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november 27, 1973

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i.

Samantha is abducted on November 27 and returned on December 24. Christmas Eve. Her father’s friend finds her in the woods (nightgown torn, hair loose and tangled, feet dirty) and drives her to the hospital. 

Her father comes in first, strokes her hair and tells her they’ve missed her. “I’m tired,” she says. “I want to go home.” Her father nods and goes outside and yells at the nurse before coming back in to get her. Samantha is tempted to suck her thumb even though she gave that up years ago. Her feet hurt. The last thing she remembers is arguing with her brother, and then a light. There are blurs from her abduction, little things that are slowly becoming clearer, but nothing substantial. She’d have no idea how much time had passed if it weren’t for the giant Christmas tree in the hospital lobby.

At home, there is no Christmas tree, only a few packages addressed to Fox piled in the corner. They're Jewish and have never done very much for Christmas - no family dinners, no church - but there were always presents, and always plenty for her. Samantha doesn’t cry, but she wants to. She thinks that they must not have expected her to come back.

Her mother cries, pulls her into her lap and holds her tightly, says, “My baby, my baby,” over and over again. Samantha asks for cookies, and her mother takes her to the kitchen and pours her a glass of milk and stacks three cookies in front of her even though the rule is no more than 2 and not after bedtime. It’s past her bedtime, but she eats them anyway, has never remembered being this hungry.

“Where’s Fox?” she asks, mouth full (because he must be here, there were presents for him).

“Oh, he’s upstairs asleep - Bill? Bill, will you go wake Fox up?” Her father mutters something grumpily and turns to go upstairs. “He’s missed you so much, sweetie, he’s been out in the woods every day looking for you,” her mother tells her. “He felt so bad for what happened...” She starts crying again, wiping her eyes with a handkerchief.

Familiar footsteps pound the steps and then her older brother appears in the doorway, in pajamas, hair rumpled. “Samantha?” he says in disbelief, eyes wide as he looks at her.

She nods. 

“Fox, don’t be ridiculous, come give your sister a hug.” Their mom’s voice sounds weird, full of tears, but perfectly understandable. 

Fox comes and gives her a hug, and it doesn’t feel forced and stiff, the way it always is when her mom makes them hug. “What happened to you?” he asks, and Samantha shrugs. He has a weird look on his face, like he’s actually sorry. 

Her mother tucks her into bed and kisses her goodnight and cries some more before leaving the room, cracking the door behind her. Samantha lies still in her bedroom, staring at the ceiling. It’s too quiet, too dark. She hears a creaking in the hallway and yanks the covers over her head. She gives up and turns on the lamp before padding across the hall to her brother’s room. “Fox, will you sleep in my room tonight?” she asks, and waits for him to call her a baby. To her surprise, he nods, pulling his sleeping bag out of the closet and putting it on her rug across the hall. He even goes downstairs and gets her a glass of water. She gulps it down gratefully before climbing under the covers and tucking her old teddy bear under her arm. 

Fox doesn’t make fun of the bear. He sits on top of the sleeping bag and looks at her. “Who took you?” he asks again.

Samantha considers telling him to shut up, reconsiders. “I think...” she starts. “I think... it was those little gray things. The ones from outer space. Whadya call em...”

“Aliens,” Fox supplies. His eyes are wide, but he looks like he believes her.

Samantha nods, her chin resting on the bear’s head. “Aliens.”

 

 


 

 

 

Life returns back to normal by the time Samantha and Fox return to school. Their mother is still a little hover-y and weepy, but their father is acting like nothing has happened outside of forbidding Samantha to go outside and play. When they try to bring it up, he snaps, “It’s over now,” and that’s the end of it. 

Fox doesn’t pretend it didn’t happen; he walks her to her elementary school before heading back to his school. It doesn’t end at school, either; her friends all want to know what’s happened and the teacher asks if she’s okay before pulling her aside with a tutor to catch up on what she missed. The lunch ladies give her extra dessert to “put some meat back on those bones”. She goes to the nurse’s office instead of gym and naps on the tiny cot. She wishes things would go back to normal. 

She steals all the books her brother has ever read on aliens and another five from the library. Fox catches her reading them and asks what she’s doing. “I wanna be ready in case they ever come back,” she tells him. 

