do you dream of me?

Title: Do You Dream of Me?
Author: Virtie
E-mail: virtuesandvices@aol.com
Web site: http://www.reocities.com/fanficcorner/
Rating: PG-13
Category: TR
Classification: MSR, Alternate Reality(sort of), Mythology
Spoilers: Up to Season 8. *My* Season 9.
Disclaimer: What do you mean, I don't own these characters?! I know them better than you do, CC! *sigh* Oh, all right. Please don't sue; I need to feed my horse, dog and cats.
Archive: Yes. Just keep my name with it, please.

Summary: Scully has a dream while Mulder's away.

Author's Note: This is not really a sequel to Let's Face the Music and Dance. It's more like an interlude. But if you haven't read "Dance" yet, you may want to before venturing into my world...

Dedication: This is for Windsor. Dreams do come true.


"Do You Dream Of Me?" - Michael W. Smith

Dreams, within the still of night, On wings of hope take flight Inside of me There, upon some distant shore We want for nothing more Than what will be

And you and I, here we are I wonder as we've come this far

If I could only read your mind Tell me the answer I would find Do you dream of me? And when you're smiling in your sleep Beyond the promises we keep Do you dream of me?

Love has found a matching space A deep and hidden place Where time stands still Now, I hold you in my arms You know you hold my heart And always will

And you and I, here we are And it's a wonder that we got this far

And after all that we've been through, You've leaned on me, I've leaned on you Do you dream of me? And when you're smiling in your sleep Beyond the promises we keep Do you dream of me?


Dreams.

We all dream. Every one of us. EveryTHING dreams. Well, every mammal, anyway. Except for sloths. For some reason, sloths don't need to dream.

Being a scientist myself, I can honestly tell you that science truly doesn't know why we dream. Is it simply a way to exercise our brain? Or is it a way for our brain to refresh itself? REM sleep, where most dreams occur, is necessary for our mental health, so does this mean that dreams are a way to restore our minds just as sleep restores our bodies?

We remember things in dreams that we can never recall while we are awake. Most people cannot even remember dreaming, but some people can actually control their dreams. Lucid dreaming, it's called.

For thousands of years people have been fascinated by the phenomenon called dreaming. Some people even think a dream can be 'interpreted' and you can see into the dreamer's soul this way.

Bullshit.

I've never believed dreams themselves to be paranormal in any way. Not normal dreams. But it's been over a year since I've had a normal dream. Fourteen months, to be exact.

Not since the day Fox Mulder got into my head.

Now, I never dream alone. Well, I shouldn't say 'never', but it isn't often that I sleep nowadays and not have a dream built for two...sometimes three. How do I know? Well, first of all, I have never been one to remember my dreams with any clarity, not to mention control them to a certain extent. But now I can. Secondly, I could never in my right mind dream up the stuff I see in my dreams all by myself. Cotton candy worlds and chocolate rivers and...well, let's just say it reminds me a lot of Willy Wonka. And those are the G-rated dreams, the ones where Will is present. When Will isn't around...

And the third reason I know I'm not dreaming alone is that I can 'feel' him. Actually, when I think about it and work at it, I can feel him all the time, but it's always a vague sense of his presence, his life-force. Nothing significant. In fact, there are some days when I'm convinced I'm just imagining it. But at night, when I'm asleep, my unconscious is in control, and his presence is strong. I can tell if he's happy or if he's sad or if he's angry or frustrated. And I can do my best to soothe, comfort, or take comfort.

There are never any words spoken in these dreams, nor do I ever see him. But I feel him. Sometimes, it's the simple pressure of his hand on the small of my back, or his familiar scent in my nostrils as if he's leaning in toward me. On rare occasions, his touch becomes intimate, but erotic dreams like we used to share when we were together and still learning about this connection of ours aren't common, nor are they as explicit as they used to be. I'm not quite sure if this is because he is so far away from me physically that it is too difficult for him to control such a complex dream or if he just refuses to go that far; it does hurt more upon waking knowing he isn't really beside me in our bed after dreams like these.

Despite the pain and longing these dreams bring, I look forward to sleep. Because feeling him, knowing he's there, knowing he's alive and well, keeps me going. Well, that and our son.

Will is talking, and he's frighteningly good at it. And he's walking. Running. Thinking. Though he's only twenty months old now, he acts more like a five year old. And the mind working behind those hazel eyes of his is only getting stronger. To this day, I'm not sure if it is he or his father who created the chocolate river in my dreams; Mulder never had a sweet tooth like his son does.

Will has a much stronger connection to Mulder than I do. Sometimes I'll catch my son sitting far too still and staring off into nothingness, a small smile on his face. I try never to disturb him when he is like this, but my mother and Monica, who often spend time with him on weekends, both get worried when they see him so still. It often takes more than a few calls of his name to get his attention. I can't tell them to let him be; I would have to explain why. And they don't know. They can't know.

Nobody must know that Mulder is still alive.

Several months ago, shortly after Mulder and I discovered that I could 'talk' back to him using telepathy, Mulder boarded a small plane with Marita Covarrubias and her baby daughter, Rebecca, on their way to meet with CGB Spender and make a deal to keep both Rebecca and Will safe from harm. The plane exploded shortly after takeoff, killing all on board. Only, without anyone's knowledge, Marita, her baby and Mulder had managed to slip off of the plane at the head of the runway on that cold, dark night. Mulder had known that he had been marked for death; the alien Rebels feared he would take control of the Syndicate that dealt with the Grays. Which is exactly what he has done. Only it wasn't because he was power hungry as the Rebels feared, and it certainly wasn't because he was like the man whose place he had taken, Cancer Man himself.

He had done it for his son.

I hadn't expected the explosion that night. And if I hadn't had a solid lock on Mulder's presence far from the plane when it dissolved in the sky, I might had believed what everyone else believed: Mulder was gone.

John Doggett believed it. As did his partner in the X-Files, Monica Reyes. Even my mom has come to terms with the loss, grateful that I seem to be moving on with my life, focusing on my son and my job at Quantico. The Gunmen mourned for Mulder and now they spoil Will, watching over the two of us as they felt Mulder would have wanted them to do. Frohike's flirting, however, is held in check now. The ring I wear on my left hand may have something to do with that, but they truly believe Mulder is never coming back.

