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January 27th, 2009 Unremarkable House, Farrs Corner, Virginia

The searing pain that shot through his head upon waking was incredible. Mulder rolled over, snaking his arm out from under Scully’s where she had lain hers over his in the night, and clasped his hands to his head, massaging his temples. A faint noise was growing, almost a chatter, strangely muted as though it was coming from a different room. He groaned and pulled his pillow out from under his head, holding it down over his ears in effort to drown out the sound.

“Mulder?” The groggy tone of Scully’s voice just barely filtered through the downy barrier, but the other noises continued. “What’s up?”

“You left the radio on again,” he grumbled, letting up on the pillow to blink at Scully, who was now propped up on her elbow, hair mussed from the night’s rest.

“Radio?” Her question was garbled, and her nose scrunched up in confusion. Watching her, taking in the grace of such normal movements, Mulder would have smiled if he wasn’t in so much pain.

“Gave me a headache…” Running a hand over his face and rolling over, Mulder tried to even his breathing, to focus on the in and out of the air in his lungs. There was a moment’s silence, before Scully sat up abruptly, as if suddenly wide awake.

“Mulder, there’s no radio on.”

Brow’s quirking, Mulder screwed up his face in confusion. “What are you talking about? Of course the radio is-“


“Oh.” The word fell from his lips dryly, emotionlessly, as he realized what was happening. “Why were you dreaming about the Oxi-clean man? Should I be concerned? Or is this a hint for me to grow out the beard again?”

“Damn it Mulder!” Scully’s words came out a sigh rather than an exclamation. “This is serious.” Whatisthisgoingtomeangoingforward?Whataboutourplans?WhatamIgoingtodo?There’snocureforthis.There’sno-

“There might not be a cure but there is the Phenytoin.”

She stared at him like he’d grown a second head, and that was when Mulder remembered that she’d had very limited exposure to his ability in the past. Scully shook herself suddenly looking awake, and bit her lip. Reaching out a hand towards him, she pushed the hair back from his forehead where it stuck in the clammy sweat from his ill-sleep. Her thoughts were less sentences in that moment, more impressions. Love and fear, anxiousness and determination all flooded over him. And then: WellIguesshe’s-

“Going with you to the hospital today. Yep.”

Scully made a face and Mulder chuckled humourlessly as he sat up. “I’m not really looking forward to it, you know, but probably for a whole different set of reasons than you think. I know I can be a real pain, Scully, but it’s not so bad really, when it’s just you and me, when it’s something physical. But in the future, let’s leave the paid programming personalities out of it. Too many conflicting voices and all that,”

Despite herself, Scully smiled too. “Are you asking me to control my dreams Mulder?”

“Lucid dreaming is a verifiable experience and a state which can be reached through several, scientifically based-“ He heard her mental groan in his head before she spoke.

“Okay, okay Mulder, I get the picture. I’ll get you some pain killers now so that they’ll have kicked in by the time we get there. Hopefully that will help with the headache.”

 “It’s not just that…” He trailed off when the worry spiked within her. “No one wants to hear the thoughts of people in a hospital, Scully. They’re not particularly pleasant.” Quickly, sensing the trajectory of her thoughts, he added. “Please don’t feel bad. It’s not your fault and I shouldn’t be complaining. Last time… the way it started…there was no reprieve. I don’t have too much of a headache now; it’s receding.”

It was evident in her expression that she was parsing the information, even if he couldn’t hear her thoughts. She knew that he knew that she didn’t quite believe him, and so she opted out of saying anything.

“You’re learning,” he said. The smile he gave was a sad one. “Let’s hope it doesn’t have to become second nature any time soon.”

The drive to the hospital that morning was interesting from an academic standpoint. Scully had given Mulder as high a dosage of over the counter pain meds as she was comfortable with and they were already kicking in when he started to get interference with his 24/7 Scully exclusive mind radio, which was a conflicting signal of intense worry and a repeating refrain of Jerimiah was a Bullfrog, which, even when sung only in her mind, was horrifically out of tune, and frankly atrocious when layered over one another like a corrupted mp3 file.

They drove past a few single passenger vehicles and he picked up grumblings about the earliness of the hour, another dreading a particular meeting, and one person who was fed up with the news programme they were listening to on the radio, but in that special way that meant that they wouldn't stop listening anyways.

They were manageable. Two people at a time was okay. It was nicer than listening to Scully’s dire mental landscape, which he could filter out from that of the other drivers well enough, and the pills he’d taken were doing their job adequately, considering he’d swallowed them only fifteen minutes prior. Then had come the school bus. Unable to contain his response to the overwhelming sensation of nearly fifty minds, all ages 11-18 with the exception of the driver, exuding a remarkable number of thoughts for the pre-dawn hour (ranging from dead baby jokes to the overbearing phrase ‘why won’t they shut up’) the noise of the chatter devolved almost instantly into a shrill whine. He knew he had cried out when Scully slammed on the breaks. Thankfully, he also knew that there wasn’t a single vehicle behind them.

Realizing that he’d covered his ears – his body’s natural attempt to stem the intolerable sounds – he pulled them away, breathing hard, and glanced at Scully. Her hands gripped the wheel, knuckles white.

“It surprised me, that’s all. I wasn’t prepared,” He tried to assuage her. It didn’t work. They waited, watching until the bus turned down an intersecting road and Scully started the car moving again.

Gradually they reentered civilization and the voices built at his temples in an unending pressure. Mulder tried to temper his reaction, but eventually he gave up, curling into the side of the car, gripping his hand in the door pull. His head lay against the seat rest and his eyes fluttered shut.

“Mulder?” Her voice came to him as if out of a fog and when he finally opened his eyes they were already, miraculously in the hospital parking lot. “Mulder, you blacked out. I’m going to get someone to help bring you in, okay?”

He may have nodded, but he wasn’t sure. Before long, two orderlies were hauling him up out of the car and settling him in a wheelchair. When he next came to, he had an IV in his arm and was lying in a hospital bed. A quick glance at the clock, after his vision came into focus, told him that he hadn’t lost more than twenty minutes, unless he’d lost nearly a whole twenty four hours, which, with his track record, Mulder knew was entirely possible.

The voices were still there, but they were tainted with static, as though the station he was tuning into wasn’t coming in well, so they must have given him some sort of drug. He chuckled darkly at his continuing use of the radio metaphor to describe his brain, wishing at the very least he could manage to find some sports station. Alone, at least for the time being, Mulder allowed his thoughts to stray and found himself thinking of a little boy, though not the one who was most usually on his mind.