“That’s not how you do it, you idiot,” he says. snatching the book away. She scowls at him, and his face softens. “This is just science fiction. You have to know how to deal with the real thing.” He sits down on the floor across from her and grabs a pencil and a pad of paper. “Tell me everything you remember, and I’ll write it down.”

She’s told her story to several people - the police, the psychiatrist they made her see, her father. And none of them have actually believed her. She’s been told more than once to quit with this nonsense and tell the truth. The third time she talked to the police, she made up a story about a man who took her away to a house for a month and disappeared one day so she ran away. It was what they wanted to hear, but it wasn’t the truth. 

She tells her brother the truth, or what little she remembers of it. The pinched gray faces, the pain, the other girls she huddled against the walls with. The light, the floating. When she’s done, Fox rips out the piece of paper and puts it in his desk drawer. “Well be ready,” he tells her seriously. “And if they ever come back, we’ll kick their asses.”

She learns how to fight when she’s nine. Fox teaches her how to punch, kick, bite, scratch, and all the other things that might protect her. She says, “I don’t think I can fight the aliens, butt munch, they have magic powers," and he says, “Well, then learn this stuff for middle school in a couple years, you’ll be fucking demolished.” She finds his fort and goes out there every now and then to practice with an old punching bag he’d found at a dump that leaks sawdust at every blow. 

She cuts her hair herself in the bathroom, because the heavy weight of it seems too much. She wants to shed herself, wants to feel like a butterfly coming out of a cocoon (because she’s always envied them for being able to leave part of themselves behind so easily). She cuts past her shoulders and halfway up her neck before her mother catches her and shrieks. She feels better, lighter, afterwards, and it is worth the grounding. 

She and Fox have an informal system of watching for the aliens. They set up booby traps along their windows, ask their father to get a security system. For her tenth birthday, she asks for space things. She gets a book of the solar system and a telescope from her parents. Fox buys her some cheap sci-fi novels and signs the card Just in case. She rips a map of the solar system form the book and tapes it to her window beside the telescope, watches to make sure they don’t come back. 

Fox withdraws a little from the search when he enters high school. Of course he does; he has better things to do than run through the woods with his little sister and look for things that might not exist. Samantha doesn’t give up. She cuts school on occasion, goes up to the fort and practices on the deflated punching bag until her knuckles are black and blue. Her mother thinks she’s been fighting and grounds her. Her aunt comments that Teena is unlucky to have both kids hitting the teen years - well, Samantha in the metaphorical sense, since she’s only eleven. Fox jokes and calls her Rocky, says she’s going to have to get some meat to practice on when the punching bag wears out. Her father tells her that all this nonsense better stop, that he wants his sweet little girl back, that it’s over and they need to move past it. He brings his friend with the cigarettes, the one who found her in the woods, home, and Samantha watches him like a hawk.

(There are times when she feels normal.  At a sleepover with friends, or when she’s watching a movie on TV. She can almost forget her missing month that they never discuss. But the paranoia never quite fades. She never stops wondering when they’ll come back for her. The nightmares never go away.)

Her father leaves just before she turns twelve and she expects that’s the end of it. She doesn’t expect to miss him, but she unexpectedly tears up when she watches his car leave from the front porch. She turns and buries her face in her mother’s apron. Her mother strokes her head silently. Fox tousles her hair before stalking back inside. Samantha can’t tell if he’s sad or not. 

(She misses her father for weeks on end even though it feels bizarre.) 

Fox gets his license three days after his birthday, and Samantha doesn’t think much of it, expects him to go out with friends or whatever.  She’s sitting on the porch doing her homework when he comes up with the keys in hand. “Hey, squirt, do you want to go get some ice cream?” he asks.

She looks up in surprise. “Don’t call me that, you jerk,” she says immediately. “But... sure. Okay.” 

“You’ll have to pay for yourself,” says Fox, in case she thought he was being too nice. “And don’t tell Mom, I’m not supposed to take you out in the car yet.”

“Fine.” Samantha has pocket change from raking leaves, and she’s tired of riding her bike everywhere. 

Fox drives her to get ice cream and they eat in companionable silence. Samantha puts her feet up on the dash and enjoys not being told to put them down. “Does this mean you’re going to drive me to my fiends and the movies and the mall and...” she starts.

