Title: Proxy
Author: Abra E.
Classification: implied MSR; Angst; little Mytharc; lot of sap; third- person POV
Rating: PG
Spoilers: do Nisei/731 even vaguely count as spoilers at this point? Disclaimer: I know who the father of *this* baby is.
Archive: with pleasure, just let me know so I can see!

Summary: Mulder's search for answers takes him to the ends of the earth. (yes, my descriptions suck; please, just read)

Notes: Cultural/vocab notes below Many, many thanks to Gail, who helped talk me through a particular bit of the story This one's for Amy, who keeps me writing when I've about decided not to, and the v- gang, who keep me laughing I lurve you all! Big sniffies coming on, so without further ado...


Heian Shrine Kyoto, Japan
December 25, 2001

The winter wind bites cold and hard in Kyoto; this late afternoon is no exception.

I gather the collar of my wool coat up close to my neck, readjust the small bundle I carry under my arm, and continue my brisk walk through the immense gates of Heian jingu

My eyes scan the scattered pockets of people for my contact A bustling little crowd of tourists, dutifully following the upraised flag of a tired-looking tour guide...a pair of maiko, tying the white papers of their fortunes to a nearby tree branch...

And then I see him Moruda-san.

He sits alone on a far bench, absently watching the distant figures As I approach, his world-weary eyes meet mine in a moment of tentative recognition I nod slightly; he rises and extends his hand I grasp it in my own, unsure - as always - how to perform this ritual, and shake it with a slight bow.

"Moruda-san?" I confirm, too late.

He nods and says, "Mulder Yes."

We sit down together on the narrow wooden bench, and I proffer my small, paper-wrapped parcel He takes it between slender fingers and looks down at it distastefully, a sharp glint of anger rising in his nearly lifeless eyes.

"Ishimaru's notes?" he asks quietly.

I nod and reply, in broken English, "Yes I find these in the old storeroom, Moruda-san Not many left."

He nods silently, his eyes never leaving the package

I've read the notes, of course They describe...unspeakable things; acts that no one - human or otherwise - should ever be made to endure.

Now it occurs to me - again, too late - that I have no way of knowing if this is actually Moruda That I have reason to trust him with the documents I've just handed over I groan inwardly and belatedly watch him for any hint of deceit

Yet...it's in his clear, strange eyes They reflect the light of the setting sun, taking in its melancholy and making it his This man's got no agendas I see it; yet, I can't help wonder why it is he wants this information I've been told almost nothing.

"Moruda-san," I begin, rousing him from his troubled contemplation He looks up quickly "My friend...he say you want Ishimaru notes?"

Moruda nods, a question in his glance.

"I..." I search for the right words I've never been very good at English.

"I...my friend? Trust...my friend His friend..."

Moruda nods, and I find myself hoping he really does understand what I'm trying to say

"Your friend? My friend...trust, yes?"

He nods slowly.

"Yes...you trust your friend...your friend trusts mine...mine trusts me So you trust me? Is that right?"

I nod vigorously

"I give you this Ishimaru notes, but I don't...why you want this?"

Moruda considers my question for a moment; long enough that I worry I've perhaps made a mistake That he's not the man I've been looking for Yet, when he speaks, his words assuage my fears.

"The things in here? What they did?"

I nod, encouraging him to continue Assuring him I understand.

"They...they should never have happened."

Another nod, with more conviction this time "I think so too, Moruda- san."

His lips purse tightly, and he returns my gesture

"Right now..." he pauses, his eyes clouding slightly He looks away; an icy gust of wind blows against us, and I pull my coat close Moruda bites his lip...he looks like he's fighting back tears The cold can have that effect.

When he continues, his voice is slightly hoarse.

"I think these things in here?" he pats the package resting on his lap "I think they're happening now."

I don't so much hear his statement as feel it, an unpleasant jolt of electricity gripping my heart It must show on my face, because Moruda nods slowly, his eyes never leaving mine.

I can only whisper, "In...America?"

Moruda shakes his head.

"I think...everywhere."

"Usoo..." I utter my disbelief in Japanese, and Moruda eyes me quizzically "It can't be true..." I translate.

Moruda looks away again He's quiet for a long moment; when he turns back to me, he replies simply, "I think it is."

We fall silent, each of us perhaps praying for the future as we sit in this consecrated space

Our reverie is broken by the sound of a child - my son - calling out from across the wide, now-deserted courtyard.

"Papa! Papa!!" He begins running towards me, my wife following him up in more relaxed steps The sight of him brings a smile to my face; but now, for the first time since his birth, that smile is touched with fear.

I wave my hand "Ooi! Takashi! Kotchi da yo!"

I turn to face Moruda, and find him looking on with an enigmatically crooked smile I point and explain, "My son, Takashi My wife."

