Title: It's A Wonderful Life
Author: RocketMan
Written: 1998
Disclaimer: This is a big disclaim for the movie "It's A Wonderful Life" with Jimmy Stewart. I have unshamefully ripped off the entire premise to make this story. I can't help it, I loved it! Also, CC,1013, and Fox owns the X-Files. No fringe is intended for either.
SPOILER::::::The Movie, Beginnings, that's it. NO SPOILER for these latest X-Files.

Notes: Real quick here. I saw this movie on Thanksgiving and I absolutely loved it. It was comical, passionate, and so very real that I couldn't help but want to write it. Here's my attempt. While it doesn't follow the movie exactly, I think everyone will still be pleased.

BACKPLOT::::Little bit you might need to know. George Bailey was played by Jimmy Stewart, and he wishes that he was never born, and an angel grants his wish. He goes around his town and sees all the damage done without him and so he realizes that he is needed. The angel who helped him was trying to get his wings, and Bailey's little girl at the end says something like, every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings. Forgive me if I've gotten any of this wrong. I've only seen this once.

WARNING:::::::MSR::::::::Alternate Reality


"Dear Father in Heaven, Watch over Fox Mulder tonight. He's going through a lot..."

"Heavenly Father, Please be with him. I don't know what else to do..."

"Lord God, Keep this man safe as he tries to find himself..."

"Dear Father, I don't know what to pray...You know I love him more than anything..."

"Dear God, Please don't let my Daddy be hurting..."


Mulder watched the two women silently place dishes on the table, their thin wrists and pale fingers making the work seem almost to be a struggle for such small hands.

He knew better, knew that beneath the quiet countenance was a kind of determination and courage that made it possible for them to continue on through the holidays.

He just wished sometimes that their tightly packaged sorrow didn't so often completely revolve around his own ignorant choices.

Thanksgiving was a time for family, and the women before him clung to each other, and him, fiercely, in the way survivors always did, unwilling to give up another to the waiting darkness.

All around him were reminders of their sacrifices. Pictures of the missing, the very aura of once-upon-a-time laughter and love that filled every room of Mrs. Scully's old house.

And yet it sat empty, suspended in time, waiting for the life, the joy and exuberance to once again fill the rooms and halls with family.

It was an indescribable feeling, a tensing of his shoulders whenever he entered her home, poised for the sorrow he knew his presence should bring.

He knew they felt it too, and admired them all the more for the pretenses they took on.

"Tara's parents went over to see them, right?" Scully asked, glancing over to her mother for an answer she already knew.

"Yes, they wanted to see little Matthew before he got much bigger."

"Not so little anymore. Almost a year."

Scully smiled, and Mulder knew it was forced. She hadn't gotten along with her brother for a while now, a small part of the reason the whole family had not gotten together this year.

Her mother nodded and went back to the kitchen for the rolls, gesturing for them to sit down.

Mulder realized he'd been placed at the head of the table, and however unconscious the women's need for a male figure to run the household was, he felt a bit uncomfortable in taking the place.

"So, where did your mother go, Mulder?"

Scully glanced to him, her question a way of cracking the solid ice formed between them.

He sat gently, giving his partner a quick look before answering another question that she already knew the answer to.

"Ah, to visit my aunt in Maine. I don't know why. She felt it was right."

Scully nodded and he felt even worse. She'd been trying, trying so much, to get him out of the funk ever since they'd effectively been cut off from the X-Files.

"Thanks for this, Scully." he said suddenly, leaning forward to kiss her forehead.

She looked surprised, but gave him an honest smile, one that let him know she wanted to do this, needed to do this.

"How's she been doing lately?"

Mulder blinked, then remembered they'd been talking about his mother.

"All right. She took a plane to her sister's and I'm glad. She's not up to driving or even riding a bus or train."

Scully nodded and her hair slipped from behind one ear, falling to her cheek.

He was oddly warmed when she did not move it away. He wanted to reach out and touch her cheek, let that once piece of hair fall across his fingers.

Margaret came back in, holding a basket of rolls in one hand and a spoon for the sweet potatoes in the other. She sat down, placing each item on the table, then looked at Dana.

"Everything looks great, Mrs. Scully," Mulder said, winking at Dana and giving her mother a big smile.

"Thank you Fox. Now let's say the blessing."

Mulder followed suit while they bowed their heads, and listened intently as Scully prayed.

It was somehow an intimate thing, hearing her prayer.

"Dear, God," she said softly. "Please make us truly thankful for the wonderful life you've given us. Amen."

They raised their heads and started the meal in silence.


Dinner was better than he expected, so much more alive than he could have hoped for.

There was something about Mrs. Scully that opened up a great treasure of richness and grace within Dana Scully, that it took his breath away.

He listened to her stories about previous holidays, about the horrible and wonderful things her children did, and the great amount of love and life that that filled every moment in the Scully household. He listened to her stories, then watched Scully grow more and more alive, more and more fresh and young and innocent that she'd ever been in his eyes.

He wished he could capture this in a bottle and pour tiny drops of it on himself whenever he was lonely.

But he couldn't help think that she was so unjaded and secure only when he hadn't been around.

Only at the times in her life where his own recklessness had not touched her.

Even this thought could not completely sorrow him, not with Dana's brilliant grin reaching into his soul and setting it on fire.

She reached out to him and grasped his hand, smiling so wide, so wonderful, that he couldn't help but smile back.

Couldn't help but want to love her.

Through the women's two prodding, he eventually began sharing his own holiday memories, the sepcial times that he could actually remember.

