Title: Forgotten Again
Author: Foxie Meg
Written: November 2001
Keywords: Mulder, a bit o' angst
Category: V, A
Rating: R for language
Disclaimer: I hereby disclaim Chris Carter, 1013 Productions, 20th Fox, and everything in the X-Files that is not immediately related to Fox Mulder, who has already been disclaimed from aforesaid disclaiments and therefore belongs to me and me alone. *Grins* (C'mon, nobody ever said you had to believe me.)

Summary: "At her insistence, he packed his bags, kissed his son goodbye, and left."

Forgotten. Again. Panic? Please, no.

I've had enough.

Your fists, they beat like words And my feet ache with Standing still and taking it.

I was never afraid before you. What have you done? Life does not hold me since you.

Forget the way I smiled at you - I don't know how to do that anymore. I'm a ghost and I haunt only myself.


It is an idyllic place, in the dictionary sense of the word. Rustic, sun-washed wooden planks form the graying porch and walls, and he is honestly surprised to find it insulated and clean inside . He drops his suitcases onto the floor and watches puffs of light-grey dust float upward.

He tries to decide if it is better or worse than the cheap motel that would be his alternative but gives up. Here he is concealed, invisible - isolated. Utterly alone. He does not know how long he will be here, hiding, and that is the hardest part. How long until he is forgotten sufficiently and can resurface? Who will forget him first - his friends or his enemies?

As if the darkness wasn't already overwhelming - as if it wasn't enough to be dead, buried, and mourned in passing. As if he wasn't already shivering from the coldness that greeted his resurrection. As if... as if... as if it isn't killing him all over again to be cast out, cast away, cut off.

It doesn't hurt too badly if he doesn't think about it, and he tries not to. Just being numb takes all his energy now.

At her insistence, he packed his bags, kissed his son goodbye, and left. He didn't kiss her goodbye. She reached for him, but he pretended he didn't see, burying his face in William's neck and kissing it, inhaling deeply of the sweet baby scent. He closed his eyes, clutching the child close, not bothering to hide the tremors shuddering violently through his body. Will gurgled and cooed, blowing saliva bubbles onto his father's face. "Bye, kiddo," Mulder managed to choke out, blinking back tears as he handed the child over to Scully.

"Mulder--" she started, her eyes bright with tears. Will started whimpering softly, reaching out to him, and Mulder had to look away, careful not to watch the child.

"If something happens to Will, you know how to find me," he interrupted, his voice cracking, as he made his way out the door. "Otherwise, it would probably be better if you didn't try to contact me."

She blinked in surprise and then nodded. He was right, of course. She opened her mouth as if to say something and took a step toward him, but he ignored her actions, giving her a tight smile and a tense, "Bye, Scully," as the door closed behind him. As it snicked shut, he heard William's whimpers escalated to a full-throated wail and, choking on his own tears, he sprinted down the hall to the stairs.

There is, he notices, food in the cabinets. The stove is clean, the bed is made, and the sound of his breathing echoes off the walls, which are bare except for a few amazing charcoal sketches tacked up to the planks.

He steps closer to one, studying it intently. It is of a woman with dark hair and large, dark eyes. Her expression is haunted, guarded; the long, graceful fingers of one hand rest delicately against her temple. The darkened lines spark flames of empathy in his heart - he knows that dazed feeling, as if he's just been struck in a place more sensitive than he could have guessed. He closes his eyes and turns away, unable to look at anything that reminds him that it still hurts. He never thought it would hurt this bad to be cast out of the last two places he felt he could call "home."

"You can't stay here," they said. "This is the first place anyone would look for you."

He knew they were right then, and he knows it now, but his eyes still burn at the rejection. Byers quietly agreed with Scully's actions, at least in theory.

"She had to kick you out, man," Langly shrugged. "Hey, at least she wanted to keep you from getting offed."

Mulder's insides wrenched. He knew she was right - he knew that. But he honestly didn't feel Kersh to be that much of a threat, and it felt a helluva lot like he was getting kicked out.

When Frohike didn't weigh in, Mulder couldn't resist asking, "What's your opinion, Melvin?" The little man shook his head without speaking and turned away. Mulder clamped his lips shut, fighting anger and tears.

After a moment, Frohike faced him, saying with great difficulty, "You know we'd love to keep you here, Mulder. But we can't - it isn't safe for any of us, least of all you."

"Where am I going to go?" Mulder asked in a desolate voice, his eyes empty and wounded.

There were a few awkward moments of throat-clearing and subtle weight-shifting, during which Mulder's imagination summoned up images of cold, lonely nights spent in wretched solitude in a cheap motel. Hired company is out of the question; he has a child now.

The possibility was a bleak one that left him with a dull ache in his chest. Depression was settling in when Langly piped up with, "Hey, he can stay at the Haven, can't he?"

