Title: When Guster Is Dead
Author: The X-Piig
Category: SA, Implied R
Spoilers: Requiem
Keywords: Post-Colonization
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Then God created fanfic writers, and he said "Let there be fanfic" and some novelist said "and then there was fanfic" and then Chris Carter said "I'll sue" and Guster and REM said "we're not sure what fanfic is but we'll sue too" so God created Disclaimers and the fanfic writers said "fine we don't own them, happy?" and Chris Carter was happy but God just rolled his eyes. BADAM PISH!!

Summary: "...Let me keep you in this place, you'll be better off this way. I will keep you warm and safe, you'll be better off this way. I will not wake you from your sleep, I'll leave you wandering, counting sheep..." ~ Airport Song, by Guster

Notes: This story is ENTIRELY inspired by Guster's "Airport Song," but REM helped about halfway through when I had the CD on loop and all. I consider this my best, darkest, angstiest story ever, not much else to be said. So enjoy.

Dedication: Of course, to JuJu for constant motivation. We all know I can't get ANYTHING done unless somebody's constantly threatening me.

Feedback: Then Jesus said "Tell the Piig what you think or I will shoot paintballs at you" and God nodded his approval.

Email: thexpig@hotmail.com

Shrouded in darkness, the interior of what could have been a room was filled only by the breathe of the once-innocent.

The crackle of energy and conflict overhead was muffled by layers of rock and concrete. Windowless and lit only by dim candlelight from beyond closed doors, the chamber was a black hole where two forms lay, deep in their own minds and away from the horror far above.

A door opened and soft shifting light struck the wall. A sliver became a square then dissipated as a dark figure entered what became apparent as a hollow in the rock. The man held a short candle, flame directed to illuminate the room's sleeping occupants.

Somewhere it was noon, the sunshine bright on the faces of the wounded and dying. Here it made no difference, and hours would pass before Dana Scully or David would wake.

If Fox Mulder was careful.

His face, dark despite the flame's faint glow. Expression lined with pain and weariness, he knelt close to Scully's face.

Unwilling to allow himself to touch her, for fear of breaking sleep's grip, he merely watched her face in the candlelight. Peace among chaos, in her expression. Mulder sighed, ignoring the burn of dark tears across his cheeks, and shifted his gaze to David, sleeping contentedly in Scully's arms.

The child shouldn't have to know this world.

David Scully, the son he once thought he would never know, lay now in front of Mulder, deep within a dream. Not yet a year old, wisps of auburn hair fell over his head, leaving no doubt who the child's mother was. What few people knew of for sure was the identity of the father. With a twinge of regret, he realized many would never know. After today he would become no more than a nameless soldier, one more casualty of a war lost before it began.

Risking a feather touch along the boy's face, Mulder whispered his first words to his son. "You made it this far. I won't let you belong to Them."

He wished it wasn't such a surprise to see David alive. Wished his return were marked by relieved tears and confessions, re-joined paths to suburban contentment, rather than this. Pain and loss in a crumbling fortress. Return, only marked by abandonment.

Words those listening would attribute to a fleeting dream.

And this boy, still young but already without a future, would never know him. To realize he was a father now, and never be able to fill the role. To play his part in David's life for critical, but living audience. Scully alone knew for sure he WAS the child's father, and she would not confirms others' suspicions for fear of making David a target. She could not afford to put him in any more danger than the situation already provided. What the boy would never know is that for a few short hours, he had a living, breathing dad.

Finish this, then leave. Mulder told himself. He was here, risking Scully's future happiness, if any would ever exist, only to plant the seed of hope in both their minds. Those asleep had no choice but to listen to a message delivered. His final words to loved ones would be remembered as a dream, no second thoughts given to its truth.

He knew if Scully were to wake and find him here, alive and close enough to touch, she would be unable to let him go again. Mulder didn't even want to imagine letting go of her. The reality (as unstable as it was these days) was that if she remained asleep, it would be a lost moment for both of them. As if he had never returned, only appeared briefly in the fading light of nighttime visions. She would never know what she missed by thin levels of consciousness, what she lost for the second time.

What he needed most was to tell Scully he loved her.

She would know, would hear that truth, and he would be gone in less than an hour. No time to spend in her arms, in her life.

No time to hurt her. The last gift he could give.

Gazing sadly on her face, impossibly paler than the last time he had seen it, he lowered himself on to the bed carefully.

