Mulder squeezed Scully’s hand and faced the gray. “I believe you wanted to talk to us.”
The gray showed no obvious reaction. After a long moment Mulder ‘heard’ a voice in his head. “We were the original inhabitants of this planet.”
“Okay, so we’re related.”
Mulder felt disdain, with just a touch of horror. “You are mutations of us and therefore inferior.”
“So you were planning to feed off of us?”
There was no response to that. After a moment Mulder continued. “Apparently your plan didn’t quite work out the way you wanted. We ‘inferiors’ haven’t been wiped out and we don’t seem to taste good anymore, so why are we standing here?”
Quick thoughts seem to surround him; most he couldn’t catch, but the hatred of the children, that thought kept surfacing.
A smile grew on Mulder’s face, “Our children have mutated again, and now they’re superior to you, aren’t they? That’s what has your panties in a twist, isn’t it.”
The gray ignored that. The next thought Mulder received was succinct. “We need your assistance in clearing the atmosphere.”
“You want our help, after what you’ve done to us?” It would help a lot if he could read some kind of body language, but there were no clues. “So, what do we get out of it?”
There was a hesitation, even a slight tilt to the gray’s head. “We will leave the power on.”
“We have a . . . clean way to produce electricity. We will share the technology with you.”
Mulder shook his head. “Not enough. We want you gone.”
There was another long hesitation. “We are no longer capable of leaving the planet.”
Mulder looked over at Scully and saw that she was as startled by that information as he was. “We’re stuck with you?”
“We are long lived by your standards, but we no longer have the ability to reproduce. When we are gone, your planet will continue without us. Your future generations will continue to thrive.”
“What happened to the virus?”
“We were . . . betrayed.”
“Be-betrayed?” Mulder sputtered. “You were betrayed! How do you think we feel?”
“You were the cause of the betrayal, Fox Mulder. We are submitting ourselves to you by speaking with you now.”
That caused Mulder to go silent and he looked down at Scully, who was still holding his arm. She looked up at him and smiled and, and winked!
“We wish to inhabit the area of your planet near your equator. The temperature there is more compatible to our species.”
The gray tilted its head again, then focused back on Mulder. “Co-existence.”
“What about the people that live there?”
“Most of the humans that lived in your desert areas are . . . gone. We have been . . . concentrated in that area. We have already begun leaving your cities and moving to those areas. They were always considered inhospitable areas; we will not be a threat to you.”
Mulder looked down at Scully. She squeezed his hand but still didn’t speak.
He took a deep breath. “How can the children help you clear the atmosphere?”
Images flooded his mind again and he swayed under the onslaught. Only Scully’s arms kept him on his feet. She watched, feeling helpless for what felt like a very long time.
“We are through. Return to your home.” It started to turn from them, but Scully’s hand went up.
“Wait a minute. Where is Samantha?”
Mulder jerked, looking down at her. She was facing the gray, unflinching.
He stirred, stretching slightly and let a hand scrub at his eyes. He pulled Scully’s body closer to him. “Mulder, we’re not alone.” She pulled back slightly.
He opened one eye and saw Charlie watching them. He cuddled into Scully’s warmth. “I always thought your brother was a voyeur.”
He could feel Scully’s shaky chuckle against his body.
“Get up, Bro, you need to eat something.” Charlie reached for his hand and Mulder realized they were lying on a mattress in the main room, in front of the fire. The other hand that reached to help him up was Bill’s and he nodded in gratitude.
He felt surprisingly weak. The cup of broth shook slightly in his hand. He saw that Anne, Mary and Maggie were assisting Scully.
Walter squeezed Scully's shoulder and then took a seat beside Mulder. “Mulder, what happened?”
“We, we communicated with one of them.”
Walter nodded. “That’s what we thought was going on, but so long?”
“Long?” Mulder questioned him, looking over at Scully. She shook her head slightly. “How long?”
“You’ve been out of it for over twenty-four hours.”
“Twenty - “
Charlie and Bill nodded in agreement.
“The kids assured us that you were okay. We wouldn’t let them look any deeper because we assumed you were still in contact.”
“Maybe we were. I have no idea how long we actually communicated. Scully,” he turned back to her. “Are you okay?”
“I am. You?”
He smiled and nodded. He glanced toward the hall at the movement and saw Katy’s face light up. She raced toward him, immediately followed by the other children.
Katy jumped into his arms as Walt and Lexie threw their arms around Scully. “We did what you said, Daddy. We didn’t interfere.”
He squeezed her. “I know that and I appreciate it.” He looked around at the other kids and they approached then, hugging the two of them. “Wait, you’re all still here.”
“You thought any of us could leave with you guys unconscious?” Charlie said, his voice not quite steady.
“We are okay; aren’t we Walt?” Scully reassured him, giving Walt another hug before releasing him to go to this father.
“They’re both fine.” Walt looked Charlie in the eye as he spoke and the man nodded. The boy turned to MJ then. “Let them eat and rest a few minutes. You can get the information about the atmosphere after that.”