Walter Skinner, on the other hand, is a different story.

I often wonder if my acting wasn't good enough to fool him or if he simply sensed something from Will, but he never truly accepted Mulder's 'death'. He is acutely aware of how Will can see a picture of Mulder and say 'Daddy' without any hesitation. Or how when someone mentions Mulder, I don't get all misty eyed or nostalgic like I had had a tendency to do when he was 'dead' the first time. Or how I often find myself touching my throat, where my cross used to hang, staring off into space with a silly smile on my face, not unlike Will's when he and Mulder are 'talking'.

He knows.

But he'll never admit it.

In the meantime, I am continuing to live life from day to day. And night to night. Knowing that I will see him again. I am living for that day, but I fear it as well. After all, when Mulder comes out of hiding, it will mean the beginning of the end has begun.

For now, I'll simply be content to dream...


"What the...!"

The sound of my own voice startled me and added even more questions to my confused brain. I was dreaming. I was sure of it. But I was in a place I had never before been, either in real life or in my mind. The fact that I was talking aloud was also different. It was never necessary when I shared dreams with Will; we already knew each others feelings, and he and I had no trouble 'speaking' without words. With Mulder, words were rarely used as our connection was tenuous due to the distance of our bodies.

Carefully, I reached out with my mind to find Will. He was sleeping undisturbed in his bedroom, and I immediately pulled back and shut my mind off from his. He wasn't a part of this dreamscape, and until I knew what it was and why I was here, he did not need to know about it. I was often the victim of a reoccurring nightmare that I refused to let him discover, blocking him from my mind whenever it reared its ugly head. Often during this dream, which I had first had shortly after his birth, he would reach out for me in his sleep, and when he couldn't find me, he would wake up and complain...loudly. I would wake as any mother would and that would be that. I would let the same thing happen here.

I reached for Mulder next. He was there, as he always was, but his touch was indifferent. More distant than usual. Was this his dreamworld? And if it was, where was he?

I looked about me, taking in the terrain I had been thrust upon. I was in a field with tall grass that grew nearly to my hips. It was waving almost violently in the wind that was blowing, and the soft roaring sound surrounded me on every side. I looked upward into a cloudless, blue sky, comforted by the fact that there didn't appear to be a storm on the way. I blinked and faced the wind, noticing as I did so a group of trees about 200 yards away. I took a step in their direction when a sound from behind me sent my heart racing. I spun around.

I was no longer alone.

"Frohike?!"

The little hacker did a complete 180 degree turn, his eyes wide. He stopped and faced me. "Scully?"

My heart slowed, and a smile tried to compete with the frown already on my face. "What are you doing here?"

"What am I doing here?!" Frohike exclaimed. "I don't even know where HERE is!"

Folding my arms, I let the smile win. "You're dreaming."

His eyes widened. "Huh?"

"Or should I say, 'I'm dreaming'?" I felt the frown set in again. "But if that were true, why are you here?" Not that I didn't love Melvin to death, I just couldn't see why he would be in a dream I was sure Mulder was controlling. Unless... "Is this *my* dream, or yours?"

Frohike stared at me for a moment, comprehension slowly dawning, then he ogled me up and down. "It's gotta be yours."

"Why?"

"'Cause if it were mine, you wouldn't be fully clothed."

I felt my face heat, then looked down at what I was wearing. He was right. Though my dream-garb was far from what I wore in real life, it was still modest. With a long, flowing skirt, the white dress had full sleeves that ended slightly past my wrists and a scooped neckline that wasn't nearly low enough to attract unwanted male attention. The waist was tight, however, as was the bodice. I looked back up at Frohike.

"You look like a princess," he said softly.

I grimaced. "I look like Princess Leia." With a gasp, I brought my hands up to the sides of my head, then sighed with relief when I felt my own shoulder length hair blowing in the wind.

Frohike laughed.

"You look pretty smart yourself, hotshot," I grumbled good naturedly.

Frohike's smile faded as he looked down at himself. He was wearing black breaches and leather boots that came to his knees. His clean white shirt was complimented by a black leather jacket with a high collar. The only things that kept him from looking too abnormal were his glasses and his leather half-gloves. He winced slightly, then shrugged and turned his attention back toward me. "So what now, Princess? How do we wake up?"

I looked back toward the trees. "We can't wake up, yet, Frohike. We need to see this thing through."

"Wait a minute!" He rushed toward me and grabbed my arm. His touch was gentle but insistent. "What do you mean? If this is your dream, why am I here? And how?" He let my arm go and backed away a step. "Are you getting to be like Mulder was? Are you in my head?"

I frowned. Until that moment, I had been sure Frohike was simply part of the dream, a companion for whatever adventure Mulder had in store for me. Someone I could trust. But now I was beginning to wonder if maybe he wasn't a figment of this very real dreamscape. "I'm not, Frohike," I told him softly. "I'm not that strong. But..." I looked off toward the trees again.

'Mulder?' I thought silently.

No response. He was here. I could feel him. But I couldn't touch him. It was as if all his concentration was elsewhere. I looked at Frohike again, and I suddenly knew where. "Let's go," I told my companion. "I have a feeling we'll have the answers we need over there." I headed for the trees.

"A feeling, huh?" Frohike grumbled as he began following me. "Great."


As I strolled along through my dreamscape, I let myself look around a little more. There really wasn't that much to see. Except for the trees we were walking toward, all around us was an endless expanse of grass. Tall and green, it was beautiful in its own way. The wind produced waves that many oceans would envy; no whitecaps, but the sun shining on the underside of the seeds on the grass-stems caused silver ripples to glow amongst the bright green. And the smell of the fresh earth was wonderful.

I took a deep breath and glanced back at my companion. Frohike trudged along behind me, watching the ground rather than his surroundings, his expression grumpy.

"Not an outdoorsy person, are you, Melvin?" God knows I would never call him by his first name in real life, but here I felt a little less like Agent Scully and more like the tomboy Dana I used to be. Despite the dress.

"Not really, no."

I sighed and kept walking, lifting my face toward the sun.

