A gun is being shoved into his face. There's the smell of the motel room, of her shampooed hair, of grease and metal. He closes his eyes and opens them again, but the gun is still there. He is still half asleep, and the thought drifts slowly into his mind: it's her hand holding that gun.
"Scully?" He asks uncertainly.
She does not respond. Her eyes are cold, empty: blue glacier pools reflecting a frozen sky. Her lips are pursed together, as they get when she is annoyed. Her small hand is holding the gun steadily, unflinching, straight in his face.
"Scully, what's going on?" He asks.
"Shut up." She says briskly. Her voice sounds different to him, and yet somehow familiar. And then it dawns on him: this is her bad-cop voice, her FBI voice. He hadn't heard that voice in ages.
"Seriously, what's going on?" He repeats. "Would you move that gun already?"
"Shut up." She says again. She absently sends her left hand, the one not holding the gun, and scratches the back of her neck.
And he suddenly realizes what went wrong.
"It's them making you do this, Scully." He says, willing himself to sound calm. "They are giving you orders through that thing in your neck. It's not you doing this, Scully. It's not you, it's them!"
She shrugs. A new sound floats into his ears now, the muffled swishing of helicopter blades. She does not turn her head to look. Her eyes are locked into his all the time, but he searches in vain for her inside them. The helicopter lands nearby, and now there are voices. Human voices, loud and menacing, getting nearer by the second.
"Scully, please." He says. "Please, stop this. This isn't you doing this. This isn't you, it's them. Don't let them do this to you, Scully. Don't let them win."
The door bursts open and several men run inside. They are big, bulky men, wearing uniform. He doesn't even need the uniform to know who they are. Or rather, what they are. He tries for a quick break but she pulls the safety and shakes her head slightly. He freezes; even now, when she is a total stranger, he can read her perfectly.
"Scully, please." He begs again, as they grab him and drag him towards the door. "Please, Scully, don't let them do this. Don't let them do this! Scully!"
The super soldiers drag him out the door and into the parking lot, and she follows them slowly, dreamily. Her gun-wielding arm is limp at her side, and the other scratches the back of her neck again.
"Scully!" He shouts as they howl him onto the waiting helicopter.
"Scully!" As the door is closing.
"Scully, please!" As they leave the ground.
She does not look at him. She does not follow the helicopter with her eyes. She just stands there for a moment, staring straight ahead. Suddenly she yawns, and drops the gun. The last thing he sees of her is her back turned to him as she returns to the motel room, barefoot, still wearing her satin pajamas.
The date is December 21, 2012. It is ten at night, New-Mexico time.
The invasion has begun.
The helicopter flies him until they are out of New-Mexico, out of the geological area dangerous to super soldiers and alien spacecraft. He knows this because he is being moved to one. A real, albeit small, flying saucer. He looks at the opening, eyes wide with excitement, when he feels a sharp pain at the back of his head. One of the Super Soldiers hit him, and he sinks into unconsciousness.
Four years earlier…
About a month after that horrific Father Joe business Scully came home one day with a spark in her eyes. Mulder gave her a questioning smile, surprised but pleased to see her look happy for a change.
"I booked us two tickets to Hawaii." She said. "Do you think the darkness will follow us there?"
"If it does, it better bring sun lotion." Was his oh-so-witty answer, but she smiled.
"That's what I wanted to hear." She said. "Besides, I'm so tired of this damn cold. Driving home on ice is not my idea of a good time."
And off they went. They sat in an airplane, with her clutching the seats for dear life and him joking about the food, like old times, and walked on the beach and ate pineapple and drank strangely colored cocktails, totally unlike old times.
One day, after they had been on the island for a few days, he decided to surprise her with an exotic picnic. So he bought food and put it in a basket and rented a row boat. They set out to a small island, about a mile offshore, alone on a boat surrounded by miles of nothingness.
A dark spot in the horizon turned out to be a helicopter. He looked at it and his eyes darkened. She followed his gaze, stared at it for a while, and then shrugged and said "It's just a helicopter."
"It's never just a helicopter." He answered.
Her face fell. He said nothing more, though he knew he was right.
The helicopter was right above them now, hovering, going higher.
She lifted her face up, smiled and waved at it.
