Title: Not Your Typical Fairytale Ending
Author: Lorilie
Rating R
Keywords: Angst for Everyone! MT, Sk/M slash, MSR.
Insert general disclaimer here.

Summary: "Visits from the dead? You mean ghosts? You can't be serious..."

Author's notes: This story challenge was all Lisby's idea, and since I always do what my listmom tells me, here is my first work of fan fiction. As you will soon figure out, I am not a writer, so please, just don't throw anything sharp or pointy. There is much angst for Mulder, Skinner and Gibson. Contains some very unseemly and possibly disturbing ideas. There is MT in all flavors, psychological, sexual, etc...There is slash, though nothing graphic. For those who view Scully as some long suffering saint-Don't read any further, you wont like my version of her one bit. This story mainly addresses a couple of mytharc issues that I have decided to put my own very twisted spin on, since CC never gave me a satisfactory explanation. There was no beta-so I apologize for all the mistakes I am sure are in here.

Thanks to all the wonderful wimmins at X-OK, for making me feel comfortable enough to try and pull this off. It meets all the challenge criteria, but that's about all I can say for it. This may suck, but I had a great time doing it. Here goes...


Day 1

Just one moment, one small event can change a person's life forever.

For me, it was the ringing of my doorbell one Monday afternoon in April. It was Albert Hostein's grandson standing in my doorway telling me to pack a bag. Gibson Praise had sent him to fetch me. I was needed in New Mexico. Mulder needed me. That was all I needed to hear. I was packed and out the door within the hour. First instinct had been to get on the next available flight, but I knew that 'They' were still watching, still looking for him.

I had no idea why I had been sent for or what I would find when I arrived, the boy had no information beyond the original message. Still, I went. The trip was long, taking over a week to get here. We followed a jagged path, up and down and up again, crossing the distance by Grayhound bus to train, back to the bus. My traveling companion left me to return to his reservation just outside of Farmington and I started hitchhiking the several hundred miles down highway 371. I ended up walking, map in hand, for the last five. There I was standing in front of a rusted out Airstream trailer in the middle of the New Mexico desert and there was no place I would rather have been.

I had arrived just as the sun was coming up. Gibson greeted me at the door with a relieved smile, the smell of strong coffee wafting out of the trailer.

"Come in. Mulder's not up yet. I didn't tell him you were coming. I wanted to be sure you made it first. You weren't followed, they lost you in Arkansas."

I just nodded my understanding and followed Gibson in to the trailer.

It was a narrow space with a low ceiling. I stood in the center of the main room, which contained a kitchenette, dining area and there was a couch and small coffee table crammed against the far wall. I looked down the narrow hall through the open door into the bedroom. The site of Mulder's still form on the bed made me gasp. I hadn't realized just how much I had missed him until that moment and it hit me like a sledgehammer in the middle of my chest. At that same moment I also realized something was very wrong here.

"Where's Scully?" I whispered to Gibson.

Gibson shushed me with a finger to his lips and tip toed down the small hallway to close the door the bedroom. He returned and poured us each a cup of coffee and motioned me toward the table. Once we were seated, mugs in hand, I repeated the question.

"Gibson, where's Scully?"

"Gone."

"Gone? Is she...is she dead?"

"No, just gone. She left him about a month ago."

"She what? I...I don't understand...why? How could she..." I muttered.

I was truly dumbfounded. I always believed the two of them would be together forever. Once they were reunited, I didn't think anything, short of death, could have torn them apart.

"She couldn't live like this. She couldn't handle being hunted like criminals. She wants a home, someplace to settle down. She said she didn't think there was any point in trying to fight the inevitable and she wanted to live out the rest of her days in peace. She's in New Zealand now. New papers, new name, new life."

"Why didn't he go with her?" I still couldn't quite believe what I was hearing.

"She didn't want him to come. She told him she didn't love him anymore."

"What? I can't believe she would..."

"It's not true. She didn't really mean it. She loves him but she's afraid of him and without him thay wont bother looking for her. She thinks he's crazy and that he was going to get us all killed. He can get pretty bad sometimes but he would never have hurt her. He would have died before he let anything happen to her. She just couldn't deal with him anymore. More importantly, she doesn't want to deal with him.

She wants the old Mulder. She wants the man he was before he was taken.

He's not that man anymore. He never will be."

He would be if I hadn't lost him. If I hadn't screwed up.

"But she knew this, didn't she? After he was returned...they were together... she must have known..."

"It wasn't your fault, Walter. They would have gotten him eventually no matter what anybody did to try and prevent it."

I need to stop thinking so loud. Gibson smiled at me and continued,"He tried talking to her at first. She never wanted to hear it. She was so focused on the baby and having Mulder back that she didn't want to acknowledge how much he was suffering. She just wanted everything to be normal. So, he tried really hard to keep everything in. He wanted to be what she wanted, to be strong for her. Then the baby was born and she made him leave. The months he spent with me on the reservation were bad for him. It just got harder and harder for him to function. The nightmares and flashbacks increased, he just got more and more depressed. The visits from the dead were becoming more and more frequent. Most of the time they were friends and trying to bring comfort, but some of them just came by to fuck with him."

"Visits from the dead? You mean ghosts? You can't be serious..."

"I am. It's true. I see them too. I know deep down, you believe it's possible, you are just afraid to admit it. It's okay, most people are, it's the fear that keeps them from seeing. It was Sharon who told me how to find you."

I am completely at a loss for words and I feel my chest constrict with long buried pain. I pick up an apple from the bowl on the table and start turning it my hands keeping my eyes focused on it like it's suddenly the most interesting thing I have ever seen.

"I am sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. She's okay, she's happy. She watches out for you. She keeps an eye on Mulder too, because she knows you love him."

The shock of these words makes my head snap up to stare at the boy in absolute terror. My hands have just reduced the poor apple to mush. I feel my face flush and mumble something unintelligible as I rise to dispose of the crushed remains and rinse off the evidence.

My cheeks are still burning when I return to my seat and try to think of an appropriate response.

"I...I..."

"You love him. Relax, Walter. It's cool." Gibson says, trying to sound more adult than his sixteen years.

"How...When did you..."

"The first time I met you. Plus, it was almost all you were thinking about at Mulder's trial. You were so afraid of losing him. You didn't care that the two of you would never be together. You just wanted him alive and happy. Even if happy meant that he rode off into the sunset with Scully and you never saw him again."

"Does he...does Mulder...." I still can't quite form the words and I am immediately reminded that I don't really need to in the boys presence.

"Yes, he knows. He's known for a long time."

"In the hospital. After he was exposed to that rubbing. He read my mind?" It was a statement more than a question. I had always feared what Mulder may have seen in my head during those frightening days.

"Yeah, that's when he knew."

I am suddenly overcome with humiliation and dread. Mulder knows, has known, how I feel about him. Obviously, Mulder doesn't share my feelings or I would have had some hint, some indication of it.

Logically, I have known this for as long as I have loved him. He loves Scully. They had a child together. That was as it should be, but I had always allowed myself the fantasy that he secretly loved me too.

"But he does, Walter. He always has."

"Stay the hell out of my head!" I hiss at him. Humiliation is quickly giving way to anger. "Why are you doing this to me? Why did you bring me here?"

"Calm down, Walter. I am sorry. This isn't going the way I wanted it too. I sent for you because he needs you. Because you need each other.

Because you love each other...."

Gibson's explanation was cut short by sudden, agonized screams from the bedroom. Both of us were immediately up and running. I was through the door first and was stopped in my tracks by the site of Mulder writhing on the bed, both hands clutching his chest as the screams tore from his throat.

"It's a flashback. He's having a flashback." Gibson moans beside me.

I look at the boy and realize that he is seeing what Mulder sees. He's hearing every detail of whatever horrific trauma Mulder was suffering through and I feel guilty for having been so cross with him.

I went to the bed and took Mulder by the shoulders trying to gather the struggling man into my arms.

"Mulder? Mulder, wake up. It's me, Walter Skinner. You're safe, Fox.

You're safe. Wake up, please, wake up." I held him tight against my chest until the screams softened into quiet sobs.

I know it was completely inappropriate but I let myself marvel at how right this felt. Holding a half naked Mulder in my arms, breathing in his scent, the feel of his skin under my hands. I was home.

I rubbed soothing circles in the middle of his back as I buried my face in his hair whispering words of comfort. Slowly, the sobs quieted and his face turned up to mine and he stared at me. His expression a mixture of confusion, pain and longing that left me breathless.

"Walter? What are you doing here? Are you dead? Have you come to haunt me?"

This makes me chuckle,"No, Mulder. I am definitely not dead. Gibson invited me for a visit. I thought it might be nice to come down here and see the sights in sunny New Mexico for a while."