“Don’t push your luck, kid.”

 

 


 

 

 

Two more years pass and then Fox is leaving for college. Her mother goes on and on about how much they’ll both miss him (”Tell your brother how much you;ll miss him, Samantha”), but she doesn’t expect it until he has his new car all packed up. She realizes then that it’ll be just her and her mother bouncing around in this lonely house. 

The morning he’s supposed to leave, Samantha confronts him over his bowl of sugary cereal. “Show me how to shoot the gun,” she demands, meaning the gun their dad left behind for their mom when he left. They both learned how to pick the lock on the box, but Fox is the only one who ever uses it.

“You’re fourteen,” he says around a mouthful. Milk dribbles on the table. “What the hell are you going to use a gun for?”

Samantha folds her arms over her chest. “If those thing ever come back...”

That’ls enough to convince him. Fox gets the gun from on top of the shelf (”God, they should’ve moved this thing down after that night...”) and takes her out into the woods. He shows her how to load it and lets her load it before dumping the bullets back in the box. “Don’t be a dumbass,” he says. “Don’t play with this thing. Don’t shoot anyone. Probably not any animals, either. Except in self-defense, obviously...”

“I got it,” Samantha snaps.

“I’m serious, Samantha. I don’t want Mom to call me at college and yell at me because you’ve done something stupid with the gun.”

“I’ll be fine; if you can handle it, I can.”

He seems somewhere between irritated and begrudgingly accepting with that last comment, but either way, he shows her how to shoot. Samantha’s eardrums ring when he fires. “Your turn,” he says, passing her the gun. “Remember to brace yourself for the backfire.”

Samantha takes the gun in both hands; it’s cool in her palms. She mimics her brother’s previous movements: gets into position, aims, and fires. 

The sound explodes through the woods, the trees seeming to quiver in their roots. Samantha smiles.

 

ii.

She finds the apartment with the help of some nice women who look friendly. When she was six, she was told to approach a nice-looking woman if she ever got lost. That was years ago. Samantha knocks on the door, and waits, bouncing on her heels.

Scully opens the door, and Samantha breathes some small sigh of relief that she found the right apartment. She looks better than she did on the ship, healthier and vibrant. Scully gapes at her, sagging against the doorframe. “You don't remember me, do you?” Samantha says.

“I - you're Samantha,” she breathes. “Mulder’s sister. I’ve seen the pictures.”

“You were at the labs,” Samantha says. “Right after they woke me up. You talked to me, and told me about Fox. You said to find you if I ever got out, before they took you away…”

“You were there when I was abducted. Oh my god,” Scully says. “Come in.” She pulls Samantha into the room, leading her to the couch. She feels her forehead. “Are you okay? Can I get you something to drink? Do you - do you mind if I check the back of your neck, sweetie?”

Samantha turns, allowing her to lift her hair up and examine her neck. “You told me to call you Scully cause that's what my brother called you,” she says. “You told me stuff about him. Like how he'd been looking for me for a long time.”

Scully lets the hair fall back against Samantha’s neck, and strokes it a little. She takes in a sharp breath. “It's so good to see you, Samantha,” she says.

Samantha collapses against the couch, hugging her knees. “Do you know where Fox is?”

“I'll call him,” Scully says immediately. 

 

 


 

 

 

Mulder shows up at Scully’s apartment without asking too many questions - but of course, he has them. She doesn’t usually invite him over out of the blue like this. He grins at her when she opens the door. “What’s up, Scully?”

She offers him a nervous smile back. “Mulder, um, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you over the phone but, uh, I wasn’t sure if you’d believe me…”

Mulder looks at her in confusion, smile evening out. “What’s wrong, Scully?”

“I - you’d better come in.” Scully grabs his wrist and tugs him into the apartment. “She just showed up on my doorstep,” she adds. “I didn’t know -”

The exit of a little girl from the bathroom cuts her off. Mulder stares at her in shock. She’s wearing one of Scully’s t-shirts, wet hair heavy down her back, and she looks at him with brown eyes that cut him right to the soul. “Is that Fox?” she asks Scully.

Scully nods silently.

His sister twists the hem of the t-shirt in her hands. “Hi,” she says.

