"I won't let you go alone."
Scully curled her fingers into the hairs at the base of Mulder's neck, familiar already with the curve of his neck despite barely a month of physical intimacy. She held her breath as his arms wrapped around her, and felt his reluctance to leave her as much as his eagerness to go, to discover, to find the all-encompassing Truth.
She was true to her word. Scully made Skinner go with Mulder to Bellefleur. Mulder, anxious to make sure she was protected, left Frohike with a firm admonishment to keep her as far from Bellefleur as possible.
He didn't count on her fainting once more, didn't count on the impossible, didn't count on a frantic call from Byers. Bellefleur held the promise of truths and confirmations; Mulder would never quite recover from not going into the woods, not answering the call. He would always wonder, he would look up into the night sky with his baby boy in his arms and Scully asleep inside and ask the stars for answers.
It would occur to him, in daylight, that the Truth he sought for so long had indeed been in Scully all along, as he had once insisted it must. He would kiss her and make love to her, and she never asked him, never wanted to know, if he regretted his decision to stay.
William's eyes were blue like his mother's, his hair dark like his father's, his temperament jovial and generous like his uncle Charlie. He was a wonder, everyone said so. It was a wonder that he was even alive.
And Mulder had stayed, and got to watch his son grow up. Got to fall in love with Scully hundreds of times, and never had to know he'd left her alone in a world that was ending.
The sky could wait.
-fight the future-
There was a bee in Scully's collar.
It stung Mulder's hand as he reached up to pull her closer to him, to lose himself in her kiss and embrace. He fell to the ground, on his knees, consciousness gone before Scully had a chance to cry out.
She didn't call 911. Her paranoia was, at times, more thorough than Mulder's; she thought of those trucks and the bee colony in Texas and she called Byers, Langly, and Frohike instead.
They came to her aid, but they could do nothing, not knowing what exactly it was that Mulder was infected with. Late into the night, they fretted and worked the problem. Byers came to Scully with a weary and broken countenance. There was nothing they could do.
Scully made the call she had never wanted to make, had hoped she could always avoid. "Mulder's infected with something you and your people created. I want the cure for it." All business, so stern and rigid in her demand that it was unthinkable to deny her.
He took a drag and paused anyway, to let her think she might be denied, to see if it would confuse her into begging, crying, pleading and bargaining.
A full minute ticked away on his watch and he could only just barely make out her breathing; she had said nothing and was as implacable as ever.
"Agent Scully, you impress me. You must know that I rarely concede so easily, but I know better than to bargain with either of you if the other's life is in the balance. There is a price, of course, but..."
"Will you give me the cure." She didn't even ask, it wasn't a question, it was a demand phrased in a barely-polite cadence.
He thought of how he might drag this out, how he could inflict emotional damage that may entice her into finally giving up on what was never supposed to be her quest. He toyed with the idea of letting Mulder die, of letting the creature incubating in his system even now take over and destroy them both.
"How long since he was infected?"
"Six hours, twenty minutes." She was precise; it had to have been painful, watching him collapse like that.
"My man will deliver the vaccine. Do not interfere with his methods, Agent Scully. There may be consequences."
And he hung up the phone. Scully would swear later she could smell the cigarette smoke through the receiver.
His man was a hard-faced woman, as it turned out, who looked as though she could crush Scully with her tasteful heels and still not stain the fabric. She injected Mulder with something, took all the evidence with her, and even wiped the surfaces she touched. There was nothing to prove she'd been there, nothing from which to trace her should the injection fail to do anything.
It was an hour before Mulder opened his eyes, three before he tried speaking, and forty-eight before Scully could kiss him and they could begin contemplating the future.
And it was fifty-seven hours before a news story broke blaming SAC Darius Michaud for the bombing in Dallas. The X-files were permanently shut down; Mulder was asked to resign and Scully was given an assignment in the midwest.
A Morley cigarette carton was delivered to Scully's doorstep the day they found out about their fate with the FBI. It came with a card.
"Remember, there is always a price."
She went to California a single lady in her thirties. Hard not to think about her age and her marital status in one sentence like that; she'd been thinking too much about families and love and her place in the world. And then Bill and Tara were standing outside the terminal waiting for Dana and Maggie, Tara as big as a house and a year younger than her sister-in-law. It was a lot to take.
The hardest part about the trip was not the phone calls that seemed to come from beyond the grave. It was not discovering little Emily, trying to start the adoption process, finding out how sick she was. It was none of those things at all.
It was thinking about going back home to an empty apartment, still single, still childless, and it didn't even occur to her why all these things mattered more right this second than they ever had before.
Somehow, Emily survived that awful few days in the hospital, and somehow, Scully was allowed to become a probationary foster mother. She didn't go back to Washington, not to stay; she made a quick trip to put in for a transfer. Mulder tried to argue, tried to get her on the phone long enough to convince her she needed to stay. It might have worked, had Emily not been sitting on the floor at Bill and Tara's, playing with a doll and singing her own version of "Old McDonald."
