Survivors - 1/2 (R)

 

      Pic by K.Morse


Mulder looked up as Scully entered the office

Mulder looked up as Scully entered the office.  She didn't look up or meet his eyes.  She just moved toward her computer and took a seat.  His heart broke again at the sight of her.  The sadness was pervasive.  He felt a crushing sense of guilt for a moment.  He couldn't give her the miracle she wanted, and it was his fault.

 

"Hey, Scully, you busy tonight?  We could start off the weekend with a pizza and movie at my place."

 

"Thanks, but I think I'll just head home.  I have a couple of articles I need to review."

 

"But do you want to read them?  Come on, it's Friday.  I'll be charming; I'll even let you pick the movie."  He sent her a cajoling grin.

 

"Mulder - "

 

"Great!  I can pick up the food on the way."

 

She rolled her eyes, but before she could continue her argument, there was a knock on the open door.  That caused them both to look up.  "Package for Agent Scully."  The courier held up a padded envelope.

 

"Thank you," she said as he lay the package on her desk, then handed her the electronic pad to sign.  Mulder was on his feet now and approached to see what had been delivered.  They didn't speak until they were alone again.

 

"Where's it from?"

 

"MIT."  She was still looking at the package.

 

"MIT?  Who do you know there?"

 

"Nobody comes to mind."  She pulled the strip to open the package. 

 

He picked up the note that dropped out as she opened a case that looked as though it would hold a CD.  The name made him pause.  "Scully wait!"

 

He reached for her, but it seemed as though the air had gelled.  Her eyes were wide as she reached for him in slow motion.  Her mouth was open, but no sound emerged.  He was cold, freezing.  He could feel darkness closing in on him.  Their fingers touched just as it all went black.

 

*****

 

He woke slowly but didn't open his eyes.  His first thought was that the motion was making him nauseous, so he kept his eyes closed.  The swaying was rythmetic but unwelcome.  He was cold, on one side of his body.  His right side was covered with . . . There was a lurch and he bit his lip, trying to keep his stomach down.  The warmth on his right side moved and he caught a familiar scent.  He relaxed slightly and opened his eyes.  A mass of red tangles greeted him, Scully.  Relief flooded his mind.

 

His next realization was that he was nude.  She moved slightly and he knew she was too.  She was lying face down on him, curled in on his right side.  He swallowed and tried to look around without disturbing her.

 

They were lying in a canvas hammock of some kind.  There was another hammock above them and it seemed to be occupied as well.  They were on something like a train car it seemed, but the only light came from a naked bulb hanging from the ceiling in the aisle to his left.  It swayed with the movement of the car.

 

The train lurched again and Scully grasped at him, as she snapped awake. 

 

"It's okay, Scully."  His arms tightened around her.

 

"M-Mulder?  What - " She realized their state of undress then and tried to jerk away from him.

 

"Hold still, Scully.  It's okay, just relax."

 

"Relax?"  She lowered her voice.  "What the hell's going on?"

 

"I don't know," he whispered.  "Scully, wherever we are, you know I'm not going to hurt you or take advantage.  I'm also depressingly sure you haven't taken advantage of me, so relax."

 

"Mulder, what's going on?" she hissed, embarrassed by his words.

 

He kept her pressed against him, using her for his modesty as well as protecting hers.  He spotted what looked like blue uniforms on a hook at the end of their hammock.  He nodded in that direction and she looked.  "Do you want me to get them?"

 

"I, uh, okay."  She rolled away from him, turning her back.  He sat up and snagged the clothing.  He yanked the larger pair of pants on and passed the smaller set to her.

 

"Thanks," she said in a low voice and he finally turned around.  This was a familiar look on her; they were wearing what looked like surgical scrubs.  He took the remaining tunic and slipped it over his head.  "Where are we?" she whispered, the fear still in her eyes.

 

He shook his head and turned to crawl out of the hammock.  Her hand grasped his arm.  "No!"

 

He looked back, startled.  "We need to see what's going on."

 

After a moment she nodded and when he was on his feet, moved to follow him.  That caused him to hesitate, but it was better to have her beside him.  He lifted her down, then looked up and down the train car.  No shoes were in evidence.  There were four other couples, all in the upper hammocks.  There were no windows.  This was obviously a freight car that had been outfitted for passengers.  There was a porta-john in one corner.  He looked back at her, then opened the door.  It was empty.  "You first?"