Closed eyelids faced him, too far to feel his labored breath. He lay there, aching to hold her yet afraid even to touch the small, sleeping form before him. Their own son, the product of a long-ago encounter with hidden feelings he no longer took for granted, lay curled between the two now. Thumb securely in his tiny mouth, unknowing of the emotions of an unfamiliar man now close by.

It seemed so long, too long since he was taken from this woman. More than one and a half years since that fire-in-the-sky truth he so desperately needed came for him. Carried away Scully's last chance of true happiness for purposes then mysterious, now so blindingly obvious. Positioned away from the Earth's doomed surface, it was Mulder's final insurance in avoiding the horrors of alien invasion. The complete circle he had made with Scully on the X-Files brought him back to Oregon, then dragged him forcefully into the unjust safety of the White Place. Into space, closer to the stars Samantha watched him constantly from.

Six months passed, Mulder's stranded consciousness going mad with desperation. At some point, the soulless Them holding all but his burning mind hostage directed his attention toward events unfolding "back home." Free of the pain and confinement of his tall, battered body, his observing mind passed over light-years of space to find a world in chaos. Bee swarms, flames and a constant onslaught of warring extraterrestrials stained the Earth black and the sky red.

Unseen by the deformed soldiers surging past him, Mulder's consciousness witnessed the scene with horror and guilt.

Any belief in a higher power was shattered by the screams of a dying civilization. So much lost beyond the reach of his unfair protection.

I will die, he thought angrily, but I will die fighting this.

Still only a disembodied soul, wandering the planet's tarnished surface, he realized he could sense Scully's presence here.

Relief dancing briefly across the mental clouds of anger and loss, he let the familiar sensation guide him to her. Their link had become that strong, and whatever the explanation he thanked even a cruel fate for it.

He wondered if she would feel him die.

And took back all thanks for their connection.

Leaving the bloodshot skies behind, he followed the trail deep into an underground fortress. There he found A.D. Skinner and one last Lone Gunman grieving into their final stash of brandy, the inseparable trio cut impossibly to one very drunk John F. Byers.

At least twenty unfamiliar refugees occupied this castle of unknown origin. In essence, only a series of caves carved into the rock for forgotten purposes.

Mulder had found her in the same room he now lay in, contemplating. Tears and uncharacteristic lines of emotion marked Scully's pale face, below her clasped hands a belly swollen with child. The expression she wore was not that of an expectant mother, nor even a grieving widow. It was one mourning her loss of faith in a world once so innocent. A soul torn at frequently, then all at once broken wholly by the same inhuman tormentors. And if the growing spark of life inside her ever knew this reality, it would be as a slave of the Apocalypse.

Mulder's unblinking mind moved toward this pained vision, seeking an outlet for his fear and guilt. Existence was caving in and he could only observe, formless, and wait to be summoned away from the death sentence Earth had become. Even as the thought passed across his consciousness, the image around him began to shudder, then collapse as his mind was thrown backwards, passed dying worlds to the bright white light of his own.

Cringing, he waited for the pain to come.

As the vision of past intensity began to fade, Mulder carefully raised his hands and pressed his palms to his bleeding eyes. The alterations his body underwent created the crimson flood which would fall in the place of tears for the rest of his condemned life - since that ill-fated night in Oregon perhaps only his mind had remained unchanged by Them. Terrified as he was of his movements waking Scully, he wished to leave only his message, not dark tears on her pillow. Carefully rubbing his face, he finally risked a glance at the two by his side.

They breathed, in more peace and order than the world above had seen in years.

Overcome with the need for personal proof, Mulder cleared the blood from his fingers in bruised streaks across his shirt, and reached out. An impossibly light, gossamer touch along her jaw, bracing for the inevitable flinch. It never came, because of this his confidence grew and he inched closer, breathing warm puffs that shifted slivers of bright auburn hair in the candle's glow. For a brief time his reality would brighten beyond shades of gray. A smothered kind of pride touched his scarred eyes as he looked once more to David, holding the child's untainted hands lightly in his own. Not removing his gaze from the rare innocence held there, Mulder began to speak softly and steadily.

