Before Them (PG-13)

Before Them


Before Them - Part 1



He stood outside of her apartment, concerned but not yet frightened.  Her car was parked outside; she was here just running late, right?  But she hadn’t run late, not like this, not in a long time.  Okay, maybe he was a little oversensitive about her, but how many times had she been taken from him?  Something wasn’t right though, he didn’t even remember driving to work this morning.  He shook his head; he hadn’t been drinking, this wasn’t a hangover but there was something just out of his grasp.


Instead of knocking he put his key in the door and opened it quietly.  Well, it didn’t look like there had been a disturbance.  There was little light, the blinds were drawn.  Okay that was unusual, she liked her light, but . . . that chair was slightly out of place.  It didn’t look like it was . . . maybe she had just rearranged slightly.


The bedroom door was closed and he felt just a touch of fear.  What was on the other side?  He approached it carefully, drawing his gun from the holster at his back.  He would wonder about that action later.


The room was dark, but he could see her in the bed, asleep facing the door.  “Scully?”


She jerked awake but his eyes were drawn to the figure of the man that sat up beside her.  “What the hell?  Who are you?  What are you - “ Mulder raised the gun, aiming at the center mass of the babbling man in the bed.


“Don’t shoot us.  Please, please just take - “ Scully’s voice trailed off.


Mulder looked down at his hand, his gun.  He finally found his voice.  “Who the hell are you?”  Outrage colored Mulder’s voice as he stared in shock at the man in bed with Scully.


The strange man stared back at him for a moment, then reached for the phone.  “I’m calling 911.”


“You do that,” Mulder growled at him.  “Scully, get over here.”


“Wait, both of you.  What, what’s going on?  Please, are you going to kill us?”


“What?  No!  Scully, who is he?”


She looked at him curiously.  “I’d feel better if you’d put the gun away.”


Mulder looked back down at his gun, obviously torn.  Slowly he put the gun in the holster at his back.  “Okay, come over here.  Get away from him, Scully.”


Instead of moving toward him, she pulled back into the strange man’s arms.  “Tell us what’s going on.”  She didn’t understand the look of pain on Mulder’s face.




“Who are you?  Why are you calling me Scully?”


“I’ve always called you Scully.”




“Stop talking to him, Dana.”


“You shut up!” Mulder growled at the man.


“Stop it, please, both of you.  I don’t know what’s going on, but I don’t want anyone to get hurt.  Please.”


“Scully, who is he?”


His voice, he, he sounded betrayed somehow.  What was going on?  For some reason she didn’t feel as though her life was in danger now.  She looked back at her companion, “Ethan, I need to talk to him.”


Mulder’s eyes widened in shock.  Ethan?  She was in bed with Ethan?  He’d never met the man.  They had separated about the same time she had joined him on the X-Files. 


“You are not!  Some guy breaks into our home, holds us at gunpoint and you want to talk to him?”


“We have to find out what’s going on.  He put his gun away.”  Now it was Ethan that looked outraged.




Torn, she looked between the two men again.  “Please, Ethan.”  She slowly rose and picked up the robe laid across the foot of the bed.  She slipped it on and belted it.  “Who are you?”


He looked pained and after a moment shook his head.  “Scully, you don’t know me?”


She shook her head. Was she kidding?  Giving him some sort of signal?  He carefully reached into the inside pocket of what looked like a very expensive suit.  Ethan tensed, but he only withdrew a black wallet.  Mulder opened it, silently showing her his shield.


“FBI?  Fox?”


“You call me Mulder.”


She looked up quickly.  “I . . . we know each other?”


“Yes, dammit!  What the fuck is going on here?”


“That’s what I’d like to know,” Ethan muttered.


“Shut up!”


Scully raised her hands to both of them, trying to keep them both calm.  “Mu-Mulder?  Will you let us get dressed, then we can talk.  Okay?”


After a moment Mulder nodded, then glaring at Ethan let himself out of the bedroom.  Scully sat heavily on the bed, her hands shaking.  Ethan’s arm went around her and she jumped. 


“I’m going to call 911.”


“Wait.  I don’t know what’s going on, but I don’t think he’s going to hurt us.”


“Maybe not you.  I think he’d tear me limb from limb if had his hands on me.”


She couldn’t dispute that.  His looks at Ethan had been murderous.  “Get dressed, put the phone in your pocket, but let’s try to find out what’s going on.”  She rose again and hurried into her closet to dress.  Ethan picked up yesterday’s clothes and started dressing.


She was ready first and reached for the doorknob.  “Wait!” Ethan whispered.  “Don’t go out there without me.”


She hesitated at his words.  He was absolutely right, but for some reason her safety didn’t seem to be an issue anymore.  What a bizarre morning!  Ethan shoved his feet into his shoes and she opened the door.  The smell of coffee wafted toward them.  Scully looked stunned, but Ethan was furious.  “That SOB made fucking coffee?” he hissed at her.


Her hand on his arm didn’t calm him down.  They turned into the kitchen and saw Mulder seated at the table with a cup of coffee in front of him.  Her favorite mug sat opposite him, filled with coffee.  She looked at it and realized it was prepared exactly as she liked it.  She reached for it, but Ethan pulled her back.


“Don’t touch that!”


Mulder started to rise and Ethan drew her back away from him.  “Ethan, stop.  Mr. Mulder, what did you put in my coffee?”


“Cream and half a pack of sweet and low.”

“How did you know I take it that way?”


He closed his eyes for an instant, then just shook his head.


“Why are we having a conversation with this guy?  Let’s call 911 and report that a man broke into our apartment - “ He turned then and looked over at the door.  It was closed and obviously undamaged.  “How did you get in?”


“I used my key,” Mulder said flatly.  He had answered Ethan but he was watching Scully.


For the first time Ethan looked over at her as well and now he looked confused headed toward outrage.  “You gave him - “


“I don’t know what’s going on here.  Mr. Mulder, please, are you holding us prisoner?”


Mulder faced her squarely then.  “No, I’m just trying to get some answers.  It doesn’t look like I’m going to find them here.”  He rose abruptly, causing Ethan to fall back another couple of steps and left the apartment without another word.


Scully dropped into the chair he had vacated and looked up silently at Ethan. 




She exited her car and headed for the entrance.  She startled violently when he grabbed her arm.  She looked up and into his face.  Before she could react, he pulled her against him and kissed her, really kissed her.  Her knees actually got weak and she clutched at his arms to steady herself.  When he broke the kiss she just stared at him.


“Is Ethan that much better?”


“Wha-what are you talking about?”


“Why are you with Ethan?  What the hell did I do, Scully?”


“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mr. Mulder.  Ethan and I have been seeing each other for some time.”


His eyes narrowed as they burrowed into hers.  “You, you’re serious.”


“Mr. Mu - “


“Mulder, just Mulder.”


“Are you okay?”


“No.” He just looked at her for the longest moment.  “You really don’t know who I am?”


“I’m sorry.”


He leaned back against the nearest car, defeated.  “I thought, I hoped you were acting this morning, so Ethan wouldn’t . . . “


She shook her head.  “Why did you - “




“Why did you break into my apartment?”


“You were late.  I was worried about you.”


“I wasn’t late.  I work second shift.”


Mulder shook his head.  “I don’t know what’s going on.”


“Look, instead of late I’m very early because I couldn’t get back to sleep.  Let’s go get a cup a coffee and you tell me what’s going on.”


“You were afraid of my coffee.”


“Actually I wasn’t.  Ethan was.”  She noted his cringe at Ethan’s name but he kept quiet.  “Come on.  The hospital’s coffee sucks but there’s a lot of caffeine.  I need that right now.”


“You always do.”


She blinked at that.  After a moment she turned toward the hospital and he followed her.  Silently they headed for the cafeteria and got coffee.  He watched her fix her cup exactly as he had done.  He took his coffee and looked around the cafeteria.


“Let’s go to my office, we can have a little privacy.”


“You’re not afraid to be alone with me?”


Her chin went up then, “Should I be?”


There was a ghost of a smile on his lips at that.  “No.”


She nodded and led him to her office.  The basement, how ironic that she was still down here even without him.  But it seemed to be real.  Her name was on the door and he touched it lightly on his way in.  She closed the door behind them and motioned for him to take a seat.  She sat beside him and took a sip of her coffee, then set the cup on her desk.


“Are you in love with him?”


That wasn’t what she was expecting.  “I beg your pardon?”  She was stalling, but he had caught her off guard.


“You’re living with him.”


“Is that really what you want to discuss?  I mean, you break into my apartment, pull a gun on me - “


“I didn’t know what I was going to find.  What I do find is you in bed with another man.”


“Another - ?”


“We’re together, Scully.”


“Technically I don’t know who you are.  I’ve seen your badge, but that’s it.”  She couldn’t interpret the expression on his face, but she did see a deep sadness in his eyes.  “Talk to me.  How am I supposed to know you?”


He took a deep breath, placing his coffee on the desk beside hers.  “You were assigned to be my partner at the FBI six and half years ago.”


“What?  I don’t work at the FBI.”