 

She wouldn't meet his eyes, but stepped past him and entered the tiny cubicle.

 

He moved away, checking out the rest of the car.  There was room for eight couples, why only five?  No luggage or food was visible.  He turned when he heard the door open.  She looked around quickly and when she spotted him, visibly relaxed.

 

He approached her quickly.  "You okay?" he asked, his voice low in deference to the others still sleeping.

 

She took a shaky breath. "Yes, I'm fine."

 

He tried to control his expression at those words, then squeezed her shoulder and entered the cubicle himself.

 

She returned to their hammock.  There was nothing in it.  The clothing that had hung on the peg was the only thing besides them.  She turned as the couple nearest the front of the car stirred.

 

She tensed and automatically reached for her gun.  Of course there was nothing but her empty waistband.

 

She backed away from them.  She wanted to slip back into the hammock they had used, but that left Mulder alone and vulnerable.  As though sensing her, he quietly emerged and moved quickly to her side.

 

Before he could speak, the light bulb flickered and the train began to move down an incline.  Her hand went out to steady herself and Mulder grabbed her arm.  He groped his way back to the hammock and pulled them both back up into it.  The incline sharpened and the light went out completely.

 

She clutched him and his arm tightened around her.  "What's going on?" she asked again, though she knew he had no more information than she did.

 

"It feels like we're moving underground.  Maybe we're on a subway.  We're slowing down as well."

 

"And where will we be when we stop?"

 

He looked down.  He couldn't see her well in the darkness, but he could feel her fear.  The problem was he shared it.

 

When the train leveled out again, the light flickered back on.  "Scully, why isn't anyone else waking up?  I mean, this isn't exactly the smoothest ride."

 

"Maybe they're drugged.  I could - " she went silent as the train jerked to a halt. 

 

"Too bad I know you're not packing a gun under that outfit," he whispered as he held her close.  The door opened with the whoosh of an air lock.  Three individuals entered wearing radiation suits and pushing a gurney.  He felt Scully tense against him.

 

The three ignored them, obviously assuming everyone was drugged.  They approached the first hammock and loaded the man onto the gurney.  He was wheeled out as they loaded the woman onto a second gurney.  They worked silently until they approached Mulder and Scully's hammock. 

 

Mulder sat up and the man in front startled back.  "You're awake."

 

"Is that a problem?"

 

"No, it saves us some work.  Come on."

 

"Where to?"

 

"Don't they tell you guys anything?  You've been sent to the Raleigh Dome, at least for the next year."

 

Raleigh?  Mulder kept quiet. 

 

"Just follow me.  There'll be a briefing." 

 

Mulder looked him up and down.  "What about shoes?"

 

"They'll be issued, along with all of your supplies."  He headed toward the door then.  Mulder placed Scully just ahead of him, his hand on her back, but holding her close.

 

The swooshing of the air lock made them exchange glances, then they were inside a short corridor with an elevator at the end.  There was no other option.  Scully stiffened her spine and stepped into the car.  Mulder was right behind her.

 

There was a woman waiting for them.  "I heard you were awake.  Please, come with me, we'll go ahead and assign you a room."  She looked down at her clipboard.  "I don't seem to have your paperwork here.  That's not unusual, but I need your names."

 

"Oh, yeah.  I'm William, this is Katherine."

 

She made notes on the paper and smiled.  She motioned them toward a room on the left and they entered it.  Still no windows; and the ceiling was none too tall.  It was dark and the plants hanging from the ceiling made it seem even darker.  There was what seemed to be an examining table and locked cabinets.  The amenities just weren't cutting it.

 

The woman joined them after a moment.  "I'm Jennifer.  I just need some information, since we don't have your paperwork; and I'll need some blood."

 

"Blood?"  Mulder's eyes narrowed.

 

"Just a drop, from the finger.  We'll do the more elaborate tests in a few days after you're settled."

 

They exchanged glances, but a prick to get a drop or two should be okay.  Scully nodded and held out her left hand.  After taking a pipette of Scully's blood, Jennifer took Mulder's blood as well. 

 

Within moments, the darkness took them both.

