After the Future - XLI
He kissed her neck, then rolled over himself, his back to her. “Good night, Scully.”
She drew back as though slapped. Unsure what to say, she made herself as comfortable as possible without his arms around her. Eventually exhaustion pulled her under.
As soon as he knew she was asleep, he slipped carefully from the bed and returned to the living room.
Chrissy woke her and she rolled over. Mulder wasn’t in the bed. She glanced at the door leading to the living room, but it was closed. With a sigh, she rose and gathered Chrissy against her.
Once the baby was fed, she turned toward the living room herself. She was aware that some of her courage came from Chrissy, but accepted it and moved on.
Mulder was sleeping on the couch, but it obviously wasn’t restful. Even as she watched, he jerked forward, tears streaking down his face.
“Mulder? Mulder, it’s okay. It’s just a dream.” She reached for him as he woke. He drew back, then sat up. She took a seat beside him and he seemed to shrink from her even more.
“Why, why are you up?” He managed to ask her.
“I fed Chrissy. You weren’t there.”
“I didn’t want to disturb you.”
“Then you need to be in my bed. I’m always disturbed if you’re not beside me.”
He wouldn’t meet her eyes. She knew he forced himself not to pull away when she took his hand.
“The reason you don’t want to make love to me, it’s - “
“It’s true. The nightmares - “ She stopped at his shudder. “You see me dead, don’t you?”
“Scully!” He jerked his hand away then but couldn’t leave the couch.
“It didn’t happen. I’m fine, so is Chrissy.”
“I don’t want to talk about - “
“Bill is the reason for the nightmares. The kids told me. It’s part of his ‘red-ness’. His anger is so pervasive that it sinks into you. When you’re awake you’re okay, but when you’re asleep . . . “
His eyes were narrowed, “I don’t - “
“Believe me, Mulder. “
“No. It’s . . . “
“Mulder, don’t you understand? We can . . . we can make love.”
“Scully, I’m not going to risk getting you pregnant again.” He stated flatly and turned away from her. “We went for a long time without having sex. We can . . . “
Her mouth fell open. He wasn’t serious, he couldn’t be. She watched mutely as he rose from the couch and headed for the kitchen. When he didn’t return, standing by the sink and refusing to face her, she finally rose.
“Mulder, we’ve already talked about this.”
“And we reached no agreement.” He met her eyes for a moment.
“Why do my pregnancies frighten you so?” She looked up at him, her eyes full of compassion.
He looked away, still unable to face her. “Scully, you know - “
“No, I don’t. We have four beautiful children.”
“We should have gotten them all like we did Lexie.” He muttered.
“You want me to start sleeping with Alex?”
His head shot up, outrage in his face.
“Finally. You’re looking at me.” She said dryly.
“Scully - “
“No. You have to talk to me. The kids are fine, I’m fine. What is it?”
“I’ve told you. You nearly died after Katy was born. You gave birth to Walt all alone. And, and Chrissy . . . “ He shuddered.
“Katy’s birth had nothing to do with my illness. That was the virus.”
“But why did you get it then?”
“I got run down when Katy was missing. You know that. That’s when I got the virus, after she was returned. If we hadn’t had her, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten the virus, but we also wouldn’t have the vaccine that has done so much for us.” She moved closer and he didn’t retreat. “As for Walt, yes, I was alone. But you were there within seconds. You got us help. And you saved us both when Chrissy was born.”
“Walt - “
“Walt helped you. He gave you the knowledge you needed. Give me your hand.” Surprised, he reached for her. She drew a line around his palm with her finger. “Walt’s hand is about this big, right?”
He nodded and drew a deep breath.
“Scully, I put you in danger every time. I watched Kelly die in childbirth.”
“We didn’t have Walt to help us there. Mulder, he fixed a full blown heart attack for Walter. I’m not going to get hyper-tension during pregnancy. Or, is that really it?”
“Is this some kind of . . . excuse? After what you witnessed do you not . . .”
His eyes widened. “No. I want you, you know I do.”
“It’s a little hard to believe right now.” She looked away then and her shoulders sank as she turned away.