He smiled and rubbed his chin as he talked.

"Yeah, we had Thanksgiving with the whole neighborhood once, when Sam was about five. She saw this ad on television about homeless people who didn't get enough to eat during the holidays, and how everyone should do their part. So she called up all the kids on our block to come down for dinner, and everyone and their parents showed up. I guess they thought my mom was having another party. They didn't question it. My mom freaked out, but ran to the store for more food and everyone ate. It was crazy."

Suddenly his eyes turned down, and Scully's eyebrows shot up, questioning.

"We played football," he said softly, and turned his full attention on the woman sitting anxiously in front of him. "We played in the front yard, and Mom made me let Samantha play too. We were all mad, so I tackled her too hard on the very first play. She got the wind knocked out of her and Dad made her stop playing with us."

Scully sighed, her eyes casting over to her mother, the joy seeping from the room.

Mulder felt awful for remembering, awful for sharing in his sorrow, awful for the look of remorse that fell over Scully.

He had to turn it around, make it not so bad.

"But she kept on playing," he said softly.

Scully turned to him. "What?"

"She kept playing. Never stopped. Wouldn't let us boss her around or make her scared."

He gave them a ghost of a smile, hating his lie, wishing it was the truth, wishing he had a sweet side to every memory of his little sister.

But it was worth it for the look of beautiful relief Scully gave him, the appreciation in her eyes that his story was not another doom and gloom memory. She obviously was trying to keep the mood up, not only for him, but for her mother and even herself.

He sometimes forgot all that they had lost.

Last Christmas, it'd been her own daughter.

He supressed a sigh, once again berating himself for his own selfishness.

Mrs. Scully stood suddenly, bustling away to the kitchen and calling over her shoulder for them to bring their dishes to the sink so she could get out desert.


With full stomachs and Mrs. Scully picking up the remains of dinner, Mulder and Scully sacked out on the couch to watch television.

They skipped over the football games and found the beginning of an old movie.

Mulder wasn't too thrilled with the selection and grabbed the remote from her fingers.

"Let's keep going," he said, holding the controller out of her reach.

She sighed and slumped against the arm of the couch, until he got to another black and white movie where she jumped up and kept him from changing it again.

"Come on, Mulder. I promise you'll like this movie."

"What is it?"

"It's A Wonderful Life," she said hesitantly.

He groaned.

"I bet you've never even seen it!" she exclaimed.

He shook his head. "Correct, Agent Scully. And I'd rather keep it that way."

"Oh, come on. You liked Casablanca when I made you watch it."

"I liked laughing at how stupid it was. I liked laughing at you too, come to think of it."

She shoved him and grabbed the remote, smiling triumphantly at his mournful expression.

"We're watching it."


Sometime after the movie was over, Scully looked over and saw that Mulder had fallen asleep, one hand curled around her foot. She straighted up and pulled a blanket from the back of the couch over his still form.

Slipping a soft kiss to his forehead, she whispered, "Sweet dreams, Mulder."


Mulder woke suddenly in his bed, feeling sickened by his dream, sweating even with the heavy covers over him.

His wife turned beside him and placed a lazy hand to his arm.

"You okay?" Scully whispered.

He shrugged and pulled closer to her body, nestling his head against her shoulder.

She woke up a bit more. "Your heart is racing. What's wrong?"

He took in a breath of her hair and sighed. "I had a dream...about Thanksgiving dinner."

She laughed. "My cooking frightened you that much, huh?"

He snorted into her back. "Actually, it was at your mother's. Just you and me. Everything was so sad...so very sad. Melissa gone, Emily...everything seemed to kind of hang in the room, all that sorrow. All the people who should be with us. It was awful."

She turned and buried her head into his chest. "How was it so different, Mulder?"

"I didn't have you..." he said softly.

She looked up into his haunted eyes, illuminated by the moonlight.

"You have me, though. You'll always have me."

He couldn't help but think of his musings in the dream, of how she would have been so much better off if his life had never met up with hers.

"Do you ever miss them?"

"Who? What?"

He wasn't looking at her, and she tensed in his arms, knowing that a wave of self-doubt was crashing down on him.

"Your little girl. Melissa. Your father. Do you miss them?"

"Of course I miss them."

"Do you ever wish for kids?" he said suddenly, looking straight into her face with an intensity she'd forgotten he had.

"We have -"

"No. No. Children of your own. From your own body...not adopted."

"Mulder, I love our little girl. I would never, never-"

"Scully..."

She quieted, listening to the strangled way he said her name. This was more than a dream.

"Scully...do you ever wish it had never happened?"

She knew she'd cry if she said anything, but she moved forward and let her lips crash into his in a long, aching way.

She finally pulled away. "Mulder..."

He felt burned, cauterized with her kiss, bandaged by her lips.

"Sorry, Scully. Sorry. Forget I ever, ever asked."

But he was not healed, merely mended.

She moved closer into him, shivering in the cold of his dream.

She eventually fell asleep again, but he couldn't find that peace.

Too many 'what if's ran through his head.


Mulder noticed the bitter feeling in him, that residual trace he always had whenever they left the apartment for work, but had never really felt so strongly before.

No X-Files.

He also noticed the wistfulness in Scully's face as they dressed for work, no longer strapping on side arms or FBI badges.

But looking at Scully's face as they pulled into her mother's, dropping off their adopted daughter Angel, he couldn't help but wonder about the dream he'd had.

It just didn't fit with his life anymore.

Not that kind of sorrow.

"Angie, come give Daddy a kiss bye."

Angel obediently trooped back to the car, placing a loud smack on her father's cheek.