 

*****

 

At least the bed wasn't moving this time.  Scully was pressed against him, but she was wearing something and he at least had on boxers.

 

"Hey, Scully?" he said softly.

 

She protested mutely, but then realized she was again lying pressed up against her partner.  She jerked away from him and very nearly fell off the bed.  His arm around her kept her from hitting the floor.  He pulled her back against him.  "Be careful."

 

She didn't say anything.

 

Without rising, he looked around the room.  He estimated it at twelve by twelve.  There was one straight back chair, a small four-drawer, wooden dresser that had seen better days and the bed they were in.  It wasn't even a full double bed, which partially accounted for their close proximity.

 

"Now what?" She finally met his eyes.

 

"I don't have a clue, but I don't like that we were knocked out again."  He rose and flinched as his bare feet hit the cold floor.  She tried to hide her sigh of relief that he wore boxers.  He opened the closest door and she saw the tiny bathroom beyond it.  There was a sink, toilet and small shower stall.  He looked back at her and shrugged.

 

The second door hid a tiny closet.  The bath and closet had obviously been added after the room had been built, making the room even smaller.  The wall the bath and closet shared was cinder block.  The word "bleak" described it perfectly.

 

He looked into the closet again and realized that all of the clothing looked the same; uniform blue and made from the same sturdy cloth as what they had put on when they woke on the train.  At his look she rose and joined him.  It was only a couple of steps, but before she got there, a knock on the door startled them.

 

"Bill, Kat, get up.  Breakfast is ready."

 

Mulder and Scully looked at each other.  "Bill and Kat?" Mulder mouthed to her.  She shrugged.  "Uh, yeah, we're up."

 

"Better hurry," the voice said and moved on.

 

"Mulder?"  She was shivering slightly now and not just because of the cold floor.

 

He pulled her against him, ignoring their lack of clothing and held her.  "I don't know.  At least it seems to be morning for a change," he whispered in her ear, "but I think we need to play along for a little while and see what we can find out."

 

She took a steadying breath and nodded.  "I don't think we can both fit in that bathroom." He tried a leer, but she ignored it. "You go first. I'll see what these clothes are."  He squeezed her hand once more as she moved away from him.

 

She shut the door to the bathroom.  He moved toward the dim light in the corner.  There were plants on the table and a fern hanging from the ceiling, just like the room they had waited in last night.  After a moment he reached into the closet.  There were three tunics with the name Bill in permanent marker over the left breast pocket.  There were also three with the name Kat in the same location.  These were slightly smaller, but still too large for her.  There were also draw string pants in the two sizes.

 

The fabric had been washed so many times it was soft.  He pulled out a set and slipped them on before Scully returned. 

 

She hesitated just outside the door.

 

"Scully?"

 

"The, uh, the water never got hot.  I didn't take a shower."


"You okay?"  He moved closer.

 

She met his eyes. "I want to know what's going on."

 

"We'll figure it out; remember they promised us a briefing.  Wait for me.  Don't open the door."  He looked in that direction.  "Our stuff isn't here; no guns, cell phones, IDs."

 

She didn't respond, just glanced at the door.  A good breeze would blow it down, but she nodded and he let himself into the tiny bathroom.  She dressed quickly, finding well used but clean underwear in the dresser.  Even though the outfit with Kat on the front was smaller, she still had to roll up the pant legs several times.  The smaller pair of work boots beside the door fit reasonably well.

 

He quickly joined her and slipped on his shoes.  "Breakfast time."

 

She took a deep breath and stayed close to his side as he opened the door.  There were other couples in the hall, all headed to the right, so Mulder and Scully followed along.

 

A couple of people nodded, but there was little conversation.  They came to a large room set up as a cafeteria.  They both noticed that plants were everywhere, hanging from the ceiling, lining the walls and near the lights on the serving table.  Mulder joined the line, placing Scully in front of him.  There were probably forty couples in the room, some were already seated, eating, others were arriving.

 

They were each handed a bowl of runny oatmeal and a cup of coffee.  Scully looked at it with distaste, but headed toward a table.  They sat side by side and looked around for seasonings, coffee fixings.  There were none.

 

The coffee was hot, but weak and the oatmeal was bland, almost gruel.  No one seemed to be complaining, eating the food in silence.