Frightened he reached out and took hold of her arm. “Will, will the nightmares go away now that they’re helping Bill?”
“I don’t know.” She sounded tired.
He swallowed hard. “I, I’ll come back to bed.”
She shrugged and pulled her arm free. “Don’t do me any favors. I need to get some sleep before Chrissy gets hungry again.”
Mutely he followed her into the bedroom. She climbed into her side and turned her back to him as she had before. He lay stiffly beside her, watching her breathe. He could tell she wasn’t sleeping.
“Did you know that your mother has the same problem I have?”
Without thinking she turned to look at him, then hesitated.
“She’s afraid to be with Walter.” He continued. “She’s afraid she’ll kill him. Walter said something to me. He asked me not to say anything.”
“But you thought it might help your case?”
“It shows I’m not the only one that fears losing half of himself, or herself.”
Scully sighed. “Mulder, I don’t want to fight with you.” His hand reached out involuntarily. “But, I have to know you trust me.”
“I’m not leaving you.” She turned her back to him again and finally slept. He lay beside her, awake, the rest of the night.
Fuzzy was too mild a description for Bill the next day. He was barely functional. Charlie roused him and ended up having to help him dress. Once he was escorted downstairs, he fed himself but seemed unable to keep his attention on anything.
Everyone had heard of Chrissy’s treatment by morning and were watching him. He didn’t notice.
Mary approached Mulder and Scully. “Is he okay? I mean, he looks dazed.”
“He is. And he’s probably not able to process everything Chrissy stirred up - yet. That’s why Katy wants him to spend time with Chrissy today, little bits at a time.”
“So what are you going to do?” Mulder eyed the large man, sitting passively now that his plate was empty.
“We’ll find some comfortable place and let him hold the baby. I was thinking about my office, but I’d rather he sit in one of the overstuffed chairs in his state.”
“Maybe I should stay.”
She shook her head. “I don’t think we have anything to worry about. The kids are around . . . “ She glanced around the room, until he took her hand.
“You know I love you, Sully?”
“We need to talk. Maybe this evening . . . “ She wouldn’t meet his eyes.
He pulled her away from the table and loomed over her. “You know how much I love you.”
She managed a small smile and nod. “Go on to work. This isn’t the place.” She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and squeezed his hand, then moved away.
His first inclination was to grab her back to him, but she was right. This wasn’t the place. He needed to give her some space. After she walked away, he looked around the room. No one seemed to have noticed them. He spotted Walter and Todd at the door and joined them.
“Mulder, help me reassure Todd here.” Walter motioned him over.
Todd sighed, “I know Bill looks harmless right now, but Anne’s pregnant and Scully just gave birth. She and Scully and Maggie are the only adults scheduled to be here today.”
“I didn’t realize that.” Mulder looked around the room. “But Chrissy held him when I was alone with him. I really think . . . Hey, if you’d like to stay here, I understand.”
Todd sighed, “No, there’s a lot to do. You’re right, the kids . . . “
“We’ll all check in at lunch.” Walter put his hand on the younger man’s shoulder.
“I better get going. I drew livestock today. Apparently we’re friends.” Todd grinned ruefully and nodded to the other two as he left.
Mulder took a step after him, but Walter’s hand stopped him. “What’s wrong?”
“Like hell.” Walter spoke low, but forcefully. “You found out something after we left?”
“No. I . . .” Walter was staring at him and looked ready to challenge that, but others were moving toward them and Mulder used that as an excuse to move away.
Mulder led the pack to the clinic at lunch time. His need to see Scully overwhelming his curiosity about Bill.
Bill was asleep on the couch. Even the tumult of everyone arriving for lunch didn’t rouse him. Walter and Mulder immediately searched out Scully.
“How did it go?” It was Walter that asked.
“Well, I can’t tell what’s going on exactly. Bill holds Chrissy for an hour or so, then when she needs to be fed or naps, he falls asleep too. He hasn’t spoken.” She glanced over at her brother, sleeping peacefully on the couch.
