Everyone ate well, laughing and visiting with each other; congratulating the stunned parents to be of the newest additions. Langly, of course, took the most ribbing, but he knew these people and took it well. Only Byers was quiet about the coming child. Anyone watching would have thought they hadn’t seen each other in years. The children circulated, but ended up sitting together at one of the tables.
Matt sat with them, Walt and Esther flanking him. He was more awake and actually smiled some. He was quiet as though listening to things the adults couldn’t hear.
With full stomachs, they eventually moved over closer to the fireplace and got comfortable. Charlie took Missy onto his lap and looked over at Mulder. “Much as I enjoyed the meal, Mulder, I’m pretty sure there’s another reason we’re here.”
Mulder looked around the room. He was holding Chrissy and Katy had taken up her spot beside Kevin. Esther was in George’s lap, Lexie in Alex’s. Charlie frowned at Mulder, waiting for him to say something. He was startled when Walter cleared his throat and rose.
“Charlie’s right, we asked you all here for a very important discussion. There’s been a development and we need everyone’s input.”
“Development?” Charlie asked. He was still looking at Mulder, but the man didn’t meet his eyes. That made Charlie very uncomfortable, but he waited.
Walter hesitated for an instant then took a deep breath. “We’ve been contacted by the aliens.”
The hubbub that broke out was expected and Walter let it go for a couple of minutes before raising his hands, bringing things back under some sort of control. “I know that’s not what anyone expected or wanted, but it’s happened and we need to make some decisions.”
“What about the blackout area?” Frohike spoke over him.
“It’s still intact. They contacted one of the children in Arizona who lives alone. She doesn’t have a blackout area.”
“What, what do they want?” Beth groped for Frohike’s hand.
“We don’t know exactly. We’re speculating that it’s about the nuclear winter. They don’t do well in cold weather. All we do know for sure is that they’re asking for our help.”
That caused another outburst and Walter let it ride for a little while. Finally it began to die out and Charlie looked between the two men. “We don’t know that’s what they want. They could be using this to try to get to us again, like when Bill arrived.”
A couple of people couldn’t help but glance at the larger man. He continued studying his hands, making no move to meet their eyes.
Mulder had remained silent, listening to the outrage and the discussion that was slowly emerging. He was aware others were glancing at him, waiting for him to speak. Hell, some of them probably thought he knew what was happening. He understood that Scully had given him Chrissy to hold much the way Walter had sent Lexie to calm down Alex that first night. He was calm, mostly, but how could he just accept what they were planning. His children would have to lead this. The others would be there and would help, but Katy, Walt, Lexie and Chrissy were acknowledged as the strongest. They would bear the brunt of whatever happened.
He made his decision.
“No.” Walter looked over at Mulder, startled. Mulder continued, “Not the kids. If we have to be in touch, I’ll do it.”
“Mulder - “ Scully started, but he took her hand, still facing Walter.
“I can’t risk the kids.” He looked over at Katy. “You keep telling us that your mother and I can do everything you guys can do. It’s time I tested that theory.”
Scully’s face looked stricken but she kept silent. Charlie sat forward, “Mulder, you’re good at what you can do, but they’ve used you before. Don’t you think - “
“Tell Wendy she’ll be working through me. Protect her but stay out of the way.” Mulder looked directly at Katy, ignoring Charlie.
“Dad - “
“No argument, Precious.”
Kevin’s arm tightened around her and after a moment she nodded. “That goes for all of you.” Mulder looked around at the kids.
The children looked at each other for a long moment.
“This is not negotiable, kids. I won’t put you in danger.”
“We could shield you,” Katy said.
“I can’t be shielded when I’m doing this. Come on, you guys keep telling me I can do anything you can do. It’s time I proved it.”
Katy opened her mouth once more, but her father’s look stopped her.
No one spoke for what felt like a long time.
“Well, I - " he began, but this time Scully interrupted him.
“Mulder, we both know I’m your weak point.”
He blinked at that. “What are you talking about?”