 

Mulder had lost his appetite at the smell.  Oatmeal had never been his favorite, but at Scully's silent urging he'd forced himself to swallow it.  After the coffee, people began waking up a little and conversations started up.

 

"Where are we assigned today?" a man down the table from them asked.  "Did anybody check?"

 

"We're harvesting," a second man spoke up, pointing to a clipboard hanging by the door.

 

"Yeah, I guess most of us are this week," the first man spoke.  A couple of others nodded.  They began rising, taking their dirty dishes to the window into the kitchen.  Bowls were rinsed; mismatched silverware went into soapy tubs.

 

Then, with his hand on her back, Mulder and Scully fell into line following the two couples from their table outside.  Damn, this felt like something out of Orwell's 1984.  Everyone dressed alike and moving more like automatons than anything else.

 

As the others picked up wide brim hats from pegs near the door, he picked up the two on the pegs with masking tape marked Bill and Kat.  He handed her one and her eyebrow rose.

 

Her steps faltered as they stepped outside.  The sky wasn't right.  It took an instant to realize they were inside a large dome, but outside of the dome was even worse.  The sky was a dirty orange and yellow with streaks of brown.  There was light but it reminded him of the light just before a major storm or an eclipse.  No wonder the ancients thought it was the end of the world, this was.

 

There was no privacy so they only exchanged looks.  One of the men from the table, the one with Randy on his tunic, looked up as well.  "It is lighter, isn't it?"  He shook his head. "Makes me glad we're this far south." 

 

There was no good response to that, so they headed down a short dirt road to the fields.  Mulder looked back at the building they had exited.  It was squat and gray and dismal looking.  There were no windows but the cinder block building had been bermed which accounted for the coolness inside.  There were even plants growing on the roof.  It was as close to a man-made cave as he'd ever seen.

 

Randy grabbed up a basket and turned into a row of beans.

 

Mulder took a basket from the same stack and followed Scully deeper into the row, giving them some privacy.  They both leaned over and began picking the beans from the vine.  "Mulder, what the hell could cause that to the sky?"

 

He shook his head, his face grave.  "I don't know, but it looks damn lethal."

 

"I don't know of anything that would cause - "

 

"Anything natural."

 

"Are you thinking . . . " She looked around to make certain they couldn't be heard.  "Aliens?"

 

"I'm not saying anything.  Whatever happened, how could we just wake up here, and not know what's going on?  We were put on that train, with nothing, not even clothes.  Then we were knocked out again."

 

She sighed then and continued with the beans.  They were quiet, each thinking their own thoughts, staying close to one another.  When the first basket was full she took one side of the basket to help him carry it to the cart.  He didn't protest, wanting to keep her within arms length.

 

After a couple of hours, a new cart pulled up with water and lunch, so they took a break.  The full cart pulled away.  They washed up, then each took a thickly sliced sandwich with cheese and a thin layer of meat she didn't want to identify.

 

A thin man, shorter than Mulder, with Vince over his pocket, took a seat in the shade of the truck near Scully and leaned against the tire, stretching his back. "I heard a rumor that we were expecting some new people from north." He looked over at Mulder. "That where you're from?"

 

"North?" Randy's companion, with Sue written on her uniform, said.  "I haven't seen anyone from north is ages."

 

"Well I'm sure they're not talking due north, probably western Pennsylvania, not near DC."  Vince took a swig of water.  "Right, Bill?"

 

Mulder smiled. "Farther west, Ohio."

 

Vince nodded.  "It's good here.  You have to work, but you have shelter and food, medical care.  I know we're lucky to be here.  If you have any questions or anything, let us know."  He offered.

 

"Thanks, we'll do that," Mulder answered.

 

"I haven't seen Rob or Vanessa today." Sue looked around.

 

"Didn't you hear?"  Vince grinned. "Vanessa is confirmed pregnant."

 

Randy sat forward.  "You're kidding.  That lucky SOB."  He shook his head, "When are they leaving?"

 

"As soon as possible, I'm sure; probably this afternoon.  They're going to want to get them south of here while they're both still fertile," Vince offered.

 

Sue glanced at Randy, but then stared down at her feet.  Mulder and Scully exchanged looks.  Once the lunch was finished, they returned to the fields. 

