Title: Kiss the Darkness II
Author: Suzanna
Written: 1999
Distribution statement: Gossamer, yes. Everyone else please ask first.
Rating: R
Classification: X, R, A Content warning: Graphic violence
Keywords: MSR
Spoilers: everything up to and including One Son

Summary: Scully and Mulder must find a way to stop colonization. Sequel.

Part of this series:

Notes: This is the sequel to "Kiss the Darkness." The story won't make any sense unless you read that first. You can read it here

neustrom Thanks to everyone who wrote amazing
Feedback and asked for more. The x-files fanfic community truly amazes me!

I kiss the darkness living inside me. It feels like a knife between my lips. I'm alive. --old Finnish poem

Day 7

The first time I see them is seven days after it began. I don't even recognize them, at first. They don't look at all like the pictures in their FBI files.

Two scouts spot them not far from the compound, huddled together in the back of a car, suffering from hunger and radiation exposure. Fortunately, all of the scouts had been on the lookout for Mulder and Scully ever since it began. They have quite a rough time bringing them underground. I think Mulder tried to shoot them. I have no idea how they managed to get both of them out of the car and underground without someone getting killed. Mulder has a stiletto and he knows how to use it.

Scully looks especially bad, her face dirty and pale, her body weakened by recent trauma. She doesn't even struggle against the bindings on the stretcher. Mulder isn't much better off, though he's alert enough to ask where they are being taken, and begs us not to hurt Scully. Upon closer inspection, I realize both of them are wearing simple gold rings on their left hands. I read once that humans wear gold bands on their left hands after they get married. Their files said nothing about being married.

I point to PN67, telling her to hurry up and get these two to the Ward so I can call DS84 myself. I don't want anyone touching them except her.

By the time I arrive at the Ward with DS84, Mulder is quite agitated. PN67 has already loaded Demerol in a syringe, but DS84 waves her off, saying, "Sedatives make it more difficult."

She goes to Scully first. Mulder follows her with crazed, glassy eyes. "Don't hurt her," he begs, as DS84 puts both hands over Scully's temples. She closes her eyes and concentrates. I can see the change almost immediately. Scully sighs and slips into a peaceful sleep.

Mulder is next. He pulls so hard against the restraints that I see red welts forming on his wrists. "What are you doing?" he yells. "Who are you?"

"Just relax, Agent Mulder," I tell him, as DS84 goes to work, placing her hands on both sides of his head, directly over the temples. Mulder shakes his head frantically, trying to throw her hands off, fighting against the restraining straps so that the welts on his wrists start to bleed. But she doesn't let go. About 10 seconds later, Mulder is sleeping, too.

"Well?" I ask.

"They're suffering from acute radiation exposure, and haven't eaten in several days, but it's not anything I can't repair, SM350," she replies. "Mostly they need sleep, now that their bodies are healing."

I walk over to the stretcher and place my hands on Mulder's forehead. I can tell DS84's work is excellent, though I don't have any of her healing abilities. A strange tremor runs through me when I feel the smooth skin of his face, and the rough prickle of a week's worth of beard underneath my fingers. It's probably just a residual memory that they weren't able to program out of the Samantha clones. I sigh. "Let's get them decontaminated, then put them some place where they can sleep more comfortably."

Day 9

When I wake up, for one wonderful moment I think it's the morning after our wedding. Scully is lying beside me, and the bed is very comfortable. But then, my aching body reminds me what happened, and the memories come back in a garbled rush.

I sit up and grab her, seeing little black spots dance in front of my eyes. We'd been taken captive by people I instinctively know to be hybrids. I thought they were going to hurt her. I start checking for wounds, running my fingers over her face and arms, pulling back the sheets to see if she is hurt. My prodding wakes her. "Where are we?" she says weakly, eyes wide and blinking as she processes her new surroundings.

With a shock, I realize she's in scrubs. Then I realize I'm in scrubs, too. Unbelievably, Scully looks very healthy. In fact, she looks better than she has since this began, except for looking thinner than usual. Almost hesitantly, I touch her lightly freckled skin, realizing that all the burns and abrasions from our desperate attempt at evading the colonists are gone, as are the telltale signs of acute radiation exposure.

I stare at her in dumbfounded silence. I don't know where we are, but I'm afraid.

I look around the small room. It's very plain. In fact, it reminds me of the Fort Marlene high containment facility. The room has plain white brick walls, and a plain lamp sits on a nightstand next to the bed.

There's a woman sitting in a chair next to the door.

My heart jumps and I reach instinctively for my gun, but my hands come in contact with nothing more than the smooth material of scrubs. "Who are you?" My voice comes out squeaky and weak. Suddenly I remember what happened. We had been trying to get away from the big cities, after they were nuked by a very desperate government. We hadn't eaten in days, and spent most of the night dry heaving from the after-effects of acute radiation exposure. Then we were captured. This woman in the chair was there, and so was another one who looked a lot like Melissa Scully. I remember her touching my forehead, and then waking up here. What kind of nightmare is this?

"I'm SM350." She stands up, and I can tell she is tall. In fact, she looks a lot like the woman who claimed to be my sister, when Scully was dying of cancer. When she comes to a stop close to the bed, I realize that she looks exactly like that other woman. I can feel myself starting to wheeze. Hyperventilation induced by stress, the psychologist in me says, but that doesn't make it stop.

"SM for Samantha Mulder?" Scully asks dubiously. Suddenly I realize that I'm squishing her in an unconscious attempt to shield her from the woman who stands at the bedside. I shift my weight and Scully scoots backward to rest her back against the wall.

"Yes," she answers calmly. "Just relax, Agent Mulder. I'm not your sister."