“You know that every time they want to hurt you, go after you, they use me. I am your greatest weakness.”
“But you’re also my greatest strength, Scully.”
She gave him a tremulous smile at that. “Before you do this, I need you to think about something.”
He nodded, waiting.
“Do you have any doubt, even the tiniest reason to doubt how much I love you?”
A smile grew on his face then. “No, no I don’t doubt that at all.”
“Do you have doubts about the family you and I have given each other?” She looked over at their children.
“No.” He met her eyes without hesitation.
“What about this larger family we’ve grown, this community. Do you doubt that they support you and want to help you in any way they can?”
His eyes seemed to go to Bill involuntarily. Bill met Mulder’s eyes and he gave him a short nod. Mulder seemed to relax. “No, I have no doubt about anyone that lives here.”
“Then I need you to remember that. If you’re going to do this, face them, you need us, all of us, to back you up, Mulder.”
He saw Walter nod at him, then Charlie and Todd. He realized that they were all watching him, giving him their support. He swallowed hard. “Th-thanks, guys.”
“How do you want to handle this?” Walter asked quietly.
“Uh, wait, are we talking about doing this right now?” Charlie’s head came up.
“Yeah. We’re all here. They’ve come to us, asked for us. I say we do it,” Mulder said, looking around the room.
Charlie looked over at Todd, then Walter. “What, what do we do?”
Instead of answering, Walter looked over at Katy.
“We can get you through the blackout,” she said quietly.
“Can you stay back after that?” Mulder pressed.
“Daddy, we - “
“Can you stay back?”
“Okay. Make sure you do, I want your promise. Just get me past whatever keeps them out of here.”
All of the children nodded solemnly.
“Mulder - “ Scully started, but he placed Chrissy in her arms, as his lips cut her off. He took a seat in the overstuffed chair that Anne vacated for him and got comfortable.
Almost instantly he found himself standing in a . . . a portal, a door, whatever you wanted to call it. It was rounded and looked somehow both metallic and organic.
He knew, in some part of his mind, that his body was still sitting in the clinic, surrounded by his family, but he was also here - wherever here was.
A being, a ‘gray’ stepped into his line of sight and he felt himself propelled backward, not physically, but in time.
It was that night, the night that changes his life.
Was this how they were going to play it? Was this an attack of some kind?
He is on his knees hovering over his father’s gun. Samantha is screaming his name and he hears his younger voice cry out her name as well. It hurts, this memory always will, but he is a different person now. It is almost . . . nostalgic. He has children of his own now, he can forgive his twelve year old self for being unable to stand up to them.
The scene dissolves and he is older.
His parents are screaming at each other, not knowing, or not caring that he can hear every word. The hatred and bitterness that flows from his mother seems to bounce off of his father and find him, hiding in the hallway. She doesn’t say the words, but he knows she wishes that he was the one that had disappeared, not Samantha. He has never told her that he agrees. At least he has learned what constitutes a bad parent, he can screw up his own kids in his way rather than theirs. He pushes the memory aside.
He watches Phoebe turn to look at him from her bed. The blond man there with her doesn’t stop caressing her nude body as she just looks at him. It is as though she is appraising his reaction.
Damn that had hurt at the time, now he wants to laugh at his adolescent ‘crush’ on this wrong woman. What a mistake she had been. There is no pain associated with this memory any more.
Diana is in front of him, yelling at him for flushing his career down the drain without regard for her or her feelings. She turns and stalks out of the office he has created from the small storage room in the basement. He’s upset that she’s walked out, not because she was leaving him as much as what he will do about a having an officially sanctioned partner.
He can admit to himself now that part of him is glad to see her go. He should never have trusted her even as much as he had. She had wanted more of him than he had wanted to give and he would always wonder a little what she had taken away.
It shifts again but he is still in that office. He hears himself “. . . most unwanted.” He turns and she is there. Even now his heart rate increases at the sight of that lovely, young, naïve woman who is trying so hard to look poised and self-assured. His first sight of her has given him no clue as to what is ahead. He would never in a million years have been able to foresee what this woman would become to him.