“Okay.” Walter nodded. “Has Walt been with him?”
“He was at first, they’re all taking turns with him, except Malcolm. I didn’t think he was mobile enough.” She gave Walter a slight smile, but didn’t directly address Mulder.
Walter started to turn away, when Katy joined them. “He is better.” She offered. “You can’t really see it. We’ve turned off all of his implants.”
Mulder and Scully both jerked at that. “He has implants?” Mulder asked quickly.
“Don’t worry. They haven’t worked since he got close to us.”
“Ho-how many?” Scully finally asked.
“Three. Chrissy has control of the ones that made him mad all the time. The other one was just to track him. We can take them out.”
“No.” Scully said quickly.
“It’s okay. He won’t get sick. We could take yours out too, you know.”
“No!” That was Mulder.
Katy turned to look up at him. He was aware that just about everyone else was too. “Walt fixed it a long time ago. She won’t get cancer again.”
The shiver that the word alone caused Mulder brought tears to Scully’s eyes, but she kept quiet.
“Mulder, let’s get some lunch.” Walter touched the younger man’s arm.
Mulder jumped, but then nodded and turned toward the tables. Walter looked over at Scully, wanting to question her, but she turned away.
After the clinic was quiet again, Scully moved into the kitchen to help her mother with clean up. Anne was with the youngest kids in the classroom. Bill was still asleep on the couch.
She took up her place beside her mother and picked up the dish cloth. She was staring at the water.
“Uh, Mom, I uh . . . you know that Walter is okay, don’t you?”
“Yes, I know Walt took good care of him. Why? Is something . . . “ Maggie turned toward her daughter, her full attention on her now.
Scully nodded, “So you know there’s nothing he can’t do.”
“Dana, what are you talking about?” She fixed her daughter with her patented ‘Mom’ stare, and saw her blush.
“In the bedroom, Mom.”
“Oh.” Maggie could feel her own face heat up. “Did, did he say anything?”
“No. I haven’t spoken to him about this.”
Maggie seemed to deflate slightly. “I . . . ever since Walter’s heart attack, I’ve seemed to have so much energy.” She was studied her hands for a moment, then looked up and faced Dana squarely. “I was afraid I’d hurt him.”
Scully blinked, then began to smile. “Walt did that. He, he fixed up everyone. Almost everyone.”
After another sleepless night, Mulder left the house early. He wanted to talk to Scully, but he wasn’t ready. Mulder headed for the office. Walter watched him disappear inside, and made his decision.
Shortly he opened the door to the office he shared with Mulder and wordlessly handed him a glass.
Mulder looked up startled. “Beer? You know I don’t drink, much less for breakfast.”
“Have one anyway. Then talk to me.”
“I told you - “
“You told me nothing was wrong. We both know that’s bullshit. If you don’t want to talk to ‘AD Skinner’, how about 'Dad’?”
Mulder gave a snort, but wouldn’t meet his eyes.
“Come on, Mulder. I’ve known you the longest up here. And I know that expression. Hell, in the old world I saw it all the time. I called it your ‘I’ve got to get Scully in bed someday’ look - “
Mulder’s startled expression stopped him. “You know we never - “
“Yeah, I’m still reeling from that information. So talk to me. I know that’s not what I’m seeing now.”
Mulder studied his hands, not responding.
“Mulder, that’s not what I’m seeing, right? I mean, the woman just gave birth.”
“No! Look this is not really - “
They both stopped as the door opened. They watched in silence as Walt shut the door behind him, then took the chair beside Walter.
“Is something wrong?” Mulder started to rise.
“No. I thought you might want to talk.”
“Talk?” He glanced over at Walter.
“About Mom’s health.”
Mulder jerked then, “Her, her health? Is something - “
“Mom’s fine. She’s in excellent health. We really could take out the chip and the two of you could be together at night again.”
Walter’s head shot up. “Uh, maybe I should - “
“It’s okay, Granddad.”
“Really, I should go check on Bill.”
“He’s sleeping, but he’s more alert.” Walt offered.