MJ nodded and grinned at Mulder.
“I can trust this guy in my head?” Mulder winked at Walt.
“We’ll keep an eye on him,” Walt responded with a grin. “Everyone wants to speak with you. Is that okay?”
“Sure,” Mulder said after giving Scully a visual check. The kids had all touched her. She was okay and he felt steady again himself.
The kids slipped off, back to the classroom, leaving only Chrissy, who was nursing under her blanket as Scully crooned to her.
The adults were a little more reserved than the kids, but not much. They held off on questions only when Walter motioned for them to leave it for now. Mulder looked around the room, seeing for the first time the makeshift beds and again felt the support of this community. They had literally been unable to leave Scully and him when they might be in trouble. He had no doubt of that.
When Chrissy was finished, Scully handed her to Mulder. He grinned at his youngest daughter and she smiled. He put her up on his shoulder and burped her then everyone moved over to the main area.
“Mulder, are you up to talking about it?”
“Yeah. I’m good.” He looked over at Scully.
“Me too.” She took a seat next to Mulder.
“Why don’t you tell us what happened here?” Mulder looked around the room, settling on Walter.
Walter nodded. “You went under instantly. We didn’t know what was happening. You were obviously in distress, rapid breathing, you looked like you were in pain. When you fell out of the chair, Scully rushed to your side. Then,” he took Maggie’s hand, “you were both just unconscious. We tried to revive you at first, but the kids said you were okay and to leave you alone.”
“We communicated with a gray. It didn’t speak but we could ‘hear’ it. After Scully got there we were able to speak with it. We were partially right; they do need help to bring back the sun. I can’t say that I remember what it told us, but I’m sure MJ can dig it out.” He reached for Scully’s hand. “The other part, that I didn’t see coming, is that we’re stuck with them. It said they no longer have the ability to leave the planet.”
The rumble of voices wasn’t loud, but the sentiment was.
“Can’t leave!” Todd and Charlie were the first, but everyone seemed to echo the words.
“They’ve offered to pay for our help with the atmosphere. They’ll leave the power on. They have a clean way to produce it. In exchange they want to move to the equator and live out their lives. Apparently they can’t reproduce anymore either, so they’re here until they die.”
“Or a rescue ship shows up!” Mulder wasn’t sure who had said that, but he turned in that direction.
“They’re not counting on one. They returned because we were mere mutations of them and not worth much more than consumables. But - " he grinned down at Scully, “the kids have evolved beyond them. They didn’t see that coming. It said they were ‘betrayed’. Imagine my lack of sympathy. Anyway, the ones left here have apparently been abandoned and the others have moved on. Think of us as trailer trash that got a break.”
The others fell silent for a long moment, in many cases with their mouths hanging open. Then Charlie began to laugh. Maybe it was the release of tension but others joined in, then more. Finally they were all laughing and hugging each other. The kids, hearing the sound, came running and took any available lap.
When things calmed down, Mulder looked down at Scully. “There was something else.”
Her brow furrowed. “Yes, there was, but I don’t . . . “ She shrugged and let it go. They’d remember more after they had more time to think about it.
They spent the afternoon visiting and resting. After dinner people began heading back to their homes to relight fires and make certain that no damage had been done while they were gone.
The smaller group staying at the clinic handled clean up, though Anne and Maggie protested Scully’s help. Things were quickly put right for the night and Mulder led Scully up to their room.
He watched her undress for bed and then pulled her to him so she wouldn’t get chilled. “What?” she tried to keep her voice and face serious but didn’t succeed.
He grinned at her. “You know exactly what when you flash me like that.”
She rolled her eyes, but cuddled into his warmth. “Mulder, I have a question.”
”What was he, it doing to you before I got there? I was watching you, you were in pain.”
His smile faded. “You saved me.”
“I didn’t do anything.”
He huffed at that. “Remember, you see the future. What you said to me just before, that helped me hang on until you could get there.”
“What I said?”
“About feeling secure in your love,” he nuzzled her throat.
“What did they do to you?”
He sighed. “They flooded me with memories. They started with the night Samantha was taken, and brought me back. They’d dug deep; the fights between my parents, Phoebe, Di - “ He stopped at the look on her face. “Sorry.”
“They brought up memories of Phoebe and Diana?”
“I told you they had to dig deep. The thing was, those memories didn’t cause any emotion in me. That wasn’t what they wanted.” He rolled to his back and she curled into his side.
“Then you were standing in front of me, down in that basement office, offering me your hand. After that they hit me with every time I’d put you in danger, or hurt you.”
“Mulder - “
“I knew you loved me, Scully. I know you love me.”
“What caused you to collapse?”
He winced at that. “Chrissy.”
“I know, but that image . . . it’s hard to shake.”
“I’m alive, Mulder and I love you.” His lips took hers then, and conversation was over. They made love most of the night.