“Damn it, answer!” He tosses his cell phone aside and presses harder on the accelerator. Tooms had taken her necklace, she is in danger.
Oh God, where was this going? He felt his heart rate increase again, this time in fear and anticipation. What were they going to show him now?
He blinks and she is pointing a gun on him as he holds one on her. “You might not be who you are!”
Blink again and he is standing in front of a group of agents and he knows she is missing, that somehow Jack has her. “. . . this one’s important to me.” What an understatement that is, even this early in their relationship.
She is flying backward through the air - shot in the chest. He has allowed her to be a target of Barnett? What is he think-
He is standing over her as she lies in a hospital bed. She is unconscious and pale and it is his fault. He is also a patient, wheeling a canister of oxygen beside him, “ . . . a nice trip to the forest.”
“Mulder! I need your help!” His heart stops as he listens to her voice on his machine. She’d helped him, against orders, and Duane Barry has found her -
Now he is identifying her picture. She is in the trunk of the car, bound and gagged. He is helpless.
The fear was growing in him, even knowing this is the past.
Tombstone? Maggie has bought a tombstone? God!
She is dying, they have removed life support and he is losing her.
His breath was shallow. He was obviously in distress but what should they do? Maggie put her arm around her daughter and held her.
Now he is in a dark cellar, some idiot explaining his Satanic religion as the cell phone rings. “I’m in trouble - "
He is walking carefully through a dark field, she is being held down as a man raises an axe over her neck -
Things were coming at him faster and faster.
He is holding a gun on her, struggling not to pull the trigger as he watches a single tear run down her face.
“State highway patrolman found the body off a rural highway at 2:00 P.M. Nude, shot in the forehead.” With a less than steady hand he reaches for the blinds.
His heart seems to stop as he looks at the horrifying photograph in his hand, then he is racing down the street after the van. “Scully!”
How long could this go on?
Again at a distance when she needs him. He can hear her fighting and hear her words. “Not everything is about you, Mulder. This is my life.”
He is moving down the hall, gaining speed as he goes. Oncology. He is frozen with fear. “I, I don’t accept that.”
His foot connects with the door of her apartment and the barrier flies open to see her, sitting here, ready to accept a kiss - from him?
He is ignoring Skinner as he rushes to her room, “I’m only half dead.” The other half nearly follows as he grasps his knees to try to remain upright at the sight of her in that bed.
He moves away from her at her request, leaving her alone with her dying daughter; his heart breaking for the pain she is in.
He was unable to get his breath now.
She has shot herself in the head - dead, she is dead and he couldn’t -
There wasn’t even time to blink now; he was struggling to stay on his feet as the gray watches impassively.
She isn’t breathing. She is suspended in that, that fluid and the tube down her throat is incubating the -
She is unconscious, suspended in the icy water, dying of the virus that has killed off most of the human race.
He freezes as he hears her scream his name. She is in agony, giving birth alone. Oh God!
He bursts into the room to see Ian, his body holding her down as she struggles to escape him.
He stumbled, reaching out to find some support. How many times could he allow this woman to be . . .
She is dead. The child’s birth has killed her, his child has -
He fell to his knees, broken.
Pain etched his face and he doubled over. Walt moved toward him automatically and even though his eyes were closed, Mulder’s hand came up to stop him. “No.” His voice was harsh and breathless, but Walt did stop. The others looked on horrified as Mulder crumpled and fell out of the chair.
Scully thrust Chrissy into Maggie’s arms and knelt beside him. She let her hands caress his arms and she quietly murmured her love to him.
He feels a hand on his arm and strength seems to flow into him. He opens his eyes and sees her beside him. He draws a deep breath, staring into her eyes and rises to his feet again. He draws Scully up beside him and realizes she is nude. He glances down and realizes he is nude as well.
The gray moves closer to them. Its face showing no emotion, it is incapable of showing emotion, but waves of fury seem to be coming off of it. Mulder’s fingers lace with Scully’s and they face it together.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.