Title: Colonization
Author: eponine119
Written: December 25, 1996
Disclaimer: The X Files, Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox are the owners of the characters in this story.
Category: Scifi/romance

Summary: What it might be like after the aliens arrive.

Author's notes: My prime inspirations for this story were "ID4" and William B. Davis's convention routine on "Why is Colonization a bad thing?" I don't think alien invasion of the earth would be like ID4. I think it might be more like this...


Washington, D.C.
twenty minutes into the future....

Mulder was gone and she had to begin to face the very real possibility that he would not be coming back. It had been months now. The first light snowfall had come to lightly blanket the sidewalks and streets of Washington D.C. The last time she had seen him, the sun had still shone strong with summer. So many things had changed since then.

Scully pulled her hands out of her pockets, braving the cold, to tuck her windblown hair back behind her ears. The wind was cold, stinging her skin, but she had to clear her head and a walk in the cold seemed to be the only thing that would do it these days. She wondered for a moment where she had lost her gloves - nice, black leather gloves Mulder had given her the first Christmas of their partnership together. She had thought it sweet that he had noticed and remembered how cold her hands got. Now they were gone, and so was he.

It made her heart hurt.

She stopped in the middle of the deserted sidewalk to stare at the monument across the street. It brought tears to her eyes. It had always held that power over her - to bring tears of patriotism and pride, thinking of the greatness of the man it honored, and the country he had protected. Now the tears came for a different reason.

Over the last four months, she had seen that pride in truth and justice and right systematically destroyed.

Without looking for cars - she knew there would be none - she stepped out into the street and crossed it quickly. She ran up the stairs and stopped at the fence, threading her hands through wire-formed rungs and propping one of her feet up in an effort to get closer to the violated statue of the great man.

The statue of Abraham Lincoln was covered in graffiti, blood red and black. Protests that ran together until they had no meaning any longer. The walls behind him, inscribed with his historic words, were also stained. Scully could only shake her head and after a long moment, turn away. America had fallen.

Trouble was, most people hadn't even realized. Too busy paying attention to the details of their lives and not enough attention the the world around them, they had not noticed. That was the way it always was. And it had worked in the others' favor. Freedom required vigilance. People forgot that in this day and age - where America had not waged a war on its own soil in more than a century.

Mulder hadn't forgotten it. And he hadn't been blind to the changes. He'd anticipated them.

She should have. She had the knowledge. But she, too, had not been paying attention. What was I paying attention to? she asked herself for the millionth time. She had no answers. She put her hands back in her pockets and put her head down against the wind, not looking at the monolith or the reflecting pool that honored the father of her nation.

Petty things had been on her mind, she knew as she thought about it: wanting to go home and have a hot bath and sleep in my own bed. Missing my father and Missy and Queequeg. Taking all of the things I had in the present for granted, yearning for the things I'd had in the past. Taking Mulder for granted. Mulder and his crazy theories.

A bright light directed at her eyes brought Scully's feet to a halt. Her head came up, her eyes wide as she looked at the black-coated men standing before her.

"What are you doing here, Miss?" one of them asked.

She shook her head. "Walking."

"Cold night for a walk," said the other, shifting a fraction of an inch closer to her. Threatening her.

She shrugged. "I lost track of the time. And the temperature. I'm sorry. I was heading home now."

"We're going to need to see your papers, Miss."

She nodded, but her hands began to shake anyway. She had been through the routine before; she knew she would pass their scrutiny. But it never eased her worries that this time would be the time. That somehow, like the Thought Police in Orwell's 1984, they could hear her traitorous thoughts and haul her away for them.

She watched the officer's hands as they accepted her papers and sorted through them. She didn't want to look at his face. A moment later, he snapped her passport and her badge closed abruptly and passed them back to her. "Dr. Scully," he said apologetically, "We're sorry, we didn't know."

"'s all right," she said, tucking the items back into her pocket.

The other officer took a step back; she was now worthy of her own personal space. "We'd be happy to provide you with an escort home."

"That won't be necessary," she informed them coldly and began walking.

"Dr. Scully-" one of the officers called after her, futilely. She ignored it.

Out of the corner of her eye, she could see another pair of officers. And a man who was not so lucky as herself. They were beating him. He would be taken to the camps. She didn't know what would happen to him then; she could only speculate. She did not imagine it would be pleasant. She did not imagine he would survive.

Is this the way it happened to Mulder? she asked herself. A routine stop, ending in a beating and capture? She did not want to believe that, although in some ways it was easier on her conscience.

She glanced back at the man who was being taken into custody. A bottle of spray paint lay at his feet. His hands were stained an incriminating black. On the wall above the officer's heads was a four-limbed, crippled spider. The symbol of Nazi Germany. Once it had been a sign for hate. Now it was a sign of remembrance of events that Americans were being encouraged to forget. Events so horrible that they should never be forgotten so they would never be repeated.


She slouched down on her couch back at home, safely wrapped up in a blanket against the chill. She sipped the scotch she'd poured for herself and stared at the moving images on the TV screen, but as usual neither served to dim her thoughts.

She didn't imagine it had happened that way - Mulder, caught off guard, being captured and taken away. She couldn't see it. It didn't feel right.

She put her glass down on the end table, her arm falling limply against her side as her eyes slid closed. Not asleep. Remembering.

They had argued that night in the basement, as they had argued many times before. The same argument, over and over. Mulder's eyes flashing at her. She set her lips, crossed her arms, closed her mind. After a moment, he'd turned away. She'd assumed everything was all right. He put on his glasses, sat down at his desk, opening the file that lay there. Assured he was going to spend the night reading, she went to get a bite to eat. Took a walk to clear her head.

When she returned, he was gone. The file was gone, his glasses, his jacket, his gun and his badge...

She could again feel the mild irritation that he'd ditched her. Again. She should have expected it; he did it to her often enough. She didn't agree, so he left her. It pissed her off. She dumped her sandwich and the one she'd brought for him in the trash, grabbed her purse and stormed out.

No answer at his apartment. No answer on his cell phone. He'd call her eventually, when he needed her help. He always did.

But this time no call came. She knew, when she went to their office late the next night, after twenty four hours with no word, that he hadn't just ditched her. That he wasn't coming back this time. It filled her heart with dread and guilt, but she couldn't change that knowledge.

She never mentioned it to Skinner and he never mentioned it to her. She had been reassigned to teaching without either of them speaking Mulder's name. Scully had felt the rage inside, but she had locked it away deep. It wasn't safe to feel these things, to think such thoughts. She wanted to be with him, but she didn't want to be where he was.

What she could see in her mind's eye was Mulder doing something he had done many times before. Something she'd done with him once or twice. Taking a shortcut through the woods in the dead of night, not daring to switch on his flashlight to illuminate his path. Breaking into a secret government facility that most people strove to break out of.

All the other times they had released him. But not this time. It was hard for Scully to believe that they could view Mulder as a threat. If someone had asked her before any of this began who she thought their biggest enemy would be, she would have said without a doubt, people like herself. The non believers.

That had turned out to be the furthest from the truth. It was the believers who were dangerous to them. Because believers had ideas, they knew in their hearts the way the future was supposed to come. And that future, the one built on science fiction's ideals of peace and unity and freedom for all, conflicted with the society they were striving to create.

And she just went along with it. She was, in fact, a valuable member of the new society - a respected teacher and scientist, a woman who had the knowledge to teach others what they needed to know in this time of change. Knowledge she had acquired through her work with Mulder. She had always been a part of their agenda. Though she knew she should fight them, she didn't even know where to begin.

She knew Mulder would despise her for it.

She flinched and opened her eyes as she could hear his voice in her head calling her a coward. She was not a coward; that she did know. It took tremendous courage to remain strong in this created society. To fit in and still remember.

She lowered the volume of the laugh track on the television and slid down into a lying position on the couch. This was a show she had enjoyed before the changes came - a show about four aliens who came to earth and comically discovered the strangeness of earth's ways. She didn't like it now, though the American public adored it. It embodied the aliens' struggle to understand - it made the public understand them. It was second only to the show about the six attractive aliens who hung out in the coffee shop and talked about the strangeness of life. She switched off the light and let the flicker of the TV signal lull her into sleep.