Mulder was suddenly aware of the fact that I was holding him. His face flushed as he pulled away from me, his body still trembled slightly, his eyes looking everywhere but at me.

"I am sorry...thank you for...I'm sorry you had to see that..."

"Don't apologize, Mulder. You have nothing to be sorry about. Do you want to talk about it?"

"I...they were...No, that's okay. I'd just like to take a shower now."

"Okay", I sighed,"whatever you want."

Mulder nodded as he slid off the bed and headed for the bathroom on shaky legs.

Gibson and I returned to the kitchen and more coffee. Neither of us spoke of the retching sounds that could be heard over the shower.

"Does that happen a lot?"

"Yeah."

"Can you tell me what happened?"

The boy looked uncomfortable,"I don't think I should. It's not my place..."

"Oh, but it IS your place to butt into everybody's love life? You brought me here to help him. I can't do that if I don't know what's happening."

"Well, I guess you have a point. He has this one a lot. He's on the ship. Did he ever tell you about what happened there?"

"No, we never spoke about it." I had wanted to. I could just never get up the nerve to ask him. I still felt so guilty over losing him that it had been easier for me not to know what really happened to him.

"Okay, They put him in this scary dentist chair like thing and restrained him in it by putting these metal spikes through his arms and legs and hooks in his face. Any movement caused really bad pain. He was in that chair the whole time they had him. Anyway, this one time they split him open from chest to navel with this kind of circular saw thing. No anesthesia. There was never any anesthesia. They spread him out and took all kinds of tissue samples from his internal organs at least he thinks that's what they were doing. He can't be sure. He couldn't do anything to stop them... he was totally helpless. He thought he was going to die from the pain. He was ready to die then."

I felt sick. I didn't want to know anymore. Gibson's bland, matter of fact explanation made me almost as angry at him as I was the with creatures who had done this to Mulder.

"Sorry, Walter. I am just so used to this one now that it doesn't upset me that much anymore. I don't mean any disrespect."

I nodded, removing my glasses and rubbing the bridge of my nose. I really, really wanted to hit something.

"If it makes you feel any better, Scully never made it past the description of the chair. She would never let him finish. She would just start babbling about how none of that mattered now, that he was healthy and safe and how he should focus on the future. It made him so sad. Eventually he gave up trying to tell her much of anything. There was so much he wanted her to know that he was never able to tell her."

Gibson's voice trailed off, his face showing a great sadness.

We just sat quietly staring out the little window at the desert, waiting for Mulder to emerge.


Day 1
7:30 AM

Mulder shuffled out of the bedroom clad only in a pair of faded jeans that hung low and loose on his hips. He'd lost a considerable amount of weight since the last time I'd seen him. He looked almost frail. He didn't speak, but went straight for the coffee. Opening the cabinet above the coffee maker he pulled out a bottle a cheap cognac and poured a more than healthy shot into his coffee. He was about to put the bottle back when he turned and raised the bottle and an eyebrow at me.

"Sure, what the hell. I am on vacation after all." This got a faint smile as he slid in to the chair across from me and handed me the bottle.

"So...seriously, Walter, what the hell are you doing here?" Mulder's voice was horse from screaming.

"Good to see you too, Mulder."

He closed his eyes, lowering his head. "I am sorry. I am glad to see you...I just...I just don't understand what you're doing here. You took a huge risk."

"I asked him to come, Mulder. We need him here."

"Why? Why do we need him here, Gibson?"

"We just do. I can't explain it yet. You'll just have to trust me on this until I figure it out."

Mulder studied the boys face and nodded slowly,"Okay, your haven't been wrong yet. I won't question it then.", Mulder raised his mug in salute,"Welcome to the middle of nowhere, Walter."

I wondered if the boy's story was just for Mulder's benefit or if there was more going on than Gibson was telling me.

I raise my mug back at him, take a big gulp and immediately regret it.

"Jesus H. Christ, Mulder! If you're going to drink in the morning you should at least get something decent! This might as well be embalming fluid! If I am going to stay here we are going to have to do something about the quality of the liquor in this place."

I was rewarded with a genuine, beaming Mulder smile and my heart almost stopped beating. That moment alone had made the whole trip worthwhile.

"Yes, Sir!" Mulder chuckled,"we can go into White Rock later. We are low on supplies anyway."

Mulder and Gibson began discussing the grocery list as I sat just drinking in the man I had traveled so far to see. I knew the moment I held him in my arms this morning that, no matter what happened, I would not be returning to D.C. That life was over for me. Not that it had been much of a life. Being forced into early retirement had really sucked, but it was a lot better than dead.

As I stared at him I noticed the faint line of a scar beginning just below his collarbone traveling down the center of his chest and disappearing below the edge of the table. It was a pale, almost delicate looking thing compared to the gaping bloody mess that was there when I found him. When I found what I thought was his corpse. I wondered how Dana could have looked at that scar day after day and not wanted to know where it came from? How could she not want to know his truth and offer whatever comfort she could? A sharp spike of jealousy ran through me as I wondered if her fingers had caressed that scar? Had her lips ever traced its path? I gripped my coffee mug tightly to keep my hand from reaching out to touch it.

I shook myself out of my reverie to see Gibson looking at me with a sympathetic smile. I had almost forgotten the kid was a mind reader. I was going to have to be more careful about where I let my thoughts drift to.


10am
Highway 371

It already felt like 100 degrees outside as we headed for White Rock.

The benefits of the shower I had taken before we left were long gone.

The old chevy had no AC and a hot, dusty wind was coming in through the open windows. No one had spoken since we set out, Mulder completely focused on the road in front of him, Gibson dozing in the back seat.

I stared out at the desolate landscape and wondered why on earth Mulder had picked this place to live. Surely, there were more hospitable places that offered the same level of safety.

"SHUT The FUCK UP AND GET OUT of CAR, ALEX!!!" Mulder was shouting all the sudden, swerving to the shoulder of the road and coming to a screeching halt. I was shocked into silence by his sudden out burst. Maybe, Scully was right. Maybe he was crazy.

Mulder turned around and started yelling at the empty seat behind.

"I said get out, Krycek. Now, get moving." Mulder paused,"That's none of your God damn business! Just GO!!"

I looked over the back seat at Gibson obviously trying not to laugh. A few seconds later Mulder turned back around and we were pulling back out onto the highway.

"I swear, if that rat bastard wasn't already dead..." Mulder was muttering,"and it's not funny Gibson, so quit laughing." I still had no idea what to say. So, I said nothing.

"You know he only says stuff like that to wind you up. You need to just stop listening to him. He'll get bored and go away if you just ignore him." Gibson snorted back at him.

Okay, so Gibson saw Alex Krycek in the car too. Maybe I was the crazy one for not seeing him? It was quiet the rest of the way to White Rock.

We pulled into a strip mall on the outskirts of town that had a grocery and a liquor store. We all piled out of the car and Mulder headed for the ATM machine, Gibson and I waited by the car.

"So, was that one of those "visits" you were talking about?"

"Yeah, Alex can be a real pain in ass. He's saved our lives a couple of times, but mostly he just likes to stop by and mess with Mulder's head."

"Saved your lives? How?"

"Oh, there were a couple times in Texas where we almost walked right into Billy Miles while we were on the road and Alex made sure we got out of there before we were spotted. Stuff like that."

"I see."

I didn't really understand. The last time I saw Alex Krycek I put a bullet in his brain because he was about to kill Mulder. Why would his ghost be trying to help Mulder now? I was still having a great deal of trouble accepting the whole ghost thing anyway.

"So what did he say to piss Mulder off?"

"Oh, you don't really want to know." Gibson said with a smirk,"Let's just say Alex has a really dirty mind."

I decided Gibson was right. I really didn't want to know the details of their little exchange. It was time to change the subject.

"So, Gibson. How did you end up hooking up with Mulder and Scully. I thought John and Monica were putting you in the witness protection program?"

"It's really easy to ditch people when you know what they're thinking.

John and Monica are really nice, but they didn't really get it, I wouldn't have been safe. Finding Mulder was easy. I have always been able to hear him no matter where he is. I think it's because he's more like me than he is like regular people."

"What do mean by that?"

"They changed him. They were messin' with him before he was even born."

His tone and the look he gives me are incredulous. Sort of a 'have you had your head up your ass for the last ten years?' kind of thing.

"What do you mean? How do you know this?"

"Later. Here he comes." Gibson said tilting his head toward the sidewalk.

I mulled over Gibson's words as Mulder approached. If what he was saying was true, so much about Mulder and the consortium's obsession with him would make a lot more sense.


