it
up and tucked it into his waistband, shaking his head.
"You should have cooperated. You'd have died easier."
He raised his weapon and aimed it at Mulder.
"Old man, I was told that you were to watch this
before I let you go. G0 stand against the wall."
Spender carefully moved as directed.
Mulder tried to smile. "Hey man, this can't be much of
a challenge for you, huh? Kinda like shooting fish in
a barrel. I mean, I got a cast on my arm and my leg so
where's the fun in it? And why me, anyway?"
The gunman was solemn. "These were my instructions, to
kill you and make the old man watch. Then let him go."
Mulder gulped as the man took aim again, then saw
Spender moving quietly, quietly toward the gunman.
This was...unreal. Spender was trying to save him?
Mulder looked down the nose of the weapon, watching
the man's finger squeeze on the trigger waiting for
the inevitable. Spender rushed the gunman, knocking
him over with the weight of his body. Soon Spender
was lying on top of the man, holding a small pistol
under the assassin's chin.
"Where'd you get the weapon?" Mulder asked, leaning
over the side of the barcalounger to see.
"Ankle holster," Spender said. "All right you, stand
up." He climbed to his feet, motioning the gunman
The gunman stood, towering over Spender. Spender
smiled, aimed the pistol and shot him between the
Mulder tried to scramble out of the chair and prevent
this but found himself sprawled over the floor
instead. While Mulder reeled in pain, Spender stepped
over the body and carefully helped Mulder back into
"Well?" Mulder asked, gasping.
"Well what?" the old man replied.
"Aren't you going to shoot me now? I'm a witness. You
just murdered a man."
Spender smiled gently and pocketed his weapon. "No. I
prevented another murder. Yours."
"This doesn't buy me," Mulder stated. "You set this
"Oh no, the threat was real. He was going to kill you
and leave me alive." Spender holstered his weapon.
"But why? Why kill me and make you witness it? They
wanted to assassinate you!" The light began to dawn
and Mulder went on. "I see. I represent your plans,
your cherished legacy, don't I? Kill me and they kill
Spender smiled gently. "Do you think that plans are
all I would lose? I think that Agent Scully is
probably outside. I'll check on her."
October 20, 2000
Dana Scully's Apartment
Dana Scully struggled frantically against the plastic
ties. Goddamn it, this guy was good. She couldn't
scream and she could barely move. She'd just heard a
second gunshot from the house and knew it didn't bode
well. Mulder. Damn. They hadn't killed him before, now
they were going to make sure of it and she'd been
caught in the first ten minutes. She felt like a
Christmas turkey, trussed up and left.
"My, my Agent Scully. You do get yourself into
trouble," a familiar voice drawled from above and she
smelled cigarette smoke. Scully rolled over onto her
back and glared silently up at CGB Spender.
Unfortunately for him, the gag was what he removed
"God damn you! What did you do to him?" To her fury,
the man was now smiling at her fondly.
"Agent Scully, Agent Mulder is quite well and in the
house. Now if you will allow me to help you, I'm here
to untie you. Will you cooperate?"
Scully nodded and he began work on the plastic ties.
"What happened," she asked.
"An attempt on Mulder's life, as I expected. My man
didn't survive. Mulder did. There..." The man moved
away as Scully quickly got up and ran for the house.
After she disappeared through the back door he quietly
made his exit.
Scully's eyes widened when she entered the living
room. Two dead bodies lay on a floor splattered with
blood. A frightened Mulder held his weapon on her
until he saw who it was.
He lowered the gun with a sigh and leaned back into
the chair, eyes closing. "Scully. Thank God you're
Scully picked her way over to Mulder and laid a hand
on his forehead. "What happened? Did you shoot any of
Mulder shook his head. "No chance to. The gunman who
got you," he pointed. "killed the other man. Then
Cancerman killed the gunman. In cold blood."
Scully nodded. "Because he was sent to assassinate
Mulder frowned. "No. CGB Spender shot him to save me.
The assassin said he was sent to kill me, with CGB
Spender as a witness. I...don't understand. I don't
want to understand." He looked up at Scully with
haunted eyes. "If I understood and accepted what
happened here today, I think I might go mad."
October 25, 2000
J. Edgar Hoover Bldg
"Mulder, the interoffice mail is here," Scully
remarked as she put a pile of envelopes onto his desk.
"This one's addressed to you. Looks like a card."
Mulder looked up from the file he was reading. It had
been a difficult week for him. He'd gone so stir crazy
that Skinner had finally been persuaded to allow
Mulder back early for desk work.
Mulder picked up the red envelope and slit it open,
then read the card inside. He pursed his lips in a
"What is it? What does it say?" Scully demanded,
Mulder handed it to her. It read:
"My dear Agent Mulder, please let me express my wishes
for your speedy recovery after our little accident and
also thank you for the service you performed in saving
my life. I understand that we may not always agree,
yet I am still gratified that when things were truly
difficult I could count on your help. Regarding the
visitors to Agent Scully's apartment, do not be
concerned about any future visitations. I have reached
my own detente with the parties who wished my enforced
retirement and they no longer seek my death or yours.
Needless to say, I have never sought harm to you and,
for the reasons I gave you before, will continue to
follow your progress with great interest."
The card wasn't signed.
Author's final note:
CGB Spender is one of my favorite characters and I've
tried to give my take on why he does what he does.
Source material is derived from such episodes as
'Demons' 'Musings of a CSM' and others. I think CSM is
really the flipside of Mulder. The two men have the
same strengths: persistence, intelligence, courage,
vision. But they also have the same weaknesses:
obsession, arrogance and isolation. They could very
well be father and son. God help them.