"Be good, Daddy," she said, her three-year-old face smiling sweetly at him.

As they pulled away from the car, Mulder grinned at Scully.

"I don't care if her biological mother was high, she named that girl right."

Scully laughed and made the turn onto the interstate with smooth care.

"Well, I thought so too," she replied, then grabbed his hand tightly.

He squeezed it back in reassurance.

"You okay now, Mulder?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I guess so."

She nodded, but her eyes were on the road and she missed the look of sadness etched on his face.


Was it worth it?

He kept asking himself that question all through the day.

Had it all been worth it?

Scully could've had a normal life, if not for him. With children of her own flesh and blood, with all of her family there, with a solid, emotionally stable husband too.

If he'd never been born, it would have cut down on a lot of heartache, once he started thinking about it.

Mainly Scully's.

And the X-Files...

For the last few years, without the X-Files in Scully's life, she'd been relatively sorrow free, except for the rough times when he messed things up by not trusting her.

Just as he was thinking about this, one of the psychologists he worked with came over to him, her face grim, eyes red and teary.

"Mulder...oh, my gosh...did you hear?"

He frowned. "What?"

Scully...It was his first thought.

"That patient of mine, Andrew. Remember I referred him to you?"

Mulder nodded dumbly. He already knew...somehow, it was the warning of his dream.

"He killed himself...Mulder, Andrew's dead. He left a note."

He couldn't breathe, not at all. This was so wrong, so very wrong.

Andrew was only eight... Eight. How...How was that possible?

"But ...but he's eight years old."

"He left you a note. Dr. Mulder, he left you a note."

She handed him a xeroxed copy, her fingers trembling slightly.

He knew he should never have gone into private practice, knew it the moment Andrew had been referred to him.

With his own messed up childhood, how could he help others when he couldn't even help his own lousy self?

The woman, Dr. Lesan, he remembered idly, gave him space, pushing away from his desk and back through the door she'd come in.

He opened the letter.

Dear Mulder,

You said it was okay to feel bad sometimes, but I feel bad all the time. I hurt my sister. I know it was my fault. You told me to do something to make it right again. This makes it right.

Andy

Mulder's head crashed into his arms and he gagged.

God, no.

He'd just killed a kid.


Scully picked up Angel at five o'clock, rushing over on a stolen thirty minutes from work after she got Mulder's message on her voice mail.

Angie was waiting for her, and Mrs. Scully rushed off to her volunteer work at the downtown church as Scully came in.

Angie had a few Christmas poems she'd written at school, and she read them proudly to Scully as they sped back to the hospital.

"Honey," Scully said, checking lanes to move to her exit. "Did Daddy call Gramma to say why he needed me to pick you up?"

"Don't know," she said softly, then craned her neck to watch some birds fly overhead.

"Hey, why they do that?"

"Why what?"

"Why the birds flying funny like that?"

Scully looked up briefly and saw the huge blackbirds wheeling in the sky.

"I don't know, Angie. Maybe Daddy does."

"Hm, Daddy called."

Scully rolled her eyes. "That's what I asked, baby."

"Yeah. I was thinking about the birds. But now I'm thinking about Daddy. He called and said something happened."

"You remember what?"

"Um...um. No?"

"Okay. That's all right. When we get to the hospital, I need you to be very good and stay in the lounge, all right?"

Angie's face lit up. "In the lounge? With all the lockers and the bending machines?"

"Vending. Yes."

"Vending. Right. I mess that word up."

"That's okay."

Angel watched the birds for a bit more and then thought of something else.

"Gramma took me to school, and picked me up, and when she did, both times, there were funny things."

"Like what, sweetheart?"

"Um...don't know. Funny. Pear...pear-uh...Like Daddy says."

"Oh...paranormal?"

"Right!" she said, a triumphant look on her face.

"Why's that?"

"Um...why were they para..."

"...paranormal," Scully finished, taking the turn for the hospital with a slight squeal.

Angie laughed. "Mommy goes fast like Daddy."

"Remind me to talk to Daddy," she said softly.

They pulled into the covered parking lot, then drove to the second tier, where Sully managed to get her previous spot.

"Thank you, God," she murmured, and unbuckled Angie's seatbelt.

"Oh. Cause I saw the people and no one else did."

"What baby?" Scully asked, confused with the way her little girl's mind worked most times.

"The weird things. At school both times, outside where Gramma picks me up, Mommy."

"Oh right. What was it you saw?"

"Um."

Angie tried to follow her train of thought as Scully pulled her from the carseat and out into the chill of the DC weather, carried because she was in a hurry.

"What did you see?" Scully said again as they rode the elevator to the bottom level of the parking garage, helping her keep focus.

"Um...oh. Oh. Right. I saw this man, like he wasn't really there. He sort of waved and I waved back and Gramma asked me who I was waving to. I showed him to Gramma but she didn't see him. He told me his name was...was..."

She trailed off as the elevator opened unto a new landscape for Angie, something to distract her again.

Scully tried not to grow frustrated.

"His name?"

"George Bailey."

"What?" Scully remembered the name for some reason, something was familiar to her.

"Yes, George Bailey and he was in black and white like those movies you like, Mommy."

Scully's eyebrow rose as she walked through the halls of the hospital and to yet another elevator.

"No color, baby?"

"Black and white, Mommy. Those're colors."

Scully smiled. "Right. You're right. They are colors. He was all in black and white?"

"Uh...grey too."

"Grey too, huh?"

"Yes. Yes. That's it."

She threw up her hands and made an adorable face, gaining a kiss on the cheek from Scully.