Frohike and Beth brought the kids back the next afternoon. MJ and Mulder went into the classroom and took seats at one of the tables. Walt sat on one side of Mulder with Lexie on his other side. Katy and Ruthie sat on either side of MJ.
Mulder grinned uncertainly. “Looks like a lot of power to just check on the weather.”
MJ rolled his eyes. “We need to know what they put in there. Since you don’t remember it may be encapsulated. Don’t worry; I’m not going to hurt you.”
“I know. I was kidding. What do I do?”
“Just close your eyes. I’m going to take your hands.”
Mulder nodded, then glanced toward the door. Scully was standing there with a worried expression on her face.
“You can come in, Mom. You won’t be able to see anything, so it might be boring.”
“I don’t want to distract - “
“You always distract me,” Mulder winked at her, “but I’m used to it. Look how many cases we solved in spite of it.”
She rolled her eyes, but did come inside, taking a seat at the table.
“Okay, close your eyes now. You don’t have to think about anything, just relax.”
Mulder nodded and after a wink at Scully, complied.
It didn’t take long. Less than five minutes later, Mulder felt MJ squeeze his hands then release him. “That’s it?”
“Yep. We got it and I see where they’re going. We’ll all study it and see - "
“Can we help?” Mulder interrupted him. “The adults. Are we capable of assisting in whatever it is you’re going to try?”
MJ looked over at Katy. “I think so. Could we plan another gathering for tomorrow?”
“Yes,” Scully said quickly. “We need to know what to do.”
All of the kids nodded and Lexie gave her a hug.
“Uh, Mom, Dad, we need to concentrate for a few minutes, to share this with all the brothers and sisters,” Katy spoke quietly, as though distracted or already communicating.
“Don’t hurt yourself,” Mulder admonished, but rose from the table and took Scully’s hand. “Come on, we can get started on seeing what we need to feed the crew again.”
He led Scully from the room and shut the door. He stood there for a minute, his brow furrowing. “Mulder?”
“When have they needed us to leave in order to concentrate?”
“What do you mean?”
“I think there’s something else, something they don’t want us to know about.”
“Should we ask them?” Scully looked back at the room.
“Not yet. But there’s something . . . “ He shook his head. “Let’s see what kind of supplies we’ll need to get for tomorrow.”
After filling up on venison stew, everyone gravitated to the fireplace and found seats. The conversations petered out when MJ stood and moved in front of the fireplace.
“We can do this. It’s going to take some time. Remember, it is winter, because of the planet’s tilt it’s supposed to be cold, but if we all work on it, we should have some better weather shortly.”
“What do we do?” Mulder urged him on.
MJ looked over at Katy, but continued. “Think of a corkscrew, like you’re going to open a bottle of wine. Visualize that going up in the sky, like you’re poking tiny holes in the clouds. If you hit a spot that’s too thick, move to another place and try - "
“Too thick? How will we - “
“We think you’ll be able to feel it. If not immediately, then soon. We’ll be . . . poking our way through, disrupting the flow of the weather system. Like I said, it’s going to take some time. At the speed the systems are moving you might only have a few minutes with any one system. We’ll be trying to slow them down, so you can poke at them more.”
“But we’re just visualizing. We’re not really touching them,” Bill countered.
“You can do a lot of things with your mind you haven’t tried,” Katy said, looking her uncle squarely in the eye. “You have the same brains we do; we just use more of ours. If you exercise, you should be able to do most if not all of the things we do. You can practice right now, if you want.”
Mulder looked around the room. There were more skeptical looks than he expected, but this was new. He’d spent a lot of time thinking he couldn’t do what the kids said he was capable of doing.
“Let’s try it,” Mulder said to the room at large.
Todd and Charlie sat forward, looking at MJ. The boy faced them from his spot in front of the fireplace. “Just close your eyes. Think of the corkscrew going up. The sun’s up there; it’ll be nice to see it again.”
Greg and Megan let their eyes close, the others followed quickly. Mulder was the last. He saw the children slip into places beside the adults, then let his own eyes close.
The children watched and saw when Mulder and Scully broke through to the sunlight. Kevin was next, then the others one by one, ending with Maggie. They looked at each other then, beginning to smile.
“What we did, that will help?” Becky asked, taking Langly’s hand.
“You won’t be able to tell at first,” MJ responded. “Remember, it is winter and the holes you’re making are tiny, but we think eventually it will disrupt the fronts. You don’t have to sit and do this for hours at the time, but when you think about it, do it. After you’re used to it, it won’t take much time; maybe you could do it a couple of times before you fall asleep.”
They were all silent for a few minutes, then Mulder nodded. “I think we can all do that. Is there anything else we can do?”
“We’re going to try a few things ourselves. Once we know, we’ll show you how,” MJ agreed.
Mulder looked over at Scully. He still had that feeling that something wasn’t being said. She shook her head slightly, so he kept quiet for now. That didn’t mean he couldn’t try some of these things he was learning to try to find out.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.