We reached the trees. Kind of. What I had seen from a distance was, in fact, only the tops of several trees. They were actually in a deep ravine, three times as tall as they had appeared from our starting point. A small stream tumbled along at the bottom of the miniature canyon and the wind produced an even louder roar as it blew through the cottonwoods in front of us.

Frohike stopped next to me and looked about curiously. "So," he said, his voice still a bit morose sounding. "Do we go down?"

I looked over at him with a slight smile on my face, positive that he wasn't part of my imagination. If Frohike ever appeared in a dream of mine or Mulder's, he wouldn't be this grumpy. Somehow, for whatever reason, Mulder had dragged the little man into his head along with me.

"Yeah," I told him, keeping my voice firm but cheerful. The last thing I needed was for him to become uncooperative. Mulder had him here for a reason. "I think we should."

He looked over at me, his eyes suspicious. "Why?" He turned toward me, crossing his arms over his chest. "What do you know?"

I gave him a secretive smile. "What's the matter, Melvin? Don't you trust me?" I turned and headed for what appeared to be a well-worn path leading down into the ravine. "I'm not sure of anything," I continued as I walked, "but something is telling me this is where we need to be." It was true. I felt that this was the direction to go. Don't ask me how. I couldn't tell you if I tried. Mulder-radar maybe. I've had something like it for years, and I try never to question it. "You can come with me or not, Frohike."

"Scully, my dear," he responded with faint humor. "I will come with you anywhere."

I was halfway down the side of the ravine when he said this. I stopped and turned to glare up at him. In reality, I was more than thrilled to see the little smirk adorning his face; he was finally getting back to normal. I continued down the hill and heard him start down it himself. A few dirt clods loosened by his feet tumbled down past me, and I sent him another glare. "Don't you dare fall."

"Ah, come on, Scully. It's a dream. Nothing can hurt us." He paused, then met my eyes with his own. "Right?"

I shrugged. If he wanted to know the truth, I had no idea how far this dream could and would go. If Mulder was truly in charge, of course we wouldn't get hurt. But because of the realistic detail in this dream and the fact that I had a partner, I wasn't sure of anything.

The bottom of the ravine was cool and shady, and after having worked up a light sweat on the hike over, it was pleasant. The wind wasn't nearly as strong down here, either, which I think Frohike was greatly appreciative of. Glancing at him, I headed down the same trail we climbed down on, which now ran parallel with the stream.

"Who do you think made this trail?" Frohike asked as he followed me.

Again, I shrugged. "Deer, maybe? Or maybe it's a hiking trail."

He responded with a noncommittal grunt and we continued on silently for a while. Then he spoke up once again.

"Hey, Scully?"

"Yeah?"

"If I'm in your dream, you must be in my mind, right?"

I bit my lower lip and took a deep breath. "I never agreed it was *my* dream."

"Yeah, but we already decided it's not *mine*. So who's running this thing?"

I kept walking, waiting for him to make the realization. I knew he would; he was far too smart a man not to. And if Mulder wanted him here, he must want Frohike to know the truth.

I heard him stop suddenly behind me. With a sigh, I turned to face him.

"You have dreams like this often?" His expression was bare.

"I don't think I've ever had a dream quite like this one," I replied honestly.

"But you do have...dreams? Controlled by someone else?"

I looked him straight in the eye. "Will and I sometimes dream together."

He was silent for a while, studying my face. Then he looked around at the beauty surrounding him. "The kid's a genius, but this ain't his." He mumbled the statement, and I knew he expected no reply. "So that leaves," he looked back at me, his eyes bright. "Will's father."

I nodded my head, not sure what to expect.

"You've known all along, haven't you?" Anger flared in his eyes for a brief moment, but then it died. The glow returned, and I looked away, knowing it was caused by tears.

"And now it appears he wants you to know as well," I said softly.

I heard him take a deep breath and looked up. He was blinking away the tears and wiping his nose. With a grin, he looked at me again. "Well? What are we waiting for? Let's go!"

Returning his grin, I turned and headed up the trail again, more than curious to see what lay ahead. But I stopped short as I noticed the shadows slipping through the trees ahead of us. Shadows that were gradually getting larger...and noisier.

Frohike squeezed up beside me, squinting. "Are those horses?"

"And riders," I confirmed.

About five horsemen were making their way up the trail toward us, but they didn't look like your average trail riders. Glancing back down at the garb both Frohike and I wore, I told myself I shouldn't be surprised by the looks of the riders. They were wearing armor. Black armor. And capes. And all their horses were black or almost black as well.

Swords flapped gently from scabbards that hung off the left side of their mounts, and I was reminded of one of my old history teachers, who taught that the common practice of mounting horses from the left side was started back when their riders carried swords; it was easier to mount a horse from the left so the rider wouldn't have to swing a heavy, sharp sword over his steed. I remembered asking how lefties did this. I was promptly told there were no lefties back then; none that would admit to it, anyway.

"Are they the good guys or the bad guys?" Frohike whispered to me.

"They're wearing black," I responded. "What do you think?"

"I'm just hoping we haven't stepped into 'The Lord of the Rings'."

I shook my head. "More like Camelot," I said. "Only, those aren't Arthur's knights."

Suddenly, I had a very bad feeling about this.


There I was, shoulder to shoulder with Frohike, watching five angry looking men dressed as knights on five battle scarred horses coming toward us, and all I could do was stand there like some helpless maiden in a fairy tale.

'All right, Mulder,' I couldn't help but think to myself. 'You did this to me. It's all your fault.'

But 'talking' to him wasn't working; he still wasn't responding, but there was an overwhelming feeling of nervousness that seeped from his consciousness into mine that I really didn't like.

I glanced at Frohike and saw the fear in his eyes and knew he felt it, too, though he probably had no idea why. I turned back to the horsemen, squaring my shoulders and lifting my head in a manner Mulder once called 'regal'. He hadn't been complimenting me at the time.

They stopped about fifteen feet in front of us. My eyes met those of the man in the lead. Recognition flooded through me, and I couldn't control the involuntary gasp that escaped me.

Knowle Roher.

He frowned at me from the top of his mount, leaning forward as if that helped him to see me better. Then he sat up straight. "Who are you?" he demanded. But before I could answer, he continued, his voice harsh, "What reason do you have to trespass here?"