I close my eyes, taking deep breaths through my nose. Even though I can't see Scully, I can tell she is worried. "What is this place?" I ask after a few moments, opening my eyes again to study this...clone. My throat and nose still tingle.

"This is where we work on the vaccine," SM350 replies. Beside me, Scully suddenly sits up very straight. "The entire facility is underground. Right now we're at sublevel 5. You're still in Wyoming," she adds helpfully. She's studying me like I'm an unknown specimen of insect waiting to be classified. Plus, my bladder is about to explode. Between her penetrating gaze and my pressing urinary need, I can hardly think at all.

Abruptly, I realize she has stopped talking and is expecting an answer.

"Food would be good," Scully replies to the question I apparently missed.

"Bathroom facilities are there," the clone says, pointing to a closed door on our left.

She leaves and Scully and I are alone, again. Scully looks like she is about to ask me something, but I cut her off with a wave of my hand. "Hang on a sec," I say, and slide off the bed. The floor feels like ice to my bare feet, and it's harder to get to the bathroom than I thought. Eventually the floor stops rocking up and down like a ship on stormy waters, and I make it to the toilet, much to my bladder's relief.

Scully uses the bathroom after me. When she gets out, we sit on the bed in silence.

"Well," I say. I can't think of a single thing to say. Sometimes I'm just so brilliant and insightful that I want to hug myself.

Scully's mouth turns up in a ghost of a smile, as if she heard my thoughts. "I've been wanting to work on the vaccine," she says carefully, studying my face for a reaction.

"I think we've come to the right place," I joke lamely. Scully ignores it.

"I wonder exactly where we are," she says softly, almost as if she is talking to herself.

I just shrug. At that moment, our food arrives. There are two trays, carried by what I assume are clones. It's highly unlikely that the two orderlies are natural twins, anyway, not in a place like this.

The clones leave, and I sniff at the food. After fasting for so long, the oatmeal and sliced bananas taste like nectar from the gods. I gulp down the orange juice, then start on the fruit. "I hope they feed us more than oatmeal and bananas," I comment.

"It's not good to eat too much after fasting," medical doctor Scully reminds me, her mouth full of oatmeal. A little bit dribbles out the side of her mouth. Without thinking, I wipe the corner of her mouth with my finger. I'm not sure what to do with the glob of oatmeal, so I eat it.

"You're disgusting," she informs me, spearing banana slices and popping them into her lovely mouth.

"You like it," I shoot back. She doesn't answer, but looks a little longingly at my bananas. "No way, those are mine," I say, scooping up the last pieces before she can steal them.

She laughs shortly. It's a strange little laugh, but for the first time in a long while, I get a small glimpse of her soul peeking out from her crystalline eyes. Now I know that her soul has not died. Scully, my beautiful Scully, is very resilient.

When I come back to their room after breakfast, Mulder still looks at me like I'm evil incarnate. Scully, however, has suspended her judgment until a later time. I set down a cardboard box at the end of the bed.

They glance at each other and share a look like they are mentally communicating, which is impossible, I know. Only the aliens can do that. But if I didn't know better, I'd swear they were using telepathy.

Mulder speaks. "What's in the box?"

"Open it," I reply, indicating the box with one hand.

When he lifts the lid, the puzzlement on his face is almost funny. However, clones don't feel much in the way of emotion, so I don't laugh.

He pulls out the stiletto, and clicks open the needle. Underneath it are their service weapons, badges, and a photo album.

"What about our clothes?" Scully asks.

"Those generally don't survive decontamination. I can get you some others. In the meantime," I reach into my lab coat pocket and Mulder tenses visibly, "you may want this." I pull out a stiletto that could be a twin to the one Mulder has, and hand it to Scully. Now it's her turn to look puzzled.

"Why are you giving me this?" she asks.

"Not all the clones are friendly to humans," I tell her. "Let's just say that most of us don't like the idea of becoming a slave race to the aliens any more than you do. Unfortunately, some clones aren't bright enough to know the difference between a good human and a bad one. It's a good thing none of the Elders came back. I don't think I could have stopped the ensuing carnage."

Scully looks a little pale, but its Mulder who asks the next question. "What do you mean, came back?"

I pause for a moment, trying to phrase my next words carefully. So much depends on the help of this redheaded woman seated in front of me. "This facility hasn't had a human overseer since the last Elder left. When he never came back, research on the vaccine nearly halted. I was hoping that Agent Scully would be willing to help us."

Scully nods carefully. Even now, I can tell that she has a deeper understanding of us than Mulder ever will.

"Us?" she asks.

"Those of us who work here," I clarify. "After the Elder left, we joined with the Resistance."

Mulder and Scully share a significant look. I know they've heard of the Resistance. One of their agents, a man with dark hair and a prosthetic arm, told us to be on the lookout for these two. He said they would be willing to help us.

"The rebels," Mulder hesitates, then continues. "The rebels burned humans to death. For what purpose? They almost killed Scully. Why should we be a part of that?"

Skyland Mountain. I know what he is talking about, though most clones here wouldn't know. I have more access than most. "The rebels killed because they were trying to stop the hybrid experiments. I'm guessing that they knew colonization was near, and started taking more chances. I don't condone their actions, but they have protected this place from discovery for a long time. And they want the vaccination work to continue."

"To what end?" Scully asks.

"To prevent colonization."

She nods. I think she understands what it means to be desperate. Finally, she says, "I'm willing to help. When can we start?"

I'd feel happy, if I could. But instead I quirk up the corners of my mouth in an attempt at a smile. "Tomorrow," I say. "For now, rest."