Gibson Praise, quiet and reclusive due to his (now their) condition. Frankly, Mulder was starting to see the genius in hiding at a deaf school. Any less noise was better less noise. What he wouldn’t have given to talk to Gibson, to ask his advice. When they were hiding together in New Mexico, Mulder had never bothered to ask. His ordeal was over and, all things considered, he and Scully both had figured the brain surgery would be the end of any and all future he had as a Tangina Barrons. That, above the possibility that he’d end up a vegetable, above the likelihood that he would be driven insane, was what he feared most: not knowing what had caused the resurgence of the ability. The previous time it had been caused by exposure to the artifact rubbing.

This time, nothing.

And if there was no cause, how could there ever be a solution?

Scully came into the room then, an African American doctor at her heels. If he had to guess, Mulder suspected that this was her close colleague Ray Anders, a neurologist who was hired around the same time she was. For many months, Scully confided in Mulder that her only real friend was Ray, simply because he was in the same situation and they both felt…well… a little less than welcomed; Scully because of her reluctance to interact on a personal level with anyone, and Anders because he was from out of town and generally unfamiliar with his surroundings. But while Anders grew into his role, Scully had maintained her distance.

She’d done it all for him, Mulder knew, and it ate him up inside. When they had finally returned to the states after his trial, his very citizenship was questionable and hiding him was at the top of their priority list, which didn’t make for attending staff functions terribly high on the priorities list.

The rest was history.

“You must be Ray Anders. Wish we could have met under better circumstances. I’m a big fan of anyone who’s in Scully’s corner,” Mulder joked weakly.

“I am indeed, Mr. Mulder. It’s nice to meet you too, all things considered.”

He didn’t look as curious as he might have, had Scully not already enlightened him of their relationship. “Dana’s given me a little bit of background on what the circumstances are here, but I would like to hear more from you.”

Mulder looked to Scully, curious, and tried, for once to focus his ability, to read her so he knew what exactly she’d covered, but it was useless, the drug muddling the thoughts all together with that of everyone within what felt like three floors.

“I started getting these headaches several year back. Came on really suddenly and got progressively worse, to the point where I was literally catatonic. My brain’s way of protecting itself, I think. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak. It was pretty bad. Then, I was…” He paused, looking for a more judicious turn of phrase. “…taken…by some people who performed an, um, illicit brain surgery on me, and the headaches went away. Turns out they removed part of my brain. Not long after that I was diagnosed with brain disease. They thought that was inoperable, but we’ll just say that all that hasn’t bothered me in years.” 

Anders was nodding along as he spoke, as if mentally ticking off everything Scully must have said. “Dana told me that there would most likely be signs of electro encephalitic trauma, but we won’t be able to tell for sure until we perform a scan. And this migraine came on as suddenly as the first ones did, years back? No lead in? No headaches prior?” 

“Honestly Doc, more suddenly than before. Without warning.” Mulder sighed. It didn’t really matter, he knew. Whatever regular Doctors could do for him was little more than slapping a band aid on a gunshot wound. Whatever the Syndicate’s doctors had done amounted to little more than the same. Whatever it was and wherever it really came from, it was clear that it wasn’t going away, or that if it did, it might come right along back. 

Thoughts of their lost son resurfaced. Mulder remembered the stories he had been told about the extraordinary feats William had performed, mentally summoning the artifact, moving his mobile with his mind. The barest shadow of a doubt as to his true parentage dissipated entirely the moment Mulder realized that the ability returned. Scully had been taken, and they’d both been infected by the virus. His junk DNA had been activated by the artifact. Perhaps that was all it took, no miracle at all, but rather just the perfect combination of abductee and alien-human hybrid DNA. 

It made Mulder shudder and yet gave him comfort at the same time. 

“Thank you Mr. Mulder. Dana, I’ll let you sit with him a bit while I try and get us scheduled for a scan. We can talk when I get back.” 

As Anders exited the room and Scully drew near him, Mulder could finally tell that the drug, whatever it was, was wearing off. “What’d they give me, Scully? It’s like listening to half of the news station and half of the baseball game at the same time through static in here right now.” 

Scully sat on the edge of his bed, reaching a hand out to take his, placing it in her lap. “Morphine.” His eyebrows made a valiant attempt to disappear into his hairline at her statement. “It’s helping?” She asked, but he only made a face in response. “Not really, huh?”

“The little guys running around up there are tuning the dial as we speak. It’s helping, but not for long.” Mulder reached out a hand and brushed her cheek. “They can’t help me here, Scully. I need help from people who understand what’s happening to me. Someone for whom this ability was really meant, because I can’t help but think that maybe my body is rejecting it.” 

“If we could find Gibson-“

 “No, Scully.” He shook his head. “We can’t put him in jeopardy again. If this is the way things have got to be, then we’ll just have to deal with it. And if I’m…if I’m out of commission Scully, we have to do what we can while we can, because you’re going to be the only one left…” 

Suddenly, Mulder felt her hand clasp his, tightly. “We do this together, Mulder. We’re making plans. We are going to move, we are going to subvert what’s coming in 2012, and we are going to find our son. And we are going to do it together.” BecauseIcan’tdothisalone.IdiditalonefortoolongandIpromisedmyself never,neveragainandIcan’tandIwon’t- 

Mulder sighed as Scully’s thoughts once again became clear in his head. Though the range was still limited, it was expanding more and more each moment. 

“We’ll get through this.” I hope. She attempted to reassure him, squeezing his hand more tightly. 

“I hope so too.” 

Scully eyes widened and the set of her shoulders slumped.

It was only a matter of time.

Chapter Text

Same Day Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital, Virginia

Scully worried her lower lip with her incisor as she waited outside Mulder’s room for Ray to come back with the scan’s results. The first dosage of morphine wore off before the test, and both she and Ray had been reluctant to continue dosing him as highly as they had the first time. When she finally spotted Ray, Scully had to force herself to remain where she was, all her pent up anxiety expelling itself in the form of inane movements.

“Dana, you’ll want to look at these.”

Nervously, she nodded, but together they walked to Rays office, where he put the scans up against a backlit board. “Anomalous brain activity. Loads of it. I’ve never seen anything like this.” 

Her heart sank. “I have. Not only in Mulder, last time, but in someone else. A boy. I can’t give you his name,” Scully stated, carefully working around the specifics, “but he didn’t suffer like this.” 

Ray looked at her perplexedly. “You’re telling me that this kid lived like this, pain free?”


“But Mr. Mulder can’t?”

Scully’s lips twisted distastefully at the implied question at the end of Ray’s statement. “Apparently.”

“Look Dana.” Ray sat on the edge of his desk. “I know that you have this mysterious background and all, and that you can’t talk about a lot of things because of your previous job. But we’re friends. I hope you believe that you can trust me, because unless you start giving me something to work from here, your friend isn’t going to get better very fast.” 

“I used to live by the mantra ‘trust no one’. No one except Mulder.” 