She was a single mom in her thirties, just like that.
Just like that, the darkness began to fade.
Robert Patrick Modell.
It was hard to get the name out of his thoughts. Mulder tried rolling over and flipping on the television. The only station coming in clearly was playing some samurai flick with badly translated subtitles. This was what he got for forgetting to pay the cable bill.
Robert Patrick Modell.
He was in a hospital, unlikely to recover from a gunshot wound to the chest and terminal brain cancer. If he survived, he would be sent to prison, a maximum security place specializing in psychotic killer types. Mulder repeated all of this over and over, counting sheep by counting the ways Robert Patrick Modell would never haunt him or Scully again.
Mulder looked at the clock and saw only twenty minutes had passed since he sat down and attempted to go to sleep. This wasn't going to work.
He got up, put on running shorts, grabbed his keys and cell phone and went for a run.
And his feet hit the pavement to the tune Robert Patrick Modell, thud-bump, thud-bump, thud-bump.
Mulder ran for over half an hour, and finally hailed a cab when he realized that he was going in one direction and he was kind of cold and it was still another 45 minutes on foot to Scully's place.
"Scully, it's Mulder."
"What time is it?" She was only trying to sound sleepy, he could tell he hadn't woken her. He'd called her at all hours for their whole partnership and he knew her tone and pitch like a
"After midnight, I don't know. I'm outside; I left my wallet at home, can you come pay the cabbie?"
There was a click as she hung up, and he watched her building eagerly, hoping anticipation would knock the rhythmic chant from his mind.
Robert Patrick Modell.
Scully came out in a thick terry robe, pajama pants and slippers, and Mulder was certain a t-shirt was under the robe. She paid the cab driver, tipped him, and as the cab left, Scully turned to
assess her partner.
He expected wrath, or at least annoyance. He saw compassion, and...something else.
Something like what he'd seen in the hospital room when she pled with him not to listen, something like what he'd seen in the van when she was trying to convince him not to go in there.
She held out her hand, and led him inside.
That awful name pounded in Mulder's head, but with every step it faded a touch, and by the time they were inside, it was gone, replaced by the sound of Scully breathing and Mulder's own heartbeat.
Her lips touched his mere seconds after the door was locked. His hands found the t-shirt under the robe and her ensemble fell to the ground, and she tugged at the waistband on his shorts and murmured against his neck. She was warm and real and there was nothing, nothing in Mulder's mind to intrude on this moment.
What if aliens were real?
No, seriously. What if all the stories about abductions, missing time, even probing, were true? What if UFOs were alien spacecraft and not experimental military aircraft?
What if Fox Mulder was not crazy at all, not even a little bit, and you walked into his office knowing that? What if you agreed with him, because there was evidence, there was scientific proof?
Would you have stayed?
She often wondered all of these things, over time. But that day she walked into Fox Mulder's office, she believed none of it, there was no scientific evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial life, and she was sent to the basement to debunk his work. So she stayed.
Funny thing was, she stayed because she liked a good debate. He challenged her as much as she challenged him. Probably more, when you got right down to it, because he'd always seen both sides of the question. It was just, with her around, he didn't need to play devil's advocate with himself.
He was free to believe with her there representing every dissenting thought.
She fell in love with him in Bellefleur, when time went missing and she stood laughing in the rain. She hadn't stood in the rain like that since she was a girl, and she had never done it with someone who was so convinced he was right that he reached for her hands and held on for dear life. She'd never been kissed in the rain, either - she'd stood thinking about it when he actually leaned in and did it, and they laughed a little against each other's lips.
The Bureau, of course, had a policy against this. She wondered, when they got back to the motel, what it meant that Fox Mulder was so willing to leap headfirst into a physical relationship with her, whether it was about standing up to authority or if she made him as dizzy as he made her.
It was always a bit strange to them both that they got away with it. Making love that night and getting out of Bellefleur with such a wealth of evidence. It seemed like, if Mulder's paranoia was legitimate, there should have been a disaster, it should have all gone up in smoke. But they never said it aloud to one another.
They got back to Washington with better proof that something was "out there" than anyone before them, and Mulder was vindicated, not completely but just enough to keep doing the work. She still didn't believe, though she wondered. She kept on not believing mostly because he believed so vehemently; they were each other's balancing force.
What had happened in Bellefleur, the kids who had been abducted and who had died, Billy Miles and all the rest, was publicized far and wide. Generally, people tended to think it wasn't aliens, but the government, and Scully was better prepared to accept this than Mulder. They were hounded for their side of the story and slowly, Mulder pulled back and Scully took the limelight. And through it all, they investigated more claims, other stories, and found things more incredible than aliens and government conspiracies. Bellefleur recovered, eventually, and soon the media frenzy died away. In Washington, Mulder and Scully kept each other honest.