"Where?" Mulder was confused.

"The Hacker's Haven," Byers clarified. "More than a few fugitives had stayed there until their storms blew over. I think you'd be safe there."

So this is the Haven, Mulder thinks as he glances around. Aside from the state-of-the-art computer system in the corner, he has a hard time imagining computer geeks living in this antiquated atmosphere for an extended amount of time. He wonders how he will fare.

It is only his second day at the Haven, and he has found the bed to be as comfortable as his couch, and the blankets soft and warm. He misses his couch and hopes that the college kid who bought it for her apartment is treating it nicely. She seemed like the kind of girl who would know how to take care of the dark green leather. She'd at least promised him that she wouldn't let her cats sharpen their claws on it - too much.

He remembers the smile on her face as she ran her hand over the arm saying gently, "Jasper will love this."

"Boyfriend?" he asked, wondering absently if anyone had ever actually gotten laid on that couch.

"The only one I'm likely to have anytime soon," she commented with a wry grin. "He's my cat. Well, one of them. I have four."

Now he smiles a little, hoping that "Jasper" does indeed like his human's new furniture.

He regards the computer in the corner with a bit of caution - while it does have internet access, right now he amuses himself by playing Tetris and Spider Solitaire. He is, quite frankly, a little leery of logging onto the 'net. What will he do once he's there?

Any activity can be traced, and while he is certain the Gunmen have taken extensive precautions with the setup, he remembers the time Langly told him that his attempts at covering his tracks only make the trail more obvious. He is not, he supposes, hacker material.

Besides, it's not as if he's going to email Scully. No way in hell. Even if she, by some chance, would be happy to hear from him after the way he left her without holding her. I would have never let go, his parting words will not let his pride accept the idea of contacting her.

Too bad Wills isn't old enough to have an email address of his own, he thinks sourly. He misses his son - misses him with an intensity that even he does not understand.

He has never wanted anything more than to be wanted; needed beyond all reason. He supposes that, from a psychological angle, it is easy to see the succession of action and reaction and classical conditioning that Pavlov would envy.

From the time he was a not-so-bright-eyed baby boy scaring the doctors shitless with his refusal to let out a healthy infantile scream, Fox William Mulder has been a freak. The absolute pain of it is, however, that though he has indeed been an outcast, he has never been truly freakish.

Even monsters and mutants get attention - they get written down in fairy tales and told about around campfires for decades after they're gone.

Him? Well, growing up, he felt lucky if his parents remembered when his basketball games were, or if the pretty blonde in his Spanish class got his name half right.

("Is it Wolf? No? It's some animal name, though - a wild dog. Dingo? Coyote? Fox! That's right - Fox Miller. Listen, you're sweet and all, but..." And his teachers wondered why he started skipping Spanish class.)

Then Samantha. Although he'd always half-resented her for being his mother's darling and Daddy's "little angel," he did adore her with that nose-wrinkling, reluctantly enthusiastic devotion that one can't help feeling for his baby sister.

He is still not sure what was responsible for most of his guilt where her disappearance is concerned - the feeling of failed responsibility, or the shameful hope that now that Sam was out of the way, his parents would actually remember that they had a son.

Not that they'd want to remember the pregnancy that forced their marriage, he supposes; not the pregnancy that happened when Teena was on the verge of leaving Bill for a charismatic young man named - of course - Fox.

It is more than obvious to him that his name was chosen out of pure spite, and he remembers that his mother seemed to delight in calling it out with a sigh and a significant little twist that made his father cringe.

Bill hated Fox's name, and some of the time, Fox mistook this wound as a distaste for him as a person. His mother, on the other hand, would at times lavish so much attention on him that, even as a young child, he somehow sensed that it was unnatural.

The rest of the time, she ignored him completely, but he loved her with the slavish devotion of a spurned child and bowed to her every whimsy, waiting desperately for the times when she would hold him closely and caress his hair, placing feather-light kisses on his temple and cooing to him.

"Oh Fox, darling... my sweetheart, my precious..."

Dear God, but that memory makes him sick now that he knows that those moments of "tenderness" were no more than her way of turning a knife in his father's heart. Has he always been someone else's weapon?

He remembers with a small grimace how the discovery of this trick of hers had ruined a special moment with Scully early on. The soft way she'd said "Fox," with that gentle urgency had sounded so much like his mother's cruel manipulations that it had nearly made him ill.

The realization of how he had been used even in those rare moments he thought he was being loved made his name something despicable, and he hadn't been able to bear the sound of it on her lips.

"I even made my parents call me Mulder." God, I wish I had.

He considers how his bad luck with women continued to Oxford, masochistically pulling out the memory of Phoebe, who had taught him even better than his mother how easily he could be used.

He had been her fetch-and-carry boy, and he could kick his own ass for being such a dupe.