She woke in the middle of the night, cold and lonely and disoriented in her own apartment. She didn't know what had woken her. Scully sat up and looked around. She noticed the red message light on her answering machine was flashing, and it hadn't been before. She yawned. She'd slept through four rings and the message. The scotch had done its part, she thought, even though it was only two and she had hours to fill. It was Saturday - she could sleep in if she wished. But she never did. She knew she would be in the lab, working, before eight.

She leaned against the arm of the couch, not wanting to rise and listen to the message just yet,. She looked at the images on the TV screen. It was a late night informational show - not really a talk show, but not really a commercial either. A perky young reporter, pretty and all-American was interviewing Washington. Scully looked at his large black eyes with apathy. She couldn't even summon hatred for the first of their creatures to make himself known; only a mild distaste that he had called himself after the father of democracy. That he claimed to be all for the betterment of mankind. When she knew he had his own agenda. Mankind was just one easily overcome obstacle.

She turned off the TV, plummeting the room into darkness. The blinking red message light beckoned to her. She had to listen to it. It might be important. For someone to call, it had to be. She led a solitary existence - one might even call it empty now that Mulder was gone. Her phone never rang; there was never any mail waiting for her but bills.

She rose from the couch, allowing hope to enter her heart. Maybe it was Frohike. Maybe he knew something. Even though it was unlikely - he wouldn't call her here and blow his careful planning. He wouldn't come up from underground without precautions.

Scully stood next to the machine, letting herself hope for a few more moments before pressing the button. It was such a rare feeling for her. The Lone Gunmen had known the change was coming and knew what it would mean for people like them. The underground was the only place for them, and there was little chance they would ever be able to emerge.

In World War Two, there had been neutral countries. Countries fighting for what was right. That was not the way this time. The global community had come. There was nowhere to go to escape. No hope of defeating the enemy - because they were not seen as an enemy. This had not been war; it had been evolution. The people had been preparing psychologically for years. They just had not known.

Scully pressed the button.

A short, terse message from one of the higher level peasants. An officer. She had known him before the change; had been a part of his agenda when he assigned her to spy on Mulder. She took orders from him as much as she ever had. He liked her, she knew, he was responsible for her safety. She owed her freedom to him and to her complacency.

Suddenly the walls were closing in on her. She had to get out of this oppressive apartment, so representative of her life. A life she was quickly coming to hate herself for living. Her life was a lie. She did not believe in anything she was doing; she hated the society in which she lived. And there was no way to fight. There were few in the world who saw any reason to fight. The coming of the extraterrestrials had improved life for the common man, and the man in power. Men had short memories.

That was why they didn't notice the changes and wonder what they meant. The history books were rewritten, relearned, retaught. People disappeared every single day. Not dissenters, just people whose ideas could be dangerous to the agenda. Writers, thinkers, citizens. People who believed.

Scully walked quickly. If they caught her this late at night, they would know something was going on. She didn't think she could lie her way out of it. She didn't know if she had the heart to any more. Maybe if they caught her, she would disappear to where Mulder was.

But she knew that where Mulder was, was death. She had not forgotten. She remembered the films of concentration camps, internment camps, work camps. Starvation and brainwashing and experimentation. Try as she might to deny that these things were happening again at the hands of the new power over the world, she could not. The cadavers she examined and studied and taught came from somewhere. Every time, her stomach sickened and she prayed that she could pass one more day without seeing Mulder's face on a pallored corpse. So far that prayer had been granted.

Her feet followed a familiar path and this time she didn't stop herself. She didn't care any more. Perhaps torture and death would be worth it. Perhaps Mulder's accusing voice in her head was the truth: she was a coward to live this way. Maybe if she disappeared, she would get to see him once more before she died. She did not have the heart to kill herself, knowing that there would be no escape. But she could let them do it for her.

The apartment stood empty, as it had since he had gone. She wondered what had become of the apartments of the Jews and so many others who had been taken in World War Two. Had their apartments stood untouched and empty, like this one now? It chilled her, standing here, in his unused space.

She jumped as she noticed something out of place.

She had returned here, trying to keep hope alive during the first weeks he had been gone. On the pretense of feeding Mulder's fish, she had spent long hours in this apartment, searching for clues to his disappearance. Where he might have gone. She had found little. It had all been taken, she assumed. What remained was a leatherbound book, half the pages blank, most of the rest torn out by the officers, she guessed. The pages that remained had made her cry - seeing Mulder's bold black handwriting, pondering the truth and fighting against the ways of the world. He had seen what was coming before she could anticipate it. Like a child reading a sibling's diary, she had searched for any mention of herself, yearning to see herself through his eyes. She had expected a disdainful depiction. She had expected to read his ridicule for her refusal to believe, which had been proven so wrong. What she had found were random mentions, descriptions that were almost erotic in their ! simplicity and unexpectedness. Her red hair, the small gold earrings she wore, the blueness of her medical scrubs and the height of her heels - these were the things Mulder wrote about in short phrases, tumbled in with important thoughts. On one of the last raggedy pages, he'd scribbled that he loved her. She wanted to believe it, but it scared her. The intensity of his mind scared her.

She knew this apartment, this space of his, as well as she knew her own. And that map had not been lying on the coffee table before.

She snatched it up, desperate to see if it was his handwriting. Drawn in black crayon on coarse paper, the writing did not match Mulder's. It was neater, the hand of someone who went to school a decade or more earlier. Frohike, she imagined. She wondered if she would ever see the little man again. Looking at the map and knowing where she was going, Scully hoped not. *****

It was cold out in the night, in the woods, but there was no snow. She could smell the rich earth that clung to her shoes and her bare hands, could feel the dampness seeping into her bones. But most of all it was dark. Away from the lights of the city, of civilization, of people and other who lived in warm cozy houses, never questioning, never seeking the truth.

Because it was safer that way.

She had spent years in a safe existence, and where had it gotten her? Here. She was not going to take the easy path any more. She needed to know the truth, and this was the only way. Scully had to assure herself that she was doing this for the truth - she was not doing this for Mulder. Chances were, he had been dead for a long time now, his hardened grey flesh passing beneath the hands of a surgeon less skilled than herself. This would most likely not bring her the closure she sought. This would not free her soul from his.

But it would bring her the truth.

It had to be enough.

Having caught her breath, which she could see in white cloudy puffs before her eyes in the chilly darkness, she scrambled to her feet, heading up over the next hill. She was close, she didn't have to consult the map to know that. She'd committed it to memory before even leaving Mulder's apartment.

She could see the fence in the distance and was startled by the darkness and the silence of the massive complex. The image in her mind had been from an old war movie, or maybe a prison film - bright searchlights to instill fear in the prisoners who tried to escape. It was the media that brought her the notion that every captive with a spoon strove for escape; that every person who dwelt in a cell hollered for release. Seeing the huge buildings that stood behind the wire fence, she knew that none of those things were true. To dream of escape required hope. She could see, from here, that these prisoners had none.

It hurt her deeply, too much to think about now. She steadied herself on the thick soles of her hiking boots and started for the fence. It was designed to keep people in, not out. No one would try to break in, she thought, no one could seek to bring such horror upon themselves.

She remembered, as she walked slowly towards the compound, the many times she had followed Mulder into places like this, the times she'd gone in the front door to retrieve him when he was caught sneaking in through the back. Had he broken into this prison, too? What had he been seeking? Standing here, it was hard for her to believe.

How many places like this are there across the country? she had to ask herself. Across the world? How many brilliant people have had their last creative thoughts here? People we need, people who could have made the world a better place.

People who would have fought back.

She wondered if they had infra red sensors trained on her at that very moment. She wondered how long it would be before she was captured. She wondered for a fraction of a second if the fence was electrified, but placed her hands on it anyway. There was no snap or sizzle or pain of burning. No one dared to try to escape. She wondered if they even needed a fence to keep the people inside.

Scully had never been any good at climbing fences when she was a kid. She'd hated hitting balls over the walls of the yard, because her friends would make her go after them. And they'd laugh as she always fell. This time, her feet got tangled as she made the turn at the top of the fence, having so carefully avoided the spikes of barbed wire at the top. The cog soles of her boots slipped and she felt herself falling, her head seeming to move faster than her feet. She couldn't hold back the cry of surprise.

