Sent: Thursday, October 05, 2000

Title: Missing Time
Author: Agent L
Classification: V, MA
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Requiem, very tiny reference to FTF
Distribution: Archive anywhere, but keep my name and
e-mail attached please!
Disclaimer: To Chris Carter, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Fox,
and now Robert Patrick: I know they're not mine, and no money, gifts or
even chocolate would be expected or accepted for this.
Summary: Mulder learns a truth and makes a sacrifice.
Author Notes: Not that I think for a second Mulder would allow any
extra time to pass before trying to find Scully, but my mind asked,
"What if...?" and this is the answer.
Feedback: Yes, please!

Missing Time

Exactly one year ago, I walked into the woods in Bellefleur, Oregon,
and disappeared from the face of the earth. Literally.

So I guess today is an anniversary of sorts, although I doubt Hallmark
makes a card for former alien abductees. Not that I expect or want
any surprise parties or presents. Just waking up in the morning to find
I'm still on good ol' planet Earth is enough for me lately.

Twelve months ago, I was hiding in the corner of Billy Miles' bedroom,
terrified that this was some kind of new torture, and that when I woke
up I would still be a prisoner. Billy and some of my fellow travelers
finally convinced me that we were all back -- safe and sound.

I don't think I'll ever feel completely safe again.

They believe the abductions and tests are over. Their implants have all
mysteriously vanished, and I have no tiny scar on the back of my neck
or anywhere else on my body. I have no reason to doubt them -- they
certainly have more first-hand experience with this sort of thing than I do.
But I still awake in panic in the middle of the night at the sound of a
outside my window.

After a month in Oregon, I returned to Virginia, back to the familiarity
of the east coast, but I had no illusions about returning to my old life. I
wanted to be somewhere familiar. Even if I'm no longer sure who I am,
at least I know where to buy groceries.

My old apartment was, of course, already leased out. The landlord never
much liked me anyway, what with bullet holes in the walls and strangers
dying in the hallway, so I didn't even think about asking for my security
deposit. At least he put all my stuff in storage -- except for the fish,
are no doubt somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean by now.

So I found a cheap studio apartment downtown that smells like stale
smoke and cat piss. The guy upstairs likes to play Bruce Springsteen and
sing along. Still, it's a roof and a bed and an indoor toilet, which is
for now.

I never contacted the FBI to submit my resignation. Partly because I didn't
want to face the questions and debriefings and barely concealed disdain,
but partly because that man, Special Agent Fox Mulder, doesn't exist
anymore. He was another person, hopelessly naive and idealistic.
Wishing so desperately for his very own close encounter, increasingly
envious of those lost souls who'd been returned with their crazy stories
of bright lights and anal probes...

Be careful what you wish for.

I got a job doing data entry on the midnight shift for a local company.
The money's good and the work requires just enough of my attention to
keep my mind out of the dark places for about 8 hours. I get along with
the other drones, talking weather and sports -- although I'm still catching
up on current events.

Billy and the others told me what to expect: the nightmares, the panic
attacks, the paranoia (which I had a head start on already, thank you),
and the "zone-outs" as Billy referred to them. At work I suddenly find
myself sitting at the keyboard, the cursor blinking impatiently, and realize
I have been somewhere else. The gray place. The twilight zone.

So for the past eleven months, I have been content to simply exist from
day to day, feeling more human each morning, more like the other people
around me instead of a stranger. Each day it's easier to get out of bed
and walk out the door without the terror monkey on my back. Billy and
his friends keep tabs on me by phone and e-mail -- faithful watchdogs
monitoring the reluctant new member of their exclusive club.

Apart from them, I haven't made any new friends, nor have I made much
of an effort to contact old acquaintances. To be honest, Fox Mulder
wasn't close enough to anyone for his disappearance or reappearance
to matter too much.

Except for Scully.

I haven't been ready until today to visit Scully. No excuses. Cowardice,
pure and simple. Only now -- a year since I last saw her -- am I ready to
face her again. To apologize, to move on.

She's an hour's drive from here, but it's a beautiful late spring day, so I
roll down the car windows and enjoy the wind in my hair and the sun on
my skin. I want to absorb the energy, to take it into myself. I crave fresh
air and natural light like some kind of nature addict.

She always visited Melissa on Memorial Day. I accompanied her once
or twice, but I did not mourn for Melissa as much on those occasions
as I mourned for Scully. So many losses because of her faith in me and
my noble quest.

Forgive me, Scully. I knew not what I did.

As I near the site of the family plot, I belatedly realize I should have
brought flowers. But then again, Scully isn't a woman you bring
flowers to. A bottle of Irish whiskey, perhaps. A copy of the New
England Journal of Medicine. But not flowers.

I don't know where she is, but I assume she'll be near her sister, so I
head for that section of the cemetary, trying to ignore the chill that starts
deep within me and begins to spread outward, numbing my arms and legs.
I had hoped to be alone -- foolish, on a holiday on which we honor the
dead -- but someone is already at the grave as I approach.

Two people. I recognize Maggie, Scully's mother. She's holding some
kind of bundle in her arms, standing behind another person, who kneels
in front of Melissa's marker. As the other woman stands up, her bright
red hair glows in the sun.

All the breath leaves my body. A roaring sound builds in my ears and
the bright day fades to a dull gray fog. My legs take me instinctively
into the shadows, behind a tall monument where I throw up what little
breakfast I had. Resting my hot face against the cool, hard stone, I try
to reconcile what I've just seen with what I know. What I thought I knew.

They told me she was dead.

She died in Antarctica. I failed to save her. She was gone. That was
what they told me, over and over as they watched impassively, recording
my reactions. They had convinced me that all my memories of her --
the few they left me with -- were before that time, or creations of my
own deluded mind.

Is she just a beautiful vision conjured up by my guilt and need? Because if
ever a man deserved to be haunted, it's me.

I peer around the corner of the monument, half expecting to see no one
there at all, just in time to see Maggie hand Scully the bundle she's
been holding.

A baby.

My first response is anger, that she could forget me so soon and
obviously so completely. A surge of jealousy that some other man has
been blessed by her smile...allowed to worship her body. Then the
child's cry drifts to me on the soft breeze, a sound that stops almost
immediately when back in its mother's arms -- arms that comforted
me once. Hands that clung to me as our mouths and bodies joined...


And haltingly, finally, my sluggish mind returns its analysis of times and
dates and at least one piece of the puzzle slips into place. The baby
is mine. Ours.

A rush of joy, the first real happiness I've known for a year, goes
through me, and I start to step out of the shadows to go to her. To them.

But something in the tableau stops me. A sense of completeness, of
rightness. She does not need me. She never has. *This* is the life she
wants, the life I wanted her to have -- a life she can only have without me.
I can't allow her to raise this child in the shadow of conspiracies and
plots -- can't face the possibility that an innocent baby might be used as
a pawn or a target in this deadly game, as Scully was so often used to
manipulate me.

She is free now. She and her baby are loved and cherished, part of a
family, not part of an agenda. She's sacrificed enough for me, for *my*
search for the truth. It's time for her to find her own answers, her
well-deserved closure.

A normal life.

As I slip back into the shadows, the last sound I hear from Scully is her
rare and wonderful laughter, drifting to me on the warm May air.

The End