I took a deep breath, then spoke, keeping my voice as steady as possible. "We did not know this was somebody's property, therefore, we did not know we were trespassing."

The man frowned even harder, then turned to look at the men behind him. They all wore similar expressions of confusion and growing anger. He turned back to face me. "How could you not know who owns this land? Where do you come from?"

"Far from here," I continued. "We..." 'Come on, Scully. Make up some story. It doesn't have to be believable.' But nothing came to mind.

"We're here to see your boss," Frohike said from my side.

"My 'boss'?" the soldier said. "What is that?"

"You know," the little hacker continued, his own nervous voice getting stronger as he went on. "The head honcho. Your  supreme leader. The guy who signs your paychecks."

"Frohike," I whispered, trying to get him to shut up. But I shouldn't have worried. Mr. Black seemed to appreciate my companion's facetiousness.

"You'd like to meet The General, is that what you're trying to say?"

"Yeah! That's it. Your general." He seemed oblivious to the fact that the man had said *the* general as if it was a name or title, not a rank.

With a smirk on his face, Mr. Black eyed us up and down. "And how do I know you're not from the rebel faction? Here to assassinate The General?"

Frohike stepped away from me a bit and spread his arms out. "Do we really look dangerous to you?" Neither of us carried weapons, and my small stature and feminine appearance most likely looked innocent enough. Frohike wasn't much taller than I was, and as Mulder once told him, he was 'just a little puppy dog' and he looked it.

Mr. Black turned his mount and began to quietly consult with the others. I looked at Frohike, who didn't look nervous any more.

"This is kinda cool, Scully," he told me. "It's like our own little version of a fairy tale." He chuckled softly. "Of course, if this is Mulder's fairy tale, I probably should have told the guy, 'Take me to your leader'." He chuckled again, but stopped when he saw my frown. "Hey, you okay?"

"I know that man," I told him, keeping my voice low.

Frohike looked back at the horsemen. "You mean, he's not just a part of the dream?"

I shrugged. "I don't know." I looked over at Mr. Black just as he looked over at us again. "Whether he's real or not, don't trust him, okay?"

"'kay," Frohike agreed.

Mr. Black had turned his horse to face us once more. "We will take you to the compound and tell The General you are here. He will then decide what is to be done with you."

Frohike leaned over to whisper in my ear. "Why do I not like that sound of that last sentence?"

Before I could tell him I sympathized with his feelings, Mr. Black dismounted.

"You will ride with me," he said, nodding his head in my direction. He looked at Frohike. "You may ride with Kunhardt." The man behind Mr. Black was also getting off of his horse. He was big and burly and scary looking.

"Oh, joy," Frohike mumbled, sarcasm strong in his soft voice.

Despite my long skirt, I was able to mount the big black horse with relative ease, but it took both Mr. Black and the man called Kunhardt to get Frohike on the back of his mount. Then both soldiers remounted, turned their horses, and we began to march down the valley.

I tried to tell myself that this was working out wonderfully. After all, we were going in the direction I had been leading Frohike. We were probably going where we were supposed to. But I couldn't relax. Maybe it was the fact that I knew the man seated behind me, his arms caging me on both sides as he held the reins, was a deadly, indestructible alien replicant. A 'man' who could easily crush me, break my neck...or even cut it off with his own arm.

'Mulder?' I tried once more, desperate now.

And still, there was no answer.


We rode for nearly an hour before the scenery changed, but what a dramatic change it was! The little stream we were following suddenly met up with a larger creek that flowed out of its own gorge. The result was a much larger valley and a deeper creek that had a much faster current. We rode alongside this small river for a short while, and I noticed how the sides of the valley began to shrink and widen, leaving more room for meadows and open areas. It was in one of these open areas that the compound Mr. Black had mentioned stood.

I really didn't know what I had expected. A castle of some sort maybe, like the one at Disneyland. Or maybe a fortress reminiscent of the middle ages. This ugly chunk of rock in the shape of an octagon wasn't it. At least, that's what it looked like; a chunk of rock. I glanced back at Frohike and he responded with a nervous look of his own.

As we rode closer, I began to realize the size of the man-made structure in front of us; it was huge. The outer walls stood only about three stories high, but the circumference of the whole thing had to be nearly as big as Staten Island. Well, maybe not quite THAT big. But it was tremendous.

Two large, heavy wooden doors unexpectedly opened in the wall directly in front of us. Their color nearly matched that of the rock they had been joined to. If you couldn't easily see the obvious trail leading up to the double doors, you would not have known they were there from a distance. Without hesitation, the horses carried us into the shadows that were revealed by the open doors.

My nerves were already hopping, but the dark, forbidding passage that lead to the interior of the compound set them on fire. I was used to working in the dark, but not without my flashlight. Or my weapon, for that matter. The horse underneath me went steadily forward, however, and the simple fact that *he* wasn't afraid helped calm me.

We turned, and I was suddenly faced with the proverbial 'light at the end of the tunnel' in real time. Taking a deep breath, I loosened my grip on the pommel of the saddle, not quite remembering when I had grabbed it.

The horse carried us into a large cobblestone courtyard, full of people and animals. The smells and sounds rushed at me, and I felt a sense of wonder at the realism of this amazing dream. Once again, I looked at Frohike and noticed the same stunned look on his face that must have been on mine. Now, this was more like it. It may not look like a castle on the outside, but inside...

Both men and women bustled about, the women in simple homespun skirts and blouses, the men in trousers and rough looking work shirts. Most wore what looked like leather slippers on their feet, but some went barefoot. Only a handful of the men wore boots like the ones Frohike wore, and their clothing appeared to be finer as well.

Children of all ages ran about with bare feet and dirty faces. They stopped as the soldiers rode by and watched, smiles bright and eyes wide.

When the horse underneath me stopped suddenly, my attention was diverted from the children to several young men in front of us. These young men were dressed in fine attire like the 'noblemen' I had seen but were obviously not quite up to the same level yet. They took hold of the horses' bridles, and after we dismounted they led the horses away. Stable boys. Squires. Learning from the 'knightly' soldiers. They looked with open curiosity at Frohike but kept their eyes down when they faced me. Was it a sign of respect... or the opposite? I didn't know.