“In my reality you do.  Before they put us together you taught forensics at the Quantico.  They gave you to me to destroy me.”




For just a moment his eyes lightened.  “It proves that they don’t know as much as they think they do.  They thought they owned you, they thought you’d lie for them, shut me down.  You didn’t.  You made me work for it, but you made me honest.”  He closed his eyes at those words, as though they were painful.  Without thought she reached for his hand.


His eyes flew open when he felt her touch.


“It sounds like we work together, but you were talking like - “


“We did work together, we do.  But over time we’ve . . . we’ve grown closer.”


“An office romance?”


“No!  Never that.  After all the time we’ve been together, Scully are you in love with Ethan?”


“I . . . We’ve been together for nearly a year.”


“You’re not married.”


“We both have demanding careers, we’re fine.”


“Fine.”  The way he said it made her blush for some reason.  “You think you have a demanding career now,” he huffed.


“Okay, six and half years ago.  What is it that you think we do?”


“That’s not . . . easy.”


“Apparently not.”


“Have you been with Ethan all this time?”


“Why do you keep coming back to Ethan?” she asked after a moment.


“Answering a question with a question?”  He tried to grin.  “I guess I haven’t recovered from seeing him in your bed.”


“How long have we . . . “


“Physically, not that long, but we’ve, we’ve loved each other for a very long time.”


“You’re not telling me much.  What was supposed to have happened to change things?  Why did we finally cross that line?”


He wasn’t sure she wasn’t just indulging him; either fitting him for a white coat with extra long sleeves, or at least laughing to herself.  “You asked me to father your child.”


She drew back slightly.  That was unexpected.  She had no idea what to say “And?”


“I said yes, but it didn’t work.”


“You helped me try to get pregnant?”


Before he could answer there was a tap on the door, immediately followed by the door opening.  She didn’t have time to respond in any way.  “Dana?  I wanted to check on - “


Ethan’s eyes fell on their hands, still entwined though neither seemed to have remembered it.  Scully jerked her hand free and Mulder didn’t protest.  It was too late, Ethan shoved the door away and it bounced off the wall as he disappeared back down the hall.


“Shit!” Scully was on her feet racing after him while Mulder kept his seat and watched her disappear out the door.  Should he leave?  He didn’t really feel much like moving right now.  What was going on at his office?  Had he been missed?  Did he still work there himself?  He had a badge, but so what? 


The first thing he remembered was standing in the bullpen this morning and she hadn’t been there.  He still couldn’t conjure up any memory of waking and dressing, he’d just been there.  Her car hadn’t been in the garage.  She always beat him in these days.  He personally cared little whether or not he arrived at all.  What a fall he’d taken, from golden wonder boy of Profiling to background checks and manure runs.  Scully was the only real reason he continued to show up at all.  They weren’t living together, though he had thought about bringing it up more than once.  They each had some space of their own, but were spending more and more nights in each other’s arms now.  Last night had been one of those rare evenings he had spent alone, actually falling asleep on the couch like the old days.  His head jerked up - a dream.  This was a dream, it had to be.  Sure as hell was a vivid one but it was the only explanation. 


Well now was a good time to wake up.  This wasn’t a place he wanted to hang around.  He looked around the office and spotted her letter opener.  It was a novelty one, shaped like a scalpel.  He didn’t need to perform surgery, but maybe he could prick himself and wake the hell up.  He picked it up and tested it against his thumb, not very sharp.  Before he could return it to her desk, the door opened again.


“Damn it, I couldn’t - No!” she knocked the scalpel from his hand horrified.


“What?  No, no I wasn’t . . . I’m not suicidal.  Not yet anyway.”


She glared at him then and reached down to pick up the letter opener.  “So what were you doing?”


“I, I was trying to wake up.  If this is some sort of horrible nightmare, I want out.  I want back to my life; the one where I’m the man in your bed.  I take it you didn’t catch him.”


Her shoulders slumped.  “No.  I got there in time to see him race out of the parking lot.  There is no way he’s going to believe I didn’t give you that key.”


“You did give me that key.”


She cut her eyes at him.  “Well I’m willing to bet it won’t work by this evening anyway.”


He just looked at her.


“What are you going to do now?”


He shrugged.  “I don’t know.”


“What about work?”


He looked at her then.  “Work?”  He seemed to be thinking deeply then.




“No one paid any attention to me this morning when I went in.  I’m used to that, but . . . I have my shield.  I do work at the Bureau.”


“Do you, do you want me to call over there?”


He looked up quickly.  “Would you?”


She nodded, caught up in whatever this was.


“The number - “


“No, let me look it up.”  He nodded.  She pulled the phone book towards her and looked up the number.  While he watched she dialed.  “Yes, could I speak with Agent Mulder?  That’s M-U-L-D-E-R.  Thank you.”  She was quickly connected and voice mail came on.  “This is Fox Mulder.  Leave a message.”  Instead she hung up the phone.


He watched her for an instant.  “Was I there?”


She smirked, “No, but that was definitely your voice.”


“I guess I better go see what I do around there,” he said quietly as he started to rise. 


She jerked forward, her hand out.  “You’re leaving?”


He met her eyes then and she blushed, looking away.


“Thank you,” he said softly.  “May I call you?”




He pulled out a card.  “This is my direct number and,” he scribbled something on the back, “this is my home.”  She nodded and after memorizing the numbers pocketed the card.




Before Them 2/5



He wasn’t actually sure where to go when he got back to the Bureau.  Without her was he in the basement alone?  Did he have the X-Files or was he on manure?  The problem was solved when the elevator opened on the third floor.


“Spooky!  You’re late.  Patterson’s chewing nails.”


Patterson?  He was in prison, wasn’t he?


“Mulder!” Patterson’s voice was loud and impatient as Mulder moved toward the conference room.  “So kind of you to grace us with your presence.  Where the hell have you been?”


“I, uh, I had a doctor’s appointment this morning.”


Patterson glared but said nothing further, turning instead to the information in front of him.  “We’ve got a serial pedophile, working in the northeast.  I have the files here, and I . . . “


Mulder took his seat at the table, letting him drone on.  The information would be presented in Patterson’s time.  Mulder closed his eyes and let his face rest on his fingertips, to force himself to concentrate on the words.  Before Patterson got any further, the door opened again.


“We’ve got another one.”


That voice!  Mulder’s eyes flew opened.  Reggie?  Mulder was on his feet, moving in his direction.  He grasped Reggie’s shoulders as though anchoring him to the room.  “Reggie?  Is that you?”


Reggie looked him up and down.  “Uh, yeah.  Good to see you too, Mulder.  ‘Course it’s only been about 18 hours.”


Mulder looked around to see the snickering faces of his ‘colleagues’ and the annoyed look on Patterson’s face.  Instead of being intimidated he pulled Reggie to one side and turned his back on the room.  “What day is it?”


“What?  Spooky, you okay?”


“Please.” Mulder’s grip tightened on Reggie’s arm.


“October 13.  Hey, it’s your birthday isn’t it?  Sorry, I - “


“No, forget that.  What year?”  Mulder’s voice was barely a whisper but the intensity was full blast.


“Are you ser - “ Reggie stopped, it was painfully obvious Mulder was deadly serious.  “1990,” his voice had dropped as well.  Whatever was going on, the rest of the room didn’t have to know about it.  “Mulder?  You okay?”  The younger man had paled significantly.


Three years.  This was three years before he had met Scully.  No wonder she hadn’t . . .


“Could you go ahead and kiss him hello and let us get back to this case, Mulder?”  Patterson’s voice was icy.  Mulder nodded, his back to Patterson, then squeezed Reggie’s arm and without another word returned to his seat.  Well, another chapter in the Spooky rumor mill no doubt.  He resumed his posture, eyes closed and forced himself to listen to Patterson and not think about what was really important to him.  At least now he knew why he didn’t have a cell phone on him.


“Okay, if we can get back to the actual case.  What have you got Perdue?”


“They found the body of a girl buried near a landfill outside of Boston.  Same MO, a heart was cut out of her nightgown.”


Mulder’s head flew up again.  “Roche,” he breathed and reached for the file he had previously ignored.  There they were; the bodies of three little girls, all in nightgowns with Roche’s souvenir carefully removed.


“Would you like to share with the class, Mulder?”


“Four?  There are only four?”


“Only?  I don’t think the parents - “


“That’s not what I mean.  Are more girls reported missing that you haven’t linked to this case.”


“We haven’t gotten any calls.  We’ll be faxing out a bulletin as soon as we create the profile.”


“Go on-line.  Send an email to every law enforcement agency in the northwest.  Give them the heart and ask if they’ve found anyone like that.”


“Looking up the email addresses will take a while - “


“It’s worth it,” Mulder interrupted.  “After you have them you can create a listserve so that you can - “


“A what?”


“A permanent list of all available emails, so that in the future you won’t have to look them up.  It’ll make the Bureau look very innovative.”


“You know some of these smaller areas might not use a computer.”