Day 11:30 PM
Somewhere in the New Mexico desert

The shopping and the drive back were pretty uneventful. There was one moment in the grocery store where I thought we might have a problem. I came around a corner to see Mulder in a fairly animated conversation with no one. Well, no one I could see any way. Judging from Mulder's tight, grim expression it was obviously not a friend. He was oblivious to the stares of the worried housewives who pulled their children close as they hurried past him. As I watched him I thought about how truly mortified Scully must have been if he did this sort thing in front of her in public places. As much as I liked and admired the woman I knew she must have found his behavior completely embarrassing. He finally noticed me standing there and waved off who ever it was he was talking to and started pushing his cart towards me. Neither of us said anything about what had just happened.

Once back at the trailer we put away our supplies and made some lunch.

I was a little disturbed by the fact that over the course of one roast beef sandwich, Mulder had put away two beers and one very large shot of bourbon. Mulder had never been much of a drinker as far as I new. His mood had turned darker and more sullen over the course of the day. I didn't ask what was bothering him. Gibson was obviously trying to provide a distraction with mindless chatter about how happy he was that Peep season was back.

"It's just not spring with out Peeps!" he announced while stuffing another unnaturally yellow marshmallow chick in his mouth. Mulder attempted a smile for the boy but it never reached his eyes.

I think he realized his attempts to lighten his friend's mood were not working.

"Look, Mulder, we'll figure something out. Maybe once she gets settled she'll put back what she doesn't need? We'll be okay." Gibson said softly.

"Let's not talk about. I am tired. I am going to lay down for a while."

Mulder rose and retreated to the bedroom closing the door behind him.

I knew there was only one "She" where these two were concerned and just the mention of her made me nervous. Mulder had not said a thing about her today and I had thought it best to follow his lead.

"Now what?" I whispered.

"He gets like this whenever we have to spend money. Dana completely wiped out one of the bank accounts the Gunmen had set up for him and almost all of the other one. If we are really careful we should have enough money for another six months...a year tops."

"Shit. How much was there?"

"A lot. It should have been enough to keep the three of us going for at least another 5 years or so. It was all Mulder's inheritance from his father and the sale of his parent's houses. The Gunmen divided it up in two separate accounts that couldn't be traced back to Mulder. The accounts were created back when he had to leave town after the baby was born. He had given her copies of the cards and the code numbers in case there was some kind of emergency. He's afraid now that he won't be able to take care of me. Finding a job will make him more vulnerable.

Easier to find."

"Damn. This is bad."

"Yeah, but I am really proud of him, I thought for sure he was gonna completely blow a gasket today. He managed to keep it together though...he's doing better. Maybe it's because you're here? Please, don't ever tell Mulder, but I knew she was gonna do it. She was so angry at him when she left. She wanted to make him pay for ruining her life. She didn't think he'd live long enough to need the money anyway."

I am suddenly feeling so angry at the woman I can barely contain myself,"If you knew, why didn't you say anything? Why didn't you stop her?"

"I was hoping that she was just angry and blowing off steam. That maybe, even though she was thinking it, she wouldn't actually do it.

She did love him in her way, I thought she'd do the right thing. I guess maybe she had a small change of heart since she did leave him something. She wasn't planning to leave a dime when she left here. He would have split it with her if she'd asked. He didn't blame her for leaving."

I couldn't believe we were talking about the same Dana Scully. It was mind boggling enough to hear that she'd left him. But this...this was just too much. What the hell happened to the two of them to make her be so hateful?

"It was a lot of stuff."

"Jesus, would you cut that out? Try and wait until I actually ask the questions out loud, okay?"

Gibson smiled at me,"Sorry. More than anything I think it was the way we've had to live. She hated it and she blamed Mulder for it. She never forgave him for not leaving the country when they had the chance. She blamed him for all the stuff with William, too. She wanted her happy ending, riding off with her prince and living happily ever after and all that shit, but she didn't get it. I mean, look at this place, can you really see her being happy here? This is actually one of the better places we've stayed. I mean, at least we have running water and electricity this time."

I looked around the decrepit little trailer and saw his point. Not that I thought Dana Scully was a priss or anything, but I really couldn't see her agreeing to live like this for very long. I could also understand her disappointment and even resentment over the way things turned out. Still, she must have known that taking his only means of support was practically like signing his death warrant.

Well, Dana Scully be damned. I am here now and I am not going to let anything happen to them.

Gibson smiled at me from across the table. "That's why I sent for you, Walter. Mulder's the best friend I've ever had. I don't want to lose him. I know the only reason he didn't kill himself after Dana left was because he was afraid of what would happen to me. He still thinks about it a lot though."

I just nodded and tried to choke down the lump that had suddenly formed in my throat.


Day 1
3:30 PM

Mulder was still sleeping when Gibson and I headed out for a walk. It was still blazing hot but at least a few clouds had rolled in so I didn't feel quite so much like I was being cooked alive. The dusty breeze was actually a welcome relief from the stagnant air of the trailer. I should have thought to buy a few more fans while we were in town.

"This morning at the car..."

"You want to know about the experiments. About the people who made him the way he is."

"Yeah."

"There's not much to it. They tried to activate inactive DNA in him while he was still a fetus."

"His parents agreed to this?"

"Yeah, Bill Mulder was one of the leaders on the project. He wanted to be the father of the first "super kid". Teena went along with it because she felt guilty. She was hoping it would kill the him, because she knew he wasn't her husband's child."

"Where did you get this information?"

"The smoking bastard, Spender. Mulder's real father. There were others at the time. None of them, not even Mulder, was a complete success.

Most of them didn't survive the experiments. The ones that did were tested and monitored."

"This altered DNA, what did it do to him exactly?

"Not a whole lot, but just enough to make him kind of a freak, the off the charts IQ, the eidetic memory, some hard to classify psychic ability..."

"What do mean by that?"

"Like the profiling stuff. The stuff that got him that stupid nickname.

No one could ever figure out how he came up with a lot of the details, but they would be really freaked if they knew how much stuff he never told them."

I didn't doubt that for a second. Spooky Mulder pretty much scared the pants off everyone when he was with the ISU.

"The artifact that was found in Africa, the piece of the space ship.

That's why it only affected him, isn't it?"

"Yup." "So that's why they've been so interested in him all these years, why they never just killed him. Are they done with him now? Is that why they let the aliens have him? Turn him into one of those...things...cause they no longer needed him?"

"No, Mulder was never part of the deal with the aliens. Man, that really pissed them off when he was taken with out their consent! That's why Alex was given the vaccine to save him, but Alex, as always, was working his own plan."

"So, why the trial? Why kill him now if they wanted him back so badly?"

"They weren't really going to kill him."

"What do you mean? They sentenced him to death. Death by lethal injection. I was there."

"I think maybe you should sit down, Walter. There is more to this story and it's really bad."

"Worse than what you've already told me?"

"Yeah."

"Oh, God." I groaned as I planted my ass on a boulder,"Alright, what is it."

"The injection was going to be a fake. Just a strong enough sedative so that he would appear dead to the witnesses, so they could make him permanently disappear with no one asking questions. He would have spent the rest of his life as a lab rat if you hadn't rescued him."

"Why, I would think that they already knew everything there was to know about him at this point?"

"They do know everything. That's the problem. They know that Mulder's...er...well..." Gibson's voice got quiet and he was staring at his feet that scuffed at the dry ground.

"What?"

"Mulder makes kids like William...kids like me..." the boy blushed.

I was reminded at this moment that for all his knowledge, for everything he's seen, Gibson was still very much a sixteen-year-old boy.

"I see. They want him for what... some kind of breeding program?" I asked him, trying not to think about the implications.

"Yeah. It's been going on a long time, he just never knew about it until last year."

"Gibson...." I took the boys chin and lifted his face to look in his eyes,"Is Mulder your father?"

The boys eyes started to water,"Maybe. I think....maybe...he could be.

I know the people who raised me aren't my real parents. Spender called me 'an interesting bi-product of an earlier experiment'. And there's things...like, sometimes if he is being really still, we can talk with out talking, you know what I mean. I can always hear him, but sometimes he hears me too. I don't know for sure. Maybe Mulder, maybe one of the others. It doesn't really matter...", the tears started to spill,"...I....love him like.....and...I... know he loves me and wants to take care of me....That's all that matters, right?"

I pulled out my handkerchief and handed it to him, pulling him close at the same time.

"You're absolutely right. Love is all that matters" I sighed as I hugged the boy.

Gibson pulled back from me trying to regain his cool teenage exterior.

"Walter, you need to know this.", He looked at me with grim determination,"After they caught him at the base, before the trial, he was there for weeks before you saw him. During that time...they...they tortured him..."