"Someday," he began, voice rough from constant pleas for release, "you'll ask why you are the way you are. And maybe your mom will wonder why you aren't what you could have been. No matter what happens after this point, those 'what ifs' your lives will become will weigh on what conscience they left for me. And although I do this only to protect you, I know the cost. That price is also why you can't ever really meet me. If someday I am, to you and your mother, only the man in the moon or a ghost of what you've lost but haven't forgotten, remember this. If the unjust existence my actions have brought you allows you that someday, remember me as the dream I'm forced to be. Deep inside your mind, know me in the words absorbed by the fibres of your young consciousness."

"Remember..." Mulder continued, now speaking to Scully, teasing her fingers yet hesitating to meet her lidded eyes," ... remember me in the starlight, if... when I join my sister. When the sky clears and you walk the Earth's surface again, face the stars and think of the dark shadow that might have been a friend or father. In that cold fire, I'll touch back onto this dying planet, and seek you out. Drifting light filling the corners of your mind, I'll remain the fading image of a man at the edge of your vision. Hidden among the spirits often denied by the living, existing beyond your sight in the human race's own wasted home."

Bringing her fingers to his lips, he paused.

"I'm leaving you with this because the only way the future I see for you will ever exist is if I fight. The alien rebels freed me because they know I have the power to change the Earth's fate.

The colonists turned me into a weapon, but I'm no longer their possession. I'm yours. And I know I can't come back here, but if my final work for the world's continued life earns me a place alongside Samantha in the sky, I can still be close to you. I'll walk the surface seeking a chance for you and David to live. I will bleed for it, and I can't promise to return to you. But I won't without leaving you my truth, and my memory."

So cold. He thought. While civilization lay in flames, these caves deep enough to share Hell's postal code remained frozen. Mulder shivered from the chill and moved still closer to Scully, feeling her weak and fading body heat. Her life would always be this cold unless he fought, he knew.

"I won't let you know how close you came to having...

and losing me again. If I didn't have this window into your mind I might doubt you still want me. I won't let you hurt any more, trust me if no one else. This is better. This is the warmth and safety of uncertain memories I offer. Beat the cold down here in exile, and realize that you're better off this way. Never know this message as reality, and never doubt my love for you. If nothing else, you know I love you. And David. Wait for the starlight, Scully."

These final words were spoken with eyes closed, face dry.

He swallowed, tasting blood, and lifted his heavy lids to stare directly into Scully's eyes.

Dana Scully's clear aqua, open and tear clouded eyes.

Lightning strikes of guilt and alarm flashed through Mulder's veins, the single repeated denial ...NONONONONONONO... hammering through his consciousness. All of this, everything crumbling, sliding rapidly through his fingers and reflected in the liquid orbs before him. He, the cause of endless agony for the person he would live and die for.

It was not supposed to be this way, oh God why did it have to end so badly?

It didn't.

Clear, honest tears dropped from Scully's troubled eyes as she spoke, softly, thickly as if not fully aware.

"Every night I dream of you, of your return. And it never brings you back to me."

"Don't stop dreaming." Mulder finally whispered.

"Come back," she pleaded.

"I can't."

These were the last words he would speak to her. Left now were only war cries of revenge and justice, to be voiced in battle. He pressed his dry lips gently to hers in one final goodbye, kissed David's forehead and rose from the bed. His gaze brushed across her face, once again in sleep's embrace, the illusion of innocence regained. He would remain a dream, ascending to the fire and blood above to march between starlight and iced hope, waiting for the fall. They would remember.


"Glad you made it, welcome to the farm
Who's your daddy, I'm your daddy now
I came here seeking only what I need
In your mind is where I'll plant my seed
It's for sure Let me keep you in this place
You'll be better off this way
I will keep you warm and safe
You'll be better off this way
Learn to love the price you pay
Trust me dear you're better off this way Put to bed the son and sister moon
I'll be hiding in your dirty room
I'll go there seeking only what I need
La de da we'll stay there till we bleed
It's for sure Let me keep you in this place
You'll be better off this way
I will keep you warm and safe
You'll be better off this way
I will not wake you from your sleep
I'll leave you wandering counting sheep..."

~ Airport Song, by Guster

I will try not to breathe
I can hold my head still with my hands on my knees
These eyes are the eyes of the old, shivering cold
I will try not to breathe
This decision is mine, I have lived a full life
These are the eyes that I want you to remember
I need something to fly over my grave again
I need something to breathe I will try not to burden you, I can hold these inside
I will hold my breath till all these shivers subside
Just look in my eyes
I will try not to worry you
I have seen things that you will never see...

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