Day 10

I'm jolted awake when Scully's wrist whacks me in the chin. I'm still not used to sleeping with someone else in the bed. But when I roll over and prepare to go back to sleep, I hear a soft moan.

"Scully?" She doesn't answer. It's as dark as deep space in our room, but I hear her breath hitching awkwardly through her lungs. She gasps, then the bed jerks as she fights some unseen enemy. Nightmares.

I put my arms out, trying to wake her gently but her thrashing causes me to crush her breasts instead. She shrinks away with a cry. "Scuuuleee," I plead, struggling to find her shoulders as she moves away. "Scully, it's only a dream. Wake up." I touch her face and it comes away slick and wet.


I feel her shudder underneath my palms, then relax. She's awake now and breathing a little more evenly, though I can feel her pulse racing underneath my index finger.

"What were you dreaming about?"

She is silent for a long time. I hear her sniffle and take a deep breath. "My mother."

I hold my breath and wait.

"I dreamed that I saw her dead. From the virus. Her body was..." she pulls away from me, and I can feel the darkness come alive between us. "Her body was just like the ones we saw when we were trying to get away."

The living darkness pours hideous images into my mind. The broken body at the gas station, a mere husk of a person, alien tracks trailing blood away from the corpse. Bodies in stalled cars along the roadside. Bodies rotting and shredded, sprawled across the hotel lobby where we stopped for the night, crimson blood smearing the creamy walls and blending into the red-tinged carpet. We never did find out what happened to her mother. But it's only too easy to imagine.

She sniffles again, but I know she's not crying anymore. Scully almost never cries. I can count on four fingers how many times I've seen her cry, and I'm including this one.

"You know," she says softly, her voice trembling around the edges, "if I had just gone to work on the vaccine right away...if I hadn't wasted all that time doing background checks. If only...all those months, I could have been working towards a cure. Maybe this could have been prevented..."

There isn't anything I could say to that. This may be the first time Scully voiced these thoughts, but it isn't the first time I'd thought the same. I feel every bit as guilty as she does. If only I hadn't held her back. If only I had been more persistent. If only I had asked the right questions. Then maybe things would have been different...

Abruptly, I feel her pushing into me, burrowing her head into my chest. I pull her close, feeling soft hair cascade down my forearms and over my chest. The world has suddenly become so alien, so horrifying. But at least I can touch Scully. It makes me feel alive.

I feel awful when I wake up. Like I tried to eat glue before going to sleep and now it's stuck to my teeth and the corners of my eyes. Glancing at the clock, I see it's 5 am, but my body is already telling me it doesn't want to go back to sleep. So, I roll out of bed, stagger to the bathroom, and try to scrub the awful taste out of my mouth. I grab the toothpaste more appreciatively than usual. When we were on the run, we ended up sleeping for days on the road without showers or bathrooms. I'll never take toothpaste or flushing toilets for granted again.

I try not to look at myself in the mirror. Puffy pink-rimmed eyes and blotchy skin is all I'm likely to see, so I avoid the sight. But after I wash my face with cool water, I feel a little better. Though I can't stop seeing the images of all those dead people in my mind. Especially the one of my mother. Even though I don't know for sure, I have a sick feeling in my stomach that tells me the truth without proof.

Apparently, I woke Mulder up because he slides out of bed and pads to the bathroom as soon as I'm underneath the sheets. When he comes back, he snuggles close and wraps his arms around my waist. I smell toothpaste as his stubbly chin comes to rest in a sensitive spot right underneath my right ear. It's very comforting, in an erotic sort of way.

"You okay?" he asks, his voice rumbling in my ear.

When I nod, his stubble prickles my neck and gives me goosebumps. "Yeah," I manage to say, as his warm hands slip underneath the fabric of my cotton sleeper, caressing me with slow, lazy strokes. Heat shoots through me so fast that I almost shudder.

I turn over and push him down onto his back with both hands. Then I'm straddling him, temporarily forgetting my nightmares as I pull off his shirt and mine. He grunts in surprise, but meets my lips in a crushing kiss. I press myself down on him hard, ramming my tongue deep into his mouth, as if I can crush the memories away with the force of my body on his. And so we make rough, passionate love. It makes me feel alive. It makes me feel more alive than I felt when I was dying of cancer, those final nights when every sensation seemed amplified five times. It makes me feel more alive than when I got shot in the abdomen and saw death coming for me.

Mulder gives himself to me with such deliberate abandon that it almost makes me cry again. He knew just what I needed. He is just what I need.

Day 11

SM350 shows us around the facility. Apparently we're allowed to go anywhere, and have access to any information we want. She also tells us that the current vaccine is DNA based. I should have guessed that before now. Scully seems fascinated by all the details, the whole blood culture work, the tests they use to quantify cellular transformations. She informs me that I will help her sort through and summarize all this information so that we can determine a course of action. Looks like I'm going to get my science education after all.

It's so strange walking past clones in the hallway. There's a lot of Kurt Crawfords around the lab areas. And some have a strange resemblance to Penny Northern (those are mostly the secretarial types). The most unnerving ones are the Scully clones. Well, they aren't exactly clones of Scully. That is, they don't look exactly like her. But they do look like they could be her children. And they all have disconcerting strawberry blonde hair and freckles.

The odd thing is that none of them look like they're under 20 years old. STM350 explains that rapid growth rates are something that was programmed into these clonal lines many years ago. But their aging mostly stops around what would be equivalent to the mid-30s. After that, they don't look any older, but will eventually run out of gas, so to speak. Apparently, the successful clones haven't been around long enough to know exactly how long it takes their bodies to wear out and die.