"I need to get to work." Mulder rose abruptly, avoiding looking at either of the two in front of him. Walt said nothing, but managed to brush his hand against his father's on the man's way out. Mulder's pace did slow slightly, but he didn't stop.
Walter looked over at his grandson from his seat beside him. "I think we need to talk."
After Mulder and family left the clinic that night, Walter took a deep breath and turned to Charlie. “May I talk to you in the classroom? I think we need Mary, Beth, Todd and Kevin. Spouses are welcome.”
“Is something wrong?”
“We need to talk.”
Charlie’s brow furrowed, but he nodded and went to round the others up, discreetly. Frohike and Beth arrived first and started to ask what was up, but Walter held up a finger, forestalling them.
Curious they stood in front of the map, fingering the newest pins. The others filtered in and exchanged looks.
“What’s going on, Walter?” Frohike asked quietly.
“I’m not trying to exclude anyone.” Walter looked at the people in front of him, “but I don’t want to alarm everyone either.” He took a deep breath. “I spoke with Walt.” Walter looked at each of them, “We have a problem. They’ve figured out a way to infiltrate us.”
Charlie looked stricken. “Bill.” Mary took hold of his arm.
“Not exactly, though he’s involved. They’ve infiltrated Mulder.”
Beth’s face went ashen and she sank into the chair. Frohike’s hand squeezed her shoulder.
“But he’s the strongest of us.” Todd’s voice was steady with effort, his arm went around Anne.
“He has a weakness.”
“Scully.” Beth said quietly.
“He’s suffered from nightmares for years, since Samantha was taken. He coped, but barely. When he was a profiler, I was amazed that he didn’t crack up. From what he’s said and I’ve observed, they finally started going away after they got together. They returned when Scully got sick and when Walt was born. See a pattern?” Walter asked quietly.
Frohike nodded, “When Scully’s in danger. What else is new?”
“These were triggered by Chrissy’s birth, but I believe they’ve been used.”
“Used?” Kevin asked slowly.
“Something Walt said,” Walter sighed, “About Bill. They’ve managed, through Bill’s ‘red-ness’, to turn his fear of losing her into a phobia. He’s unable to sleep because of the nightmares. Nightmares of Scully dying in childbirth.” Frohike and Charlie winced.
“Last time he didn’t sleep, he got violent as I recall.” Frohike looked up at Walter.
“The kids are keeping the physical poisons out of his system, but they can’t . . . only Scully can heal Mulder and visa versa.”
“And they can’t be together because he’s terrified.” Charlie shook his head and sank down next to Beth.
“Basically, yeah.” Walter took a deep breath.
“Does Scully know?” Frohike took the seat on the other side of Beth.
“Yes, but not the extent. She even knows that Bill is the start of it, but she doesn’t understand how far it’s gotten, or why he won’t let her help him.”
“You’re going to have to tell her.” Charlie said quickly.
“Me?” Walter looked startled. “You’re her brother.”
“You want her little brother to tell her she has to seduce her husband, get him past this . . . this ‘inability’.” Charlie countered. “You were their boss, they respect you. Hell, you’re married to our Mom. She’s going to listen to you before anyone else.”
“He’s right, Walter.” Frohike sighed. “If only Scully can heal Mulder, we need to get on it.”
“Jesus.” Walter ran a hand over his bald pate.
“Walter, do you want me to come with you?” Beth volunteered.
“Thanks. Let’s . . . let’s give him one more night. See if Scully can . . . Damn.”
“It’s okay, Walter. Go home to Maggie. You’re right; this doesn’t have to be done tonight.” Beth put her arms around him and held him for a moment. “We’ll have to trust the kids to keep 'them' away.”
Walter entered the clinic. He’d gotten little sleep last night and felt less ready to face Scully about this than ever. He ducked into the kitchen and spotted Brittany and Marie fixing breakfast. “Morning. Have you seen Scully?”
“No, but I think she’s here. I saw Lexie and Walt headed for the classroom.” Brittany looked up from the stove.
“Okay, thanks.” He turned toward her office, wanting to catch her alone if possible. The door was closed, so he tapped and opened it. “Scully?”