Mr. Black took my elbow and led me to a doorway off to the side. It was dark and cool inside, and I suddenly realized how hot it had been in the courtyard. With the sun beating down on the stone floor and only a minimal breeze reaching up over the walls, the temperature inside the compound was several degrees warmer than that outside of it.

I still would have much rather stayed out in the hot sun than in this dark, dank, musty smelling hall, however.

My 'escort' lead me to a flight of steep stairs and proceeded to climb them. With his grip tight on my arm, I could do nothing but follow, though I could barely see in the dim light. Candles lined the wall to my right, but they barely broke the surface of the deep darkness that surrounded me. The shuffle of footsteps behind me comforted me a little; Frohike was being taken up the stairs as well.

We finally reached the top, but it wasn't much brighter there than it had been in the stairwell, though torches had been lit and set about the room we stood in. Small, narrow windows off to the side let in thin streams of sunlight, letting me know that it was a southern facing wall.

Mr. Black dropped my elbow and looked down at me with piercing eyes. "Wait here." He proceed forward to a door in the stone wall. He rapped on it with his knuckle and paused. It opened almost immediately, but I couldn't see who was on the other side. I heard the murmur of voices, Mr. Black's and a softer, almost feminine one. The door opened wider, and I could see what looked like bright, natural light on the other side. The soldier walked in, closing the door behind him.

I folded my hands in front of me and consciously tried not to fidget. I looked at Frohike, but he was staring at the door intently, as if he was trying to see through it. He frowned, seemingly frustrated. Glancing at me, he gave me an apologetic look and shrugged. Wondering what he had been trying to do, I turned back to face the door once more.

We waited for what seemed like an eternity, and I began to wonder idly if I would ever get tired enough to sleep in this dream. My feet hurt. And I was a bit stiff from the ride. And I was hungry. But would I get tired? And even more importantly, would I ever need to go to the bathroom? I shook my head and laughed silently. Crazy thoughts.

The door opened suddenly, and I could easily see the sun filled room that had been hidden behind it. A tall, feminine shape graced the doorway, and a woman's husky voice reached my ears. "The General will see you now."

I walked toward the familiar voice, and wasn't surprised to see Marita holding the door. She was wearing a dress similar to mine, but it was a deep midnight blue instead of white. Her hair was piled on top of her head in an elegant fashion, indicating that it was much longer in this dreamworld than it had been when I had last seen her in real-time. She stepped aside as I entered, and then my attention was directed to the room.

It was incredible. Magical. The whole upper portion of the south wall had been cut away, as had part of the ceiling, and sun streamed down upon the stone floor. Bright tapestries with pictures of animals and mountains covered the opposite wall and the back, brightening the room even more, and plants grew throughout, taking advantage of the light. A large table with several chairs around it sat on the left side of the room, and beautiful rugs and cushions were on my right, the sunlight hitting them perfectly. It was a room befitting a king.

Or a General.

My breath caught in my throat as I faced the back of the room. Mr. Black stood next to a slightly raised dais with a chair on it. Not quite a throne, but definitely a place of honor. A man was sitting there, and I knew without a doubt that this was The General himself.

He was dressed in much the same manner as Frohike and the nobles outside: white shirt opened at the throat, long, full sleeves caught tight at his wrists, black trousers with high, black boots. His dark hair was slightly long, brushing his collar, and a goatee adorned his face. That and the diamond stud flashing in his left ear made him look almost piratical. Other than the earring, the only jewelry that I could see was a simple gold band on his left ring finger.

He stood and stepped down from the dais, and my gaze ran over his lithe form. There was no more fear. No more worry. Only pure appreciation of the fine figure before me. I was almost tempted to wipe my chin and assure myself I wasn't drooling.

"Oh, yeah," I heard Frohike say from somewhere behind me. "This is definitely *your* dream." I couldn't help but smile.

I had finally found Mulder.


At Frohike's sarcastic words, the man in front of me smiled slightly, but his gaze never left mine. There was so much emotion in those beautiful eyes that I was almost overwhelmed by it. Joy, tenderness, passion, and even a hint of fear. Underneath it all was the same sadness that had been there since we had first met ten years ago, a sadness that rarely ever left him completely.

"Welcome to El Creyente."

I felt an involuntary shiver run up my back at the sound of his voice. It was the first time I had heard it in over a year. It brought back so many memories, both good and bad and made me realize how very much I had missed hearing him speak. I had always loved Mulder's voice; I could have stood listening to him read the telephone book and never get bored. I would never tell him that, though. I didn't have to.

He could read my mind.

His smile broadened for a moment and a mischievous glint appeared in his eye, but he quickly doused the smile and turned toward Mr. Black with a stern expression. I also dropped my smile and closed my mind as much as I possibly could, which wasn't as easy during sleep as it was when I was awake.

"Renner," The General told the man beside him. "I'd like to speak to our guests alone, please."

'Renner' looked as if he wanted to argue with his superior, but finally gave a sharp nod and walked out of the room, closing the door behind him.

Mulder then turned to Marita, who was standing slightly behind Frohike and me, and nodded. She returned his nod with a small smile and turned to leave the room through an open door to my left.

"El Creyente, huh?" Frohike said grumpily. "Cute."

I had to admit, it was clever. Spanish for 'The Believer', the name fit Mulder well.

"Cute, maybe," Mulder said, a lazy smirk replacing his serious expression. "But it's the name of my new...home." He said the last word with a touch of bitterness.

"And this is really what it looks like?" I asked, surprised to discover that my voice sounded rough.

He smiled. "Hell, no." He stretched out his arms, indicated the room around him. "This is just a little piece of my mind."

"And what else...who else...is a part of your mind?" Frohike asked, his voice suspicious.

Mulder dropped his arms. "Everybody but the two of you."

I heard the little hacker take a deep breath full of relief behind me, and I had to admit to myself that I was put more at ease as well. But I was also more curious.

"Why?"

Mulder didn't even bother to question what I was talking about. "This is the only way I can explain to you in detail what I need to tell you." He folded his arms. "I could have found a way to get you the information physically, I guess, but it would have been risky, for all of us. This way, I can tell you directly, and nobody else will know."