She landed hard on her back. Her lungs filled with pain as the wind went out of her, and it was agony to try to get her breath back. But she didn't think she'd broken any ribs. A group of officers rushed over to her before she even managed to sit up, two of them with the large black almond shaped eyes that haunted her nightmares at least twice a week, even now.

She slapped their hands away and pulled herself up, surprised when they released her. She stood taller than the two aliens and considerably shorter than the two men; all four of them stared at her expectantly. It made her angry in a way she could not explain. None of them touched her. She had expected a very different welcome.

"We'll need to ask you to surrender your weapon, Dr. Scully," one of the officers said calmly. Her eyes snapped to look at him. They recognized her - or had they somehow known she was coming? Not for the first time, she wondered if the map had been a carefully placed trap. She still didn't care. If they wanted her, there was nothing to keep them from taking her off the street any time they liked. No one would think anything of her disappearance. If they did, it would be a fleeting thought, wiped clear the next second by the shortening attention span cultivated by the aliens and the media.

She reached behind her and pulled her gun out of its holster, handing it over to him on its side, so they could both see that the safety catch was on. A moment later, as he continued to stare at her, she gave him the clip, too. She figured they would want her gun; she hadn't been about to give it to them loaded. Should have left it at home, she thought, but to what end, really? They had weapons themselves. She forced herself to look away.

"If you had wanted to tour our facilities, you needed only to ask, Doctor Scully." A high ranking officer approached her and the four guards dispersed. She looked at him, waiting, detesting the way that these people knew her name. "There are easier ways. Shall we?" He began to walk and she frowned at him as she followed hesitantly, falling into step with him as they strode deeper into the complex. He matched his strides to her shorter ones.

She had no sense of walking the plank; instead, she sensed that he was eager to please her. To impress her. It made her absolutely sick. She broke into their facility - their top secret facility that they didn't have to hide because the only people who gave a damn were locked inside - and she was not made a prisoner. Instead, she was a guest of honor. A visitor to be impressed by the horrors inside.

In short, she was one of them. A very important one of them. So important that they could not turn her into one of the others, the prisoners. They were trying to impress her instead. She could have *asked* for a tour, had she liked.

It pissed her off.

Could she *ask* for Mulder's life back? Her own personal project? A toy, like the scientists who had kept apes and tried to teach them to communicate or tested vaccines on them, a fucking plaything?

"As you may know, our relocation program has been a great success." The man accompanying her turned to her. "Do you know anything about the relocation program, Dr. Scully?"

She pursed her lips and shook her head.

"That's all right," he said with that deadly smile. The one that was eager to please her, but bore the knowledge of all the men he had killed. "Not many people do. We have made some efforts to downplay our operation."

Scully wanted to laugh, but it was too far from funny. She couldn't shake the sick feeling in her stomach. Big warehouse-like buildings formed the perimeter of the complex, like a fortress or the thick outer wall of a castle keep in olden times. She did not like to think what went on inside those buildings. There were no windows, but she was certain fluorescent lights burned bright overhead twenty four hours a day. She had participated in such experiments herself, but from the other side. She had been a victim, in the days before the changes, before such things were made public. Before the other victims began to think of themselves as honored by having been chosen.

She did not know what had been done to her. In her position, she probably could have learned, with little effort. Her name was doubtless in the files and reference materials studied by the very people she taught to understand the physiological differences between terrestrial and extra terrestrial. But she did not dare to learn. A chill washed over her even now, thinking of it, and her head began to pound a little with the things she had blocked.

Why was it so hard for her? She had wondered, many times, awake in the middle of the night and staring at the ceiling above her bed. Others who had once been traumatized by their experiences no longer suffered. They were no longer victims, because they did not think of themselves as such. They were honored, they were chosen, their thinking altered when the changes came. But she, Dana Scully, the stubborn skeptic, remained a victim of her experiences. She was still affected by the things she saw; she had not forgotten the times that had gone before. Sometimes she felt like the only person on earth who remembered.

Others did remember, she thought. But they were here. And not as tourists.

On the inside, there was row after row of small dwellings, corrugated steel huts piled practically on top of each other. She wondered how many people lived in the house like cages. It was one step up from the depictions she had seen of concentration camps with their bunks and dormitories. Did giving these people some semblance of privacy, some remnant of life on the outside give them one more thing that could be destroyed?

As they walked in silence, she saw that the windows had no curtains. No lights were on, anywhere, making her wonder if the buildings were even equipped with lights or electricity. How horrible was life for a prisoner here?

"Nighttime is not the best time to see the fruits of our labors here, Dr. Scully. You have obviously had a long journey -" his eyes raked over her, mud staining her from head to toe, scratches and abrasions vivid on her exposed skin, "-perhaps you would like to rest and see our facilities in the morning?"

She nodded, swallowing back the hatred in her throat. She would see how the officers lived. As one of them, she was entitled. It took everything she had not to puke all over his shoes.

The room he showed her to was in one of the outer buildings. It did not have a window, because no one would want to look out on the squalor below. It was warm and had the comforts of home: a couch, an easy chair, a television, of course. It was the medium of their invasion, after all. She didn't turn it on; she wasn't interested. She took a sponge bath in the sink, never removing all of her clothes at any one time. Scully could not shake the feeling that they were watching her. The water was hot and felt good on her skin. Turning in front of the mirror, she could see faint bruises on her back from where she had fallen.

She pulled the cover off the bed and wrapped it around herself. Leaving the light on, she sat down on the couch, facing the door. She was too afraid to sleep, but eventually her eyes closed. *****

A soft knock at the door awakened her and she opened her eyes. She had not forgotten during the night where she was, or why. The door opened before she could move, confirming some of her fears from the night before. "Dr. Scully." It was her guide from the evening before. "If you are ready, would you come with me?"

She nodded, swallowing, and rose from the couch. She didn't bother closing the door behind her. There was no point. She was relieved when he did not offer her breakfast, probably assuming she had eaten something in the tiny apartment. She had not looked for food in the cabinets. She would not have been able to eat anything.

"We have had much success so far with our reeducation program," he said as they walked down the stairs and out of the building. For a moment she had been afraid he would show her the medical facilities, people with thoughts and feelings and families somewhere, strapped down against cold metal tables, aware as they waited for the first touch of the blade...she was certain he would want to show her eventually. She did not want to see.

She could see now that there was a large field in one corner of the area enclosed by the massive buildings. An exercise area, she thought at first, but then she saw men and women out hoeing the field, even in the cold temperature. Farming. Working.

Suddenly she had to look around herself, for the telltale smoke belching out of a building, of bodies being incinerated, for a building masquerading as a shower facility. She saw none. Of course not, she realized with a sinking heart, they send their dead to be experimented on and analyzed in classrooms. To be taught by people like you.

There were no firing squads, either. Obviously such things were kept private, inside the warehouses. So the reeducation program looked like a success.

Perhaps she was being cynical. The people she saw as she passed, the ones who stopped to stare at her because there were never visitors from the outside, looked happy, or at least content. And their eyes were no more blank that those of the people she saw every day out on the streets.

Still she could not help but wonder how these people had ever been considered dangerous.

Some of them were inside the houses. She could see them clearly through the curtainless windows. Most of the doors were standing open. No locks. No point in that. She wondered if the man beside her conducted midnight raids. Most of all she wondered why no one was talking, or protesting. No one fought back, there was not one hint of the idea that these masses could gain control back from the few guards patrolling. The prisoners had to outnumber the jailers - but there was no sign of uprising.

Scully wanted to shout at these people, to wake them up. She recognized a few of them - a brilliant scientist, an author, a movie director - and her companion pointed others out to her - a humanitarian, an anthropologist ...all names she recognized. They had not always been this way.

There were no children. The obvious startled her. Children would be easier to control; there was no reason to re-educate them. Or maybe...her gaze wandered to the warehouses again. Maybe they were just more valuable.

She didn't know what to do, or say. She wanted to scream, she wanted to act to free these people. She wanted a magic word that would turn the world back to the familiar place she had known.

But there was nothing, so she remained silent.

They had come to the end of the row of shelters, almost to the other side of the complex, where she had stumbled over the fence the night before. The officer next to her was watching her, waiting for her to say something. To pronounce their achievements and accomplishments impressive. Under the pressure of his gaze, she could find nothing to say. Certainly not good, but the criticisms did not come, either.