"What are you doing?" He asked even while he was imitating her.
"They came all this way to see us." She said calmly. "The least we can do is say hello."
After they returned from Hawaii they set out to save the world. This was again her idea.
"I know we said we would put our faith in God, but it isn't enough. It's depressing to sit around doing nothing. I can't take it anymore, I need to do something."
"So you want us to save the world?" Mulder asked. "Regardless of God?"
God helps those who help themselves." She answered.
The first person they contacted was Marita Covarrubias. This was Scully's idea. She wanted to get her hands on the Russian vaccine and give it to as many people as she can.
"I'm a doctor now, Mulder. Don't you see? It's perfect! The more people we vaccinate the less will catch the alien virus. This will put sticks through the wheels of the invasion, wouldn't it?"
"I'm just wondering how we're going to get people to agree to be vaccinated in the first place." He said.
Marita was all for it. In fact, she has been waiting to hear from them.
"Four years to go and there is yet so much to do." She said. "Where the hell have you two been?!"
"Well, now we are here, and we want to vaccinate as many people as we can." Said Scully, "The question is, how do we get them to agree?"
Marita smiled conspiratorially.
"Actually, I've got something up my sleeve." She said. "Just wait and see."
The outbreak of the swine flu in 2009 came in perfect timing. A mass manufacture of the Russian vaccine was already in progress, bottles were piling up, but there was still no excuse to give them to people.
When Mulder first heard about the swine flu, he laughed.
"Nice one." He told Marita. "How did you manage that one?"
"A simple jumbling of a human flu virus with pig DNA." Marita said. "Any kid could do it. The guys in the lab gave me the idea, after they managed to combine our vaccine with a simple flu shot. But then we needed the flu. The beauty of it is that it's no more lethal than an average flu – it just has better publicity."
"Who's helping with that, by the way?" Mulder asked.
"Morris Fletcher." Marita answered. "Publicity is his field, you know."
Mulder worked at scaring random people into getting their flu-shots. He would start conversations in supermarkets and bus stations, spreading terror about the swine-flu. Scully, the ever more practical, joined a non-profit organization that was sending doctors to third world countries. She spent three months in Africa and two more in the far-east, giving out flu shots from dawn to dusk. They got some more people to help them, but not anyone from the FBI. Getting Skinner, Dogget and Reyes involved was just too dangerous, for the project and for them. But Scully checked the name lists every day, and did not relax until they were all vaccinated.
After several years they managed to vaccinate sixty percent of the world's population. Mulder said "It's not enough" and Scully answered "Well maybe it's time to turn to God again."
"Maybe." He answered. "But do you mind turning to him from a safer location?"
Two days prior to due-date they flew to New-Mexico. The land around Roswell contained a rare form of magnetite, which arrived to earth years ago on a meteor. The super soldiers were sensitive to it and the alien ships even more so. Mulder told Scully that even though both of them were vaccinated years ago, it still did not mean that other things could not kill them.
She wasn't listening. She was staring out the car window at the desert flowing around them, absently scratching the back of her neck.
"Scully?" He asked, and she turned towards him.
"I'm sorry." She said. "I got lost for a moment. What did you say?"
He attributed it to the long hours of not sleeping, and to nervousness about the coming due-date. Now he realizes that he should have suspected the chip from the start.
The inside of the ship is a blur. He is hardly awake and it's dark. The air smells funny, but familiar. It isn't his first time on an alien spaceship, after all. But this time he is not on a cot or an alien-dentist's-chair-from-hell – in fact, he is lying on the floor. His shoulder is aching, probably because someone threw him against the wall and he landed in a strange position. He would like to fix it but he can't move his limbs. He can't help being scared.
Suddenly there is a new sound: the swish of an airlock of some sort. A rectangle of dim yellow light opens in front of him, and in it stands a slim figure.
"Hello." She says quietly.
He does not answer, but stares at her. She is a girl, a seemingly normal human girl, about the age of seventeen. He does not see her face but her hair, a dark strawberry blond, reflects the dim light outside.
"Are you awake?" She asks. "You're looking at me, so I guess you are."
At last he finds his voice. "Water." He manages to croak. "I need water."