"Fox, would you pick up some fish and chips?" "Fox, be a dear and finish my term paper, would you?" "Fox, darling, buy me that necklace." "Fox, lovey, lend me your bed while you're at your exams so I can fuck your roommate."

He sighs. Getting out of that relationship was both a relief and a heart-breaker. It was only by a small miracle that he had made it back to America before he'd gone crawling back to her.

He frowns as he begins to type out an email to the Lone Gunmen - just a short note to let them know he made it okay.

Hi honey, I'm home - the house looks great. More later.

He is seeing a pattern - one he was hoping wouldn't continue, but now he fears that it will. He hates being forgotten - hates feeling that he is nothing more than a momentary distraction, a means to an end.

A way for his mother to remind his father that she didn't love him. A way for Phoebe to get his flatmate into her bed. (Or his, actually.) A way for Diana to gain the notice pity? of the higher-ups and land an overseas assignment.

And it's not like he put up much resistance either, he realizes in disgust. He let Jerry Lamana steal his work *again* - and then had made excuses to Scully about it so she wouldn't realize what a pushover her partner really was.

He bent over backwards to make his mother happy, hoping that she would - at last - show some sign of true affection. He did his best to avenge his father's death; to take his revenge on Krycek for feeding his most ravenous hunger - the desire for approval and admiration - and then playing into his deep fear of betrayal.

He let Phoebe put her arms around him a second time even though Thankfully! fate intervened before he could make a total ass of himself. "Must be fate, Mulder. Root beer." But really, was it so wrong to hope that, after all those years, she might still want him? That she might regret her choices at Oxford?

Diana... God, let's not go there right now. That was a betrayal he hadn't anticipated, that he refused to believe in. Not again. Not again.

He had thought, really, that Scully would break the pattern. She had lasted through his Pushme-Pullya behavior, dealing with the fact that his basic desire to be desired had prompted his backwards pursuit of her, while a history of failed relationships had prevented his ever following through.

He is trying hard not to feel as if she, too, has pushed him away now. He had actually begun to hope that this time, maybe everything would work out okay. But God have mercy, his hope is dying, his dream is drying up, and he feels like Hughes's raisin on the sun. It is getting increasingly harder to listen to the voice inside him that reasons she did this because she loves him. Because she doesn't want to lose him forever. He hopes that voice is right... but it is a hard thing to trust.

The internet holds no more for him now, and he logs off with a discontented sigh. The sun is still high in the sky, and he glances at his watch. Nine A.M. He wants to go for a run; he doesn't want to risk getting lost or being seen.

There is a TV in the corner; he doesn't have the energy to search for something worth watching. He wants to die - he wants to kill - he feels like he's going to shatter into a million pieces. He figures there's time for all that later. For right now, he stretches out face-down on the bed and sobs hard until he feels as if his soul is being ripped out through his throat; until he sighs and hiccups into sleep.

When he wakes again, it is dark. His eyes are swollen and scratchy, and his nose is so stuffy it aches, but he feels better. His soul no longer feels like it is going to burst with fear and his lungs are no longer constricted with sorrow.

Taking a deep, shaky breath, he decides the moon is bright enough to keep him from running into things, but not so bright he will be immediately visible to any enemies who might be lurking. Curiosity goes a long way toward filling the hole in his heart, and the cool night air is so delicious against his tear-flushed face that his tongue unconsciously flicks out to taste it.

A sound of determination and defiance is building in his chest as he steps off the porch into the moon- silvered grass, but he refrains from crying out under the force of the emotion. Instead, he closes his eyes and takes several soul-deep breaths, each one letting in clarity and letting out a little bit of darkness until he feels incredibly light and cleansed.

Opening his eyes, he looks over the yard and treeline and feels joy grow quietly inside him until a smile sneaks across his lips.

He will live - and for the first time in his life, he will live for himself and not for his sister, his job, his enemies, or even his partner. He thinks, perhaps, that this is the first time he has ever been truly alive, and the shout that finally explodes from his chest is one of triumph.

He is alive.


Author's Notes: Before you start telling me what a suck-up I am for putting The Haven into my story, let me say that I only thought about the coincidence after the fact and then decided that the site deserved the tribute, unintentional though it may have been.

(Besides, if you knew how close I'd come to including a little tribute to Vickie Moseley, you wouldn't say a word.)

As to why I wrote this story... anybody ever noticed Mulder's issues with abandonment? I mean, hell, he even bought into that Sarah Cavanaugh thing despite the fact that he's a trained psychologist and should know that the regression hypnosis session was FUBAR and unreliable as all hell. He just wants to be remembered, and treasured, and no one has ever done that for him. I couldn't help thinking that recent developments on the show would play into this particular insecurity and wanted to help the poor guy out a little.

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