She looked back down the long alleyway. The people there were still sneaking surreptitious looks at her. She put her head down, unable to meet their eyes. There ought to be something she could do. She had even tried to become one of them, breaking in here, but she was too firmly a part of the establishment. Even though it was an establishment she despised.

"I understand it's a lot," said the officer at her lack of words. "Would you like to see inside now? Where our very special and exciting projects are taking place?" He touched her arm and she jerked it away quickly. She didn't look at him, did not care to know what emotions may have crossed his face at that.

She just stood and watched as the people passed by her, going about their business. Everyone had a task to be accomplished, and their eyes showed that they were set to those tasks and nothing more. They walked by close, most of them not even noticing her. She saw that they were dirty - not filthy, but not clean. She could tell who worked harder because their clothes were more soiled. Everyone was pale with winter.

A man who was stumbling by stopped abruptly upon seeing her, and crossed and touched her hair before she even realized what he was doing. Her eyes met his and she froze, unable to react.

His fingers stroked her hair and she could feel their roughness against her face. His lips were moving, but not forming words that she could discern or hear. She knew that dirty face; his eyes were dear to her. She could not say anything or move or breathe or think beyond one word.

Mulder.

He wasn't dead because he was standing here, touching her hair as though it was the most amazing thing he had ever seen in his entire life. His clothes were limp and soiled and he was thin. She wanted nothing more than to hug him, but she could not. She couldn't do anything.

A second later, the officer next to her knocked him to the ground. She heard his grunt as he went down on his knees, his eyes never leaving hers. She saw the delicate pain there, his pleading for her to help him.

He struggled to rise to his knees, one hand stretching out to her for assistance. Or to touch her again.

The officer kicked him in the stomach like he was kicking a dog for fun.

Mulder fell back, curling into a protective fetal ball. This had happened to him before. His hands covered his head and neck. Even though the officer did not make another move toward him, he did not uncurl.

Scully wanted to fall to her knees beside him and pull his head into her lap. She wanted to be with him.

The officer turned to her, unrumpled, concern for her on his face. "Did he hurt you? Some take more re-education than others."

She shivered, a sign he took for disgust. And she shook her head. "Shall we go inside then?" he asked as though nothing had happened. He turned his back on Mulder and lead her into the building.

She could still feel his hands on her hair, rough and tender. He had not touched anyone for a long time. She wondered if he remembered her. She needed to know what had been done to him, to make him subservient, to make him curl into that pathetic ball and lie there. To not fight, to not even think of fighting. Freedom was just over the wall, and he hadn't even looked there.

She wet her lips and found her voice. "What will happen to him?" she asked.

"Re-education."

"What is that, exactly?" None of her desperation bled through in her tone. She sounded like pure science even as she thought that if she learned enough, maybe she could break him out, They could find somewhere to run, some way to fight.

"A series of things. We are still attempting to work out the balance."

One of her eyebrows went up and she glanced at him. "So you hope to one day assimilate these people back into society?" she asked.

"We're not sure that's possible," he said with a sickening grin as though she had said something amusing.

"Why not?" she snapped and felt his eyes on her. She softened her tone to continue, "Why are these people here in the first place?"

"They are a threat."

"To what?" she asked, although she knew the answer. Their ideas were a threat to the changes that continued to sweep the world. Changes that had begun even before the extraterrestrials had made their presence known.

"To the future of humankind," he replied, his lips tight around such a sweeping statement. "You know that as well as I, Miss Scully."

She nodded unwillingly. He honestly believed what he was saying. He believed that the extraterrestrials' agenda was to the benefit of society. She sighed softly, suddenly weary. She looked up at the officer standing beside her. "What do you do to them? I'm interested in the details...the medical details," she added after a moment, concerned with the possibility of arousing his suspicions.

She did not. It was a logical question for her to ask. "We try to adapt them to the proper ways of thinking."

"How?" she probed further. "Mind control? Punishment - reward? Is that why they all look hungry and are working so hard out there?"

He shook his head. "You don't understand at all."

"I'm trying to," she stated. She was desperate to; that was the only chance she had of helping Mulder. "I want to know what makes their eyes so blank. What you do to drive all thoughts of escape out of their heads." Feeling her face flush, she worried for a second that she had overspoken.

But to the officer, her telling passion merely sounded like ruthlessness, something to which he could relate. He took her arm and this time she didn't allow herself to jerk away. "I think you should stay here a little while. Become involved in this project, if it intrigues you. We could always use a scientist of your caliber."

"Why don't you finish showing me what you're doing here?" she said, avoiding answering.

"All right." They started down the long bright hallway together once more. *****

Back in the modest room where she had spent the previous night, Scully sat on the couch and held her head in her hands. It ached slightly, tension playing havoc around her eyes and neck. What the hell am I doing? she asked herself. I cannot do this.

But she had agreed. As the afternoon progressed, she had witnessed experiments too horrible to contemplate taking place in laboratories within the walls of the giant buildings. All of these things being done to the prisoners of this camp, people who had strong ideas, who had been rendered helpless in this facility.

She had to do something about it. The only way she could was to work from the inside.

They trusted her implicitly. Everything she had said that expressed her indignance and disgust with their work, everything that should by rights have earned her a bunk in one of those tiny homes, they had taken to be the questions of an interested mind. One eager to join their inquisition. That was what sickened her most. She had earned the trust of monsters. They thought she was one of them. Because she was one of them.

No matter what her motives.

She had wanted to decline the opportunities they offered her - most of them involving experimental surgical procedures she would have protested using on animals, let alone living human beings. Her heart ached for these people. That was why she'd decided to stay. She had to help them. Or she would kill herself. She knew that now.

Her stomach ached and she released her head, wrapping her arms around her middle and leaning back against the couch. Thinking of Mulder. Remembering his face as he'd stroked her hair. Remembering his reaction as he'd been beaten for it. Her stomach contracted and for a moment she thought she was going to vomit.

She was going to work on one of the DNA projects. It suited her because it was not only her specialty, she thought she would be able to alleviate suffering there. And she would be in charge. When the request had been granted, she had been able to read the officers' thoughts on their faces - they thought she would abuse them, torture them, and that was why she demanded privacy.

She was going to try to see how far their success went. So far as she knew, those who disappeared only reappeared dead. Re-education and return to society was not an option here. She doubted that was what they were really working towards - she believed the extraterrestrials were perfecting two methods of brainwashing - the one that had worked on the officers and the general populace, who now did as they were told - and the other, stronger, inducing this blank eyed state. Zombies to do their work for them. They could enslave the planet. The officers would be the overseers. So far it looked to be working.

She had to know what remained in the minds of the people here. How they caused this and if there was a way to reverse it.

Sliding down on the couch to lie on her side, she opened her eyes and stared at the clock. It was too late to do anything now. No matter how much she wanted to throw the door open and find Mulder that very instant. She would have to wait. She had to be careful.

She watched the hours slip by on the face of the clock. *****

Scully was exhausted, but it only made her work harder. She was not having much success with the DNA experimentation she had undertaken - the officers she answered to did not know that was the result of placebo drugs and injections. She sabotaged everything she did. She had taken an oath, once upon a time, and she would not harm anyone, especially those not capable of fighting back.

And the ones they brought her were not capable. They were barely more than human shells. So far, she had not been able to reach any of them. She knew the prisoners still understood language, but none of them spoke. Not to each other, not to her. It was eerie and it scared her.

What she had learned was invaluable. The extraterrestrials were combining their DNA with human DNA, and she had to wonder why. Perhaps their species, while possibly intellectually superior, was physically not as strong as they pretended. Perhaps that was why they bothered with this planet and its people. Step one was colonization and enslavement, Scully theorized, and step two would take that to the higher level. They need us to do what they cannot, she thought.

But first they had to achieve enslavement. It would be difficult to overlook their blatant attempts to create a stronger, stupider human. One who could do more, and at the same time, had less will. It was that human stubbornness they were still striving to drive out of the prisoners.

Scully doubted injections in living humans would help. The extraterrestrials would have to wait a generation, possibly more, for mutations to do what they sought. But she would never know for sure, because she was throwing over the results of the tests.

Not that it was doing a great deal of good. Prisoners died in her lab every day. Their systems could only stand so much. Their minds could not take any more. They had given up.