“But most of them do.  It’s worth the time for future cases.”  He could hear himself arguing even as mentally he shook his head that he even had to argue for this.  What would Langly say?  Langly!  He needed to get in touch with them as soon as he could break free.  “For now, we need to look at John Lee Roche.”




“He’s a vacuum cleaner salesman.  He travels; he’s in people’s homes.”


Patterson looked over at Reggie who shrugged.  “That’s why I wanted you to bring him in.”  Patterson looked more like he wanted to spit, but what the hell.


“Find this Roche, bring him in.  At least we can see if we can tie him to a location,” Patterson barked at one of the younger men behind him. 


Patterson turned to his file then, silently dismissing most of the room.  Mulder knew better and remained.  He heard more than one ‘Spooky’ comment as they filed out.  Reggie joined him.  “What’s going on, Mulder?”


“I don’t know that I can explain, at least not here.”


“You were shocked to see me and you didn’t know the date.  That’s needs some explanation.”


“I know it does,” Mulder agreed, looking Reggie in the eye.


“Okay.  How about a beer after work?”


Mulder worried his lower lip for a moment.  “I need to check something out first.  I want to talk to you, but I can’t mess this up.”


“Another case?”


“An X-File,” Mulder responded and watched Reggie shake his head.


“You be careful.”  Mulder nodded.


“Mulder!” Patterson barked finally.  Both men turned to him.  “What the hell do you think you’re doing, showing up late, then just tossing a name out as a though you were waiting to say it.”


“You don’t have to believe me, but this is the right guy.”


“It’s your goal in life to piss me off, isn’t it Mulder?  Well you’re certainly on target there.”


“You’ll be able to tie him to the victims.  He left his DNA all over - “


“His DNA?  What the fuck are you talking about?”


Mulder looked down.  No DNA testing yet, but there were other ways as long as the crime scenes had been truly investigated, fingerprints, shoe prints, the man couldn’t have an alibi, he’d done it.  “Just bring him in, get him in the system.  His fingerprints will check out.  I can’t explain it, but I’m asking you to trust me.”




He knocked rapidly on the door, impatient for information.  It was Byers that opened the door.  He stood there for a moment, “Agent Mulder? Uh, would you like to come in?”


“Yeah, I need some information.”




“You know me, right?”


“Yeah, we remember you,” Langly spoke behind him.


Mulder relaxed slightly.  Yes, he had met them in 1989.  “Good, where’s Frohike?”


“Here,” the shorter man joined them.  “What’s going on?”


“I need to know what you know about time travel.”


All three of them gaped at him for a moment.  “Are you serious?” Byers finally asked.


“Yes.  If someone were to come back in time, knowing things that are going to happen, what happens if they . . . “


“If they tell people?” Frohike finished for him.


“Why don’t we have a seat?” Byers offered, gesturing toward the large room.  Mulder nodded and followed him toward the sitting area.


“I’m wondering about the time line.  Would doing something like that change things in the future?  Would it help?”


Frohike looked over at Langly and shrugged.  “There are all kinds of theories about that.  You might be able to affect the present, but that has to affect the future.  If you could go back and kill Hitler as a child he wouldn’t have caused World War II, but that doesn’t mean that someone else wouldn’t have taken his place.  The war might have been delayed a year or forever.”


“But an individual life might be saved.”


Byers glanced at his friends, “We can’t answer you definitively.  We - “


“Hey man, have you never watched Sliders?” Langly interrupted.




“Sliders.  It’s a series about this very thing.  The assumption is that every decision is made every day and has created branches on the timeline.  We live in this reality, but all other realities are out there just a dimension away.  Go ahead and save the person you want, but they’ll still die in half of the other realities.”


Mulder’s eyes narrowed but before he would respond, Byers spoke.  “It’s a theory as good as any.  Hitler was killed, Hitler won the war, Hitler got married and had six kids and never became political, hell, Hitler was never born.  Maybe they’re all true.  There’s also the theory that whatever you do, what was ‘supposed’ to happen will still happen, reassert itself, no matter what you do.”


Mulder slouched back in the chair running his hands through his hair.


“I’m sorry, Agent Mulder.  We don’t - “ Byers started.


“I know.  I appreciate . . . “


“Agent Mulder,” Byers leaned forward, “why did you come to us?”


“I always do.  You’ve helped me for years.”




Mulder rose.  “I have to meet someone.  I’m going to try it; I’m going to try to save some people, at least for a while.”


The three men just sat there, allowing him to head to the door.  “Agent Mulder!”

He stopped and looked back.  “Will you call; let us know what’s happening?”


“Of course.”  He let himself out as the three men sat staring at each other.




Mulder entered the bar and looked around.  He spotted Reggie and joined him in the booth.  He signaled for a beer, then turned to Reggie.  “I have stuff to tell you.”


“What’s going on with you, Mulder?  You usually tick Patterson off, but not like today.  You just give him a name and expect him to believe he’s our perp?”


“He is; you have to believe me.”


“And just how to do you know this?”


Mulder was silent, accepting his beer and waiting for the waitress to move off.  “I’ve already seen it.”


“Seen it?”


Mulder nodded.  “I’m from the future.”


“Oh good.  I thought you were going to tell me something hard to believe.  You know ‘Spooky’.”  He took a long draw of his beer.


“You don’t have to believe me, you just have to listen.  John Lee Roche did rape and kill those little girls.  He’s not that careful about the evidence because there’s no connection, no reason for him to even be suspected.”


“What was that crap about DNA?”


Mulder shook his head.  “I wasn’t thinking; you can’t do that now.  But he left his DNA in everyone of those little girls.  If they keep the rape kits of the ones they’ve found, someday it’ll be tested.  Don’t worry about that.  You’ll have prints in rooms that a vacuum cleaner salesman would never have to see.  Right now his prints aren’t in any database.  It won’t take long.”


“Okay, what aren’t you sayin’?”


“I know some other stuff.”




“I, I don’t know what I can tell you yet.”


“Excuse me?”


“I don’t know what I can change, if anything,” Mulder said carefully.  “I don’t know if I’ve already changed some things.”


“Assuming I believe any of this . . . “


“I know.  John Barnett.”


Reggie drew back, surprised at the name.  “What about him?”


“He’s not dead.”


“Excuse me?”


“He didn’t die in prison.  He was a volunteer in a medical experiment, not exactly FDA sanctioned.  The . . . process worked on him.  He’s out and he’s well disguised.”


“As?” Reggie asked.


“Himself, younger.”


“Say again, Mulder.  I don’t believe I heard that correctly.”


“He was given an experimental drug that reversed his age.  You wouldn’t recognize him.  He’ll be coming after me, but not yet.  Let me think, February of 1994, yes, he escapes wherever they’re keeping him then and he tries to make good on his pledge.  Before actually going after me, he attacks me through my friends.  Reggie . . . “


“He gets me?”


“We can’t go after him overtly, officially he’s dead.”


“Mulder - "


“I’m asking you to believe me, Reggie.  Other than Scully you’re the best partner I had and I’ve had to live with the guilt over what happened to you because of me for years.”


Reggie just looked at him for a long moment, then, “Who’s Scully?”


The slightest upturn to his lips caught Reggie’s attention.  “My final, true partner.  You’ll have to wait.”


Reggie rolled his eyes but nodded.  “I’ll try some discrete looking into Barnett’s death.”


“Be careful.”




He let himself into the apartment.  Well, the key worked.  The place actually looked pretty normal.  The fish were alive and the couch was waiting for him.  He opened the door to the bedroom and was confronted with stacked boxes everywhere.  So the mysterious waterbed gift hadn’t arrived yet. 


No bedroom raised his level of depression quickly.  He’d made love to Scully in there.  He sank down onto the couch and didn’t even reach for the remote.  It was just too much trouble.


He’d sat there staring at nothing.  He wasn’t sure how long it was but the phone ringing startled him.  Hell, should he even answer it?  He didn’t know anyone he cared about now.  Just before the machine, he grabbed it up.  “Hello?”




“Scully?  Scully, is everything okay?”


“What?  Oh yes.  I, I just wondered how it went at work.”


He was silent for a moment.  “Really?”


He heard her sigh.  “No, I just wanted to . . . “


“Is Ethan not there?”


“He decided to stay at his place tonight.”


“Oh.”  What was he supposed to say about that?  “Did he get the lock changed?”


“Not yet.”


He couldn’t help the smile.  At least right this minute he could still get into her place.  The smile faded immediately.  She still didn’t know him.  What was he supposed to say?




“Yeah, I’m here.  Uh, listen, have you eaten?”


“What? Uh, no.”


“Would you like to grab a bite?”


“With you?”




“I, I guess so.”


“I can pick you up.”


“No, I’ll meet you.  Where?”


“There’s an Italian restaurant not far from your apartment, Giuseppe’s. How about there?”


“I’ve seen it, but I haven’t been there yet.”


He closed his eyes; it was one of her favorites.  Now he would be introducing her to it, again.  “You’ll like it.  I’ll meet you there, an hour?”


“Fine, I’ll see you there.”