"All right, sweetheart. Here's the lounge. You wait in here. Okay?"

"Is Liz gonna play with me?"

"Just until Mommy gets off work, sweetie. You don't mind too much, do you?"

Angie screwed up her forehead and thought for a moment. "Liz is okay."

Liz walked up right then and laughed, giving Angie a hug for hello.

"You're okay too, kid."

They disappeared into the lounge, and Scully breathed a sigh of relief.

It was sometimes hard to talk to Angie, with her short attention span. Because of her biological mother's drug addiction, and then Angel's subsequent detox, areas of her development had been affected, mostly her thinking processes. So far, Angie showed signs of Attention Deficit Disorder, which could be treated later, but nothing else serious. They were thankful.

However, Scully was more worried over the man that appeared to Angel in black and white than anything else, including Mulder's frantic call to pick up their daughter because he wouldn't make it.

She wondered what a stranger was doing at the preschool, and why Angie hadn't seen the man in color.

It didn't occur to her that Mulder had just ditched her.


He was drunk.

Yes, he'd better go on and admit it already.

He hadn't been this drunk in years...too many years obviously, by the way things sort of spun around his head even when he stopped.

And it took a long time to recall his own name, let alone the name of the little boy who had killed himself according to doctor's orders.

He groaned and swallowed the gin before him, wincing as it burned his throat.

He didn't think gin was supposed to burn. It usually slid down easy and smooth.

It burned before.

He remembered that time. With no X-Files, back when the X-Files had been all important, and no Scully, back when he wasn't sure what Scully was but he knew he needed her.

Same bar, as he recalled. Same bright lighting, and bright mirrors so you could see just how pitiful you had become, and same burning gin.

Or was it gin that night?

Who knew? Not Fox William Mulder, drunk as a ...a ...something that rhymed right there. A smelly thing, he knew for certain. A smelly rhyming animal that was drunk as a ...

"Skunk!" he said loudly, and grinned at himself in the mirror.

"Drunk as a skunk..."

"That's right, Mr. Mulder. You are. Why don't you go on home to that wife of yours, huh?"

Mulder looked up, bewildered beyond belief at the voice that seemed to have suddenly appeared.

"Oh, it's you."

The bartender shook her head. "Haven't I gone over this once before with you?"

"Um...sure."

She sighed and picked up the shot glasses scattered around him. "Long ago. Years ago. I thought you got it all straightened out."

"Sure. I just screwed it all up again."

"Oh. Fight with your wife?"

"Hunh? No. No. But soon...shit..."

He glanced to the clock and sighed, then shook his head. She was still at work then. Still working in that hospital when he knew she wanted the X-Files back just as much as he did, wanted back that life where they ran off to find the truth.

But not enough to sacrifice what they had together.

He stood suddenly, feeling like he'd been run over by a truck and then shoveled to the side of the road.

Rubbing his jaw, Mulder pondered the idea he just had.

What they were together...she couldn't let go of it even if it was better for her to let go. She wanted, needed the truth about what had happened to her. If she found the truth, maybe she could have her own children, maybe she could settle into contentness. But she'd never find the truth if they were together. It was against everything in the Bureau, partners consorting...

And...and... .

Mulder paused to open the door and stumble to the street. He wondered why he'd taken a cab here, then realized that the subway didn't stop at Riff's and their other car was in the shop.

A cab.

He needed a ride somewhere clean. Clean. Away from the noise and the smell.

He found himself at the Potomac an hour later, and realized with a kind of despair that he did not know how he had gotten there.

If he just died, what would happen?

She'd get the X-Files back out of pity. She would. He knew it with certainty.

He stumbled to the edge of the water, watching it swirl and dance like fingers along skin.

He made his way to a bridge, taking deep breaths to keep the chill in his lungs and the emptiness eating out his soul.

It was the only way to do it...keep himself all messed up, give him enough courage to do what was right finally.

They'd give her the X-Files because he was gone and they wouldn't think she was a threat. She'd find the truth...the truth and she'd be saved.

Never hurt again.

All that ... .

He took a deep breath and leaned along the railing, watching the waves churn beneath him as the wind whipped up a freezing frenzy. So dark. . so very deep and forever.

Like sleep.

He'd just fall right over, fall forever... .and never stop falling.

Fall for her just as he'd fallen in love with her.

Just for her.

He stood on the railing and took a long breath of the cold cold air, feeling it bite into his lips and tongue and lungs.

He heard screams.

His eyes startled open and he saw the body, the man drowning beneath him, screaming.

Mulder had no more thoughts.

He stripped off his coat and jumped in, breaking the surface and searching for the man screaming.

Save him.

All that mattered.

Save *someone.*


The man spun the fedora in his hands, letting its dark black color wash into the night.

"Yeah, now I get it..." he muttered. "I saved him as he saved me."

Mulder frowned and shivered, rubbing himself down with his coat.

"What I miss are those watch stations they used to have, you know. At least there we could get warm."

Mulder watched the man gabber on like an idiot and wished he had just let the guy drown, and himself right along with him.

He was in black and white.

Maybe Mulder *had* killed himself.

"Uh, buddy..."

"Name's George Bailey, Mr. Mulder."

"How do you know my name?" Mulder said, shivering and shrugging his coat back on.

Bailey smiled. "I'm an Angel."

"Right. I don't believe in angels."

"What about your little girl?"

Mulder stood explosively, grabbing Bailey's shirt front with a growl. "What the hell have you done to my little girl, you sick fu-"

"Mr. Mulder, I've done nothing. But *you* were about to screw up her entire life."