Mulder can’t breathe. He’s imagined this scene a million times in his head, but somehow it never took place in Scully’s living room, when his sister was eight years old. “Samantha?” he asks very softly.

She nods.

Mulder practically runs across the room, falls to his knees to hug his sister.

“You got big while I was asleep,” Samantha says. “But I bet I could still beat you in Stratego.”

 

iii.

Fox Mulder is abducted on November 27, 1973. He is twelve. His sister is eight.

Samantha doesn’t remember anything once the lights went out, but she still gets asked question after question about what happened. Did you see anything? Hear anything? Were there any strange men outside? No, she tells them. I don’t remember anything. It’s suggested at some point that he might’ve been trying to protect his sister - he was the older one after all. Or maybe he ran away - boys are like that, you know. Samantha doesn’t believe it after a few days. Fox has run away before but he was always home within a few hours. She doesn't believe he's run away.

Samantha doesn't believe in aliens. Her brother read aloud from War of the Worlds one time to scare her, and she'd shrieked until he stopped. If she remembers a light that night in the coming years, she shrugs it off as headlights of a car. She thinks of abduction, but a different kind of abduction. She becomes convinced that Fox was kidnapped. 

At first, she waits for him to be brought back as her parents' resolve is whittled away. Her father seems indifferent by Christmas, and Samantha can't tell if it's an act or not. Her mother draws into herself, keeps a Kleenex nearby and doesn't talk much. She teaches Samantha how to make dinner at nine and that is suddenly one of her chores along with the dishes. Her father leaves when she's ten and her chores increase until she realizes she is basically taking care of the house. Fine.

The family pictures slowly disappear from the mantle. At first, it's just the ones with Fox in them, but then it's the ones with her, the old black-and-white ones from her mother's childhood. The wedding photo disappears after the divorce. The house feels impersonal, even smaller than it did before. Suffocating. She sleeps at a friend's house whenever she can; the walls seem to taunt her.

At eleven, Samantha goes to the library and takes out books about kidnapping. There aren't very many, and they're mostly informational (What You Do kind of stuff) and the librarian looks at her suspiciously when she carries them to the front desk and tells her to put them back. Samantha pretends to but stuffs them in her backpack instead and walks calmly out the front. She learned to steal at nine, is good at looking innocent, still wears her hair in pigtails to complete the image. No one will stop her, she's the poor little girl who's brother disappeared. 

She reads the books and scribbles down notes in her science notebook. This Is What Could Have Happened. The books are scary, but she clenches her jaw and keeps turning pages. Her brother saved her from drowning one time. Maybe she can find him now. 

Ransom notes, the books suggest. Samantha goes through the mail, the trash, the attic and basement, looking for one of the cut-out-lettered notes. They don't exist. She calls her father collect and follows her mother around the house, bugging them about if they're sure there was never a note. Her father yells and her mother cries and she stops asking. She goes to her room and writes NO RANSOM NOTE on the blue lined paper. Her brother would be (is, damnit) fifteen. 

Her mother doesn't look at her on her twelfth birthday, burns the eggs and goes upstairs to bed. She is the same age as the ghost of her brother. Samantha skips school and goes to the woods, goes to the fort Fox and his friends built, that was abandoned after he disappeared. She finds a stale can of beer, gulps it and throws it into the forest before gagging. She finds a pocket knife in the thrush on the ground. Her brother and his friends carved their names on the wall; she carves hers and sticks the knife in her pocket before walking home. Happy birthday. Her father doesn't call. She makes herself a cake.

Twelve is the year she has the idea to knock on doors, rides her bike around the neighborhood and asks everyone if they remember the night her brother disappeared. No is the standard answer; one old lady feels sorry for her and invites her inside for cookies. She goes inside and eat the cookies and feels like a traitor.

Mr. Galbrand remembers something, although he is reluctant to tell her. She isn't eight anymore and the pigtails don't work, she doesn’t look sweet and innocent, but she begs him to tell her until he does so, reluctantly. "We were playing cards with your parents, and I heard the dog barking. I went outside to let him in and I saw a bright light. I slipped on the concrete and hit my head. When I came to, I heard you screaming, so your father and I ran right across the street and found you bawling your eyes out on the floor."

"You saw a light?" Samantha asks. She's holding her pen in her sweaty right hand, but she hasn't made a move to write any of this down. "From a car?"