The voice in his head yelling ‘mistake’ was ignored as he raced to change.




She saw his head come up before she was through the door.  She had thought she would beat him here.  He must have left as soon as he hung up.  He looked good, wearing jeans and a gray t-shirt.  His leather jacket was hanging from the post of the booth.  Damn he looked good and eager to see her.


She pushed aside her apprehension and approached the booth.  He rose to greet her and she slipped into the seat opposite him.  Neither seemed to know what to say.  Finally he cleared his throat, “I, uh, I ordered you eggplant parmesan.”


She blinked, “That’s my favorite.”


“I know.  You’ll really like it here.”


“How?  How do you know?”


He shrugged and looked up as the waitress set her glass of wine and his refill of tea in front of them.  When she had left them alone again, Scully looked at her glass.  “Trying to get me drunk?”


He grinned.  “Even as little as you are that one glass won’t hurt you.”


“Little?” Her eyebrow rose.  That was the reaction he wanted and he grinned, relaxing slightly.  She took a sip.  “This is excellent.”


He opened his mouth to comment, but decided against it.  That was her favorite as well. 


They talked around the things they wanted to know, traffic, weather.  When the meal came she tried a bite and he wanted to laugh at the bliss on her face.  He’d gotten to introduce her to this place twice.  If only dating were really this easy.  That thought drew him up short; was this a date?




“Huh?” he asked, pulled back to the present.


“Where did you go?”


“Einstein's Twin Paradox: A New Interpretation.”
She drew back then, her expression wary.  “Are you stalking me?”
He wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry at that.  “No.  I’m wondering about changes to the time line.  You did too at one time.”
“You’ve read my thesis.”
“I don’t want to hurt you.”
“What’s going on?  Really, I need to know.”
“You’ll think I’m crazy.”
“Try me,” she said dryly.  “Frankly, you’re most of the way there already.”
He tried to smile.  “My ‘theory’? Time travel.”
“Time travel.  How many glasses of wine did you have before I got here?”
“It’s an explanation.  It’s how I know these things about you, how I knew about . . . “
He shook his head.  “Work.”
She sat contemplating him now, what little remained of her meal forgotten.  “So we will know each other sometime in the future.”
He nodded.  “We’ll meet in 1993.”
“I must age well.”
“You saw me this morning; you didn’t realize I was younger?”
That did bring a softening to his face, a look in his eye she was afraid to interpret.  “I’ve seen you in a lot of situations, you’re always beautiful.”
She looked away then and murmured her thanks softly.  “You know this can’t be real.”
“I’m willing to listen to other theories.”
“I shouldn’t be here.”  She began gathering up her purse and jacket.  His hand closed over hers for an instant and she jerked.  He immediately released her, sitting back.
“Scully - "


“This is not like me.  I don’t do this.  I’m practically living with Ethan, I’m a stable person.  I don’t call strange men or meet them or - " She missed the look of pain when Ethan’s name was mentioned.


“I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to dump that on you.  It’s just . . . you’re the person I talk to.  You’re the one that listens and either laughs at me or helps me find out what’s really . . . I’m sorry.”


She silently rose and turned from the table.  God, would he ever see her again, now that she knew?


“Scully, have Maggie force Ahab to have his heart examined.”


With a sharply indrawn breath she whirled around.  “How do you know Ahab?”


“I don’t.  You call your father that and he calls you Starbuck.”


Pale she sank back into her seat in the booth.  After a moment she lifted the glass of wine to her lips again.  “What the hell is going on?”


“Do it, Scully.  I don’t know how knowing that will change the future, I don’t know if it can, but you need to try.”


“What’s wrong with Ahab?”


“Nothing right now.  This is preventative.  It can’t hurt.”   He watched her attempt to absorb that.  Finally she met his eyes again.  She nodded and stood.  “Scully - "


Ignoring him she left the restaurant.  He leaned back against the booth.  Now what?




Before Them - Part 3



His phone rang at 4:30 the next morning.  He answered it blearily.  “Yeah?”


“Mulder?  Wake up.”




“Yeah.  Get dressed; we’ve located that Roche fellow.  Patterson wants you and me to question him.  We’ve got to get to Boston.  They can’t hold him long.”


“I can meet you at the airport.”


“Hurry.” Reggie hung up and Mulder hurried to the shower.


Once on the plane Reggie brought Mulder up to date.  “They have him for questioning, but we’ve got nothing to charge him with right now.  I’m not sure where to go from here.”


“We need a search warrant for his truck.  That’s were he hides the evidence.”


“Mulder - "


“I know.  I know my ‘information’ can’t be the basis of a warrant, but I do know where the evidence is.  We have to approach him as a person of interest.  We’ve got to tie to him to something concrete.”  They opened the files Reggie had brought and began to study them.




Mulder watched the cool, self possessed man be led into the interrogation room.  Roche seemed mildly amused and not the least worried.  


“So,” Mulder waited until he was seated.  “You’re the mad hatter.”


To say the man was startled was an understatement.  His eyes narrowed as he jerked toward Mulder.


This might be fun . . .




He barely had his suit coat off when the he heard the knock.  He and Reggie had nailed Roche; there wouldn’t even be a trial.  The SOB had confessed after the completely legal search of his truck had unearthed Alice in Wonderland, along with his prize hearts. 


He opened the door and saw the pale frightened face of Dana Scully.  All thoughts of the case were gone and his arm went around her, drawing her into the apartment.  “What’s wrong?  Scully, what happened?”


“How did you know?”


“What, Scully?  Let me get you some water.”  He led her to the couch and seated her, then retreated to the kitchen and poured her a glass of water, remembering at the last instant to throw in a couple of cubes of ice.  Damn she was shaken.  He hadn’t been in touch while he was out of town.  He’d actually been wondering how to initiate contact when he returned.  No longer a problem, he hurried back to the living room and took a seat beside her.


“Talk to me, Scully.”


“You knew.  How did you know?”


“Know what?”


“Ahab.  He’s having open heart surgery in the morning.  A triple bypass.”


Mulder nodded.


“How did you know!”


He shook his head.  “You don’t believe me.”


“You can’t know the future!”  He waited.  She finally dropped her face into her hands.  “You saved him.”


“I - “


“I need to know who you are.  You say we meet in 1993; when?”


“I don’t know what will happen if I tell - “


“You saved my father.  I don’t know how, I don’t know if I believe any of this, but please, tell me.”  The look in her eyes made him look away.  When she took his hand, drawing him back he wanted to groan.  “Please.”


He’d never been very good at telling this woman ‘no’.  Even not knowing him she could do this to him.  “Three years from now . . . ”


“Right.  Why did I join the FBI?”


“You were recruited out of school.”


“That didn’t happen.”


“That doesn’t mean it won’t.  You’re an incredible forensic pathologist; the best I’ve ever seen.”


“But I - “


“Have you ever seen ‘Sliders’?  A friend of mine says that might be what’s happening here.”


“No.  Is it a movie?”


“TV show.  Don’t worry about it.”


“I am worried.  Okay, we start working together in 1993.  When do we become lovers?”




She stared at him, unable to form a comment.  He shrugged, “We took it slow.”


“No shit,” she muttered.  He couldn’t help the grin, quickly suppressed and didn’t comment.  “What happened to Ahab?”


“Scully - “


“I have to know!”


“But it might not happen now.  With the surgery - “


“He didn’t have it, before?”


“I don’t know.  You never mentioned that he had any health problems.”


“He’s never had any.”


“Then this didn’t happen.  It’s new.  I’ve . . . I’ve changed something. I don’t know that he won’t get hit by a truck, but - “


“When?  When did he d-die?”


Mulder shook his head.  “No.  You don’t need that.  If I haven’t changed it, it can’t be changed.  I know you’ll appreciate him more fully now.  And, since you’re not at the Bureau . . . “


“Go on.”


“There was some tension between you because of your decision to leave medicine.  He didn’t understand how much you were still using it, just more of a forensic bent.”


“Did you tell him that?”


Mulder shook his head.  “I never got to meet him.”


She absorbed that for a long moment.  “Okay, what did we do at the FBI?”


“That’s not easy.”  Her eyebrow persuaded him to continue.  “We’re in a small division, just the two of us.  We work on unsolved or unexplained cases.” 




“Uh, paranormal, and . . . alien abductions.”


She sat there waiting for the punch line.  It didn’t come.  “There’s a division at the FBI that works on alien . . . “


He nodded.  “Well, not now.  Apparently I haven’t created it yet.”


“You created it.”


“Have you eaten?”


“What?”  The change of subject caught her off guard.  “Uh, no.  I didn’t mean to interrupt - “


“You’re not interrupting.  I just got back in town an hour ago.”


She nodded.  That’s why she hadn’t been able to reach him.  They both looked over at his answering machine and saw the light blinking.  “I, I was upset.  You don’t need to listen to it.”


He nodded and returned to the other subject.  “There’s nothing here.  Apparently the me now doesn’t cook anymore than me then.  I was going to order in.  Join me?”


Bemused she realized she didn’t want to leave yet.  There was so much to learn, or at least hear, from this man.