"What are you talking about?"

"I saved you."

Mulder shook the water from his ears. "What? I think I saved you, sir."

"No. No. You were going to jump. So I jumped first and made you save me. I knew it'd work. You're exactly like me."

"Ah...right."

"Why were you going to jump?"

"I've messed everything up. Everything. My wife's life especially. I need to give her back all that she's lost from just knowing me. There's only one way...I wish I'd never been born."

Bailey ran a hand over his face, sweat breaking out on his forehead.

"Ah...well, it's really the best way..." he whispered to himself, remembering his own experiences.

"All right."

Mulder glanced up. "All right what?"

"You've never been born."

Mulder laughed. "Good try. I wish. Just you saying those words makes me feel better."

"That's because I granted your wish. You've never been born."

The wind outside picked up furiously, and lightning cracked overhead.

Bailey shook his fist to the sky. "Calm down. They did the same to me and it worked just fine."

Mulder snorted. "You've got to be the craziest man I've ever met. And I'm a psychologist."

"Ah well, can't help that much."

Mulder stood, pushing away from the bench where they'd been lounging, waiting for their clothes to dry somewhat.

"Well, why don't you come with me? We'll go get roaring drunk and neither of us will notice."

Bailey frowned. "I think you've already gone down that road."

Mulder sniffed his clothes, which were completely dry. "I don't smell the alcohol anymore..."

He glanced quickly to the sky, then to Bailey.

"Come on, buddy. I must be drunk, cause you're still in black and white."

Bailey glanced down. "Yeah, yeah, I know. I don't have my wings yet. Second class angel, here, Mr. Mulder. Don't expect me to get it perfect."

"That makes me feel better. I get a *second class* angel, huh?"

"But I'm experienced with your kind."

"Ah, the losers, right?"

"No. The sensitive. Those who have always strived to do what is best for others."

Mulder shook his head and began walking, heading in the general direction of a bar.


"We must have floated downstream, Bailey, cause this is *not* DC," Mulder said, watching the closed off, dirty buildings fade into a collage of grime and soot.

No one was out.

"No, this is DC."

Mulder began walking through the strange ghost town, looking for a place to call a cab, but realizing with every step that this was DC, and yet, not DC.

"This can't be DC," he said firmly, and walked down a long strip of mortar chipped sidewalk, the skeletons of a thick park surrounding him.

It looked like the place had been bombed to nothing, then rebuilt with the scraps, the torn and twisted hunks of yesterday hanging by threads in the cold air.

Snow fell softly along the concrete he walked, hiding parts of the ugliness and revealing other parts in frightening clarity also.

He shivered and saw Bailey walking beside him.

"You know where we floated to, buddy?"

Bailey sighed and pointed his finger down the broad expanse of charred trees and stubbly growth.

Mulder glanced up and felt the world crash down around him.

The White House.

In snowy ruins.

Hunks of wall ripped out, ceilings collapsed, looted and ransacked until all that remained was a remnant of its former glory.

Mulder couldn't breathe.

He ran forward and stumbled in the thickening snow, fell into a crater the size of a swimming pool and scrambled out the other side, kept on going, running for the destroyed monument before him.

He was at the Mall, running along the large strip that used to be home to a thousand beautiful trees and squirrels and birds and people.

Where were all the people?

Mulder stopped, turned right into Bailey.

"What's happened? What the hell is going on? Did They come while we were in that river? Is that how we missed destruction?"

"I told you. You've never been born."

But Mulder had run off again, slammed his body into a tree trunk as he wasn't looking, running doggedly for home.

However he could get there.


He laughed out loud at the bus as it rumbled by.

"A bus. A bus. Saved from all this...amazing."

It gave him a brief flare of hope.

His two women, he had to find his two women.

Mulder got on the bus and reached into his pockets for his wallet, but found that he didn't have it anymore.

The driver threw him off the bus and kept on going, grunting something about aliens and doom.

Mulder shivered as he searched through his jacket coat, knowing that he had taken his coat off before plunging into the water, so it should have been there.

"Someone stole it," he said finally, and turned to see George Bailey there, as if he were waiting for him.

"No, you just don't exist."

Mulder shook his head and glanced to his watch, but it had quit running after his icy plunge into the Potomac.

He began walking, hoping that They had spared the hospital.


Mulder felt unhinged, uncontrollable as he stared at the vast wreckage before him.

No hospital, no building for a hospital even. Just trees.

He spun wildly away from Bailey, retching in the grass.

Shivering, feeling the snow touch down on him everywhere, Mulder closed his eyes.

"Where's my wife? If this is my unlife, what's happened to Scully?"

Bailey frowned and shuffled his feet through the collecting snow. "I'm not supposed to say. You're supposed to figure this all out on your own."

In an explosive rage, Mulder lunged forward, gripping George's coat with both hands.

"I need to see my wife. Where is my *wife*?"

Bailey shook his head, and Mulder found himself holding a fistful of air, panting loudly into snow and silence.

There was nothing.

No Bailey, angel or otherwise, no hospital or sound or feeling.

He was numb.

Scully.

He had done this for Scully. So it would be better off for her.

He had to find her, to know.

If she was okay, then everything was okay.

He could survive in this unlife.

Oh God, where is my *wife*?


There was no radio in the rig that picked him up, no kind of information on how thing's were in this world.

Mulder tried to get the trucker to talk, but what the man said was quiet, only uttering one brief sentence:

"They could be listening."

Mulder shuddered.