Scully sighed and closed her tired eyes for a moment, scrubbing them with the back of her hand as she stretched her neck. What she needed to do was learn how to break through their brainwashing techniques. The ones that broke the prisoners' spirit to begin with. But they would never let her; she lacked the knowledge to understand.

Mulder would know, she thought.

She did not allow herself to think of him. She had not seen him since that very first day, when he had seen her and touched her hair. He haunted her dreams at night and she yearned to track him down, to find him among the faceless thousands in the complex, but she could not. She had the very strong feeling that he continued to live. That was all she needed to know.

She opened her eyes again and looked at the computer. The tabulated results were at first unconvincing because she did not actually run the tests she said she did. But then, when she ran them again, she noticed something that she could perhaps use. Prisoners were dying. She could blame it on what they had her doing.

Of course, it could backfire on her. Especially if her notion that the extraterrestrials wouldn't mind eradicating the human race was correct.

The big stainless steel door on the other side of the room swung open soundlessly. Scully felt the breeze against the back of her neck and turned. An officer wheeled in a prisoner on a metal table. Standard procedure. He turned and walked back out without so much as a glance at her.

The prisoners had identifying numbers - the tags were implanted just below the skin and were scanned almost like a box of cereal at the supermarket checkout line. That way, everyone could keep track of what was being done to whom. The names of the prisoners had long since been lost. She wondered if the men and women even remembered their own names. Because they did not speak, and only reacted to instinctive and programmed stimuli, she was beginning to wonder if they had lost their sentience. If they were not walking, working vegetables.

She washed her hands and walked over to the patient. She would run a blood sample, analyze it, compare it to the history in the computer, and decide what to do from there. She uncapped a sterile syringe and wrapped his upper arm with a short piece of tubing. His veins stood out nicely. She scanned the tag in his arm.

She didn't look at his face until after she plunged the needle into his vein.

Her heart stopped and for a moment she thought she might faint or explode, or at the very least drop the syringe. It was Mulder. His eyes were closed. Sometimes they brought them to her unconscious, sometimes not. She wondered why the distinction was sometimes made, but she didn't know. She stared at him as the vial filled with red vital fluid. She removed it, full, and held it in her hand. It felt warm. It felt like life. Something she had begun to forget in this place filled with death and hopelessness.

She turned and called up his history on the computer with slightly trembling fingers. One night, she had read as many profiles as she could, wondering which was his. She had not been able to guess. Some were horrible and she hoped against them, crossing her fingers for luck. Now she knew for certain.

His number was 1013. They had not done much to him. Barely messed with his DNA at all, thank god. He was strong; he was a good worker. She guessed that they valued that. His internment date was at the top of the screen. She had been right about his disappearance. It did not give any details of his capture.

She turned away from the computer, feeling cold. She walked over to him and looked into his face, something she made it a practice never to do. His hair hung down into his face, long enough to almost cover his eyes. With cool fingers, she pushed it back, marveling at his face. At the joy of seeing him again.

He opened his eyes when she touched him. He blinked once and looked up into her face. His eyes were clear, but she could not tell if his mind was empty. She spoke very very softly to him. "Mulder, it's me." She stroked the side of his face with the back of her hand, from his forehead to his cheekbone.

He turned his head slightly in her direction, following her voice and her touch. He blinked again as he looked at her. His lips parted and he swallowed, as though he was trying to work up the strength to speak. But he did not. "Mulder, it's Scully. You're safe with me," she promised.

One of his hands curled loosely and he raised it from lying by his side. He reached out for her and she had to remind herself not to jump back. She had nothing to fear from him, the way she did from certain other patients. That knowledge did not keep her heart from racing or her mind from preparing itself for violence.

His fingers barely grazed her hair. A lighter, gentler touch than the last time. He remembered her. Or at least, he remembered something about her. She smiled at him. "Can you sit up?" she asked him, one hand grasping his shoulder. She helped him into a sitting position. The sheet that was draped over his body dropped to his waist.

He was pale, she saw. And his breathing was labored. Excitement? she wondered, Recognition? "You're going to be all right," she promised him again, finding it hard to catch her breath herself. She smoothed his hair again and hurried over to the sink to get him a glass of water.

She wanted him to talk to her. More than anything, she wanted to hear his voice.

Even if it was to tell her that he had no idea who she was. I can take that, she assured herself, even though she knew it would shatter her heart.

He watched every move that she made. He wrapped his hands around the glass and downed the water in one long swallow, tipping his head back but not closing his eyes. She looked at his hands. They were work worn now; they had never been before. Mulder was a man who waged war with words typed on a keyboard. He had done no more manual labor in his life than she had, until now. The skin was split in places where calluses had not yet formed.

He handed the glass back to her.

She had so many things to say to him, but she could not manage to think of one sentence.

She wanted him to talk to her. But how would he even know what to say?

Finally, she asked him. "Do you know who I am?"

He nodded his head almost imperceptibly. He took a deep breath and she watched him slowly wet his lips. "Scully," he whispered, his voice rough. Unused.

Tears rushed to her eyes, but she held herself in complete control. "Do you know that because I'm wearing this?" She touched the plastic ID badge that was clipped to the breast pocket of her coat.

He shook his head and she could see emotion in his eyes, she knew she could, if she dared to believe it. "Dana," he whispered.

Her first name was not on the badge. He did know. He remembered her. Without thinking, she flung her arms around his shoulders in a hug she had needed desperately since the day he disappeared. She squeezed him tight, burying her face against his bare shoulder. She was surprised by his strength when he wrapped his arms around her. She could not stop the smile that graced her lips. "I've missed you so much," she said against his skin. He nodded and rubbed her back.

She did not ever want to release him. But she knew there was work to be done. There were so many questions she needed to ask him. She didn't know where to begin. She broke away, feeling a blush rising in her cheeks as she knew his eyes were intense on her. She grabbed her notebook and a pen and tried to gather her thoughts enough to ask the first question. But all she could do was stare at him.

"I had dreams about a woman with red hair." He broke the silence, his voice still rough. "They weren't like other dreams. They were..." he shook his head. "It's hard to explain," He looked her in the eye, his gaze slicing right to her heart. "Could I have another glass of water?"

He was as dependent as a child. A grown, strong man asking her for a glass of water. It never occurred to him that he could rise from the gurney and get one for himself. The way that it never occurred to him that escape, that freedom, lay past one simple fence. "What have they done to you?" she agonized, more to herself than to him.

She saw the confusion in his eyes when she handed him the glass of water. He drank half of it, then held it in both of his hands, staring down into it while he spoke. "When I saw you - I had to touch you. To see if you were real. To see if you were...her."

Scully didn't know what to say. She was touched as nothing had ever touched her before. "They beat you for it," she murmured.

"I didn't care. I couldn't help myself. You - those dreams of the woman with red hair - were the only thing that kept me going. I could survive sixteen hours, a day and a night working the fields with my body, with those dreams to live for." He snuck a glance at her as he swallowed more water, as though she were a forbidden object. He closed his mouth and set the empty glass down. He didn't say any more and she could sense his closing himself off.

"What is it?" she asked.

"You're one of them," he said simply.

"I'm not," she insisted, desperate for him to believe her. "I came here to find you. I've been trying to learn what they're doing here, so I can try to stop it."

"There's no stopping it," he said.

She could not disagree. Silence fell like a blanket of snow between them. He had always been one who believed; it was those beliefs that had brought him here. For him to lose that...it meant that the situation really was hopeless. "We can't give up," she told him.

He just closed his eyes. When he opened them, they were full of pain and distrust. "Are you going to hurt me now?" he asked.

"No."

"Why not?" His eyes met hers, cautious. "You're testing me."

"I'm not," she said honestly. This was so hard. There were no words. No words to convince him of who she was, and what she was working toward.

There was a scratching at the door and both of them jumped. Scully's eyes shot to the tiny window in the door. One of the officers was there. Bringing her another gurney. She clamped her mouth closed and watching him wheel it in. The man who lay on the metal table was unconscious. The officer gave her a lingering look that chilled her because she wasn't certain how to read it, and stood to one side, waiting to remove Mulder.