He nodded.  “Now let’s see if I’m smart enough to keep menus here.”  He reached for the shelf under the fish tank and came up with a handful of take out menus.  He grinned and handed them to her.  “You order, I’ll eat most anything.  I’ll take a quick shower and change.”


“O-okay.”  She accepted the menus and he grabbed up his suit coat and started loosening his tie as he headed for the bathroom.


She looked at the menus.  The most obviously worn one was Chinese, so she used it, placing an order, then since he was occupied, looked around the apartment.


He hadn’t been kidding about a lack of food.  His refrigerator held an assortment of condiment packets and some out of date orange juice.  She located his dishes and pulled two out.  They’d have to drink water.


Still alone she returned to the living room.  His videos drew a raised eyebrow, but she had no basis for comment.  The only picture in the room was a young dark haired girl in pigtails in a frame on his desk.  There was a resemblance, his daughter?  Had he be married?  Was he married?


She was moving back toward the couch when he emerged.  His hair was slicked back; he was wearing a gray t-shirt again and jeans.  And . . . good lord, he was commando under those jeans.  She had to look away; she knew her blush would give her away.  Damn.  She took a seat and he joined her.


“No food yet?”


“No, but it shouldn’t be long.  Did, uh, did you say you had been out of town?”


His eyes lightened.  “It was Roche, Scully.  We got Roche, and we got him early.  He got ten, but we saved six, Scully.  Six little girls weren’t taken, weren’t killed.  We saved Addie Sparks.”


His expression was yearning.  “This is a case we worked on?  Who was Addie Sparks?”


He shook his head.  “It doesn’t matter.”


“You saved six little girls.  That matters a lot.  You care about children.”




“These little girls, you helped me try to get pregnant.  Is the girl in the picture your daughter?”


He glanced over at the picture.  Oh god, she didn’t . . . Samantha.  She didn’t know about Samantha.  He let his face fall into his hands, suddenly overwhelmed by what he faced.


“Mulder? Mulder, what did I say?” 


He just shook his head.


Before she could say anything, she heard the knock at the door.  He didn’t seem to hear it, so she started to rise.   His hand grasped her wrist.  “The food’s here, Mulder.  I’m not leaving.”


He nodded, not looking at her.  “My wallet - “


“You got it last time.”  She rose then and answered the door.  He watched as she took the food into the kitchen.  He started to rise but she was returning with two plates.  She sat them on the coffee table, then returned with two glasses of water.  She took the seat beside him again.  “Go ahead.”


“I have plates?”

”It’s okay, I dusted them well,” she said dryly.  “Go on, you need to eat something.”


“So do you.”


She nodded and they ate their meal.  With her beside him, his hunger kindled and he ate quickly.  When they were finished she rose again and took the dishes into the kitchen.  When he heard the water cut on, he joined her.  “You don’t have to do that.”


“I know.  I thought I’d give you some more time.  There’s obviously a lot I need to know.”


“What about your parents?”


“They wanted some time to themselves this evening.  I certainly don’t blame them.  I’m to meet them at the hospital at 6 a.m.”


He nodded and dried the dishes she had washed, putting them back in the cabinet.  She refilled their glasses with ice and water and headed back to the couch.  He noted she was looking at Samantha’s picture again, but before he could speak, she started.  “You couldn’t save her.  She’s the one that got you started, isn’t she?”


Truly speechless he just stared at her for an instant.  Finally he nodded.  “She’s my sister, Samantha.”


“Oh Mulder, I’m so sorry.  How old were you?”


“Twelve.  She was eight.”


“Did you ever find out what happened to her?”


“She was abducted by aliens,” he stated it flatly, watching for her reaction.


“Can, can you prove that?”


“Not to your satisfaction.  I’ve been trying for over six years.”


She leaned back and got comfortable, slipping her shoes off without thinking, and tucking her legs under her.  “Try again.”




They were quiet, each thinking over the things he had said.  He knew he sounded like a lunatic and after telling her all of it, felt like one as well.  Even with what he had held back - her abduction, her cancer, Emily . . . Why she was still sitting there was something he wasn’t sure he wanted to contemplate.  Six years, six years of their lives compacted like that.  Why had she stayed with him?


“Are you going to have men in white coats burst in?”


She shook her head.  “We can’t check too much either, because telling me really could have changed things.”


“For the better, I hope.”


“What do you hope to change?”


He grinned then.  “Not to have to wait six or seven years to get you in my bed.”


She rolled her eyes, blushing, but didn’t comment.  After a moment she looked down at her watch.  “Oh my god, it’s after one.”


“What?”  He glanced at his own watch.  “I didn’t realize.”


“I’m sorry.  I know we have other things to talk about.  I know you held things back, but I need to get going.  I have to be at the hospital at six.”  She did know, she wasn’t sure how, but she did.


He ignored her comment.  He’d never been good at holding out on this woman.  “Scully, stay here.”


“What?” She looked more than a little startled at that.


“It’s late.  By the time you get home and get ready for bed it’ll be after two then you’ll have to get up by five.  You’ll be exhausted.  You can grab an extra hour’s sleep by staying here.  You’ve done it, you will do it a lot someday - before we started sharing a bed,” he added as her eyebrow started up.


She hesitated; it made sense in a weird way.  She’d get no sleep if she traveled home, but would she be able to sleep here, with him?  Why the hell did she feel so safe with this man?  Everyone she knew would be convinced he was a lunatic, but she was honestly thinking of staying here; even after his revelations.  “Where’s your bedroom?”


“Oh, uh I don’t . . . You can have the couch.”


That really caused the eyebrow to climb.  “What?”


“I don’t . . . I don’t have a bed.  I sleep on the couch, with the TV on most nights.”


“Watching those videos?”


He blushed.  “You’re not with me yet.”


She shook her head.  “If I have the couch, where will you - “


“Don’t worry about it.  I’ll get you one of my t-shirts and you can get comfortable.  I’m not going to bother you, Scully.”  He waited for her response, afraid to move.


“I would get more rest - "


“Yes, you would.”  He was on his feet then, ducking into his bedroom to get her some sort of sleepwear.  He was back quickly with his NY Knick’s t-shirt.  It was nearly new compared to the way it looked when he’d seen her in it before.  “Bathroom’s yours.”


“Where are you - “


He merely shook his head and watched her disappear into the bath.




She woke to find herself cradled against him.  What the hell?  When had he joined her on the couch?  And was that . . . Good god.  That had to be painful.  Ethan had nothing to be embarrassed about, but this man . . .  He was fully clothed and she was covered with the afghan but how the hell had he crawled onto the couch, snuggled against her and she hadn’t woken.  What had he said his nickname was, Spooky?  It certainly fit. 


She tried to slip out of his arms without waking him, but it didn’t work.  As soon as she started to pull away his arms tightened, then he opened his eyes.  His slow smile at seeing her there nearly stopped her heart.  This man was in love with her.


“I need to go.  I have to meet Mom.”


He nodded and reluctantly released her, watching her head for the bathroom in his shirt.  She didn’t seem to be too upset that he’d joined her here on the couch.


She emerged fully clothed and accepted the coffee he had made her.  “How long will the surgery take?”


“Most of the day.  I’ll be checking in on Mom and at least trying to catch up on paperwork.”


“Will Bill or Missy be there?”


She looked up from her coffee startled.  “Uh, no.  Bill didn’t have time to get here and I don’t know if she was able to reach Missy.  You didn’t ask about Charlie.”  Her eyebrow was high.


“Haven’t met him yet, but I know the other two.”


“You and Bill are friends?”


“Not exactly.”


“I need to hear more about that, but I have to run now.”


“I’ll check in, if you don’t mind.”


“I don’t.  Thank you.”


He just smiled then and let her out of the apartment.  After she was gone he leaned against the door for a moment, absorbing in all again, then headed for the shower.




Before Them - Part 4



It was a mixed day at work.  Patterson alternately pleased to have gotten their man so quickly and furious that the credit and yet more legend was growing around Mulder.  Reggie ran interference to the best of his ability.  At least Mulder wasn’t crowing about his part in the case, demurring when the press turned to him at the conference.  “Agent Patterson led this investigation.  He trained me; he trained all of us to know what to look for.  He’s the man you should be talking to.”


Patterson couldn’t exactly find fault with that, but the truth still rankled.  Spooky had pulled a name out of the air, literally and been correct.  It was galling.  How the hell did he know these things?  When Patterson went searching for him, Reggie reported Mulder had gone to the hospital to see a sick friend.  Patterson had closed his eyes, shaking his head and turned away uncharacteristically without another word.


Mulder was more than ready to get out of Patterson’s line of fire by the time he escaped.  He turned into the waiting room and spotted Maggie, alone, staring into the space.  “Mrs. Scully?”


She turned then, anxious to hear some news of her husband.  “Yes?”


“I’m sorry; I don’t work at the hospital.  I’m Fox Mulder, a friend of Sc-Dana’s.”


“Yes, she mentioned you.”