All this because he wasn't there? Seemed rather ridiculous. Maybe George was exaggerating for effect, making it look a whole lot worse.

Surely he alone had not kept the Consortium from letting the aliens dominate the world?

He had to see Scully.

She would decide things. He had a definite impact on her life; he'd see how it could have been for her.

How much better she'd be without ever knowing him.

This way, there'd be no tears for his death. Just painless happiness.

He felt a bit comforted by that thought and stayed silent, watching out the window for signs of life.

He realized George wouldn't help him find Scully because he also knew that she was better off in this life, without ever having met him.

And if Scully was better off, then George Bailey failed and didn't get his wings.

When the truck stopped just outside of what had been Georgetown, Mulder realized that she might not have that apartment still, that she might be somewhere on the other side of the continent.

He had to trust his instinct though, and go look for her there.

Turning, he saw George appear out of the corner of his eye.

"Bailey. Is Scully still here?"

Bailey henned for a moment then sighed. "Yeah, yeah, she's in Georgetown."

Mulder dashed for the subway line, but found the way barred by bright yellow tape warning of danger.

He shrugged and began walking, picking his way through the homeless littering the streets like mice in the metro rails.

As he made his way along Broad Avenue, something made him stop suddenly and turn around, a feeling in him that picked at his nerves.

Bailey was right behind him.

"She's not...dead...is she?"

Bailey shook his head. "No. Not dead."

Hopeful again, Mulder crossed the street and continued walking.


There she was.

Beautiful, beautiful Scully.

His wife.

He ached to touch her.

"Scully!" he called, running through the streets to catch up to her.

He passed the house she'd just come from, noticed the sign on top.

Brothel.

He blanched, jolted to a stop right there on the sidewalk.

That wasn't right.

Gathering his courage, he ran after her again, catching her as she waited to cross the street.

"Scully."

He grabbed her elbow.

Her face was dead, pale, listless. Eyes sunken, the bright blue he loved now dull and sickly grey.

"Scully."

She hissed and pulled away. "Hours're over."

He choked on the air, then tugged at her arm. "Scully, Scully it's me. Mulder."

"Sir. I usually try not to remember the customers."

"No, no. Why the hell are you doing this to yourself, Scully? You're so...you were so beauitful, so proud..."

"Sir, please. Come back tomorrow, a little earlier."

He gagged on his own spit, and watched her face light a bit at the idea, then sink again.

"I've got to get home."

"Scully. You...why are you doing this?!"

She turned around, the submissiveness gone for an instant.

"You think I want to do this? Just because They spared *you* doesn't mean you can preach to the rest of us. I have a family to take care, you pervert, and if this is how I have to do it, then it's more honorable than catering to Them!"

She wrenched from his grasp and ran off down the street, the last look in her eyes one of malice and bitterness.

He wanted to die.

"Oh, God. Oh God, what have I done to her?"


Bailey glanced down at the quivering man on the sidewalk before him, sighing as he retched into the drain and wiped his mouth on his coat sleeve.

"Mulder, come on, get up."

"No."

"You wanted to see her."

"No."

"Now you have to see little Angel."

His sharp intake made George wince, but Mulder stood up and sagged against the building.

"Angel... why? What's wrong? Is she a...a whore too?"

Bailey frowned. "No. She's only three, Mulder."

"I don't know. I'm just saying stuff here, Bailey. My wife is selling her *body* to *eat* every day so I'm not too *clear at the moment*!"

He shouted the last few words, then dropped into a crouch at the base of the building, sobbing suddenly.

"Just kill me, George. Just kill me. It's all gone to hell..."

"You have to see Angel."

"I just want to die right now. I'm not sure how seeing Angel will make me feel any better."

Bailey took off, yanking Mulder up to his feet, then propelling him along the sidewalk.


It was horrid.

That was the only thing his mind could come up with to let him start processing the sight before his weary eyes.

Horrid.

It didn't begin to describe the squalor.

Even the snow turned dirty and diseased.

It was a little alleyway, lit by the light from a single lamp that flickered whenever a gust of wind blew through the small space.

Cramped in along the pitted brick walls were about fifty living spaces, if one could even call it that, with the small sleeping holes made from grabage and dirt and plastic bags and shreds of cardboard.

There was not one whole cardboard box to be found, as if that too was a luxury these could not afford.

Bailey was standing in front of a one foot wide, three feet deep collection of refuse with a kind of hole shoveled out of the middle. It reminded him of digging a hole into hale bays to curl up in and fall asleep, only this was out of garbage and ...slime.

He gagged on the stench permeating every inch of the place and watched as Bailey leaned down and touched part of the trash.

Mulder startled back when it moved, but found two dark eyes staring out at him, a mixture of fear and anger etched deeply into them.

He watched the collection of rubbish move and flow until a child stood before him, hair shorn into nothing, and a sort of tight fitting kind of shorts covering him from waist to knees.

Mulder glanced to Bailey. "Who's this?"

George got to one knee and kissed the child's cheek, making Mulder writhe and the little thing gasp and step back.

Words attempted to stutter out, but nothing reached the lips, and Mulder leaned down next to George.

"What are we doing here?"

Bailey threw him a look and took the kid's hand.

"What's your name child?"

"No... "

Mulder looked quickly back to the child in front of him, noticing the thin bones protuding from her arms and legs, the swollen belly from malnutrition.

He looked into the eyes and found what he'd somewhat known all along.

"Angel...Angel...oh my God, no. Not my little girl ..."

Bailey nodded and the little wisp of a child nodded in relief that someone knew how to say her name, but grunted when Mulder picked her up and hugged her tightly.