"I know, I saw the bruises..."

"No, you don't know. Not just the beatings, it was so very bad, Walter.

What I told you before about his...ya know...how his kids are different?"

"Yeah, go on." I had an idea where this was going and I didn't like it one bit.

"They took...they made him...", the boy was floundering. I decided to help him out.

"Sperm sample? They made him give a sperm sample?"

"Yeah, but not just once. They did it a bunch of times and in really bad ways."

I just nodded my understanding. He didn't have to elaborate, my imagination was coming up with plenty of ugly explanations for what 'really bad ways' actually meant.

"He has such horrible nightmares." Gibson's eyes were beginning to brim with tears again and I had the feeling I was not going to be spared the details. The boy obviously needed to get this out of his system.

"Gibson, you don't have to go on. You don't have to tell me." I really wanted him to stop. This was killing me.

"The worst was this one doctor...a woman...she wanted a baby by him....a special kid. She gave him that... that drug to make him...you know the one old guys use so they can...it lasts for hours..." the boys face turned the color of a very ripe tomato.

"Viagra, I get it, Gibson." I felt like I was going to be sick at any second. I just prayed that the boy's story was almost over. It was bad for me, but I couldn't imagine what is like for Gibson to have the unfiltered, Technicolor version straight from Mulder's head.

"There were two guards that she bribed into helping her. The guards would force the pill down his throat, that's when most of the beatings happened. Then they would bring him to the lab and tie him down like all the other times. The doctor would get on top of him and...you know. She liked to tell him about all the other times they had done that to him that he didn't know about and the people who were involved. He was the same age as me the first time. He was in the hospital for something else. They get him every time he's in the hospital, it's easy for them then. His college girlfriend, Phoebe, was working for them. She would drug him and let them take him. He drank a lot in college, did other stuff too, so he never really noticed. He just wrote off the missing time as another black out. She told him why they did it... anyway, she told him all of it, while she...had him. She would just leave him when she was done. Leave it to the guards to get him back to his cell. They didn't always take him back right away...they messed with him sometimes. That baby should be a few months old now...if they let it live. God, knows how many more there have been...how many there will be."

"Jesus Christ." I pulled off my glasses and rubbed my face with both hands.

"Since then he hasn't been able to...not even with Scully...he couldn't..."

I looked at the boy and sighed,"I understand. After what happened to him I think that's perfectly understandable."

"Scully didn't think so..."

"He never told her, did he?"

"He tried. He told her some of it. Not about that woman, but about some of the other times while he was there. He told her why they did it. He regrets telling her anything now."

"Why?"

"She used the information to hurt him a couple of times. It was bad.

There was one time, I don't remember what started the fight, but she called him a freak and a monster, she said that he'd known all along and he got her pregnant knowing William would be a freak and a monster too. She has no idea how close he came to killing himself after that one."

"Christ! I had no idea things had gotten that bad between them. I am sorry you were stuck in the middle of all that, Gibson."

"I am okay. I am just glad she's gone. She should have left sooner."

his voice held more venom than I thought the boy capable of.. "It's not going to be easy for you, Walter, he is pretty crazy, you know. Not as crazy as she thinks he is, but still...I think he's a little... sick."

I took the boy by his shoulder's and looked him in the eyes,"He's gonna be okay, Gibson. I am going to make sure of it."

"I know you will."


Day 1
6:15pm

We had walked slowly back to the trailer. The door to the bedroom was still closed.

"He's still asleep," Gibson mumbled as he stretched out on the ratty sofa.

"Is this normal for him? Sleeping so much, I mean?"

"Yes and No. It depends. Until yesterday he hadn't slept in three days.

Now he's playing catch up. Sometimes his brain just can't slow down enough to let him sleep and he'll just keep going 'til he eventually conks out. Man, Scully really hated that. It drove her nuts when he was on a sleepless phase. I don't think her constant fussing at him helped the situation much."

Gibson yawned and stretched. I think our little talk really wore him out. "Why don't you have a nap and I'll start dinner, okay?"

"Thanks, Walter." His eyelids were already closed and he was quietly snoring within minutes.

I decided to keep it simple and go with spagetti. A jar of sauce and noodles was about all I could handle. This day had already been one of the longest of my life and it wasn't over yet. I was still having trouble processing everything I'd heard today.

By most people's standards, Mulder has never been the poster boy for good mental health, but after what I learned today, I am amazed the man is still alive. Not only is he alive, but he's functioning better than I would expect anyone too. He has to be strongest person I have ever met. If it were me, at best I would be weaving baskets somewhere, at worst I would have eaten my gun. I think in this case a little PTSD is more than expected, it's just a given.

The water for the pasta was beginning to boil as Mulder finally emerged from the bedroom. He has no idea what he has just done to me by walking out here in nothing but his boxers and a very amusing case of bedhead.

I turn back towards the stove so he won't notice the erection I am trying so hard to stifle.

"Hey, Walter. What time is it?" he yawns.

"Almost 7."

"That late? Man, you should have woken me up. I didn't mean to sleep so long."

"It's okay, you must have needed it and Gibson and I went for a long walk we just got back a little while ago."

Mulder walks over to Gibson and stares at him for moment.

"He's been crying. What happened?" He whispers, concern apparent in his tone as he joins me again at the stove.

I look over at Gibson and can see no evidence of his earlier emotional display and a chill goes down my spine as I wonder how Mulder knows this. "We talked. He had a lot he needed to get off his chest. He's okay, Mulder, don't worry."

Mulder's eyes narrowed as he stared at me,"What did he tell you? Were you talking about me?" Classic, full tilt Mulder paranoia in action.

"Yes, you were definitely part of the conversation."

The anger building in Mulder was obvious,"What part was that? You trying to figure out just how crazy I am? Was he giving you tips on how to live with a lunatic?"

"Mulder, calm down. It's not what you're thinking. Please relax. You are going to wake him up."

That seemed to do the trick. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

I felt like such a shit. *No, Fox it's not what you're thinking. It's actually worse. Gibson and I committed a gross invasion of your privacy, but it was for your own good. Trust me.*

"You. Outside. Now." He ground out through clenched teeth as he headed for the door.

This was going to be bad, no way around that. I was pretty sure I deserved what was coming. The whole time Gibson was spilling Mulder's guts to me, I never stopped to consider what reaction Mulder would have to my knowing. They weren't Gibson's stories to tell really. Parts of it were, but most of what I learned today was definitely not.

I turned off the stove and followed him outside, resigned to take my punishment.

"Tell me, tell me what he told you! All of it!" Mulder snapped at me, his eyes were wild and held the threat of violence.

So, I told him. Every last bit of it. Starting with my arrival this morning. Mulder's rage had quickly given way to shame and embarrassment. By the time I got to the last of it, Scully calling him a monster, Mulder was unraveling. He was leaning up against the side of the trailer, almost doubled over, one arm protectively wrapped around his middle the other hand over his face. He was sobbing uncontrollably, he was going to hyperventilate if he didn't calm down. I could see Gibson watching the whole scene from the kitchen window. The boy was smart to keep his distance right now.

"You had no right!" he choked out,"It's mine...belongs to me....all I have..."

I understood what he was trying to tell me and I moved as close as I could get with out actually touching him. "Mulder, that's not true. You have so much more than just these secrets and your pain."

"They just keep taking...everything...now you...."

"Mulder, I am so sorry. You're right, he shouldn't have told me your secrets with out your consent, but you're totally wrong about the motive. You know he would never deliberately hurt you. Neither would I."

I took a big gamble and grabbed his wrist, pulling his hand away from his face.

"No, please...don't...don't touch..." he tried to pull away, but I didn't let go. I grabbed his shoulder with my other hand and turned him to face me, pressing his back against the trailer. Essentially trapping him.

"I am not going to hurt you...just look at me...Look at me, Mulder."

He was shaking violently,"Please, don't...no more...."

"Mulder, listen to me! Gibson loves you. He's worried sick about you, he doesn't want to lose you. That's why he asked me to come, that's why he told me what he did. To help. To help him. To help YOU, Mulder! And to help me."

"How does it...help you...helps give you power over me? So you know how to hurt me?"

"God, Mulder! How could you possibly think that? It helps me know how I can help you and how I can avoid causing you more pain. I love you, Fox. I know you know this. You know it's true."

He had stopped struggling, but the tremors remained. His breathing was starting to calm. I loosened my grip on him but I didn't let go. We continued to stare at each other for what seemed like hours.

"Listen to me. I love you. I am not putting any pressure on you, Mulder, I will be whatever you need me to be for however long you need it. I have been miserable with out you in my life and I don't intend on letting you out of my sight ever again. I am staying right here. I am not going to bail on you when things get tough. I wont take anything from you that you don't willingly give me. Understood?"