There are five levels (we're staying on the lowest). After we've been through most of the facility, and are nearly back to our sleeping quarters, a PN clone stops SM350 and hands her a manila envelope. Her badge number is 471, the highest I've seen thus far. The PN clone walks away and 350 (I've already started thinking of her as 350) opens the envelope and looks at its contents for a long while. "Agent Scully, I believe you'll want to see these photos," she says calmly, as if she's discussing the weather.

Scully takes the photos and I swear I've never seen someone go so white. I mean, Scully is already pretty pale, and I've always heard the expression 'white as a sheet,' but this was the real thing. Sheet white. Pasty white. Sick white. She flips through the stack of photos, then hands them to me and proceeds down the hallway towards our quarters without saying a single word.

Now I know why she looks so bad. The photos are black and white, but that doesn't stop the horror from coming through. The first is a picture of a body that had been host to the alien organism. Typical abdominal cavity exit wound, gelatinous-looking transparent skin. At first I think it's no one I know, though the setting looks familiar. Then I realize this is a picture of Mrs. Scully's living room. And the body is Margaret Scully. The next picture is Bill Scully. The one after that is of various other family members.

Then, I'm running after Scully, catching her just as she unlocks the door to the room and steps inside. As soon as she closes the door, she staggers to the trashcan and throws up. She heaves over and over, and tears run down her face. What really terrifies me is that she isn't crying. Tears are streaming down her cheeks but there is no emotion in her expression. It's as if her soul has died again.

Day 12

I can hear Mulder talking to someone in the hallway, even though the door is closed. I don't bother to get up, though. I'm just so tired. So dead tired. I wish I could sleep, but my head is killing me. I wish it would kill me.

After a while, Mulder comes in and flips on the lamp by the bed. "Scully," he says softly.

I roll onto my back and open my eyes, squinting as my pupils adjust to the light. The brightness amplifies the pounding in my head.

"DS84 is here to see you."

"Go away," I say. I don't mean to be abrupt; I just want to be left alone.

"Scully, your body needs to heal. It's been through so much in the last week. Please let her help you."

I seek the clone's eyes, and our gazes lock for a moment. To my surprise, I see compassion there. I thought that was not part of the programming. "Okay," I say. I just want to be left alone.

She places her hands on my temples very gently, like I'm a porcelain doll that can be broken with a touch. For a second, I'm irrationally angered. But the healing flows through my veins like warm syrup, and my anger dribbles away with the pain in my head. By the time DS84's hands break contact with my forehead, my eyelids are heavy with sleep. As I'm about to drift off, I wonder if Mulder had intended from the beginning to use the healing as an excuse to induce sleep...

Day 13

DS84 tells me that Mulder called her last night. She placed Scully into a healing sleep. According to DS84's description of Scully, I can see that she is looking much better this morning. Though she's still in bed. Actually, she's sitting on top of the covers with her back against the wall, knees pulled up to her chin and arms wrapped around her legs.

"Good morning Agent Scully," I say briskly, plunking down a box full of folders onto the bed. She looks so weary. I know she slept last night, but I don't think it's a tiredness of the body so much as the soul. Though I don't know much about human souls.

To my surprise, she speaks before I can continue. "When do we start?" she says, picking up one of the folders and glancing through its contents.

So I was correct in my assumption that she would want to work. "Right away," I say, pointing to the cardboard box. "Here is some of the background work on DNA vaccinations in general, and the results of those tests in the past year." I pull up another stack of data, about 250 sheets worth. "And here are the general results on the Tunguska experiments."

"The last year?" Mulder says hoarsely, eyes wide and staring at the amount of material in the box.

I ignore him. "DS84 will come by in an hour to deliver another box of papers containing what we know about the virus and its apparent mutation." Getting up to leave, I see that both of them are already picking through the material. Scully is starting to separate the papers into different piles on the bed. "I'll have a desk moved into the room, as well."

Scully mumbles her thanks, and I leave. I need Scully to be okay. So much depends on her.

Day 39

I open the secure door to the now familiar lab and step inside its ordered coolness. I enjoy the way the lab is laid out, how there's a place for everything. Non-flammable reagents over the bench in the center of the lab. Flammable liquids in a cabinet at the far end of the lab. Temperature sensitive chemicals in the 4C refrigerator. Tissue samples in the -80C freezers. Liquid nitrogen tanks to the left of the freezers, gloves and tongs hanging neatly above the tanks. I go to the little desk that I now claim as my own and pull out my notebook full of the records of my previous days of lab work. When I flip the notebook open, for a brief moment I see black and white images of my family, hideously dead, instead of seeing orderly records of my experiments. I rub my eyes and the images melt away to leave only my handwriting on the cream colored paper.

Quickly I turn to page 200, and remind myself that tomorrow I should start a new notebook. After only a month, I'm almost to the end of this one. It seems so strange that I now have the chance to work on a vaccine to the virus that threatens to take over the world. It seems almost mundane when you see it in the controlled laboratory setting. But I know better. I know of its insidious power, and what it has already done to the world.

For a little while I pause and stare blankly at the pages. There's so little reason to hope. Colonization may have been postponed, but that was only because the governments around the world decided to nuke their largest cities as the aliens took over. They may be gone for now, but it's only a matter of time before they come back...with reinforcements. The vaccine work seems almost hopeless, even with the technology now available. Though I do think real progress is being made with the newest vaccine, we may not have enough time to perfect it before the colonists come back. The future seems so bleak. Sometimes it seems like everyone I ever cared for is dead. Or most likely dead. We still don't know about the Gunmen.