"The Grays?" I asked, speaking of the aliens he now worked with. "They won't be able to...interrupt?"

He shook his head. "I'm blocking them."

"And Frohike?" I glanced back at my companion, who stood a couple of feet behind me and off to my left, his arms folded like Mulder's, his face expressionless.

"It's best if both of you learn what I know."

"And this set up?" Frohike questioned. "Why the Medieval Times look?"

Mulder shrugged. "Variety. I get bored."

I narrowed my eyes and stared hard at the man in front of me. He seemed relaxed, in control. But there was something wrong. Why hadn't he responded to my earlier 'calls'?

"It can't be easy," I told him. "Controlling this world, us and blocking any others from entering."

"Actually, the environment is easy," he said, turning to walk toward the open wall to my left. "This place has been in my mind since I was a child." He turned to face us, his back to the sun. "You've seen pictures of Ayers Rock, haven't you? In Australia? Well, I always wanted to go there. I often imagined it was a giant, hidden fortress. When I got older, it's color and shape changed a bit, but you get the idea." He smiled, but it was a sad smile. "I always imagined rescuing a princess being held there against her will." I knew he was thinking about Samantha.

He took a deep breath. "Getting you here was easy," he said softly. "Frohike is a bit of a challenge, however. But I knew he would settle down and not fight it as soon as he saw you."

Frohike snorted. "Just tell me, please, that this is the first time you've ever gotten into my mind."

Mulder smiled again, and there was more humor in the expression this time around. "Melvin, I love you, buddy, but I have no interest in visiting your dreams." He stepped closer to us, his gaze relaxed but intent, moving from Frohike back to me. "It's the blocking that's tough," he continued. "It's taking most of my concentration. It's why I didn't respond when you...'called'."

I nodded, fear flowing through me at his explanation. If his concentration dropped...if even one of the Grays sensed that he was communicating with me telepathically...all the loneliness and emotional turmoil we had gone through in the last year would be for nothing.

I cleared my throat. "Then what is it you need to tell us?"

His eyes never wavered from mine, and the intensity in them became even more fevered. It was then I noticed the darkness that lay buried underneath all Mulder was thinking and feeling. It wasn't visible, but it was palpable. Like static electricity in the air during a thunderstorm. I shook my head softly, trying to push away the horrible dread that filled my soul. "Mulder?" I whispered, my horror evident in my voice.

He blinked and looked away...and the darkness was gone. "Let's wait a while," he told us, moving toward the cushions laying in the sun. "Relax a bit. Enjoy yourselves. It's always nice to lose yourself in fantasy for a while." He smirked at Frohike. "And no, Melvin. Scully has to stay dressed."

Still stunned, I looked back at Frohike. He was watching me with worry in his eyes. He had seen my reaction to Mulder's stare, and though he didn't understand it he wanted to be sure I was okay.

How could I tell him that I didn't understand it myself? How could I tell him that I was now very uncertain about our safety in Mulder's dreamworld?

How could I tell him I was suddenly, inexplicably afraid of Mulder himself?


I turned and followed Mulder slowly over to the cushions, glancing outside as I walked. The view was incredible. The valley we had traveled to get here was visible over the high wall that surrounded the compound, green and verdant. As I stepped closer to the opening, I could see down into the compound and noticed that the people below were still bustling about. I glanced at Mulder, and he looked at me expectantly.

With a soft sigh, I moved to one of the cushions, carefully lowering myself onto it. It was firm but soft, and I realized with surprise that my sore body appreciated it. I glared at the man in charge. "Did you have to make this so real?"

He frowned. "What do you mean?"

"I'm saddle sore," I groused.

He laughed, then turned toward Frohike, who was standing behind me watching Mulder with suspicion. "Melvin?"

The hacker winced. "Will you please stop calling me that?!"

"Sorry," Mulder apologized softly. "Please, Fro, sit down."

Frohike nodded sharply, then came around the cushions and sat. He obviously couldn't control the sigh of relief that emanated from him as soon as his derriere hit the softness beneath him.

I smiled, then turned back to Mulder, watching as he joined us, leaning back into his own cushion with a look of contentment. He closed his eyes for a moment, and I noticed the creases that emanated from the corner of his eyes and fanned out. I knew they weren't laugh lines, and a wave of worry and sadness enveloped me.

His eyes opened immediately, staring at me with that frightening intensity again. "Don't," he demanded softly.

"I could say the same to you," I retaliated without hesitation.

"It's kind of hard to ignore your thoughts when I'm already in your mind," he explained. Though his words were gentle, his eyes were not.

"Well, try," I whispered.

He shook his head. "Let's talk."

"About what?"

"Anything," he shrugged. "I don't care. How's Will?"

I bit my lower lip. "You know that better than anyone."

He looked surprised for a moment. "How...?"

"I know you two talk," I explained. "Sometimes, he'll go into a kind of trance. He'll just stare off into space. I can call his name, clap, sing... nothing gets his attention." I looked out the opening into the clear, blue sky. "I usually let him be, but it worries Mom and Monica." I glanced at him again. "They know he's brilliant, but I think they're worried that he's autistic, too."

"He's not," Mulder said, his voice full of emotion. He cleared his throat. "He's just..."

I looked back outside when he paused. I could hear the yells of the children I had seen before outside beneath us. "Like them?" I asked, nodding toward the giant window, indicating the children below.

"Yes."

"What else can these children do?" I continued. I could feel Frohike lean closer to me, his full attention on the conversation at hand.

"We're not completely sure," Mulder said with a sigh. "The oldest, Wes, is only three years old." He stood suddenly and started pacing. "But their learning ability..." He shook his head and looked at me, wonder filling his expression. "It's amazing, Dana. And Will -- Will isn't even getting the same training they are, and he's the most advanced of them all."

"You're helping him, though, aren't you?"

He stopped and stood still. "Yes. I work with him on the same mental challenges that we use here. But he is the top of his...class."

"Are they well treated?" I asked softly.

He nodded. "I wouldn't stay if they weren't, no matter the importance. Marita and Susan are both wonderful with them."

"And you?" Now was the time to ask about what was really bothering me. "Are you treated well?"