Mulder just nodded and suddenly collapsed into my arms, bawling his eyes out. And for the second time that day I held Mulder while he cried, the only difference being that this time I joined him. I cried more that evening than I had in the last 30 years. I cried for him, for myself, for Gibson and even a few tears for Dana Scully.


Day 1
8:00pm

Eventually we cried ourselves out and made our way back inside. I had forgotten all about poor Gibson, whose face was as puffy and tear stained as Mulder's and my own. The boy's lips quivered as he tried to speak.

"...I...I am sorry...", a new stream of tears sprang from the boys eyes.

Mulder went to him and hugged him to his chest, kissing the top of his head.

"It's okay, buddy. We're cool. Just promise you'll talk to me first next time. I am glad you brought Walter here, but if I was scaring you that bad you should have talked to me. I can't keep any secrets from you, so I don't want you to keep any from me either. Deal?"

"Deal."

"Good, it's settled then."

It was late by the time dinner hit the table. Gibson had already ploughed through two plates of pasta in the time it took me to get through my first. It's been a long time since I was a teenager, I had forgotten how much they can eat. Mulder, however, had barely put a dent in his. He was pulling the old trick of idly pushing the noodles around his plate so it looked like he was actually eating.

"Something wrong with my cooking, Mulder?"

"What?" his head snapped up,"uh...no...it's good really. Sorry, Walter, I am just not really hungry."

I decided not to push him. "That's okay. Its just more leftovers for lunch tomorrow," I said removing our plates,"How about a nightcap?"

"Sounds good."

Mulder and I took our drinks out side and sat in the rickety folding chairs under the huge desert sky. The sun had set hours ago and the air was actually cool, almost chilly.

"Do you need a sweater, Mulder"

"No thanks, Mom. I'm fine." He snorted at me.

"I didn't mean it like..."

"I know. I am sorry. You don't have to fuss over me, Walter. I can take care of myself."

"I know you can. I didn't mean to imply that you

couldn't....Maybe...maybe I want to fuss over you, Mulder, maybe I want to take care of you, to make sure you're happy. Did you ever think about that?" My voice had gotten involuntarily soft and I felt my face flush.

"No. I didn't..."

"Would it be okay with you if I did?"

He was quiet for an very uncomfortable amount of time,"Yeah...I...I think I'd like that, Walter." It was barely a whisper.

We finished our drinks in companionable silence before heading back inside. Gibson had made up his bed on the couch and was out cold.

Mulder stopped to tuck the blanket more snuggly around his shoulders and ran his hand once through the boy's hair.

"He's down for the count. If you want to think about anything really weird now's the time to do it. You're brain is your own when he's sleeping," Mulder said with a grin.

"I'll remember that, thanks." It suddenly occurred to me that with Gibson on the couch and only the one bed, I had nowhere to sleep.

As if he'd read my mind, Mulder held out his hand to me," Come on, Walter. Let's go to bed."

I'd waited almost ten years to hear him say those words to me. Okay, this wasn't exactly the scenario I had pictured, and I knew it wasn't going to lead where I wanted it to, but I wasn't about to argue with him. I took the offered hand and let him lead me to the bedroom. He let go and headed for the bathroom to brush his teeth as I stripped down to just my shorts. I turned to see him staring at me from the bathroom door. His expression was unreadable, but I could sense an underlying panic. I think he was feeling like he'd gotten himself in over his head. I was going to have to do something to break the tension.

"Damn, I am tired. You done in the bathroom? I almost fell asleep standing here."

"Uh, yeah...go ahead. I'm finished."

Mulder was in the bed turned on his side facing away from me when I came out of the bathroom. I crawled in, being careful not to touch him.

It was going to be hard to avoid contact though, two grown men in a full size bed. I was just hoping that when it did eventually happen that Mulder wouldn't freak out.

I turned off the bedside lamp and rolled onto my back. We didn't touch but I was close enough that I could feel the heat radiating off his body. This was going to be a very long night.

"Good night, Mulder," I whispered into the darkness.

"Good night......umm...Walter?"

"Yeah?"

"I am glad you're here. I missed you."

"I missed you too. Very much."

"Gibson told you the truth this morning. I do love you, Walter. I have for years, I am sorry I never said anything. I new it would never work while we were still at the bureau. They would have found a way to use it against you, against us. I know you had the same fears. Then there was.... She would never have accepted it. I don't think she would have been able to understand how I could love both of you at the same time.

I don't really understand it myself."

The darkness was obviously giving Mulder more courage than he could muster in the harsh light of day. He rolled over onto his back and his arm brushed lightly against mine sending a jolt through my body.

"I'm...I'm so sorry, Walter."

"For what?"

"Everything. I am sorry I got you caught up in all this. I am sorry I ruined your life. I am sorry for being such a fucking mess. I am sorry I can't go back and fix any of it..."

"Mulder, stop. Just stop. You didn't get me involved in all this mess.

I got myself here. I was in the consortium's pocket before you ever found the X-Files. If anything, Mulder, I should be thanking you for making me see how badly I'd fucked up by getting involved with them.

You helped put me on the right path. My career may have gotten screwed, but I got my soul back. How can that be a bad thing? Besides, I am exactly where I want to be. How many people can honestly say that?"

"This is where you wanted to end up? Christ, you're even crazier than I am."

"Shut up and go to sleep, Mulder."


Day 2
7am

Sadly, I woke up alone. I may have just dreamed it but I have a vague memory of holding Fox in my arms while we slept, his skin smooth and warm against me. I roll on my side and pull his pillow to my face breathing in his scent as my hand wraps around my almost painful morning erection and begins a slow steady motion.

My mind is drifting to one of my favorite, tried and true Mulder fantasies when I hear a familiar voice in my ear.

"So, Walt, have you gotten a good look at his cock yet? It's huge, but don't worry, if the poor bastard ever gets it up again, I am sure you'll take it like the good marine that you are. I bet you got a lot of dick while you were in the corps."

"Alex?" I whisper. I scan the room but I can't see anyone else there.

My hand leaves my penis, my erection already waning.

"Yeah, it's me. You're making progress, old man. Opening your self up.

Keep hanging out with Gomez and Pugsly out there and you might even be able to see us one day."

"Go away and leave me alone!"

I can't believe I am talking to a ghost. Maybe I am just dreaming.

"You're not dreaming, Skinman. You should have let me kill him, you know? He wanted me to do it."

"What? You are out of your mind. I haven't regretted blowing your brains out for one single second. I would have died before I let you do that."

"I Know. No hard feelings, by the way. You just never saw the big picture."

"What big picture is that?"

"That what they did to him in the DOD prison, that's been going on a long time. He was sixteen when they figured out he was cookin' up some special DNA soup. Do you have any idea how many lives have been created and destroyed over the years thanks to him?"

"What do know about it?"

"The vaccine and the cloning was only part of the project. Actually, those sick bastards have tried just about every twisted thing they could come up with to try and stop the inevitable. They were trying to breed humans that would be immune to the effects of the black oil by activating all that junk DNA we carry around. They didn't succeed then, but they did have some interesting failures, they never got the same result twice. Mulder was part of that first test group. Most died in utero, some during later testing, there were a couple of suicides, and there are one or two in institutions, the rest were put down for various reasons. He's the only one from that group that yielded real results. They were just fumbling in the dark back then, they still haven't figured out how to recreate what they did to him or why it did what it did. Imagine their surprise and delight when they realized what they actually had created in Mulder was sort of a...missing link...the seed for a big jump in evolution. Mulder gave them the means to their ends. Of course, being the boneheads they are they have pretty much squandered that information. With a few exceptions, all of Mulder's....uh... progeny have been destroyed in useless and inhuman experiments or just flat out killed. Now the end is coming and they're panicking. Fucking morons..."

"The few exceptions....Gibson? Is he..."

"Of course he is, don't be so dense, Walter. Gibson was part of the 'Gee, let's see what happens if we let them grow up under normal circumstances' experiment. He's the only one left out of that bunch.

They were proving to be too smart, drawing too much attention to themselves and too dangerous to the group so they've been systematically eliminating them. I mean, you saw what Spender did to that kid when he got his hands on him...he split that kids head open like and melon just so he could poke around in it. Gibson was one of the lucky ones."

"I still don't understand..."

"You will eventually, but that's the end of our lesson for today."

"Alex?"

There was no response from Alex. Just a knock on the door and Gibson's voice.

"Walter, can I come in? I've gotta go to the bathroom."

"Sure, kid. Come on in." I tried desperately to think of anything other than Alex and the story he just told me.