My ruminations are interrupted as one of the Kurt Crawford clones enters the lab and heads for the bench on the south side. From his badge I see that it is KC519. He's one of my favorites. Evidently, most of the clones here are bred for this sort of work. Especially the Kurt Crawfords, which are by far the best technicians, though they don't think very well on their own. However, I've found if you tell them exactly what to do, they'll accomplish that task perfectly.

So, I begin writing an outline of tasks that need to be accomplished today. It's very convenient to have this army of clones that will do whatever you ask. The main thing that was missing from this facility was a human overseer. Generally, these clones just don't think very well by themselves, though there are a few exceptions. We never could find out exactly what happened to the last overseer, though Mulder searched through records for days. SM350 took over when the overseer left. I suspect it was one of the Consortium Elders who got fried to a crisp, what seems like a hundred years ago. Anyway, no humans had entered the facility since he left, until Mulder and I happened along.

But now as I finish writing out my list for KC519, I can positively say that progress is once again being made towards finding a stronger vaccine. Almost all of the progress is a result of having access more information than I ever dreamed existed. Notes and notes and notes. Twenty-five years of excruciatingly detailed notes. The documentation of the mutated virus is perhaps the most interesting of all. Most of that information comes from poor Dr. Bronschweig. Attached to the end of his last notebook was a dry medical report about the cause of his death. Apparently his viscera was spread around the underground chamber in so many pieces that they weren't even sure if it was him, at first. No one deserves to die that way.

But he was very meticulous, this Dr. Bronschweig. Thanks to him, I know a great deal about alien gestation and physiology. And thanks to his thorough comparative analysis, I know how the original virus and the mutated virus are different. Well, mutation isn't exactly a good way to describe it. The DNA sequences aren't any different, but the effects of the virus certainly are. I still don't know exactly what caused the change, but I now have a better idea of how to combat it. They were very close to a breakthrough six months ago. We're even closer, now.

I can feel KC519 standing behind me. The clones will do that, just stand there and wait until you tell them what to do. It can be a little unnerving. But, I shrug off the feeling and hand him the list of things that need to be done today. 519 is one of the best Crawford clones. I don't want to leave him idle. We've got a lot of work to do today. The whole blood culture experiments are yielding promising results, and I want to see more data by this evening.

I stand outside the window to the lab, watching Scully work. She doesn't even know I'm watching. Her lips move silently, mouthing the words that her fingers trace over the notebook paper.

I enjoy watching doctor Scully work. Seeing her simple clothes and make-up free face looking so fresh and freckled reminds me of our first case together. We were so different then. I don't even want to think about it.

So, instead of thinking, I concentrate on her work. I've learned enough in the past few weeks to realize she's getting ready to make several acrylimide gels. All the solutions are lined up along the bench top in military order, ready to be added in quick succession so that she can pour the gel before the solution sets. As soon as she finishes pouring the gels, I tap on the window. She whirls around with a little start of surprise, then walks to the door and opens it with one latex-gloved hand. She doesn't say anything, just looks at me with one eyebrow slightly raised.

"You need a tea break," I say, holding up a steaming mug for her. "You gel has to set for at least 30 minutes, anyway."

She doesn't smile, but her eyes soften, somehow. "Okay, I'll be out in a minute."

I take a seat in the small break room next door to the lab, after popping Scully's dinner in the microwave. The clones do eat, but not very much. We can get whatever we want out of the kitchens, so I took the liberty of making a plate of leftovers for Scully. She forgot about dinner again, tonight. In a bit, Scully comes in and takes a seat. Her service weapon is clearly visible, now that she's not wearing a lab coat. She takes a sip of the tea appreciatively. "Thanks."

The microwave dings, and I pull a plate of food out. "You need to eat, too."

She makes a face as I hand her a fork. "I'm not hungry."

"You need to eat," I repeat. Her cheeks are sunken, and there are circles under her eyes. In a way, her appearance reminds me of when she was dying of cancer. I don't want to think about it.

Scully pokes at the vegetables and rice. There's never any meat here. Most of the vegetables are grown on site, too. But I know she must be hungry because she begins eating steadily. The plate is empty in a few minutes.

It's after 9 pm already. She's been working since at least 5 am. I know, because when I woke up at 5 am, I was alone in bed. I couldn't go back to sleep, so I spent most of the day reading through a fraction of the extensive records of the Tunguska experiments. The vaccine research here is very similar.

"Scully, why don't you have the clones finish up the experiment tonight. It's getting late, and you need to get some rest."

I see the beginnings of a little smile. "Was rest what you had in mind?"

I haven't heard from playful Scully in a long time. I've missed her. "I'm sure we could think of something suitably...diverting...before going to sleep," I say in my best bedroom voice.

Scully gives me a shadow of a smile. She gets up from the table and goes into the lab. She's back in about three minutes. Impulsively, I pick her up and carry her down the hallway, down a flight of stairs, and to our little room. She doesn't protest at all, just snuggles her head into the crook between my chest and neck.

"You'll have to put me down before you can unlock the door," she says when we come to a stop in front of the door to our room.

"Just watch me," I say. It takes some work, but I manage to unlock the door, kick it open, close it, and lock it without setting her down.

"I'm impressed," she says, her breath warm against my neck.

It's a good thing we're back to the room. I'm so turned on I can barely think. But I'm not sure what she wants. Being married through all this is so much harder than I imagined it would be. All the complex emotions of grief and anger combine with the natural lust of the marriage bed in a way that I can't understand. The only thing I know for sure is that now I feel unsure about many things. So, I lay her gently on the bed, and sit down beside her.

She looks up at me with such a mix of emotions on her face that I can't quite categorize any of them except one. The one I recognize is sadness. It curls around my Scully like a fog, until I can hardly see her real self anymore. It never goes away completely. And that makes me sad, too.