There was no needlehole in his arm. Scully knew the officer was staring. The tubing was still knotted there and she reached for a syringe, blocking the work table with her body as she filled it with a harmless substance she'd mixed herself. She turned back around and saw the accusation in Mulder's eyes.

There was nothing she could do. As much as she wanted to disable the officer and make a run for it with Mulder, she knew they would not get far. So she held Mulder's eyes with hers and she gently inserted the needle into his arm, trying to send him a silent message.

He lay back on the table of his own accord, as though resigned to wait for the pain of the poison rushing through his body. She turned to the computer and made a note in his file, praying he would look at the screen and see it and understand. She set the syringe down.

When she turned around again, the officer was standing close behind her. Preparing to take Mulder away again. "Wait," she said and he looked at her, daring her to make a false move. But he stopped pushing the table. She walked over to it and deliberately removed the tubing knotted around Mulder's arm. "Now you may go," she ordered. And he did. She was careful not to let her eyes linger too long.

When he was gone, she sank back down into the chair and let her head drop heavily into her hands. She could not do this any more. She could not process twenty or more prisoners a day. Part of her had always known she was waiting for Mulder. Now that she had seen him, her work here seemed pointless. His hopelessness was contagious. Maybe there was no way out.

She sighed and raised her head, pushing her hair back. She looked at the unconscious man on the gurney near the door. Quickly she gave him the same injection she'd given Mulder, and hoped he would not wake. She needed some time to compose herself.

She turned and stared at what she had typed on the screen. She hoped Mulder had understood. And that the distrust and hatred she read in his eyes would fade. She did not know how much he remembered of his life before this place, of her. It made her desperate to speak with him.

She wanted to tell the officers she was sick, and go back to her sterile apartment within the compound's walls and sleep, and wait for Mulder to come. Or not come. But she could not do anything to draw attention to herself. The officer had seemed suspicious - no more so than usual, but it still bore watching. She did not want to become a prisoner here. She was tired already, she would not have the strength to fight them.

She closed her eyes to wait for the next patient. *****


He wasn't coming. She sat on the couch, staring at the door, waiting, but she knew he was not coming. Her notes and books lay open, scattered around her on the couch and table and the floor, waiting for her to return her attention to them, but she could not tear her eyes away from the door. Much as she wanted to, she could not divert her thoughts.

She had been silly to think he would come. It would take tremendous efforts for him to break through the barriers, to cross from the shelters to inside the sturdy walls of the outer compound. Even in the dark of the night, even though she knew security was lax because they did not expect any one of the prisoners to think of escape. They were smug about their successes.

If he doesn't come, I'll go to him, she thought. She had less to lose anyway. If they caught him here, they would kill him. If they caught her out among the prisoners, she might be able to talk her way out of it. And if she couldn't, they would merely imprison her. Without Mulder, there was little to value in her life. As a prisoner, perhaps they could be together before the end.

She shook her head, to clear the silly dreams. She had her pride. She would not go to him. She would not throw herself at someone who did not remember her. If he remembered, he would come. She had to stay where she was; without him, she had only Right to fight for. At least she was accomplishing something with her non experiments.

She jumped as she heard a soft sound in the hallway. Her heart pounding, she listened to the silence. It's your imagination, she told herself, waiting.

The noise came again, a tiny scraping at the door and wall. She rose to her feet and crossed the tiny room, not daring to let herself hope. Cautiously she opened the door.

He filled her vision. "You're here," she said, allowing him to enter and closing the door again behind him. There were no locks. She had wished many times that there were. She looked at Mulder and wanted to touch him, to say so much. But she could not. Even after so much time, even after losing him, she could not open her mouth and force the words out. It was not her way. And she remained unsure of him.

"You didn't poison me," he said. They stood in front of the couch, trapped in a strange dance of avoidance - not touching, trying not to be too close, each of them striving not to take any initiative. The only thing that met were their eyes; everything else was too tentative.

She shook her head. "I don't do that."

"But you're one of them."

She wondered how much he remembered about them, before. "I broke in here looking for you," she told him honestly. "I wanted to be with you. Even if it meant death. And they accepted me. I hate them, Mulder. I don't want to be one of them. But that's what it takes to defeat them. And that is the only thing I want."

"How did you get here, Mulder?" she asked when he didn't say anything. He stared at her with eyes that would have been blank if they had not been so hard and cold with the challenge of 'convince me'. "What do you remember from before?"

He looked away.

"How did they make you not remember?" she tried again. His eyes slowly slid back to her face. "I need to know," she said. "And if they trusted me, don't you think they would have told me how they do it."

"You're manipulating me again. Making me think..." He pushed his hands through his thick hair. "Making me think they made me have the dreams, that you were in them to drive me crazy, to test me, to...I don't know!"

"But you believe me."

He shook his head. "I don't want to."

"But you do." It was a statement of fact; not cajoling. It killed her that he didn't trust her.

"They tricked me into coming here," he said. "I got a call, it was late. Someone told me I could find the truth in this place. Whoever it was, he said he would meet me. Show me what I needed to know. So I could...I don't know, tell the world? Was I ever that gullible?" His eyes searched hers. "Why would the world listen to me? Why would they want to hear the truth?"

"I don't think they do. Otherwise they would already see it, because it is there for them to see. But if they would not believe it, why are you here?"

"I don't know why I'm here, Scully." He was asking her.

"Your ideas and beliefs are dangerous to the society they are creating. That's the best I can figure out. Their goal here is to eradicate those ideas."

"It's more than that."

"I know. They take your will, your hope...how do they do it?" she asked.

"By taking our memories. Our personalities. They take away who we are," he told her. "It works. I've seen so many people here I recognize. They're nothing now. They don't recognize their own names. The memories don't come back."

"You remember, though."

"Yes."

"Why?"

He shook his head slowly, rubbing his neck. "I don't know. I thought...at first...it was because I understood how their games worked. Psychological games, mind torture. Then I thought maybe I was stronger than the others. But that isn't true. There's surgery they perform, things they implant in the brain to take the memories away." She gave him a horrified look. "They haven't done that to me. Maybe because I hid it, or maybe I'm part of a control group. I find it hard to believe that they wouldn't know I could remember. Unless..." He stopped and looked at her hard again.

"What?"

"Unless this is something new they're trying. Tricking me again, with you."

"You know that isn't true."

"How do I know?" he demanded.

"You remember what happened before. You remember how we...how we were." She could not say, how we felt about each other. Not even now.

"How do I know that I remember what I remember?"

She choked, shocked by his words. His voice was raw. He was afraid, and he had every right to be. What would it be like to doubt your own memories? To have no one to trust, no one at all? She touched him, to reassure him where words were meaningless. "I'm sorry," she said.

He seemed to know when she was about to take her hand away and he captured it with his own. "If it was their experiment, it failed."

"How's that?" she breathed.

"You sustained me. You kept me alive."

"Maybe that's what they wanted."

"No," His lips curled with disgust around the word. "They like to kill. Inside first, then out."

"How do they motivate you to work?" she asked.

"Motivation doesn't come into it. There's nothing there to motivate. There's nothing left when they finish with you."

She nodded, swallowing hard. "That's what I was afraid of." She sighed and leaned back. "Are there others like you?"

"If there are, I don't know."

She thought about that a moment. His eyes had barely left her face since he entered the room and she was beginning to feel disconcerted over his attention. "Why don't you escape?" she asked.

"Where would I go?" he asked back and she saw the hopelessness in him again.

"I know," she said honestly. That was exactly the problem.

"Tell me about before," he asked her.

She was surprised by his request. "What do you...there's so...I don't know what you remember already,"

"You won't tell me?" His voice was hard and his gaze evaluated her.

"What do you remember?" she asked softly, looking for a place to begin.

He shook his head. "Not much,"

"How much?"

He shook his head again. The silence between them was painful. She could hear herself breathing. She heard his stomach grumble hungrily and looked at him. He didn't seem to have noticed. He was still studying her face, as though he was looking for something that was lost to him. "A woman," he said. "Someone named Samantha. She was important to me, but I...I don't know how. I haven't seen her, but I have. Her name was how they lured me here. If you...why do I care so much about her?"

"She was your sister," Scully said quietly after a moment. How could she tell him this? Was it better for him not to know? How the hell could he have forgotten *Samantha*? Anything else she could believe, but for him to forget his reason for living...

Maybe they had been successful after all.