"You know Alex is a lying rat bastard, don't you? You can only believe half of what he says, but you never know which half that is." Gibson muttered as he closed the bathroom door behind him.

Damn. I felt incredibly stupid. I head to the kitchen and Mulder is no where to be seen. I assume he has gone running, start a pot of coffee and sit down to wait. Looking around the tiny space I notice for the first time that there is no radio, no TV, no phone. No means of contact with the outside world. A far cry from the technology dependant Fox Mulder I knew in DC. The man was glued to his cell phone, couldn't sleep with out the TV, obsessed with checking his email. Little things that spoke of big changes in the man.


Day 2
7:40am

I get up to pour my coffee and a glance out the window makes me do a double take. Mulder is kneeling in the dirt about 100 yards out in front of the trailer. His back is to me, his head is bowed. I am about to start running out there when Gibson grabs my arm.

"Don't. Don't interrupt them," he says.

"Them? Who is it this time? What's going on?"

"Albert Hostein. The medicine man. He comes by a couple times a week to pray over him, he's been coming more often since Dana left. He's trying to help him heal, help him get his strength back. They've been out there since about 3:30, they should be done soon."

"Oh." I am not sure what else to say to that. I wished I could see him.

I liked Albert Hostein, he was a good man,"Is it helping?"

"They seem to think so. He usually has a really good day or two afterwards. It leaves him kind of weird when it's over, he wont really be here for a while. So, don't be upset if it seems like he's turned into a big zombie. They've been at it a long time today, a lot longer than usual. He's gonna be really out of it when they're done. It always scared Scully to death. She didn't believe in what they were doing. She couldn't see Albert and Mulder wasn't in his body so he couldn't respond to her. So, to her he was 'disassociative'. She thought about having him committed a couple of times. I always managed to talk her out of it, but one time she actually drove to a phone and called Yves trying to find a way to have him committed safely. She knew if she just dropped him somewhere they would have run his prints and then it would have been all be over. She wanted Yves to say she was his sister and provide the hospital and doctors with information, papers and stuff. Yves refused. He always finds his way back eventually, he just gets stuck in the middle sometimes."

"The middle of what? I don't get it."

"Between our world and Albert's."

"Oh.", I still don't get it. The whole religion thing has never done much for me and I've always thought that the whole New Age thing was a bunch of crap. I don't know why, but this seems harder for me to swallow than Aliens, government conspiracies and talking to ghosts.

"It's okay, Walter. No one is asking you to believe in it. Mulder doesn't expect you to believe."

I nod as I turn and stare out the screendoor at the man. He is trying to get up now and appears to be having a hard time of it. Pushing himself up off the dirt with his hands, straining to get up, then collapsing back into the dust. Eventually he gives up and starts to crawl back towards us.

"You can go to him now, if you want."

If I want? Like it's an option to let him crawl back on his hands and knees. By the time I reach him he has given up all together and is lying on his side in the dirt.

"Mulder?" I get no response. I kneel down next to him. His eyes are open, glassy and unfocused. They are just giant pupils, only the tiniest rim of iris remained. If I didn't know better I'd say he was high on the really good shit. He doesn't appear to even know I am there. So, I scoop him up and take him back inside. He's lighter and easier to manage than I expected. I set him down on the couch and get him into a sitting position. He's covered in dirt, dust clinging to the sweat on his skin.

"Mulder? You with me here, pal?" He's seems to be looking at me now, a small spark of recognition in his eyes. " You're a mess, buddy. I want to get you cleaned up, I think you'll feel better with out the dirt suit you're wearing." A slight movement, was that a nod? I can't be sure. "Gibson, I am gonna sit him in the shower and get him cleaned up.

Mulder, can you walk?"

He just continues to stare at me like I am some bug under a microscope. So I pull him up to standing and put my arm around his waist. He tries to walk with me but just can't seem to get his legs under him, so I basically end up dragging him into the bedroom and depositing him none too gracefully on the bed. He puts up no protest as I pull his jeans and boxers off, fortunately that's all he was wearing.

I go and turn the water on and let it warm up before carrying him into shower. I somehow managed to get him seated on the floor of the tiny shower stall with out causing either of us permanent damage. The space is so small I have to kneel on the floor just out side. He closes his eyes and slumps against the wall just letting the spray wash over him, a contented smile on his face.

I shampoo his hair first, it's full of dust and bits of tumbleweed. He is agreeable, even tilting his head to give me better access. He's becoming slightly more coordinated as I take the washcloth and start to scrub him down. I am greatly relieved that he doesn't seem at all uncomfortable about any of this. I had thought that being naked and vulnerable in such a confined space would be torture for him.

When we're finally finished he's almost able to stand on his own, his legs shaking a little from the effort. I dry him quickly and get him back to the bed, easing him in slowly this time. I don't bother with clothes, I just pull the sheet up over him and I sit down on the edge of the bed. He's staring at me with those saucer sized pupils again.

His expression, if I read it correctly, is one of gratitude and maybe love.

I reach out and smooth the damp hair off of his forehead and am surprised when his hand catches mine. He presses my palm against his cheek, his other arm rises to place his palm against mine and his eyes brim with tears.

I lean in closer to him, pressing my face more firmly against his hand.

"What is it, Fox? What's the matter." His mouth opened slightly like he was about to speak, his eyes searching my face for something but I don't know what. He says nothing, but moves his hand to the back of my neck and gently pulls me forward. The next thing I new his lips touched mine. The kiss was chaste and sweet, but had the effect of a lightning bolt straight into my soul. I am breathless as I pull back to look into his eyes. Tears cascaded silently over his cheeks, his eyes pained and hungry. He pulled me close again, this time wrapping his arms around me, pressing him self against me. I was so overcome with the sensation that I almost missed it when he whispered into my ear 'love me'.


Day 2
2:30pm

As I said before, I had never been a religious man. That all changed that morning. Having spent the last several hours in reverent worship of one Fox William Mulder I felt like I had found my salvation. During one really spectacular orgasm I think I might have actually seen God!

Saying that I had just had the greatest sexual experience of my life sounds cheap and tawdry compared to what actually took place over the those hours. It was that, but it was so very much more, probably the closest thing to a religious experience I will ever have.

I couldn't wipe the stupid grin off my face. Being the manly sort of man I am, I should have been out cold snoring like a chainsaw hours ago, but my brain, no, my whole body was buzzing with electricity. I just couldn't stop touching him. My hand slowly traced the thin scar that bisected his torso.

His eyes were gazing at me with such love and acceptance that my heart feels like it was going to explode. No one had ever looked at me like that, not even Sharon. I could feel my eyes start to water slightly.

"Walter, I need you to promise me two things."

"Anything, just name it." I reached up and pushed a stubborn lock of hair out his eyes.

"Promise me that if anything happens to me that you'll take care of Gibson?"

"Of course I will, but nothing's going to hap..." He puts his fingers over my mouth.

"Just promise."

"I promise, Fox."

"Good. This next one is harder, Walter, but I really need you to hear me on this."

I just nod my understanding, his face was suddenly so serious and so pained that I was already dreading the words.

"When....if they find us, be it the government or the aliens, or whoever, if it looks like we aren't going to escape...I want you to promise you'll kill me. Don't let them take me alive, Walter."

I am speechless. I don't know what I was expecting, but that certainly wasn't it.

"Walter. Please..."

"Fox, I can't... don't ask me..."

"Listen to me...I have thought about this...My whole life has been controlled by them, I've never had any choice in what they've done to me. Let me choose how I go out. You would be saving me, Walter you know that. You know it's true. I wont let them take me again and if I am unable to do it myself I need to know that you've got my back. Promise you'll always save at least one bullet for me, Walter."

I felt like I was possessed, because I could feel myself nodding and I heard the words come out of my mouth, but the whole time my brain was screaming 'NO'. He's smiling at me with tears of gratitude running down his face as he pulls me into a tight embrace.

"Thank you. I love you so much..." he whispers into my ear.

The somber mood is broken suddenly by my stomach announcing that food was long over due. We both laugh through our tears.

"Okay, let's get up and get some food in you. You're going to need to keep your strength up." He grins at me wickedly.

I was again amazed at how quickly everything can change. I don't know where this sudden change in him came from, I was just hoping it would last. If it were possible, I would have sent Albert Hostein a thank you note.

"Share a shower, then food?" I suggested.

"Sounds good to me."

I get out of the bed and am immediately assaulted with a multitude of complaints from my body. I mutter something about being too old for this and am swatted playfully on the ass and told to shut up. I can barely walk, but somehow the pain is almost pleasurable.

The shower was so small that our bodies were in constant contact. We reveled in the warmth of the water and the soapy slide of skin against skin. In spite of the circumstances I can't remember ever feeling that happy or content. I could grow old and gray in this crappy little trailer and die a happy man as long I got to spend those years with him.