But then, she smiles. A real smile that crinkles the corners of her eyes and mouth and lifts the mists of grief and sorrow, just for a moment. Her fingers play with the hair on my arm, then trail underneath my shirt, coming to rest on my navel. That's a Scully signal that she wants to play; I know that much by now. So, I pull off the shirt and throw it on the floor. "Mmmmm," she says in what I hope is an admiring tone, running her hand over the muscles of my shoulder. A few days after we got here, she started making me work out every day in a little weight room that was originally designed for the human overseers. She told me that I was driving her crazy with all my energy, and that I needed to channel it into something more useful, like the weight room.

I lean down and hesitantly brush my lips over the corner of her mouth. "I love you," I say into her parted lips.

"I know," she replies, giving me a chaste kiss.

I pull away with a little sigh, knowing from her response that she needs her space now. I just wish I could tell exactly what she wants. But then, she pulls me back down for another kiss, and this time it's deep and eager. In a moment, her fingers fumble for the zipper on my pants. I think I've figured out what she wants.

Early morning, day 40

I can't sleep. Making love to Mulder does that to me. Now he's lying in bed, looking very drowsy and content, while I have so much energy that I feel like running around the facility screaming. So, I kiss Mulder one more time, get dressed, and go back into the lab at midnight.

The results of the latest enzyme linked immunosorbadent assays (the techs call them "elisas") are waiting for me on my desk. For now we've been able to get around the human experimental dilemma by infecting whole blood cultures with the virus and then using the cultures to test the vaccine. The elisas test whether or not the immune cells in the blood are transformed into abnormal phenotypes. They seem to be the quickest way to pick up changes in cell surface protein expression that occur in the initial stages of transformation during viral infection. 519 left a note on the data sheets saying he'd already put the results into a spreadsheet and run the statistics.

I flip on the computer that sits over my desk and open up the file. At first, I don't think I'm seeing the right numbers. I compare the output to the spreadsheet, and then look at the statistics program he ran the data through. Everything looks right. But the numbers are very good.

So good, in fact, that I call SM350, not caring that it's the middle of the night. Clones don't need that much sleep, anyway. She says she's on her way.

I turn back to the numbers on my output sheets. If I'm right, we'll soon need a human test subject for the vaccine. I'm thinking so hard that I barely hear the security card run through the lab door card reading with a beep. I turn to the door, expecting to see SM350.

It's Krycek. I curse and grab for my gun. Within the second I have it out and pointing at him. My hands are shaking and blood is pounding through me so hard that my lips throb with every pulse. "What are you doing here?" I sputter.

He holds his hands up in surrender. "Why is it that every time we meet you pull a gun on me?" he says blandly.

"You haven't given me a reason not to," I reply, setting my site in the middle of his chest, straight to his heart. I watch his eyes, trying to predict his next move. His eyes are so dark, like polished obsidian.

"I heard you obtained good results today," he says, taking a step towards me.

"Stay right there," I warn. "How did you know about today?"

"You're working with the rebels, remember?" he reminds me.

The card reader beeps again, and SM350 steps inside the lab.

"What the hell is this?" she shouts. I've never once heard a clone curse.

"I wish someone would tell me," I say. "Krycek seems to know something he shouldn't."

She steps around Krycek and looks carefully at his face. Then she backs towards the door, behind him. Krycek swivels his head to watch her, but without warning, she draws a stiletto and stabs him in the base of the neck. Green goo and gas come bubbling out of the wound as the whatever-it-was stumbles forward and falls on the ground.

"That wasn't Krycek," she says calmly, withdrawing the stiletto and cleaning with a chemwipe that was sitting on the bench top.

"How can you tell?" I pant, still feeling my lips and forehead tingling with the after-effects of adrenaline.

"Something about the eyes," she says. "You can't see it?"

I shake my head, unable to take my eyes off the bubbling mass that used to be a head, now boiling and dissolving in the vicinity of my feet.

She picks up the intercom and calls a cleaning crew. Then she calls another station and speaks what is obviously a code phrase to whoever is on the other end. Tugging on my sleeve, she leads me down the hall at a quick pace.

"Where are we going?" I ask.

"Security," she replies tersely. "What exactly did he say to you?"

I take a deep breath. "He said 'I heard you obtained good results today.'"

SM350 looks thoughtful, but she doesn't slow down as we turn the corner. "The resistance knows about our results. Krycek is with the resistance. But that wasn't Krycek," she says with calm logic.

"So who was he?" I ask. "Some faction of the resistance? Or a remnant of the Syndicate aliens who policed the project?"

Just then, we arrive at security. Three scouts in gray uniforms are waiting for us. "We may have a breach," she informs the clones standing at various stations around the room. "When did Krycek enter the facility?"

"At 23:54 hours," one of the scouts says, pointing to a video tape that shows him entering the main door of the facility.

"He wasn't alone," I exclaim. There are two others with him.

"All their credentials checked out," a scout informs us.

"I want two teams of scouts to give the entire facility a sweep- down," she orders. "Level four alert, and be quick about it!"

Suddenly it hits me. Mulder could be in danger. I dart out the door without even thinking, and before anyone can stop me, I'm running down the hall.

In about two seconds, I feel a strong grip on my upper arm, pulling me to a stop. It's 350. "You can't go. We don't know who is out there. Stay here so we can protect you."

"I have to get to Mulder," I insist, trying to shake off her grip, but I can't. She's too strong.

"No," she simply. Three Crawford clones have appeared from somewhere and are standing around me protectively. "Stay here at security. Those two, whoever they are, won't know you're here. I'll send a team to get Mulder." She releases my arm, turns, and runs back to the security room, almost shouting as she gets close. "You, scout 621, get together a team and bring Mulder here, now."