He laughed, but there was no humor in it. "Of course! I'm The General! I'm practically treated like a king."

"And you hate it."

Frohike's bald statement caused furrows in Mulder's brow. "Yeah. I do." He took a deep breath. "But I can't leave. These kids are important, and I need them to understand how important they are without the Grays influence."

"You communicate with them through telepathy, too?" I asked.

He nodded. "The Grays do as well, but I make sure they get the whole story. They won't be brainwashed. I won't allow it."

I shook my head, my mind swirling with possibilities. "But that's what the Grays want, isn't it? To brainwash them? Make them believe they are better than us?"

"They are better than us," Mulder said, and for a moment I couldn't breathe due to the flat honesty of his words. "But that doesn't mean they should grow to be our rulers. Our destroyers."

"Isn't it dangerous telling them otherwise?" Frohike asked. Despite his lack of knowledge of the whole story, he was following along with the conversation well enough. "What if the Grays find out you're giving these kids a well-rounded education?"

"They won't."

"But what if they do?" I demanded.

He shrugged and turned away. "I can't think like that. I can only take one day at a time." He sighed heavily. "But I do pray an awful lot."

I sat silent, my heart aching. I prayed a lot, too. To a God I had believed in since childhood. A God I had loved, hated, cursed and praised. A God that Mulder had never had any faith in...

Until now.

"It seems to be working," I said softly.

He looked at me with a wry expression. "I hope you're right." His eyes turned dark again, and felt myself sink farther back into my cushion, away from him. He immediately looked contrite and slightly hurt that I would be afraid of him, but I couldn't help it. This Mulder was not the same one I had kissed goodbye so many months ago; he was not the same man I had married.

"Mulder," I whispered. "Please, tell us why we're here." Whatever he was trying to accomplish by making us wait obviously wasn't working. I felt a sudden need to talk with him alone, which meant getting rid of Frohike.

Mulder nodded, understanding my demand. "Okay."


"I know how to kill them."

I didn't have to ask who 'them' was. It was a safe bet, in my mind at least, that he was speaking about our greatest fear: the creatures that couldn't be killed. The replicants that Billy Miles and Ray Hoese had become after their 'deaths' at the hands of the Grays.

Mulder had nearly become one of those things, and if a horrible twist of fate, and a life altering decision by Walter Skinner, hadn't intervened, he probably would be one of them. Will would be in the hands of the Grays, and I would most likely be dead. It wasn't the first time in my life that one small event had created such a dramatic change in my life.

"How?" My voice came out as a whisper, but I knew I didn't need to speak up; Mulder had heard me.

"It's not easy," Mulder said, his voice almost as soft as mine. He took a deep breath and looked down at his hands, which he had folded and placed in his lap. "The Gray's blood."

I tilted my head, unsure what he meant. He stayed silent and didn't look up. I opened my mouth to demand more of an explanation, by Frohike beat me to it.

"What?" the little man said, his voice loud. "What about the Gray's blood?"

"It can kill the replicants." Mulder finally looked up, and the circles under his eyes seemed more pronounced. He was tired, the strain of blocking said Grays from his mind was exhausting him.

"You mean that green, acid-like substance?" I asked, wanting to ease his stress but needing answers.

He nodded. "Only the creator can destroy their creation, right?" He stood again and began to pace back and forth in front of us. "It's dangerous. There are very few safe methods for containing and transporting the blood. You can't touch it directly, and its fumes are deadly." He stopped and met my eyes with his own. "But you know that." He shook his head. "And even then, it needs to be injected into the replicant before it will work."

He groaned and lifted his hands to rub his eyes. "More than a year, and that's all I could find. It's so hard, trying to be discreet. Trying not to attract notice. Trying to earn their trust." He opened his eyes and looked at me again. "They aren't like us, Scully. They don't laugh -- they don't cry -- they don't make friends or feel hate or love or desire. They reproduce their own kind in laboratories; they think the idea of intercourse with another is repugnant. The act of carrying and giving birth to a baby is abhorrent to them, which is why the hybrid program the Rebels initiated was reviled." He looked at Frohike. "These replicants are a new invention, created to fight the Rebels and any who help them. Now they act as guardians of the children."

"Children whom they believe are more powerful than they themselves are?" Frohike asked.

"Children they believe were sent by a God they thought they destroyed long ago. Prophets that will take them into a new age of immortality and god-like superiority over the Universe."

"But you don't believe that," I said, trying my hardest to keep the question out of my voice.

He looked at me, and the darkness was back in his eyes. He was silent for a moment. "I believe they were sent by God, yes." I was struck dumb by his statement, unable to believe what I was hearing. He continued. "But not to lead the Grays to immortality. I believe they were sent to destroy the Grays."

I nodded, still stunned, but understanding that that had been Spender's goal so long ago and the reason Mulder had agreed to take the man's place after his death. To destroy the Grays. To save the world.

But at God's command?

Mulder's lip curled in a parody of a smile. "What's the matter, Scully? You seem surprised."

I realized I was trembling. Fear, confusion, awe...I was overwhelmed with feeling. It was simply too large to comprehend, this idea; that God himself was creating an army to help his children fight the evil the Grays seemed to represent. And here I was, a woman who had always believed in God, not wanting to believe it. And here Mulder was, a man whose faith in a higher being had been suspect, ready to lead that army.

"You really...believe that they...that Will...?"

Mulder shrugged. "I want to believe. If I believe otherwise, then there really is no hope for us, is there?"

He sighed and turned toward Frohike. "I can't keep this up much longer. I've been saving my strength for this one night, but it's fading fast." He stepped toward Frohike and held out his hand. With only a slight hesitation, the little man took it and allowed Mulder to pull him to his feet. "It will be next to impossible to get blood from the Grays, which is why I never told you about it when I first found out. Instead, I've been trying to replicate it, and I've finally succeeded. I'll try to get the formula to you and the guys."

Frohike nodded, his eyes wide. He seemed as stunned as I felt. "We'll fix up a nice batch of it, Mulder," he told his friend. "Then we'll be ready to help whenever you need us."

Mulder nodded in return. "That's what I was hoping you'd say." He released Frohike's hand. "Tell the guys 'hi' for me."