He nods, and I unthinkingly ask, "You have a family?"

Moruda's eyes fill now; he quickly brings a hand to his face...pinches the bridge of his nose behind tightly closed eyes, quietly struggling for control I instantly regret my words I've been told so little...I have no idea what makes him like this.

I spy the shiny, almost-new gold band on his left hand, and my question is answered.

"I have a son..." he begins "A...a wife."

I don't know what to say, and look towards my own wife in supplication She's still off in the distance - too far away to help me know how to respond to this man's pain My eyes take her in...her soft lines Her sweet face I don't tell her often enough, but it occurs to me now, again, how much I love her.

Glancing down at her package-laden hands, I see the cake box bulging the sides of a large plastic bag Suddenly, I remember.

Christmas.

It means little to us; we buy the usual Christmas cake, open the champagne - the non-alcoholic kind, meant for kids - all for Takashi He's seen it all on television, and there's no way we can avoid these little commercial trappings He loves it, and so we celebrate for him.

But...I remember now This is one of the biggest celebrations of the year in the West In America...the year I spent there in college taught me this much, and I suddenly understand Moruda's inconsolable melancholy I don't need English to know that he's alone, separated from his family, on a holy day.

Takashi runs up to me and hurls himself heavily at my legs I utter an "oof" and grab him, grateful for the chance to do so He's suddenly so precious to me Moruda laughs suddenly - a loud, hearty thing - and I look over to him with a worried smile.

I needn't be concerned His eyes share my amusement at my son's impulsiveness, and he laughs again Takashi steps back slightly, warily eyeing this unusual stranger, and Moruda laughs even harder under his childishly piercing gaze.

"He is shy," I explain, and Moruda nods.

Naomi comes up, and we both rise Moruda holds out a broad palm at the same time that Naomi bows; embarrassed, he returns her motion with the exaggerated bow of a foreigner.

"My wife," I repeat, and Mulder shyly murmurs, "Hello." Naomi smiles She's beautiful, even after all these years.

Takashi begins tugging on my arm, pulling me away He's been ready for Christmas cake for a month now, and the light is finally at the end of the tunnel I begin to bow to Moruda, trying to excuse my son's behavior with an apologetic glance down He seems to understand, holding out his hand one last time.

I take his hand in mine, gripping hard

"Thank you," he says "Thank you for your help."

I shake my head.

"It's nothing."

We start to walk away as Moruda takes his seat again The cold air has grown icy in the time we've been here, and I can scarcely believe he wants to stay

Naomi looks back over her shoulder at him, and then places a soft, gloved hand on my arm.

"Anata," she begins, and I glance down at her "Ano hito...samishiso jya nai desu ka? Kawaiso desu yo Ie ni yobimasho yo Kurisumasu paati ni Ne?"

Takashi begins hopping up and down in excitement; his shyness seems to have worn off I nod to Naomi, who smiles back, satisfied Taking Takashi's little hand, we return to Moruda.

"If you like..." I begin tentatively, "We have a Christmas party Cake...you come too? To my house" I point in the general direction of our neighborhood, nodding.

Moruda looks as though he doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.

"Christmas *cake*?" he asks, and Takashi answers, "So da yo!! Kurisumasu keeki da yo! Tabeyo yo!"

He takes Moruda's hand in his, pulling desperately Moruda looks down at this impromptu handshake and smiles Maybe he sees his own son, I don't know All I know is he stands and lifts Takashi over his head in one fluid movement Takashi screams in delight.

"Papa, Papa, mite! Sugoooi!"

I laugh and clap Moruda on the arm He smiles back at me, and we join Naomi, waiting for us with an indulgent smile on her face.

We head for home; tonight, Moruda-san is one of us.


~finis~

RANDOM Notes: 'kay, so Heian Jingu (=shrine) is in Kyoto People visit Shinto shrines to pray, particularly at the New Year; you can buy little papers with your fortune printed on them - that paper is long, narrow, and white When you're done, particularly if the fortune is not so good, you fold the paper lengthwise and tie it to a branch or nearby rope "Maiko" are geisha-in-training - they wear the traditional makeup and kimono as well Kyoto is one of the few places where you still see them walking the streets these days. There is, in fact, such a thing as Christmas cake, and it's *huge* Right now, every store out there is taking orders Kids eat it, and drink this impossibly sweet bubbly stuff called "champagne," but it's more like carbonated liquid sugar Worse than Coke Oh, and in Japanese, Mulder's name actually *is* 'Moruda' - M/S is 'Morusuka', fyi and completely ot. This is just utter and complete fluff, but this year is the first year I'll be away from home for Christmas ever, and it got me to thinking that poor Mulder might get lonely, too...

Thanks for reading!

Fanfic at: http://www.reocities.com/xilerui/abra


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