I slump against the wall. SM350 isn't like the other clones at all. I'm going to have a big purple finger imprint on my arm in the morning. But she's right. I don't need to put my life in unnecessary danger. It would just fulfill Their purposes.

I wake with a start as the door unlocks. "Scully?" I say, squinting as the door opens and light comes into the room. Even though my pupils are still adjusting to the light, I know it isn't Scully coming through the door.

I fumble for the lamp and my gun. The light reveals two men approaching me slowly. Two aliens, rather. One is the bounty hunter alien I saw on that submarine in the arctic. My gun isn't going to do me any good, so I drop it and pick up the stiletto instead. This is just great. I remember how bad it hurt when he threw me around last time. This time, I don't have anything on other than boxers to cushion the impact if he decides to use me as a punching bag.

"Just come with us, Agent Mulder," says the one I don't recognize.

"What do you want?" My tiny weapon seems oh-so-silly against the two hulking aliens approaching me.

"Just put down the weapon, and you won't get hurt," says the bounty hunter.

They both lunge for me at once, and I dart to the side. Not a good move, as I tumble off the bed and end up tripping the bounty hunter. I get a painful foot in the midriff as the other alien hauls me right off the ground. Then my bare back is slammed into the wall, one wrist smacking the smooth surface, releasing the weapon from my grasp. I hear a crack that I think is my wrist breaking. "Feeling a little more cooperative?" he asks, and tosses me sack-of-flour style onto the floor, just in front of the door. I'm really too old to be getting my butt kicked all the time.

Suddenly, the door is slammed open behind me, and I'm whacked on the back of my head (of course). Through shimmering black blobs I see five clone scouts rush into the room. I'm not sure what happened, but I'm pretty sure the two aliens ended up as piles of green goo, along with three of the scouts.

What I really remember next was the pain in my abdomen as I was slung over a scout's shoulder and carried at a very quick pace down the hallway. The jostling made me feel like fire pokers were being shoved into my arm, and I threw up at some point during the trip. We were traveling at what seemed like an unbelievable speed to my pain-sickened senses.

They set me down in some room full of video equipment. Suddenly Scully was leaning over me, saying something I couldn't quite catch. Then, just as I was about to throw up on her, she jumped out of the way. The last thing I remember was someone grabbing my head. It hurt so bad that I blacked out...

Mulder had a nasty head injury when he was carried in by the two scouts, but I knew he was alive when he narrowly missed throwing up on me. Luckily, SM350 thought to have DS84 on hand, just in case something like this happened. She had her hands on his head as soon as he was laid out on the ground. Fortunately for him, he fainted right away.

She sat over him for a long time. I actually saw the huge welt on his abdomen disappear right in front of my eyes. It was unbelievable.

"Well?" I say, as she opens her eyes and removes her hands from his forehead.

"Broken tibia, concussion, internal abdominal bleeding. He should be okay now, though." She looks very tired, and gets to her feet rather slowly.

"Thank you," I manage, as I cradle his head in my lap. His hair is slick with blood underneath my hands, but the wound is completely healed. Judging from his deep, even breathing, I'm pretty sure he's asleep.

"We'll get you set up somewhere else for the night," SM350 says.

Clones are moving all around me, but I can't really tell what's going on from my lowly position on the floor. The adrenaline rush has passed, leaving me feeling weak and light-headed. SM350 touches my shoulder, and one of the Crawford clones scoops Mulder up, as if he weighs no more than a small child. I totter to my feet like a drunk woman, and we're led to sleeping quarters that aren't as nice as out last room, but I don't care as long as there's a bed.

I pause at the door. "What about verification of tonight's results?" I ask.

"I'll take care of it," SM350 says. She says something about posting guards outside our door to one of the scouts. The conversation buzzes on for a while, but I'm so tired, I can hardly listen. I stagger over to the bed and sit down.

SM350 steps into the room and stops in front of me. I'm so tired, but I have one last question. "Is it safe for us here?"

"Rest now, we'll talk later. I'll make sure you're safe," she says as turns away and closes the door behind her. I just pray there's no more aliens running around the facility. My tired brain tries to figure out what's going on, but I fall asleep before any answers materialize.

Early morning, day 42

I awaken to the sound of Scully's voice. In the dim lamp light, I see she's having a quiet conversation with at least two other people. Two other clones, rather.

One turns to me as soon as she sees I'm awake. It's DS84. She approaches me and places one hand on my head. "Feeling better?" she asks.

I sit up gingerly, then I realize that I've been propping myself up with my wrist, which no longer hurts. I flex my stomach muscles experimentally. No pain in my abdomen, either. "All better," I tell her. "Where were you the last time I got my butt kicked?"

Scully just smirks. "Get dressed," she says, tossing me jeans, boxers, a heavy shirt, and what looks like military issue boots.

"Where are we going?" I try to ignore the clones standing in front of me as I strip down naked and put on the boxers.

"Nowhere, for the moment," she replies. "But we need to be ready to leave at any time. Just in case there's more trouble."

"Who attacked me?" I ask, pulling on the jeans.

"Who attacked us, you mean," she says pointedly.

"What?" My mouth hangs open, but I remember to finish zipping up the jeans.

"An alien bounty hunter approached agent Scully in the lab shortly after midnight," SM350 informs me. "He was disguised as Krycek."

"SM350 killed him," Scully continues. "The scouts killed the two who attacked you. 350 doesn't think it was a security breach at our end. After checking all the records, she concluded it was an internal problem with the Resistance."