"I never saw a car. I always thought it could've been too big for a car, but I could be wrong." Mr. Galbrand chews his lower lip. "You go on home, honey, it's getting dark."

She runs home and doesn't look back. She writes down what Mr. Galbrand says but it doesn't make sense with anything. Where could the light have come from? Samantha doesn't believe in aliens.

The years start to run together. Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, and everyone knows her as "that girl who's brother disappeared". Fox would be an adult, he'd be gone at college. She can pretend life is normal. She goes out with friends, goes to the prom with a boy and kisses him behind the gym. Starts to think about college. But that one night she was eight never leaves her mind. On Career Day, she goes to the classroom where the cop is, sits with the only other girls in the room and asks question after question. Someone tells him about her brother. She shows the cop her notebook and he clicks his tongue and says, "You would make a good cop, you know." She has never heard that in her life, but she likes it. Her friends clap her on the back, tell her she can do anything she wants. 

Her father insists she apply to and accept the University of Maryland. "So someone can keep an eye on you," he says. She fills with fury at that, but does what he says because she's learned it's easier than arguing. Her mother cries and hugs her on the day she leaves. Samantha kisses her cheek and pushes down her bitterness at being basically ignored for years. It's over, she's getting out. It's time to make her own way in the world.

College is hard, but refreshing. Samantha throws herself into it fully, spends most of her time studying or in the library. It's a distraction, but it's also fun. She itches to be a cop someday, be on the streets, bring justice. She's not disillusioned, she doesn't expect to find her brother now (although part of her doesn't let go of the thought that he's still alive - twenty-three, he'd be twenty-three now), but still, she wants to make a difference. Wants to save someone else's brother.

She doesn't sleep well, has never been able to relax, so she pulls a lot of all-nighters, plying herself with coffee and runs and round campus. She runs into someone she's seen in a few classes one night, a red-headed student who always takes notes rigorously and asks the types of questions teachers love. The girl smiles a little and waves a little when she looks up at Samantha. "Dana Scully, right?" Samantha asks, twisting the hair off of her neck. 

Dana nods. "Samantha Mulder?" she guesses.

"I'm the one." Dana shifts aside on the bench, and she takes it as a cue to sit, tries to catch her breath. "You're pre-med, right? Surprised you're taking all-nighters. I've heard it isn't that healthy."

"It's not," Dana says, adjusting her glasses. "But it's necessary sometimes." Samantha grins, and Dana grins back.

They become friends, study for their mutual classes, meet occasionally in the library to quiz each other. Dana asks Samantha why she chose criminal justice, and she says, "My brother disappeared when I was eight, and he was never found." Samantha asks Dana why she chose med school, and she says, "I wanted to make a difference." "So, we're here for the same reasons," Samantha says, and Dana shrugs and they both laugh. 

Their careers take them in different directions. Dana transfers and Samantha transfer to somewhere else and aside from a phone call every now and then, they lose touch. It happens. Samantha graduates from the police academy and moves to Philadelphia (some kind of a new start, she thinks), and she can sense that her parents disapprove but doesn't care. 

The years flash by in a dizzying sequence, and Samantha doesn't think of her brother much except for on holidays or his birthday or November 27. He's likely dead, everyone she has ever asked has told her, unless he really did run away. She thinks, sometimes, that she could have an older brother out there who she'd see at Thanksgiving, who would've taken care of her as a kid. But she doesn't think about it very much until they rescue a kid, twelve or thirteen. He pretends to be strong but he breaks down, wants to go home, and it breaks her a little. (How could she have forgotten, how could it have become so minuscule in her mind? She is the worst sister in the world.)

Her partner catches her crying in the break room, asks, "Mulder, what is it?" and puts a hand on her shoulder as she sits beside her. "Is it your brother? Did the case upset you?"

Samantha twists the Kleenex in her hands. "I need to find out what happened to him," she says. "I owe him that."

She digs, and her partner digs with her. There was a known serial killer in the area at the time, some guy the FBI caught named Roche that serial she thinks her mother bought a vacuum from, but Fox didn't fit his M.O. She interviews in the area, feeling like she's twelve all over again, but it's twenty-two years later and everyone's memories are worse than before. "I heard of UFOs in the area," someone says, and Samantha wants to laugh.