As I was getting dressed, I was suddenly struck with horror by one thought. Gibson. The boy knows everything. He probably knows every detail of what I have been doing to Mulder all day. What we've been doing to each other. I am mortified.

"What's the matter, Walter? You look like you've seen a ghost." Mulder grins at me.

"I was just thinking about, umm, Gibson. About...you know..."

"Oh, that. Yeah, it's weird, but I wouldn't worry about it too much.

He'll be okay with it."

"You think so?"

"Oh, yeah. One: He sent for you because he wanted us together. Two: Compared to most of the fucked up shit that kid has heard...I don't think this even ranks on the weirdness scale. And three:...well, I don't really have a three, but you shouldn't worry about him. If he has a problem with this he'll tell us and we'll work it out."

"Okay." I wasn't really thinking about how Gibson was going to deal with us. I was more concerned with my own extreme embarrassment. What the hell do I say to the kid? Mulder's had almost two years to get used to the fact that Gibson knows his every thought. He's use to zero privacy. I was nowhere close to being okay with this.

"Come, on. Let's eat." Mulder demanded as he took my hand and pulled me out the bedroom door.

We ventured out and were greeted by a smirking teeneager, a set table and three plates of reheated pasta.

"Damn, the kid must be psychic! How could he possibly know we'd be hungry?" Mulder grins at the boy as he takes his seat,"Thanks, buddy."

"No Problem."

I am so uncomfortable I don't think I can eat, but I sit down anyway. I look across the table at Gibson, who has obviously read my discomfort and has lost the smirk. He gives me a warm smile that puts me more at ease. I feel Mulder's hand give my thigh a gentle squeeze under the table.

"I am happy for you. I really am."

"Thanks, Gibson. We're happy that you're happy," Mulder replies for both of us with a broad smile "So, what have you been doing all day?"

"I went for a walk with Albert, he told me some more cool Navajo stories. I practiced driving the car some more, just around here, I didn't get out on the highway 'cause I know you hate it when I do that."

To any outside observer watching the two of them, they would seem like any typical father and son catching up at the end of a school day.

Appearances can be so deceiving.

"Then Alex came by for a while, then Frohike and Langely."

"Gee, let me guess why they showed up?" Mulder's voice dripped sarcasm,"So, other than Albert, you just had a long parade of perverts through here today. Present company included, of course."

This makes Gibson laugh hysterically. I don't find it very funny, it was bad enough when it was just Gibson. Now, I find out we were being spied on by the dead.

"Oh, I almost forgot, Alex asked me to give you a message, Walter. I don't know what it means, but he said to tell you 'Semper Fi'."


Day 2
4:00 pm

Mulder's mood has turned dark again. He stopped talking after Gibson gave us Alex's message. I know why it pissed me off, but I have no idea why it would send Mulder spiraling into depression. It may be totally unrelated, but I don't think so. He'd been staring out the window for an hour now. Gibson had backed off and left him alone, I followed his cue, but was thinking that may not be the best thing. I sit down next to him and put my hand on his shoulder and he flinches violently.

"I am sorry. I didn't mean to startle you. I thought you knew I was here."

"No, I am sorry. I guess I spaced out for a bit...."

"Are you okay? Do you want to tell me what's going on?"

"Alex...the 'semper fi' thing, it just started me on a bad train of thought. I'm okay."

"Tell me."

"Umm, It's kind of stupid really. It's about Scully. Are you sure you want to hear it?"

"Yes, go on tell me."

"This is pretty embarrassing. The last time she tried to... initiate sex..."

Oh, god. Maybe I didn't want to hear this.

"well, you know I haven't been...fully functional, but I did everything I could to try and make up for it...anyway... long story short. I had already gotten her off a couple of times that night when she decided she was going to "fix" me. She kept trying to touch my dick, and I kept having to stop her cause it was really freaking me out. She was being so insistent. I kept saying no, she kept demanding. She said 'you've been through a lot worse things in your life than a few shitty hand jobs, just get over it already'..."

"You're kidding?"

"No, afraid not. It gets even better. I got really, really upset and I started crying...I couldn't stop myself. I knew I was basically exposing my throat to her, but I just couldn't help it. That's when she pounced...she said military prison had turned me queer, and that I couldn't get it up with out a big marine holding my cock..."

I was too stunned to speak. This just didn't sound like the same woman I knew, I had no idea she could be so cruel.

"I started having a hardcore flashback and I ended up huddled in the corner in hysterics. She left me there, got in the car and drove off.

Gibson came to my rescue and talked me down. She came home late the next morning reeking of sex and liquor, looking incredibly smug. It was pretty obvious what she'd done, so I didn't ask and she didn't tell.

She was gone the next day."

"Mulder, I don't even know what to say. I had no idea..."

"It's okay, there's nothing to say really. I know she just wanted out, it just provided an excuse for her to leave. Not a particularly good one, but an excuse. I knew she was unhappy, we hadn't done much more than fight for the last year. At that point I think she was only staying to punish me, the whole 'hell hath no fury' thing. Funny thing is, Walter... it looks like she was right."

"About what?"

"That all I needed was a big marine." He deadpans and looks at me with a lopsided grin.

"Damn right!" I smile back and lean over and kiss him passionately.

The rest of the day was blissfully uneventful, I laid out side reading in the shade of the tarp that we strung from the roof of the trailer to two tent posts. I watched as Mulder shagged baseballs to Gibson. We cooked steaks and whole ears of corn on a bonfire. Mulder's mood stayed light and he actually seemed happy. That day definitely goes down as one of the best days of my entire life, but that night turned into one of the worst.

Gibson was already asleep when Mulder and I went to bed that night. In spite of what had transpired earlier in the day, he suddenly couldn't bear my touch. He took it a lot harder than I did. He kept apologizing for not being able to repeat his earlier performance. He couldn't seem to accept the fact that I was okay with it, that my feelings weren't hurt. I tried to reassure him that it was okay, that I didn't expect anything. The more I tried the more upset he became. It took me a while but I finally figured out that I needed to just let him be so he could work it out for himself. I drifted off to sleep to the sound of Mulder crying softly into his pillow. If only I had known that his tears were only the beginning.


Day 3
3:30 AM

Something was wrong. I heard a loud banging and someone was yelling at me. I knew the voice, it was Mulder. I opened my eyes, squinting against the light, to see him pulling everything out of the drawers in the bureau and stuffing them into his suit case.

"Fox, what are you doing? What's wrong?" I asked him.

"We have to go, they 're coming", He was yelling at me,"there is no time. We have to go. Get up, get up, Walter!!"

"Mulder?..Mulder, what's happening?" I was trying to focus, but it was so late and I was so tired.

"There's no where to hide, they know...they know everything...they know how to find us. They know... they are going to take me again. We have to go now. We have to go.."

I don't know what set him off but he was completely manic. Looking at him now, I saw what must have scared Scully so badly. He was fighting demons we could not see and never possibly comprehend.

"Fox, what's going on, who is it that's coming?"

"Them! They are going to get me. They'll be no escape this time. You can't stop it. I have to go, I have to go before they get here. I know you promised, but you wont do it. You wont. You wont save me... Can't let them catch me."

I have no idea what to do. Logically, I know this is just a manifestation of his illness. But, what if he's right? What if they've found us? He started to pace in a small circle around the bedroom, clenched fists pressed to his temples. I have no idea what to do, I feel like I am failing him again.

I struggle out of bed and try to go to him, but he keeps backing away from me. His arms up in front of him in a defensive posture, his whole body is shaking violently.

"Mulder? Mulder, just stop for a second, okay? Just stop and tell me what's going on."

"nonononono...no time...have to go...have to get out now..."

He's trying to edge his way around me to the bedroom door, but I keep blocking his path, finally ending up standing in front of the door, completely barring any escape.

"move...let me go...you're one of them...you're working for them...just keep me here until they arrive...you are just going to hand me over to them..."

"Mulder, no. That's not what's happening. If we really need to go then we'll go. I love you and I am here to protect you, I just need you to calm down and tell me what's going on...we need to make a plan, Mulder.

Can you do that? Can you help me come up with a plan? Where should we go?" I start inching forward as I talk to him.

"No...you're trying to trick me...you're just going to take me to them...You are just like the rest of them...You are just like Dad and Diana...and Phoebe...you say you love me then...then you'll put drugs in my food and then let them have me...let them do things to me...I know...I know how they operate..."

"No, Mulder. I am not going to let anyone do anything to you. I love you. I am not going to hurt you and I am not going to let anyone else hurt you..."