“Dana.” He brought his hands together, steepling them. “Please.” 

Scully allowed herself to collapse into the chair across from him, putting her head in her hands.

“Who is this guy, Dana?” Ray asked, softening. “What’s going on?”

There was no other option. Scully sighed, heavily. “We’ve been together for years. We’ve lived together long enough that the state considers us common law. There’s no one else for me, Ray. I can’t-I can’t lose him. I can’t, I just can’t. Not again.”

“Dana,” Ray’s tone brought her to lift her head. “I will help your, um, your partner in any way I can. But you have to help me help him first.”

Scully stood, pulling the transparency from where it hung. Without a word she left the room, Ray following her as they made their way back to where Mulder waited. All the while she deliberated over the tenuous decision that was growing shakily stronger in her head.

“Welcome back,” Mulder greeted them wryly when they entered. Ignoring him, she held up the scan to the light for him to see, and thought as directly and firmly as she could. Mulder looked long and hard at her and at the scan, then, glanced to Ray.

“Shut the door, Scully. We can trust him.”

“You’re sure?” 

“As sure as I can be of anything right now. It’s our best bet and you know it.”

Fine lines were etching their way across his forehead, Scully noticed with chagrin. The growing headaches caused him to squint, and the pain would be forever visible on his face. He must have heard her thoughts, because he turned sad eyes on her and she was overwhelmed by a wave of misplaced anger that he should feel sorry her for worries. 

“Ray,” Mulder said, suddenly. “I’m curious. Do you have a dog?”

Scully wrinkled her nose slightly at his line of questioning, and watched as Ray showed obvious confusion. She waited with bated breath for him to start. 

“Well, yeah…” 

“I bet right now you’re thinking ‘what the hell is this guy thinking? Dogs? Why dogs? I should be telling him about the anomalous brain activi-what the hell is going-how is he-what the-‘”

Mulder stopped talking. Ray was standing stock still. Scully took in his position and moved to stand beside Mulder’s bed.

“That’s not possible,” he said amazed and disturbed, looking intently at Mulder.

“More accurately you mean to say ‘this is fucking insane,’. At least, it’s what you were really thinking,”

“How are you doing that?”

“You know how. You’re thinking it right now. You’re thinking that it’s impossible, that people can’t read minds. But you also believe the evidence of your eyes,” Mulder stated, as if reciting from a tele-prompter. Scully didn’t doubt that that’s what it felt like. She put her hand on his shoulder and squeezed gently, reassuringly. “I’m a reverse Galadriel. I know.” She shook her head at his willingness to constantly make light, especially when in the hospital. That was, if he wasn’t complaining. “Take as much time as you need.”

Ray kept his gaze on Mulder, and Scully observed him, looking for a sign that she’d made the wrong decision, but she saw nothing. Finally, Ray nodded.

“Alright. Whatever you need, I’ll do my best. This ability, is this what’s causing your migraines?”

 “Yes. It happened once before. I was exposed to an artifact and it jump started the ability. Problem is, my brain and hearing people's thoughts don’t seem to be compatible. Like I’m missing a piece or something. The procedure that was done on my brain stopped it until now.”

“We don’t know what triggered it,” Scully piped up, “and I’m worried that without a known cause, it will be all the more difficult to treat. We tempered the effects with high doses of phenytoin last time, but I’m concerned about the possibility of addiction if we try that again. It wasn’t a cure, just something to lessen the effects when we had run out of options.”

“Yeah, I don’t want to end up a high functioning vegetable again, Doc,” Mulder said with a wry smile. 

Ray frowned, rubbing at his chin thoughtfully. “So, the first time, there was a trigger, some shadowy group of people did a surgery on you, and it all went away. This time, boom, it’s suddenly back, like it’s nothing?” 

“Yes, that’s the basic run down. Could it be an incompatibility? How would we even tell, or know where to begin?” Scully felt her voice growing more frantic than she’d attempted to maintain it. Sensing it, naturally, Mulder put his hand on hers, grounding her and she took a deep, slow breath. 

Ray shook his head. “You’re both talking like you’ve seen this ‘work’ without any headaches before…” Ray must have seen the look on her face, because he let his sentence trail away. “You have, haven’t you?” 

“Twice. One case I mentioned before. The other is…different. I can’t say who or how for either. For their protection. It was a natural part of them both. Born with the ability as an intrinsic part of who they were.” She tried to think clinically, tried to ignore that one of the two she was thinking of was her flesh and blood, their son. All the same, Mulder squeezed her hand comfortingly.

Ray blinked wildly, removed his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose before replacing them. “Without something to test against, I’d be starting from square one.” 

Mulder chose that moment to wince in pain, clutching at his head suddenly. “Morphine’s really starting to wear down here. Doesn’t much matter I guess. You’ve got all the information from me that you need. Scully knows my medical history far better than I do anyways.” He cringed again and curled into himself, and Scully was on him in a moment.

“Look at me, Mulder. Breathe, breathe. I’m here, Mulder!”

She felt absolutely helpless, fought the hot burn in her eyes and the ache in her heart. 

“S’okay Scully. Black’n out’s better’n being awake.” 

“Oh, Mulder.”

Chapter Text

Thursday, February 12th, 2009 Burke Center Library, Burke, Springfield, Virginia

Scully was frantic with worry when she finally found Mulder in the public library, his eyes closed, sitting at an empty table, fingers steepled in front of him. He didn’t seem to be in any pain, but he wasn’t moving either. In her purse, she rummaged for the syringe of Phenytoin that had been prescribed for him until Ray was able to come up with a better solution. None seemed imminent. 

“Mulder!” She hissed under her breath. “Mulder, please tell me you can hear me.” 

Surprise shot through her when his eyes flew open, and he smiled, a genuine smile, for the first time in a while. “Hey, Scully.”

“You scared me, Mulder!” she admonished, putting away the syringe. “How are you managing this? You didn’t take anything did you?” She asked, worried that he’d driven while under some narcotic influence.

“No, Scully. I didn’t take anything. I’m fine. I’m practicing.”

“But I thought that-” 

“It’s paying off,” he said, a meaningful look in his eyes. They almost sparkled again, absent as they were of pain. 

All of the previous three weeks, Mulder hadn’t even been able to leave the house without experiencing crippling migraines. He remained secluded in their home, often sitting out on the porch in the last vestiges of winter’s cold, watching the spring take over. Doing what, she hadn’t know. He had been cooped up for so long, Scully thought that it was his attempt at feeling free. In reality, it seemed Mulder had been working hard.

“What do you mean ‘practicing’?” She sat then, reassured that Mulder wasn’t going to keel over in pain. 

