IMTP VS8 Episode 12:
Art by Kris Reine
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!
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
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
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 lighter.
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 bastard?"
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 harsh breathing.
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 gray.
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
"And you say that they experimented on you? How?" Mulder
asked pleasantly, his entire demeanor communicating 'I
"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 they hung!"
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 kinda 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' then..."
October 2, 2000 Turlock, California
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
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
She pulled the chair over and sat down as well. "Like what?"
"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
"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 too..."
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 it?"
"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 arms.
"Mulder...we aren't kids any more. It's time to grow up,
take on responsibilities..." She couldn't meet his eyes.
"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
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 30.
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 airport."
October 2, 2000 9:55 PDT
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
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
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. Haunted houses.
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
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
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
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 it.
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 40. 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 impatient Mulder.
"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 capital 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 talking about."
"Gilroy's the garlic capital..." 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 it?"
"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 all
"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 life?"
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 his.
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 sighed.
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 stellar evening.
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
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 coming."
"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.
"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 booth.
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 for position."
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 me."
Mulder's eyes widened. "And you trust *me*?" he hooted.
"I'd gladly watch you die in a pool of your own blood, you
"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.
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 workers. Several minutes later, Skinner made
his way through the crowd of Hoover employees and joined
her, looking worried.
"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 a
"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 or...or bodies?"
"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 head.
"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'm afraid."
"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 over.
"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
"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
"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 away.
"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 them."
"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
"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
"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 before.
"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 mood.
"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? Couldn't tell...
"I did try my cell phone, but it was broken. Yours, too.
Yes, I searched your pockets while I was checking you for
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 right hand.
"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 ignite a gas leak or trigger the
building's further collapse if he took out the wrong
timber. Probably why he still had the gun.
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 from him.
"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 special."
"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,
"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 approached again.
"I wouldn't sacrifice two sons to them," the old man said
softly. "I wouldn't give you to them. I still won't."
"What do you mean, you still won't?" Mulder felt suddenly
"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 you."
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
"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
"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
"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 this way."
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
"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 away.
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 down 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 weakness...
Mulder heard a 'click' and saw the man's face. He looked
even dustier and more tired than he had before. "You
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 5 foot three 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
"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 out."
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 away.
"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 he was?"
"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 fucking
kill her the last time she was in your clutches."
"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 your bodyguard."
"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
Mulder was silent a while. "I remember El Rico Air Force
Base. Your plans are in a shambles. Your own best men died
"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 had 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 stage."
"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, profile 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 IS, I arranged, with Agent Foley'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
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 heir."
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
"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 closely.
Skinner eyed her calmly. "You still think the target was
"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 seven years." Scully shook
her head, absently stroking the grey fabric.
"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
"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 fault."
"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
"Is that the way you feel?" Mulder asked skeptically. He
was surprised by the honest tone in the other man's voice.
"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...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 down."
"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 bricks.
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 it."
"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 when they removed the rubble and he could almost
sit. Still his leg hurt; couldn't move it and the less said
about his left 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
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 my influence."
"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 quit."
"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 blond man in his twenties shrugged. "I'm from the Red
Cross. Hey, I'm sorry Joe, it just gave way underneath me.
I think the rainwater had undermined it."
"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 man.
"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
"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 to
"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
"But we haven't heard any noises or movement either," the
younger man broke it. "We haven't found any evidence of
"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 blond 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
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
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 coughing
"We make quite a pair, don't we?" Mulder wheezed.
"That we do," the man responded and tried to clutch his
"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
"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 problem?"
"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
"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 blond head in a helmet poked itself though the opening,
then a young, slender man shinnied through the hole and
"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
Spender nodded solemnly. "I thought you might be the one
they sent. The explosion was a bit much, don't you think?"
The blond 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
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 me."
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 space.
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 still alive?"
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
"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
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
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 shovels.
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
"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. Forgive me?"
He squeezed back. "Scully, you've always been there when I
needed you. I know I can trust that. I always will." He
"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 blond 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 smoking
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
She reached out and took his right hand in hers. "Try me."
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 tendencies?"
"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 true."
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
"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 created himself."
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
"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 lying.
"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 truth."
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 read.
"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
"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
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 repay me...*Dad*?"
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
"Why? I won't stop them from killing you," Mulder said.
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 safety."
"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, Spender.
"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 to
Spender shook his head. "No, but your understanding is."
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 for."
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 cigarette.
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
"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 upright.
The gunman stood, towering over Spender. Spender smiled,
aimed the pistol and shot him between the eyes.
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 the chair.
"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 up."
"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 your dream."
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
"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 first.
"Goddamn 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
He lowered the gun with a sigh and leaned back into the
chair, eyes closing. "Scully. Thank God you're alive."
Scully picked her way over to Mulder and laid a hand on
his forehead. "What happened? Did you shoot any of them?"
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
October 25, 2000
J. Edgar Hoover Bldg Basement
"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 silent
"What is it? What does it say?" Scully demanded, moving
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 flip side 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