Unsure what she might have said, he merely smiled.  “May I have a seat?”


“Oh, of course.”  She shifted on the sofa to give him more room.


“Have you heard anything?”


“The nurse has come out a couple of times to assure me that everything is going well.  Dana says it’s a routine procedure, but it doesn’t feel very routine right now.” She managed a smile.


“No, I guess it doesn’t.  Can I get you anything?”


“No thank you, I’ve already had too much coffee and I can’t eat.”


He nodded, “Would you like to be alone?”


“No, please, sit here with me.  I might not be very good company, but it’s lonely in here.”


He smiled, relaxing back.  “I’m sorry Bill couldn’t be here with you.  Were you able to reach Missy?”


She looked startled at that.  “Yes, she’ll be here tomorrow.  Have you met my other children?”


“Uh, no.”  Well it was true right now, “Dana mentioned them.”


“Have you known Dana long?”


“Yes and no.  It feels like we’ve known each other a long time, but in actuality . . . “


She couldn’t hide her curiosity, but managed to curb her questions at least for now.  They were questions for Dana anyway, not this man.  They sat in companionable silence then until the door opened again.

”Mom, have you - Mulder?”


“I thought I’d - “


“Thank you,” she interrupted taking his hand.  Her mother watched but remained quiet.  Something was obviously happening between them, but what about Ethan?  He hadn’t even called.  “Obviously you’ve met Mom.”


“We introduced ourselves,” he said easily, ignoring the questions in both women’s eyes.  Before he had to field any questions the door opened again.  “Mrs. Scully?  I just wanted you to know that everything went very smoothly.  Mr. Scully is in recovery right now, if you like you can see him for a moment.  He’s still out of it and is on a respirator, but he’s doing very well.”  The doctor looked over at Dana and nodded reassurance.


Maggie was on her feet then, Mulder’s hand on her elbow as she rose.  “Please, I’d like to see him.”


“Of course.  Just follow me.  Dana, you can visit next time.”  The doctor assured her.


“It’s okay.  Mom, I’ll be right here.”


Maggie nodded and hurried after the doctor.  Scully sank into the seat her mother had vacated.  Mulder couldn’t help himself; he reached over and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, caressing her cheek in the process.  She leaned into the feel of his hand, relief taking her strength for a moment.


“I should go - “Mulder started.


“No, I mean, could you wait until Mom gets back?”


“Sure.  Uh, is Ethan going to catch me with you again?”


“Ethan doesn’t know about Ahab.”


“He doesn’t . . . Why not?”


“I haven’t seen him.  He’s upset with me.”


“Over me.”


“He’s in a snit.  I didn’t have the energy to reassure him, or the inclination to be honest.  I’ve been focused on Ahab.”


“I’m not complaining,” Mulder said quietly.


She met his eyes then.  “No, I don’t suppose you are.  You can be a very disruptive influence, Fox Mulder.”


He winced slightly.  “Mulder, just Mulder.”


“You don’t like Fox?”


“Only when your mother uses it.  It sounds right coming from her, but no one else.”


“You and Mom are close?”


“We’ve, we will share some experiences.  Maybe.”


“You are a fascinating man.”


He grinned, “and don’t you forget it.”  She rolled her eyes, but sank back on the sofa beside him and relaxed for a moment.  He couldn’t help himself.  He put an arm around her drawing her close.  She didn’t protest, leaning against him. 


That’s how Mrs. Scully found them.  Dana sat up quickly.  “How was he?”


“Pale.  He’s not going to be happy about that thing down his throat, but his vital signs are stable and he did open his eyes.  He won’t remember it, but I spoke to him and he squeezed my hand.”  She sank into the empty chair.  “This has all happened so quickly.  We’re so lucky to have a doctor in the family.  I don’t know what you saw, but very glad you did.”


Scully glanced over at Mulder, who smiled and nodded.  “Well, I need to get back to the office.  I just wanted to check in.”


“Thank you for stopping by, Fox,” Maggie said.  “I hope I’ll see you again.”


“I guarantee it.”  He took her hand for a moment.  “I’ll be in touch.”


Scully rose then and walked him to the elevator.  “I can’t explain to her why I insisted on the tests.”


“You don’t have to.  You’re a doctor; just let her go on believing you noticed something.”


“But you’re the one that saved him.”


Mulder shook his head.  “The doctors did that.  I’m glad if I helped.  May I call you later?”


“Please.”  On impulse she rose on tiptoe and kissed his cheek.  His eyes lightened and he stepped on the elevator, forcing himself not to take her in his arms and kiss her as he wanted.




The phone rang as he finished up the leftover Chinese.  “Hello?”


“Agent Mulder?  It’s John Byers.”


“Hi, what’s happening?”


“Well, uh, we wondered . . . “


“I told Scully about her father.  I don’t know if it was the right thing to do, but I couldn’t just know he was going to die without doing something.  He’s very important to her.”




“Geez, this is . . . Scully is my, will be my partner at the FBI.  She’s also, well anyway her father died suddenly of a heart attack in ’94.  Today he had open heart surgery because of my warning.”


“I . . . I see.”


“Do you think I’m making a mistake?”


“No, I don’t know . . . We’ve been talking about it; arguing actually.  I would have done the same.”


“I don’t suppose you have any theories on how I can get back to my time?”


“Nothing you’d want to hear, but it was a good debate.” Mulder could hear the humor in Byers’ voice.


“You guys gonna be up for awhile?”


“Yes, sure.”


“I want to stop by the hospital and check on Captain Scully, but then could I come over?”


“Please do.  We’d very much like to talk with you.”


“I can imagine.  Thanks, I’ll see you after a while.”  Mulder hung up, musing.    Now that he’d said it, did he really want to go back?  Well, yes and no.  Here it was before all the terrible things had happened to Scully.  She had no implant, no cancer in her future . . . she could have children.  They could have children.  He knew to be more careful now, more circumspect in his search.  If he had saved Captain Scully’s life, why not theirs?  Emily, they could have Emily together and she wouldn’t have to be sick.




He stopped at the nurse’s station.  That’s where Scully spotted him.  Smiling she approached him.  “Hi.  I was just heading in to see him.  Come with me.”


“No, I can’t intrude.  I just wanted to check.”


“I want him to meet you.  You’re an important figure in his life.”


“You didn’t say - “


“No.  I wouldn’t know what to say, but that doesn’t make you any less important.  Please.”


“You’re sure it’s okay?”


“Yes.  They’ve already taken him off the respirator.  He’s on a little bit of oxygen now.  They’ll get him up in a few hours.”


“Hours?  After open heart surgery?”


She nodded as he followed her down the hall.  “They want him moving as much as possible to keep him from the possibility of pneumonia.”


Her mother was coming out of the room and stopped when she saw them.  “Fox, I’m glad you came back.”


“I don’t want to be in the way, Mrs. Scully.”


“Maggie, please.  You won’t be.  He’s feeling better already.  Come on in.”


Mulder followed the two women into the room.  “William, I’d like you to meet a friend of Dana’s.  This is Fox Mulder.”


“Mr. Mulder.”  William held out his hand and Mulder could see the strength in the man, the air of command even now.


“I’m very pleased to meet you, sir.”


“A friend of Dana’s?”


“Yes,” Mulder turned and looked down at her.  She was smiling up at him.


“I don’t believe we’ve met before.”


“No, we haven’t.”


“I hope I’ll be able to see you again when I’m up and about.”


Mulder glanced back at Scully.  “I hope so too.  I don’t want to tire you out.  You’ve had a full day, but I’m very pleased to meet you.”


“Thank you, son.”  He looked a little puzzled, but shook Mulder’s hand again.


“I’ll walk you out,” Scully said.  She kissed her father on the cheek.  “I’ll be right back.”  William watched Mulder’s hand come to rest lightly on her lower back, leading her out into the hall.


William waited until the door shut, then turned to Maggie.  “What happened to Ethan?”


“I don’t know.  I haven’t seen him and she hasn’t spoken of him in days.”


“Do you know who this Mulder is?”


Maggie shook her head, straightening his covers.  “You need to rest now.”


“I am.  You need to find out about him.”




“He’s in love with Starbuck.”


“In love?” Maggie looked up at the door.


“Completely.  They haven’t just known each other just a few days.”


“Don’t you worry about it now.  I’ll have him over to dinner after you’re home, if he’s still around.”


“He will be.  I’m sure of that.”


Maggie took a seat next to him then and took his hand.  He squeezed hers and closed his eyes.



As they passed the nurse’s station, one of the nurses stopped them.  “Dr. Scully?  They’ve transferred a call up here to you.”


“Oh, okay.”  She accepted the receiver, but held out her hand to keep Mulder from leaving.  “Dr. Scully.”


“Dana?  Where are you?  I’ve left message after message.  We need to talk.”


“Ethan.  I’m sorry, but I’ve been busy.” She watched Mulder’s face go carefully blank at the name, but he didn’t pull away.


“Too busy to even call me back?”


“I haven’t even heard your messages, Ethan.  Dad’s in the hospital.  He had open heart surgery this morning.”