Mulder took her hand, rubbing the skin of her knuckles. “It’s different than the last time, Scully. I don’t know what started it, and I don’t know why it’s different, but it is. It’s like working a muscle, Scully. Like studying. I haven’t done anything so challenging since my doctorate at Oxford. I just needed to learn how to use it. The pain was because I was doing things that I wasn’t ready for, not that I could control it anyways. So, I decided, why not start small? Learn how to tune in and out of your thoughts, and then I added in our neighbours, and the cars driving past, and then, I started driving closer to town and work on the outskirts while you were on your shift, and now I’m here.”

“And you can tune in and out to any of these people?” she asked, relishing the reassuring feel of the pad of his thumb as it worked semicircles on her hand. 

“Yep. It’s the perfect place, you know. Only the usual amount of noise as anywhere else. No one talks!” He spread his arms with a boyish smile. “Who knew I’d come to love that rule? It’s good for my focus. I don’t like the superstore yet. Definitely no Walmart runs for me for a while. The library is my training wheels. I can maintain a certain spectrum of distance, but I’m still working on keeping things on the level when I’m in high population area.”

After so much going wrong for them so often, it was almost impossible to believe…and yet…“Thank God,” she breathed, feeling her entire body uncoil as the tension dissipated.

“I couldn’t leave you, Scully.” Mulder drew her knuckles to his lips, just brushing a kiss there. “I couldn’t leave you to handle all of this on your own. I owe it to you that I stay by your side, through anything. Scully, if this ability would have crippled me-” 

“Stop it, Mulder. Just stop it. Don’t even say it. By some miracle, things are different this time. But I’m still taking you in to see Ray. I want him to do a scan. I want to understand how this works. We can’t take any chances.”

“I know.” He gave in with surprisingly little effort on her part, causing Scully to grow suspicious. “The ability is back. We can’t know why or how. I have to use it. We don’t have long, Scully. 2012 isn’t some far off, distant impossibility anymore. It’s already 2009.”

Feeling almost indulgent, almost outside of the conversation, despite its heavy nature, she expelled a long, exaggerated sigh. “Where?” 

“New Mexico. Strategically, it’s the smartest location. And your requirement was no snow and no memories.”

Scully smiled sadly. “But you have memories there, Mulder. Memories from when you were in hiding, from when…” 

“But I also have connections,” he broke in. “Albert Hosteen’s family hid me last time. They’ll help us now. This thing is coming, Scully, and I’ve languished too long in the belief that it would be a hopeless cause. What you did with Christian…”

Scully paled, but said nothing. His hand was still clutching hers. 

“What you did with Christian…! I mean, the amount of faith you had that, despite the odds, he could and would pull through...” He looked out at her, earnestness shining in his eyes. Scully, I have always wanted to believe. Believe in the impossible, believe in things that would help me to rationalize the parts of the world I couldn’t understand. But you, you have always had belief. Always. And I just needed to be reminded of it. It’s been so long since I did something meaningful in the world, since I mattered to anyone but you. Since I mattered to myself,” 

“Don’t say that, Mulder,” 

“It’s the Truth, Scully, and they say the Truth will set you free. This is what I’m meant for. I didn’t want this, but it’s mine to bear. I have the ability, and I have to use it for something good. I have to. I’m going to reach out to some of our friends. Start organizing us, so that we’re not helpless when the time comes. And you and I will move and start over and make the most of our three years.” He brought a hand to her cheek tenderly. “Look at you!”

Scully was surprised to find tears in his eyes, and a particular reverence she hadn’t noticed in a long time. It took her breath away, knowing the expanse of his feeling was so plainly laid before her, an offering freely given with no expectations in return. “Look what you are capable of inspiring! People put their trust in you every day. I’m trusting you now,” 

“Okay,” she said, voice shaking. “Okay. But I can’t go back into that darkness, Mulder. Not unless there’s something at the end of it all that’s light.”

“Scully, you are the light. You’re the one that has the ability to bring hope. It will be inevitable that we’ll have to stare down that darkness, but until then, we have to work on ways to keep that light alive,” 

“Purity.” Scully followed his thought trajectory. “You want me to work on the Purity vaccine.”

“It’s one avenue. I’ll get you what you need to do the research. Research, that’s all it’ll be on your end, Scully.” 

“You’re going to leave again, aren’t you?” 

He looked down and away from her, a sure sign he was going to lie and it was a bitter pill to stomach.

“Yes.” He looked back up at her, her face splayed with uncensored shock at his honesty, at his willingness to face the discomfort of that one particular truth. “Eventually. But not right now. There are things I can do without leaving. But I have this ability, and I’m going to have to use it, Scully. My conscience can’t take it. I can’t live with this and do nothing. Please tell me you understand.” 

Scully brushed a tear from his cheek. “Mulder, it was always your destiny to stand against the darkness, and I’ll always stand beside you.”

“I love you, Scully,” he murmured, so quietly that she almost missed it. 

“I love you too, Mulder. God help us, I love you too,” 


Chapter Text

Tuesday, June 2nd 2009 Arts and Sciences Center, Eastern New Mexico University, Roswell, New Mexico

“So that’s pages 10-23 for Tuesday in the Schacter text and the article that you should have taken from the table when you got here. And don’t forget that in two weeks we’ll be meeting in the library so you can start the research work, so be determining your topics and think smart about your groups.” 

There was a grumble throughout the room at the teacher’s words. 

“Ah, ah, play nice guys. And no stealing each other’s ideas! I may not be a 40 something mom with eyes in the back of my head, but I will know. Now get outta here, my Yankee’s game is on in two hours and I’ve got to get dinner ready for later.” 

Students muttered things like “See ya Professor” and “Bye Doctor Blake” and even “Later Doc” as they filed out of the room, headphones around their necks, backpacks slung over single shoulders, which would ultimately lead to back problems in later life, but for the time being, made them look and feel cool. Mulder smiled, bemused. It had been two months. Just two months and his whole life was different. 

He was packing his things into the satchel Scully bought him when he told her he’d got the job. The first in many years, it felt strange to be doing something not life threatening while being paid, much less using his psychology degree for something other than profiling. It had made him almost unreasonably happy, and he’d almost found himself surprised at just how important the job had become to him, in such a short amount of time. Which made it all the more imperative that their work be successful. So many young, promising minds would be snuffed out. So much potential for good lost.

With little warning, Mulder sensed another presence headed towards the room. It was a nondescript room, just one of many that rotated through subjects, students, and teachers throughout the week so it could have been anyone, and normally he would have dismissed it, but this presence was intent on the room, which meant it was likely intent on him. Back still turned to the door, Mulder let go of his restraint a notch, enough to determine if the presence was familiar.

It was. He was just placing the last few markers into the front pocket when the student entered.

“Need something?” he asked, feeling the student’s surprise slip through his barriers. 

“How’d you know I was here Professor?” 