She nods once and leaves. She returns after a minute, carrying a perfectly normal glass, and hands it to him. He gives her a desperate look and she nods, apparently aware of his paralyzed state. She lifts up his head and, supporting it, slowly pours water into his throat. He is embarrassed, trying not to choke. Up close she looks pretty, and familiar. She looks down at him with shy, blue eyes.
"Where am I?" He asks when all the water has been swallowed.
"Somewhere above Madagascar, I think." She says calmly. "Or Sudan. I'm not exactly sure."
"Are we…on a plane?" He asks.
She laughs so hard that there is no need to answer.
"You look familiar." He says when she calms down. "What's your name?"
She opens her mouth to answer when a voice calls from the hallway.
"Emily, get away from there! I told you not to talk to the prisoners!"
The voice is even more familiar, but cognitive dissonance prevents him from recognizing it.
"It's alright, mom!" The girl calls. "I know him."
"You do?" He asks, surprised.
She seems confused. "At least…I think so. I thought I did the moment I saw you – "
" Just a minute mom! …the moment I saw you being carried here. That's why I came in to see you. My mom doesn't like me near the prisoners, she says they can't be trusted…"
"Emily, what's going on?"
A new figure stands at the doorway. A smaller figure.
"It's alright, mom, he's not dangerous." The girl says, but the mother shakes her head impatiently.
"That is not for you to determine." She says.
"Mom, he's paralyzed." Emily says impatiently, but the mother is not impressed. "Emily, get away from there. Come on!"
As she says this she takes a step backwards, waving Emily to follow her, and is washed by the light of the hallway.
Mulder just stares.
Emily surrenders and gets up to join her mother in the hallway. He looks at her, a tall teenager, and remembers a three year old girl laughing at his impression of Mr. Potato-Head. But the thought is pushed to the back of his head as her mother moves to close the door and leave him alone.
"Wait!" He calls, and for some reason she stops. Blue-green eyes are looking at him, trying to make out his face in the dark.
"S...Scully?" he asks slowly.
The eyes widen, and the door opens just a little. Emily looks confused.
"Mulder?" Asks Scully, who clearly does not remember nearly shooting him tonight. Her voice is shaking, and she leaves the door open and rushes to his side. "Is it really you?" she whispers.
"Of course it is." He snaps at her. "You pointed a gun at me less than two hours ago!"
"That wasn't me." She says. "It was that thing".
"Of course it was you!" He calls. "And how come Emily is alive? You told me she died in your arms!"
She looks back at Emily, who is still standing at the door, then back at him.
"That wasn't me, Mulder." She says. "It hasn't been for eighteen years."
"Wha-what do you mean?"
"When I was taken, when Duane Barry took me… I never returned." She explains, not looking into his eyes.
"What do you mean you never returned?" He asks. "Of course you returned. We worked together for years after that. We had a child together. We live together!"
"That isn't me, Mulder." She tries to explain. "I never returned. I was replaced."
He is about to argue, but something stops him. For a moment she breaks in two before him, and then unites. It suddenly strikes him that she looks different than he remembers. She is wearing a pair of ridiculously large jeans and a buttoned down flannel shirt that went out of style in 1996. Her hair, a dark brownish-red, is tied behind her head in a wavy ponytail. She has big bright eyes, more green than blue, the way he remembered them when she was abducted.
"By whom?" He asks. "Replaced by whom?"
"Emily, go to your room." She says.
"Forget it." Emily answers. "I'm not missing this!"
She sighs again. "It doesn't matter, Mulder. It hasn't for years. I…I have to go now but I'll check on you later."
She gets up to leave, not looking back at him.
"Scully?" He asks, uncertainly.
She stops at the door, her back to him. "I go by Odyssey now." She says quickly, and leaves. The door shuts behind her, and darkness fills the room.
The invasion was set to start at the 21 of December, so they spent the day having fun together. There was nothing more they could do for the world anyway, and they mutely agreed that they want some good memories from this day. They hung around Roswell, ate ice-cream (even she gave up her usual Tofu-horrors), went back to the motel and made love. After that they showered together, made love again and sat down to wait for the end of the world.
When the sun began to set and the world was still standing, she suggested that he rest for a while.
"You didn't sleep well for days." She said. "I'll wake you up if the sky falls."
And gently touched the back of her neck as she watched him fall asleep.