"You're thinking the man you knew could never forget something so inherent to his life," Mulder said.

She looked at him then, her eyes wide with alarm, more at the way he had phrased the statement than the fact that he was practically reading her thoughts. They were testing her, she thought suddenly. This man was not Mulder...they had the facilities for cloning probably, this was a clone. Testing her loyalties and she had failed. She opened her mouth to say something, but no words would come.

"I am not the man you knew, Scully," he said softly, but there was a dark edge to his voice. Dangerous. It made her heart beat faster.

"Who are you then?" she whispered.

"The man he has become. That frightens you."

"Take off your shirt," she ordered.

His eyebrows went up.

"Take it off now, or so help me, I'll kill you," she insisted, rising to her feet.

His look was mild as he unfastened the buttons on the work shirt he wore. When they were undone, he pulled it off and looked at her.

The scar was there. She touched it to be sure it was real, she fingers exploring the ridges of irregular tissue from where she had once shot him in the shoulder. "It is you," she breathed, relieved. "Thank God...I thought..." She straightened, instantly aware of the ridiculousness of her behavior. "I'm sorry."

He looked down the scar and then looked at her. "Tell me about my sister."

"You don't remember anything?"

"It's all confused in my head. They worked hard to drive her out. She must have been important to me."

Scully nodded, slipping back down onto the couch next to him. She curled up with her back against one of the arms, tucking her feet beneath her, facing him. "When she was eight and you were twelve, she disappeared."

"Then why do I remember her as an adult?"

"A woman showed up once, claiming to be her. She...wasn't." Scully didn't know if she was up to this now, or ever. Could she tell him the entire, unabridged history of Fox Mulder? Would it make any difference? He was not the same man now, he had said the words himself. Was it her place to reburden him with the horrors of his life? Even though no one had the right to have removed them?

"I loved her."

"More than anything," Scully confirmed. There were tears in her eyes and she didn't want them there. She didn't want this funny feeling in her stomach; she didn't like it. It hurt.

"You have a sister." It was half a statement, half a question. He saw that she was upset, but he didn't know why.

She blinked to drive the tears away, but they didn't go. "I did," she said.

"She went away."

"She died." Scully tried to close her heart against the pain. It hurt too much.

"I remember someone going away...someone who came back. Not...Samantha." He was uncomfortable with the memories she was giving to him. She could see that it was difficult for him to piece them together with the ones he had. Scully didn't say anything. She wasn't sure her voice would work, even if she tried.

He reached out to her and brushed the tears away from her eyes. She closed her eyes at the warmth of his touch. She had lived for those touches, the ones that said so quietly and simply that he cared about her. "Tell me about us," he requested.

She opened her eyes and looked at him. Her heart beating fast again. What did he want to know?

"Were we lovers?" he asked.

"No."

"Friends, then." There was a curious look in his eyes, which had turned dark. As though he didn't quite believe that. Or didn't accept it. Or...she didn't know.

"Yeah. I guess."

"But you said...you came here for me. And I...remember you. This," His fingers snaked up into her hair.

"We cared a lot about each other," she tried to explain, but the words were so weak. Their relationship had been so strange and complicated. More than the love of friends, but never daring to cross that line. Was fear all that had held them back?

"Memories of you have...fueled my life here," he said in a rush. "You are the only thing I have kept living for. I had the dreams to reach for. If we were only friends..." He didn't understand.

But neither did she. "When you disappeared," she said, "I went to your apartment. You kept journals, you liked to write things down. I was looking for clues, trying to figure out where you had gone." Why was this so hard to say? Why was it so absurd? She was telling him that he loved her. "You had written that you loved me. I don't know if you meant it, or how you -"

"Reading that gave you hope."

"Yeah," she agreed roughly, blushing.

"I remember loving you," he said. "I remember that." His fingers were still tangled in her hair and he flexed them, caressing her.

"Did you love me?" he asked softly, the faintest whisper. Like a kid asking for something he knew he could never have.

She kept her head down, not meeting his eyes, and nodded. She couldn't meet his eyes. She couldn't speak the words. She felt like there was too much going on inside her head, too many crazy thoughts. She heard the couch rustle and felt the shift of his weight. He was leaving, she thought. Just as well; there was nothing they could do now. She should leave this place, leave him. But she knew that she couldn't.

His lips were warm was they brushed hers, taking her by surprise. She started and tried to pull back, to look at his face, to try to understand, but his hands were in her hair and would not let her move. He slowly began to kiss her, tentatively at first. She closed her eyes and gave herself to the sensations. They felt too good to deny. She felt warm for the first time in a long time. She loved him and she had thought she had lost him. There was no way she could deny herself this.

He broke the kiss, and she opened her eyes to look at him. His gaze burned into hers. He stroked her cheek with his fingers. "Okay?" he asked. He was just as unsure of this as she was, maybe even more so.

This was something to live for. There had to be a way for them. Regardless of what had happened, they were fighters. She kissed him in answer, throwing her arms around his neck, threatening to never let him go. He hugged her just as tightly back. They were going to make love. Finally. It crossed her mind to wish for better circumstances, but she also knew that you could never appreciate what you had until it was gone. She wasn't about to lose him again.

They had held their feelings in check for years, but those old safeties were quickly discarded now. She opened her body to him willingly and he greedily took what she offered. There was no more time to wait, to deny. Finally, they were together and one thing in the screwed up world was right. *****

A steady pounding at the door roused her. She groaned as she dragged her heavy eyelids open. She did not want to wake. She wanted to remain where she was, cozy, wrapped in the lingering memory of him. Of love.

The harsh knock came again. Her body was becoming aware. It was morning; she was cold. She was alone.

Her eyes opened. She was alone. Where...why...had it happened at all? It had. But he had gone. Wiser than she, no doubt. "Just a minute," she called to the person threatening to break down her door as she stood and went to fetch a robe to cover herself with. He was protecting her, she realized. She didn't like it, but could not be ungrateful. If they were discovered, she would be sentenced to his fate. One he wanted to keep her from. So as much as she wished she could wake in his arms, to a warm morning kiss, her rational mind knew it was frivolous.

She opened the door. "What is so urgent?" she asked, looking at the officer standing on the other side of it. Wondering if he knew and was there to arrest her. If that were the case, he would not have knocked, she consoled herself.

"You're on alert," he said.

"Excuse me?" her eyebrows rose. She did not understand.

"The projects here have been concluded. The research is no longer necessary. Within twenty four hours, the subjects will be terminated. You will need to be careful until you are safely back in civilization," he said. She expected him to tap his heels together and salute. She knew he was about to turn and leave.

"Wait," she said, "Why?"

He looked at her blankly. It was not a question he asked; he had no right to its answer.

He was as much a prisoner as the people they had abducted and experimented on. Only he would not be put to death.

"How are they going to do it?" she demanded angrily. She had to do something. She could not allow the thousands of people out there to be rounded up and summarily executed. She could not be a party to it; she could not turn her back and allow it. He did not answer her, of course. "I thought we were re-educating them, to reintroduce them to society."

"Unsuccessful," he said. "Excuse me." He gave her the slightest bow and turned and walked away.

She kept herself from screaming after him, from running to someone else and demanding answers. She closed the door and sagged heavily against it. She did not have much time. She had to get to Mulder. He had to be safe, and he had to help her get the others out. It was not going to be easy.

She wished she could wait for the cover of night, but she didn't know if she had that long. They might be rounding people up down there as she stood here contemplating, shooting them through the heads and dumping them into mass graves. Her stomach protested the image, clenching up sickly. She felt weak suddenly; her emotions had been on a rampage in the last day and night. But she had to be strong. No one else was going to do it for her.

She would do the right thing. Or she would die trying.

She snuck out of the building in the jeans and hiking boots she had worn to break in. Security was no longer lax, she noted, eyeing the troops patrolling. The prisoners had to know something was up. But it would never occur to them to rebel, would it?

She wished she knew if there were others who had not lost their memories, others like Mulder.

Oh God, there were so many. So many faces, blank eyes and pale, not even seeing her. What could she do for them? The pressure began to weigh upon her and for a second she could not breathe. She had to behave as normally as possible. What had those in charge discovered that had made this decision? Had they decided the human race wasn't worth bothering with at all?

If they ran, would people come after them?