"Angie, Angie, it's Daddy. I'm so sorry, Angie, I'm so sorry they made you do this. Oh my God, how could you let them do this?"

Bailey pulled the frightened, quivering child from Mulder's arms with more force than he could hold on to her.

"Mulder, she's not yours."

"She's my little girl. You can't take her from me!"

"She's not yours. You were never born."

Mulder looked like someone had slapped him.

"Dana Scully is a prostitute working to keep on living, and Angel is a street urchin who has never been held or loved or even talked to in her life."

Mulder shied away from Bailey, running back out of the alley and into a soldier, who promptly shoved him to the ground.

He gagged and found something else in his stomach to vomit before falling to the sidewalk in a crumpled heap.

Bailey appeared next to him.

"Do you want to go see Dana Scully again, or-"

Mulder grabbed the man, hard, his grip tight and unrelenting.

"Change it back. Change it back right now. Make it all go back!"

"Why?"

"Because even if you're exaggerating a whole lot, I know now. I *know* what I've done in my life, good and bad. And I have to get home. My family needs me...and I need my family. Please God, I need my family."

Mulder closed his eyes, hunched on his hands and knees.


"Mulder!"

A grunt, and he raised his head, straining to see through the thick snow.

A flash of red and then tiny hands, lifting him up.

"Mulder, how'd you get out here?"

Glancing to the bench beside him, the Potomac churning angrily along its banks, Mulder realized he was back.

He stood, took Scully in his arms.

"Scully. Scully. Scully."

"Mulder, Mulder, Mulder," she teased, rubbing his icy hair. "What the hell happened to you?"

"Where's Angel? Where's my little girl?" he said, his face suddenly tense, tight.

"She's with my mom. After work you weren't at home...so when mom got back from her volunteer job, I left her there and came looking for you."

"You're okay? Angie's okay?"

"Muder, we're fine. What happened to you? Why are you all wet, and why are you out here?"

She glanced suspiciously to the river, dark and glistening.

"You'll never believe me, Scully."

"Try me."

He looked into her face, saw she was not in a mood to be messed with.

"I jumped in to save this man, George Bailey-"

Scully's mouth dropped.

"I pulled him out and he was strange. All in bl-"

"Black and white." Scully finished.

He nodded and let her lead him to the car.

"He was an angel, Scully."

She shivered, pushed him into the front seat, angling the heater against him to blow right onto his wet clothes and damp face.

"An angel?"

"He saved me. I can't tell you how...but he did."

Mulder looked her in the eye, more lucid looking than he sounded, his hands suddenly snaring her face.

"I love you, Scully. I love you so much."

She gave him a worried smiled and shut his door, then scurried over to the driver's side, getting in and turning on the heater.

She put a hand to his forehead. "I think you're running a fever."

He nodded and leaned back against the seat.

"Angie could stay with mom tonight, let you get some rest-"

"No!" he said suddenly, jerking upright. "I have to have my little girl, Scully."

She pulled into the street, giving him a quick look, tinged with worry.

"Okay, okay. Just don't mention George Bailey."

He smiled. "Yeah, yeah. Okay."

She merged with traffic and headed for home.


It was snowing thickly, as if God were dumping mammoth handfuls of the stuff all over the earth. She couldn't see very far in front of her, and she was tempted to stop, wait it out.

"Mulder, I think we ought to-"

"I have to see her, Scully. I need to see my little girl."

She glanced over at him, the feverish glint in his eyes and the sweat slick hand grabbing for her convincing her more than his words that he had to get home.

"All right, all right. But we're going to spend the night at Mom's."

"Good idea." he said softly, and his eyes traveled along her body, hands reaching out for her.

She was watching the road, concentrating on its curve and fall, when his head crashed into her lap, fingers curling around her leg.

"Mulder!"

"Sleepy, Scully. I want to touch you. Make sure you're real."

She smiled softly, and ran her fingers quickly through his hair before planting both hands back on the steering wheel.

"I'm real, Mulder. I'm real. You just sleep."


"Daddy!"

Her shriek echoed through the house and Mulder grabbed her into a tight hug, pulling her up and into the air.

"Hey, Angel. My sweet, sweet girl."

He kissed her cheek, and hugged her closer, being led into the living room by Scully's prodding.

"Are you okay, Daddy? We were all worried about you."

"I'm fine, baby. Just fine. I had to find something before I came home today."

She threaded her baby arms around his neck and kissed his cheek.

Scully made him sit down on the couch so she could check him over, looking for signs of sickness or a concussion.

"You've got a fever, Mulder."

He nodded happily and pulled her down next to him, kissing her gently, as if he'd never before been given such a gift.

"You need to take it easy, Mulder."

"I will."

She glared at him, and he laughed and shook his head.

"You're right. I probably *won't* take it easy."

"Daddy, let me show you my pictures."

"Sure baby, go get them."

Angie scooted off his lap and ran into the kitchen, Mrs. Scully calling after her to help her get them down.

"So, are you going to tell me what happened out there, Mulder?"

He took her hand and ran his fingers along her skin, thinking.

"A little eight year old boy I was seeing killed himself today."

Her face fell, and she pulled him into a tight hug. "Oh, Mulder...I'm so sorry."

He hung on to her comfort, and began explaining the rest, starting with getting drunk and ending with seeing Angel in the street.

She was very quiet beside him, her ear to his chest, eyes closed and caught up in his story.

"All that, huh, Mulder?"

He nodded as Angie came back inside, proudly carrying her pictures and some cookies she had made with Mrs.Scully.