I was in way over my head. He was pumping so much adrenaline that I wasn't sure I would be able to stop him if he made a run for it. I wasn't close enough or fast enough to stop his unexpected lunge for the bedroom window. He had already torn the screen out and was trying to climb thru when I got to him, grabbing him from behind and pulling him back. I lost my hold on him when he thrust his elbow back into my solar plexus, knocking the wind out of me.

As I tried to recover my breath, Mulder had retreated to the far corner of the room. He huddled there on the floor trying to make himself as small as possible, covering his head with his arms.

I hadn't even heard the door open, but Gibson was suddenly there crouching in front of Mulder.

"Mulder, it's me Gibson. It's okay. We have time, they don't know where we are yet. You know I would tell you if they were coming. Let Walter and I help you." He reached out to gently try and pull one forearm away from Mulder's face.

'No...they know...they are coming..."

"Not yet. You're right they are getting closer, but we still have time.

We'll be long gone by the time they find this place. Don't worry. Will you let us help you now?"

"Okay."

I am so relieved! Thank God, Gibson was able to get through to him. I should have gone to get the boy right away. Next time I will know better. Next time? There would be a next time, I was fairly certain of that. He is very sick, much sicker than I thought. He should be in a hospital with good drugs and a caring therapist, but that just isn't an option. No one would believe what he's been through. He'd be drugged to the gills and never heard from again.

I move closer and extend my hand to him,"Let me help you up, Mulder.

Then we'll get you back into bed."

He takes my hand and I pull him to his feet. He's started to shake so badly he's having trouble standing. I put my arm around his shoulders and guide him to bed. His skin feels cold and slightly clammy. I think maybe he's gone into shock. I get him to lie down and pull the sheet up over him.

"Gibson, are there any more blankets? I think we need to warm him up a bit."

"Yeah, in the closet. I'll get 'em."

He brings me the blankets and I cover Fox with them and then crawl onto the bed next to him. The trembling has eased some, but he is restless and fidgety. I smooth his hair gently and try to keep my expression as reassuring as possible, even though I am still scared to death.

He's crashing hard. He looks up at me fighting to keep his glassy eyes open,"I'm sorry...so sorry..."

"Ssshhh., baby, it's okay. Everything is okay. Try to sleep now. I will stay right here and watch over you..."

"It's so loud...thumping...it's just so loud in my head. I can't make it stop...thumping...just keeps thumping...please make it stop."

"Ssshhh, it's gonna be okay", I lean over and kiss his forehead,"Close your eyes and try to sleep."

His eyes close, but his face still looks so tense.

"'mm sorry...it's just...the dirt...the dirt on the lid is so loud..."

"What dirt, Mulder? What....Oh, fucking hell..."

It took me a minute to realize what he was talking about and then about 30 seconds to get to the bathroom to puke my guts out. The dirt on the lid of his fucking coffin! He remembers being buried. Buried alive. I had never allowed myself to even consider that possibility. We all just assumed he had no awareness at that point.

Eventually, the heaving subsided and I slumped back against the bathroom wall. Gibson was there handing me a towel and a glass of water.

"You okay, Walter?"

"No, I'm definitely not okay."

"It was bad tonight. Sorry, I didn't see this one coming. He seemed to be doing so well today, I thought it wouldn't happen this time."

"What do you mean 'this time', do you know what set him off?"

"Yeah, they are getting closer. I am not sure if he actually feels them or if he just picks up on what I am hearing. We do have to go, but I think we have a day or two before they zero in on us. The sooner we leave the better he'll be."

"Well, let's start packing then."


Day 3
7:30 AM

Gibson convinced me it was okay to grab a couple more hours of sleep.

Packing up could wait until daylight. Sleep never came, I just laid there in the dark holding on to Mulder for dear life, praying that he would be okay when he woke up.

I felt Mulder beginning to stir as the sun was coming up, felt his arms tighten around me.

"Walter, you're still here?" He sounded surprised.

"Of course, I am. Where else would I be?" I ruffled his hair and kissed the top of his head.

"I just thought...after last night...the things I said to you...I am so sorry...I didn't mean...God, I am so fucked up!"

"Hush, Mulder. It's okay. You were just really scared. I am sorry I didn't know how to help you, I will do better next time, I promise."

"I would understand if you wanted to leave...I wouldn't hold it against you."

"I told you yesterday, I am not going anywhere. I meant it. Wherever you are is where I want to be. End of discussion." I lean down and kiss his lips. He returns the kiss, pulling me on top of him, grinding his pelvis against me. It's an obvious invitation and I am not about to turn it down.


Day 3
11:00 AM

Mulder has started to load up the car as I collect our toiletries from the bathroom.

"I have to give you credit, Walt. You've got a lot of stamina for an old guy."

I look up to see Alex Krycek standing next to me, plain as day. I am too stunned to speak.

"That was quite a performance this morning. Things sure have gotten a lot more interesting around here since you showed up."

"What...what do you want Krycek?"

"Tell me what it's like."

"What? What are you talking about?"

"Him! Mulder. What else would I be talking about? What's it like to fuck him? To be fucked by him? To have that gorgeous mouth around your cock? Details, I want details. Describe it to me, Walt! I saw the whole thing, but now I want to hear how it felt."

"You are out of your fucking mind if you think I am going to tell you anything. Just, shut up and go away, you little shit."

"Oh, come on. Have a little pity for the dead. You have no idea how boring the afterlife can be! I know you must be in the mood to gloat, here's your chance!"

"Go get your kicks somewhere else. Surely, there are other people you can haunt?"

"Ah, yes, but none of them are nearly as much fun!"

"Just fuck off, Alex. I am in a hurry here, we have to leave."

"Actually, that's the real reason I am here. I have some advice for you, my friend."

"What advice is that?" I snarl at him.

"Go north, stay off the big highways. Wyoming and Idaho are you're safest bets for the next few months. They think he's going to head for Mexico so any of the border states are a really bad idea. They are going to want to stop in Farmington to see the Hostien family, but don't let them. DOD is watching the reservation. You got all that, Wally?"

"Yes, thank you. Alex, why are you helping us?"

"Oh, I have my reasons." He gave me a wicked smile and then suddenly he was gone.

Okay, so I just saw my first ghost. Seeing is better than just hearing them, but why couldn't it have been someone I actually wanted to see?

I finish packing everything from the bathroom and take one last look around for anything we might have missed. The little trailer is even more depressing to look at with out the evidence of its occupants, but still, I think I will miss this place.

I go outside, closing the door behind me. Mulder and Gibson are leaning over a map they have spread out over the hood of the car.

"So, where are we heading?" I ask as I throw the last bag into the trunk and close it.

"We're thinking north for now. Once we get out of New Mexico, as much as I hate to risk it, we need to spend a few days in a decent sized city. We need to get a hold of Yves and Jimmy, see about setting you set up with a new identity. We are going to need access to the net, fax machine, phone etc...and we need to do it someplace where people don't really ask a lot of questions, someplace we wont stick out. Boulder or Denver maybe?"

"Alex said north was the way to go, find some place to hole up in Wyoming or Idaho. Stay off major highways."

"Well, it's settled then. A few days in Denver and then off to Wyoming or Idaho."

"Mulder, do you think Yves can hack my bank account and transfer the money to yours with out it being traced? I have a pretty nice nest egg set aside and my retirement account..."

"I am sure she's capable, but I don't think it's a good idea. Have her set up an account in whatever your new name is. It probably wouldn't be an issue, but Scully still has access. I think I should transfer whatever I left when we get to Colorado to you."

'What ever you think is best," I say wrapping my arm around his waste.

He's making marks on the map, circling towns in Mexico.

"What are you doing, babe?"

"It probably wont fool them, but I figure it can't hurt." He takes the map, crumples it up and tosses it towards the trailer. The breeze takes it and then drops it in front of one of the wheels.

"We should get going. I think they are a little closer than I thought."

Gibson didn't have to say it twice. Fox handed me the keys and bolted for the passenger side door. We were on our way seconds later.

Mulder had gone pale and was rocking slightly. His right hand had a white knuckled grip on the door handle, the left digging into the seat between us. I reached for his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.

"It's okay, Mulder. We're going to be okay."

"When you say it, I can almost believe it."

"That's because it's the truth, Mulder. We're all going to be just fine."

As I said it I realized I wasn't just trying to soothe his fears. I actually meant it. Deep down I knew that we would be okay as long as we stayed together. I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw Gibson giving me a knowing smile.

"Yeah, we're going to be just fine.", I repeated. I knew it wouldn't be easy. I knew it wasn't going to be what most people thought of as a fairytale ending, but it didn't matter. As long as we were together, we would live happily ever after.

finis.

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