She didn't have time for this. Her eyes took in the whole scene at once: the armed officers putting the prisoners into lines on the farm, their feet trampling the vegetables growing there. Trucks were filling with troops, being shipped out. Were the scientists dressed in battle fatigues to escape? Or were they inside the windowless buildings, waiting until the horror was done and they could walk out without getting their delicate hands any dirtier than they already were?

People were shouting and moving quickly in chaos as several operations were organized at once. The gates had been opened to allow the transports to pass. No one would notice people making their escape in this mess. She was splashed with mud as a truck passed not even a foot from where she stood.

She could do this.

The first of the shots rang out.

Her mouth dropped open with a silent cry and her eyes instantly went to the exercise field. It had become a mass firing squad, just as she had feared. The soldiers stepped over the bodies with blood still spurting from their wounds. A massacre. Her stomach ached, yearning to be sick. The other prisoners were too terrified to protest or move, even in the face of sudden death. The other soldiers acted as though they had not noticed; their activities had not so much as paused.

She had to find Mulder. Now.

A huge truck rattled past her and she dashed across the pathway behind it, her eyes desperately skimming the faces of the people around her. If he was in one of the lines -

More shots.

She couldn't think that way. He was smart. Maybe he'd hidden himself, maybe he was trying to get out.

But he hadn't known this was coming. She screamed his name, but could barely hear herself in the ruckus. The frequency of the shots from the field was increasing.

Shots. Shots. Shots. Shots.

She couldn't think with the sounds of death ringing through her head, interrupting her thoughts.

Officers were gathering the dead. They had to be taking them somewhere. Mass graves were all that made sense. They would need people to dig.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

Strong people. It had been in Mulder's file that he had been kept from some of the experiments because he was strong. Could he be one of the workers? She remembered the feel of the calluses on his fingers scraping against her skin. He had done manual labor. It had resculpted the well-kept muscles of his body. He had to be digging.

More shots. The dead were falling fast now. Had they kept the bright ones to dig? Would those with him be the ones who had retained their memories, like he had? Perhaps it was too much to hope for. All she knew was she had to find him. Now.

She turned her back on death and began to run. They would not have the pit inside the complex. It would be safe for them because none of the inmates would ever think to run - not even Mulder. This had to have been planned for some time. Perhaps they had already been dug.

She whirled about again, looking at the faces of the prisoners. They looked the same. Tired, dirty, blank. Dead.

No one noticed her as she slipped through the gates, but she did not feel free. She would never be free again - she would remember. No matter how she tried to forget. Now she had to find Mulder.

A truck whipped past her and she ducked behind the shelter of a tree, watching as it sped away and then stopped short, its brakes creaking. She could smell the stench of death. She could still hear the shots from inside the compound. She turned away as the bodies were dumped, and her eyes were closed when she heard the truck roll back by her.

She opened them and walked to the pit. Pale workers were filling it in. The horror was too much for her mind to bear; she blocked everything but her search for Mulder. She walked up to the men, looking into their faces and it was as though they didn't even see her or sense her presence. She wandered between them as though caught in a nightmare without end. She was going to lose her mind, she thought, she had to find him.

She called his name and one man stopped his work. Her eyes were drawn to him, and he looked at her. His eyes were dark and hooded, but recognizable. She wanted to fall on her knees and thank God, but she could not. After a moment, he resumed his work. It turned her cold inside.

She walked over to him, afraid of what she would find. "Mulder," she said softly when she stood beside him. He would not look at her. She could smell the earth below her feet and the sweat pouring from his body. Drops glistened on his face - or were they tears? She didn't know.

"You knew about this," he said without looking at her.

"I didn't," she said, aware how much it sounded like a plea for him to believe her. She could not beg him.

His jaw was set. "You knew the end was coming, that was why you found me yesterday. There would be no consequences. You knew I'd be dead today."

"I came out here to find you, Mulder. We can get away."

"You bitch!" He turned on her with his shovel raised and for a moment she thought he would swing it at her. She didn't move, ready to accept death at his hand if that was what it would take. He plunged the blade down into the earth.

"The other scientists are still in there. Cowering. Waiting for it to be finished before they come out," she said in a voice more even than she felt. "I came for you. And for anyone else who can be persuaded to come with us. We can't let them do this, Mulder."

"They are doing it, Scully."

"I know."

"There's no way to fight them. They've won. Before they even tried. Our complacency handed them their victory." He returned his attention to working.

"There are others. An underground..." her words had no effect on him and she closed her mouth. If he refused to help himself, she would have to walk away. She shook her head. "They're going to kill you. They may kill us all. I don't know what they're working towards. I didn't pay enough attention. But I'm going to fight it however I can. You stay here and die if you want. Or if you can't trust me enough to save yourself." With a last look at the face of the man she loved, she turned and began to walk away into the forest, her shoulders stiff with the determination not to look back,

Even when she heard footsteps trailing her, she didn't look up. At least not at first. When she did, she was surprised. Not only was Mulder dogging her heels, a couple of the other men who had been digging had come as well. They had understood and joined with them. She felt the tiniest bit of relief. Mulder reached for her hand and she took it. She wasn't going to let it go. *****

No one came after them. That was a miracle in itself, she thought, but didn't dwell on it. It was likely they had let them go, to suit their purposes, but she didn't want to think about that. They had found Frohike and others of Mulder's friends who had disappeared into a secretive society. They had found some sort of sanctuary and comfort.

She had a lab to work in. She'd spent weeks writing down everything she knew, racking her memory for every last tidbit of information she'd gained in the complex. The human race was going fast. Television had ceased broadcast weeks ago; there was no semblance of normalcy. People were rarely seen on the streets; the city had taken on an eerie, deserted feel. She knew it was the same all over the world.

Pretty good deal for the extraterrestrials. One planet, ready to inhabit. All you have to do is clear out the pests. Sometimes at night she saw the lights of their ships arriving, more of them coming to stay. Maybe they had tried to coexist and found it too difficult and given in to killing the humans.

But there were humans who did not want to die; not so easily as that, anyway. They worked in the cities and the alleys in secret. Waiting.

She lowered her eye to the microscope again. This would be their answer, eventually. Provided that time was on their side. She could hear the bulldozers moving through the city - the aliens didn't much care for 7-11s and various other tenets of human culture. She heard that they were reseeding the trees where they took out the buildings. Maybe they have more sense than us, she thought. In any case, she knew the world wasn't going to be the same.

The people who were left were smart - they had seen the changes coming and prepared instead of ignoring them. They were not too afraid to act. She wondered sometimes if some of the camps were still running, full of blank eyed human zombies, but she didn't like to think so. When they triumphed - and we will, she thought, she could not doubt that - they would have their priorities in the proper place.

"How's it coming?" Mulder's voice was merely a whisper; his breath tickling her ear.

She shook her head. "Not there yet."

"Don't rush things," he cautioned, his hand staying hers on the glass slide. "It will come."

"We need it now."

"Patience, love," he murmured, meeting her eyes and holding them. A smile touched his lips then. "It takes nature centuries to develop deadly viruses."

"That's where science has her," she said, aware of the heresy in her statement. But she couldn't help thinking that God might be on their side, at least a little. Pulling for the underdog. Because they were going to win. "I'm so close, but it just...won't...come!" she cried.

"Don't rush it," he said again, rubbing her shoulders lightly. "The world does not rest on your shoulders alone."

"It feels like it, Mulder, it really does," she admitted.

"The things you've already discovered -"

Her eyes slid away from his. "I have a lot to atone for."

"Your knowledge is invaluable. You never harmed -"

"But I didn't help them either!" she screamed, wrenching away from him. She had to make him understand, and she cursed the tears and hysteria she felt.

His arms wrapped warmly around her thickened abdomen and held her fast and tight. "We have all done what we could," he said into her ear. "We all have our guilt to deal with. And it hurts. But we have to try to move past it."

She nodded, knowing it was the truth. But it didn't make the weight of her conscience easier to bear. He stroked her belly where their baby was growing and she relaxed. Life would go on. Life would continue. Even if she didn't find the way, someone else would. He pulled her close and kissed her and she kissed him back. They had to believe they would triumph. They would fight for it. And if dying was required, it was worth the sacrifice.

Because indifference had been their downfall.

The end.

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