 

The sky was beginning to darken in the east when they finally heard the bell to return to the buildings.  Mulder straightened up, stretching his back and groaning slightly.  Still he held out his hand to help Scully up.  They trudged back inside and returned to their rooms to clean up.

 

"You take first shower, Mulder." 

 

He looked like he was going to protest for a moment, then nodded.  He moved into the bathroom.  She stretched across the bottom of the bed.  His shower was short and he returned to the room with the thin towel around his waist.  It wasn't quite large enough to wrap around his hips.  He sidled around her and she rose, avoiding looking in his direction.

 

Her shower was quick as well and when she stepped out, she understood why Mulder had returned to the room to dry off.  Even as small as she was, she would have trouble maneuvering in this space.  After scratching her elbow on the cinder blocks, she gave up and opened the door.

 

Mulder had taken her place across the foot of the bed.  The small towel hid his privates, but she could see the long line of his torso and hip naked before her.  Tired as she was, the sight caused a reaction.  She tamped down on it immediately; they were in a survival situation.

 

She realized he had opened his eyes and was watching her.  Color flooded her cheeks and she turned abruptly, trying to hide the fact.

 

"Sorry, I drifted off."  She heard him rise from the bed.

 

"It's okay.  We're both exhausted."

 

"Uh, if you'll stay there for a minute, I'll get out of your way."  He pulled open the closet door and reached for a second uniform.  "I'll go - "

 

"No!"  She turned and he rapidly pulled the slacks to his waist.  "I mean, don't leave."

 

"Scully?"

 

"I don't think we should be separated.  We don't - "

 

"Okay," he said quickly.  "Go ahead and dress."  He kept his back to her as she hurried to put on a new uniform herself.  "I understand all the plants now.  They're trying to keep the oxygen level up.  Do you know what the little plants on the table are?"

 

"Uh, yes.  We have basil, chives, fennel and I think that's oregano.  They're kitchen herbs.  The spider plant must be just for oxygen.  Mulder when did all this happen?  I mean, they couldn't have hidden this structure."

 

He nodded and turned when her hand came to rest on his arm.  "We need to get out there for dinner.  We can go over my theory later."

 

She seemed to wilt, but nodded.  His hand on the small of her back seemed appreciated.  The hall was deserted, but as they neared the dining room, Scully spotted Sue, seated on the floor in a dark corner.

 

She hesitated, then squatted beside her.  Mulder stood as though a guard over them.  "Sue?  What's wrong?"

 

Sue shook her head, wiping her tears away.  When she looked up at Scully, she sighed.  "I am happy for Vanessa and Rob."

 

That took Scully a couple of seconds, then she remembered - the couple that were pregnant.  "I'm sure you are."    

 

"I'm just so scared.  Randy and I only have two months left."

 

"Two . . . ?"

 

Sue nodded.  "Then they'll separate us.  I knew the rules, and it seemed like a wonderful opportunity.  I really thought we'd get pregnant, I mean a year.  But now I'm terrified.  We're not like a lot of the couples here.  We were married . . . before.  I'll be given to strangers."  Tears welled up again.

 

"Strangers?"

 

"Okay, not complete strangers, but not Randy.  You've got time, twelve months, but if the problem is me, and Randy gets one of his other partners pregnant, then the two of them will go south and I'll be sent north alone!"

 

"Sue, you need to calm down."  Scully put her arm around her, missing the grim look on Mulder's face.  "The stress won't help.  Are you, are you ovulating?"

 

"Next week," she murmured.

 

"I'm sure you know this, but don't have sex with Randy again until then.  You know, build up the maximum sperm.  Okay?"

 

Sue nodded, hiccupping slightly.

 

"You need to eat."  Scully started to rise and felt Mulder's hand on her elbow.  He took Sue's hand to lift her to her feet as well.

 

Scully wouldn't meet Mulder's eyes.  Giving advice on how to get pregnant was outside of her field.  "Go splash some water on your face, Sue, then come join us."

 

Sue nodded and moved away from them down the hall.

 

"Mulder?"

 

He shook his head.  "Let's eat.  We can talk when we're alone."

 

She noted his face was carefully blank, almost to the point of his panic face, but she wasn't sure she wanted to know his thoughts right now.