Frohike's eyes widened in surprise, knowing Mulder was giving him permission to tell the others he was still alive. Then suddenly, he disappeared.

Mulder turned back to face me. "He's awake now. He'll probably be calling you in a few minutes, so we don't have much time."

The shiver that ran up my back could have been either anticipation or fear. I honestly couldn't tell which.


I watched as Mulder stepped closer to me, close enough to smell his clean scent. Close enough to feel the heat of his body. I turned away and closed my eyes, unwilling to unite the familiar feelings of his presence with the stranger before me; the stranger with the frightening eyes.

"Scully," he said, his voice dark and much too near. "Look at me. Please."

Taking a deep breath, I opened my eyes and turned to face him. The first thing I saw was the gold chain around his neck...and the tiny gold cross that hung from it. Without thought, I reached out and touched it. It was warm from the heat of his body, a heat that drew me in. Tentatively, I moved my fingers from the small pendant to the skin beneath it.

He gasped softly at the contact, and I raised my eyes to look at his face. He had closed his own eyes at my touch, and when he slowly opened them it was my turn to gasp. Gone was the darkness, the fear. Desire ran rampant in the hazel depths, and I felt it all the way from my scalp to my toes.

"Mulder..." I whispered.

"You have to go, Dana," he said, and his gaze hardened once more.

"Not until you tell me what's wrong."

He laughed harshly and pulled away from my touch. The sun that had been shining into this wonderful tower room disappeared under a cloud, and I shivered as the room turned cold.

"What could be wrong, Scully?" he said, turning to face me. "I'm helping to save the world." Sarcasm was heavy in his voice. "What could be better than that?"

*Liar.*

I didn't say the word out loud, knowing he could hear it anyway. His eyes narrowed. Then he stepped in close to me once more, and I resisted the urge to back away. Resentment glowed in his eyes for a moment, but I had no way of knowing if it was directed at me or himself.

"They exist, Scully, but that's it." I knew he was referring to the aliens. "No emotion, not even anger or hatred. They talk of the future as if they're reading it from a book. Even when their plans are thwarted, they just shrug and open a new book. Nothing frustrates them. Nothing frightens them." He frowned, and I had the sudden desire to reach out and smooth his brow. "They aren't easy to deal with day after day."

He looked away from me. "Some days, I feel it would be so much more easy to just become one of them." He paused. "Or just give it all up." He smiled without humor. "I honestly don't know which option would be worse."

Suddenly, I understood the darkness that surrounded him. He was afraid he was already becoming like them. "Mulder--"

He cut me off. "Don't worry, Scully. I won't give in to either temptation. Not while Will and the others need my protection." He lowered his head slightly, meeting my gaze. "And not with the two of you holding down the fort, so to speak, waiting for me to come home." Despite his words, I saw the uncertainty in his eyes, and knew he wasn't as sure as he appeared to be about his ability to stay sane.

Without another thought, I reached up with my right hand and cupped the back of his head, pulling it the rest of the way down to me. The soft boots I had worn in this crazy dream had no heels, so I stood on tiptoe to reach my husband's lips. He seemed startled at first, but he quickly recovered enough to wrap his arms around me and open his mouth under mine. The kiss was deep and soft and wet, and it said more than any words could ever say.

I regretfully pulled away, whispering those unnecessary words against his lips anyway. "I love you."

He leaned his forehead against mine, his defenses suddenly down. "I'm so tired, Scully." His voice broke. "The children, they have each other. And Marita and Susan have become good friends. I can't trust anyone else. I..."

"You have no one," I finished, my voice soft.

"The moments I spend with Will...I treasure every one. But it's not as if I could hold him. Touch him. Talk to him using my voice." He closed his eyes, and a tear trailed slowly down his left cheek. "And you..." He sighed heavily. "Scully, I miss you."

I smiled through my sudden tears, burying my face against his neck. "I know," I told him. "God, I know. I miss you, too."

"I'd give anything to go back five years, knowing what I know now."

I frowned. "What would you do?"

He hesitated. "I would give it up. The X-Files. The search for Samantha. Everything but you."

I moved away from him and met his sad gaze. "I wouldn't let you."

Somehow, those words were what he needed to hear.

"I love you, Dana."

Somehow, he knew those were the words I needed to hear.

I nodded. "I know. And we will be together again. Soon. We have to believe that."

Underneath the sadness in his eyes, I saw a tinge of hope. "Yeah. We do. And we will." He backed away from me, and though the sun was once again shining on me, I felt cold again. "I'm not going to say 'goodbye', you know."

I smiled. He never did. "Good."

He smiled back. "It's gonna get better."


'It's gonna get better.'

I woke with his final words still in my head and the telephone ringing in my ears. With a groan, I turned on my side and reached for the phone, noticing as I did so that Will was standing in my doorway with a worried look on his face. Apparently, he had been on his way to wake me, wondering why he couldn't find me in his dreams.

"'Lo?" I said into the receiver, then cleared my throat. I looked at the clock. It was almost 6 AM.

"Uh, Scully?"

It was Frohike.

"Yeah?" I responded, happy that my voice sounded a bit more normal.

"Did I wake you?"

I smirked. "Yeah, actually, you did. And you woke me from what could have been a very interesting dream."

"Oh." He sounded disappointed. I knew he was beginning to wonder if what had happened to him had been *just* a dream.

"After you left, we were alone," I continued. "Things could have gotten a lot more interesting if we had had more time."

Stunned silence.

"Frohike?"

"So it was real?"

"Pretty neat, huh?" Will had finally moved from his position in the doorway and was attempting to climb onto the bed. I stuck the phone between my shoulder and jaw and reached down to pick him up.

Frohike sighed heavily on the other end of the line. "Yeah. Neat." He still sounded stunned.

"Let me know when you get his present, will you?"

"Yeah, sure."

"Talk to you later, Frohike. I've gotta go make breakfast."

"Yeah, sure," he repeated.

With a smile, I placed the receiver back in its cradle, then looked at my son.

He was watching me intently, but suddenly his hazel eyes lost focus for a moment. When they centered on me again, he smiled. And in his soft child's voice, he told me, "It's gonna get better, mama."

THE END

 

This story is followed by:
It's Gonna Get Better


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