Mulder turned to see Carly Studebecker, one of his Psych 101 students who had been missing from class that morning, and smiled, a glint in his eye, but didn’t answer. 

“Studebecker. You must be here to catch up on what you missed?” he retorted, one eyebrow raised. She looked pained. 

“I know, I should get it from a classmate or your website first, but I figured if you were still here, I’d just…”She smiled tightly, pleadingly. “…come straight to the source?” 

He sighed in an exaggerated, beleaguered manner. “Fine.” He pulled out a pad of paper and a pen, scribbling the assigned work for the next class. “This is college. Whether you come to class or not, it’s not my problem, but if you want notes or have questions, talk to a student or come to my office hours next time,” he said, though not unkindly, handing her the paper. 

“Gotcha.” Narrowing here eyes, she scrutinized him. “There’s a game on this afternoon, isn’t there?” 

A wan smile crossed Mulder’s face and he chuckled. “How’d you guess?” he asked and they both laughed. It was no secret to his students how much Mulder loved his baseball. When Carly made no move to go, he gave her an expectant look. “Is there something else?” 

“Professor, what did you do before you came to work here?” 

At least she had the gall to look sheepish. 

“Let’s walk and talk,” he replied, throwing the bag over his shoulder. “Why’d you ask?” 

“Because you keep making references to “what professors should do” and it seems like you don’t really think of yourself as one. I’m just curious what else you can do with a psychology degree.” 

“Well, for the last seven years or so I’ve been...” Floundering for a moment, he searched for a suitable word, before finally settling on- “…writing. Before that I worked for the FBI and before that I was a profiler, but before that I did a little practical work with patients. Not that I finished, so before you ask, no, I’ve never been that kind of Doctor. There’s lots you can do with a degree in psych.” 

He chanced a look at her. She seemed pensive. 

“You’re hung up on the FBI thing aren’t you.” It was less a question and more of a statement. 

“Where you an actual agent?” 



“That’s quite the verbose response. Do tell more.” 

It took her a moment to recover from his wry humour. “I mean, it’s intense.” 

“Yes,” he conceded. “It was.” For a while they walked in silence, and before long they’d reached the parking lot, and he dug into his pocket for the keys. 

“Well, I guess you need to get going. Thanks Professor.” 

“No problem, Studebecker.” 

The conversation sat heavy in his stomach all the way home. 


Roswell, New Mexico had a certain feel to it that Mulder had never been sure he really liked. It was part vast emptiness and part energetic imagination. When he’d lived there last (with Gibson in a trailer outside of town), he hated it. Hated everything that it entailed. Being away from Scully. Being away from William. Constantly looking over his shoulder. Never sleeping well. The open expanse of the desert didn’t feel secure, despite the fact that the actual physical surroundings were the only thing keeping them safe, or at least a relative approximation of it. Hiding in plain sight had been just about the single most terrifying thing he done willingly in his life. 

With Scully, things were different. They lived in a house now, an actual, honest to God house, a bit like the last one they’d had in Virginia, unremarkable, small, but closer to town. Scully went to church, they ate out, bought groceries, visited the library, the whole nine yards. It was surreal to be living an actual, normal life after so long. When they first moved to town, a neighbour visited them with offerings in the form of a six pack and a local map. He was Anthony Blake once again and she was Dana Blake, and he’d even been asked to join the local guys at the basketball courts. Scully, on the other hand, joined a book club to temper her time at the Forensic Anthropology department and Research Center at the Portales branch campus of the same university. It was an hour and a half commute, but the Roswell branch, unfortunately, didn’t offer what Scully needed. 

Mulder’s drive was hardly twenty minutes, something for which he felt mildly guilty. He pulled into the garage and was in the house in less than one. Dumping his bag in his office (which was adjacent to Scully’s - the extra room on the main floor had been the selling point for them both), he only paused to turn on his tape recording of NPR’s Morning Edition, which he hadn’t been able to finish that morning before leaving the house, and then headed to the refrigerator to make himself a lunch before he got the crockpot ready. 

“And we have an update now on the disappearance of Air France Flight 447. You'll recall that was the plane that left Rio de Janeiro on Sunday bound for Paris. It had 228 people on board and it disappeared. 

It went missing about four hours into the flight with no distress call from the flight deck. Today Brazil's air force is reporting that it has found debris. 

Mulder pulled two slices of pizza from the fridge, sniffed them curiously, then popped them on a plate into the microwave. 

Items including plane seats turned up about 400 miles off Brazil's northeastern coast. The reasons for the aircraft's disappearance are still unknown.

We have more from NPR's Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.

“Little hope remains that anyone will be found alive, making this the worst air crash in a decade. Air France flight 447 disappeared early Monday four hours into its 11-hour flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. Although the exact cause of the disappearance remains a mystery, dozens of automatic messages were triggered when the plane passed through a storm. 

Finger poised, he stopped the microwave before it could beep. He reached without looking into the micro and pulled his fingers away, wringing his stinging hand before removing the steaming plate of pizza a bit more carefully. He popped two fingers into his mouth, sucking on them to lessen the pain as he made for the sink, where he ran the reddened digits under cool water.

Those messages said the plane's electrical system was failing. Nothing was heard after that. Aviation expert Chris Yates told News Channel France 24 what that could mean.”

“The severity, I think, is evidence of that electrical short circuit insomuch as we haven't heard from the pilot. That would suggest that the communication systems almost immediately went out, and I would venture to suggest that perhaps this aircraft went down very quickly indeed.”

“This morning, family members of passengers returned to the crisis center at Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport hoping for news. They're unlikely to receive any quick answers.

For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.”

The tape stopped. Casually, Mulder switched the radio to live for All Things Considered as he sat down to eat, just a little late to catch the whole story. 

“ - Korean political and military officials were informed that Kim Jong Un, in his mid-20s, has been anointed to succeed his father, according to reports in South Korea's media.

North Korea leadership-watching is a murky business, full of unconfirmed reports and questionable sourcing. Jong Un is believed to have been educated in Switzerland, where he learned to ski, and to speak English, French and German.

There are few countries left where a ruler can say he has the right to rule because his father and grandfather did.

But Kim Jae-bum, professor emeritus at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security in Seoul says that's the prevailing logic in Pyongyang.

"This is a kind of inherited philosophy, that the 'Great Leader' [Kim Il Sung] founded the country and the party, and his son was an heir, so that the third generation has a kind of legitimacy," Kim says.”

As the report went on, Mulder found his mind drifting. Every day, he listened to the news. He supposed that Scully did too, in the car, usually, he suspected, but she was up earlier than him so he didn’t really know. Life going on. People living, dying, being named heir to a tiny but powerful and dangerous nation. 