“Dana!  You should have called me.  Is he okay?”


“Yes, he’s doing very well.  I was just in to see him; they caught me at the nurse’s station.”


“Are you okay?”


“Yes, tired.”


“Will you be coming home tonight?”


“I don’t know yet.  I want to check on him again before I decide.”


There was a pause, then, “Okay.  I hope to see you later.”


“Are you at my place?”


“Uh, yes.”


“Okay.  I’ll let you know if I’m coming home.”


“Dana - “ but she had already broken the connection.


She looked up at Mulder.  He took her arm and led her into the empty waiting room.  Once there he pulled her against him and kissed her again.  Her response was reassuring.  “Are you going home to him?” he asked when he finally released her.


“Mulder, this is crazy.  We don’t know each other.”


“I know you; I know every bit of you.  I know what pleases you.”


She blushed at the look in his eyes but didn’t protest.  She was unaccountably sure he was right.  “I, I need to get back.”


“I’ll call you.” The look his eyes caused a shiver up her spine.  She nodded and watched him enter the elevator without a backward glance.


She headed back to the room to find her mother coming out.  “He’s asleep.”


“You should go on home, Mom.  He really shouldn’t have any more company today anyway.  Do you want me to drive you?”


“I have my car, Honey.  You should go on home and try to sleep a little yourself.”


“Do you want me to stay with you tonight?” Dana offered quickly.


Maggie shook her head.  “We’ll both sleep better in our own beds.”  She gave her daughter a kiss on the cheek.  “I’ll see you tomorrow.”




Reluctantly Dana put her key into the lock but before she could turn it, the door opened.  Ethan took her into his arms and she forced herself to reciprocate.  “How are you?  How’s your father?”


“Dad’s doing very well.”


“I’ve got dinner ready.”


“You didn’t - “


“Let me look after you a little bit, Dana.  Come on, take your shoes off.”


She obeyed him without a word.  It was too much trouble and she already didn’t want to be here.  They ate quietly; he finally realized she didn’t feel like talking.  When she had eaten, he took their dishes into the kitchen.


“Why don’t you soak in the tub for a while?”


“Thank you, Ethan.”  She turned away and headed for the bath.  He watched her with a confused and concerned look on his face.


She ran her bath, using her special bath oil and soaked.  She was aware of a feeling she couldn’t quite put her finger on.  As she relaxed she put it aside until later.  It wasn’t until the water had cooled and she forced herself out of the tub that she realized what it was.  She missed Mulder.  She didn’t want to be here with Ethan.  She wrapped her robe around her, belting it tightly.


He met her in the bedroom and his arms went around her.  She leaned against him, avoiding his kiss.  “I’ve missed you, Dana.”


“I’m sorry, but I’m exhausted, Ethan.”


He rubbed her back lightly.  “I understand.  Go on and lie down.  I’ll be in soon.”


She only nodded and turned away.  She lay awake trying not to remember the previous night on the couch with Mulder.  When Ethan did join her, she pretended sleep, her back to him and eventually slipped under.




Mulder was having much the same problem.  He missed her, missed her body against his.  He shouldn’t have joined her on the couch last night, but seeing her there sleeping, he’d lost his better judgment.  Nothing had happened.  She had barely stirred, just cuddling into him.  Asleep she knew him.


Now he was here alone and she was probably in bed with Ethan.  Damnit, he shouldn’t have allowed that thought to form.  She was his, he’d earned his place in her life, or he would.  Shit.


He finally forced it away and slept.


He was in a large structure.  It felt empty, like a vacant warehouse.  He had his gun in his hand and he knew Scully was elsewhere, also searching through this building.  Where the hell was their back up?  They shouldn’t have separated but time was of the essence.  He didn’t dare call out for her, alerting anyone else of their presence.  He approached a turn in the corridor . . . 


And woke up gasping.  His heart was hammering out of his chest, sweat soaked his t-shirt.  He stripped it off, drying his face and chest.  What the fuck?  That was a new one.  He already had plenty thank you - Samantha, a multitude of Scully ones, but he hadn’t had this one before.  Did he want to try to sleep again?


After a moment’s thought he decided no and turned on the TV.  Some black and white classic with Lionel Barrymore was on, so he settled on his side and watched.


Eventually he did sleep again to be woken by the phone.  “Hullo?” he muttered sleepily.


“Mulder, you awake?”


“Reggie?  Yeah, what?”


“Patterson wants us in Boston.”




“Yeah.  He’s agreed to talk, but only to you.”


“Me? Why?”


“He ‘respects’ you.  Hell, all I know is Patterson is beyond pissed but the guy only wants you.”


“He wants to form the nexus . . . “ Mulder murmured mostly to himself.




“Nothing.  When’s our flight?”


“Eleven thirty.  I have to go by the office and pick up some things for Patterson.”


“Why didn’t he call me?”


“Because you’re Spooky, because he’s pissed, hell if I know.  Get packed.”


“I’ll meet you at the airport.”  He rose and took a quick shower then packed.  Instead of heading to the office he turned toward the hospital. 


There was no one visiting in Captain Scully’s room.  Mulder tapped on the door and entered.


“Mr. Mulder, you’re here early.”


Mulder smiled, trying to hide his disappointment at missing her.  “I’m on my way to the airport and thought I’d check in.”


“You travel in your work?”


“I’m an FB I agent.  I have to travel quite a bit.”


William looked him over.  “FBI?  Is that how you met Dana?”


“Kind of.”  Mulder took the seat William indicated.  “She’s very good at forensics.”


“How long have you known each other?”


Mulder’s lips turned up slightly.  “A little over a week?”


“That sounded like a question.”


“I feel like I’ve know her a long time.”


“It seems that way to me as well,” William observed.


Mulder looked away for an instant.  “I need to get moving.  Could you tell her I had to leave town?”


“Of course.  Take care of yourself, son.”  William held out his hand.


“You too, sir.  I hope to see you when I get back.”


“Yes, please.”


Mulder rose and left, William watching, musing over what he had learned.




Before Them - Part 5



Pissed was not nearly strong enough a word to describe Patterson’s mood.  His inability to get Roche to talk had eaten at him.  When the prisoner had requested Spooky he’d wanted to chew nails.  It didn’t matter; they needed information from this man.  No one else cared that the ‘golden’ boy would get the credit.




It was late when Mulder and Reggie finally got to a motel.  The fact that no one had made a reservation was just one more thing.  Mulder already felt dirty from his time with Roche.  At least the man hadn’t had time to research him.  There had been no talk of Samantha.  They had the gravesites of seven of the girls.  He’d give up the other three tomorrow.  Mulder would make sure of that.


To work off some energy, Mulder took a short run, then a quick shower upon his return.  He came out toweling his hair, having changed into jeans and t-shirt.  Reggie looked up from the TV.  “Better not let Patterson see you out of uniform.”


“If he can’t manage to remember we need two rooms, I’m not going to be overly concerned.”


Reggie grinned.  “You just stay in your own bed.”


“You’re cute, Reggie, but you’re not my type.”


“Thank goodness.  You hungry?”


Mulder shrugged, “I could eat.”


“There’s a diner across the street.  Breakfast 24-hours a day.”


Mulder followed him, giving him grief about his cholesterol.




He was in a large structure.  It felt empty, like a vacant warehouse.  He had his gun in his hand and he knew Scully was elsewhere, also searching through this building.  Where the hell was their back up?  They shouldn’t have separated but time was of the essence.  He didn’t dare call out for her, alerting anyone else of their presence.  He approached a turn in the corridor cautiously.  He raised his gun, ready for a quick glance, trying not to expose himself . . .


“Mulder!  Mulder, wake up!”  He opened his eyes to see Reggie bending over him.  “You awake?  Damn, that must have been some nightmare.”  Reggie seated himself on his own bed.  “You okay?”


Mulder sat up and ran his hands through his hair.  “Sorry.”


“What was it?  I’ve never heard you - “


“Nothing.  It’s nothing, Reggie.”


“Sure you don’t want to talk about it?”


“Yeah, I’m sorry.  Go on back to sleep.”


“What about you?”


“I’ll be okay.”  Mulder didn’t meet his eyes.


“Okay.  Mulder, it’s none of my business, but you might want to talk to someone.”


Mulder glanced up.  “Yeah.  When we get home.”


Not satisfied but knowing Mulder, Reggie nodded and got back into his bed.  Mulder lay awake, concentrating on memories of Scully.




They’d gotten all they could.  Mulder had recognized the heart that had baffled them, and purposefully not shown greater interest.  Carmen Tory, eight years old - at least her parents knew now and he didn’t have the uncertainty.  Things were being changed.  He’d affected a few people - maybe not totally positive, but resolution.  He was more than ready to go home.  Being out in the field without Scully was unsettling.  He kept looking for the rest of himself.


He glanced at his watch.  What the hell, she should be home by now.  He picked up the phone and dialed.  After three rings her machine picked up.