("You're not going to find him," her partner says one night. "I don't care," says Samantha. She'll keep looking anyway. It’s the least she can do.)

And then she's given a case that she can't solve. Someone's broken into a museum and the security cameras show no perpetrator and the security guard swears he saw something float across the room. Her partner calls a division of the FBI that deals with these types of cases and God, Samantha hates Feds (like every cop hates Feds) but finding her old college friend on the other side of a table in the morgue is a pleasant surprise. 

"Dana fucking Scully," she laughs, and Dana turns in surprise, grins at her. "What the hell are you doing here? I thought you were going to be a doctor!"

"Pathologist," Dana says, coming around the table to hug her. "Got recruited by the Bureau, and I was eventually assigned to the X-Files."

"It's good to see you," Samantha says, hugging her back. "Although I never would've expected you to be on a unit like this. Paranormal investigations? Really, Dana?"

"Believe me, I wasn't in love with the idea. I was assigned to debunk the unit, actually, but it..." Dana sighs, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. "I've been trying to get in touch with you for the longest time, Samantha. I couldn't find where you went."

She blinks. "In touch with me? Why?"

Dana hesitates, worrying her lower lip between her teeth. "My partner... she's into some crazy stuff, but I've seen some substance behind some of it. She found these files, government files, with your father's name on them... I told her about your brother, I hope you don't mind, but... she has some theories."

Samantha follows Dana to a bar to meet her partner, a dark-haired woman hunched over a glass at the counter, a cigarette in her left hand. "This is Agent Diana Fowley," Dana says, sliding onto a stool. 

Diana offers her a nicotine-stained hand. "So you're Bill Mulder's daughter."

She hates being whittled down to her father or her brother; it has happened all her life. "I'm Detective Samantha Mulder," she says firmly. "Dana said you have some insight on my brother's abduction?"

"You're not going to like it," Dana says.

Diana presents her case and Samantha does not like it. "Aliens?" she repeats incredulously.

"Your father's name is in the files. There was reported UFO activity in the area at the time. Your neighbor, Mr. Galbrand, reported seeing a light, and there was no evidence he ran away or of a kidnapping," Diana says, matter-of-factly. Samantha remembers her interview with Galbrand all those years ago, the man who cited UFOS more recently. 

"I didn't want to believe it, either," says Dana. "And I don't, half the time. But you've spent so much time looking. I thought..."

"This could be a lead," says Diana. "I know someone who could put you in deep regression hypnosis, help bring back things you've forgotten about that night. Even if it wasn't aliens, it could be another step in finding out what happened."

Samantha doesn't believe in aliens. She is thirty-one years old, and her brother would be (is?) thirty-five. She was eight and he was twelve and she grew up and he didn't. Everyone says he is dead but she doesn't know if it's true.

"What's the doctor's name?" she asks.

 

iv.

Do sisters offer themselves up to trade for their brother's partners? Samantha does so without thinking - out of the three of them, she will know how to deal with the Bounty Hunter the best, and Fox's partner, this Scully, doesn't deserve to die. Besides, the way her brother's voice cracks when he's talking about her being in danger is almost painful to experience.

He warns her not to take unnecessary risks before climbing out of the car. The Bounty Hunter climbs out, too, dwarfing the small redhead who must be Fox's partner. She looks terrified, gun to her head, bloodied forehead and nose. Her brother hesitates before turning to her and nodding slightly. Samantha climbs out without hesitation, offers Fox a nod before crossing over to the Bounty Hunter. In one motion, he lets the partner, Scully, go and grabs her. Samantha stiffens automatically, doesn’t move against the arm around her neck. Scully disappears into the car, watching them; Fox is watching them, too, eyes wide. 

The Bounty Hunter motions her backwards. She tries to hit him, but he grabs her again even as she twists away. Her brother shouts her name. She's whirled around and sees that he's pulled his gun.

"There's no way out," Fox says warningly. "We've got both sides of the bridge covered. Now let her go."

He starts towards them. The Bounty Hunter mumbles something indecipherable. "Let her go!" Fox shouts. 

The shot explodes behind her. The Bounty Hunter stumbles backwards, dragging her with him. She tries to yank away before he falls, but he stumbles again, tumbles over the edge and taking her with him. "Samantha!" her brother screams. 