There were a little less than three years left. That was almost 43 months. Or 1299 days. Time that would seem like more than enough to anyone else was encroaching on Mulder and Scully like death coming for a geriatric. He shivered, thinking, remembering the phone number he had scribbled down for the property up in Belle Fourche. The time to prepare was now. He’d call it later. After the game. 80 acres of land settled on a magnetite deposit was no small matter.

“ -  too inexperienced compared with his father, says Stanford University's Daniel Sneider, an expert on North and South Korea.

"Kim Jong Il had a long period of time serving in senior positions in the party apparatus, in the government apparatus, so he established his legitimacy as a successor over a period of time," Sneider says.

But the elder Kim made arrangements for this in April, getting his son onto the National Defense Commission. This de facto ruling council is headed by Chang Song Taek, Kim Jong Il's brother-in-law, who could serve as a regent until the young Kim matures.

When Kim Jong Il suffered a stroke last summer, reports suggested that North Korea's government was in chaos. But no one is suggesting that now, Sneider says.

"There's no evidence that anyone's defying his authority, and although there's a lot of talk about the military and the power of the military, it's very clearly subordinate to him," he says. "And I think that as long as he's around, and as long as he's able to exercise power, then he can control this process."

Mulder sighed and turned off the radio. It was one, which mean that the game would be on in 8 minutes. He turned on the tv to the right channel, cranked the volume and made his way back to the kitchen. There may only have been 1298 days until Colonization, but dinner was in five hours. Worrying could wait until then. 


Chapter Text

Same Day Art and Anthropology Building, Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, New Mexico

Scully was finishing some paperwork, the final element of her day before the hour and a half drive back to their new home in Roswell, when her supervisor came into the room. Nervous, especially with her notes lying open on the desk, Scully shuffled the papers in her hand. 

“Xander. Can I help you?” 

“Dana!” he said warmly. “I was just looking for you. I was reading over that report you submitted about the student research.” Though he ended the sentence, Scully still felt as though something was going unsaid. 

“I sense a ‘but’ in there, Xander,” she fished, surreptitiously continuing to pack, eyeing her notes anxiously. 

“Well, the board is still unsure. You know how people feel about bees these days,” he replied, offhand, like he was trying to downplay his statement. Scully kept her reaction as neutral as possible, nodding genially.

“Yes, Xander, I’m well aware. That doesn’t change anything about my research. And that’s all it is: research, so I don’t see why the board has anything to worry about. It’s numbers and graphs and observations. Is there a problem with that, Xander?” 

He looked closely at his fingernails. “No, no. No problem. But when you start looking for sponsors for the post-research phase, we might have-”

“It’s a non-issue. I already have a sponsor lined up.” She cut him off. Please don’t ask me who.

“Oh,” Xander actually seemed surprised. “Well, if that’s the case, I suppose we really don’t have anything to worry about! I’ll report that to the board. Why didn’t you say anything?” 

“My sponsor wishes to remain anonymous. And they are particularly invested in the results of the project,” she hedged, silently praying. Years of playing the game was the only thing keeping her voice calm. 

“Hmm,” Xander looked thoughtful. “Well, I hope your sponsor understands that the University reserves certain rights regarding the research done by our employees?” 

Scully smiled flawlessly. “Yes. Absolutely. It was a stipulation of mine.” 

“Excellent.” He softened, reassured. “How are the students doing?” 

“Just fine. Everything is really working out well here. I’m very, very glad you were able to accommodate me here as well as in the Forensic Anthro department.” 

“Our pleasure. It’s so nice to see some real research being done here for a change. We’re the only public university in the state that offers the research element and without you and your students, I’m afraid we’d maybe have to cut back on allocated funding this year. We should be thanking you, Dana.” He smiled, genuinely, and nodded. “Well, I’m sure you’re more than ready to get out of here today. How’s the husband?” 

Scully used his words as an opportunity to grab the notes, stuffing them into her tote with relief. “Anthony’s great. It’s nice coming home to dinner ready made every night. But then, I’ve never been much of a cook.”

“And your husband is?” 

She shrugged and allowed herself a smile. “He’s learned over the years. We both have.”

“Lucky lady. Well. I won’t keep you longer. Have a nice night, Dana.” 

“You too, Xander.”

Scully started off down the hall towards the stairs, her heart pounding. It wasn’t until she was in the car, ignition started, hands ten and two on the wheel that she finally breathed her sigh of relief. Letting her forehead fall to rest between her hands on the cool leather, she took a few shaky breaths. 

What she was doing was dangerous. Dangerous, but necessary. 

Sitting back up, she put the car in drive and made for the open road. 

When she and Mulder had finally agreed to leave Virginia for New Mexico and start the arduous task of preparing for Armageddon, she’d agreed to begin working on an angle to fight the virus that was inevitably the first step to total world domination. With bee blight on the rise and many scientists interested in looking at ways of preserving them, Scully had decided that was where she would start, considering the likelihood that they’d still be used as the carriers. But misallocating her funding, falsifying her research parameters, and managing the students while she actually did the research could be nerve wracking more days than not. 

But it was necessary, she constantly reminded herself. Her work was the first line of defense against what was coming. The Syndicate may have been using the alien technology to front their own global takeover, but all they’d done was advance the Colonists plans and provide her with a place to start. 

They’d brainstormed for days the variety of ways they might be able to figure out a solution, including taking samples of their own blood and cells for analysis to see if there was anything salvagable from her unfortunate ordeal with the bee or his trip to Russia with Krycek, among other things, though that was more of a side project, a precautionary element than anything else, just in case they were unable to get their hands on anything…more substantial.

In the end, though, it always came back to Purity.

Getting it hadn’t been her job; that was Mulder’s. At first they’d been unsure where to look for it, what to do to find it, in whatever incarnation it still existed. But Mulder had his sources. He’d done the job admirably and efficiently, but it had still terrified her. He’d promised he wouldn’t leave, but then, before they could even move, he was gone, the news having come through the grapevine about a potential hit. The hitch? It was traveling. One month to pinpoint a potential location, and one week to get it. Pretty near impossible.

By that time, she’d finished selling their old house and had everything put into storage under a pseudonym. Then began the exhausting drive to New Mexico, changing her car halfway through the journey, paying cash for the new vehicle and all gas along the way, driving through the night and buying the house in New Mexico upon her arrival. Three days later, Mulder showed up with their things in a trailer, a black currier box secured in the passenger seat next to him. Only when she went to meet him at the trailer’s cab did she realize he was handcuffed to it. 

“Special delivery,” he’d said, holding it out to her. “And I’m not just talking about the box.”

She’d thrown her arms around him as best as she could and kissed him soundly. 