She had her back to him, he couldn’t see her face. “Now isn’t a good time, Walter.”
“I’m sorry, but we have to talk. Where’s Mulder?”
“He went for an especially long run this morning.”
His heart sank as she turned finally and he saw her red eyes. “Scully.” He moved to her and held her for a moment.
When she moved away from him, he took her hand and led her to the small sofa. “We have to talk.”
She was calm again, concerned, but the initial panic at the gravity of the situation had subsided. He opened the door for her and followed her into the hall. “Don’t worry. We will help him.”
She turned and looked up at him. “I know. It’s frightening to see their power. I think we’re gaining on them, and then - “
“We are gaining. Look at the map.” He squeezed her hand.
She nodded and put her arms around him for a quick hug. That was when Mulder entered from the side door, looking for her, an apology on his lips. He froze at the sight of her in Walter’s arms.
She looked up and spotted him. “Mulder.”
He didn’t respond, turning on his heel and leaving the building.
“Shit.” She murmured as she hurried after him, leaving Walter in the hall. She had to run to catch him. He was already on the path to the lake before she reached him. He didn’t respond to her calls.
Finally in desperation, she body checked him into a tree. The breath whooshed from him and he looked down stunned. She was panting from her race to catch up with him. He noted her breasts heaving but it only angered him.
“I guess I underestimated how horny you were.” He literally saw stars before he realized her hand had made contact with his face. He saw the wince she tried to hide.
“At least now I know that Walter's right.”
“What does that mean?”
“You’re not who you are.” She said sadly.
His eyes widened. The last time she’d said that to him, she’d been holding a gun on him. They had been so new, barely partners, much less friends. But she had trusted him, protected him. Now she was holding his life for him.
“I told you this before, but you have to listen to me, Mulder. The nightmares were enhanced by Bill. Mulder, he lived with them. They used him and they somehow . . . Mulder, you’ve been infiltrated by ‘them’. Do you hear me? Can you hear me?” She looked up at him, her eyes wet and pleading. “I’m not going to die on you. And every time we make love, I’m not going to get pregnant. We can be careful. My age is against us getting pregnant again anyway.”
She saw that his hands were shaking just listening to her. “Stay with me, Mulder. Don’t let them win.”
“The, the kids . . . can’t they . . .”
She wanted to cry. She hadn’t seen him struggle this hard since Modell had forced him to point that gun at her. “They have helped. You’re still functioning, Mulder. Walt told Walter it’s a full blown phobia now.”
“I need . . . I need some time.” He was breathing as though he’d been running. She reached out to touch him and he flinched away.
Scully turned as she heard someone approaching. Mulder didn't seem aware.
"Uh, hi. You guys need anything?" Kevin stopped well back from them. He gave Mulder the once over. "Scully, why don't you go get Walt. I'll stay here with Mulder."
"I should stay here with - "
"I think you should go get Walt. We'll be okay, right Mulder?" Kevin moved closer and nodded reassurance at Scully. She still hesitated, but Mulder was starting to tremble now. Kevin put his hand on her shoulder and turned her toward the clinic. Both heard the low growl from Mulder.
"We'll be fine." Kevin didn't take his eyes from Mulder. Katy had been right to send him. Scully was already running down the path.
Mulder sank down into a squat, his back against the tree. Kevin sat beside him. "Is it true you're an Oxford trained psychologist?" He said conversationally.
"Why, don't I look it?" Mulder managed to quip, tucking his hands in his armpits to still their shaking.
"Well, you know I didn't graduate high school; it was called on accounta Armageddon." He grinned slightly. "But to me it looks like maybe you need some help. It always seems like you forget that Scully is the best cure for you. Whenever you think anything else, maybe you should wonder if someone's playing you."
Mulder cut his eyes to look at him, but didn't speak. In a very short time they could hear others approaching. Scully appeared with Walt and Esther. The children each took a hand as Kevin helped him to his feet. Mulder looked at the ground, unable to face Scully. Kevin saw the tear that escaped her eye before she brushed it away. They walked silently back to the clinic.