The water is freezing and she hits it hard. She kicks against the weight of the Bounty Hunter, flails up and towards the surface. "Samantha?" Fox is calling. 

She spits freezing-cold water out of her mouth and bellows, "I'm here!" at the top of her lungs. The Bounty Hunter is getting away, but she doesn't care. Fox nods at her before turning and running towards the banks. Samantha moves robot-like through the water. It's a struggle to move, but she keeps going. Her fingers are growing numb.

She reaches the bank at the same time Fox does. "Samantha," he says, panicked, pulling her out of the water. He pulls off his coat and drapes it over her. "Are you okay?"

"'M f-f-fine," she slurs, teeth chattering wildly. 

The partner, Scully, is coming up behind him, blood still trickling from her wounds. "Scully, get back in the car, you're hurt," Fox says.

"I'm a doctor, she needs help. She needs to get dry and warm." Scully stumbles to the edge of the bank.

Fox looks between them, worried. "Come on, I'll drive both you to the hospital," he says. "It's close to here."

He helps her into the car and the backseat, Scully crawling in beside her. "Here, we should at least get your shoes off," she says as Fox turns the heat all the way. She crouches and peels off Samantha's shoes and socks; Samantha is too cold to argue. Fox is outside yelling something to his boss. Scully grabs a grubby blanket from the floor and covers her with it, then takes her pulse. "You'll be fine," she says, finally, pauses as she buckles Samantha's seatbelt and then hers. "You're Mulder's sister? Samantha?"

It takes Samantha a minute to figure out that Mulder is Fox. "Yes."

"Wow," Scully mutters under her breath. "I can't... I don't know how to thank you, for saving my life."

"Sorry you got stuck in the middle of all this," Samantha mutters.

Scully laughs a little, shakily. "You sound like your brother."

Speaking of. Fox opens the door and climbs in. "You're both gonna be fine," he says, starting the car. "Scully, try to relax, you're hurt, too. Samantha, hang on. We'll be at the hospital soon."

Samantha mutters something in response. Scully says, "Mulder, I could point out that you got hit by a car a few days okay."

Samantha startles under layers of blankets. "Okay, so I'll get checked out at the hospital," says Fox. "I'm just glad you're both okay." His voice cracks on this, and Samantha suddenly understands how hard the last hour must've been for him. 

At the hospital, Fox disappears to get Scully settled before coming to find Samantha. They've got her stabilized, dry and drinking hot water. "I can call Mom," he says, sitting beside her bed. "Want me to call Mom?"

Samantha sluggishly shakes her head. "Don't want her to worry."

"I think it'd be refreshing to worry about you. She's missed you. I've..." He swallows, shifting his gaze to the ground.

"I know," Samantha says. She hadn't missed him because she hadn't known him - but sitting here, she can remember what it felt like to have an older brother. She misses that; it's been over two decades since she had an older brother.

"So... tell me about the last twenty-two years," she cracks, and Fox laughs.

When they draw her blood later, it is red.

 

v.

“Hey! Get out of my life!” Fox yells when she changes the channel. He immediately changes it back. She screams shrilly, a habit that he hates, and he stands over her. She hates how much taller he is than her. “I’m watching The Magician.”  

She scowls up at him, although she knows very well it won’t do anything. She turns and kicks over the game board, scattering the pieces everywhere. “Look what you did, you ruined the game!” Fox shouts. She ignores him, stomping out of the room. “You little jerk! Get back here!” She grabs her shoes and coat before she yanks the front door open and lets it slam behind her.

Samantha sits on the front step stubbornly, shoving her feet in the shoes and her arms in the coat. It’s freezing. The stone is cold and the wind is ruffling her nightgown. But she refuses to go back inside; she won’t give him the satisfaction of making her watch his stupid show. She leans back against the front door and watches the stars, tries to find the constellations she learned in class.

Minutes or hours later (before their parents come home), someone opens the door and she falls backwards, hitting the floor. Fox looks down at her. “Come in, you idiot,” he says. “If Mom and Dad catch you out here, we’re both dead, and besides that, it’s freezing outside.”

She sticks her tongue out at him, but climbs to her feet and comes inside. Fox shuts the door behind her. The house is quiet.