In the two months that had followed, they’d begun to get things set up. Jobs were the priority and, while Scully hadn’t had much difficulty creating a research proposal which she’d been able to start in the latter months of the Spring semester at Southeastern, Mulder had to wait to begin on the Roswell campus until Summer classes started, though he’d made himself useful as a transitional substitute for a different professor in the meantime. By the start of Summer classes, he was already well known with the students. They’d made it work. 

The box and its contents had been transferred to several phials for safekeeping and ease of access, but they kept the majority of its contents in a specially designed mini-facility they’d set up inside of a storage unit (done anonymously and paid for in cash) three towns away. Almost immediately after their arrival, she’d begun her work, and almost every day she felt her heart leap. She saw shadows everywhere. Laughing ruefully, Scully thought to herself that she was just as bad as Mulder, but she knew that it was true that they couldn’t be too careful. All of the work that her students did was truly assisting her real goal while also fulfilling the goals of the proposal that the University had accepted from her (and that had been its own terror, that she might not be accepted at all). The fine balance between the two was rocky at best but she’d made some headway.

The bees that they were borrowing for the study from several beekeepers in the regional southwest were systematically checked for any atypical attributes by her students. Those with the elements they’d been instructed to isolate were then “further tested” for a host of different things, all in the pursuit of understanding why the populations were diminishing en mass. Behind the scenes, she took the further steps, identifying the markers for the virus in those bees found to be carriers of atypical attributes and comparing them against the purity control sample Mulder had stolen. Further yet, they were then tested against her own cells, to see if she could find anything in common, and yet again against Mulder’s, as well as blood from a blood bank in Nebraska that Mulder had…artfully absconded with at her request. It was a long and difficult process, yes, but a necessary one.

A risky one. 

If she was discovered, Scully and Mulder both knew that would be the end of it. Any professional credibility Scully had under their established aliases would be lost and she’d never find legal means of supporting her research again and any hope they had would disappear along with it. At first, Mulder had been more than a little nervous. That first night, the night before she left, he’d held her close to him, face pressed into her hair, begging her to be careful, suggesting that there were still other ways, still other options, that she didn’t have to go.

That he didn’t want her to go.

She never turned around, but she knew by the way he was shaking that he was crying. In the morning, when she’d left, she hadn’t even had to wake him; his eyes were already open, watching her soulfully in the green gleam of the alarm clock. Slowly, she’d leaned in and kissed him on the temple, and then again on the lips. Then they’d gotten up and made breakfast, and said not so much as a word to one another until she left.

Only then, did he say “I love you.”

And that had been that.

Pushing away the memory, Scully put the vehicle in drive and left the lot. Her mindless drive through traffic went fast enough as she contemplated the clouded darkness of the future, reminding herself over and over that she’d chosen to go back to it. Chosen that endless stare-down. Chosen the subterfuge and the secrets. Chosen to fight back once again. 

When she pulled into the garage, she took a deep breath before leaving the vehicle, grabbed her tote and summoned all her willpower. She was home, another day over, another day closer. Closer to a breakthrough, closer to…

She shook the thought from her head, opening the door. The scent of dinner was heavenly as she removed her shoes and laid her work things aside on the bench in the back hall. She couldn’t see Mulder in the kitchen, but the table was set. A peek into his office didn’t reveal him either. The living room then. 

“Mulder?” she asked aloud. “I’m home.” 

Arms encircled her from behind. “Hi honey,” he said, leaning down to kiss her on the cheek as he held her tight. 

“Hey. You have a good day?” She turned in his embrace, which hadn’t lessened, placing her hands on his chest. He’d been more physical about their relationship since he’d gotten back, touching her in small ways almost constantly; a caress to her cheek while walking to the park, kisses to the temple when he dropped her off at her book club on his way to basketball, simple lingering touches in the security of their home. 

“Fine I suppose.” He shrugged, and in that instant, she could have sworn he was sixteen years younger again, looking at her with wide eyes out from behind his old, unreasonably attractive glasses. These were different frames, of course, but in the moment, it felt the same. She noted the cadence of his voice, the low tone.

“You were listening to the news again, weren’t you?” 

“Well someone’s got to Scully,” he replied as he pulled away, ostensibly to get the milk from the fridge, but it felt more significant than that and she bristled momentarily. 

“Tell me about it?” She stepped forward, running her hand down his arm, resting her grip at the crook of his elbow gently, reassuringly. He didn’t pull away, but he didn’t turn towards her either. She counted it as a win. 

“They started finding debris from the missing plane. Kim Jong Un was named successor in North Korea. Who needs a conspiracy when you’ve got dictator nepotism and 228 dead travelers?” A note disgust tinted his statement and Scully bit back an acerbic comment. Just months ago they’d been in a far worse place than this. Meet halfway, she reminded herself, thinking back on the agreement they’d made the night they’d decided to move. 

No matter what, we’ll always meet each other halfway. We’ll both have our bad days. We need to be there for each other if we’re going to do this. 

“We are making a difference, Mulder.” She squeezed his arm as she spoke, and he tensed before relaxing beneath her touch.

And be honest.

Sucking in a deep breath, she continued. “I feel like there was a close call today at work, but I think I’m being paranoid. We’ve made some small breakthroughs. It’s progress, and I’ve brought copies of everything home for safe keeping. We’ll have to make a trip to the storage unit tomorrow. Now, tell me about the game.” It was almost a normal conversation. Almost. She was pleasantly surprised to find that she didn’t even have to force a smile. 

As he poured the milk, he filled her in. “Yankee’s won. 12 runs. 13 hits. 7 in the fourth inning alone. Burnett was pitching. And Jetter was in really good form but it was Matsui who was really having a great day. Eight homers off Derek Holland, 4th inning, 2 on base , 2 outs to center field and right field.” 

“Sounds like fun,” she said and found that she even meant it. He looked up suddenly, setting the milk down and looked at her peculiarly. “Mulder? What is it?”

“I love you.” There was no hesitation between her question and his answer. “You don’t have to do this. As long as we’re together, that’s all that matters. You don’t have to do this, Dana.” 

Tears pricked at her eyes, the memories that had flooded back earlier threatening to spill past the threshold of here self control, but she held back. “No. I do. We do. I love you too, Fox. And you were right. We need this. Not just to save the world. We need this for us. For closure.” She stepped closer to him again, pressing a hand to his cheek. “If there is any chance that we can stop Colonization, I want to take it. And if there’s...if there is a chance that we can find…”

“William,” he finished for her softly, looking right at her, their eyes locking together in one eternally unwavering moment. 

“If there is any chance for us to see our son again, I want it. I want it more than anything. I want us to have what we deserve. Our family.” Scully shuddered a sigh of emotion and pressed her face into his chest. Beneath her head, he was warm and solid, and it felt good to rest against him, immovable and strong as a wall of stone, holding back the tide. His arms came around her once more and they swayed together for a few moments, silent. 