"Look what we made, Daddy."

"Oh wow. They look yummy."

She giggled and placed the plate on the coffee table, then scrambled back into his lap.

"Gramma said we should let you talk to Mommy. Are you done talkin'?"

Mulder patted her curly brown hair and nodded. "We're done. Now why don't you tell me about your pictures?"

Angie leaned back into his chest, her head next to Scully's and opened up the folded sheet of paper.

"This is George Bailey in black and white and grey. I didn't color the white cause it didn't show up on the paper, Daddy."

Mulder reached for the page, hands shaking.

"Where did you see this man, sweetheart?"

"At school. He told me you were okay. I didn't worry."

Mulder wrapped his arms around his two women, hugging them tightly, closing his eyes.

"You'll never have to worry about me, Angel."

Her round face glanced up at him, her dark eyes piercing into his.

"I know."


"Let's be quiet, Angie."

"Is Daddy sleepin'?"

"Unh-huh. Can you be quiet so Daddy can sleep?"

"I can be very quiet..."

Mulder felt Angie slip from his arms and slide to the floor, where Scully stood, waiting.

A soft kiss brushed his lips and he felt himself fall further into sleep.


Mulder woke to darkness, the room bathed in black and soft grey from the snatches of moonlight that peaked through the window blinds.

There was a thick taste in his mouth that meant he'd been sleeping for a while, and his left arm had pins and needles from being crushed under his weight.

He licked his lips and ran a hand along his neck.

"Scully?" he said softly, wondering where she had gone.

There was silence and a soft drip of water from the kitchen sink, the feel of her mother's quilt resting heavy on his legs. He stood up and pushed the blanket back to the couch, shoving away the tight sense of urgency growing in his gut.

"Scully?"

"Fox?"

He saw Mrs. Scully dart from the kitchen, her face smiling softly, but shadowed.

"Mrs. Scully, where's Dana?"

Her eyebrow danced like Scully's usually did, then she patted his hand.

"She's upstairs in her room, Fox. Why?"

He ducked and shook his head. "I missed her," he said and pushed his way past her, missing the look she gave him.

When he got to her room, he stopped suddenly, watching her through the partly opened door, the way her body moved in the soft light.

She was naked, his wife standing before him, skin like liquid silver, moving constantly as she turned from the window.

He sighed, leaning back against the wall for a moment before tapping on the door.

He heard her startle and then a whisk of clothes being hastily shoved on, and he smiled and pushed his way in.

She had managed to pull on a night shirt, and she stared at him, open-mouthed.

"Mulder?"

He frowned at her voice, at the face that said 'what the hell are you doing?'

Ignoring the slithering fear climbing from his stomach to his heart, he took her softly against him, pushing her head to his chest and holding her.

"Mulder?"

Now it was confusion, as if she didn't understand him anymore.

"Shh," he whispered, leaning down and kissing her forehead. "I just need to touch you."

She shivered beneath him and he took her face gently between his fingers, looking into her eyes.

The light was casting shadows along her skin, delving her smile and her eyes deep into mystery, hiding her thoughts from him. He leaned in and kissed her softly, gently, letting his lips dance along hers, letting his mouth speak silent words of forever love.

She shivered and pushed him back, hiding her face, pulling into a circle of light cast by the moon.

He paled.

It was then that he saw it, her face framed by moonlight.

It was not his Scully, his *wife*.

Who was this? Where was-

It hit him hard and he shook his head.

"Mulder...what, what was that?"

She didn't sound too angry, but he buried his head in his hands, feeling the overwhelming sorrow take over his soul, just as it had when he had seen her in his unlife.

"A dream...oh God, don't take her away from me again..."

She whispered closer to him, her body that silver liquid pouring along the floor like a river.

"Mulder...Mulder, tell me what's going on..."

"A dream, it was a dream. An angel, and I wasn't born, Scully...oh Scully..."

He hid his face with long fingers, remembering standing in the doorway just then, looking on her nakedness without shame.

"A dream? A dream. Were you sleep walking just now?" There was a tinge of bitterness that floated from her voice like dandelion seeds in the summer.

"No. No. I dreamed I was in It's A Wonderful Life... but here."

She seemed to not understand, her eyebrows drawing together, her body shivering in the slight chill.

When it dawned on her what exactly he had dreamed, she again felt her half naked body turn sensitive, and moved to hide from him.

But he reached out and grabbed her wrist.

"Scully...I..."

"Mulder, was I in your dream?"

He nodded mutely, and his eyes fell to her lips, her breasts, her stomach, her bare legs.

"I know all of you, Scully...all of you. I don't want to go back to that unknowing."

She unconsciously felt herself being pulled to him, swept up in his fairy tale.

"But Mulder..."

And she could say no more, for his mouth tasted her lips and drank eagerly from them, letting his hands slide down her back, establishing his claim on already discovered territory.

"Do you want this Scully?" he sad finally, breaking their kiss, but not his hold on her.

She found it impossible to say no to him, not with the way he'd acted as he came in, not with the way he seemed to know exactly what to do, exactly how to touch.

"Mulder..."

"Scully, Scully, it can be a wonderful life...with you, only with you."

She pushed her nose into his chest and forced away the feeling of overwhelming uncontrol.

"Just let me touch you, I need to know you're real ..." he whispered.

She stayed absolutely still, trapped in his embrace, his love, knowing that the decision was hers, and he was leaving it to her with trust.

"I'm real," she finally said and slid her arms around his stomach, committing to nothing more.


end all adios RM

Note: Okay, should I do one where Scully has an angel encounter of her own?

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