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Fire and Ice

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Doggett did not believe, not really.

He believed that there was a conspiracy within the government. He believed that there were truths that had been kept from the people. He even believed that there was a possibility that some unexplained paranormal phenomena existed - he had seen too much not to believe. But he did not believe in aliens. Not really.

Ever since the X-Files had been closed he had been on a quest to uncover the truth, but his truth was not Mulder's truth. The years he had spent working with Mulder had taught him to respect the man, taught him not to dismiss Mulder's ideas off-hand, but there was still a rift between them, a philosophical conflict that reared it's ugly head whenever they spent any length of time together without Scully or Reyes as a mediator.

And here he was now, standing in the middle of the arctic nowhere with Mulder as the only other person within hundreds of miles, looking for the aliens he didn't believe existed.

Doggett watched Mulder walk past him with a metal detector and a GPS, kicking the snow every few yards before continuing in an endless circle. At first he'd found the situation amusing, but with the day turning to night and the weather growing colder, he was becoming more and more irritated by Mulder's insistence to continue looking for the clearly non-existent ship.

"You sure we're in the right place?" He asked when Mulder passed him for the fourth time in thirty minutes, kicking the exact same snowdrift he had kicked the three times before. Mulder just shrugged, and continued scanning the snow.

"It should be here. According to the coordinates it should be right below us."

"Maybe your coordinates are wrong."

Mulder stopped his work and stared at Doggett without a word. Doggett stared back at him. Mulder was the first to blink and then with a little smirk and a small shake of his head he returned to his search, as if Doggett was the one being unreasonable.

"They're not wrong," he said with a nonchalance that annoyed Doggett even more. "I trust my source."

"Then where is your ship?" Doggett asked, irritation bleeding into his voice. "Just admit it, Mulder, this is like looking for a needle in a haystack."

Mulder stopped again, the GPS bleeping quietly in his gloved hands. "What is it with you, Doggett? Why is it so hard for you to believe?"

Doggett closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He was cold, he was hungry, and he could feel a headache building behind his right eye. The last thing he wanted to do was to explain himself to Mulder.

"I could ask the same thing. Why the hell can't you even consider the possibility that there are no aliens, that this whole thing is just an elaborate hoax to keep us from finding out what's really going on."

Mulder let out a disbelieving bark of laughter. "How can you say that? How can you say that after all you have seen?"

"What I have seen is lights in the sky and few blurry photographs. Nothing that would make me believe that somewhere out there in space there are intelligent creatures that would want to travel millions of years just to take over our government."

Mulder closed the distance between them, the metal detector letting out an electronic squeal as he stepped over the backpack lying on the snow. He glared at the device and tossed it in the snowbank.

"I died and came back. Isn't that enough evidence for you?"

"You're not the only one," Doggett replied, automatically.

If he hadn't been so angry he would have laughed. Here he was, in the middle of Antarctica with a man who had been committed to a mental hospital twice, arguing about which one of them had been more dead. He shook his head.

"Just forget it, Mulder. Keep looking for your ship, I don't care."

He started to walk towards the Sno-Cat, but had taken only a few steps when Mulder grabbed his shoulder and turned him around violently.

"Where the hell do you think you're going?"

Doggett pushed Mulder away with rather more force than was necessary and continued towards the Sno-Cat. He wasn't planning on leaving like Mulder seemed to think, he had only meant to go sit in the cabin in the hope that it might be warmer there, but he wasn't going to tell that to him.

"So why're you here?" Mulder shouted after him. "If the aliens don't exist, then why did you come with me? Don't say that you always wanted to see Antarctica."

Doggett said nothing. They both knew why he was there. He had gone with Mulder because of Scully had asked him to go. Holding his hand she had asked him to make sure that Mulder came back all right. How could he have said no?

"Why, Doggett?" Mulder called out again.

The wind was rising, lifting the powdery snow from the ground and turning it into icy needles. In the snowdrift, the metal detector was still squealing, but its sound was almost drowned by the howling of the wind. When Doggett reached the Sno-Cat he paused, his hand on the handle, and then turned around.

"You want to know why?" He shouted over the howl of the wind. "Because if the aliens exist, if men like Jeremiah Smith exist, if all this paranormal", he spat out the word like a curse, "exists, then Luke died for nothing. If all this you believe in, if it exists, then I didn't do everything I could have to save him."

He could see understanding dawning on Mulder's face, and turned away before it could turn into a look of pity. He was about to open the door to the Sno-cat's cabin, when he felt the first tremors in the ground underneath his feet; quiet at first, but quickly growing in strength.

He turned back to Mulder. "Earthquake?" he asked, even though he knew what the answer was going to be.

Mulder shook his head. He looked like was about to say something, when suddenly earth underneath them jumped and shifted, and he lost his balance, falling on his back in the snowdrift.

And then the ground split between them, revealing the edge of black metal rising rising through the cloud fos steam as the snow melted around it.

"Now do you believe?" He heard Mulder shout over the rumble, his voice sounding almost joyous.

Doggett stared at the sight in amazement, but even as he watched the spaceship burst through the ice like a mountain being born, even when the shockwave and the quaking earth drove him to his knees and the cracks in the ice raced past him as if trying to escape the ship, even then he could not believe. Not really.