“We’ll find him, Scully. We’ll find William. We’ll be a family. I have to believe that it’s possible. I have to believe it,” he murmured into her hair, just loud enough for her to hear.

“I believe,” Scully said, emphatically, almost zealously. “I believe.” 

And she did.

They held each other there, tightly, swaying in mutual embrace for long, interminable minutes.

Dinner could wait. 

Chapter Text

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 The ‘Blake’ Home, Roswell, New Mexico

She was running, breaths coming hard and swift, feet hitting the ground with such force that it reverberated jarringly up through her legs, her pounding heart matching the pounding in her head. Running. To or from, or both, she wasn’t sure. The shadow was growing, but it came at all angles, filtering out the lights until the darkness engulfed her completely and she couldn’t see the place where her feet connected with the pavement. 


The faint buzzing in her head from the rhythmic ache was growing louder, a screaming siren blaring at her temples. Then, as she ran aimlessly in the dark, the pitch of the road came closer, inclining into a hill and a piercing white light blazed up over the horizon, blinding her as surely as the darkness had. She threw her arms up to protect her eyes, and felt herself lose balance, falling back but she didn’t make harsh contact with pavement. Instead, her stomach dropped when the falling sped up, blowing her hair into her face, whipping red marks against her cheeks, and she went on falling, the light still blinding her from above as the endless darkness below consumed her.

In the center of the corona of light, a figure, its arm outstretched, was descending - not falling - towards her, and she blinked against the pain of the overwhelming glow, weakly putting out her own arm, reaching in desperation back, praying and begging silently that her fingers would find purchase in the warmth of a hand grasping hers-

Scully sat up suddenly in bed, sheets falling to her waist. She was sweating profusely and her hair was stuck awkwardly to her neck. It was black in the bedroom; only the eerie green glow of the alarm clock gave form and shadow to shapeless things in the night. Consciously attempting to slow her breathing, Scully reached a hand out to the place beside her where Mulder usually lay, seeking the comfort of his solid form. She knew he wasn’t there, but that didn’t stop her. Tense fingers gripped the sheets as she imagined the familiar texture of one of his t-shirts, pretended that the mattress beneath them was flesh, warm and inviting. In the dark it was easy to create him, to feel the weight of his presence, the adjustment of the bed as he would shift himself onto his elbows, to hear him breathe her name in sleep rasped tones, the texture of his large palm fit itself onto her slender shoulder, rubbing soothing circles before sitting up and pulling her weightless form into his familiar embrace, arms and chest cocooning her against the flashes of dream memory that left her shaking like a leaf. 


She chose to hear him say her first name. Rarely over the years had they used their given names with each other, and each time (save the first, when they were discussing stakeouts and liverwurst, ice teas and root beer when she used his given name for the first time and he’d laughed it off. Thus, Mulder and Scully were born, she mused.) it felt weighty, like signing a legal document. It meant something, that they would take the time to use Dana or Fox. It was significant, a mood altering word, their secret signal for one another that the words spoken would be important beyond their literal meanings. There was trust, honesty, unconditional love and a little bit of discomfort in those moments of acknowledgement, that something serious beyond their usual was to be discussed. Shorthand for “take my heart, but handle with care”. 

So she chose Dana. 

Dana. Her arms tingled where his phantom hands rested, and she could almost feel the weight of his cheek against the side of her head. Honey, what’s wrong?

“I had a dream, Fox.” She said aloud to the empty quiet. “I was running and the darkness was surrounding me, but on the horizon there was this light, like a sunrise, but too bright, and then I was falling, falling, the darkness swallowing me up, but there was a figure in the light, reaching for me and I reached back.”

Sounds like you were up too late watching that Sistine Chapel documentary. Maybe it’s symbolic. 

“Maybe. I don’t know. Dreams are just the random neural firings and memory fragments meant to make sense of your day. Like filing away all the papers you had scattered on your desk before going home for the night.”

True. But they also capture your fears. There’s a reason psychologists encourage keeping dream journals during stressful times. Sleep is also your brain's way of making sense of things that you can’t in waking, and answering questions that you’ve been asking subconsciously. Some dreams even help make sense of fears. 

“So, what you’re implying is that I’m afraid of falling.” 

Maybe. Depends on what falling means to you, literally, symbolically, metaphysically. 

“It’s definitely stress. Each day I feel this deadline creeping up on me and I wonder ‘Am I doing enough?’ But how can it ever be enough? How can this fight be quantified? Before, when we weren’t doing anything, I didn’t feel this, even though I knew. So why now? Why now?” 

You’re running against the clock now. You decided to care, you’ve got a stake in the game. That makes all the difference in the world. 

“I feel like it’s coming at me from all angles. If I’m not stressing about the success of the research, I’m stressing about hiding the real research from the University, and when I’m not stressing about that I’m wondering if the Shadow Government knows what we’re up to, and if they’ll come for us, and if they don’t, if that’s because they already know that what we’re doing is futile and they just don’t care enough to stop us! And when I’m not stressed out about that, I’m thinking about William, and I’m thinking about my decision, and, if we’re all going to die anyways, what good did giving him up do us, when we could have spent the last years of Earth’s existence happy and together as a family? And maybe my guilt about giving him up wouldn’t be eating away at me and then, at least, I wouldn’t wonder if you secretly hate me.” 

I don’t hate you. I could never hate you. You made the choice you had to make. They don’t say that hindsight is twenty-twenty for nothing. You couldn’t have known where we’d end up. I wasn’t there. And he was in danger and you had to make the best decision for him. As a responsible parent, it was your job to take care of him, and you did that in the only way you knew how. You hid him, even from us, to protect him. I have to believe that there’s still a chance. Otherwise, we might as well just lay down and die. There is always a future to fight for. And even if everything we do comes to naught, we can die knowing that we did our best, even with the odds against us. That even though we wavered, we never gave up trying. And that will have made it all worthwhile. 

She could almost feel the tightening of his arms around her, his chest a solid wall against her back, holding her up. “How do you know?” she asked, her voice a paper thin, wavering thing, so fragile it could have been lost in the slightest sound. 

I don’t. But I have faith. 

She brought one shaking hand to her throat where the delicate cross rested. “If you can have the strength to have faith, then I can have the strength to believe.” Scully bit her lower lip and pressed her eyes shut, willing the hot tears away. “I believe. I believe. I believe.” 

Her imaginary Mulder pulled her back down with him, keeping her enfolded between his arms, and rested his head beside her on the pillow. She imagined that it was him pulling the covers back over her, surrounding her in warmth and comfort and reassurance as she murmured the mantra, over and over as if willing it to be true. 

“I believe.” 

Eventually, Scully’s eyes fluttered shut and her breathing evened as she imagined feeling his heart beating strong and steady against her back and his free hand threading through her hair.