"Somebody isn't happy with the vaccine work," DS84 says quietly. She doesn't say much, but continually stares at me with startlingly blue eyes. It's a little unnerving. Especially when I'm trying to get dressed.

"What about the vaccine?" I say. I'm completely dressed now except for the boots. As I pull them on, I notice that they've already been broken in, and fit my feet perfectly.

Scully and 350 share a brief look. "I'd say we have a much stronger vaccine now," Scully replies, her tone cautious as ever.

"How do you know?" I still feel stupid when it comes to the technical part of Scully's science.

"We tested it."

I must look surprised, because she replies before I can even ask the question. "I tested it on me."

"But you already have weak immunity with the prototype vaccine," I say. "Wouldn't that confound the results?"

"The original vaccine worked only transiently," she replies quietly.

I curse and stand up, my booted feet stomping loudly on the tile floor. "You knew you were taking a big chance if the vaccine didn't work," I say more loudly than I intended.

"We had the weak vaccine available, in case anything went wrong," Scully says, her lips set in a firm line. This is don't-mess- with-me Scully. I haven't seen her this determined in a long time, and I know I can't win.

I blow air over my lips, signaling my resignation. "So, it worked."

She nods.

"It worked," says SM350. "We can have this mass produced within a matter of days."

"What next?" I ask.

Scully throws a duffel bag onto the bed, behind me. "Keep your bag and gun close by," she tells me. "We may have to make a quick exit."

The clones both leave the room simultaneously. They still creep me out. "And go where?"

"Away," she replies with a shrug. "I don't know where, exactly. We should be able to take several boxes of vaccine with us. And we know where the worst hot spots are, radiation-wise. Out here we're far away from the big cities, so we should be all right, at least for a while."

"What about the internal strife within the Resistance?"

She just shakes her head. "I don't know," she replies. "I just don't know."

Day 43

Scully isn't with me when I hear the first explosion. The sound rattles the walls and vibrates my eardrums. I drop the papers I'm reading onto the desk, and start for the door. The guards outside tell me not to leave. I hear it again, and this time, I smell smoke. An alarm goes off near my ear.

Within a minute, I see Scully running full speed down the white hallway. "Get your bag," she shouts at me.

I grab her duffel bag and toss it into her waiting hands. "What's going on?" I ask, as sling my bag over one shoulder.

She throws me a heavy canvas coat and shoves her arms into the sleeves of her own coat. "The Rebels are here," she replies impatiently, as she grabs my hand and pulls me out the door.

Of course, the Rebels who gave us a little visit two days ago, the ones that aren't interested in stopping colonization. DS84 and SM350 appear from some doorway, each carrying a box. "Hurry," urges 350, leading us at a run through the labyrinth of hallways. It's not long before my lungs are burning with exertion and smoke. We slip and skid through the remnants of glass windows and cracking walls that litter the once clean floors. But fortunately, the sounds of the destruction never seem very close, and no one appears to stop our progress.

Finally, we come to a trap door at the top level of the facility. DS84 shoves it open just as another explosion shudders through the ground. The door is camouflaged, and dust laying over shudders and swirls menacingly as we walk up the stairs and step into the night.

It's been so long since I've been outside that the sight of the night sky makes me stop and look up for just a moment. The stars shiver brightly against the blackness, and a cool wind whispers through the underbrush. I take a deep breath of sweet air, then Scully yanks me forward.

There's a car waiting for us, not far from the door. It's not my car, and I wonder where they got this one. I barely even see the aliens before they're on us. Two of them are running at us from the left. I shout a warning, then I'm slammed to the ground from behind, tasting dirt and blood in my mouth.

Scully's quite a warrior; I had almost forgotten that until this very moment. She leaps on the bounty hunter with a scream that makes my blood tingle. The weight on my back shifts as Scully stabs the alien. I manage to wiggle away before he starts dissolving in earnest.

The other bounty hunter gets 350. I see it from my position on the ground, then scramble to my feet, spitting blood. It makes me angry, as if he was killing the real Samantha, and not just a clone. I hope that I can kill him with my own hand. The one who killed 350 retrieves his stiletto and approaches DS84. My own stiletto rests in my hand, cool and comforting, somehow. Between the three of us, I think the bounty hunter knows he will soon be dead. It's DS84 that kills him in the end, so my revenge must wait for another day.

As soon as 84 kills the bounty hunter, I run to the car and open the driver's side door. Scully tosses me keys. DS84 is just standing beside the vehicle, watching us calmly. "What about 84?" Scully says.

I pause. I really hadn't thought about it until that moment. I'd assumed that she would stay at the facility.

"If she stays, she dies," Scully says, very quietly.

DS84 is Scully's daughter. I can't leave her here, any more than Scully could. "Get in the car," I tell her, yanking open the trunk and throwing in the boxes of vaccine. Scully tosses our bags in the back seat and 84 climbs in. Just as we speed away cross-country, I see more aliens emerging from the underground door that we just left.

I don't even know where we're going. But for the first time in a long time, I have hope. Scully is alive. We have the vaccine. We finally have the proof we need about the hybrid project sitting in the back seat of our car. It's a good start.

The end

I kiss the darkness it's my enemy. I kiss the darkness living inside me.

I kiss the darkness, the darkness trembles. To see the fleeing darkness is the brightest moment in life.

I kiss the darkness living inside me. It feels like a knife between my lips I'm alive. --old Finnish poem

Thanks as usual to my three patient editors: Claudia, Susan, Obsidian (I see you noticed my little tribute to the color black!). They put up with me, even when they despair of ever making my verb tenses agree. And thanks again to JW for her help with the science part of this story! Kia babes, this sequel is for you. :)

Mulder and Scully obviously don't belong to me. They belong to each other.


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