“Guess you’re not home yet.  It’s Mulder.  Hope Ahab told you I had to go out of town.  I’m hoping to get a flight out tonight but realistically it’ll be tomorrow at least.  I’ll . . . I’ll call you then.”




Ethan stared at the machine, the dishtowel forgotten in his hands.  After a long moment he approached the machine, light blinking now, and listened to the message again.  He didn’t erase it, just turned abruptly back to the kitchen and poured himself a drink.


When she opened the door she spotted him standing in the opening to the kitchen.  He didn’t speak.


“Ethan?  Are you okay?”


Instead of answering he finished his drink and turned into the kitchen to pour another.  She followed him.  “Ethan, what’s wrong?”


“You have a message from your friend, Mulder,” he said flatly.


Her involuntary glance at the machine did not go unnoticed.  “He hoped ‘Ahab’ told you he was going out of town.  Guess he and your father are pretty close.”


Scully looked at him searching for something to say.


“Did you sleep with him?”  Ethan’s voice was beginning to rise; his anger taking over the calm he had tried to hold onto.


“No.  You mean sex, no,” she managed to get out.


His eyes narrowed.  “No sex, but you’ve ‘slept’ with him?”


“It wasn’t . . . nothing happened.  It was the night before Dad’s surgery.  I went over to his apartment; I had questions.”


“Questions,” he repeated, taking a large swig of the Scotch.


“It got late.  He offered to let me sleep on his couch, since I had to get up early to meet Mom and - “


“’Ahab’?  You can call him that in front of me too.  Where did he sleep?”


She looked away, but couldn’t control the flush that took her over.


Without warning his hand came out, backhanding her across the face.  She stumbled back stunned, her hand to her cheek.


“Oh god.”  He dropped the glass and moved toward her.  “Oh god, Dana, I’m sorry.  I - “ his face was ashen.


“Get out.”  She backed further away.  “Get out.”


“I didn’t mean - “


“Get out or I’ll call the police.  And give me your key.”


“Dana, I didn’t mean . . . I was - “


She stepped to the door and opened it.


“You don’t mean that.  I’m sorry.  I never - “


Her eyebrow was high now, her spine straight, her demeanor frigid.  Reluctantly he stepped toward her.  She didn’t speak, merely holding out her hand for the key.


“Dana - “


The look in her eyes caused part of him to shrivel up, but he fumbled for his keys.  The look in his eyes was pleading but she didn’t respond, just holding out her hand.  Finally he dropped the key into her palm.  “God knows I shouldn’t have hit you, Dana.  I’ve never done anything like that before.  It was the thought of you sleeping with . . . how could you do that to me, to us?”


“I’ll pack your things.  The super can let you in to get them.  Call first.”


He was barely out of range when she shut the door.  He heard the deadbolt engage and the chain being secured.




Patterson had kept them an extra day for paperwork.  Mulder could just as easily have written his report back in Washington.  Patterson knew his memory, which was probably why he’d had them stay - punishment.


He’d hoped to get out earlier.  Hell, he could have driven it by the time Patterson let them go.  It was going to be late, too late to see her.  Damn he missed her; she was so much a part of him now.




He let himself into the lonely apartment.  He was definitely going to buy a bed this weekend.  He showered and got ready to turn in on the couch.  He hadn’t slept much the last two nights, afraid the nightmare would return and Reggie would witness it again.  Maybe he was tired enough to sleep through the night.



He was in a large structure.  It felt empty, like a vacant warehouse.  He had his gun in his hand and he knew Scully was elsewhere, also searching through this building.  Where the hell was their back up?  They shouldn’t have separated but time was of the essence.  He didn’t dare call out for her, alerting anyone else of their presence.  He made it to corner.  Where the fucking hell was backup?  Where was Scully?  They should have met up by now.  He took a deep breath and, gun extended, rounded the corner.  The sight threatened to knock the breath out of him.  He’d found their prey - Joseph Maxwell, but so had Scully.  He had her, held tightly again him, a blade at her throat.


“Federal agent, release her.”


“Good to see you, Agent Mulder.”


“This place is surrounded.  If you want to make it out - “


“Alive?  I don’t.  I have no desire to spend the rest of my life ‘incarcerated’.  Shoot me, let’s see which of us is quicker,” he taunted.


“Scully - “


“No, you talk to me, Agent Mulder.  Do you want me to slice her quick or prick her, letting her blood out more slowly?”


“Let her go.  I can put in a good word with - “


“God you’re pathetic.  Shoot me, Mulder.  Get this over with.”


“Let her step away and we’ll talk.”


Crimson appeared on his blade as he pressed more closely to her vein.  Mulder’s fingers tightened on the trigger.  He didn’t mind killing this guy, but it wasn’t a clean shot.  He could jerk her into the path of the bullet.  “Mulder,” she nodded with her eyes.  She trusted him.


He wasn’t sure the sequence of events after that.  It all seemed to happen at once.  Scully tried to twist away, he aimed and the knife sliced into her flesh.  The bullet pierced Joseph’s brow but late, too late.  They both dropped to the concrete floor but Mulder only had eyes for her.  The blood, how much blood did she have in her - Scully!


He woke crying her name, shaking violently.  Without conscious thought the phone was in his hand, dialing her.






“Mulder?  What’s wrong?”


“I, I had to hear . . . “


“What happened?”


“Are, are you alone? Sorry, that’s none - “


“Yes, I’m alone.  Mulder, why don’t I come over there?  You, you sound upset.”


“I need to . . . “


“I’ll be there in an hour, Mulder.  Try to relax.”


He nodded, though of course she couldn’t see, and hung up the phone.  He was pacing by the time she arrived, throwing the door open and taking her into his arms before she could speak.  He kicked the door closed and had her pressed up against it.  She realized he was focused on her throat, kissing, nuzzling it, his fingers caressing it wherever his lips weren’t.


“Mulder, what happened?”


“This is a do-over.”




He leaned back and looked at her, his eyes devouring her.  Then he focused on the huge bruise on her face.  His hand cupped her cheek gently.  “What happened?”


“Nothing, I need to know what’s going on with - “


“How did you get hurt?” his voice was firm, his expression unyielding.


“Mulder - “


“Did Ethan do this?”  She looked away and his grip tightened on her arm.  “Did he hurt you?”


“He was . . . he heard your message and he was . . . “


“I caused this.”  He touched the bruise lightly.


“No.  No, he was caught off guard.  While he was waiting for me he had a few drinks.  He never hit me before.”


“So you forgive him?” his voice was tight.


“No.  He showed a side of himself I’d never seen.  I asked him to leave, well, I told him to leave.”


He just stared at her for a long moment.  She could see the anger growing in him.  “Where is he?”


“Muld - “


“Where is he?” his voice was low, dangerous.


“I’m not going to tell you, so forget it,” she faced him squarely.


Now that sounded like his Scully.  He almost smiled.  “He deserves - “


“Tell me why I’m here.”


“What?” That brought him back to his nightmare and his arms were around her again.


“You found out something, you, you understand something you didn’t before.  What happened to you?  What did you mean, ‘do-over’?”


He led her to the couch and tucked her up against him.  “You won’t believe this either.”


“Try me.”


“We had a case with a psychic, Clyde Bruckman.  He has the ability to see how everyone dies.”  She looked up at him, but waited.  “You didn’t tell me for a long time, but he told you that you don’t.”




“Don’t die.”


“Mulder - “


“I didn’t find out until you were on a case in New York.  They were trying to separate us again; you had another partner, temporarily.  Peyton Ritter, he was an idiot.  He, he shot you.”


“My partner shot me?”


“He shot the perp, but you were behind him.   You’re not a very big person, he probably didn’t see you, but that’s no excuse if you’re a half decent agent.  You check; you don’t take a shot unless you know . . .” He shuddered then and her hand was on his arm.  “It was a kill shot.  There was no way you could have survived it.  You were out of the hospital in less than two weeks.  The doctors didn’t want to talk about it.  You survived, you healed.”


“That happens, Mulder.  I’m a doctor; I know that there are times when, for unknown reasons, things go right.”


His arms tightened around her.  “You’ve beaten death a few times.”


She twisted to look up at him.


“I’ll tell you, someday.  Apparently I can change things now; I plan to make it better for you this time.  I plan to do a lot of things differently this time.”


“Talk to me, Mulder.  Tell me what happened.”




“Ha!  HORSE and in your face!” Mulder grinned at the man panting beside him.


“You cheated, you fouled me on that lay up,” he groused good naturedly.


“You keep telling yourself that, Bill.”  Mulder wiped his face off with his t-shirt and grinned as he watched Scully come out of the house.  She was carrying Emily and looking around for Will.


“He’s over there, with Dad and Matthew,” Mulder called, pointing toward his father-in-law who was manning the grill.


“Okay, keep an eye on him around that thing.  I don’t want the boys to get burned.  I’m going to nurse Emily.”


“They’ll be okay,” William called.


Mulder’s smile grew and he nodded. 


“Come on, you owe me another chance,” Bill said as he grinned and slapped Mulder’s  shoulder.


“A do-over?  Sure.”  Mulder passed him the ball.








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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.