 

Again they joined the line and were given bowls of a hearty stew.  Scully recognized some of the beans they had harvested that day.  She didn't recognize the meat again, but overheard some people at the next table discuss the procreation rate of squirrels.  Mulder got two large pieces of the bread for them to clean their bowls.

 

After the meal Jennifer entered the room.  Mulder's eyes narrowed but she didn't seem the least disturbed if she even noticed.  She quietly spoke to several couples, then approached Scully.  "We're going to have a briefing now, if you'll follow me."

 

"Are you planning to knock us out again?"  Mulder asked just as quietly.

 

Her smile faded.  "There are tests that have to be run.  That's why we transport you unconscious.  You're very lucky to be here at all, I don't think you're going to want to protest."  She pasted a smile back on her face.  "Follow me, please."

 

Scully's hand on his arm kept him quiet.  He rose from the table and fell in behind Scully, following the other couples to another smaller room set up with chairs in a horseshoe pattern.  He recognized one of the couples from their train car.  Probably the others had come in with them as well.

 

Once everyone was seated, the small, balding man sitting at the front of the room stood and smiled.  "Welcome.  I'm Dr. Rubin.  First, congratulations on being selected to join us here.  You are among the healthiest people in what used to be the United States, which makes you among the healthiest in the world.  You have been selected to live here for up to eighteen months.  You will be with your current mate for twelve of those months.  This is the most important project in the history of mankind - survival.  We will monitor you closely, but we want you to try not to become stressed.  I would love to be able to reassure you that all of you will get pregnant quickly.  You know I would be lying, but we have every hope that will be the outcome.  When you do become pregnant, you will be transported south immediately and hopefully have many more children."

 

Scully had frozen at those words, staring straight ahead.  Mulder had been looking around the room, at the other couples.  They were smiling and holding hands or had their arms around each other.  At the word pregnant, he turned to her.  He could see her shock, he could feel his own.  He let his hand rub her back slightly but he didn't think she even noticed.

 

They both missed the next few sentences, then Dr. Rubin released them to return to their rooms with the advice to stretch out well before going to bed.  Mulder noted there was no question and answer session.

 

"Excuse me, Dr. Rubin, have you been able to analyze the radiation?"

 

The smaller man hesitated at the door.  "Are you a scientist, Bill?"

 

"No, but I thought knowing the type of radiation could help in treatment."

 

"We're not working on that part of the process here.  We are focused exclusively on the fertility program.  It's our theory that we can develop a resistant human."

 

"Resistant.  Well, I hope you're right."

 

Mulder helped Scully to her feet and guided her out into the hall.  She looked up at him then, but he motioned for her to keep quiet.  She subsided and let him lead her to their room.

 

He seated her on the bed and squatted in front of her.  "Scully?"

 

"What's your theory?"

 

He blinked at that, but if that's what she could handle right now, he'd take her lead.  "Do you remember the package that was delivered just before everything went screwy?"

 

After a moment with her forehead wrinkled she nodded.  "From MIT."

 

"Right.  You had the box and I picked up the note.  It was from Lisa Ianelli.  Remember that name?"

 

She met his eyes then, her mouth had fallen open.  "The future.  You think we're in the future."

 

He slowly nodded.  "I think they, I think the aliens came.  Colonization, Scully.  We knew it was coming, so did the government.  The government had to have built this place, these places.  Something had to have gone wrong for them.  We still exist, humans still exist.  No one's said when we are, but it can't be too far - "

 

She rose then and he scrambled to his feet.  She didn't speak, but moved toward the bathroom and shut the door behind her.  He sank down on the bed and after a moment let his face fall into his hands.  They were here to get pregnant?  That wasn't going to happen, even if they were involved that way.  With the in-vitro he'd only gotten a plastic cup.  And then in her disappointment and depression she'd moved even farther from him. She'd never wanted to move their relationship in that direction and he respected that, even if she was the one who helped him get to sleep most nights - she just didn't happen to be there.

 

Deep in his musings, he didn't hear the bathroom door open.  She stood there watching him.  Well, she could see how disturbed he was by tonight's revelations.  His life was in danger and she couldn't cover his back this time.  She wasn't going to get pregnant.  She couldn't even get pregnant with special medical assistance.

 

"Mulder?"

 

He jerked upright and rose to his feet.  "You okay?"

 

She shrugged slightly.

 

"We'll be all right, Scully.  We've gone undercover as a couple before; and . . . and we know each other."

 

"I know.  I'm wondering what we do in a year."

 

"We'll be home before that."

 

"Oh?  You're working on the process now?" She sounded tired and brittle.

 

"Let's get some rest.  We don't have any answers right now, but tomorrow morning we'll have to be back in the fields."

 

"Mulder, I can't . . . "

 

He took her hand and pulled her to him.  "I know you're tired.  We'll think of something."

 

"Like what?"

 

"Scully, please."

 

Instead of answering him she looked down at the bed.  He saw her conflict, but surely she didn't expect him to sleep sitting up in that little chair.  After a moment she seemed to relax.  "You're right; we need to get some sleep."

 

She lay down on her side of the bed a little stiffly and after a moment, he joined her.  She tensed up even more, but he drew her back against him as he spooned around her.  "Relax, Scully.  There's not that much room and we're going to need to get comfortable.  Come on, partner, you trust me."

 

"Yes, Mulder.  I do."  She seemed to finally relax at that.  They spoke no more of aliens that night.

 

The next day was the same, but after dinner some couples sat around the tables visiting, relaxing, as others returned to their rooms.  Scully looked over at him, to follow his lead.  He gave her a tiny shrug, then rose and moved with her over toward a small group of people at a nearby table.  She recognized Vince and saw that an oriental woman from the kitchen had joined him.

 

Mulder joined in the conversation that focused mainly on sore muscles.  The topic eventually turned to the group of new couples that had recently arrived and the additional ones that were expected to replace the couple that had left.  Scully noted there was some grumbling that new couples from the north would be given a full year, while people they had grown to know would be sent away.

 

No one spoke of what had caused this disaster.

 

"What exactly happens when someone's sent north?"  Mulder finally asked, ready to defend his ignorance if necessary. 

 

It wasn't.  "It's just so much worse there.  The domes can't keep out that much of the radiation.  I've heard you live inside the factories all the time; never go outside at all.  They gave up trying to grow any crops.  The only things they make are the durables, uniforms, shoes, that kind of thing.  They exchange them for the food from here and other domes in the southern areas."  Vince shook his head. "Even then, people don't seem to last long."

 

Scully saw the look of fear in most everyone's eyes and leaned against Mulder.  He looked down at her, "Well, morning's going to come early."  He rose and took her hand.  A chorus of good night's followed them out into the hall.

 

When they got to the room, he saw that she had stopped and was staring at the bed.  "Uh, Scully, you were okay with sharing the bed last night, weren't you?"

 

She glanced around the room.  "Not a lot of options, Mulder.  Try and stay on your side."

 

A genuine grin split his face, erasing some of his weariness.  "I'll be good."

 

"I'll settle for you trying to be good."  She took her nightgown from the peg on the bathroom door and closed it behind her.  He relaxed visibly.  She trusted him, he knew that, but this was a different situation, even for them.  He stripped down to his boxers and crawled under the covers.

 

When she emerged, her uniform folded over her arm, she glanced at his clothes tossed over the chair.  She glared at him, then hung both uniforms in the closet.  "I'm not your mother.  We don't know how many sets of these we have, Mulder.  If we mess up two a day . . . "

 

"You're right.  Thanks."  He nodded.  Mother?  Not even close.  She rolled onto her side, her back to him and seemed to be asleep shortly.  It took him longer, even though he was exhausted.  Her proximity wasn't helping, but the things he'd heard throughout the day kept replaying in his mind.

 

Their only true safety lay in the ability to get pregnant.  That wasn't going to happen, but at least they had some time on that.  Unfortunately he didn't have much faith in waking up at home tomorrow, so . . .  North was deadly, near D.C.  That sounded like a massive attack and from the color of the sky, from a weapon he was unfamiliar with.  It had to be aliens.  But even with colonization why kill off the humans?  Did they not even need consumables anymore?

 

Scully stirred as though picking up his tension.  He couldn't do anything about that right now.  Instead he spooned around her body and allowed himself to relax in the comfort of her.  Sleeping with her was no problem, even in this tiny bed.  In fact they seemed to fit perfectly together.  He finally drifted off surrounded by her scent.

 

*****

 

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